I have been up all night with Adelaide, who is sick. She just has a cold. But she keeps gagging on her sinus drainage, which leads to vomiting, which leads to choking on vomit. So I am camped out on her floor. I can’t give her anything for her cold, because she has allergic reactions to fever reducers and pain medications with her seizure meds. She is up laughing in between her fits. Trying to wake up Bess. Who is also sick and somehow sleeping it off.
But Graham is in the next room. His nose hurts, because he will.not.stop.wiping.it. He never stops. So a simple cold for him turns into a Broadway production. He is checking his nose in the mirror. Asking for medicine for it. Crying about his nose. Yelling at me for caring too much or too little about his current nasal situation. I can’t win. And as I am keeping Adelaide from a repeat performance of her almost dying, I am dealing with him.
Did I forget to tell you that Adelaide could’ve died a couple weeks back? I was up thinking about stuff. A very important motions hearing. And I hear a cough. Then a gargle. And then a gurgle. I jump out of bed, race into the nursery, and find my nightmare. Adelaide is on her back. Not even trying to roll. Mouth full of vomit. Choking. All around her mouth is blue already. I flip her over. Sweeping my pinky finger through her mouth. Clearing it out. And she gasps for air.
At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was a seizure. Now that she has almost done it several dozen times in one night, I know it wasn’t a seizure. She had coughed, then gagged, then vomited, then choked on her vomit.
I don’t know how people emotionally and physically survive with medically fragile children. Because one night of being up on breathing watch has exhausted me. We have friends whose son requires one of them or a nurse at all times. Can’t be left alone for a second. His trach monitor is really the back up to a human watching over him. And I can’t even fathom how hard it is to have a child with C.H.A.R.G.E. They are always in this mode. Nate is hospitalized all the time for things I have never experienced.
We both have three kids. We both have ornery and into everything baby girls. But our lives are so very different. And Maggie doesn’t complain. She doesn’t have a blog where she gets all her feelings and experiences out about their situation. No, her Facebook is full of her smiling in the ER. Smiling in the ICU. Giggling at the doctor’s office. Laughing in a therapy session. Smiling with a specialist. Smiles. Smiles. Smiles. And they’re not fake or forced. She is genuinely a joyful, optimistic person.
And I am over here getting a tiny drop of in my bucket of what she and her husband go through day after day. And I am going to turn into a grizzly bear if I don’t get some sleep or some coffee. I feel like Maggie is Adelaide and I am Graham. She is doing this whole parenting thing with strength, grace, and laughter. I am crying about a runny nose. And lost sleep. And if I can’t find a kleenex, you are going to hear about it on two forms of social media.
I truly believe that God places people in our circles on purpose. He gave me my kids. He told Maggie to go to Nate in the NICU and adopt him. We became friends through someone saying, “You two should be friends! You have so much in common. You can be there for one another.” But I believe that God is using our friendship to teach me sacrifice. And joy in all circumstances. Because I want to be authentic about my feelings, but I also want my authentic feelings to be more like a grown-up’s and less like a whiny child’s.
I know we are different people walking very different paths, but I refuse to lose this opportunity to learn from a fellow mom in the special needs trenches. Two women states away. One learning from the other.
As I write this, Adelaide has almost choked 15 times. And each time, I pause to pray for Maggie and Nate. He may have a night nurse tonight so she can sleep. Not sure. Because she won’t even say. She never does. But she always tells me that she is praying for Adelaide. Praying for us to have a joyful day. And I am so grateful that God placed her in my circle. But I also want a shower and a hot cup of Gold Coast and five minutes to myself. I have so very much to learn.