I feel like I’m getting gray hair’ – Me
‘Maybe it’s because you Google brain tumor after your daughter has a bloody nose’ – coworker
I read an article recently that the parents of children who are critically ill often feel like they are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. My son spent 35 days in the NICU after he was born, endured three surgeries, countless procedures, and ultimately died in my arms when I was able to hold him for the first and last time.
And since then I feel like I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. MJ’s twin brother had a hernia surgery at 7 months of age and before we knew what was causing his testicle to swell immensely, I was convinced he had leukemia. During his broken arm surgery to get pins, I had flashbacks to multiple surgeries his twin brother had. When he had a headache last month I was sure it was a sign of brain cancer. When I had an emergency D&C after my miscarriage, I made the nurse promise me she would save my ovaries if I needed an emergency hysterectomy, hoping that if it happened we could find a surrogate to carry our baby.
Every day when I say goodbye to my living children I am scared I won’t ever see them again.
Why on Earth do I have these horrible thoughts running through my brain?!?!
Because I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When we finally became pregnant with our daughter, after our miscarriage and MJ’s death, my husband wanted to shout out the news to the world when we saw her heartbeat for the first time. I wanted to tuck that ultrasound picture in an envelope and not look at it again for 18 weeks. Because then she’d be viable, at 24 weeks and she’d have a chance of living if she was to be born early. I had no reason to fear pre-term labor. I delivered my twins at 36 weeks, and they each weighed 6lbs. But I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
We did share the news that day with our families and on Facebook. It was mainly because my husband urged me to not live scared and embrace our baby. But I did live scared that entire pregnancy and was not really convinced I would bring her home until she was alive and in my arms.
The other shoe never did drop and I delivered a healthy baby girl at 39 weeks.
And I still just don’t know why I keep waiting for that other shoe to drop. Is it because my first 5 weeks of motherhood consisted of surgery after surgery and decisions that no mother should have to make? Or because those 5 weeks play over and over again in my head on a daily basis? I’ll probably never know.
What I do know is that my experiences have shaped who I am today. The scars I carry are deep, and won’t be healed this side of Heaven. I am fearful for the things that may happen. I prepare myself for the worst and don’t allow to think the best.
But I also love deeper. I say I love you more times than I ever thought possible. I sneak in to see my sleeping children just to hear them breathe, yet I take their temperature entirely too much.
Waiting for the other shoe to drop has taught me to cling to what I have because I know that at a moment’s notice it can all be taken away. I fear for it to be taken away, but I also hold onto the other shoe so tightly in hopes I’ll never have to give it away again.
I’m not quite sure what kind of mother I would have been if I never had to say goodbye to my son. I’d like to say that I would love just as fierce and I wouldn’t take a healthy baby for granted, but a part of me thinks that I would have. Waiting for the other shoe to drop is exhausting, but it’s also a part of who I am that I don’t think will ever change.
So I will continue to love with the fierceness only a bereaved mother can have. I will hold my children and appreciate them with all that I have. I will know that two healthy lungs are an absolute treasure and I will still tear up listening to their hearts beat. This is me, and this is what I know.