Parenting Lessons From A Suffering Child: Part 2

I felt like we had become spiders living in a web of wires and tubes. They clung to her feet and chest. They protruded from her nose, back, arms, and other uncomfortable places. It was difficult to move her or to even change her diaper. It was nearly impossible to pick her up. She was in a constant state of discomfort and pain where sleep comes in small spurts and only when weariness finally overcomes pain.

She was hooked up to so many different monitors you would have thought she was a computer. Blinking lights and shrill alarms made the remote possibility of relaxation impossible. She lived in a constant state of terror. Anytime someone came into the room they would be announced by a piercing alarm set off by her heart rate exceeding the limits of safety. Since the nurses had to check her vitals at least every two hours, the heart monitor alarm practically became a normal sound to us.

Now, more than ever, she needed to be held; to be comforted. But she was connected to so many things that it was functionally impossible. So we lay with her in that hospital bed made for one. We found a new use for the side bars in those beds… they could be used to wedge ourselves in so that we would not fall off the bed if we were ever lucky enough to fall asleep. We would take turns lying beside her, holding her as best we could, singing to her till we were hoarse, watching every kids movie known to man… twice.

It was a miserable time and we found it nearly impossible to see the light in that dark place. We were surrounded by suffering children and those who loved them but we saw only ourselves. Our own pain and suffering literally blinded us to everything but what we were dealing with personally. For us, the fact that she was getting better was secondary to the circumstance in which we currently existed. But that tiny little baby girl again taught us a valuable lesson.

In order to promote healing, the doctors required her to walk a certain distance each day. I can still see that tiny body walking along in her open-back hospital gown carefully making her way down the hall, surrounded by an entourage of parents and nurses pushing IV stands and making sure she didn’t fall. We were completely focused on her. And then she started asking about the other children… “Why is that boy crying?” “What is wrong with that baby?” “What is his name?”

…And then we looked up and for the first time noticed that we were not alone in our suffering. There were rooms and halls and floors and wings full of children and parents just like us. This little child, who was in the midst of such great pain, was not concerned about how it hurt to walk or how uncomfortable she felt or how weary she was of this place, she was worried about the other little ones all around her.

As she spoke, we could literally see the frustration and anguish peeling away from her body. The more she noticed the other suffering children, the better she felt. With each room we passed, her energy increased and her pain dissipated. And for a moment at least, our problems ceased to exist. Instead of feeling overcome by our own pain and suffering, we felt compassion for those around us. It was as if we were just there visiting someone else. We too began to wonder about the other children and as we wondered, we literally forgot about ourselves.

During that short walk down a hospital hallway, she taught us that inward self pity and outward concern for others could not exist at the same time in our minds and hearts. And with that realization came the knowledge that if we focused our attention outward, we would become less absorbed with our own problems. From that moment on, our burden became lighter and more easy to bear. Our ability to cope increased dramatically. We were more at peace.

Never stop listening to your children… they can guide you down the path to peace and happiness!

Click here to read Part 1 of this series.


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5 comments to Parenting Lessons From A Suffering Child: Part 2

  • […] read Part 2 of this series, click here. March 29th, 2009 | Tags: Child, Family, Family Crisis, Fatherhood, Inspirational Parenting, Life […]

  • Emily

    Oh Jeff…you did it again…you write with such ability that you bring this horrific yet poignant learning experience to life in such a way that I can’t help but be changed by it. Keep writing…

  • Thanks Emily. It helps me to know that what we went through can serve a higher purpose in that it helps lift others.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I can only imagine what a nightmare it has been. Your ability to find the positives within your daughter’s health crisis is truly inspirational.

  • Admin

    Thank you so much for those kind words! While it has been an ordeal, we are so blessed because of it. So many parents must endure everything we did plus they lose their child in the end. In the end, we have a beautiful, healthy girl who is the light of our lives and we also were able to go through an experience that taught us more than any school or training ever could!

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