Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Broken Baby

This concept has been on my mind for a while now after reading about it on Yertle's blog. It reminded me of a coworker of mine who had two daughters, both very different. One was strong and healthy and the other was often sick. It seemed so odd to me at the time.

We have that in our family. My daughter was wearing bifocals at age 4 and has asthma. Her asthma caused her once to be hospitalized and now requires her to be hooked up to a breathing machine several times a day every time she catches anything, including the common cold. She often complains about the glasses and asks when she won't need them anymore. None of her friends wear glasses. We pass the buck and tell her that we'll ask the optometrist. What we don't want to say is that she may need surgery, but would still likely have to wear glasses even after that.

Each year, we hope that asthma with get better. That the openings in her lungs will get bigger and won't get clogged up with mucus with every little illness. This summer we enjoyed a drug-free summer for her, only to have to put her back on a daily pill this week. She has to take an inhaler to school and go the nurses office during the day when she is recovering from a cold or sickness. It lasts about 1 - 2 weeks.

So she asks why she has to wear glasses and no one else in the family does. We try to make it better by explaining that mommy needs them to read and daddy to drive, but it doesn't make it better. Then she feels hurt and frustrated when she gets asthma and has to be hooked up to the machine several times a day. I get frustrated with having to wake up in the middle of the night to give her the medicine - it feels like having an infant all over again.

So what do I say to her. Life if not fair. Suck it up. God picked you because he knew you are strong and can handle it. We need to work on your diet more to figure out if the holistic doctor was right and that you really can't eat milk, yogurt or wheat, which is in everything. Mostly I just ache for her and wish I could fix these problems. But then I remind myself that life is not fair and that I should just suck it up.


yertle said...

My heart goes out to your and your daughter. This post gives me a lot of compassion towards my parents, and I have always known that they did what they did since they didn't know what else to do. It was never out of malice, only love. I know they wished they could fix it also.

From my perspective, there were two things that bothered me the most about the whole situation for me as a kid. (1) There was never any space for me to talk about it and get emotional support around it. It was like they tried to pretend it wasn't happening so they wouldn't have to deal with it. (2) "Suck It Up" means you have to disconnect from your feelings and parts of yourself to put on a mask that everything is OK even when it isn't. I didn't want a pity party, but I would have liked some support around the hard things -- like being teased, and feeling like a burden.

As an adult, I wish my parents could have had some support around it also. Someone to help them figure out what to do and to help them with their own feelings about me not being the perfect baby they had hoped for. As I write that down, tears come to my eyes and I realize a part of the problem -- no baby is perfect, but some babies feel less perfect than others, and that part still hurts almost 40 years later. I wish I had the answer about how to make sure she knows she is worthy and perfectly who she is right now. That is what I really wanted.

yertle said...

I've continued to think about this ever since I read the post. I was wondering if reading books like these with her might be helpful. I think one good thing is to not feel alone in the experience.

The Lion Who Had Asthma by Jonathan London

All the Better to See You With! by Margaret Wild

yertle said...

One more comment :)

Try not to be hard on yourself either. You deserve some loving support around this also. It is hard to always be there, especially when your kids are going through hard times or difficult things. The fact that you are thinking about it and concerned shows how much you care. You can do this.

Sending much love.