Friday, December 24, 2010

Feeling Powerless

At Becka's first week check up, she had a slight temperature. That combined with something about her heart the doctor didn't like led her to tell us to go straight to Duke University Medical Center (We were in Durham, NC then). Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Don't even stop back by your house. Just GO.

Thus began the worst and most heartbreaking day Charlie and I had in our few young years as parents.

The sense of powerlessness, watching your tiny infant poked repeatedly with needles by med students who had never worked on a child so small... of watching them try to find and place a catheter... knowing they'd have to make her scream for a chest x-ray all tore us apart.

Nothing that came after... not the cardiologist visits, the diagnosis, the pediatric cardiologist visits compared with the gut-wrenching feeling of being unable to comfort or fix things for our child that came that day.

Last night, I sat with Becka in the Emergency Room while she watched the same torturous tests being done on her baby. Despite the doctor's assertion that there is a big difference between he anatomy of a 1 week old and that of a 5 month old, it was the same. Repeated attempts to find a vein. Repeated attempts to access her tiny urethra and the knowledge they'd have to make little Elena scream to get a good chest x-ray.

It was almost eerie. Not just seeing Elena and Becka going through it all but being in the same position of powerlessness when it came to comforting my baby. I could hold her while she cried, whisper words of reassurance, remind her Elena would quickly forget... that all these tests are standard these days and it's a good thing... but when it came right down to it... I couldn't fix my baby's hurt.

I whispered to Becka at one point that this was a part of motherhood. There will be times in Elena's future when she'll go through something or experience some pain Becka will not be able to take away.

Super Mom or no... some boo-boo's can't be kissed away.

It's a hard lesson to learn as a parent. I wish Becka didn't have to learn it so vividly or so soon... but I know it will make her a stronger mother and woman.

Still, it was a heartbreaking evening for all.

But then they finished with the torture and we could comfort Elena and giggle at her pathetic but adorable attempts to find a thumb on her taped up hands. She was fascinated by the gauze wrapping and small splint holding her hand still for the IV. When they took it off, I couldn't tell if her crying was because another nurse was messing with her or because she wanted to keep that interesting thing on her arm.

Elena will be fine. I know that.

Looking at the strength of her mother I know, she too... will be fine.