November 19, 2009

Are You My Mother?

Anne Marie is more stable today than yesterday. Her bleeding and oozing have almost stopped and her blood pressure has risen just a bit. They have increased her pain and sedation medication so she seems to be more comfortable and restful. The pain medicine can make her blood pressure drop so the doctors and nurses have to find the right balance of managing these together. She is also still on antibiotics for infection and they have had to increase her oxygen level just a bit, but all of her blood gas labs looked good this morning. She still hasn't had any urine output, which the doctors really want to see.

Two of the biggest lessons I am learning on the twelfth floor are trust and gratitude. I see more than ever my need to trust God not just for tomorrow, but for my very next step and then the next step after that. Like Anne Marie, I am taking baby steps. Unfortunately, I am a slow learner, but God is patient and gracious. One of the biggest struggles with trust has to do with not being able to hold Anne Marie and mother her the way I had hoped.

There's a book I remember reading when I was little entitled Are You My Mother? It’s the story of a baby bird whose mother is away getting worms when he is hatched. The baby bird goes off in search of his mother. Not knowing what his mother looks like, he asks everything from a cow to a steam shovel the question, "Are you my mother?"

Anne Marie has lots of people taking care of her each day. Lots of people touching her, examining her, changing her dressings, changing her diapers. I wonder, does she know I’m her mother? It doesn’t take newborns long to know the touch of their mothers, the smell of their mothers, the feel of a mother’s breath on their tiny necks. The comfort of a mother’s arms and of being cradled and nursed. Anne Marie doesn’t know these things. And I wonder, does she know that the hands that are rubbing lotion on her dry, wrinkled legs are her mother’s? Does she know that the lips that kiss her few places that aren’t covered with tape and tubes are her mother's, and the voice that tries to soothe her when she cries is the voice of one that loves her more than she can imagine? I haven’t been able to mother her in the way I would have chosen. No first baths or late-night rockings. No dressing her in pink sleepers and snuggling her in warm blankets. My mothering involves things like asking the nurse how her last blood gas looked and asking if I can see her latest X-ray. It has been suctioning out her mouth and wiping her swollen little eyelids. It has been rubbing her head when she cries and trying to get her to settle down when I can’t pick her up and hold her. Does she know I’m her mother? As she is crying (without any sounds coming out) and looking at me so helplessly, does she wonder why I’m not doing anything to help her?

This has been a hard lesson in trust. Trusting that all things work together for good, even this. God knew what her road was going to be like and He knows how much babies need their mothers and how much mothers love their babies. Trusting that God’s love for her is far greater than mine and trusting that Anne Marie somehow knows how much I love her. I'm praying that one day I will be able to tell her how grateful I am that He chose me to be her mother.