Two weeks ago, a friend of mine, someone I’ve known since our now four-year-olds were babies, gave birth to her second child. She was having a difficult pregnancy, and was diagnosed with HELLP, a condition that requires immediate delivery of the baby. She was 36 weeks along, so a C-section (already the planned delivery method) was performed.
Mom, however, did not recover well, and after a series of tests, she was diagnosed with lymphoma originating in the liver. Treatment started immediately, including chemotherapy and dialysis. I know many readers of Hopeful Parents have had the unfortunate experience of leaving their babies in the NICU after being released from the hospital. In this case, the healthy baby was released and mom had to stay. She’s expected to be allowed to go home in another week or so, but it is going to be a long road to recovery.
This past weekend was a rough one at my house. My four year old son Moe, who is autistic, was quite manic, and found new ways to get into trouble at every turn. I spent a lot of time saying things like “no climbing!” and “not for mouth!” We went to a birthday party for a two year old on Saturday, and I wanted so desperately to let Moe run and play with the rest of the kids. But keeping him out of the food buffet or from running behind the rose bushes along the perimeter of the yard was a full time job.
Our house looks like a toy factory exploded (and this is after I’ve removed many of them to the garage). The weekend was not made any easier by the fact that it was the start to Moe’s first week of summer break – the only week he doesn’t have any school and both my babysitters are out of town. I will have to take my two year old along to Moe’s therapies, which is challenging. I can’t take the kids to the park or even the mall by myself unless they are in the stroller. Needless to say, I am stressed.
But I also have perspective.
I am thankful that my legs allow me to take my kids for walks in the stroller.
I am thankful that I have two hands, perfect for holding on to each of my children.
I am thankful that I have a voice, even if I occasionally often have to use it to say the word no.
I am thankful that I am able to care for my children today.
Please do not misunderstand. I do not intend to compare one type of struggle to another. This same mom and I met for coffee a few months ago. We were talking about some of her older daughter’s challenging behaviors. She stopped herself, saying she shouldn’t complain when I have it so much worse. But it isn’t like that. I remember complaining to a different friend about something or other when Moe was small. This friend had had a few miscarriages and had not been able to have a child of her own. We all have our challenges in life.
Suffering is not a competition, and just because someone else is struggling doesn't mean your worries are any less real. Caring for a child with a developmental disability is incredibly stressful. But right now, a friend is fighting off cancer, and her young baby needs her back at home. So today, I am giving myself a break from worrying about my own future. Thankfully, my concerns can wait for another day.