To the Mother of a Sick Child

Life throws us through different seasons and experiences that as a child, it never even crossed your mind that you may have to face.  Little girls often dream of being moms as they “play house” and they tote their baby dolls around as they care, console, and feed it as if it were really a baby.  Nap times and bed times are given as they are gently placed in their little toy cribs and a sense of urgency comes over them as it’s “feeding time” approaches. We cook and bake for our babies in our toy kitchens that reek of plastic and our future dreams all at once. Our make-believe husbands are likely a rendition of our dad or the prince on our favorite Disney movie…which is essentially the same thing.  We fall in love with our little toy baby and our make believe husband and we live in a world where the sun never sets and the flowers never wither.  We continue to give all our free time to this little plastic, $15.99 doll that has been entrusted to us.  Even before our sense of logic has fully kicked in, we just know that our lives were meant to care for the lives of others.

Suddenly, those little girls grow up and gone are the days when life is just pretend.  The little girls turn into big girls who have their very own kitchens and big girl beds.  Prince Charming may have eventually came around except you don’t exactly live in a palace and birds don’t come to your window each morning to braid your hair. Despite a few detail changes, your life still blossoms into the dream life you experienced as a child, especially when it comes time to have a child of your own.

But what happens when your little girl dreams fully come to fruition, your very own baby arrives into your life and the baby you’ve prepared your entire life for is sick?  What happens when you spend hours in labor only to have your baby taken from you and given into the care of dozens of nurses and doctors that you have yet to meet? You see, this part of life was never displayed for us in Cinderella.

For the last five months, I’ve had to watch my sister live this scenario out.  In her daughter’s 5 months of life, she’s had to watch the baby she’s always dreamed of fight for her life on a daily basis.  Every day I watch her not only care for her toddler, but also travel to the NICU each day to see her precious baby, I am reminded of the power of motherhood.  There are sadly many who are walking or have walked in her shoes, and this is what I would say to each one of them.

1.  It’s not your fault.  You didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t have any “hidden sin” or curse over your life that has caused your baby to have to go through this.  In a way, that would probably make it easier if you could trace it back to something you did wouldn’t it?  As you begin to recount every second of your pregnancy and try to comb through every food you ate, word you spoke, or move you made, remind yourself that you did the best that you could.  Give yourself the grace that you deserve.

2.  This isn’t God’s will.  I can’t think of anything less comforting than being told that it’s God’s will for your child to be sick and suffering.  I am sure that you have lost count of the number of people who tried to encourage you by saying that this is “God’s will” for you to go through this but hear me when I say that there is no other person who hurts more than you in this moment than God.  When Jesus walked the earth, He assured us that he came to give us all life and life to the FULL.  That applies to your baby too.

3.  It’s ok to be angry.  Life isn’t fair.  A child having to suffer isn’t fair. It’s infuriating.  A mother having to watch her child suffer isn’t fair.  It’s infuriating.  Don’t allow guilt and shame to rear their ugly heads in your heart and make you feel as though your feelings of confusion and anger make you any less holy. God’s love and grace can handle your questions and your anger.

4. It’s going to be ok.  Right now, your heart feel so beaten down and broken.  Every day you wake up praying, pleading, and hoping that today is the day your baby gets  miracle and every day that passes where that isn’t the case, your heart aches a little more.  Nobody knows what the future holds and I wish with everything in me that I could snap my fingers and give you your miracle.  But I know that you are so immersed and covered in the goodness of God right now.  It’s okay if it doesn’t feel that way. Just know that it’s the truth.  There will be a day when you will feel His sweet presence once again.

5. You’re a hero.  God painted a beautiful picture when he decided to send his son to be sacrificed.  He knew that of all the things we experience in life, the suffering of a child is far beyond any other pain.  You are a living example of the love of God.  Every day you fight for your baby, you prove that there is nothing that love cannot conquer.

To the mother of a sick child, you are loved. You are seen.  You are going to be okay.

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