There is no better feeling in this world that can compare to the first time you hold your newborn baby in your arms for the first time. That initial meeting is so overwhelming and changes your heart immediately. At that moment, you fully give yourself over to that delicate human being and know you are no longer number one. Selflessness and bravery become automatic transformations, motherly instinct kicks-in, and whoever you once were, no longer applies.
It truly is a miraculous day and the happiest one of your life, but nothing can prepare you for that devastating news that your first and only child has Cancer. The confusion that sets in that this angelic, fragile, tender and sweet baby that you had prayed and dreamed for God to bring may not be yours to hold any longer. To go from the happiest day on earth to the worst day, in less than two years, is nothing less than unfair and disheartening.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We had a healthy and beautiful baby boy that made it through a tormenting and scary birth. After that had taken place, and I recovered in the hospital after an emergency C-Section, I returned home and the next morning was rushed back to the Emergency Room, where I got a hall pass for another week’s stay in the hospital.
I didn’t get to see Knox, feel his touch, breast feed or have any of those special bonding moments you have the first week of your baby’s birth. Fred, a new daddy, was forced to juggle working and taking care of a newborn. Our families were there to help and life went on as “normal,” as I laid alone in a hospital bed, wondering if my son was going to even get to know his mama.
My thoughts overcame me and I was left to worry in fear about whether or not my baby would ever get to know me. I had more time on my hands than anyone should when your newborn is at home in someone else’s care. To top it off, I had stumped the doctors, who were unable to treat me effectively because they were baffled by what I was in such pain from; a rare infection that only 1% of women get. I still question if I AM that 1% – the doctors never shared those statistics and it still haunts me to think about that small number that was on the opposite spectrum of winning the lottery.
However, I know that there is a reason why I am still here. That time when I was so scared and alone night after night in a cold hospital bed I had time to talk to my Creator. I was terrified and had no idea what the future held, or if there would even be a future for me. There was one day at my weakest that I picked up the phone and called a dear friend and sorority sister, Jennifer, the most faithful Christian, who I had not spoken to in some time.
I knew the Holy Spirit was leading me to her and I obeyed. I just knew she would have the perfect words to say and boy, was I more than right. She asked if she could pray with me over the phone and then asked if she could drive from Jacksonville to Atlanta to sit with me, hold my hand and pray over me (did I mention she has THREE young GIRLS}?! Just having that special friend, working with Jesus, made me feel at peace and I was rejuvenated. I knew I was going to be all right and would trust in The Lord, regardless of the fear of my circumstances. I know now that was Him preparing my heart and pruning me for an even bigger journey to come.
Fast forward, almost two years later, when I found myself in the Emergency Room again. Yet, this time was even more crucifying, because it was not about me. I was waiting for the diagnosis of my heart and soul, the baby that God chose just for me, and who He has trusted me to care for here on earth. I remember the course of events like it was yesterday, partially because I always knew something wasn’t “right.” However, I consistently was told by specialists, doctors and friends that he was just fine. Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit kept telling me to trust those mama instincts.
As Fred and I waited for Knox to finish getting the MRI that we fought hard to get, we went down to the café to grab supper while we waited. Little did Fred know, that I had been watching the clock. The irony is that I come from the world of Radiology and know the exact amount of time an MRI of the Cervical Spine should take. And when five minutes passed and we had not received the call that Knox was out, I knew we were about to hear something we weren’t anticipating.
I knew I needed to prepare Fred. I remember looking over the table, grabbing his hand and telling him that he needed “to prepare” himself, because we were about to get some shocking news. He looked at me like I was crazy and I understand why.
No one is prepared for news like that and coming from your wife, it sounds like I was focused on the negative. However, I knew I could not let him face the music without some sort of wake up call. And I am so glad I made that leap of faith, because minutes later we got a call that they would be keeping him in the scanner for an MRI of the brain. And then my fears were validated.
We went back up to meet with the doctor who delivered the news that they had found a tumor on his spine, but that we caught it early and it had not spread or metastasized to his brain. Even though I thought I had “prepared” us that was not the news I was expecting. It was every mother and father’s living nightmare and no parent should ever have to go through that. However, too many of us do.
The two of us were then left alone to deal with our emotions in that little exam room and they ran the gamut. Shock, fear, anger, blame, humility, anxiety, worry, confusion, panic and grief, but most imporatntly FAITH. After taking the bubbles I was using to entertain Knox and chucking them across the room all in a desperate attempt to have some control, I gathered myself and crawled into Fred’s lap…and prayed. Then, we picked ourselves and our spirits up off the floor, and made the most dreadful phone calls to our parents and siblings letting them know we were taking our precious baby immediately up the Intensive Care Unit with no idea what was to come in the nights or days ahead.
To say I was scared is an understatement, but at that moment I chose freedom over fear and stayed strong in The Lord’s Promise. I just fully believed that there was no way He was going to forsake me, because I knew He had a plan for Knox’s future. Plans to prosper him and not to harm him and plans to give him hope and a future. I looked to that verse, Jeremiah 29:11 quite often, as we spent the next week in a torturous hell.
I promised from the day that God entrusted me to care for the baby he placed in my arms on the night of June 8th, 2011, that I would always put his needs and care first. Albeit, I am no super mom, and I am no different from you. I have my weaknesses and flaws even with a child who was bearing Cancer.
I can promise though, that if it were you, I know you would find the strength to care for your child, too. It’s in our DNA and who we are as mommy’s. I know The Lord has been there every step of the way preparing Fred and I for this journey together. We could have easily ignored the constant instinctual feelings that we were feeling, but we listened and fought for our little boy instead. Had we chosen not to listen, then we would have never gotten the early diagnosis and treatment for Knox as soon and quickly as we did and possibly a different outcome.So, heed my advice mommy’s and daddy’s. Are you listening, because this is VERY important? Trust your gut and the instincts that God has given to you and resides within our spirit. When something doesn’t feel right than it usually isn’t. When you are presented road blocks, starting to feel like a “crazy mom” or getting different opinions contrary to how you FEEL, keep listening to what that voice in your head is telling you. That’s your soul speaking and it never gives you bad advice!
That dreadful night, I surrendered myself and accepted the plans that The Lord so desired for our precious Knox, who in all essence belongs to Him. As his parents, we are here to lead Knox to fully know Christ and that is what we will do every moment we have with this precious extraordinary child. We know that right now our son is in remission and thriving after a very tough year and that is what we are focusing our praises upon. For it is through Him all blessings flow; and through only God’s grace we have seen them flow abundantly.
When I finally opened my eyes and heart to God, He has constantly shown that he is ever present in the most amazing and breathtaking ways. Through beautiful strangers and divine appointments created just for me, in the weeks to come, I will be posting personal testimonies on how his grace saved me in the midst of some of my weakest and most vulnerable days. He has changed me in the most extraordinary of ways and made this life so beautiful; life is so much better with His strength, faithfulness, mercy, grace, love and forgiveness.