It’s Saturday, April 20, 2019, Mr. Awesome is home and I am grateful to get a few minutes to type what’s on my heart.
I woke up to a quiet house, I turned over and grabbed my phone to start my online bible study. My heart craves a “real” bible study, but in this season, I just don’t have the resources or community to make that happen. Everyone is busy. Always busy. I miss the days that we pushed our busyness aside and made time for each other anyway. I have hosted many Bible studies in the past and poured into the ministry of making better moms, and helping women find the best version of themselves, but in this season, I don’t feel at all equipped for that, and that just has to be okay because there isn’t any other way around it right now.
I too was once “busy”.
I was reminded of that as I finished up my bible study this morning and switched over to Facebook to see my “memories”.
My status read: At Mercy ER- Graycie has a broken humerus. Seriously this girl has been through enough.
*Enough, because that week had been insanely busy with her baptism, her 6-month checkup, and a cardiologist appointment with a possible surgery to be scheduled. The worry within my heart was strong, but my faith was stronger. Much stronger. I prayed for healing within her sweet little body every.single.day. in that season of life. The Cardiologist thing was all so new to us. We’d only had “normal” healthy kids before her. Broken bones weren’t something we were familiar with either, and on a tiny little baby? How was this possible?
You see, six years ago today we had been playing in the yard with our three children. It was a gorgeous day and we had nothing on the agenda because that’s how Saturdays almost always were back then. As we talked about going on a walk, I remembered the jogging stroller we had just gotten from Amazon had a defect or something, and I wanted to write to their customer service to get it remedied while I was still within the return window.
We all came inside, our oldest children, 10 and 5, laid on the carpeted living room floor playing with these medium sized Lightning McQueen shaker cars in front of their 6-month old baby sister. When shaken, the Ramone car would rev its engine and say “Hey, show some respect, Homz” before driving off across the room. The baby LAUGHED each time her big brother and sister would talk, and she loved to watch them play. They loved to make her laugh. They used to look into her eyes and say “I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE YOU” in the cutest tone, she would smile and laugh and they would do it over and over again.
I remember this little ritual because that’s later what my oldest daughter told a DHS worker when they came to our home and asked: “How do you make your baby sister laugh?” What an odd question I thought, and when my oldest daughter said “I say, I LOVE YOU” to her, I felt like she didn’t believe her at all. But it was the truth, and the sweetest sight to see. I wish we still had giggles and joy in our family as we did then. And I wish I had captured that little routine on video.
Mr. Awesome said he’d start some lunch while I retreated to the office to contact Amazon about replacing that stroller. I think he was making hot dogs; I remember it was something on the stove. We hardly ever eat hot dogs now, and I don’t like cooking on the stove, because it requires too much of my precious time, trying to watch a pot boil, rather than keep my eyes on my children. It’s something that needs tending to, even in an emergency, because a stove left on could create another emergency if you have to run away in a hurry. Thank the Lord for the invention of the Instant Pot.
I remember just feeling joy, overwhelming joy that morning and afternoon as we spent time with our children. We’d made it through the busy week, Baby Graycie didn’t need to be put under for the cardiology tests like they had originally planned, and best of all she didn’t need heart surgery at the time (we’d keep going back for follow-ups to keep an eye on her condition). An answered prayer!
Mr. Awesome at the stove, me at the computer in the office where I could turn in my swivel chair and see the kids, and the kids on the floor… Only minutes had passed from the time I sat down, and I suddenly heard a loud noise. It sounded like the shaker car had rammed into the baseboard trim. All of a sudden, our sweet 6-month-old that was always a pure joy and very rarely cried, let out a blood-curdling scream, unlike anything my momma heart had ever heard!
Amazon said we could return the stroller and get a free replacement would be sent; a detail of the story that all of a sudden didn’t matter. We spent $152 on that stroller that I had researched for months and patiently waited to go on sale. We didn’t spend money like that back, and I hate how easily we do now. In those days we just didn’t need to buy expensive things, joy was not found in stuff, but in each other.
I clicked the “x” on the Amazon chat window and ran to the kids.
“What’d you do?” I asked. “What happened?”
I swopped up the baby and walked five paces to the dining room table. Mr. Awesome met me there just as fast.
We had never heard her cry loud or long. Because of her heart condition, she spent most of her time sleeping and didn’t get worked up, ever. She never needed to, she was beyond spoiled and catered to, just as we liked. We adored her, and all of our children and they all adored each other.
I knew something was very wrong. As a former nursing student, I laid her on the table and looked her over, there was something different in her shoulder or arm area. A dislocated shoulder I wondered? I tried calling our neighbor, an EMT, no response. We decided quickly that we needed the ER. I called my brother to stay with the kids (I thanked God out loud that he and his family had moved closer to us, just 2 miles down the road), Mr. Awesome ran to turn off the stove, we made a bottle and whisked our baby to the van.
On the way I called my dad, fighting back tears, and remaining calm to not interfere with what needed to be done, I asked if he could call the ER to let them know we were coming. He lived closer and met us at the hospital. We fed the bottle to the baby and she stopped crying and fell asleep peacefully in her car seat. Maybe she was okay? We decided to get her checked out anyway, something just didn’t’ feel right.
The whole ER experience is a post for another day (or never, because I just can’t wrap my head around it, even still after talking with the head of the hospital and sharing written correspondence).
As it turns out, our sweet girl had broken her humerus in a spiral break. A sort of break that is typical of child abuse. It was April 20th, which apparently is a druggy “holiday”, and there was a child abuse prevention convention happening earlier that day in the next town over. All the cards were stacked against us.
Mr. Awesome and I were dressed in jeans and matching American Eagle sweatshirts. We hadn’t dressed to impress; we wore what we had on and did what we needed to do to get our daughter help. I often wonder if our attire had anything to do with the care we received? Did we look poor? And did “poor people” not get the same care as wealthy people? To this day you’ll rarely find me in a sweatshirt. I think I own just one and use it for outdoor work only. Again, a change that was made in my mind that day, and I hate it. I never used to be so concerned with my clothing, at least not in the way others viewed me because of it.
We spent the night in the hospital for observation, which apparently is not so the doctors could tend to our daughter’s broken bone, but to watch our parenting. DHS was called, and we spent the next couple of weeks with daily visits in our home, and being told we couldn’t leave the state (even for a doctor’s appointment in Minnesota at the best facility in the United States). The threat to have our daughter removed from our home was hanging over us, and NO ONE seemed to understand that the resources being used could have been better applied to her CARE, not checking our home to see if the dishes were done and the beds were made.
Even to this day, I cannot quite tell you how much that experience sucked the joy out of my parenting, but it did. I became a worrier. What an awful disgusting feeling, to be in worry so often. Especially for my previously care-free personality. From that day forward I feared to let my kids play, because they may get hurt. If they got hurt, the “good guys”, the doctors at the ER, were obviously not on our side.
You see, our daughter didn’t get adequate care in the ER or in the days following from the orthopedic surgeon. Even the room they put us in for our follow up appointments looked like a supply closet, surely not somewhere they put their patients to provide them genuine care. I think enough time has passed that I could dig up pictures to share, but it hurts my heart to even think of opening that file.
In those days six years ago, very few people believed us, that our daughter’s broken arm was purely accidental. From the kids’ account, she only rolled over on her arm, and it made a very loud snap noise. That noise I thought was a toy car hitting the baseboard trim. No one was touching her, which is why it didn’t make sense and I pushed for further testing. Was it Osteogenesis Imprefecta (brittle bone disease)? Something else? I just begged for answers so this would never ever happen again.
I’m forever thankful for our pediatrician, the doctors at Mayo Clinic, and our eye doctor, who all reviewed our case, examined our girl and fought justly for our daughter’s health.
Today, this day, the day before Easter I wonder how Jesus felt when he was wrongly convicted and crucified?
I wonder if this worry that I’ve carried for six years has done any good at all? Has it protected my children from harm? Is helicopter parenting really the answer to keeping kids safe?
I can tell you this, I hate worrying. I hate not knowing who I can trust with my children’s health in an emergency. I hate not letting them climb and play like kids should play, because they might get hurt. I hate that every time my toddler runs I yell “slow down”, because he may trip and break something and we go through this whole ordeal again, not because there is actually anything wrong with him testing his speed.
You guys, I don’t want you to think I am foolish here, I absolutely understand the need for the protocol that was taken as the result of a 6-month-old voiceless child breaking their arm, but what I cannot understand is the lack of compassion in the process.
Friends, if you have it in your heart to believe the best in people, to show love and compassion, and live in true community with your neighbors, please do it. Don’t let your hearts be hardened and your mind become filled with worries and what-ifs. JUST LOVE deeply, without competition or conditions, and let the Lord sort out the rest. You never know when a moment may come that seeks to fade your joy, and you HAVE GOT to have your heart ready to defend against it. The only thing that wins 100% of the time, is LOVE.