You wouldn’t know it by looking at me. I live life pretty fully and enjoy it most days. I smile and laugh. I don’t spend hours in bed when the sun’s up. I’m not trying to numb anything by doing harmful things to myself, (however sometimes when I feel really bad I’ll watch Dance Moms to remind myself that all moms have issues). It’s not that I try to be fake or hide anything it’s just that when people ask, “how are you doing?” I’m not compelled to say, “Oh I struggle with PTSD and anxiety but other than that, I’m really good!“ This is a conversation that isn’t being had. No one talks about this, not when it comes to an average wife and stay-at-home mom whose only battle field was trying to just survive when her daughter almost didn’t.
February 2017 will be 4 years since my 9 year old daughter went into the hospital. She had eaten something tainted with E-coli bacteria and it was starting to wreak havoc on her little body. I watched her endure countless sessions of needle sticks, while I could do nothing. I watched her body swell up because her kidneys weren’t working to flush fluids or toxins out of her body, while I could do nothing. I watched her be prepped for surgeries to insert catheters to try to rid her body of these toxins, while I could do nothing. I watched her go through several sessions of cleaning these catheters just hours later with her crying in pain because they hadn’t healed, while I could do nothing. I watched as dialysis machines painfully filled her abdomen with fluid, while I could do nothing. I watched lung machines force air into her lungs to try to get them healthy again, while I could do nothing. I watched her frail little body do physical therapy, I cheered her on but felt broken. I watched her slowly fade away into a vegetative state as the toxins invaded her brain only to watch her come back to us within 24 hours. I struggled constantly with the fact that my faith, that I thought was fairly solid, had been shaken so hard that I wondered if it would ever recover. I struggled with feeling like God had completely abandoned my daughter, (which is worse than feeling abandoned myself). I struggled with the fact that my husband, donating his kidney to our girl was the only way back to “health” for her. I didn’t want any more pain for any of us and then, after a few years, it was over.
Just like that we were to live life again. Not worrying day by day what battles we’d have to fight or even if our daughter was going to survive. "All is well”, right? I’m the mom, life goes on and I have to live life again however everything has changed and no one is there to teach me how to do this. Not only am I changed spiritually, but emotionally and physically. I have learned that my heart will race when I’m awaiting monthly lab results. I have learned that my heart will race every time I visit someone in the hospital. I have learned that when I see any pictures from 2013-2015 my heart will race. I have also learned that there are moments that my body and my brain will shut down with an exhaustion unparalleled to any other exhaustion. I can’t think straight or make a decision to save my life. I have looked back and can now see countless blessings that I’d never want to miss but know they never would have happened if we hadn’t gone through what we did. I constantly deal with my flesh screaming, “I can’t take any more pain and struggle!” however my spirit wants to keep growing and experiencing God’s best for us.
I’ve got to think I’m not the only mom who is struggling with this. We all have a story, we all experience the same types of emotions no matter the struggle and I know women whose stories last much longer than mine. How can we support each other? Is anyone really talking about this? What does healing even look like? I obviously don’t have the answers but until then I'll put one foot in front of the other, live life the best I know how hoping it’s good enough for my girls and watch an occasional episode of Dance Moms if needed.