My Mother’s Day – by Liimu

Mother’s Day used to be all about cards and flowers, my biggest complaint being that I wished I could get a day to myself for a change, away from the kids, away from responsibility. That all changed for me last year, along with my whole perspective on what Mother’s Day means to me, when a teeny bug invaded our lives and turned our whole world upside down.

I remember distinctly all the things I was consumed with last year – running the Broad Street Run (three minutes faster than this year’s time, I feel obliged to add). I was on top of the world, complaining about nothing, except how slow business had been lately. Okay, that’s a bit of an understatement. I was consumed with losing weight and gaining business, only slightly distracted by the fact that my six-year old daughter couldn’t seem to shake a mysterious fever. Pages and pages of my journals from that time period show how completely out of whack my priorities were:

May 4, 2009

Amelia still has a fever today. We’re going to the doctor in an hour. Hopefully he can figure out what the problem is. This has gone on for a long time. I feel things shifting with regard to work. Finally! Yesterday was the Broad Street Run. I rocked it! I ran it in an hour and 45 minutes. A 10:35 pace. Amazing!

May 5, 2009

I am in tune with myself today. Slowing down and creating space in my schedule. I will not freak out about all I have to be. I will do what I can. Amelia is still home sick today. If I can just get to the gym, maybe get my nails done, I’ll be happy. Will I be in the 150s this week? Will I see it? I really hope so. I need to just breathe into my life. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and unsure.

May 7, 2009

I can do this. I can bring this company back to life. I know I can. I’m going to get back track and start writing again, start working out again, start MOVING again. We’re taking Amelia to the ER today to get some tests done. She’s on day 7 of fever. God, please let her be OK. Please let her be OK. Heal her, Lord. My little angel. Don’t let anything happen to her, please, Lord. Everything else just isn’t that important right now. All I care about is her healing.

We were told by our family doctor (during the third visit in less than a month) that if the fever didn’t break by the end of day 7, we should take her to the hospital. She woke up on day 7 with not only fever, but a rash over most of her body, swollen trunk and limbs, lethargic and extremely irritable. That is when the nightmare began.

When we got to Abington Hospital (what I now feel is one of the best hospitals in the country), the ER doctor on call said she believed what she was looking at was a case of the very rare Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever . She recommended we put Amelia on an extremely severe course of the antibiotic, Doxycycline. The potential side effect of the drug was that her teeth might be permanently tinted gray. That sounded sort of harsh to me, and I told her so. “What’s the risk if we don’t treat with the antibiotics?” “If this is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,” she told us gravely, “Amelia could very well die.”

The doctor then recommended Amelia be rushed directly down to CHOP. Soon after we got there, the infection spread to Amelia’s spine, rendering her paralyzed, and then to her brain, so that she no longer remembered how to sip from a straw or who her parents were. For nearly a week, we sat next to her bed and asked each other how this had happened. How had we gotten to this point? How were we now looking at our beautiful child, facing doctors who were telling us that she may never walk again, that she may suffer permanent brain damage, that she may suffer a stroke any minute that would kill her? My husband and I spent those days in tears as family members flew in from all over the country to do what they could to help, to do anything they could to get her to come out of it.

I remember so clearly one day sitting next to her bed and my husband asked, yet again, what we had done to deserve this and I had a moment of epiphany and I said, “I don’t know what brought us to this place. But I know that from this moment forward, I’m going to do everything I can with my attitude and my thinking and my prayers to bring us out it. And so from this moment on, I don’t want to hear anything about how did we get to this point. From this moment on, I don’t want to hear anything about the possibility of what horrible things that could happen to her from this point on. All I want to do is focus on our daughter getting well, and the image of her sitting up in that hospital bed, watching SpongeBob Squarepants and playing Uno cards. That’s all I want to think about, that’s all I want to hear about, that’s all I want to focus on. Period.”

Soon after, I asked me husband to go home to get some much needed rest, and to let me spend some time alone with our daughter. That night, at 10 pm, I scooched my chair up next to her bed to settle in to read her a story, as if we were home in her room filled with pink and purple flowers, instead of in a sterile hospital room. I asked my tiny daughter which story she wanted me to read: Winnie the Pooh or KnuffleBunny? To my shock and amazement, I heard a tiny voice in response say, “KnuffleBunny.” That voice was the sweetest sound I had maybe ever heard, and one I thought I might never hear again. I started to cry, and I started to text everyone: “She said ‘KnuffleBunny!’ She said ‘KnuffleBunny!’” And of course, I read her the book, and by the next day, she was sitting up in that bed playing Uno cards and watching SpongeBob. The doctors were dumbfounded at how quickly she was improving – exponentially, they said. They questioned whether the charts were accurate, because the patient they were observing was so vastly improved over the one described in her chart by the doctor who had visited her just hours earlier.

Today, my Amelia’s biggest concern is that she has not yet mastered a headstand. I spent last Mother’s Day in the hospital by her side. This Mother’s Day, I will spend with all three of my children, enjoying the Race for the Cure in the morning, playing outside in the afternoon, and then leaving them in the capable hands of my own mother as I go off to spend ten days in Italy with my husband in celebration of my upcoming 40th birthday. I am so grateful and blessed for this life that I have, and I know that my connection to my Higher Power and my ability to stay positive in the midst of the most horrific trials and tribulations, are in large part why I have the life I have today. So this Mother’s Day, I will hug my children a little bit tighter, and thank them for being here, for they are what I am celebrating on that day, not me. What I celebrate this Mother’s Day is my children – their beauty, their joy, their growth and their successes, and perhaps most of all, their ability to help me see what’s really important.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.