Thursday, May 29, 2014

When Your Child is in Pain

There is almost nothing worse as a parent than watching your child endure pain. I always want to take it from them. 

Let me take the pain instead, Lord. That is my prayer whenever one of my little ones is hurt or not feeling well.

I experienced moments like that quite a bit when my daughter Hazel was in the NICU. She may not have even felt much pain when they changed her IVs or feeding tubes. When they pulled the tape off of her face or put an instrument down her esophagus.

But I felt pain in my heart for what she had to endure. 

I wanted to bear it all for her...if only I could.
Recently our youngest child, Owen, who is twenty months old, has not been feeling the greatest. He had a variety of different symptoms, and we weren't sure what was going on. After a visit to the pediatrician, they suspected that he may have a hernia. We had to take him in to see a pediatric surgeon, where it was confirmed, and an appointment was made for surgery.

Owen was a trooper during our very long time spent at the hospital waiting to find out. He brought his favorite Elmo doll, that he takes to bed every night, and carried him around tightly. Owen even introduced Elmo to the doctor when he entered the room. The doctor said hello to each of us as we told him our names, and then Owen pointed to Elmo and said in a deep, adorable, yet oh so serious voice, "Owmo."

Just in case the doctor didn't know who Elmo was.

Now, I can tell when he is hunched in pain and by certain motions he does, that the hernia is what is causing him pain. He cries loudly, gets very hot and his face turns bright red. He says, "Mama...Dada" over and over again till it could make your heart break. There isn't much I can offer to him then. Maybe some baby Tylenol. An attempt at a comforting touch. Holding him gently until the pain stops.

But I wish I could take the pain for him. I wish I could be the one instead.
(Photo credit here goes to Hazel. She is my budding photographer.)

Now, our little guy has to have surgery. I know that it is routine, and I have full confidence in the staff at the hospital (it is the same one where Hazel was in the NICU for those first 50 days).

But, I also know on that day, I will be a nervous wreck inside. I am already dreading the part when they will take him away from me, and I have to sit and wait. They have told us that the biggest concerns are infection and bleeding. No one ever wants to worry about these things for their children. And I know some parents have to endure so much more that I cannot even imagine.

I am fully confident that Owen will come through this wonderfully and that we will bring him home later that day just fine.

But, my mama's heart will still wish I could take his place. Let me go instead...let me be the one.

So what can we do when our children endure pain?

1. Pray
Faith is huge for us, so even though it can seem small, prayer is the most powerful weapon that we have. And believing. Trusting that God will answer our heartfelt prayers. We have done a lot of praying for Owen lately. Hazel even asks us to pray for him from time to time. She gently rubs his arm or his leg, and I think there is so much comfort for him in that alone.

2. Try to stay calm
This can be tough, but it is so important. If we get ourselves all worked up and stressed we won't be much comfort to our child who is the one going through the actual pain. Take a deep breath if it gets too stressful. Try to keep your head clear. Have your spouse take over if you just can't take it anymore. Kids who are sick or in pain can be very overwhelming, especially if it is late at night and you just want to get some rest. I try to keep calm by knowing this time will eventually pass and keeping the bigger picture in mind. This young age will be gone all too soon, and I want to embrace all aspects of it as long as I have them. Even the tough ones.

3. Ask for help
Whenever a child is sick or hurting, it can take a lot out of both the child and parent. If you need some help, ask for it. Ask your spouse or another relative or friend close by. People are usually more than happy to help out and love to know they are needed. Don't be afraid to ask. Since sharing Owen's situation with my facebook friends, several people volunteered immediately to help out in any way that they can. It can be a stress reliever just to know there is help available should it be needed.

4. Extra cuddles and pampering
Everyone need a little extra pampering now and then and this is especially true when a child is under the weather or enduring pain. Let them rest cuddled up on the couch. Give them lots of extra hugs, kisses, and gentle touches. There is so much healing in touch alone. And don't just do it when they are experiencing the worst of it but also when they are feeling well. My son Owen had a horrible bout of pain this evening from his hernia and a few hours later was feeling much better. He wanted me to get on the floor and play cars with him. I got down there and we played cars and had so much fun. I want him to always know that no matter what he going through, I think he is worthy of my time. My love. My attention.

I am sure there are many more things that you could add to this list from your own experience. Would love to here them!

Owen's surgery is scheduled for June 13th and I only hope he doesn't have to endure too much pain before then. And that he bounces back quickly afterwards.

I will be spending a lot of time in prayer between now and then and ask that if you have a moment, maybe send one up for my little guy. I would greatly appreciate it.

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Till next time...
~Alice W.