Mother’s Day always reminds me of being pregnant for the first time…and all that we face today.
See, when I became pregnant for the first time, I started working with children with special needs. I did play therapy and assessed kids developmentally. The kids that I worked with had diagnosis ranging from speech delay to spina bifida to down syndrome….there was great variety. They all had two things in common. One, they were all under three years old. Two, they were all children.
Now, if you are like I was, I didn’t think I could handle some of the diagnosis. I am not a medical person and the thought of trachs, feeding tubes, and such was more than I could think about. The funniest thing happened though. When I went to see one of these kids, what I saw was that they were a child. Their diagnosis or medical equipment didn’t attract my attention first. It was that I was looking at and talking with a child. I soon found that the Lord grew me in my tolerance and love not only for my job but for the children I worked with…all the while knowing I had a child of my own growing inside of me.
At this time, I lived in a small town and it was apparent there that most of the children we serviced were from low-income housing. It was my responsibility to go to their homes once or twice a week to provide in-home services for the child, which of course lead to discussions with the parents and exposure to their living conditions. I make absolutely no judgments and know that my experience is limited to that time and place, but what I saw was most of these children’s moms didn’t know how to care for their children or their house. Often times, the home was littered with bugs visible everywhere to the point I was afraid to wear open-toed shoes or sit on the floor, as was my job. Old food was left all over the house. Many times other adults were in and out of the house constantly with no regard to the children that were present. Kids were dirty and undressed. The parents were uneducated and unable to work, especially when faced with a child with special needs. And my heart broke for these families.
At this time, I was a fairly new Christian without ever having anyone to help disciple me or show me how to study my Bible and grow in my relationship with the Lord. My understanding was very limited to salvation and little else besides the Old Testament accounts of Samson, Moses, and such. But, as I worked with these children and fell in love with them, I began to pray for them and my own child-to-come. I remember several times praying and asking the Lord that IF He had a certain number or quota of special needs children to place in this world, that He would be gracious enough to give one to my husband and me and spare another family like I was working with. I told Him I knew that He was teaching me and equipping me to work with children such as these and wanted to give and do the very best for the child. I prayed that my child would have special needs to spare another.
(Looking back now, I know this speaks volumes about my ignorance of sovereignty and more but my faith was real in trusting Him)
I did have a hard pregnancy with that child and there were some red flags along the way. Each time, the Lord would send me a rainbow in the sky, and I knew that He was reminding me that everything would be okay…to be still in Him. The delivery was also difficult, even with them inducing me two weeks early. Little did I know that it was just the beginning
Isaiah was born without any apparent problems, but he was extremely jaundiced. For the first weeks of his life, he lived in a light box we brought home and he daily had to have his heels pricked for blood tests. How pitiful it was to look at his blackened heels from all the blood-letting. But, he recovered from that without complication.
At fourteen months, our doctor ordered an x-ray and then MRI of Isaiah’s arm and neck/spine after we again brought up to him that Isaiah was holding his left arm bent at the elbow at all times. This was to be his first time for an MRI and anesthesia. It would be our first lesson in being his advocate. The eventual result was a diagnosis of brachial neuropathy, which means that several of his nerves in his neck/spine have been strained and some severed resulting in limited mobility and muscle atrophy. They said it either happens at birth, in which case is immediately apparent…and it wasn’t, or that it requires a car-accident type of trauma, which he never had. So, they cannot explain how he has it. They told us he would never be able to do what he was already doing and that they wanted to do a spinal tap on our 14 month old to clarify their diagnosis...although they knew that regardless of what they found they would not change their course of action. We refused. Instead, he received intensive OT and PT for 6 months until he would hold it down more normally and use it more frequently. We were so heartbroken at his diagnosis, because we envisioned him at school-age with kids laughing at him and how that would shape and change his joyful personality. Yes, even at 2 years old, he was a very joyful child! The Lord began to increase our prayer life greatly through this as we prayed for wisdom and for Isaiah. He still has the muscle atrophy today but most people don’t realize his brachial neuropathy by looking at him….answered prayer!
Fast-forward from Isaiah at age 2 to age 7. Every Mother’s Day, or approaching the day, I was reminded again of my desperate prayers while pregnant with him, pleading with the Lord to allow me to have a child with special needs and spare someone else. I looked at what he has and felt guilty that maybe I had caused him to have problems, because the Lord just answered my prayers. But, the Lord in the meantime had moved us to a Bible-preaching church that taught us the truth and we grew more in that time than ever before. And, He began to show me that He doesn’t have X number of illnesses and such to hand out and that He had a plan for me and Isaiah before Isaiah was even born. But, the guilt that I felt didn’t allow me to dwell on it much to let Him get through with His truth. Deep down, I still carried it with me.
At the age of 7, Isaiah was diagnosed with a craniopharyngioma brain tumor. The shortened version is that within the next 3.5 years of his life, he would have 7 surgeries, 4 procedures, 31 radiation treatments, lose all of his vision with minimal recovery, develop a foot-to-hip blood clot, develop total hormone-production loss, need complete rehab to relearn walking, eating, dressing, etc and face life-long complications.
Now, fast-forward to Isaiah at age 11….today. As Mother’s Day 2011 is approaching in the next couple of days, my mind is again drawn back to all these things. I realize just how much the Lord has grown me personally in my knowledge and relationship with Him...yet He still isn’t finished with me! I was thinking about the guilt that I carried about those fervent prayers for Isaiah to have special needs and ALL that he has endured since then. I thought about how prideful, arrogant, and assuming it seems to pray in such a way. But, the Lord reminded me of the sincerity and faith that was true of my prayers when I prayed them. I didn’t pray them because I thought I was better than any other mother but because I had Him…and that’s what made the difference. I prayed those prayers to spare others because I knew that He would be with me and provide whatever I may need.
And, in that moment, He showed me that the Holy Spirit lead me to pray such a prayer because He was preparing my heart for the child He already knew was being formed within me. He knew of the trials and complications that Isaiah would face in this life. He knew of the heartache, weariness of soul, and anguish I would feel as his mother. He knew the torment Isaiah would endure. And He knew what it would mean to me today to know that He chose me to be Isaiah’s mother when He could’ve chosen anyone else and that this is the child I prayed for before I even knew him.
I don’t know what lies ahead for Isaiah, whether unspeakable joy or unrelenting pain, but I know that the Lord has privileged me to walk it with him and that He will give me everything I need to continue the journey until He calls me home.