Strength is a well-known and wildly used word and like many other words in the English language, it is easier said and defined than it is done. It is not until you’re forced, tested and down to your last fighting step that you discover your true inner strength.
My first lesson in sheer strength came when I brought my newborn daughter Ava home from the hospital. It’s expected, of course, that newborns come with no sleep and little time to function outside of changing and feeding. At eighteen years old however the virtue of patience was still being cultivated and I was at a loss. Never before in my life was I forced to operate on next to no sleep and make major life choices for another human being. It was terrifying.
When Ava was one week old she was readmitted to the hospital with a case of jaundice. Not only was it scary to have a baby that needs to go to the hospital it was even scarier having to talk to doctors, sign papers and navigate the healthcare system to make sure Ava was getting the care she needed. Everything seemed like this big blur and my head was spinning I had to do this alone. As I held Ava fast asleep in my arms in the triage area, I remembered how quick my own mom sprang into action when we were sick or hurt. I tried to think of all the questions she’d asked and how she asked them and I started to feel as if I wasn’t totally clueless. After I’d taken a deep breath, or twenty, I asked for a patient care representative and I got information about Ava’s treatment, her rights as a patient and mine as her mother. As soon as I got my hands on that information I felt better because I’d asked for help.
Ava ended up staying in the hospital two nights and I barely slept the entire time we were there. All I had in that room to sit or sleep in was a recliner and one white sheet, we weren’t at the Hilton and we weren’t there for me. I don’t remember caring much that I was uncomfortable I just wanted Ava to be OK, I stood next to her incubator most of the time watching her tiny chest rise and fall with each breath. When they finally said I could take her home I was so relieved, emotionally, mentally and physically.
If you’d told me on my eighteenth birthday that in 10 months I’d be sleeping on a chair in the Pediatric ICU I’d have rolled my eyes. My life was all about me then, my mom still made my dentist appointments; the biggest test of my strength was deciding what dress I wanted to wear to graduation. It wasn’t until I was wholly responsible for another life, a defenseless little life that needed me that I discovered I harbored that same inner strength my mom had. I don’t know how I stayed up for nearly 48 hours but I did for my daughter and it taught me that even when you feel you’re lost and you don’t know which way is up, you do.
Looking Ahead: Thank you so much for reading! Each week I’ll be posting about my struggles and triumphs of being a mom while working and going to school. This week I debuted my “Virtues from Motherhood” which are personal stories I want to share with my readers so they know they’re never alone in what they might be feeling. Next week i’ll debut “Things I want my daughter to know” where ill be sharing some of the most important life lessons I’ve learned that I want to pass on to her. I hope you’ll keep checking back and sharing your thoughts and comments with me!