Hannah's Surgery: A Mother's Perspective

Thursday, April 1, 2010
This post is a bit late, but I wanted to write a recap on Hannah’s surgery from an emotional mother‘s perspective (my own).

Hannah’s surgery was a success, praise God. The entire experience was a very emotional and overwhelming one for me. Yet, we were (and are) so grateful and blessed by the many, many people who were able to pray for Hannah and for our family. Thank you so, so much for your prayers, they made all the difference!

Despite the anxiety that surrounded Hannah’s surgery, there is so much that I learned about life, parenthood, faith, the power of prayer and myself.

Prayer is extremely powerful, which, while obvious to most, I never fully realized until this moment. It is not to be underestimated. So often people say “I’ll pray for you,” but sadly the phrase seems almost devoid of meaning. I admit I am guilty of offering to pray for someone and then completely forgetting to. Yet, as I learned from this ordeal, asking for and offering prayers is not something to be taken lightly. It was not going to be enough for people to offer their “well wishes” or “good thoughts,” I needed, was desperate almost, for people to truly pray to God for Hannah. I was counting on those prayers, which is why when the time came to ask for prayers, I asked only for help from certain people, those whom I knew would really pray for my baby. And I am convinced it was the prayers of those good and faithful people that aided us during this stressful time. I will never underestimate the power of prayer again and perhaps more importantly, when I say I will pray for someone, you better believe I will.

I’ll admit, at various times before the surgery I was so overcome with fear that I allowed myself to consider the worst. I worried that Hannah may not make it through the surgery, or that perhaps she would suffer brain damage, or that something, anything, might go wrong. I. was. scared. In retrospect, I may have been a bit melodramatic, but in the moment it was how I felt. Even the day before her surgery, I was so overcome with fear and anxiety I could barely concentrate, even to pray. But as I offered prayerful mutterings, which basically consisted of “Please Lord” and “Jesus, I trust in you” (which was pretty much all I could manage), a still, small voice kept repeating to me, “the Lord did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather of power, and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) And I realized that these morbid thoughts of mine were neither helpful nor productive. Looking back, I think the Father of Lies was trying to paralyze me with fear, perhaps so I wouldn‘t pray or wouldn‘t trust in God‘s Providence. Whatever the reason, I knew I needed to get rid of those thoughts, so with all I could muster, I declared “get behind me, Satan” and my great anxiety was eased. Of course, it never disappeared, I am a mother after all, but my dark disposition dissipated (there's an alliteration for you).

An image that kept coming to me over and over during the days leading up to the surgery was one of the Stations of the Cross and a scene from the movie, The Passion. The scene is when Jesus meets his Mother. He is struggling to carry his Cross through the streets of Jerusalem. People are yelling at him, jeering, spitting on him. Mary, His Mother, is seen off in the distance. She rushes to get to her son, but as she approaches, she sees his anguish and suffering, and she hesitates, for just a moment, to go to him. I kept thinking about that hesitation. How it was almost too much for her to bear, she was so overcome by the magnanimity of the situation that she almost did not go to Our Lord. Of course she did go and comfort him as only a mother can while at the same time her own heart was breaking. I am not Mary, but I could empathize with Our Lady in that moment. The heart of a mother wishes anything but the suffering of her child.

Ultimately, I learned that as a mother, I need to get over myself, to be frank. Of course I was scared, of course I did not want my child to suffer, what mother does? These circumstances were not enjoyable, to say the least, but my child needed me to be there for her, to smile and to be strong for her and gosh darnit, I was going to. There was no room for my own fears or anxieties. Isn’t that the ultimately the point of parenthood? As painful as it may be, we must learn to put others before ourselves, to put the needs of another before our own.

Once the entire ordeal was over I felt nothing but gratitude. Even now, I am so utterly thankful. I was (and am) grateful that Hannah came through the surgery with flying colors, grateful that we had so many people praying for us, grateful that the guardian angels did such a wonderful job watching over my daughter, grateful for the prayers of the saints, especially St. Clare, grateful for the skill of the doctors, grateful for the compassion of the nurses, grateful for the strength of my husband, grateful that Hannah’s condition was treatable and grateful for a God who is more powerful than any one person and every situation.

Deo Gratias!

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