Wednesday, May 7, 2008

pain makes you beautiful

At Bean's 2-month check-up yesterday, she received four vaccination shots. It was traumatic and horrible for all of us. Afterward, Chip said how he didn't want Alice to grow up uncertain about the world; how he didn't want her to think that extreme pain was always hiding around the corner, and you can never be sure when it's going to strike. He didn't want her to think that one minute we could be laughing and singing songs in a warm office and the next minute she'd be shrieking in pain as someone drove very painful spikes into her upper thighs. As he said all of this, I nodded in agreement, thinking that he was right - I don't want Alice making associations like that.

I continued to think about it on the drive home, and even more as I put clothes away and anticipated Alice waking up, feeling funky because of her ordeal. And after this little soak in my head, I've changed my mind. While the last thing I want is for Alice to equate painful spikes with me whispering in her ear or holding her close - I also realize that this is exactly how life is. How rare is it when we can really anticipate the pain? When we know it's coming, and can double-down inside, steeling ourselves for what's about to hit? Pain is surprising. Is tricky. Is going to reach up and grab us when we least expect it.

I've spent a good deal of time contemplating pain - it's ability to surprise us, every single time. There is a deepening that happens only through pain - whether it's physical or emotional or something else. I've talked about it before, and I've also mentioned how I wanted Alice to learn to appreciate the light as well as the dark that life has to offer her.

The shots she received yesterday: they were wickedly horrible, I have no doubt. And it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, knowingly holding her on the table, watching her shriek, having her tears collect in puddles on my arms as I said over and over, "You're going to be okay, Alice. You're going to be okay. You're so brave. Mommy and Daddy love you so much." But I'd do it again. I will do it again. Like so many things, the shots are necessary for her to avoid even deeper pain - maybe even death.

And one day, when Alice asks me if that's what pain and heartache and anguish is like - does it really just appear that way before you, when you least expect it? I'll tell her yes, it is exactly like that. And you have to embrace it, you have to move through it, you can't avoid it.

It hurts to grow.


stacie d said...

When you said you don't want Alice to "equate painful spikes with me whispering in her ear or holding her close," I thought...look at it the other way! If she's hurt, her mommy is there for her. She won't think that you holding her means she'll be in pain, she'll know that if she's in pain you'll hold her...for all her life! I'm a grown woman and I still go to my mom when I'm in pain (physical or emotional). YAY FOR MOMS!

PS Good song as the title!

emily said...

wow ... i have thought about this too ... and i have struggled to know how to deal with baby shots ... when abi was a baby i sent her dad to do it ... to hold her and be there when the shots were done ... because i didn't want to hear her scream. but then i started to realize that i wasn't there ... when she was screaming and needed her mommy. for the rest of my babies i have been the one to hold them when the shots are over.
this was a beautiful post ... won't it be awesome when our babies grow up and read all the blogs we've been writing about them? won't it be interesting to hear their take on them? and won't we be blessed that we have captured these moments? i love it!

ailene said...

Stacie D is right! She may have to experience pain, but at least she'll know that you're there for her!

If you want to be a little more "honest" about the situation with Alice... tell her that you know it hurts, but it will help her be less likely to get terribly sick... or something to that effect. You can also tell her that the pain won't last forever...

I think the biggest mistake that some parents make is telling their kids, "don't worry it won't hurt" and then five seconds later... they find out that it does! As long as you're honest with Alice about what's going on, it's not a bad thing for you to console her!

Yes, it is hard to watch our children be in pain though. But remember, there must needs be opposition in all things... also, all of our trials give us experience and will be for our good. Just remember that we'd much have our children endure 10 seconds of pain in the doctor's office than a much worse sickness that could result from not receiving the vaccine!

tearese said...

Look at it this way- this small, they're not going to remember it an hour later. And for Elora's last two shots (15 and 18 months?) She was distracted and didn't even notice. Just don't make a big deal about it and they'll be fine.