I was on the phone with her and she was a thousand miles away, but I could still see the tears. Why was a new, young mother feeling so much pain, so much fear? I understood why, but I couldn’t imagine what she was feeling. She thankfully, recently, had a beautiful happy baby. Ten fingers…Ten toes. One that could laugh and cry and do all the little things newborns do. She had a lot to be thankful for. That was the good news. What I listened to was the sad news….. Her little infant had a life threatening food allergy.
Some of you reading this will understand immediately the implications of what I’m writing. For the others, I’ll try and help you. When someone has a life threatening, or anaphylactic reaction, they need to administer epinephrine immediately. This drug comes in the form of a needle injector called an epi-pen and is the size of a magic marker. It has a large needle and a spring powerful enough to shoot the needle though your clothes. Some of you might remember the scene in Pulp Fiction when Mia’s heart is restarted with a needle of adrenaline (epinephrine)Vincent plunges into her heart. Yep, like that…
Unfortunately, for the drug to work it needs to be injected into the muscle…. Typically the thigh…. Not fun at all. Now, picture for a moment having an infant and having to stick them with this device. Take it a step further and understand that there is no science to determining when an allergic reaction requires the Epi-pen. There is no sign on an infant’s forehead that says “Inject now”. Also, in this case and in many others, she didn’t know what was causing the allergic reactions. A mother has to make that determination on her own – This mother had to make that determination on her own….Does she over-react and cause pain to her child? Does she under-react and risk the child’s life? Keep in mind she can’t ask her child what’s wrong. The child hasn’t learned to speak and is just learning about this world.
This mother understandably felt fear and pain, and the concern for her newborn. We all go through life our own way. We all live with our own adversity. But, we typically don’t have to inflict pain on our offspring and do it in such a subjective way. I could see the tears and I wanted to comfort her. I wanted to make things better. I could do neither.
Sometimes in life we walk alone amongst other people. That’s ok…. That’s part of life. I offered this mother my ear. I gave her my understanding. I told her this, “You are a fantastic mother. You care for your child and feel it’s pain. If needed, you will have the strength and instinct to know what to do”.
Mother’s Day is a few days away. I can’t think of a better time to honor this mother’s, and all mothers of allergic children, efforts.
NOTE: If you would like to discuss in our forum, the story has been posted here – Do you know fear like a mother knows fear?