He had been kind of fussy, and hadn’t really napped all afternoon. He projectile vomited after he nursed in the evening, and was even fussier after that. I had been going through the mental-mommy-checklist all day…warm enough? cool enough? teeth? something weird that I ate? And then, I undressed him for bed and noticed that his belly button was dark purple.
A purple belly button is obviously not normal, and it can be a sign of serious problems. Sometimes, umbilical hernias can block the intestines and surgery is needed immediately.
I was terrified. I held it together at first, but in the car on the way to the emergency room, I kind of lost it. I told Bart that I had never been so scared in my life, and it was true. What if he needed surgery that night? What if they had to take him from me for tests? What if he cried while they were examining him and there was nothing I could do to help?
And then, the what-ifs became worse.
What if that was the last time I would ever hold him in my arms and nurse him?
What if the photos I posted yesterday were the last ones I took of him?
What if I had to go home and tell Adam that his Baby Brudder was gone?
What if this sweet, beautiful, easy to care for baby really was too good to be true?
I didn’t really know if it was a life-threatening situation, but it was probably the scariest thing I’ve been through as a parent.
At the ER, they checked all of his vital signs and a very sweet doctor examined him. She pushed on his belly, and he smiled at her. We undressed him and did x-rays, and he didn’t cry once. I started to feel silly, like I had totally overreacted. This clearly was not a sick baby!
And the x-rays confirmed that. Yes, there was an umbilical hernia, but no intestines or anything wrapped up in it. The x-rays showed a gassy tummy, which probably caused the spitting and fussiness. The purple belly button was odd, but the absence of other major symptoms meant that he was probably fine. Just to be safe, the doctor called the pediatrician on duty, and had us wait an hour after I nursed him to make sure he kept it down okay. He did, and while we were waiting, he filled his diaper; another sign that everything was okay.
The doctor could not find an explanation for the purple belly button…maybe it got irritated during tummy time? Maybe it was just from straining to poo? But she felt confident that there was nothing seriously wrong with Isaac, and my fears were calmed.
We went home, relieved and thankful, saying silent prayers of gratitude. Now, in the light of the day, with my sweet baby in my arms, I can’t imagine our lives without him. But last night, I caught a glimpse of what it might be like to be completely helpless, faced with the suffering or death of a child. I have renewed admiration and heartache for parents who have been through that.
I believe, more and more, that God gives us certain experiences to shape our character. Last night, he reminded me that I am selfish and ungrateful. I have two (three) fabulous, amazing boys in my life, but I am selfish with my time and energy. Instead of being grateful for the blessings He’s given me, I sometimes resent the fact that those boys NEED so much from me. Last night, I would have given anything and everything to make sure Isaac was okay, and I would do the same for Bart and Adam. But what I should really do is just give more everyday – more patience, more time, more energy, more empathy and more gratitude.