Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Little Puke ... A Little Perspective

Riley (At the airport finds two random kids playing):
"Hi kiddos! (points to me) This is my mom. Her name is Mary Beth. Meet her!"

Riley (At the same airport but referring to different kids with whom she's played with for about two minutes. She says this after they start walking away):
"Mommy, where are they going?"
Me: "They have to go get on their plane."
Riley: "Oh. (pause and sigh) I'm going to miss them."

At the airport at the beginning of our vacation
Poor Ms. Riley has been sick since Thursday night (when we were on vacation) with a stomach virus.

While I sat up with her all night on Thursday as she threw up over and over again, I just kept thinking, "maybe this time it will be the last time." But it never seemed to end.

Then, when she finally seemed to be able to hold water down in the wee hours of the morning, I thought, "well, at least now the worst is over."

So, we traveled home on Friday afternoon and by some true miracle, she never threw up. I thought it was over. She was such a trooper. She slept most of the way on the two flights and when she wasn't sleeping, she seemed happy to just sit with me, reading a book, watching a movie or playing a game. If you have met Riley, you know that she doesn't usually "just sit" anywhere. In hindsight, this should have been my first clue that she still wasn't feeling well.

But unfortunately, the sickness wasn't over. For, almost as soon as we were in the car headed home from the airport, she threw up again. And off and on, she threw up for several days and has just been plain miserable.

I used to be the type of person who didn't worry much. I used to assume that we were pretty invincible. When Riley would get sick, even though my heart ached for her, I never doubted that it'd be temporary and that she'd be back to normal after a certain period of time.

Things are so different now. Just like I can never enter pregnancy again without the fear and worry of death, I can't think about Riley without worrying that the absolute worst might happen. This long bout of stomach flu just tore me up inside. I was ready to take her to the emergency room with each "instance" for fear that the dehydration, the lack of nutritious foods, whatever... that something might be life threatening. That we'd put her down for a nap and she wouldn't wake up. It's hard to think "simply" anymore because I know that "things happen." If she has a runny nose, scrapes  her knee, has a hangnail, I'll probably worry more than I ever would have before. It's just kind of my life now as a mom who has lost a child.

But I still have to keep some sort of perspective.

As I watched Riley sleep on Sunday (got a chance to nap with her which she never really wants to do normally), I thought about how lucky we are that we have such amazing health care literally within 5 miles of our house. Even on a Sunday afternoon, I could find a walk-in clinic or hospital to see her if needed. We have a pharmacy within walking distance and money to pay for medicine. We have water to hydrate her, food to give her and blankets galore to keep her warm. We have a cozy house, we have electricity, we have things to entertain her, we have pretty much anything we need. And while I worry so much about her, I can feel some comfort that we could provide her with urgent care if needed.

How many mothers across the world just TODAY would give anything to have just water to give their sick children, much less everything else that we have to give Riley? How many mothers are holding their babies in their arms, rocking them back and forth, trying to keep them warm, just praying, hoping for a miracle because they don't have access to simple medicine or sanitation? Simple things that we take for granted are unavailable and cause thousands of deaths each day. My heart aches for these mothers who have no reprieve. No hope. They feel helpless and must suffer the death of their children. Deaths that could have been avoided if they lived where I live. If they had been born into a different situation, in a different country.

Did you know that diarrhea remains in the second leading cause of death among children under five across the world? Nearly one in five child deaths – about 1.5 million each year – is due to diarrhea. It kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. (source:

How lucky we are that diarrhea is only a short-term problem - a messy nuisance - for Riley. Thank you, God.

Please remember each day how lucky you are to be born in this country and then please don't forget to share your blessings by paying it forward. If you don't know where to start, I can personally vouch for and recommend - they are bringing fresh water to thousands of children and families in Uganda. They are bringing hope to other mothers.

“Don’t fail to do something just because you can’t do everything.”
- Bob Pierce, founder of
World Vision