I'm one of those Americans who supports the troops because what they do on a regular basis -- walk into the middle of war zones for their country -- is the stuff of my worst nightmares. So I was surprised to hear a veteran of two tours in Iraq talking about something much worse than the time he spent in combat. Surprised ... until I found out he was the father of a severely sick baby girl.
Adam Brazil just did what no parent should have to do. He laid down on a table in an operating room so doctors could remove his kidney and place it in his baby girl. I think I get it now.
It may not be a warzone, but there's no parent who would willingly put themselves in Adam Brazil's shoes. We would much rather have healthy kids than have to face a sick one!
We eagerly await the day our children will enter this world. We prep the nursery. We stock up on adorable stuffed animals and cute little onesies. And when they finally arrive, you're thinking life cannot possibly get better than this. You are a parent, and this little bundle of joy is 6 pounds, 14 1/2 ounces of perfection.
And then something happens. Maybe it's just their first virus or maybe it's something truly awful like congenital nephrotic syndrome, the rare kidney disease that required Hayden Brazil to get her daddy's kidney transplanted into her 1 1/2-year-old body. Frankly, to every parent, no matter how serious that first sickness is, it's like the world is ending. This person you created, who you brought into this world, and who you promised to love and protect with every breath in your body, is hurting, and you can't just make it go away.
If you think you love your child more on the day they're born than you could ever love anyone, you're wrong. The first time they get sick, you fall deeper. And it will continue like that. Seriously. My kid is 6, and it will sound corny as all get out, but I find something new that makes my heart dance around in my chest every single day (OK, maybe not on days when she's trying to tell me that she does NOT like to clean her room and she hates, hates, hates me for making her do it ... but the other days).
I would never say that the despair at seeing your child sick is comparable to a warzone. But when a soldier like Adam Brazil, a man who spent two tours in Iraq as a tank mechanic, says it, it makes sense. He can train with his fellow soldiers. He can prepare himself mentally for combat. But nothing in this world knocks you on your butt like knowing your helpless, wonderful, sweet little baby is sick.
What moment in your baby's life has bowled you over the hardest?
Image via sabianmaggy/Flickr