I know an extremely wise woman who tells me that you can tell a great deal about a person by what happens to them when they get bumped. And by bumped, I mean, when life hits you with the unexpected jolt, how do you react? What spills out?
So, on Monday, May 17, I took Miss Proper and the Rock 'N' Roll Princess in for their annual well checks. Well check. It's supposed to mean that your child gets weighed and measured, and the doctor will say that your child is practically perfect in every way. That's what we expect as mothers. We pay our copay, and we are on our merry way until the next year. Tra-la-la!
That's not what happened this year though. RNR is awesome. She has grown; she is healthy. We need to track her migraines to see if we can find her trigger, we need to try to identify the ingredient in Bath & Body Works soap that makes her hands swell (but, since we are not buying it anymore and she can read a label... not on the top of my priority list), but she is basically all good.
Miss Proper, while healthy and growing and deep in the throes of puberty and all that, is not practically perfect. In fact, at eleven years old, we have learned that she has a neural tube birth defect. She was tested for this same defect at birth, but the doctor said it was a false alarm. Hmmmm..... If I were a different kind of person, I might have a strong case against this hospital, but I am not. Miss Proper has been diagnosed with a mild form of spina bifida. Spina bifida means "split spine." And, yes, Miss Proper's spine is split at the bottom in the sacral area (right above your crack). She was experiencing some symptoms that caused me to ask the doctor to examine her skin in this area. As Dr. B examined her, I could see the seriousness develop in her eyes.
Was she tested for spina bifida when she was born?
Yes. They said she was fine though.
I'm going to need to look at those studies or else get new ones. Do you remember where the tests were done?
Yes. It was while she was in NICU. She was couple of days old.
I continue to relay the details of the procedure and provide the where, when, and how. Then, we discuss the need for new studies, and eventually, I am given the orders for a spinal x-ray, which say plain as day, "rule out spina bifida." Tough directive to read. Tougher with two of your three kids in the room and your husband out of town.
So, you gotta be strong when your kids are sitting there looking at you with big eyes. I manage to hold it together, but I feel that lump pushing in my throat. RNR is delivered back to school. Miss Proper and I head for the imaging center. I run a stop sign on the way there, which is the second one in two weeks. I don't even remember it. Scary. Apparently, my head is not where it needs to be these days. Officer Not-As-Friendly-As-I-Needed asks me questions about what is going on because now I am crying. He still writes me a ticket though, thanks me for my courtesy (and I want to say some not so courteous things to him) and tells me he hopes everything is okay with my daughter. I was hoping for a little more compassion, but as I had run a stop sign the week before... I couldn't blame him. Now I had to add the expense of TWO tickets to the mix. Great. I say aloud that Mr. Incredible is going to kill me.
Sitting at the imaging center, I text two friends and ask them to pray for us because I'm starting to fall apart a little, and I need to know that there are people praying for us and with us. They tell me I am covered, and one takes care of the physical needs I have at that moment, which include ordering dinner for the twelve women who are coming over for dinner the next evening. Thank you, friend; I love you. Fairly quickly, we are taken back, and the x-rays are completed. I return Miss Proper to school, see an acquaintance, and fall apart. I mean to pieces. Big, ugly, sobbing cry. The kind where she probably had no idea what I was saying kind of cry. I do not have enough experience with this woman to cry like that in front of her, but she was there the second I was childless and could break down.
The emotion of the day was too much for me. I know I am such a baby when it comes to my emotions. I was bumped. I know we are not supposed to compare ourselves to others, but I also know, in all honesty, I do at times. At that moment, I was wishing my faith was stronger, my courage was bigger, that I was more grace-under-fire than the fall-to-pieces-girl that I am. I'm knowing in my head that God is in control of all of this, but in my heart and on my face and on my sleeve, I'm a mess, which means I really am a mess. It means I'm not really trusting or resting. When my head and my heart don't match, I get so disgusted at myself and wonder what my problem is. And this splash outside my cup is not what I want it to be. I want it to look more like the splash that my friend has.
I've had a couple of weeks to take this information in, roll it around my head, and adjust to it. What does all this mean for Miss Proper? Best case scenario... cosmetic difference covered up by all but the tiniest of bikinis, which Mr. Incredible would never allow her to wear. Also, it's great insurance that she will not find a career as a "fabric free" artist (hopefully, we are teaching her other reasons to refrain from that kind of profession). Worst case scenario... she has spinal cord involvement that could eventually cause tingling, numbness, loss of strength and loss of use in her pelvic area and legs. We will take her to see a specialist over the summer. The blessing of all this is that we found out BEFORE any potential damage. If she has spinal cord involvement we intervene before she has symptom. We can be proactive rather than reactive. I'm thankful for that perfect timing.
I'm also thankful that I got to have a conversation with Miss Proper about the lack of perfection common to each of us and how it keeps us mindful of our need for a Savior. I think it helped her accept the news. Right now, recalling our conversation, it's helping me remember that my cup is overflowing with blessing upon blessing upon blessing. I'm going to work harder to put good things in my cup, so that when I am bumped better things come out.