Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Baby Is 4

At 9:14 am on January 15th, 2004, we welcomed our baby Kaden into the world. He was a month early and only weighed around 5 lbs. I know I am a little (actually a lot) biased, but he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen - I think it was because he was so small he looked like a doll I had when I was little (only that doll was named Debbie like all my other dolls - remember Debbie Boone? Loved her). It is so hard for me to believe that he is already 4 years old. He has a personality that draws people (especially other children) to him and the best word I can use to describe him is "fun". He lives to play and loves his brother madly - they are fun to watch together - when they grow up they are gonna have some hilarious stories to tell their children. It is not unusual for me to be working around the house and feel Kaden hug my leg and kiss my hand. I hear 'I love you, Mommy" several times a day. He has the sweetest voice and I love to hear him recite his AWANAS Bible verses. He catches onto most any concept or activity very quickly - maybe because he is a second child, maybe because he is unusually bright or maybe because I am biased (see above). He is quirky in a funny way - he hates the sight of dryer lint and he thinks he is Dash off the Incredibles movie and gets mad if we call him anything other than "Dash". He cracks us up with the things he says - there is never a day that we don't laugh hysterically at his antics. He and his brother are pure joy and I love them desperately.

Shortly after Kaden was born, I came down with/got/contracted (not sure what the correct term is) Bell's Palsy (the whole right side of my face was paralyzed and drooping). His birth (my second emergency c-section) was much easier than the birth of my first son, so I wasn't in as much pain and I had no 'baby blues'. I woke up the morning of March 8th to feed my new little bundle of joy and I thought my face felt strange - I couldn't feel the right side at all. I just assumed I had slept hard and laid on that side for too long. I fed the baby and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and quickly realized something was terribly wrong. I went to where my husband was still in bed and I showed him my face. He sat up in bed and looked at me - I knew he saw the problem. When I talked, the right side of my mouth never moved which caused my speech to be somewhat slurred. I remember crying like a baby and my husband saying, "I think I know what is wrong. A guy I used to work with got this and it only lasted 2 weeks." We called his parents to watch the boys and we went straight to the E.R.

When we got to the E.R., they took me straight back to a room, because they suspected I had a stroke (I was terrified - remember Grandma on the Waltons?). After several tests, the doctor came back and said it was Bell's Palsy and it would probably be better in a few weeks. Then the doctor, Dr. Runnels said something I will never forget. He said, "Would you mind if I prayed for you right now?". I was shocked - I never had a doctor ask to pray for me before. Of course I said yes as I cried - I cried because I looked like a stroke victim AND because this doctor wanted to pray for me. I went home with the hope that this crazy palsy would be gone very soon. To make a long story short, after several visits to neurologists and specialists, I was told that stress, hormones, and lack of sleep may have caused this problem and I may never recover from it fully. I spent a year going to physical therapy where they shocked my face constantly for 20 minutes at a time - very painful.

What I was told would probably be a two week affliction turned into one year of looking like a stoke patient. During this time, God dealt with me on so many issues. He showed me how vain and proud I was and how independent of Him I was. I cannot tell you how many days I couldn't wait until my husband would leave for work so I could lay in the floor and just cry. I would put the boys down for their nap and cry and pray and ask God 'why me?'. You see, Bell's Palsy isn't a life threatening thing - it is a vanity threatening thing. When you look in the mirror and see someone else, it shakes up every area of your life. It is hard to explain unless you have been there, but your face is 'you' and when you see someone other than the 'you' you have always known, it is very disconcerting. The fact that there is nothing you can do about it adds insult to injury. Let's face it, we women are not happy when something is not right on our face!

I will never forget taking a trip to Cincinnati to see the Reds play. We went with some friends and I thought I was much better (not sure if I was just used to seeing my face or if I had quit looking at it). We had awesome seats - in the 'businessman's section'. Our friend who lives there has season passes and we got the royal treatment. We were sitting in front of some business men and I kept hearing them laugh - they were drinking beer (the smell of which makes me nauseous). I was enjoying the game even though it was so hot that day. I remember looking up at the Jumbo-tron (that big screen where they show the screaming fans) and seeing my family on that huge screen. In an instant I noticed that the face that I thought was better, was really not better at all. And to make matters worse, the men behind me were making fun of me. Those men laughed and snickered and said awful things about ME- I was so embarrassed for me and for my husband. You see, I have never been a beauty queen, but I have never known anyone to make fun of the way I look before. If I could have crawled under that seat I would have. It was all I could do to keep from breaking out into the 'ugly cry' (you know the one where your shoulders go up and down and you have black makeup streaks all over your face). I held back the tears - I would have rather died than to have those men see me cry because of them ---more pride.
That experience caused me to be much more sensitive to people who are 'different' or handicapped in some way. Not that I ever made fun of them, but now I sympathize - I have 'been there' in a small way. When I first got the Bell's Palsy and realized that it wasn't going to be over quickly, I was mad that God would let this happen. I mean, I should be enjoying my new baby and didn't I have enough to worry about without this?

God soon showed me that He was using that palsy to refine me in ways I can't even describe to this day. He showed me that I am dependent upon Him for everything -- whether I like to admit it or not, I can do nothing apart from Him. He showed me that my worth has nothing to do with how I look. He showed me that my purpose is to serve and trust Him even when I don't understand what He is doing. He taught me that He works on His timetable and not mine. He showed me from the beginning that I had to 'keep on keeping on' for my kids even though I wanted to stay home until I was better. He helped me stop focusing on me and start focusing on Him. I have since had the opportunity to encourage several other women I know who have had to deal with Bell's Palsy. After about a year of struggling with Bell's Palsy, the Lord saw fit to heal me (not completely, but probably about 95%). I still have residual effects, but the lessons I learned are worth that 5% that I am left to deal with.

So, the birth of my sweet Kaden brought about lots of joy, but lots of hard lessons as well. I wouldn't trade those lessons for any amount of money and I DEFINITELY wouldn't trade my sweet baby K for anything in the world. I pray that I never, ever have to go through that embarrassment and pain (did I mention that I was dizzy and in terrible pain that whole year?) again, but I am thankful that the Lord was so sweet to heal me and so loving in His discipline. I pray that I never forget those lessons He taught me in the desert and I pray that I can share what He has taught me with others.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Kaden! Boy, there are just birthdays all over the place!

I hope your special day is filled with wonderful memories!

I am glad that the Lord has blessed you with such a sweet and beautiful son. I am even more glad to hear the beautiful work and testimony that the Lord is doing in you! Your growth is precious---thank you for sharing your story with us. It blessed me to read it. :)

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

Happy Birthday to Kaden! Four is so much fun!

Bethanne, this was a beautiful testimony to God. His healing, His purposes...just awesome. You know, after my hand/wrist break, there are still days that there is pain and often times my hand cramps while I play. I think God uses it to remind me of the lessons he taught me and to make sure I don't forget who's in charge!

I thank you for sharing this very intimate story, you've blessed and challenged me.

Anticipating HIM!

Denise said...

Happy Birthday Kaden. I love how you praise who he is in your post.
Isn't it wonderful to be told "I love you, Mommy" several times a day, so sweet and good.

What fun to have visit from you.
I do visit over here from time to time too.

Hmmm,I think I have had bell's palsy on the inside. so much of what you described echos my own battle. What a difficult time that must have been for you. And look at the VICTORY in your life.
What a testimony!
May God use you for His glory.
Use your trials to display his mercy, compassion, tenderness, and beauty.

And, I just want to punch those guys!

Fran said...

Oh wow! That is one sweet testimony! I appreciate you sharing that most personal time and journey with us.

You have blessed me. You shared yourself with me and I love ya even more.

Happy Birthday to that sweet Kaden!
Boy, you were surely blessed with his birth. Blessings over all of you.


Alana said...

Wow, what a powerful testimony. I have to say as I read it, I wanted to slug those men for you. If I had been there, I'm afraid you probably would have seen what I call my "Listen here, Mister" mode. I'm so sorry you had to endure that.

Happy birthday to your baby boy. We're approaching four with our baby in a few months and I can hardly believe it.

He Knows My Name said...

dear bethanne, you have an amazing testimony formed by God. those times have formed you into the beautiful, sensitive woman you are and i am one who has benefited by those refining moments. you are such an encourager and now i know part of your picture.

kaden sounds like such sweetie. your words took me back to moments like that with my son. what joy they are. did you give him the costume yet? when is his party?

hugs ~janel

jennyhope said...

i was trying to comment earlier today and it has been kind of crazy! Anyway, what a testimony! And I can not even begin to tell you how I relate!

Happy birthday to that sweet Kaden! your children are beautiful!

Bev Brandon said...

Hi Bethanne, I'm so sorry that you had to go through that at the ballpark---people are so cruel at times. What are they thinking? Just about themselves. You know way down deep what life really is, Bethanne. You've been surrounded by HIS LOVE and that's solid and for sure. Psalm 104:2 you are surrounded by Light.

Steve said...

Happy Birthday Kaden!
Hang in there Beth. I know it's hard, but trust me, you are doing a wonderful job as a mommy!

Earen said...

Happy Birthday to your sweet boy!! Wow, I was touched by your story Bethanne. As always you ministered to me with your lessons from the Lord. I am firmly convinced that the Lord allows things in our own lives in order that we may minister to others. I have a handicapped sister & I remember growing up being so hurt when people would just stare at her (which I now see as just them being curious), but also the fun that was made of her, so I can only imagine the hurt that you dealt with that year. May the Lord bless you & use you mightily through this. Thank you for sharing your heart sweet friend & I want you again to know how beautiful you are inside & out!!

Kim said...

Thanks for commenting on my South Africa pics--you found me on LPM's roll call. :) I read this right away since my oldest just turned 4, and I was so glad I did. Thank you for sharing this with others.