The Questions Every EA/TEF Parent Asks: Why Him, Why Me, Why Us?
The questions every EA/TEF parent asks after their child’s diagnosis are the same–Why him? Why me? Why us? Guest blogger Wendy Vermillion recounts her struggle and reveals the weapon that helped her parent well during her son’s early days.
I’m sure I heard the phrase, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” a hundred times in the first 24 hours after delivering my firstborn baby boy. Most new mothers are living their dream of holding their newborn baby for the first time, and sharing the joy with family and friends. But for me, this day was filled with more tears than smiles, with a lot of fear in our world. All I could do was ask God the questions every EA/TEF parent asks– Why my son, why me, why us?
The words of my godly grandmother still ring in my head 33 years later: “God will show you why; be still and be patient.” At the time, I had no understanding of what she meant.
My dream of being a mom started to come true on a summer evening in 1987. I was barefoot, pregnant, and fancy-free walking into a hospital complaining of a little back pain at 36 weeks. It was just a little back pain; I almost didn’t even go to the hospital. Thankfully, I went—it turned out I was dilated to a 7 and we were about to have a baby boy. I was hooked up to monitors and nurses kept asking how my pain was. What pain? There was no pain, not even the back pain anymore. One of my nurses said she had never heard of such a thing as no pain in all the 15 years she had been in delivery. Can you image how happy I was? No pain with childbirth—God, was this a joke?
That happiness did not last long when I heard the words, “Your baby is in distress.” We were rushed to delivery room within an hour of arriving at the hospital. Three pushes and he was out! All I saw was a beautiful baby boy with a round face, lots of black hair, and all 10 fingers and toes. What more could a mom want? I had prayed for each finger and toe and God had delivered. However, I guess my prayers weren’t enough because our baby boy, Cory, was rushed away without even a first touch from his mom.
After what seemed like an eternity, doctors told us Cory was born with a birth defect. Can you imagine telling a 22-year-old, first time mom that her baby has a birth defect? Those poor doctors—I bet I asked some of the dumbest questions. I couldn’t comprehend what they were saying; he looked healthy. After they explained in terms I could understand—Cory had no esophagus—the anger set in. I was mad at God, and mad at my doctor. Then many other emotions came rushing in. Did I need to pray specifically for an esophagus? What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t I have my dream? Why him, why me, why us?
Our rollercoaster ride of hospital visits began. We spent seven weeks in the neonatal unit and on most days I was sure I couldn’t bear it any longer. But somehow we did. We carried on.
We finally brought our baby home, and we were so excited yet scared to death we would do something wrong. And we did.Our first week home was a disaster. I was an awful mom. The first day, as I was putting him to bed, I pulled his G-tube out. I freaked out, but he slept right through having it put back in.
Two days later, I was sterilizing bottles on the stove and fell asleep. I woke up to find the house filled with smoke and the smell of melted plastic I scooped up Cory and ran outside to my neighbor’s house with only a nightgown on. The fireman gave me a blanket to wrap around myself—my neighbor had not been so kind. The gown my have been somewhat see through. Yikes!
Our 33 years with Cory have been filled with many surgeries, hospital stays, and unknowns. However, they also have been filled with many blessings and so much joy.
I no longer ask the questions every EA/TEF parent asks after diagnosis. Instead I ask why not us?
Why not us—getting to experience a journey we never imagined we could handle?
Why not us—watching God’s miracles play out right before our eyes?
Why not us—living a dream we thought would not be possible?
Why not us?
There will always be times we are not sure we can handle what comes. Be patient and be still; you will see the blessings.
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Wendy and her husband have 5 children and 6 grandchildren. Their oldest son was born with a birth defect and is autistic. Wendy works at a Functional Medicine Clinic as a Health Coach in Oklahoma, where she loves having the opportunity to walk alongside clients, collaborating with them in their journey toward healing. In her free time, you will find her spending time with family or curled up with a book.
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