How I Got Perspective at the Hospital

by | Sep 9, 2011 | Uncategorized


Revelation in the Midst of the Ordinary

We stood together in front of the reception window at the hospital this morning.  My husband and I stand beside my daughter, help her answer all those questions.  What is your social security number? Religious preference? What about a phone number to reach you? Your father’s birthdate?  Everything  except what size and brand of underwear she wears.

The lady with the receding hairline, square framed glasses, and smile that reveals all of her teeth asks these questions quietly.  We lean into her space to hear each one of them. She methodically types as we answer.  Fills in the blanks on the screen, makes copies of our identification cards.

This process wearies. All this information that identifies us uniquely from the rest of the people scattered in chairs around the waiting room.  It seems ridiculous.

Then I hear this whisper: I have numbered the very hairs on your head.

The sun of perspective rises, illuminates the mundane.  These copies, identification cards, numbers in a system seem feeble, almost humorous.

He knows how many hairs are on my head.

How many I lost in the shower this morning.

What I will think before I awaken.

Fashions the inside places of her being that I cannot see.

She is flesh of my flesh.  Do I know how many hairs exist on her head? What causes her discomfort? Why she wouldn’t nurse in those first days of life? 

Insight from the Past Sheds Light on Today

Today I recall that long ago scenario.  An appointment with a lactation consultant, swaddling Murielle tight, overwhelmed with worry, exhaustion from all the newness of life.  The consultant smiles, looks down at her, then up at me and says, “You are doing everything right.  She is an all or nothing child who won’t nurse unless she can do it perfectly, on her terms. Give her some time. She senses your stress and gives up. Try to relax.”

Skeptical about how she could know this about someone who is three days old.  I wear the heaviness of a mother’s guilt like a vest loaded with bricks.  Convinced the lack of appetite is my fault.  This wisdom is like a cup of cold water for a parched sojourner in the desert.  That insight foreshadows the future.  He helps me remember it today, fifteen years later.

The phlebotomist wraps the blue rubber around her arm, sticks the needle in her vein and begins to tell the story of a burly man who fainted in the chair when she did the same thing to him. She filled five glass vials while we laughed.

Thankful for Perspective

I drive my daughter back to high school. Look over at her, so grown up and full of wanting to do well. Nervous about what she missed this morning, holding it in an inside place that causes pain.  I offer words of comfort, put things in perspective, admire her kind heart, thoughtfulness, drive to succeed.

Then I give thanks in my heart.  He knew how many wispy new hairs grew from her tiny head that day when I swaddled her in the consultant’s office, and he knows how many cling to her long, shiny locks today.  Her life is in His hands.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. -Matthew 10:29-31

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. -Psalm 139:13-15


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