Today, I am sharing something very personal. Something that, when we talk about faith for stuff, this is the greatest stretch of my faith in my life so far. Forget financial stability, becoming a successful author or even enjoying a happy marriage. THIS is the greatest challenge I have faced.
I will never, NEVER forget the day that we discovered that our beautiful, angel-faced baby girl had multiple severe food allergies.
Bethany Sophia Grace – the very coolest of surprise gifts from above. The little girl my husband James had always waited for and the second daughter that I never thought I’d have.
The one that my beloved had always dreamed of walking down the aisle one fine day.
When she arrived we were besotted. Then, at three weeks of age I could tell that her digestive system was struggling a little. I sought answers, and ended up removing dairy products from my diet (I was feeding her). She immediately improved but not completely.
Next came the sporadic chain of events that led us up to the day that changed our lives.
On that day – the one where we visited the pediatrician/ allergy specialists office- I was nervous but as prepared as I felt I could be. My instincts had told me that something was really wrong, but the problem was, I hadn’t prepared myself for the scale of it.
As we watched the doctor prick her skin multiple times, I told myself “Whatever the result, we will deal with it.”
But it’s not until you truly have to face reality, that you realize all the self-talk in the world won’t change how devastating it feels.
The welts on her arms began to swell and spread as they reacted to the test. My heart sank as I saw the evidence of what I already suspected. Not just regular, run-of-the-mill food allergies or intolerance, but the kind that makes the doctor say things they are definitely not supposed to say, like, “Oh dear, this is bad!” and “We have to send her for blood tests to see just how bad this is.” The kind that make you do things later on, like give up your job because you are needed on a level that is beyond the norm.
I felt like her words were lost in the haze as I stared at my little girl’s arms. She was five months old. This was not OK. Not even a little bit. Not by a long shot.
As a mother, the instinct to protect my children is definitely a tough one to fight against when it comes to medical procedures. To hold a child close, tucked into you, telling her that everything’s alright, when it is most definitely NOT alright. But you do it because you know that it is necessary, and you do it so that they can come out the other side feeling completely held; hand and heart.
So we sat in the pathology department at the end of an already VERY long day, as a well-meaning stranger tried to pierce her delicate veins… and we sat… for forty-five minutes as they struggled to get enough blood out of her tiny feet. And I tried to be brave as my little girl showed me what brave means.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14v1
Our daughter was diagnosed with severe and life-threatening allergies to wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, almonds and cashews. At the time, she was covered from head to toe in a red, itchy rash (eczema) that began the week we started feeding her solid foods. – three foods to be exact. This is because her system was having trouble tolerating the natural chemicals that are found in fruits and vegetables.
I remember life stopped in that moment. Everything was stripped back to nothing.
So we made appointments with dietitians and filled what seemed like a million prescriptions, and after we came home I picked myself up off the floor and purposed myself to learn as much as I humanly could without a medical degree, and became determined to find the silver lining.
Here is what I am grateful for:
I am grateful that she developed a rash that pre-warned us of her condition. I refuse to think about what may have happened had I given her anything other than fruit and rice cereal.
I am grateful for our pediatrician and the GP who sent us there. We were referred to one of the best pediatric allergy specialists in our city, and all because we ‘happened’ to walk into the office of a GP – who was not our regular doctor – when Bethany first developed the rash, only to discover his daughter was going through something similar and knew from personal experience EXACTLY which allergy specialist we needed to see.
God is so interested in the personal details.
It felt like He was handling it personally for us. And that while we were holding Bethany’s heart and hand, he was holding ours.
I am grateful for the supportive and loving people in our world.
I am grateful . So grateful.
After we got through the initial shock, we said it out loud it to those closest to us. A great friend of mine told me that she believed that Bethany was already being healed and shared what I now call ‘Bethany’s verse’ with me…
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1v6
… and I know it to be true.
Things have started to shift. We’ve made small steps forward. But there’s still more work to be done.
This faith journey for us might be long. It may not. All I know is I’m not going anywhere.
Because my Jesus is faithful.