God-Incidence: Peace, on the Count of Three
She confessed her fear two nights before the surgery. I pulled her little body in close to mine, while her lamp cast a purple glow across the bedroom wall.
“Mommy,” her voice quivered. “I’m scared of the mask. I’m afraid it will hurt.” She’s 10 now, but her voice suddenly sounded so small, like it belonged to the little girl I put on the kindergarten bus a few years back.
I drew her in, tighter. I could smell lavender on her still-wet hair, dampening her pillow.
She had read the brochures, so she knew about the IVs and the incision. She understood that the doctor would take a small oval of her skin then graft it onto the hole in her eardrum.
She’s old enough to sound out words like anesthesia and intravenous, but still young enough to ask one of the most tender questions of a vulnerable child: “Will it hurt?”
It wouldn’t hurt, I assured her. I reminded her that the mask would deliver anesthetic into her body. She would count to three, and after a few deep breaths, she would be floating in jolly, potion-induced dreams.
She’s had surgery before. Two sets of ear tubes. Adenoids removed. But now, she was old enough to know that things like surgery held inherent risks.
Maybe it was the idea that someone else had the power to put a piece of plastic over her face, flip a switch and put her to sleep. Maybe she was afraid she wouldn’t wake up. I’m not altogether sure. Maybe I was too scared to ask her about the real root of her fear.
“I don’t like it at all, Mommy,” she said.
We did pray. We prayed for God to take away the fear. We asked God to help her breathe, and — on the count of three — to plant sunny dreams in her mind while she reclined on that operating table. We prayed for peace, but how do you explain something like peace to a child? Even the Apostle Paul couldn’t quite put a finger on such a heady concept. He described it as something that “surpasses all understanding.”
The surgery came on Maundy Thursday.
We drove north to the city. I cranked up the radio. “Lydia, honey, listen! One of your favorite songs!”
It was Dive by Steven Curtis Chapman. And then the lyrics:
“So if you’ll take my hand
We’ll close our eyes and count to three
And take the leap of faith …”
“Mommy?” said the voice from the backseat. “I feel really calm. I can’t explain it. But I finally feel calm.”
I nodded my head, knowing the inexplicable calm that had a name: Peace.
We walked into the operating room side by side, and all it took was one look at that long silver table. She burst into tears.
She turned toward me, wearing that tiny pair of blue scrubs and a poofy hair net. Panic fell down her cheeks in rivulets.
I forced a smile that I couldn’t feel on the inside. A nurse led her to the table, gently by the elbow, and said, “Mom, you hold your daughter’s hand.”
The anesthesiologist set the plastic mask on her chest, not yet on her face. Machines beeped; a surgical tool clanked.
Lydia looked up at me, eyes wild with worry. “I’m scared, Mommy. I’m scared of the mask.”
I brushed her cheek with my hand, and leaned in close, squeezing her hand. I drew in one long breath, looked her in the eye and asked:
“So, how about we hold it together?”
Then, she and I picked up the mask, and I felt her body relax as we held it there together. And on the count of three, she closed her eyes, and she took the leap of faith.
Photo before surgery. She’s recovering well, just as expected! 🙂
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:7
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Surgery scares me too =) We’re in good company. Glad she’s okay!
She’s doing great, Lore. Thanks… She even went to school today.
Oh, Jennifer, she looks so like you! Such a precious picture. Tell her I say she is so brave. I was praying for her.
Would you believe that my boy has to have this very same surgery this summer? We’ve put it off for a couple years now. He’s 15. He’s had three sets of tubes, adenoids out, and still the drums rupture–leaving big ol’ holes. I don’t know how it will go but I’ll be sure to ask for Lydia’s prayers. 🙂 So glad she’s recovering well.
I will tell her, Laura. Thank you.
Does he have to have both ears done? And yes, we would be honored to pray. 🙂
What a beautiful little girl, and a story so well told. It is wonderful, the godly character that she will inherit, learning at such a young age to lean on and trust the One Who does promise to give peace that surpasses our understanding…
He is faithful! Blessings to you…
Thank you, Michele-Lyn! For me, it’s so crazy how I can go from peace to freak-out mode in a matter of seconds. I think, perhaps, this is part of my “becoming,” part of my growing process in Christ. … For Lydia, too. She is the tiny heiress to my DNA and we’re both prone to worry. I am grateful to a God who is, indeed, faithful… and very, very patient. 🙂
Oh man. Just oh man.
Glad you’re here, Lisa-Jo. Thank you for sitting with me here a while, friend.
Your sweet girl is beautiful… and very brave. Please let her know that her story gives me courage.
Me, too, Lyli! She gives me courage, too. … I will let her know. You’re so sweet!
boy, does she ever look like you! So beautiful! you brought me with tears in my eyes to watching my then 4 year old be wheeled off for surgery. those moments when mother and child’s eyes lock. you can’t explain it. except that everything is in that moment.
Yes, Tara, she is definitely my “mini-me.” 🙂
Thanks for being here tonight. I suspect you understand that feeling very well. It’s even harder when they are so small, like your child was, and they are less able to articulate their feelings.
Jennifer…the way you write draws me in everytime…thanks for putting to words what all of us momma’s experience on this crazy journey of motherhood! You have such a gift…thanks for sharing it with us!
So glad your Lydia is doing well. We’re all afraid of that loss of control in the OR. At 66, I’m still afraid of that mask . . . and now I see that I’m in excellent company with such a pretty girl. Tell Lydia if I ever have to have surgery again I’ll just think of her and not be afraid any more. 🙂
As a fellow prone-to-worry-er, I was on the edge of my seat reading this! What a good mommy you are and what a brave girl your Lydia is! I can only imagine the faith-building that happened in her heart and how this experience and God in it will come back to her through her life! Hugs to both of you!!
I have had my share of surgery and each time they have trouble waking me up – now that is scary knowing this before hand. However God is good. I pray that all those needing surgery will be calm and that especially those who are children will be at peace and heal quickly.
What a beautiful story and she looks so much like you – oh my! I am a bit fearful when it comes to these kinds of things where my control is far away. My daughter once had to have several viles of blood drawn and they said she was more brave than most adults. I think we learn so much for our little people.
She is definitely my “mini-me,” isn’t she, Shelly? Not only in looks but in demeanor.
You’re right, we learn so much from little ones. And this I know: Your daughter was definitely braver than I! The whole blood-draw thing frightens me!
There are tears in my eyes AGAIN. You are always doing that to me.
So if you’ll take my hand
We’ll close our eyes and count to three
And take the leap of faith …”
Blessings as your Lydia continues to recover and as you help her find God in the worrisome times. I think we are all works in progress in that area. I know I am!
Surgery with children is frightening. I was a mess when my oldest had sinus surgery. He wasn’t old enough to understand it all. I’ll never forget him being wheeled away, sitting up on the gurney screaming for me.
It’s amazing how God uses music to bring peace to our souls. May God continue to bless your daughter and give her peace as she heals. And thanks for sharing this!
“She’s old enough to sound out words like anesthesia and intravenous, but still young enough to ask one of the most tender questions of a vulnerable child: ‘Will it hurt?'”
Yeah, me too.
So did she have eardrum replacement surgery? J.J. had that at age 6. The worst part was all the restrictions. But God was good. She did not get a cold even though her surgery was in late September, and we learned all about that old lady spray-on hair-washing stuff. That’s when J.J. finally started caring about her hair.
Hi Megan … Lydia has a tympanoplasty, which is a repair of the eardrum. And can you believe this? The night before she went in for surgery, I got a horrible cold, and I still have it. I’ve washed my hands so much, they’re red and all dried out. Anna is home today with the same cold, so we are PRAYING that Lydia does not get this!
Oh…those good but hard lessons that teach our children to trust…sweet…let’s do it together…you will have so many more opportunities to walk faith together…blessings to you both.
Your Lydia sounds like a very sweet girl and very brave! My Anna has had many, many medical procedures done since she was a baby … now in the last few years has not had as many … but the first 5-6 years of her life were full of doctor appointments and hospital visits and a few very scary times where we really needed God’s peace and calmness. God carried us all through it just as He did for you and Lydia and continues to do every day! Blessings to you and your family and I’m glad she’s feeling better!
I love that “Dive” song…it helps us approach life with fearlessness — because that’s where we can begin to trust God.
Hi Sweet Friend,
I came over to have you pray for my 5 yr. old little grandson which I just posted about. He is having surgery on Thursday, 4/12. They are not sure if he has an infection that goes all the way up the front of his leg from his ankle to his kneecap or Leukemia. He is having a bone scan today. It took five people to hold him down to inject the dye. He goes back in a couple of hours for the actual scan. It is heart-wrenching to see our little ones go through so much pain.
It’s amazing how God leads us to people and then I come here asking for prayer and see that your little girl had surgery. I am so happy to hear that it went well. My prayers are being said for her Jennifer. I’ve been absent from getting around as much in the blogging world to leave comments with soooo much going on in our lives with physical maladies. I was meant to come here today to read your post.
Love you Jennifer and so appreciate your friendship and prayers.
Thank you for sharing about your daughter’s beautiful leap of faith!
Miss JDL, you captured both the big and small bits of this story in such a wonderful way that reflects your mamma love and God’s peace. Thank you for sharing this.
Prayers for health and healing.
why do you make me cry like that?
Your writing brings out my emotions.
I hope she is doing well.
so hard to give them over to surgery, i know. you’re a great mom. glad she’s doing well!
How precious! I remember going through surgeries with my daughter and the mother’s desperate cry for peace over a child’s heart. I am thankful she felt the peace and that she is recovering well.
My daughter is having surgery next week– she is little enough not to understand anything about it– so I’m doing all the worrying for her.
This made me cry!
I will pray for you and your baby girl.
Is there anything more gut gripping than to have a child come to you frightend and you know you must help them go through the journey?
But the Lord was leading you, and the music. And the peace, that chooses not to embrace the situation, but the heart and mind of His beloved overpowered the fear.
Beautiful story. I will pray for perfect healing with no interruptions.
What a wonderful way for her to learn about the peace of God!
Oh good grief. Tears again. Feeling it all. And you recorded it here for her to remember. Good job mom!
We’ll close our eyes and count to three…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One of the hardest things for me when I worked in the operating room was wheeling those babies back–their vulnerability and the worry in their mom’s eyes.
This made me cry. The Wild Orange put a bead in her ear, last fall, and had to be put under so the ENT specialist could get it out. It took less than five minutes, but, oh my word, it was so hard on me. Doesn’t your heart just break for the families who practically live in the hospitals?