Hanging Out by Ellen Stumbo

As a special needs mom I get to spend time hanging out at the hospital. And I do mean hang out. My husband and I sit in the room, praying, waiting for the procedure to be done, updating our friends and family, checking Facebook, reading, more waiting. And that is the easy part, the hanging out.

I have a confession. I actually enjoy the hanging out. The quiet of the hospital room, no machines yet, no beeping noises, no nurses, no crying child. Just waiting.

But before the waiting, there was the anxiety. The sleepless nights when my child was up at night unable to sleep because of the upcoming surgery. The PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) due to the involved medical procedures she has had because of her cerebral palsy. There were the over-the-counter natural sleep aides. The phone calls to counselors, a consult with a child psychologist to prepare her for yet another surgery.

Then, on the day of surgery, there is the short night. The anxiety that threatens to surface, and the scary OR (operating room). There is nothing like walking with your child to the OR, comfort them while the anesthesia puts them to sleep, and then having to walk out. Leaving your child behind tears your heart apart.

But then you wait, because you know that all you can do is pray. So you allow yourself to relax, and to “hang out.” Because as soon as surgery is over, the hard part begins as your child deals with pain, anxiety, and fear. And the nights are long, and the sleep is sketchy. And your child cries and you want to cry too.

Sometimes, you run out in the hall and cry because you feel helpless as a parent, unable to help your child. You might even ask a nurse to step in for a second, so you can get a good cry, and you don’t want your child to see that, because you want to be strong for them. You need to be strong.

And you are, you are strong. So strong you can just hang out at the hospital. So strong that you smile at your child and sing to them even when you want to cry. And you pray, you pray and allow God to carry you through the days to follow. Soon, soon you will get to go home and hang out.

ellenstumboEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

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