{my most vulnerable}

Isn’t it strange how something as simply as a scent wafting in the air can take you back to a moment lost in time, one that you had stored in your memory bank but perhaps haven’t thought about since?

Today I had a video appointment with Bernadette’s cardiologist. This should be her annual checkup, complete with an echocardiogram and an EKG. In light of COVID-19, her in person visit has been postponed to a later date TBD and replaced with a video visit. Modern technology at it’s finest. Nevermind  the fact our connection was poor and took us nearly fifteen minutes to actually connect to said appointment. Either way, we finally did and by the end of the visit, I had that all too familiar lump in my throat and tears forming softly in the corners of my eyes. My rambunctious three year old had fallen asleep in my arms, which hasn’t happened since the last time she was sick. Those sweet moments rarely happen anymore.

We talked about the usual things, where Berni is at developmentally speaking. I went through the services she is receiving through school, even during shelter in place. She commented on how big she was getting, which if you know anything of our past history, I never thought I would ever hear those words coming out of the mouth of our cardiologist, whom is amazing I might add.

Bernadette struggled with her weight since she was born. Countless hours have gone into nourishing her body from the beginning and to hear her say that felt like a massive accomplishment for both her and I. Especially since at 3 1/2 years old there are still many meals someone has to spoon feed her for one reason or another.

The conversation winded to the inevitable. COVID-19. A few days earlier, I had messaged with her pediatrician. Places are starting to open up around here and being the incredibly social people we are, I have been eagerly awaiting this day for MONTHS now. Only to be told to put the breaks on. We are still needing to be in quarantine.

It came up because I had signed our family up to host “church at home”. Something not only our church leadership has been eagerly anticipating, but I as well. My most favorite memories of being a missionary in London were the early days of the church in which our team opened up our home for people to come and hear the Word, sing together, and enjoy a meal together afterwards. Some of the sweetest moments of fellowship I experienced were in that very house in the beautiful Hampstead Heath. Memories I will never forget.

I felt an uneasiness about it in the midst of the excitement. I thought it would be better for me to reach out and ask the hard question before finding out the hard way.

Sure enough, less than an hour after I sent the initial message I received one back. Given Bernadette’s extensive medical history, she is considered “high risk.” Crushed.

The extreme extrovert that I am, fell apart upon reading and rereading the message. I figured as much, but optimistically I hoped it wouldn’t be so. I had hoped there was enough data out there now to prove otherwise.

Luckily, I hadn’t advertised much we were hosting so it had mostly been hypothetical at that point.

That meant another month at least of quarantine for our family. How in the world could I wrap my mind around another month of this life?

Fast forward to today’s appointment…. Fall. Yes, that is the time recommended we keep her from any other social interaction at this point.

I listened intently as the cardiologist reminded me of what Bernadette has already endured. Yes, she had two major heart surgeries but if you know us in real life you know of another time I didn’t think she was actually going to pull through to the other side.

At a tiny five months old, Bernadette contracted a respiratory virus (RSV) which hospitalized her in the ICU for nearly 10 days, another couple following in the step down unit once she was out of immediate danger. It was just as scary as when she was going through major heart surgery.

The cardiologist reminded me of the high respiratory support she received while she had been admitted and she was near intubation, although miraculously avoided that additional trauma. Given her history, COVID-19 could be incredibly detrimental to her.

We hung up after she encouraged me to go out on walks and let Bernadette run around and play with her sisters, but continue to keep the extreme precautionary methods we are, and have done in the past.

Like a flood raging over me, I was instantly overwhelmed with emotions and taken back into the very hospital room I watched my infant struggle for days on end. I will never forget the moment I wept in the corner and had to make the decision, would I still trust God even if…?

Even if I didn’t bring my infant home from the second greatest fight of her life? Would I trust Him with her, with me, with our family? I knew I had to, there was no other option.

It’s strange though how in an instant, everything comes back to you so quickly.

I remember how incredibly sick she was and how much I was on my knees for God to heal her fragile body. Miraculously, we brought her home and I am forever thankful for all the memories we have together since that point.

I know this is what is best. As hard as it is, as much as I want to run out into the streets and beg people to come over and sit with me. This is what will protect her. She is the most vulnerable. She is extreme risk. She is my daughter. It is all worth it.

This may not be your reality, but it is mine.

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