Monday, September 5, 2011

Zen Masters

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

I read somewhere that babies are little zen masters.  The past is forgotten and the future doesn't exist.  All that matters is right now.  My normal state is far from zen.  I fret and worry wondering is there enough flax in her oatmeal to fortify her brain against another episode of World World, did we read enough today, am I talking/playing/directing enough but not too much?  I realize some anxiety is just a normal part of motherhood.  But how much is too much?  What is the tipping point between healthy protectiveness and overzealous mothering?  Good grief, I am even anxious about my level of anxiety.

As Buddha said, mourning the past allows my mind to be unhealthy.  I mourn the what-ifs, the should-haves, and the if-onlys.  And anxiety is a part of my genetic makeup.  I come by it honestly, but it is something I long to conquer.  

Samuel's traumatic birth and related health complications have certainly stretched my mental health to the limits and exposed my glaring inadequacies.  There is so much that is unknown about his future.  We have been given the following statistics for children with his diagnosis: 

1 out of 3 babies are fine.  A word I despise, by the way.  What mother wants her baby to be just fine? Or is that just the perfectionist, type-A personality in me?  Hello, anxiety.

1 out of 3 babies have developmental delays.  This could be a speech or motor delay (Samuel has been diagnosed with both) that will be overcome.

1 out of 3 babies have developmental disabilities.  This could include anything from cerebral palsy to a learning disability.

Only within the last few months have I been able to say the words grade III intraventricular hemorrhage resulting in mild hydrocephalus without stumbling over them.  I had some sort of mental block about Samuel's diagnosis that kept me from remembering, let alone comprehending, what those scary words meant. 

When we first learned of Samuel's condition, Ben quickly went into gatekeeper mode, gathering information, asking thoughtful questions, gently insisting he handle the depressing literature being handed to us.  He protected me from the terrifying possibilities, knowing it was more than I could handle.  Gratefully, I sank into an ignorant cocoon and focused on the more immediate issues we were facing during life in the NICU; regulating oxygen, eating by mouth, and staring at the blinking, blaring monitors as if by sheer force of will I could control them.

Months passed.  After haltingly explaining Samuel's diagnosis to yet another specialist and being gently corrected, it was time to shed light on the ignorance I had clung to.  I nervously typed "hydrocephalus", "IVH", and "grade III" into the Google search box.  I willed myself to focus on the medical sites, not feeling ready to read message boards or forums.  As a result, I now know more than I ever wanted to about the possible outcomes for grade 3 brain hemorrhage sufferers.  

And despite the odds, our Samuel is making wonderful progress.  He has recently progressed fully from army-crawl to upright crawl, an important developmental milestone.  He is vocalizing more and more, repeating consonants (dah-dah-DAH!) with varying inflection.  Weekly visits from a lovely developmental specialist, upcoming visits to the speech therapist, and frequent check-ins with the neurologist to monitor fluid levels in his brain are now just a part of our routine.  He is a beautiful, snugly, sweet, happy, resilient little boy, a zen master with the Buddah belly to match.

With so much of the past to mourn and question and so much of the future to worry and fret about, I must remind myself not to miss this precious present moment, and experience it wisely and earnestly.  The Prince of Peace asked,

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
-Jesus (Matt 6:27)

If I let it, worry can steal moments of sweet joy.  Moments like this...

And so I will again attempt to shake off the weight of worry and instead embrace my little zen masters knowing this moment, right now, is all that that really matters.  


Ben said...

I love you and our little zen masters more than words can describe...

Elaine said...

God to Sammy:
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:12).
Mom to Kara: With God's favor and a mother with your heart and tenacity, Sammy will indeed prosper and be light-years beyond "fine." I know it like I've never known anything before.
Mama Bear to Kara's anxiety monster: Go on now, you've had your stay. Can't you see--there are NO more vacancies. Now, SCAT!!!

EmJ Fitz said...

Kara, I so needed this today. I too struggle heavily with anxiety, and need to be constantly reminded of God's promises to cast all my cares upon Him, because He cares for me. Thank you for being open and honest... it has been a huge encouragement to me!

Lauren Thompson said...

I've been looking forward to reading this all day, and it was even better than I imagined. I am head over heels infatuated with your amazing mommy skills, your honesty, your courage, and those two precious little ones!

Kami said...

Oh my dear Kara. You, darling, are a pillar of strength. I know you think you worry too much and feel the anxiety weighing at you, BUT you have walked through this terrifying delivery and unsettling diagnosis with GRACE and BEAUTY. You are a model of COURAGE to me and to so many others. Thank you for giving us a peek into your journey. Love ya!