We were standing next to an over sized metal hospital crib, filled with a tangle of wires, IV lines and one sleeping newborn – my six week old son, Ben.
The nurse next to me was talking about the previous night’s visit from my husband and our three older boys. The boys were really missing their newest brother (and me). We had been in the hospital for three days already, following Ben’s diagnosis of RSV. As he struggled to breathe properly his brothers struggled with another major change in a short time – first a new house, then a new school, a new baby and now an upside down routine that involved trips to the hospital instead of homework and two frazzled parents trying to juggle work, children and long days and nights in the hospital.
The hospital room was big, but even a big room becomes quickly crowded when it’s filled with three energetic boys, talking over each other and climbing on top of chairs to peer in at their baby brother. My oldest made a new friend at school. My six year old is in a “fact stage”, where he walks around reciting small facts he’s learned, mostly about sea life, all day long. My four year old had endless questions about us coming home. My husband chose that moment to run out to the car.
A young man in scrubs appeared, a colorful pediatric mask in hand, and informed me he was here to give Ben his nebulizer treatment. A nurse squeezed in to silence a beeping IV machine. I stood in the middle of the room clutching a sleepy, wheezing infant while trying to answer every question being flung at me by children I hadn’t seen in over 24 hours.
The scene was chaotic, much like our everyday lives. Filled with high pitched voices, sticky hands and someone eating McDonalds French fries off of a dirty floor. I can imagine it was quite the sight to see! Thinking back to it now I can’t help but smile. Chaotic, yes – but love tends to be messy that way. And love is the driving force behind moments like that – little boys who want to share every detail of their day with us, the pitch of their voices climbing with their excitement, their laughter as they share jokes or the way they jump and climb on top of each other when they play.
Of course there are stressful days – the kind where piles of laundry take over our living room and no one wants to do their homework, but days like that are not limited to large families, so when did a big family become something we garner pity for?
Maybe it’s just that these well meaning strangers don’t understand – if you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.