Mother's column – childlike trust is hard to keep in times of distress


Christian Life


Baby with a respirator as he lies in an intensive care unit (ICU). Image not related to the article. Photo AFP, John Macdougall

I will not easily forget the day our Reinout was hospitalised with the RS virus. The memories of the 11 days that followed are etched in my memory.

The sight of that tiny, vulnerable little man among all those tubes, monitors and buzzing machines. The fact that he stopped drinking because he had no energy to suck. Martha's heartbreaking grief. The alarming beeps that woke us up at night when the oxygen level in his blood dropped too much. The drip poked into that mini-arm in case he had to go on life support (it was close). The moments we feared that he wouldn't make it.

In the Netherlands, the death rates for people suffering from the RS virus are actually very low. Babies may end up in the ICU with it, but only a few eventually die from it. Still, those statistics seem to have no meaning when you are in the middle of it. Didn't the nurse also say that most babies recover quickly with the help of some extra oxygen? Well, with Reinout, things only got worse.

They say that distress teaches you to pray, but at that time I almost didn't dare to pray. What would be left of my faith in a good and almighty God if we had to lose this dear little man? Not to mention the childlike faith of Martha, Abel and Jolijn.

After a few intense weeks, Reinout slowly recovered. Still, it took months before the tension disappeared a bit from my body. 'Next time, I want a baby in the summer,' I said to Jan, although I knew we were not in charge of that at all. Still, I was happy that the next time I was due in July.

Until reports of overcrowded paediatric wards and ICUs suddenly appeared at the end of June. Thanks to the lock downs, the RS virus had not circulated last winter. And because of all the relaxation of the rules, we faced an unprecedented upsurge of the RS virus in the summer.

I asked people with a cold not to come for a maternity visit, but Jolijn was already sniffling too. And just try keeping a proud big sister away from her newborn sister.

A week after giving birth, I knew two things for sure: Sifra had a cold, and the tension of Reinout's hospitalisation had never really gone away. It had only been hiding in the corner of my heart for a while.

Neline op de fiets.jpeg

Neline is married and the mother of five: Martha (9), Abel (7), Jolijn (5), Reinout (3) and Sifra (1).



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