Saturday, April 15, 2006

Children and Peds Clinic

Peds clinic was pretty much what I expected. Runny noses and coughs, with well baby checks thrown in occasionally. A welcome change from Patau syndrome, carnitine deficient cardiomyopathy, and HIE.

The really sick kids have been tough for me to deal with. Seeing them, with so little hope of recovery, makes me think I would have a very tough time having children of my own. I admire the courage of those who have children, who have the faith to trust G-d to give what He will in their lives. But I would worry that my children would be like those I've treated, only born to suffer. I still don't know that my faith is strong enough to have children, to run that risk.

Most of what I feel here is my natural pessimism coupled with anecdotal experience of the worst nature can throw at humanity. But even recognizing that, I still feel it.

Probably, I'll just try not to think too hard about it when the time comes. Almost certainly, there's a bit of cowardice in that reasoning. Thankfully, right now I don't have to worry about having children, since I haven't found the girl yet. But every time I think of having children of my own, the images of my patients, of my embryology texts, come to mind.

Which is why the peds clinic has been good. Here I've seen dozens of kids, usually about 14 a day (in 6 hours, you do the math) forming a steady stream of normal, happy kids with runny noses or ear aches. It helps balance a perception skewed by experience in a hospital renowed for its ability to deal with "zebras," those medical entities so rare they are never seen elsewhere. It's been, at the very least, a restoration of perspective.

I've been thinking a lot about parenthood in general lately, but the rest of that's going to wait for a further post.


Thainamu said...

Don't worry that they will be born to suffer; worry that they will be born to sin.

tinea said...

They will suffer. And they will sin. But they will also experience the most beautiful moments life offers. You have such a capacity to love your children, to teach them, and to guide them. Ultimately, regardless of the pain those kids are going through, their parents likely all believe it's worth it. While I realize all of this sounds almost so common as to be cliche, and that the decision to become a parent warrants great deliberation, it still is true that fear of suffering - your's or your childrens' - ultimately comes second to the hope of joy, experience, and grace.

Zwerver said...

A friend of mine is a picu nurse and she went through a big phase of "I can't imagine having kids; they just get sick and die." And it took her awhile to work around to believing that her daily experiences really were out of the ordinary. She knew it, but when you see that all day it's hard to believe it's not normal.

thebeloved said...

Even if God someday gives you kids that suffer, HE works all things together for good for those that love him and you must never underestimate the abundance of joy that comes through pain. It may not appear that way, but God is most faithful.

Nathan said...

Thainamu - yes, they will. However, we are all born to that, and can't help it. Not all of us are born to do nothing but eat and have seizures, like some of the kids I saw.

tinea - that goes towards my thoughts on parenthood in general, which I'll hopefully be posting soon.

zwerver - Exactly. It is tough to think about odds, and say to yourself "only one out of 1000 kids ends up like this" when you see five or six per day that have. That's exactly my struggle here.

thebeloved - I think you're reasoning like a Roman Catholic. Not that it is all bad, I have some RCC sympathies, but "joy through pain" sounds a bit like penance to me. And there is no way at all I would have kids if I were guaranteed to have only kids with the problems I'm seeing. Because willingly inflicting that kind of pain on yourself and your children is, in my mind, sin.

As an aside, this is why genetic counseling is a good thing, and why I disagree with the Roman Cathlic idea that every married couple must produce children. Not if their genetics dictate otherwise.

You are right that God is faithful, but knowing that and knowing that are different.

thebeloved said...

Ahh. I feel slightly misunderstood, but that is okay. I am not saying that all pain is good, but I am saying that not all pain is bad. I certainly don't think all couples should have children. There are some I have met who certainly shouldn't and I know people who have adopted because of the genetic probability of their kids getting certain diseases. That is wonderful. But I am saying that the possibility of pain should never cause us to be so afraid that we do not do what God wants us to. He can bring joy out of any situation and bring glory to His name in the most painful appearing circumstances. Not that we should chase pain, but endure it, be joyful, and learn to see the great good that God brings.

Nathan said...

thebeloved - Thank you for clarifying. Apologies for misunderstanding, I agree with what you're saying now. At least, with what I understand you're saying ;)