Chapter 8 Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood
“It is wonderful what miracles God works in wills that are utterly surrendered to Him.”
~ Hannah Whitall Smith ~
On a warm September, in 1989, Tuesday evening, my water broke, and we prepared Shawn to go to the neighbors. Explaining to him that his little brother or sister would be coming out of my large tummy put a blank stare on his face. Gary and I locked eyes realizing that his life would be forever changed. Gary prayed for Shawn, me, and the baby. During his prayer an emotion of intense grief along with joy grew in my heart and I began to weep. Logic told me that Shawn’s transition with a new brother shouldn’t cause such an emotion in my spirit, and I briefly wondered if something was going to be wrong with my baby. Trusting my little ones to God, we left for the hospital expecting the best.
At 9:50 AM, September 27, 1989, Taylor Royce Wood graced the world with a loud entrance. He came out screaming with legs and arms flailing letting the world know he was ready for an adventure. Despite his rambunctious arrival, it was obvious that he needed love and cuddling as much as freedom to move while he eagerly snuggled up to me very hungry. He was born healthy, active, cuddly and with a voracious appetite.
Getting ready to take our son home to introduce him to his big brother and start our new “happily ever after,” my doctor came in to check on me to release me from the hospital and shared some concern that I might have a blood clot in my leg. Not wanting to delay going home, I brushed it off as a nothing. He examined me and reluctantly sent me home with strict instructions to call him immediately if anything changed.
Shawn met Taylor with a smile and curiosity. He was glad to have a little brother but wished he could start playing. Shawn was helpful and adored his little brother doing anything to help him stop crying which began to be a regular problem. Taylor seemed frustrated most of the time. It seemed he was only happy eating or in my baby front pack with me moving around. Many of his early naps were spent inside that pack with me vacuuming just to get a break from the crying.
When we had been home for a week, I stood up one morning after very little sleep to feel that deep pain the doctor had warned about. I had a full-blown superficial blood clot in my leg. A visit to the doctor and a Doppler scan sent me home with blood thinners and even stricter instructions to keep my leg elevated above my head. Tell that to a young mother with a two-year-old and a cranky infant. Gary was able to come into the house frequently to help and my neighbors, Judy, and Kathy, were sweet servants making sure I was doing well throughout the day.
I sensed something was wrong with Taylor after the second week with near constant crying. He never seemed to be able to be comforted, so, by the third week so I took him to the pediatrician. His doctor couldn’t find anything wrong and wrote it off as colic. My lack of sleep and discomfort from my blood clot started a slow growing depression for me. I was a youth pastor at the time and felt I should be back to work with my teens. Generally, the push-through-anything girl, I began to feel like a failure as a Christian, mom, wife, and youth pastor from not having enough faith to see the silver lining like I usually did in tough circumstances.
Things were slowly getting worse for Taylor, but we still had intermittent happy moments without crying so I just decided he had colic. Despite my exhaustion, the end of October, we packed up the boys for our church harvest party, not wanting to miss a fun yearly celebration for Shawn. Taylor had cried most of that day and not having his usual daily dirty diaper for over 48 hours, I was starting to become concerned. Arriving at the church soon after feeding him, he started a screaming spell in stiff pain that had me in tears. Gary ran Shawn through all the harvest centers at the party and played a quick game with him before taking us home. It ended up being too long of a night for colic and I was determined to take our baby to the ER the next morning, a Saturday.
Getting him ready early in the morning, I decided to change his clean diaper even though he had not done anything to make me want to change it. Upon opening his diaper, what I saw shocked me. It was obvious Taylor had a hernia and the bulging intestine in his groin may burst at any moment. I asked Gary to get the car warmed up telling him I was leaving immediately for the hospital. Gary came back in after starting the car and I handed him the baby telling him our doctor was on call that night before and I wanted to catch him at the ER on the phone and make sure he stayed there.
I told the doctor Taylor had a strangulated hernia and I would see him in fifteen minutes. Doubting my non-medically educated wisdom, he asked what made me so sure that’s what it was. Leaving my normally professionally polite responses for another time, my mama bear heart blurted, “Well, when he was born, he had two testicles and now he has three and it’s larger than the two he was born with!” He was silent for a moment then said he would wait. I drove as fast as I could then I handed him to the doctor who confirmed he did indeed have a badly strangulated hernia. The surgeon was immediately called in to meet us just as Gary arrived after dropping Shawn off at our pastor’s house.
During most of this I was extremely calm and shed no tears, knowing I had a big God and could trust him no matter the outcome. The surgeon explained the surgery, and the risks involved, normal risks for any four-week-old infant. He thought they had caught it in time, but Taylor was at risk of his intestine rupturing. We watched them wheel our tiny helpless baby through the flapping surgery doors trusting Taylor into God’s and the doctor’s hands.
Our pastor and his wife, Karon and Weldon, were keeping Shawn and had called the church prayer chain and our surrogate parents, Paul and Neva, to go to the hospital to be with us. They arrived soon after Taylor went into surgery, prayed with us, and kept us company for the hour plus surgery. We felt at peace but were counting the minutes before the doctor returned to tell us the outcome. The kind surgeon came out stating that he had caught it in time and Taylor was doing very well for a little guy and said it would be a little while before we could see him. After he answered a few questions for us, he commented that he had never seen such a calm young mother of sick baby. I smiled and told him that I had a big God. He walked out the door as relief hit me and I burst into tears. Gary, Paul, and Neva laughed at the young tearful mom with the big God.
Giving Taylor to God officially at his dedication two weeks later meant more to us than it would have had we not been through the surgery with him. We started to realize that we had to intentionally trust God with our children at each stage of their lives. Taylor still did not sleep well, and it began to take its toll on my emotional health. Not wanting to be a “bad Christian” I kept most of my postpartum depression to myself. I had to quit my youth pastor job because of my health and felt like a failure with no one else to watch over the teens.
Making time to walk in our beautiful park at the power plant, while listening to worship music, curbed my depression. When Taylor was eight months old, two things changed. He began to crawl, and it was as if the whole world opened up for him. He was finally happy and able to keep up with Shawn. Shawn was happier too as his brother could play with him and throw a ball. The other thing that changed was Taylor’s playing hard led him to sleep more. One night he fell asleep in our bed with me and slept all night for the first time. It was a major prayer answered. I finally started feeling like a happy human again. The only trade off was he wanted to sleep every night with us. This would continue to be a regular pattern in Taylor’s life to play hard, love hard, rest hard. I was thankful for his loving and resting well part and with sleep came the emotional balance I needed.