Eve’s hospitalization last month took a toll on all of us. Some day I might write the story of how many people failed Eve as she was struggling. I am not ready for that just yet, but I will say that the entire ordeal was traumatizing to her. I spoke with our hospital about pain management when a child is non-verbal and I am hopeful for change. There have been hospital stays before but this one was hard to bounce back from.
When Eve came home, it was evident that she would need time to process all she experienced. But how would I help her with that when we lack a common language to talk about feelings? We use modified ASL for her basic needs but it’s been hard to move beyond that. She didn’t want to leave my side (or her Dads or siblings) and she didn’t sleep well once we were settled back home. She also exhibited avoidance and didn’t have an appetite. She just wasn’t herself. Children who are non-verbal have the same feelings as we all do and processing those feelings may look different. With Eve, there were clear signs this experience was hard.
Many days Eve just wants to be rocked. Some days when we are alone, I put words to those feelings for her. I tell her that it must have been scary in the hospital but things are better now (a tip I learned from this article) . I tell her how brave she was and how proud I am of her. I pray with her. I promise to advocate better, to understand more and to not be afraid to speak up in the moment. And there are days that I ask for forgiveness because I just didn’t know how to help her. These conversations are healing to me as much as they are for her. Her body relaxes next to mine and we just rock.
It’s been a month and we are still rocking and we are still processing big feelings. We decided to get involved with palliative care and a child life specialist is helping us navigate this new territory. They are also sending a music therapist and an art therapist to work with the children as they have special expertise in traumatic experiences. Unraveling all these emotions with professional guidance is great and I am sure Eve will find healing and peace right along side the rest of the family.