Heartbreak, Haiti and the importance of connection*

ben_carseat_closeup.jpg

This week has got me thinking about heartbreak.

It started on Tuesday afternoon when Ben had another febrile seizure. This one was particularly violent and we happened to be on the street when it happened. Couple that with the fact that Ben spit up his Martinelli’s sparkling cider at the same moment (making it look like he was foaming at the mouth) and you have me in full blown panic, my entire body shaking violently, matching his tiny little body shaking violently in my arms. Then there is me trying to breathe, checking to make sure he is breathing, asking someone to call the paramedics, feeling helpless and unbrave, alone and scared to death.

When I think about that scene, the moment that still brings me to tears is this one: There was a college student, about 20 years old, who appeared out of nowhere, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m here to help.” At that moment I didn’t have a good job for him and the paramedics arrived shortly after, but this small act of kindness, of simply being with me in this moment was an incredible gift. He probably thought he wasn’t needed and wasn’t helping, but I actually wish he hadn’t disappeared when the paramedics arrived. I wish I could thank him for that small bit of kindness and connection.

Ben is fine. Or mostly fine for a boy who had a 103 temp this morning, another seizure, and is still coughing violently. Fine for a boy who is watching Dora right now, but who I feel I need to hover over, just to be sure… every tiny jerk of his body sending my own body into a vigilent kind of attention– like an electric shock or a cattle prod.

What this has to do with Haiti

So while my own heart has been breaking in a thousand pieces the past few days, there has been the most unimaginable kind of heartbreak going on in Haiti. In the scariest moments of my own week, my mind keeps flashing to these other mothers and I get the tiniest window into their suffering. It’s almost too much too bear.

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My friend Myriam., pictured above, has family in Haiti. She is understandably devastated and is calling on us, this wonderful community to help. Her goal is to raise 30,000 for her family and I know we can help. More info coming later today so that we can all donate whatever we can.

If there is anything that moment on the street taught me is that it’s easy to walk by, or to look horrified from a distance. We are afraid to get too close, or we just don’t know what to do. I get it. I don’t know what to do either. But I am grateful for this opportunity to give through Myriam. It is one way we can stand alongside these people and in our own way say, “I’m here to help.”

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Hi, I’m Andrea

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56 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    Ah Andrea. My heart aches when I think about what you must have been feeling with Ben and may be feeling now. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Having a child has broken through all of the barriers with me when it comes to love and is one of the bravest things I feel I have ever done because when I love like this, the scary stuff (illness, for example) feels sharper and huge. Thank you for sharing your story. I also want to thank you and Myriam for giving me a chance to help. Right before I read your post I was trying to figure out who I could help today financially and have felt unsure about where to give in re to Haiti. I look forward to more details. Much love. xo Jennifer

  2. Shelley Noble

    Great post, Andrea. Point well made. Is there a link for Myriam? Nothing clicks through for me.

  3. Jolie

    Sending you warm wishes and hugs, Andrea. Be kind to yourself as you’re taking care of Ben. xo

  4. Yolanda

    I have never met your sweet boy. I have never met you. But every time you write about these wrenching, horrible febrile seizures, my heart clenches. And then I sob. I’m so sorry that fever continues to do this to Ben. As a momma, my empathy is…I don’t have the right word.

  5. Trish

    I. am. here. to. help. Haiti.
    Let. me. know. what. I. can. do.
    oxox
    T
    PS Beautiful Andrea and Ben, I holding you close to my heart.

  6. tea

    HI, what are febrile seizures? and why does he have them? This is the first i have ever heard of that. I am so sorry for you and that day. I am sure that was scary. I’m glad he is okay. 🙂
    could you write something and let us know what these f.s. are and how they came about or why they happen?

  7. Tisha

    Sending you loads of love and courage and comfort today…know you are in our thoughts.

  8. Tisha

    Sending you loads of love and courage and comfort today…know you are in our thoughts.

  9. Emily Perry

    I will check back to see about how to help. sending love your way!

  10. mamie

    oh,mama, so scary and hard…i am glad that young man gave you the moment he did. we all have angels in some way, always with us.
    thank you for calling on us, on me, to be an angel for someone else that needs it. let us know how and when.
    this will also be welcome news for my mama, she has been asking me where to give, but i could not find a place that i felt would really help. and so, this helps us too.

  11. sperlygirl

    there is good in this world, there are good people here too, we must always, always remember that…sending you strength from across the seas, mama. take good care of each other. warmly, s

  12. Cheryl

    You gave Ben cider ? In my country, cider is an alcoholic drink – I can’t imagine you would do that to him though !
    I hope he is better soon…

  13. Sue

    So sorry you are going through this. Know my thoughts are with you … and Haiti, too, has been on my mind a lot. Glad we are able to help Myriam via your readers. More evidence of the goodness you bring to the world. Thank you.

  14. marilee pittman

    Oh Andrea,
    Your posting gave me goose bumps. Bringing home the terrible tragedy in Haiti.Every life is so precious and we are so often unaware. I heard a survivor ( from Nfld) say he thanks God for his deliverance. I thought to myself: “Why don’t you question a God who would allow such suffering in a country which has suffered so much?”. since then I’ve been thinking about it and wonder if God isn’t saying to us; ” Now will you turn your attention to this tiny country that is sufferingso much!”
    My heart goes out to the people of Haiti and to you and your precious Ben.

  15. kim klassen

    andrea,
    thank you for this post, it really truly helped me connect to the horrifying fear the mothers in haiti must be experiencing. sometimes it’s difficult to wrap our minds/hearts around something that is far removed from our own lives.
    i too know that fear you felt with your most precious beautiful boy….sending my good thoughts and prayers to both of you.
    and also, the young man that stopped and looked you in the eye! wow… that brings tears to my eyes. that is the kind of young man i hope and pray we have raised. really such a touching story…
    xxo, kim

  16. rachael

    well, sister, i am definitely here to help in any way i can. thanks for sharing. keep us posted. you’re honesty & courage to share is so moving & motivating. praying for ben & all the scared mammas & kids all around the world…especially in haiti.

  17. elizabeth

    I found my way here through some kind of circuitous route but what a beautiful, wonderful blog. I had to laugh, though, when I opened up to this post and read what you had written about your son and his febrile seizures and Haiti. I don’t really mean laugh — not the joyful kind of laugh — rather, a coincidental laugh — I have a daughter with a seizure disorder and during the last week as she had her usual near-constant seizures, as my heart was lurching and doing what it has always done, I thought of those mothers in Haiti and their own daughters, some of whom might have seizures. Anyway, I don’t mean to sound like a crazy person — I’m just amazed by synchronicity, I suppose!

  18. tanja

    thank you for always reminding us what is important in life!
    thank you for such a wonderful blog!
    you are an inspiration.

  19. tanja

    thank you for always reminding us what is important in life!
    thank you for such a wonderful blog!
    you are an inspiration.

  20. tanja

    thank you for always reminding us what is important in life!
    thank you for such a wonderful blog!
    you are an inspiration.

  21. tanja

    thank you for always reminding us what is important in life!
    thank you for such a wonderful blog!
    you are an inspiration.

  22. :) erin

    my heart breaks when I read this. When my son was almost 2 he had a febrile seizure at my school that I taught at. He stopped breathing and one of our yard duties gave him cpr until the ambulance arrived. Once they took him to the hospital he had another one that night. After an mri, and spinal tap no abnormalities appeared. But now 2 1/2 years later my husband and I are what I call “crazy fever parents”. We don’t take any chances anymore. Now with our second son who’s 11 months old we are just the same. So without sharing my life story, I just wanted to give you a little blog-to-blog hug. I understand how completely scary and out of control you feel. Surprisingly febrile seizures are not that uncommon for kids under 4 because their bodies cannot regulate their fevers yet. So pretty lady, hang in there, this too shall pass. And your little Ben will be perky and lively soon.
    hugs,
    erin

  23. rachel awes

    hello dear andrea, so lovely to find you & your blog…you have such a gorgeous face! & such a gorgeous heart!…love your postings, trusting magic, imagining what we would do without limits, haiti help & being close…& oh dear, the primal fear of seeing your son have (another) seizure (i send you both a hug from my mother heart!!). i send you swirls & lovely colors & dancing steps of love.

  24. creativevoyage

    (((((((((Andrea)))))))))
    I’ve been heartened by the response to Haiti

  25. Puanani

    Oh, darling. Those damn seizures. Please know, they do stop. I have a 19 year old girl sleeping on the couch who had them for 5 years. I remember with every little jerk I was a wreck. You are so brave and little Ben is so lucky to have you for his mama. I found that one of the problems was she didn’t act sick until the seizure! Come to find out, she is fighting an infection. I am here to help…

  26. Catherine

    Andrea –
    I put myself in your shoes on that day on the street and could feel how hard that was and still is.
    And thank you for opening up about this and about the connection with haiti and your friends family.
    amazing

  27. celisa

    hey andrea….let me know more about myriam and what can be done. i have a friend who just lost his niece in Haiti…she arrived one hour before earthquake hit 🙁
    right now i am donating 100% to haiti efforts and to help them out in etsy shop, but would definitely like to help myriam ….
    hope ben is well. sending hugs ….

  28. RookieMom Whitney

    Chills. So sorry about Ben’s seizure. That sounds terrifying.

  29. Jodi at Joy Discovered

    Hi Andrea,
    Worrying about a child’s health is heartbreaking. I hope your little guy is on the mend and that you are hanging in there.
    xo, Jodi

  30. 6512 and growing

    Being a Mama is a risky buisness, also astounding and mind-numbing and the greatest priviledge.
    I hope Ben heals soon and that huge heaps of healing land in Haiti also.

  31. jakki

    I love that single act of compassion…it speaks volumes that all is not totally lost.

  32. jakki

    I love that single act of compassion…it speaks volumes that all is not totally lost.

  33. jakki

    I love that single act of compassion…it speaks volumes that all is not totally lost.

  34. muck

    so sorry to hear about ben. hope he is OK!! sending you xoxo’s.
    as for haiti – i’ve donated money to the red cross but i am happy to help out more! xoxo

  35. Glad

    I’m sitting here in a coffee shop, reading this post, tears streaming down my face.
    – your strength
    – the kindess of the college student
    – your willingness to see beyond your stuff to help a friend …
    wow –
    Thanks for sharing. I needed that.

  36. gloria King

    I will keep ben and you his wonderful brave mother in my prayers..You are not alone.

  37. elizabeth

    Oh, sweetie. I wish I could wrap you in a huge hug right now. I am sending you as much love and strength as I can, though I am very glad to hear that he (you all) are on the road to recovery.
    So glad that person was there for you in that moment.

  38. qmama

    my heart aches for you and ben (and your husband)…and for myriam and haiti…so i breathe into my heart to try and expand the love a little more, hoping that a little more love will support the healing. xo

  39. Leesh

    I totally feel you on the sick child–Haiti thing. My child is “medically fragile”, aka she’s got a lot going on 🙂 but I can’t watch the news. Knowing how awful it is over there right now, I know that it would never be like that here.
    My child has to have access to electricity to stay alive, and I know that because we live in America, no matter how ugly it got here, we would have that access again in a few days.
    I can’t imagine the horror of not knowing how you are going to feed, clothe, or shelter your child in the middle of winter.
    I’m crying now.
    I just, I don’t think I’m expressing this adequately, I think I’m so immensely grateful.
    And lucky. And loved. And hopeful that we will do the right thing as a nation and give help and hope to those wonderful, devastated people.
    People who, despite all odds, are surviving and thriving, and singing!!
    It gives me hope and makes me think that maybe my child will grow up in a world of love and peace and joy.
    And so, back to you. I think that you should post a random post on craigslist under random encounters and maybe that same college aged person will find you again. Because the universe is funny like that, and I think that he would like to know.
    And at the very least, I hope that his momma read your post, so that she knows that she raised THAT kind of boy.
    A boy who would help a hysterical, frantic, scared mother on the street, in the middle of the day in a busy city.
    That’s the kind of boy that you are trying to raise, will raise.
    I hope that that momma knows that about her son.
    And I hope that you know that about you and your son.
    So, randomest comment ever, but I needed to say all that, so thanks.
    Alicia

  40. pixie

    Andrea-I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have Ben going through this. What is going on!? Poor things! All of you! It is only natural for you to be on hair trigger alert and that is going to be very exhausting on you, mama. I’m sure it is already. That level of anxiety can’t go on for long without making you sick.
    Pumpkins. I’m sending you all so much love and healing.
    Headed to Myriam’s now.
    Blessings. -p

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