This morning we visited a church here in our new town. It came highly recommended by several of our neighbors as being a church with lots of families our age and a great kids program. What they didn't tell us is how big it is. We went in just a few minutes before services began so we would avoid the majority of the crowd but as soon as we walked through the door I could feel the stares. Brea was wearing her little face mask as she always does when we go into a public place and the way people were staring at her made me feel like I was carrying a three headed alien through the hallways. It broke my heart and it was all I could do to hold back the tears. Brea's beautiful eyes were shining as she looked at the brightly painted walls in the children's wing and the colorful pictures hanging on them. Thank goodness she is too young to realize that people were whispering as we passed by them and children were pointing and asking the grown ups around them about the baby in the mask. I think what hurts the most is knowing how loved and accepted Brea was at our church in Prairieville. She always had on her little mask and it was just part of who she was. No one pointed, stared or whispered because they had all been through our ordeal with us and they understood the importance of protecting Brea from getting sick. To top off the staring...the pastor announced early in the service that there were plenty of seats and space for children in the nursery and children's classrooms. I'm sure he said it with good intentions but it cut through me like a sword freshly sharpened. I would love for Brea to be able to play with the other children in the nursery but the risk is just too high of her picking up a cold (or worse) from one of the other kids in the nursery. As soon as we were in the car Baker announced that he misses Coach Bob (his Sunday School teacher). We knew it would be hard to find a new church since we would all be comparing everything to our church in Prairieville but I never dreamed it would be this hard. The search will continue...we know that there is a church for us here and it is just a matter of finding it. I think we'll do a little more checking before visiting...I don't think the 2,000+ member churches are for us. Please pray that God will lead us to the church that He has chosen for us. It breaks my heart to hear my kids talking about how much they miss our church...Danny and I want to join in the "pity party" but we are trying to be grown up about this. :0)
Some comments that we tend to get a lot are "You can't protect her from everything" and "she is going to get sick sooner or later so what does it matter if she wears the mask". Brea needs to wear the mask to protect her from germs while we are in public places indoors and when in crowds outdoors. When a heart transplant patient gets sick their body starts fighting the foreign body (the bacteria or virus) and at the same time sometimes sees the new heart as a foreign body and trys to fight it off to (which is called rejection). We always call ahead when we are visiting family or friends to find out if anyone has been sick (cough, cold, fever, etc.) or if there is going to be anyone there other than the folks we are visiting. We've also been told to avoid contact with children who are in daycares (except outside) since those tend to be breeding grounds for germs and even though the child may not be sick, they may be carrying a virus that they could pass on to Brea since her immune system is comprimised. Yes, we've been told that we are being over protective and that we need to let her get exposure to germs so she can build up her immunities by well meaning family members and friends but we've chosen to follow the doctor's advice and warnings. Trust me, it doesn't always make us the most popular people but as Brea's parents we have the responsibility to protect her to the best of our ability.
We've settled into a routine and have learned to deal with the day to day issues that are part of Brea's condition (appointments, insurance, medicines, etc.) but I never dreamed I'd have to deal with all these other things. The stares of strangers when she is wearing her mask takes its toll on you mentally and I always feel like I'm defending our decisions about exposure to family, friends and total strangers. I would never wish what we've been through on anyone but I do wish that somehow they could understand what it felt like to sit at her bedside night after night and week after week wondering if she would make it through another night.
As I sign off tonight I'd like to ask you to pray for two things. Please pray for a new church for us that will accept Brea (and her little mask) with open arms and for poor little Brea who is suffering from allergies (clear runny nose, watering eyes and sneezing). She is on Zyrtec but so far it doesn't seem to be helping.
Good night from Wake Forest.