A Mother’s Day Story: A Diagnosis & the Gift of a Child

By Trillia Newbell

megan and lydia

Megan Mason and her daughter Lydia

 

The Christmas season is often filled with joy, celebrations and gift exchanges. It’s when those really cold days are tolerable because the chill just brings us closer to holiday laughter and cheer.  For Megan Mason (25), December of 2007 brought questions, fears,  and uncertainty.

Mason was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (or MS) a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.  She has been learning to live with the often debilitating disease for five years.

Since her diagnosis she has also had a baby girl named Lydia, born February 2, 2011 and is pregnant with her second girl, Ella, due in June. Mason is our Q &A Mother’s Day feature- a mom representing many with chronic diseases.

Q: Did MS affect your pregnancy with Lydia?

Mason:  I was symptom free for my pregnancy with Lydia, which is very common. Doctors aren’t sure if it’s the influx of hormones or what but a lot of women with MS find that the symptoms go away or lessen during pregnancy.  This current pregnancy my MS symptoms have been present but much more mild than normal.  Mainly numbness, tingling, and weakness in the right side of my body.  Lots of fatigue as well, but that could be MS or just a normal result of being pregnant with a toddler .J

Q: How has it been to care for Lydia as you adjust to having MS?

Mason: Caring for Lydia with MS has been a little more difficult.  My symptoms get worse with stress(physical or emotional) and caring for a child is a lot of stress! I don’t feel like I have been limited in my ability to care for her, but I have had to limit what else I do other than care for her and our home.

For example:

1.  The heat causes my symptoms to flare up, so during the summer we limit our time out side to the morning or to time at the pool where I can be cool. I try to do shopping and errands in the morning when it’s cooler to cut down on how much the heat will affect me.

2. I can’t plan on being busy from the time we wake up until bedtime. I have to limit how many things I do or seek to accomplish in one day so as to allow time to rest my body, especially during the summer. So if we plan a play date for Monday, then big shopping trips or laundry day will have to be a different day.

3. I’ve had to learn to ask for help on “bad days” when my symptoms are worse than other times.  John (my husband) might need to shop on his way home for work, or we might not have a home cooked meal that night. Or a friend might need to help with Lydia so I can go shopping or cook or do laundry without the added stress of caring for her at the same time.

4. John has been so kind to jump in more than might typically be needed from the Dad in most households. We don’t feel like there is “guys work” or “girls work” but since I’m home all day generally I do the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. But that changes during “bad” days or weeks. John might need to plan on cooking a meal or getting the laundry done when he gets home so that I can focus on caring for Lydia effectively during the day.

Living with MS, especially combined with motherhood, has made me face the reality of my weakness and dependence on God for strength and grace. I feel that God has been so kind to help me embrace(most of the time) my weakness and inability to be “super mom”. He has met me in my weak moments(both physical and emotional weakness) with much patience and grace and I feel that the weak moments of pouring my hear t out to him and telling Him that I can’t do this on my own or that I don’t feel like I can do what He’s called me to- those moments He has always answered with hope and grace for the moment and day.

Through these moments I’ve learned to know Him better as my personal Father who is intimately acquainted with my needs and who LOVES to be strong for me in my weakness. I’ve seen Him more accurately as a patient God who is thoroughly aware of my inability and who is patient and excited to come through for me when I’m at the end of myself.  I used to see God as being impatient or frustrated with my sin or weakness but have learned and am learning of God’s great compassion for those who recognize how much they need Him.

Some scriptures that have helped me endure are: Heb 4:14-16; Is 41: 10,13; Is 40:28-29; 2Cor 4:16-18; Is 30:18-20; Ps 62:5-8; Lam 3:1-33; 2Cor 12:8-10.

Q: What have been some of your various fears and how have you sought to fight them with the Word?

Mason: Fear about the extent to which the MS will affect me both now and in the future has been a big struggle I’ve faced.  I was afraid when I was first diagnosed that no guy would want to marry me knowing what my MS could possibly look like in 20 years, or that having kids would be too hard on my body. Those fears God addressed very practically for me in providing John and in a pretty much uneventful  delivery of Lydia. But the battle to trust that He will see me through to the end even if my MS gets a lot worse is a battle I fight often.  My temptation instead of facing my fears and challenging them with God’s Word is to pretend that it won’t get any worse. I’m tempted to ignore the fact that if the disease progresses I could end up needing to be in a wheel chair and need a lot of care.

On at least a weekly bases I have to fight to bring my worst fears (being dependent and in a wheel chair) before God and to look those fears in the face in light of who God says He is in his Word.  Reminding myself that God isn’t just sovereign, He is completely good as well. Therefore me having MS is no accident. God specifically dealt this to me, not as punishment but for some redemptive purpose. I have to remind myself that God is all wise, therefore He always knows what He’s doing. So even though I may see nothing redemptive about my struggles with MS, this doesn’t mean it’s pointless.  I have to remind myself that if the MS progresses and I need a wheelchair and someone to care for me, this won’t change anything about God and who I am as His daughter. God won’t be any less good or any less able to supply all my needs just because I’m in a wheelchair and my life may be harder than I want it to be. God is fully able to be enough for me if me physical independence is one day taken away.

Q: What is one of the best things about being a mother?

Mason: One of the best things about being a mother is the way Lydia looks at me and smiles at me like she does for no one else! I love getting to love on her and making her smile and giggle. Knowing that I get to show her God’s love for her through the way that I love her(even though it’s not perfect)is so fun(and scary, but mostly fun)!

Q: How have you enjoyed Lydia and what is she like?

Mason:  I don’t know where to start! She brings me so much joy! Her huge smile and her giggles just make my heart melt. Watching her awareness of the world around her grow and watching her curious mind at work as she figures things out for herself is so much fun! Seeing John and me in her is also really fun. She has my stubbornness and John’s determination and it’s so funny watch!  I love her excitement about everything and how the simplest thing like picking a dandelion or jumping on John to wake him up in the morning can bring her so much joy!

Lydia isn’t much of a cuddle girl except at bedtime, so I really cherish those bedtime cuddle sessions. She far too busy during the day for cuddles.  She is extremely curious and loves getting into everything! She would rather be running around exploring than sitting reading. With the exception of Goodnight Moon and a few select others, her version of “reading” means look at the first two pages, skip to the last page, then get back to playing.  She’s Miss Personality so going shopping is hilarious as she laughs and smiles and waves at everyone we pass. Give her attention and she’ll put on quite a show for you. Along with all this comes a strong will that she doesn’t mind letting the whole world see. She’s one of those “my sin is out here for everyone to see” kind of kids.  Tell her “no Lydia, that’s not for you” about something she really wants and often she will burst into tears, put her head in her hands, sit on the floor and just cry, cry, cry. Occasionally there will even be the kicking of feet to go with it. It’s hard to hide my laughter sometimes. She’s not talking much yet, but she understands EVERYTHING, which is really exciting. I feel like she’s my little friend as we laugh and play together.

Q: What is one of your favorite memories over the past few years?

Mason:  One of my favorite memories would be those first few moments after Lydia’s birth. Getting to hold her and look at her for the first time. John standing next to me holding Lydia’s tiny hand as I held her. Feeling the joy and awe and the weight of responsibility that was now ours.  Having that feeling of “we did this! this little life is our doing! She’s ours!”  Basking in the joy of now being a little family and of John and I being in this together. It’s hard to describe but I’ll remember it forever.

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One Comment to “A Mother’s Day Story: A Diagnosis & the Gift of a Child”

  1. matt says:

    Lydia is the best niece in the world! For another month at least 🙂 love you sis!