“Bailey is throwing up. She looks awful.”
I looked down at the text my husband had sent and my heart sank. My poor baby. My middle child was my special girl. She was sensitive like me, but also petite like me. She had always been tiny. I still remember as a baby her pediatrician requiring her to come in more routinely for weigh-ins because I breastfed and she was on the lower end of the growth curve. She drank my milk plentifully, every two hours, and was the brightest, happiest, most alert baby. I never worried she wasn’t getting enough. She was just small like me. After a few months the doctor realized that as well, and five years later never mentioned her weight at well visits. But being my tiny star, I knew she of all my children couldn’t stand to lose a pound.
“What about the other girls?” I questioned.
My husband quickly replied, “they’re fine.”
I already felt confident it wasn’t a virus. With my children being homeschooled and not in daycare, they escaped the typical bugs that ran through those areas. I had worked the previous Sunday, so I knew they hadn’t picked up something from children at church. In fact, the past few days had been very cold so they hadn’t left the house. So it had to be something they had eaten. But if the others were fine then it was something just my middle child had eaten.
“Some of these don’t taste right.”
My mind rewound to the night before, and that’s what my five year old had said. She held a container of strawberries in her lap, one I had just picked up that night after leaving work, one I had not even had time to wash before she scooped it up to taste it’s bounty.
“Like they’re too ripe?” I had asked the night before.
She had simply shrugged her shoulders, closed the lid, and taken the strawberries back into the kitchen.
It had to be the strawberries, I reasoned, and I texted my husband back as much. I shared with him that they were the only food that she alone had eaten, and to not let anyone else have any. Then began my mind a-reeling.
Strawberries could be the cause of some serious foodborne illnesses. E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A! Sometimes being a nurse really was a bother. There was such a thing as knowing too much, but I also was grateful for the knowledge so that I could appropriately treat my child as needed.
As I considered the high likelihood that my daughter had acquired a terrible illness from the unsanitary fruit, I realized how bad it could be. I was at work, I had the only vehicle we possessed, we had zero family or friends in the area, and the insurance the girls were currently on would only cover in our home state, certainly not where we were currently located.
I considered how badly this could go. Dehydration. An ER visit. Antibiotics. IV fluids. Possible hospitalization.
“She just threw up again, and now she’s dry-heaving,” my husband’s text relayed.
I stood in the supply room at work, worried for my baby, but also worried for how we would deal with the repercussions of this illness. I knew I needed to consult the only physician who could help me in my particular circumstances.
“God, we really need you in this. We’re not in a place where the field of Medicine is what we need to heal her. We need you to heal her instead,” I prayed in earnest.
And I felt in my heart that He heard me. I felt that He was faithful to answer. I felt peace settle upon me.
I went about my work day, helping to heal others, but even as I went about my tasks my mind was on my child. I just kept thinking about how serious this could be. I thought about the reality of what I was facing. I felt extremely certain we were facing a serious foodborne illness, and the reality of what that could mean for my tiny, fragile girl weighed heavy on my mind.
I remember when she was around two years old she developed a stomach virus. Just before she had started vomiting she had toddled over to me and taken me aback. Her skin had become as white as snow, but her lips had turned a purplish, blue, like she was cyanotic. She had dark circles under her eyes, so hollow that she reminded me of a chronically ill child. What had happened to my baby?!
After she had vomited several times that day, a few years ago, I had taken her to an urgent care clinic since she was unable to keep anything down, especially the antiemetic medicine I had given. I’ll never forget the look on the face of the Nurse Practitioner when she entered the room. On the table sat my small baby, pale, blue lips, using accessory muscles to breathe. I could see her concern as she listened to her lungs and attached a monitor to check her oxygen levels. They had been fine, and I explained the vomiting. They administered a gel on her wrists, and thirty minutes later the limp baby who had entered had ran out of the office with a smile and happy laughter.
Illness hit her hard, and I imagined she looked the same right this minute. Worry and anxiety filled me, but suddenly I was struck with the conviction that I should not be feeling this way. I had prayed for God’s intervention, and now my job was to believe He would hear my answer. Then I thought of the verse in the Bible about the mustard seed.
And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
I cried out to the Lord, “I’m sorry, God. It’s hard for me not to worry about her, but your word says if we have even faith the size of a mustard seed that you’ll move mountains on our behalf. So, God, I’m asking that you’ll take my mustard seed of belief and move this mountain of sickness from my baby. I believe you will!”
And then I let it go. I released it to Him. I reached out to faithful women from my church, and I asked them to join me in prayer. I held onto my mustard seed, and I pushed away the things my mind knew. My mind knew of the serious illnesses she could get from strawberries. It knew the various complications that could occur with my small, fragile girl, and it knew the particular circumstances we were under were not ideal for such an illness. Yet my Spirit knew God was bigger than any of those things we currently faced.
My daughter ended up not throwing up again. Her dry heaves ceased. My husband later recalled that it was like a flip switched. At one point she was pale, lethargic, and violently ill. But then suddenly she was not. Suddenly she began talking so animatedly that she resembled someone on drugs. Ha. His words, not mine.
I think back on this now, with my giggling, petite, precious girl beside me, and I have no doubt in my mind, heart, or spirit that God was faithful to us and healed her. A strawberry seed tried to harm her, but a mustard one saved her. Funny how the small things can impact you in such big ways. Mountains can move from here to there, and God can use a small child who is sick no more to remind you how wonderful He is.