An Unusual Baptism Story

My son’s baptism did not go as planned. Actually, we hadn’t planned it yet. When Zach was in the emergency room after having a seizure at home, and another one after a spinal tap, he was baptized. It was May 4th, or as we later learned, Star Wars Day (as in, May the “fourth” be with you). The night before, my husband and I lie awake in bed trying to decide when to schedule the baptism. And who to have as godparents. And what kind of food to have after the service. You know, the really important parts of a baptism.

When Zach had the first seizure at home, I was afraid he was going to die. I didn’t know what was causing it, what exactly was happening, and what the outcome would be. The thought in the back of my mind as I’m calling an ambulance, calling my husband, is that he hadn’t been baptized. And afraid of what that meant if he died. My mom arrived at my house just minutes before the ambulance showed up. The same thoughts were going through her mind, and she rushed to the bathroom to get some water to baptize him herself, but we had to get him on the ambulance right away.

He had his second seizure at the hospital, shortly after the lumbar puncture was performed. The room was chaos. Where there had just been a nurse with us in the room, suddenly there were ten people, bringing in crash carts, giving him medicine, giving him oxygen. I was in a panic. I had no idea what was happening or what was going to happen. My husband held me as I held my little boy’s hand, willing to give the medical staff enough room to work but not willing to let go. I wanted him to know I was there. The nurses asked if we wanted to leave, but nothing could have gotten me out of there. My boy needed me. I was feeling pain in my heart and my soul as this was happening. I’ve never felt anything worse.

My mom and sister came back to the hospital at the peak of the chaos. My mom made an emergency call to the church to get the minister there. When he arrived, things had settled down, and Zach was doing better. The nurse told me she was keeping the crash cart in the room because it keeps the evil away. I asked her to bring in three more. We asked the minister to baptize him right there, not caring about where we were, what we were wearing, what we would eat. We were a family who needed to care for a child’s physical health along with his spiritual well-being. My mom found a dosage cup, like the ones that come with children’s cough syrup, and that held the baptismal water. As the baptism was performed, peace came over the room.

During this whole episode, I never stopped praying. Even when I was talking to someone, in my mind the prayers were flowing. I was praying that I could keep my son. I was praying that he wouldn’t be taken away from us. I prayed for protection for all of us. I prayed for the medical staff. I prayed that whatever happened, that we would be okay. That Zach would be okay. In this episode, I had nothing but God. I had the family and support that God gave me. There wasn’t anything I could do other than what I had done, which was to get my son help. It was in God’s hands. I had to let go. I was not in control. The people who know me well know how hard it is for me to be out of control. Add my son’s health into that equation, and it gets ugly. I had to have God. To go through this experience, though it had a happy ending, without God, would have killed me. No event in my life did anything to strengthen my faith as much as this.

Zach was transferred to a children’s hospital that night. Before we left, the minister said one final prayer. While he prayed, My mom, my husband, and I sat next to Zach who was laying on the hospital bed. I put my hands on his chest, my mom’s hands were on his feet, and my husband placed his hands on his head. It’s an image in my mind that always brings tears. This child was protected. No matter what happened to him now, no matter how tragic for us, he was protected by God. We had prayed and given him the best care we could, and it was up to God now.

We got our happy ending. Zach ended up having bacterial meningitis, and it was a tough eight-day battle in the hospital for him, but he fought and fought and got better. The battle isn’t completely over yet, but day by day it gets better and better. I’ll write up the meningitis story sometime, to fill in the gaps of this story. I’ve started it, but it is still so wrought with emotion that I can’t handle it all at once. I thank God everyday for being blessed with Zach, Izzy, and Jake. I feel blessed that I get to be their mommy, and that God trusts me to be the woman who will be the best mother for them.

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