We have fought many battles since Ella Grace was born with the numerous illnesses, procedures and surgeries she's had. Her scars are obvious: the hole in her stomach that holds her feeding tube; the one in her neck that holds her trach; the marks on her jaw and tummy from past surgeries; and the frequent bruises and scarred tissue on her tiny arms from countless IV attempts.
Her little body has endured more before the age of three than most people will endure in a lifetime. But she is resilient. She bounces back and likely won't remember the things she has been through for which I am grateful.
As parents, though, we don't fare quite as well.
There is nothing that tears at your heart more than seeing your child suffer. The scars we have from these experiences lie much deeper than the skin. They are burned into our memories and tatooed across our hearts. So how do you cope?
Human beings in general are resilient creatures. We have been programmed with coping mechanisms to get us through tough circumstances. You've seen those amazing stories of survival on TV or maybe played out in a movie where people switch on some seemingly superhuman senses to get through a horrible situation. Well, it's not much different from what happens to us.
People want to know how I handle it all - Ella being sick and in the hospital all the time - and the truth is, not very well! At least not physically. The effects of the constant stress are very apparent to me when I look in the mirror. But we try and take it all in stride and move past each battle after it has ended, even though we know the next one is likely just around corner.
It's just like with anything else, the more you do it the easier it gets. The first time your child has surgery it's horrifying. But by the 7th or 8th time, not that I take it lightly, it becomes more routine. It's our normal. We get used to it, and that helps us to cope.
And I'm glad our scars aren't visible to the eye because I would never want Ella to see them.