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The Problem of Pain

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Taking the title from one C.S. Lewis book and borrowing a quote from another…

“Who still thinks there is some device (if only he could find it) which will make pain not be pain. It doesn’t really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist’s chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on.” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.

Lewis was writing from a very different place — as A Grief Observed is his journal entries following the passing of his wife — but I felt this quote a bit last night. I’m finding out more and more (as time passes with my son) that a parent watching his or her child in pain is, in fact, one of the greatest pains a person can endure. And last night wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg, I would imagine. It sounds silly — Clive was constipated — but I promise you that I had no idea a baby could cry or scream or sweat or shake so intensely or for that length a time due to constipation. If you would have walked in, you might have thought he got a severe cut or some stinging agent in his eye. He was is serious pain.

Lindsay and I were doing everything we could to comfort our child — but in the end, the drill simply had to drill on, as Lewis put it. It’s a very humbling experience. Not the Hollywood “humbling” experience that famous people always talk about when they win an Oscar (which has always seemed an odd use of the word). A more unwanted humbling experience as a man and father. Here was my little boy. Screaming and crying as loudly as he could. His body trembling and sweating in pain. And I was completely incapable of doing a thing. The humility came in realizing that there is so much in this life I have no control over. No matter how much I whispered to Clive “it’s okay… you’re alright…“, it simply wasn’t okay. Clive was going to go through that pain without me being able to do a thing about it.

He never really got out what he was trying to push out, either. Poor little guy. We’ve had many parents of constipated babies tell us that some babies just have a rough time with this. And Clive is definitely one of those babies. He’s struggled with normal pooping nearly his entire seven months, it seems.

I’m sort of rambling. No real idea where I’m going with this. I think it’s just a simple moment of clarity with life (for me, that is). Realizing how much joy your baby can bring you — and how much severe pain can come from their pain. A much deeper wound than my body could ever experience. But that, of course, is how love works, isn’t it? The greater the love you have for something, the more potential that something has to absolutely destroy your life. So, ironically, we need to have this potential for horrible pain in order to have the incredible love in the first place. If I weren’t afraid of losing my son, for example, then my love for him could only be so strong.

I know none of this is profound or new, as far as insightful thought goes. But it just happens to be what I’m thinking about after an extremely emotionally draining evening :)

Last night before the unwanted event. Lindsay was playing peekaboo.

And all’s well that ends well. Where Lindsay was crying earlier due to the pain our son was feeling, a couple hours later we were looking at him sleeping soundly with content hearts :)


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facebook love...

Jen Luciano - What a fantastic photo... Go figure, taken by the pro of pros!May 12, 2011 - 12:00 am

Dave Nichols - Bobby very well written and so very true! Pain of your kids hurts worse than your own pain. Hope and pray Clive is feeling better. Praise God that he is sovereign!May 12, 2011 - 12:00 am

Julianna Koh - Oh beautiful image!May 12, 2011 - 12:34 am

Holly - I'm guessing you've tried EVERYTHING, but just in case you haven't there are two things that I recommend to my patients that work REALLY well: 1. Regular dosing of Milk of Magnesia - non habit forming, no cramping 2. Liquid glycerin - during time of constipation, this can alleviate the difficulty immediately and also helps stool to 'slide out' easier - less pain and doesn't require the forethought of Milk of Mag Hope this helps!! :-)May 12, 2011 - 7:35 am

Andrew Fleming - I am feeling you on the no-poop thing :). Before we had kids, people said we would lose sleep and that would be hard. No one said "oh, by the way, you're kid will at some point get constipated and it will be one of the worst experiences of your life." They've both been good for a while but lil' Wyatt will at some point switch to formula and that will bring about the inevitable. Fun times :).May 12, 2011 - 11:58 am

Ashley - My son is 2 1/2. He has had pooping issues since birth. He have tired enimas, fiber, lactose free name it. We finally have rx strength miralax that we have to give him every night to keep him regular. I know people say that laxatives will be habit forming for the body, but i look at it this way...he has know idea how to 'work' with his body in these situations, and with the rx, he is pooping without pain. I watched my child pass bms that would hurt an adult. at some points he would even bleed afterwards. So i would rather run the risk of him getting 'hooked' on laxatives then having to go through that pain again. I see it no different then people needed medicine for a heart, blood or cholesterol conditions.May 12, 2011 - 1:19 pm

jen howell - omg. You took me back to my first Mother's Day. My son was constipated so badly. It was horrible. And I felt so helpless. He was five months old. That night we used suppositories and did what we could to get the poop out. Watered down prune juice helped, but eventually we had to see s specialist when he was a toddler. He gave him a powder. But shortly after, he outgrew that. Good luck to you and the family.May 17, 2011 - 8:39 pm

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