Unexpected magic in the Caribbean…


I am not a fan of crowds. I don’t know if it’s because I was raised in (and live in) Wyoming…we have almost 100,000 square miles of space and less than a half-million people, or perhaps it’s because I find the more people you pack into one space, the more likely you are to find idiots? Either way, I don’t care for crowds. I think that’s why Mark was so shocked when I booked our family on a Disney Cruise.

I think I was searching for that illusive ‘balanced vacation’. I wanted family time, alone time, and spouse time all in one location and I wanted an atmosphere that was supportive of families. I wanted to be with my kids and experience the magic and awe that comes with their ages and the dazzling atmosphere of Disney. However, I didn’t want to be trapped in the frantic 3 day push to HURRY HURRY HURRY…WAIT…HURRY HURRY HURRY to SEE and DO EVERYTHING craziness that sometimes comes with a Disneyland or Disney World vacation. Disney Cruise won.

As departure day approached, I found I was a little apprehensive about the madness of several days of travel leading up to embarkation. I was also starting to worry a little about the 3K that were also going to be on the boat. This gave way to more apprehension. Did we sign up for the right activities? Would the nursery be a good place for Rinn? Did I pack the right clothes for everyone? Would the food be good?

Have you ever heard this little verse? “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matt 6:34 NIV

Yup…should have taken that one to heart. There was no need for me to worry about anything related to what might or might not happen on the boat.

After one full day on the ship, my Little Man had a fever that would not be deterred. He had no desire to eat or drink. He was tired, irritable, and eventually his clinginess gave way to non-responsive lethargy.  In the world of Mommy…the sh*t had hit the fan.

We arrived in port in Cozumel Mexico early on a Tuesday morning. Mark and I took our baby to the ship’s doctor for the second time in 24hours. He said we should go into town and get a second opinion. He was concerned that we would be spending the next three days at sea and would be without a true medical facility.

This picture was taken after the fluids and meds kicked in and he was a little more alert.

So…I said goodbye to Mark who stayed with the girls and I carried my limp, groggy, fevered baby out into the hot Mexican sun and loaded us into a taxi headed for the CostaMed Clinic.

I do speak some Spanish. At one point, I was probably as proficient as the preschool and Kindergarten students I watched playing in the neighboring schoolyard as I waited to see the pediatrician. Now though…a decade since I’d worked at learning Spanish, I am rusty and severely lacking in confidence. I found myself in a foreign country, with a sick baby, no form of communication with my family, and seriously disadvantaged as a communicator/advocator. Not ideal.

Here’s the thing…when you become a mother (a parent); you become the guard for another human being. It becomes your job to do what you can to protect your little person(s)…in every way and in every form of their personage…as they gift to this world whatever it is they are meant to give. This guardianship is never easy, it is at times enjoyable, occasionally joyous, and it is sometimes…horrifyingly, terrifyingly, astonishingly difficult.

As I held down my screaming child while the nurse desperately tried to place an IV needle into his tiny dehydrated vein, as the nurse gave me directions in a language I could only partly understand, as I looked about the barren room and was reminded I was in a third-world country…alone, I thought…suck it up and do your job, MOM.

I forced myself to speak in whatever broken Spanish I was capable of. I repetitively asked questions until I was sure I knew what was being determined…decided…done. I pushed to get the phone calls made that would notify my family of what was going on. I held my son and prayed for his wellness.

I was scared…really scared…twice. Once, when Rinn would not respond to any stimulation and his breathing was shallow. Then again, when after he was admitted and I had no way to communicate with Mark or my parents that we were staying at the hospital and the ship was preparing to set sail…without us.

I cried twice. When after an unsuccessful attempt at an IV, Rinn’s blood literally spurted everywhere…it splattered across the floor, left big blotches on the cot…finally, after the nurse found a vein and taped up the IV tube, he left to find an aide to clean the room. I was momentarily left alone…holding my terrified baby who was so exhausted from fighting the nurse and me he literally passed out…when that door shut…the tears came. Then, when my mom walked though the door of the little room and I knew I would have her there with me for however long Rinn and I were to be in the hospital…I cried again.

God has blessed me with the BEST of “guardians”.

But honestly, I think all that is to be expected. I think of my friends who have been through similar situations, and I think… “Yeah, it’s scary when our babies get sick.”

I especially feel a deep seeded empathy for my friends…for all parents…whose babies are sick for weeks, months, or years…or those whose babies don’t ever “get better”. I keep them all in my prayers. Their assignment, I believe, is the hardest of all ‘guardians’.

But, let’s get back to the Caribbean. This is where I tell you about the unexpected magic I referred to in the title.

For me, the magic I expected to experience on a Disney Cruise…didn’t come on the ship.

I wasn’t the only one to feel the magic 😉

It came when we knew Rinn was going to be okay. When the scary part was over, and I could see the blessing in his recovery. The “Oh…it could have been so much worse”…felt magical.  When I sat on the bed with his little body draped over mine while he slept and I talked for hours with my amazing mother, it felt magical. When I reached out into cyber space and told my Facebook support-net what was going on and the love and prayers poured in, it felt magical. When I spoke with my daughters and knew they were happy despite the upheaval because they were with their loving, caring, devoted Daddy and Papa, it felt magical. And when I finally reunited with the rest of my family and the girls were fighting, the baby was whining, Mark and I were rolling our eyes in annoyance at the not-so-wonderful part of traveling with three children…it felt magical to be back to ‘normal’.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am adamant about a Disney Cruise do-over. I want to at least try to capture that ‘balanced vacation’ experience. But, I would be lying if I said that what I experienced wasn’t magical…in a very unexpected way.