rest assured.

Sleep. The most talked about baby subject. There are the most books, the most resources, and the most conversations all surrounding your baby’s sleep. The first question that other parents often ask me is, how is she sleeping?

What makes something so basic, like sleep, so complicated?

Sleep. Let’s think about this critically for just a moment.
God created us to need sleep,
therefore God created us with limits,
which means God created us to rest.

 

F I G H T I N G . R E S T.

About a month ago, we were knee-deep into the 4-month sleep regression with Lydia when we realized that our lives just hit a major transition. She went from being a newborn who could sleep whenever and wherever, to a baby who fights sleep.

After several nights in a row of her turning to a different baby at about the seven o’clock hour – from her smiley, giggling self to complete melt down – we realized that nothing was wrong other than she was simply tired. But she wouldn’t just go to sleep like she had in the past. We had to spend a significant amount of time soothing her and helping her fall asleep.

Out of that season has come an established a sleep time routine for 2-3 naps a day and a bedtime at 7pm. We put her in her sleep sack, turn on the sound machine, rock her, and hum How Great the Father’s Love for Us. Within moments she calms down and often I will hear a soft sigh of giving up and see her eyes roll back and her heavy lids start to close. I keep rocking her until her eyes are closed and then set her down in her crib to rest.

Lydia needs my help going to sleep. As we approach the six-month mark, when babies are considered old enough to self-sooth, we will embark on this idea of “sleep training” which can take on various forms. I find it so interesting that something so simple, something so basic, we need to be trained in and assisted with, but I’m sure more to come on this in future writings.

But for now, I’ll do what I always do with this blog. Take the normal circumstances of everyday motherhood and let God reveal Himself to me and teach me through them.

 

C R E A T E D . F O R . R E S T.

If you are familiar with the creation story in Genesis, God created the world in six days and on the seventh day, He rested from His work (Genesis 2:2).

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He declared that one day a week should be held as the Sabbath. This day should be kept as a holy day of rest and Israel should remember when the Lord brought them out of slavery and set them free (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

God created us to rest.

While I don’t know all the answers, I believe that one of the reasons God created us with limits is to remind us that we are dependent on God for all our needs. Just like He called Israel to rest for the sake of remembering, our rest should remind us that we cannot depend on ourselves, but on God alone.

He created us to need Him, therefore He created us to rest.

 

C H O O S I N G . R E S T .

So what does rest, as an adult, look like? Yes, it is sleep in a sense, but I think at a certain age, it becomes more.

Cycles of rest should be a regular part of our day, our week, and our year. It can be as simple as returning to the Lord in the morning for prayer before we start our day, attending church on Sundays and having a day devoted to not working, or taking vacations or retreats a few times a year for rest. It should be a time when we get rid of expectations and commitments and turn our eyes on the Lord. To do the things that stir our affections for Him, whether that be a community, a hobby, or silence. We must prioritize rest. We must figure out what rest looks like for us and practice it, or we will risk burnout, exhaustion, or worse.

I am a lot like Lydia. I fight rest. As an achiever, I am always thinking of the next thing that needs to get done, the next person I need to see, and what’s coming the next day. I need God’s help to remind myself to stop. To hide my phone in the other room. To sip my coffee slow and appreciate the little moments of each day. To set appropriate boundaries and block off whole days or evenings to spend time with family and without the expectation of feeling the need to get anything done.

And I know that this is not uniquely me. In my community group last week, we talked about the idea of rest, and every person in the room admitted… we don’t know how to rest. We don’t know what it looks like to “honor the Sabbath” in our twenty-first century, American lives with smart phones and deadlines and constant demands surrounding us.

Somehow we fight
the very thing
we were created for.

Just because God created us for something, doesn’t make it easy. He created us to follow Him and be in a relationship with Him, yet we all know that following Him in the midst of the world’s temptations isn’t a walk in the park. Just like Lydia needs my help with her sleep, God wants us to ask Him for His help. He wants to help us follow Him. He wants to help us rest and be our rest. He wants us, through Him alone, to experience freedom.

When we choose to do what God ultimately created us to do, we feel peace, we feel fulfillment, and we feel freedom.

So by choosing rest, you’re choosing obedience.
By choosing rest, you’re choosing Jesus.
By choosing rest, you’re choosing freedom, rest assured.

 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

choices.

When I was pregnant, I wondered who Lydia would be. Now when I think of my little girl, I imagine her bright blue eyes and shy smile. I realize all-the-same that I love her so deeply not because of what she’s done, but because of who she is. She’s my daughter.

Many days I look at Lydia and think about what it means to be a child of God. Now that I am a parent, I think about what it’s like for God to be like our Father. I wonder how He must love running to comfort us or hold us when we are upset, and how He must love meeting every one of our needs!

Lydia is growing, and at almost three-and-a-half months old, she seems to be hitting new milestones every few days. From rolling over to laughing to reaching for toys, I am in awe of this little one. As she’s becoming interested in what’s around her and gaining head control, I’ve noticed that she’s started turning outward while I hold her so that she can face the world. Lydia is learning that she has the choice and the control over where she looks and where she moves.

As Lydia has gotten older, she often prefers to look out at the world. Yet there are certain moments in the day, especially if she’s tired or not feeling well, when she will choose to curl up and bury her face into my chest. My entire heart melts as I embrace her, rock her, and hold her close. As a newborn, that’s all she really knew how to do. But now, there is something even sweeter about her choosing to turn in to me when I know that she has the choice to turn away.

And with this I’m learning how much God must love it when we choose Him in our day-to-day moments.

We have the ability and the freedom, not just to turn away, but to walk away.
Yet when we choose
to turn in
to rest in the arms of our Father,
He delights in us.

 

L O V E . I S .

We all have choices to make. God loves us so deeply that He gives us a choice to love Him back, yet He is longing for us to choose Him. And it’s not just the one time we accept Jesus as Lord that we choose to follow Him. It’s all the little moments that we turn into His arms, every day, that He loves.

Often in marriage, I have found that love is not simply a feeling, but more-so a choice. After nine years with my husband, five of those married, some days choosing to love would not be the most convenient, natural, or the easiest option.

Yet I choose him.
I choose to trust him even when it’s easier to be angry.
I choose to ask for his forgiveness even when it’s easier to be defensive.
I choose to listen to him even when I have other things I could be doing.
I choose to love him even when I have momentary doubts or fears.

Often in my relationship with God, I have found that love is not simply a feeling, but more-so a choice. Even after ten years of following the Lord, some days choosing to trust Him would not be the most convenient, natural, or the easiest option.

Yet I choose Him.
I choose to trust Him even when it’s easier to be angry.
I choose to ask for His forgiveness even when it’s easier to be defensive.
I choose to listen to Him even when I have other things I could be doing.
I choose to love Him even when I have momentary doubts or fears.

 

B E L O V E D .

God chose us. He chose to send His Son to die on a Cross as the penalty for our sins, so that we could justly receive the forgiveness of our sins and be placed in right standing with God. Because of His choice, we now have the privilege of experiencing fullness of life in a personal relationship with Him.

And
in case you’re doubting today,
God chose you
and
you are never too far gone
to choose
to run back
into the arms of Your Father.

Just as Kevin and I love Lydia not because of what she’s done, but because of who she is, God loves you not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are. We are His beloved children, and He is longing for us to choose Him.

 

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him… ‘For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’” (Luke 15:11-24)

family on mission.

It’s 7:45 on a Tuesday morning. My three-month old sleeps next to me quietly in her portable bassinet next to the dining room table. She’s been awake long enough to already earn her first nap of the day. My husband left the house early to meet with a student for morning coffee. Even our dog is sleeping on his bed in our living room. The house is quiet and the only sounds are the clock ticking and the occasional car driving by.

In this place I am able to sit down and write. It’s been too long since I’ve done this.

Much has happened since my last blog post announcing my move into full-time ministry. We had a house full of guests for about six weeks straight – no wonder I’m enjoying the quiet! Family came in multiple waves to spend time with our little one and we opened up our home to friends who needed a temporary place to stay. Not to mention we took an end-of-the-summer vacation and a sometimes-regretfully, do-it-ourselves bathroom remodel. I finished a grad school class and we have been working hard to prepare for another school year of college ministry.

The summer has ended and time is flying by. Lydia is changing every day and discovering the world around her. It’s this week, as the new school year starts and Lydia has gone from newborn to infant by definition, that I am overwhelmed by the joy of being a family on mission together.

 

M I S S I O N A R Y . F A M I L Y .

Kevin and I are perhaps unique in that we share the same calling as husband and wife: to reach college students at the University of Kansas and help them grow in their faith. The calling we have is as strong as if we were missionaries sent abroad, except our mission field is in our own backyard and in my own hometown.

When we dreamed of having a family years ago, our goal was that our life wouldn’t stop when we had kids. Instead, whatever God was calling us to do in that season, our children would join us in that calling. They would become a part of our ministry team rather than hindering us from pursuing it.

And so, on the very day that we drove home from the hospital after Lydia’s birth, we took the scenic route home. From north Lawrence to our home on the south side, we cut right through the center of town so we could show our 4-day-old the place where our family is called to do ministry.

We showed her the University of Kansas campus, our mission field.

As we drove around Memorial Stadium and up the hill to Jayhawk Boulevard, we prayed for Lydia and for our family’s mission. We prayed that God would use Lydia to reach college students at the University of Kansas with the good news of Jesus.

 

O N E . D A Y . A T . A . T I M E .

And while our calling hasn’t, our everyday life has indeed changed with this little one. I know that there will be days when I need to choose her over student ministry. I may leave our meetings early so I can put her to sleep, step away so I can feed her or meet her needs, or say no to something good so that we can maintain healthy boundaries and prioritize time as a family.

Someone asked me how I was feeling about the year of ministry with Lydia, and I responded with my plan: take it one day at a time. She’s changing so quickly and it’s impossible to predict what her needs will be a few days from now, let alone weeks or months! We’ll take two cars places for a while. She may end up joining us at Young Life Club all semester, or we may end up getting a babysitter by the end of it. But for now, I am loving having her come with us to meet new students. In fact, she draws them in and gives us the best conversation starter. She enjoys the countless people that love on her and want to hold her and make her smile.

Here’s to the start of another school-year of ministry, transitioning from a family of two to a family of three.

One day at a time, this is my constant prayer:

As a family, may we go where the Lord sends us.
As a family, may we pray for those the Lord brings us.
As a family, may we serve where the Lord calls us.
As a family, may we love as the Lord loves us.

 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

promotions.

Last November I tagged along with my husband to the annual Young Life College conference in New York City. Almost 13 weeks pregnant, I’d just recently had a conversation with my boss informing her that at the end softball season, I would not be continuing on as the KU Director of Softball Operations. I wasn’t leaving for another job nor was I leaving to be a stay-at-home mom. I knew that my vocational calling was in ministry. There was no job waiting for me, but I needed to have faith and trust the Lord in this calling even if it didn’t make logistical sense.

At that conference, we got to hear from a profound speaker who is on the executive leadership of Young Life. He told a compelling story of how he took a professional demotion to follow God’s calling in his life. His words have stayed with me through this season:

“A promotion in this life is getting one step closer to the thing that God has ultimately created you to do.”

God gave me confidence and clarity in that moment. Yes, I’m leaving a career that has a clean and clear road to professional prosperity and financial security. Yet it feels like this step out of college athletics and into full-time ministry is a promotion.

 

T H E . B E G I N N I N G .

For the past eight years, I have been serving in a ministry called Young Life. I became a student leader as a sophomore in college while I was also a student-athlete at the University of Kansas. My husband Kevin, who I was dating at the time, also became a volunteer Young Life Leader in the same year. Pouring our lives into college students, building relationships with them, mentoring them, and helping them grow in their faith has always been a passion that both Kevin and I have shared. This ministry is what kept us in Lawrence even after we both graduated from the University of Kansas and got married. In 2014, when we realized that full-time ministry with college students in Lawrence was our long-term calling, I was interning with Young Life and Kevin was preparing to transition out of personal training and into a full-time, paid role as KU Young Life College Director. The following year, I was a private softball coach and pursing this joint mission with most of my time alongside Kevin.

In the spring of 2016, I was offered the position as Director of Operations for the KU Softball Team and a chance to work under my former Head Coach, Megan Smith. Since I was already established in Lawrence, this opportunity was too good to pass up. I knew that taking this job in college athletics ultimately meant that I would be sacrificing Young Life, but at the same time, this job still fit into my primary calling to serve college students at the University of Kansas. In my mind, this just narrowed my focus to serving the softball student-athletes. I was excited to be around the game again at a high level and wondered what God had for me in the world of college athletics.

 

T H E . P R E S E N T .

During my two years as Director of Operations, I learned a lot about a career in college athletics and a lot about myself. I loved working under Coach Smith and of course working for my alma mater. Being around the game again was energizing and exciting for me. The Director of Operations job was difficult and tedious, but after my first year, I felt like I settled into my role and was thriving. However, I also quickly discovered that a career in college athletics meant sacrificing my gifts and calling to be in full-time ministry. While I was serving college students in a sense, I was more behind the scenes instead of in a direct mentoring and leadership role.

I missed the ability to build deep relationships with college students.
I missed leading Bible Studies and teaching students about Jesus.
I missed our weekly Young Life Clubs and engaging with new students.
I missed helping students find a community where they would be accepted and loved for who they are.
I missed spending my days working alongside my husband to reach students with the gospel of Jesus, build them up as leaders, and launch them into the real world.

Additionally, my administrative gifts that helped me succeed as a Director of Softball Operations were also needed in Douglas County Young Life. Kevin is such a natural pastor, teacher, and evangelist, but he needed help with the event planning and fundraising that comes with vocational full-time ministry. As his wife, who also feels a deep calling to this mission, I’ve felt compelled to come into more of a direct role by his side to help out in these specific areas.

We had dreamed about the upcoming transition even before the exciting news that I was pregnant with our first child! Our daughter Lydia’s anticipated arrival only confirmed that the time was now to pursue my calling because of my ability to work from home or bring Lydia on the job with me in ministry. In God’s perfect timing, Lydia’s due date was in mid-May, just after the conclusion of softball season. Sure enough, I packed up my office on May 11 and went into labor three days later! I’ve had the great joy of easing in to my new role with Young Life and in full-time ministry ever since.

 

T H E . F U T U R E .

Already, this summer has been filled with ministry to students who are in town and planning ahead for the upcoming school year. Our Young Life students love to come over to our house and hold Lydia while we talk about Jesus and life, and this brings me so much joy!

I also took over as the volunteer chair of our Young Life Committee for donor care and am using my gifts to serve on the financial side of our non-profit organization. Additionally, I am serving the greater mission of Young Life as a Personal Donor Development Coach, mentoring new Young Life Staff in their journey of fundraising personal support. While these two roles give me titles and direction, they don’t pay much. My dream is to help our organization get in a place financially where my role would turn into a part-time paid position that would be more sustainable for our family long-term. But this dream is ultimately uncertain and not guaranteed.

Regardless, I have learned this:

Permission to pursue a calling
does not come from a job title or a paid role,
but from a personal prayer life.

Seeking the Lord in prayer for the last five years since graduating college has put me on a path that has lead me here. I am more confident than ever in my gifts, my calling, and where the Lord is asking me to work and serve with the best of my time.

 

T H E . B O T T O M . L I N E .

As I step forward into this new season of motherhood, I wanted to share this important part of my journey too. Not only am I fulfilling my calling as a mother, but I’m also living freely in my calling to pursue the work that God has before me. The Enneagram-Type-3 “Achiever” in me has battled through a false need for having a paid job to be in ministry, but the Holy Spirit reminds me that’s not how the kingdom of God works.

So yes, I’m a stay-at-home mom perhaps by society’s standards. But to me, I went back to work the day I got home from the hospital. My work simply doesn’t look like the world’s work. There’s no paycheck transferred into my bank account right now, but my reward is in the joy and satisfaction of knowing that I’m walking in obedience to God’s calling on my life.

So here I am
by no means have I arrived
and yet
I’m one step closer
to what my Father in Heaven
ultimately created me to do
for His glory
and my good

Cheers to promotions.

 

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

life & death

The devastating news from my best friend came in the form of a text message: We lost baby G. No heartbeat.

A quick phone call and a few minutes later, I left my 3-week-old baby at home with my husband and a house full of guests. Along with two other close friends in our community, we were on our way to the pregnancy clinic to meet our friend Keely. We walked into the clinic room only to see her, tissues in hand, staring down at sonogram photos of her unborn baby in her lap.

What was a routine check-up for peace of mind after mild cramping turned into her worst nightmare: not her first, not her second, but her third miscarriage.

After embracing, tears, and questioning, Keely handed me the sonogram photos of her baby. In those photos I saw my own daughter, Lydia. How many times had I looked at the same sonogram photos with hopes of meeting her, wonders of holding her, and dreams about what she would be like?

For my friend Keely, I had no words.

 

V I S I O N S .

I felt darkness for a few days. Postpartum emotions surely weren’t helping. I grieved for Keely and her husband Kyle and the loss of their baby.

I questioned God of suffering, why them?
I also questioned the Lord of blessings, why me?

Why was I chosen for a healthy, easy pregnancy and a beautiful, healthy baby?

Not to mention, my mind started playing tricks on me. Fears of loosing Lydia increased.

I started having visions…
visions that my sweet and gentle dog would attack her when I wasn’t looking…
visions that I would drop her or that she would fall off her changing table…
visions that I would go to look in her crib or her car seat and she would be dead…

Back-to-back nights, I woke up in the middle of the night to feed Lydia alone, surrounded by darkness, continuing to wrestle with God and try to process my friend’s reality.

As a new mom, her loss affected me even deeper. I couldn’t articulate it in words until, finally, the true distress came to me in prayer:

Lord, can I trust You to keep Lydia safe? You – who allows babies to die?

 

E V E N . I F .

I stared at this question, written clearly in my journal. This doubt in God and lack of control fueled my anxiety. Not only was I grieving on behalf of my friend, but it suddenly became all too real that I could lose Lydia in an instant.

God, who is a good Father, ultimately allows the unthinkable to happen.

While I had processed a potential loss in pregnancy, I’ve now met Lydia and fallen in love with who she is. The thought of losing her scares the hell out of me. The thought that God could allow that to happen scares me even more.

However, once I confessed my fears, I was able to combat those fears with Truth and experience healing and clarity.

Yes, but God is still worth trusting, because He has proven Himself faithful too many times. He has the power to redeem even the darkest of circumstances.
Yes, but God is still worth trusting, because my hope is not in this temporary world. My hope is in Jesus and in eternal life with Him.
Yes, but God is still worth trusting, because quite frankly there is no better way.

Ultimately, I am choosing to trust a God with my own baby’s life that lets babies die. But God is still worth trusting even if _________ (fill in the blank – my worst nightmare).

While I will always take precautions to keep Lydia safe and control what I can control, ultimately, those fears will still come and much is out of my control. Yet I surrendered the visions, in the name of Jesus, they have no power over me. Lydia’s life is in the God’s hands. Her days are numbered perfectly and every day is a gift. I choose to trust Him and to let go of control, even if He doesn’t give me what I want.

Peace followed.

 

L I F E . I N . D E A T H .

I had a mom-friend recently recommend that I do a Scripture reading plan from my phone, one that I can access while breastfeeding or holding my new baby. The Lord led me to a She Reads Truth study called “The Miracles of Jesus.” A few days ago, I happened to finish the two-week study with a devotional that highlighted the times Jesus performed miracles by raising someone from the dead (Matthew 9:18-26, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:17-44). Again I thought about my friend Keely. Why couldn’t Jesus save her baby from death? What’s the point of showing us miracles like these when we are faced with the reality that too many times, Jesus chooses not to save those we love from death?

Then the devotional ended like this:

Jesus knew the temptation we face with miracles is to desire the gift more than the Giver (John 6:26-27)…The Gospel accounts of Jesus conquering death seem like the ultimate of all miracles. But really, they were only a short-term (and yes, miraculous) solution to a long-term problem. The only source of real and lasting hope is not a miracle, but the Messiah.

God is a lot more concerned with our spiritual health than our physical health because He knows that our spiritual health is much more important. Our physical state is temporary, but our spiritual health is where we find true joy and satisfaction for eternity. Jesus Himself is more glorious than any miracle and any answer to prayer. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25)

He is still worth trusting, even if our current anxieties come to be and even if He doesn’t give us what we want.

Ultimately
He Himself conquered death on the cross
raised to life
so that we may experience life to the fullest
even in the face of death.

The depth and joy of knowing Jesus is far better than any accomplishment or any earthly blessing. Jesus is our hope for truly living our best life.

 

THREE WEEKS.

Lydia is three weeks old.

I’m stopping today to write because I don’t want this season to pass without remembering a few things about Lydia’s first three weeks. If the next three go as fast as the first, I’ll never be able to keep these precious memories straight. Here are some things I don’t want to forget.

 

T O . B E . S E R V E D .

Since Lydia’s birth, we have yet to go to the grocery store and have hardly spent any money on food. Immediately after Lydia was born, a friend of ours set up a “meal train.” Every two days we’ve had a different person in our church community bring us a meal and many other friends and family drop by with snacks, coffee, meals, groceries, and gifts for Lydia. We’ve received countless texts, e-mails, and cards in the mail from friends and family who are eager to help us welcome Lydia into the world.

In all of these ways, we have been served graciously.

On another level, a few of my closest friends have entered my exhaustion, recovery, and the mess of my home. My sister raided her closet for summer clothes that would fit my postpartum body and helped me pack away my work and maternity clothes. She’s encouraged me, sat with me while breastfeeding, helped care for Lydia’s needs, made grocery runs, taken our dog on walks, cleaned, organized, and showered Lydia with gifts. My best friend came all the way from Dallas to Lawrence simply to serve me and encourage me in my new journey of motherhood for a few days. She scrubbed baby poop and milk stains off my nursing chair, cleaned my bathroom, and reorganized my kitchen cabinets to make room for baby bottles. Her and another best friend in town came over one morning with Starbucks and Chipotle and vacuumed and swept my floors and folded my laundry.

To be served
when nothing is expected in return
is truly a gift.
Undeserved grace.

 

T O . S E R V E .

In the same breath, I also have had the opportunity to selflessly serve my husband and newborn baby with the same challenge – to except nothing in return.

Two days after we got home from the hospital Kevin came down with a stomach bug that knocked him out. Before I would have otherwise felt ready, I was encouraging him to sleep through the night so that he could get well, waking up on my own every couple hours to feed Lydia. Even after the worst of his sickness passed, the virus lingered, and for days Lydia’s diaper changes were a trigger for his nausea. Lydia’s care became my sole responsibility for a few days as I learned to serve my daughter and fought to serve my husband with every ounce of energy I had left.

At first it seemed like I had a boost of hormonal-mommy superpowers, but after a few days, the exhaustion hit. I was tired. Yet in spite of my physical weakness and sleep deprivation, my husband and my baby still needed me to serve them.

I fought against the weakness of my flesh
and strived
to serve
expecting nothing in return.

Since Kevin has been well, we are establishing a new rhythm of serving Lydia together and mutually serving one another.

To serve
and
to be served
in unity
is a beautiful thing.

 

M I L E S T O N E S .

This past week, Lydia’s third week of life, has been about taking small steps towards our new normal and our new routine. Despite a few minor setbacks like my viral eye infection and losing power in our house for 12 hours, we’ve felt freedom to start incorporating Lydia into our normal life. We’ve brought her to church, friends and family’s houses, and even out to a few of our favorite coffee shops.

This upcoming week continues to bring new milestones, including my first outing for extended time away from Lydia and our first drop off at my parent’s house so that Kevin and I can have a date night.

As I pass milestones of my own, I am watching my daughter grow and change every day. She no longer does the heart-melting lip quiver when she’s trying to cry, but now she’s unafraid to cry loud and use all her lungs, making sure I can hear her from the other room. She’s opening her eyes wider and can now hold eye contact with me for precious seconds that make time seem to stand still. Her tiny fingers have already grown, and this week Lydia is able to grip one of my fingers with her whole hand. She’s grown in her independence, lifting her head to look around when she’s on my chest. She isn’t afraid to let us know when she’s hungry or when she just wants to be held. She’s already out of newborn-size diapers and her newborn onesies are getting tighter. She’s growing so fast, a constant reminder to not take a day (or night) for granted.

.

When I look back on these first three weeks of Lydia’s life, I will forever remember the feeling of being selflessly served by others while learning to selflessly serve my family of three.

As we step into our new normal, I am thankful for a God who sent His own Son into the world to show me what it looks like to serve others freely (John 13:14-15).

He came into this world
to serve
expecting nothing in return.
His love for us is a gift
Undeserved grace. 

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45)

my first hard day.

Lydia’s birthday was filled with the sweetest moments: lots of skin-to-skin time, family cuddles, and staring into her eyes with wonder. There was little sleep but our hearts were full. I witnessed my husband as a loving father. We had our first opportunity to sooth Lydia to sleep, as I rocked her and her daddy read us a story from The Jesus Storybook Bible.

The second day we had many more visitors, this time friends and more family who came to meet our sweet baby Lydia and bring us coffee, meals, and dessert. Everything seemed to be going better than I could have dreamed. It was Wednesday night, and we were looking forward to discharge on Thursday morning and taking our girl home.

The doctor was monitoring Lydia’s jaundice level and said they would check again in the morning. As we neared the midnight hours, my breasts began to swell and feel different, unexpected pain. The nurse informed me that my milk was coming in, just in time for a lactation consultation the next morning before heading home!

And this brings us to Thursday, Day 2 of Lydia’s life, my first hard day of motherhood.

 

H E L P L E S S .

During our lactation consultation, I learned that my breasts had become so full with milk that it changed Lydia’s ability to latch. I got the devastating news that my daughter had in fact not been latching since my milk came in, and there was a decent chance that she had not gotten any milk in her previous two feedings.

Instantly I was embarrassed and ashamed. I should have known. How did I not know? Guilt set in as I blamed myself that Lydia hadn’t gotten the milk that she needed the last two feedings.

The next thing I knew, the lactation nurse was instructing me to pump, pouring my breast milk in a bottle, and handing Lydia over to Kevin to bottle feed her.

As the lactation nurse was writing out a new feeding plan that included trying a nipple shield to help Lydia latch while simultaneously pumping and bottle feeding, the hospital pediatrician walked in.

“Hold on, before you finish your plan,” she instructed the lactation nurse. “I have an update that might influence it.”

The doctor then went on to inform us that Lydia’s bilirubin levels had increased overnight. Her jaundice had worsened. She would start phototherapy – a special light treatment – immediately.

Before I could even process enough to ask the doctor questions, the nurses were bringing in a blue light, baby goggles, and the various materials for Lydia to start treatment.

Suddenly I was sitting on my hospital bed speechless
staring at my daughter
from across the room
watching her wiggle under the light
eyes covered.
And
I felt helpless.

For the next 24 hours, that’s most of what I did. That’s all I could do – just watch her.

She could only be removed from the light every 2.5 hours for feedings, for a max of 30 minutes, before returning back to the light.

The only 30-minute window I had with my daughter that day involved the one thing I was failing to do for her, feeding her. We would try 10 minutes for her to latch, and then the nurse would say, “Dad you’re up!” and hand Lydia over so that Kevin could give her a bottle.

It’s hard to put into words the emotions that I felt that day because they were emotions that I had never felt before in my life.

As I processed
I realized
never before had I felt this way
because never before had I been a mother
wanting so desperately to hold my baby
to tell her everything was going to be OK.
that the treatment was for her good
so that she could get well
that we would figure out feeding together.
And
I couldn’t.
And
I cried.

At some point later in the day I accepted what I could not control and tried to see the positives. By staying a third day in the hospital, not only would Lydia get well, but I could receive more lactation support and rest. I just needed to get through the day, my first hard day, that I knew wouldn’t be my last.

 

P E R S P E C T I V E .

I thought about our friends over at teamlacrew.com, who have been on a journey with their baby girl who was born premature at 25 weeks. (PS if you don’t know Andrea and Leonard Davis, you need to follow their story!) Just five weeks behind in pregnancy, their story has hit close to home for me, and I’ve been praying for their little girl since she was born as a preemie almost five months ago. They finally got to take baby Carrington home a few weeks ago. I thought to myself – if this is hard for one day – I can’t even imagine what they went through, just having to watch their baby helplessly not just for hours or days, but for months.

Perspective.

I thought about how many other times in Lydia’s life will I feel completely helpless and inadequate to save her? How many times will I see her hurting, see her making mistakes, and not be able to step in? How many times will I make mistakes and feel guilt, embarrassment, and shame for the ways that I fall short?

While I know this to be the gospel truth—that yes I am limited and I won’t be a perfect mama for Lydia—I still needed to experience the deep emotions in that moment. I needed to run to God. To sprint to Him, and let Him remind me to trust Him with my daughter’s life. My limitations as a parent only serve as a reminder of my desperate dependence on God every day.

I thought about how God, my Heavenly Father, sometimes let’s me undergo suffering for my good. Just like I watched Lydia receive phototherapy, knowing that even though that meant her next 24 hours wouldn’t be comfortable, it was for her good. How many times have I complained to God for a lack of comfort in my life, not being able to see the big picture that He is allowing me to endure for my good? How many times have I voiced anger at God for keeping me in that place, only to think that He hurts watching his daughter upset, even when He knows it’s for my good?

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

Perspective.

.

Night came and the sun rose again, Friday morning, a new day. Lydia latched for the first time (with the help of the nipple shield) since my milk came in. She got pricked for blood work for the third or fourth time, but we learned that her jaundice level had improved, and her treatment was complete. We held our girl close and did not stop holding her until we buckled her into her car seat and walked out of the hospital, headed home.

Enduring the hard day
made her homecoming
that much sweeter.
And
we rejoiced.

Welcome Home, Lydia.