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
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
Welcome Home, Lydia.