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.