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.

 

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.