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Whatever Wednesday: Things I’m Afraid To Tell You

In 2011, I dove out of my life, headlong into a brand new one. I still have no idea where that life is going but I can tell you that it’s been a hell of a journey.

There were days when I wasn’t quite sure who I was. Days when I fell apart and didn’t want to get out of bed. Days when I reached the bottom, wanted to delve even further, and never come back up for air. There were days when I didn’t want to breathe. Days when I sat, for what seems like forever, in front of my netbook, begging my brain to cooperate so I can write something for this blog. Yet nothing comes so I write for other websites about non-postpartum issues.

After all of this, I finally know who I am. I like who I am.

Here’s the thing I’m afraid to tell you and afraid to tell myself but I’m going to say it anyway – I have no idea how to merge who I used to be with who I am now. I’m at a crossroads, foot firmly on the brake, unable to move forward in any direction.

Frozen.

Do I need to merge the woman I used to be with the woman I am now? Is it necessary for me to move forward? Has the merge already happened as I have grown over the past year? How do I continue to do what I do here as a single woman and no longer an active full time parent? Am I still qualified to provide advice and support? Are my experiences negated now that I have stepped out of the very life which caused them?

These are the thoughts which race through my head. The thoughts which give me reason to stop and wonder about the very future of my blog….about my future. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I fought for my identity as me. Now,  I fight as me for my identity as a mother.

I have no doubt that the future which awaits me is filled with joy, happiness, love, and peace. A future in which I will no longer be lost to myself or to those closest to me. It is faith which has carried me this far and faith which will carry me until my days in this world are done. This is all I know, all I need to know. Learning to fully trust faith, to fully trust the plan laid out for my life, however, is the challenge I face now.

I am learning to lean hard on God with every day. In His time, I will understand and find my answers. Until then…I will wait, with joy in my heart, clinging to hope and fighting the ever closer creeping fear with fierce prayers emanating from my very soul.

This post written as part of a movement, Things I Am Afraid to Tell You. I realize it’s supposed to be more of a list, but this is how mine came out and I am okay with that.

You can find more brave bloggers sharing what they’re afraid to tell you here.

Postpartum Depression & Faith: There will be a day

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you’re walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you’ve walked out all alone

Troubled soul don’t lose your heart
Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that’s in store
Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting…

(lyrics sourced here)

For more than a few months now, I’ve comforted several women struggling with Postpartum Depression who have also found themselves struggling with fitting their experience into the constraints of their Christian faith. Over the past few years, stories shared with me have ranged from uplifting and powerful to heartbreaking when the church has literally turned their back on a woman as she struggles with the very real condition of a Postpartum Mood Disorder. These experiences have led me to write this post today for World Mental Health Day. Please start the video above as you read…it adds a powerful aspect to the post.

Pray Harder

Depressed? Christian? PRAY HARDER. Fall to your knees. Lie prostrate on the ground. Weep. Wail. Gnash your teeth. Live for Him and nothing else. Beg for mercy. Pray. Read your Bible. Lean on Him. He’ll save you. You’re not leaning hard enough on God. There’s nothing wrong with you beyond a distorted and failed relationship with God. Don’t believe in a psychiatric diagnosis. It’s malarky. Your faith isn’t strong enough and that’s why you’re struggling.

If I had a dollar for every woman who has ever shared any of the above anecdotes with me? I’d be rich. Okay, well, maybe not rich but I’d be able to afford Starbucks for quite awhile. Yes, falling away from God may cause issues in your life but a psychiatric disorder after childbirth is NOT one of those. Hell, a mental health issue period is not one of them. There is no shame in a diagnosis. Not to shame them for taking medicine. Not to shame them for admitting to struggle.

Jesus walked the Earth to love those who were lost. As Christians, we are to follow in His example. To love people WHERE THEY ARE. Not to judge them. Not to guilt them into shame. Not to further add to their already overburdened lives. But to Love. To relieve their burden. To help. To accept. To LOVE.

The Bible is filled with people who struggled with depression for a number of reasons…. Cain, Abraham, Jonah, Job, King Saul, Jeremiah, David, Paul… and God still loved them. He guided them out of their darkness and into their light. Now granted, they didn’t have Xanax or Prozac back then, but God still loved them WHERE THEY WERE. They were provided for during their recovery.

I don’t view my episodes of Postpartum OCD as punishment. Instead, it is a point in my life during which I learned a lot about the depth of my strength and about the grace of God. I learned to lean harder on Him, not because I had sinned, but because He was there. I learned how to pray, not because I had forgotten, but because He was there. I learned how to live for Him, not because I had failed, but because through living for Him, I found solace and hope. In Him, I found hope, solace, and love.

God creates us in His image and knows what our life holds well before we do. He loves us even when we don’t love Him back. He knows where and if our path returns to Him even if we do not. When I first struggled with Postpartum OCD, my path was far away from God. But through my experience, I found my way back to Him. I crawled up into His lap much as an exhausted child does at the end of the day with a parent. I rested my weary body and soul in Him so that I might heal. He did not judge me. He accepted me. Did not question my past. Forgave it. Loved me just as he did before.

I hope against hope that one day, within the faith community as a whole, there WILL be a day when all will be accepted equally. When those of us with mental health struggles will not be told we can solve it with simply praying harder. That we will not be told medications are evil. That there will be a day when, instead, we will be loved, accepted, cherished, and given a place we can rest as we heal.

There will be a day.

But to get to that day?

We must not let our voices be silenced. We must speak up. We must share. We must tear down the stigma of mental illness within the Church. Within the walls of our faith. We must refuse to accept the judgment of those in the Church against us. We must rise up and love them even when they do not love us. It won’t be easy. It won’t make our journey less difficult. But one day, for someone, somewhere, it will lighten their load. It will make a difference in the life of someone else. And one day? It might make a difference in yours too.

There WILL be a day… “with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears.”

(If you are a woman of faith struggling with a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder, please visit Out of the Valley Ministries. I would also highly recommend picking up a copy of The Lifter of My Head: How God Sustained me through Postpartum Depression by Sue McRoberts.)

I blog for World Mental Health Day

Faith & Motherhood: Faith, Mercy, & Miracles

 

Today’s post is fabulously crafted by Jess Arias Cooper from Mama’s Got Flair. Jess is a saucy chick and someone I am proud to call a friend in this land called the Internet. We can be ourselves with each other – sharing things we rarely share with others yet somehow feel comfortable enough sharing with each other. Every woman deserves at least one friend like Jess on the Interwebs. Someone they can share their secrets with and yet laugh at something inane as a multi-colored, multi-shaped mullet the very next second. She’s a heartfelt snark, this one. I was beyond thrilled when Jess agreed to write a post for Faith & Motherhood here. Her post is moving beyond words.

Today’s post may be triggering for some of my more sensitive and fragile readers as it deals with infant loss. So if you’re feeling fragile today, you may want to skip this one and read it another day.

Jess’ post truly exemplifies living in God’s grace and finding faith even in the darkest of corners. I am so blessed to have this amazing woman call me friend. Now I’ll stop writing and let her words fill your mind and heart.

 

I didn’t understand or appreciate faith, miracles and mercy until I lost my infant son in 2004.

My son, Aiden, was born 11 weeks premature by emergency cesarean. The second half of my pregnancy had been a rough one, to put it mildly, and my life was literally on the line. Though the doctors gave us as much time “together” as they could, my liver was failing and a tough decision had to be made.

Because I’d been so sick with preeclampsia and HELPP syndrome, my darling Aiden was born at an astonishing one pound, five ounces. In fact, he wasn’t much larger than a Barbie doll. Besides his miniature stature, he was also born with a rare condition known as Townes-Brocks Syndrome.

Townes-Brocks is generally a genetic condition, but in our case, it was one of those one in a billion flukes that randomly occurs in nature. My son had a wide variety of physical differences from the average baby, but I refuse to call them “birth defects.” In my eyes, despite his extra thumb, unusually shaped head and ears and disconnected digestive system, he was the absolute vision of perfection.

My husband and I tried for years to get pregnant, and Aiden was the beautiful answer to an unfathomable number of prayers.

I thanked God for every day Aiden grew bigger, stronger and more alert. I sat beside his little bed in the NICU, day in and day out, paced waiting rooms during his surgeries and loved that boy more with every beat of his heart.

Still, as he grew stronger, new things were being added to his list of diagnoses nearly every day. Hearing impairments. Brain damage. The list of Aiden’s differences continued to grow, and I prayed even harder for God to bring us a miracle and heal my poor sick, little boy.

It became clearer every day, that a few surgeries wouldn’t “fix” the problems that Aiden was bound to face for the rest of his life. And when my boy would become a man, with even the best outcomes to all the treatments that modern medicine had to offer, he would have to tell the women in his life that there was a strong possibility that, should they have a child together, he or she would endure the effects of Townes-Brocks Syndrome as well.

I had faith in God. I never felt that Aiden or my family was being punished. I trusted in his mercy. I had faith that he would reach out to my son and ease his suffering.

And He did.

Though, not how my heart had prayed for. On April 24, 2004, Aiden went to heaven.

I, of course, didn’t see the miracle and mercy at first. I was grief-stricken. The pain in my heart was heavy, yet I felt empty. I felt punished. My faith was tested in such an extreme way, I was angry.

But one day, as I was talking to God, asking to make sense of all the pain, I realized that the Lord had answered my prayers. He eased Aiden’s suffering. He was merciful. He reached out and made my son whole.

Aiden was spared a lifetime of painful struggle. His ears were spared the snickers and whispers of uninformed human cruelty. He wasn’t held captive in a body that wouldn’t do the things he longed to do. God is good. God is merciful.

I still struggle with grief and my arms continue to yearn for the embrace of my oldest son. I still find myself wondering what he’d be like if he were here with me. But that is a mother’s heart. I’m only human. I miss my son and look forward to the day when we’re united once again.

And, with my faith, I know that day will come. It will be a long time from now, as I have been blessed with three other sons to guide and care for. But, I know, someday, I’ll see my angel, Aiden, again.

Because God is good.

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Whatever Wednesday: Prayers for a bully

"Praying Girl" photo taken By t.na~★ @flickr.com, text added by Lauren Hale

Over the past few weeks, our oldest daughter, who is quite normally a happily yet distracted little girl, suddenly changed.

Distant, prone to outbursts, inexplicably rude, snapping at all of us, quick to tears, frustrated, very hard on herself.

Flags went up.

So I started to reach out to her. I asked if there was anything bothering her. I told her to let me know. Mommy would listen. So would Daddy if she preferred talking with him.

She continued to insist nothing was wrong.

Her outbursts continued. She became even more introverted. Dragged her feet as she got ready for school in the morning.

Then we got an email from her teacher.

Our daughter was doing the same thing at school. Frustrated easily, crying, pouting, only doing work when prodded to do so.

SOMETHING was going on at school.

Finally, after a particularly difficult afternoon, I had to discipline her for intentionally throwing something across the living room. As we talked afterward, she broke down.

Tears streaming down her face, she finally shared with me what had her so frustrated and down.

As I suspected, my daughter was being bullied. Not by one but by two boys on her bus on the way home from school.

She shared with me that they were teasing her about something which happened last year. Calling her names like “baby” and telling anyone who would listen on the bus about her mishaps from the previous year.

I gathered her in my arms and rubbed her back as she wept and poured out her frustrations. My oldest daughter turns seven this year.

We had a long talk about the best way to handle bullies.

It’s helped that for a couple of years already, we have encouraged the girls to develop a strong sense of self. We’ve both worked hard to instill in them that the only opinion of self that matters is their own. That they are amazing girls and can be anything if they put their mind to it. We have already worked to share with them that God will love them no matter what. That WE will love them no matter what.

We strive to impress upon them the right way to go about dealing with negative people in their lives.

I quietly shared with my daughter a story of epic embarrassing proportions from my own elementary school. She looked at me with understanding eyes and said, “I bet that was very embarrassing.” It was epically embarrassing.

Then we talked about what she could do the next time these boys teased her.

I suggested that she just look at them and say, “I forgive you and I know God does too.” Or she could simply turn away and ignore their words as she prayed for God to change their hearts. I suggested that maybe this was happening because God wanted to use her to create a change in the lives of these boys.

We also discussed what to do if it kept on happening. How she needed to approach the bus driver and let her know what these boys were doing. She shared with me that she had and so far, nothing the bus driver had done had been successful in keeping the boys from teasing her. I promised her I would make some phone calls on Monday.

We lay there in her bed, snuggled together as we talked about all of this. Then we got up and went about the rest of the afternoon.

As I put her to bed and we said our prayers, I reminded both girls to pray for at least one other person beside themselves.

My oldest daughter prayed this:

“Dear Jesus, Please change the heart of the boy being mean to me. I know you can.”

And I?

Totally melted.

My daughter is already leaps and bounds ahead of where I was when I was her age.

I think she’s gonna be just fine.

On Monday, I called the Director of Transportation to talk with him about the incidents on the bus with my daughter. He went to the school, to her bus, talked with the boys before they even got on, and informed them that if they didn’t stop their negative behavior, they would be riding with their parents because public school transportation would no longer be an option. My daughter had a great bus ride home and felt safe for the first time in weeks.

Nobody deserves to be bullied. Nobody.

Sure, some may argue that bullying builds character. I was bullied in elementary school. All it did for me was deflate my self-esteem. Later in life, it has become a mark I use to measure my progress against. It shouldn’t be that way. Bottom line, it is my responsibility to raise children who won’t bully. It’s our responsibility to protect our children from harm, whether it be psychological or physical. Yes, there are learning experiences that must be had but I do not feel that bullying is one of those experiences.

I am grateful to live in a school district which clearly takes bullying seriously and will not hesitate to protect it’s students from the negative effects of such behavior. My children should not have to be the victim of someone else’s poor parenting. When I send my children to school, I am entrusting their safety and well-being to them. I fully expect them to fulfill that obligation on a daily basis. You should too.

Rest assured that if any of my children were caught bullying, there would be serious consequences. Bullying is not a skill any child should be taught. Children learn by watching, by imitating, etc. It is OUR responsibility to raise them in such a way that they don’t learn how to bully. It is also important we teach them how to positively deal with a bully even if it involves going to an adult and requesting help.

I have no doubt that my daughter has grown from this experience. I am glad it is over (for now) and know we will have many more issues down the road.

She’s already got a very powerful tool on her side though – her faith in God.

For that, I am grateful, amazed, and reassured.

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On the Twelfth day of Dismissmas: Twelve Ladies a-praying

On the twelfth day of Dismissmas,

Postpartum sent to me

Twelve ladies praying,

Eleven instant cures,

Ten women drifting,

Nine ladies grinning,

Eight maids no longer nursing,

Seven sins a-lurking,

Six women a-denying,

Five hours of sleep,

Four Just Snap out of Its,

Three perfect babies,

Two depressed parents,

And a wailing mess in a pear tree.

 

Prayer is a powerful tool for any deeply religious person. I believe deeply in the power of prayer. The past year has taught me to rely upon God for all things and to trust Him for all my needs. He has provided every single one of them.

There’s a story I would like to share with you that I use as an example for people who tell women with Postpartum Depression to just pray harder and they will be healed.

Once there was a great flood. A man, who had faithfully sandbagged his home, witnessed the flood waters rise over his meticulous sandbagging efforts. Forced to abandon the first floor of his home and eventually the second floor, this man became trapped on the roof of his home.

He began desperately praying for God to save him.

Shortly thereafter, a police boat motored up to his home.

“Sir, come with us. We can save you.”

“No thank you, I’m just fine. God will save me.”

With that response, the boat left.

A fire boat soon came by as well.

“Sir, you really need to come with us. The flood is only getting higher and will not recede any time soon.”

Again, the man answered with a calm, “No Thank you, I’m just fine. God will save me.”

With that, the fire boat left as they had several other families to save who gladly accepted their help.

A few hours later, with the flood waters now lapping at his toes, a helicopter came by, winch lowered. The crew madly encouraged the man to grab on in a last ditch effort to save his life.

The man refused and was swept away in the flood just thirty minutes after the helicopter left.

When the man reached Heaven, he had a question for God.

“God? Why did you not save me?”

“Son? I sent two boats and a helicopter. You didn’t really expect the Heavens to open and scoop you off the roof, now did you?”

God’s response to our prayers may not be in the form we desire. They may not be within the time frame we desire. All answers are His and His alone, within His time frame. Our answers may come in the form of therapy. Or medication. Or social connections. Or herbal supplements. Whatever path you choose, whatever faith powers your life, do not turn your back upon it when you are struggling. Lean hard upon your core values, trust them, pray if you so choose, but do not let anyone at all tell you that praying harder alone will save you from Postpartum Depression. Postpartum Depression is not a sin for which you must ask forgiveness. It is not  a punishment for a prior sin. It is a mental illness from which you can recover through the aid of the approach of your doctor and your own personal beliefs.

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Postpartum Voice of the Week: Raising Little Women’s “The “D” Word”

I loved this piece not only for the beautiful and talented writing but for the inclusion of Christianity into the battle this Mom is currently fighting.

When I was first struggling through Postpartum OCD, I had a Christian background but did not consider myself to be Christian at the time. As I started my support group, I shied away from starting it at a Church so as not to make potential attendees uncomfortable. Then I met Tara Mock, the founder of Out of the Valley, a faith-based Postpartum site. Tara led me to Sue McRoberts and eventually I met Rebecca Ingram. While we all haven’t met in person yet, I admire all three of these women for their strong faith and know in my heart of hearts that God put them in my path to help my own faith grow.

And grow it has.

I was baptized (again) this past April. I have no doubt that whatever has come my way is for a reason even if I do not believe it a the time. It has been so very comforting to finally be in a place where, if something goes wrong, I know I can lean hard on God to take care of it all. Even when I was not at this place, it was not because I had not prayed enough. It was not because I had been a bad “Christian.” It was not me. It was God, carrying me through a storm because He knew what was down the road for me. I am finally grateful for my experience. Do I wish it had never happened? Sure. But it did. So I deal with it I must.

Today’s voice hid her depression for five long years despite having noticed not feeling right after the birth of her daughter, Sarah. She observes her reason why so many struggle in isolation with depression:

Depression is a subject that many people do not like to talk about, especially in the church, which is very unfortunate for those that face this day in and day out. We should be able to come to one another, as brothers & sisters in Christ, and share one another’s burdens. But yet so many people face depression alone.

I believe the cause of this is due to what is being said from pulpits, what is written in books, blogs or spoken amongst friends. I once believed the lie, that if you are struggling with depression 1) you have sin in your life, 2) you have turned your back on God 3) God is punishing you for past sins.

As she moved forward to seek help, she also struggled with these very issues.

I started searching online, found a sickness that I thought I had, went to the doctor, told him what I thought was wrong, and wanted him to fix it. I can’t remember exactly what I told him I thought I had, something about blood sugar. When he told me he thought I was dealing with depression, I fought him on it, and then I broke down in his office. He told me, basically, I was dealing with PPD (postpartum depression) I wouldn’t let him speak the word depression, he finally started calling it postpartum anxiety so I would listen to what he had to say.

She found herself on and off medication for the next few years. This past April she stopped taking her medicine again.

A couple weeks/month later I hit the bottom. Hard. I literally could not think straight, make a decision, or go a day without having a meltdown.  I didn’t want to leave the house, I felt terrible, sick, all the time. To make it worse, all the thoughts I’d had previously, came back. The guilt alone was enough to push me over the edge. Looking back, I don’t know why it took me so long to go back to the doctor. I think I was still clinging to the lies, in fact, I’m pretty sure that was it. I started questioning my salvation. I started doubting everything I knew to be true. I hated myself, who I’d become. I felt like a liar and cheat. I hated that people thought me better than I was, who said kind words about me, I actually, to put it nice, wanted to hit,  and yell at them. Those who told me they wish they could be like me, stay at home, do it all, I wanted to take them up on it, but I just smiled and said, thank you.

I applaud her for speaking up about her experience even if it took her so long to do so. Her story will undoubtedly touch women of faith as they too struggle with their own brushes with depression. We are just human, even if God is on our side. He is there to lean on in the hard times, and will always be there when we need Him most. And ladies? HIS opinion is the only one that matters. He will always love us. Always.

Now go read the whole piece over at Raising Little Women: The “D” Word.

 

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Is Happiness really a choice?

During my first bout with Postpartum OCD, I could not begin to count how many times I got the lecture “Happiness is a choice” from my husband. But that was then and this is now. We have both come a long way in our sensitivity towards the very real condition of Depression, both of us having struggled with it in our own way.

If happiness truly is a choice, then why are so many of us struggling with depression? I mean, really, who chooses to be depressed? I sure didn’t. My husband didn’t. It just happened. Not overnight, mind you, but it happened. The thing with depression is that you don’t feel yourself fading away. As a Casting Crowns song states, it’s a “slow fade” as you fall away from happiness. Such a slow fade sometimes it’s not caught until it’s too late.

I don’t like the intimations of happiness being a choice. Call me jaded if you want but I just don’t like the idea of someone telling a depressed mom that she made the “choice” to be depressed. Yeah, right. I CHOSE to have horrific thoughts about harming my children. I CHOSE to slide so far down my pole that I landed in a psych ward. Yeap, that’s me. Choosing to be horrifically clinically depressed with OCD thrown in just for kicks. Why? Cuz I like it there. I like it in the dark, all alone, milling over thoughts of how to hurt my kids, thinking that everyone is out to get me.

C’MON.

I hated it there. Abhorred is an even better word. Emphatically detested the place, actually.

But now that I’ve graduated to Survivor, I have a very unique insight into the subjectiveness of this very phrase.

I didn’t choose to become a sufferer of Postpartum OCD. Nope, that part kinda bit me in the ass all on it’s own.

However, I CHOSE to become a survivor.

Like David gathering rocks to throw at Goliath, I turned and sought for my own rocks to place in my bag as I stood strong in the face of the Giant.

My rocks were strength, faith, and endurance. I needed all of them to carry me through. I found strength in stories of other survivors who had gone on to become tremendous advocates for other women and were now reaching their hands out to me as I struggled mightily to stay afloat. I found faith in God’s word and actions. Through my journey with PP OCD, I realized I had not strayed as far from Him as I thought. The wandering path behind me suddenly became clear as I moved forward. Everything, even the traumatic events that had once rocked my world, became illuminating lights that allowed me to develop endurance. I had been through several family deaths as a child, having lost an aunt at just 5 years old. It was through these losses that God prepared me for the road ahead. I knew I could strap on those boots and turn and fight.

Let me tell you something here. There is no feeling more empowering in the entire world than victory over your own personal demons, whatever they may be… mental illness, cancer, heart disease, etc. Those of us who choose to stand and fight know the taste of victory and it infuses into all we do from that point forward. We know we are not immune to the challenges of life. We just know how we’ll handle them no matter what they may be.

The biggest lesson I learned through all of this? Life isn’t about what it hands you. It’s about how you handle life. Looking at life through that lens would make it seem that happiness is a choice and to a certain extent it is a choice.

But sometimes life throws a screwball you just can’t avoid. So what are you to do? You have two choices. You can either let it knock you flat on your ass and stay there for awhile…..Or you can pick yourself up, dust off the dirt and mend the wounds, and go on your way.

What are YOU going to do?

Results of the Great Return

I survived the day.

There were only tears as I made THE turn. They hit me out of the blue and after blubbering for a few minutes, I was fine. The rush of emotions was really quite unexpected. I had no idea how I would react once we got there. I worried the tears wouldn’t stop and I wouldn’t be able to go in with Charlotte but they subsided rather quickly as I forced myself to breathe and Chris reminded me we weren’t going to see her in the NICU.

Overall the appointment itself went well. Her plastic surgeon was very pleased with how well her jaw was growing on it’s own and didn’t seem to think surgery was going to be a necessity unless deemed so by Speech.

Guess what?

Speech said she needs surgery. Her palate is split in the back and he also wants a naso-pharyngeal flap done as well to help her not push air through her nose when it should be going through her mouth.

We go back next week for a session in their speech lab so they can teach me some things to do with her at home to help train her vocal track to do the right things.

We knew surgery was a very real possibility and as I said earlier, we’ve discussed it with her. The doctor’s office will be phoning us to talk scheduling once they get it cleared with insurance so we wait.

I’ll update here once we know more.

In the meantime, continue to pray for strength, guidance, and patience.

The Great Return

Tomorrow we go to Atlanta with Charlotte for follow up with the Cleft Palate Clinic.

I would be lying if I said I was not nervous.

This appointment was supposed to have taken place when she was nine months old.

She’ll be three years old next month.

Charlotte in the NICU

Charlotte in the NICU

It took me this long to get to the point where I could even think about facing the hospital where she spent her first 21 days of life without having an anxiety attack.

This is the same hospital in which I tucked myself into a corner of the sleep room in the NICU area, blasted Linkin Park over the MP3 player and checked out. No desire to come back. Just wanted to stay curled up under the blanket and pretend none of this was happening. Nope. Not to me. I didn’t have a baby in the NICU. She wasn’t downstairs having major jaw surgery at just nine days old. We weren’t doing this. I was stuck in the middle of a really bad dream and I’d wake up at home with a normal baby.

I can still see that hallway, that sleep room, my nostrils fill with the scent of the surgical soap that killed my hands as I washed them every time we went into the NICU, every time i pumped, every time I went to the restroom there.

I remember the pumping rooms in which I spent most of my time staring at the clock wishing I could nurse my daughter instead of shoving my breasts into hard cold flanges, flicking a switch on a massive antique pump, adjusting the suction to just below Holy Crap that Friggin Hurts.

But tomorrow is the day we finally go back.

Chris is going with me as a safety. I don’t know how I will handle this. I’m hoping for the best. Praying for the best. I keep thinking about how far we’ve come since then and how lucky we are that we don’t have a lot of the problems a lot of parents have with their Pierre Robin kids. She’s talking, using sentences nonetheless. She’s breathing on her own. She eats – oh lord, she eats – she’d eat herself sick (and has) if we let her. No oral aversions here.

But she does have a fistula – an opening in her palate repair. It’s at the back of the throat. And her enunciation is off – it’s nasal. She can’t say “s” without blowing air through her nose. Chris and I understand maybe 75 – 80% of what she says and it breaks our hearts that we can’t even understand our own child all the time. It’s led to frustration on both sides and is now turning into a discipline issue.

I’m afraid we’ll be told she needs surgery. I’m afraid of what that will mean for us and for her. I’ve talked with her about the possibility of surgery. She knows that they would give her some medicine to help her go to sleep and fix her mouth while she was asleep. That she might be owwwy when she wakes up and that they’d have medicine ready to help with the owwwy.

She seems cool with it.

I’m not.

I have forgotten how to let her go with the doctors – I got so good at it when she was in the NICU but she’s been all ours for almost three years now. I don’t want to hand her over to be taken to surgery. I want to go with her! That’s my baby you’re taking!

But now I’m thinking too much and need to stop and let God do all this worrying for me.

Please pray for us as we face tomorrow.

Pray for a peaceful heart and soul for me.

Pray for a pain-free and comfortable day for Chris as he goes with us.

Pray for a positive evaluation.

Pray that I am able to handle any news of surgery with strength and grace and truly give it to God.

Choices

Laundry or laughter with the kids.

Dishes or cuddling.

Caring for a sick child or posting at my blog.

Sometimes choices are easy to make. And sometimes they’re not.

Choices are really what make up the fabric of life. The small decisions we make every second of every day are what comprise how that day rolls out. But what determines the mood of the day is how we deal with the decisions we make. We even have a choice there – we can be frustrated with the decisions we make, we can be ok with them, or we can be outrageously thrilled with these decisions.

For me, the hardest decisions to make are the ones that I am just OK with. If I’m just OK am I really making the right decision? I will argue with myself that if I tip the scale this way, I’ll be pissed. But if I tip it that way I’ll be happy. Or will I? When I get this way I make myself stop. I bow my head and pray to God. I give the decision to him and stop worrying about the outcome. Choosing to live my life and enjoying each and every moment while letting God do my worrying is infinitely more important than anything else in the entire world. It’s taken me a long long time to get here but now that I am here, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I have a tough decision in front of me. It involves an amazing opportunity I feel honored to have been approached with but that I’m not entirely sure I’m ready for right now. It deserves careful thought and detailed attention. Do I want to add more to my plate or do I need to keep my plate where it is now? You know what? I’m giving it to God. I know He’ll make the right choice and I will have to be happy about His decision. He’s done a great job so far and if this door is one that I am supposed to walk through, He’ll let me know, in His time.