When Mom asked me to share my story about times when I’ve felt desperate as a mother, the memories came flooding back. (You can read my Wyatt story from yesterday here.) I have four children, and two had serious but short term health issues as newborns. Recalling what I went through made me think about whether some of you may have much more serious concerns with your children. I’m sure my story doesn’t compare with those of other moms who deal with the daily challenges of chronic illness or special needs children. You are my heroes and I hope my experiences don’t sound whiny compared to what you have gone or are going through.
I wanted to let you know that today’s story includes some images you may find disturbing. When I found them for Mom the tears came all over again. Let me explain.
Partly because Annie, our third, was nearly born in the car on the way to the hospital, PJ and I decided to have our fourth at home. With Dad and a couple of siblings speeding home from a youth retreat to try and make the birth (they arrived just 10 minutes late) and Mom coaching me again through transition, Danae Jewel arrived. She was perfect except for a cyst in her left nostril. Thinking it was simply a blocked tear duct, a specialist assured us everything would be fine. However, after attempting to drain the tear duct through her nose an infection broke out, resulting in the area around her eye swelling to about the size of a golf ball. A follow up visit to the specialist was scary, especially when he panicked and rushed us to the hospital with warnings of cancer, infection hitting the optic nerve causing blindness or death, or other possible horrible outcomes.
Again I held a newborn baby in desperation. She, unlike Wyatt, was not screaming. She was peaceful even in intense pain. She cried only when they put iv’s in her tiny head and then again right before she fell asleep before surgery. Once again I had a sick newborn that caused me to fall on my face because I felt so out of control and there was nothing else to do.
I cried out to God to protect my son from a life of disability and that we would make it just one more day. I prayed for myself – that my anger would not cause me to do something I would regret. Then I sobbed in the hospital room looking at my baby girl covered in iv’s with her little face so swollen, yet giving me a big, dimpled smile. I laid my hands on her many times a day praying, hoping she would not only fight the infection but also be spared from the scary side affects.
God used sick newborns to teach me something I didn’t learn from years of being raised in the church by godly parents: God’s grace is always sufficient even when I’m too tired to ask for it. God’s grace gave me strength to not only love my son, but to also form a bond with him that still grows to this day. Because of his sickness, for six long months I was forced to hold and care for him when I was exhausted, and to spend what energy I had begging God for help. Then two years later that same grace was sufficient in the hospital room when dark thoughts came. When the enemy tempted me to believe that God would take my daughter as a test. When Mom left and I laid there holding my baby girl alone in the dark. When specialists couldn’t tell me exactly what would happen.
Since Wyatt and Danae’s births more trials have come. Trials I would have never imagined I would face. The beautiful thing, though, is how God used the desperations I experienced as a mother to prepare me to rely on Him in some even darker times ahead.
God really does choose our trials. Health issues with my kids taught me to trust Him when life is out of control. I wish I could say I walked through the post newborn trials without faltering in my faith. I didn’t. In fact, I failed miserably at times. But when I read that “God causes all things to work together for good” now, I believe it as never before.
He could have chosen for Wyatt and Danae to have serious consequences from their newborn issues. Danae could have had cancer or died from the infection. I’m grateful that, as you can see below, they are healthy and just celebrated their 5th and 8th birthdays this past week. But I’m glad that He used them and their suffering to remind me that my only hope is in Jesus and that even when I’m weak and faithless He is strong and faithful.
That was worth it.