Strength for Today

Honestly, there were days in the past 5 months when I wondered if I’d make it to the new year. I’ve never been more exhausted, used up, worn out, frustrated, or broken.

But I’ve also never been more encouraged, supported, lifted up, invigorated, or strong.

What in the world just happened to me?

I had a baby, a really beautiful, but really, really difficult baby. And God made his power known in my weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).

I haven’t shared much about what we’ve gone through with Lizzy. Partly, I’ve got a little PTSD from it, and partly, well, it has been going on for awhile now. I’m still recovering.

Her first few months on this earth were extremely challenging for all of us. I know, I know, having a newborn isn’t cake, but we got an extra helping of difficulty, more than Dan had ever encountered with any of his newborn patients, which is a number in the hundreds.

Basically, we had three main issues going on. The first was the worst case of colic anyone has ever seen (anyone we know and all the docs we took her to). She screamed when she wasn’t eating or sleeping (which was very little). And she didn’t nap unless she was in motion, so I had to walk her in the stroller or bounce her while sitting on an exercise ball all the time…and I mean ALL the time. This took four months to go away.

And then there is the out of control GERD, which caused her to choke and stop breathing many times in her first month of life, necessitating a trip to the ER and a stay at Children’s Hospital. This means that she has never been able to lie flat on the ground, meaning we still have to carry her constantly or keep her upright somehow. She also sleeps in a special bed that’s a foam wedge to keep her upright.

Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, she couldn’t eat very well. After a month of agonizing pain for me, lots of trauma to my own body, and her failing to gain weight well, we finally figured out that she had a rare condition called a posterior tongue tie. She had two minor surgeries to correct it, but she still has trouble nursing. You wouldn’t know it by looking at those chubby cheeks, though. She manages just fine with expressed milk in a bottle nowadays.

After a month of not sleeping because I was always listening to Lizzy’s breathing, to see if she had choked and needed to be resuscitated again (she even turned blue), I finally cracked. We took her to the ER, and mommy lost it in the exam room. They admitted her, and partly, they admitted me, because I couldn’t monitor her anymore. I needed to let someone else hook machines up to her to watch her around the clock.

I felt like a huge failure as a mother, since I didn’t know anyone who couldn’t do it, who had to admit their kid to get some rest.

Of course, now I realize that she needed the hospital’s help, that they assisted her with medicines and medical devices, outside my realm of experience and understanding.

But at my lowest (and even before), God granted me a huge outpouring of his grace. I got help from unexpected places, people I barely knew, stopping by to hold my crying baby, so I could eat something or take a shower. People brought food. Some e-mailed me words of wisdom that made a huge impact in that moment. Lots prayed.

There were days I began, not knowing if I could make it until sundown. But somehow, God gave me strength to keep moving, literally, since I couldn’t stop moving with the baby, so she would sleep. I honestly don’t know how I made it to this point, aside from God’s incredible grace and an amazing husband who burnt himself out assisting as well.

So now, I join the Apostle Paul in praising the God who gives strength to the weak. And while I’m not ready to ask for more weakness, I am more secure knowing that whatever life throws my way, I’ve got a God who can give me the strength and assistance I need to make it.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV).


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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh, hon . . . we went through a very similar first four months with Owen (although we didn’t have the exact same issues) and then had more issues after that. That bible verse helped me a lot as well. I’m glad things are going better for you! Lots of love!

  2. I’d like to say I’m sorry for your suffering, but when I see the refined gold of your faith, I can only join you in praising the Lord for giving you strength in weakness.

    You now know everything you need to be a successful parent – you are weak and He is strong. Still praying for you, dear friend!

  3. Wow! I’ve been reading your updates on Facebook and had no idea that you were going through such agony. This makes me believe your daughter has a powerful calling on her life, one the enemy does not want to see manifest. Thank God for His watchful eye and His grace.

  4. SIt must have been at least a small consolation to know that Lizzie was not being difficult for no reason. I felt your compassion for her needs in the midst of the screaming and helplessness. That counts for a lot of good mommy points in my book.
    My first baby was a difficult one with no medical issues to blame. I remember the night I quietly and honestly told my husband I could not handle her any more and that I wanted to release her for adoption. He was so hurt by that…
    My friends had such “blah” kids, I wondered what I was doing wrong.
    By age 19 my daughter was a delight.(yes..that long!) The healing of having a super easy second kid got me through the second guessing of my parenting skills.
    I hope as Lizzie’s medical needs recede she will become a delightful daughter for you both of you to enjoy. And if she is just destined to be “difficult” do read “The Difficult Child”. It was so encouraging to read that book and discover the most challenging parts of a child’s difficulties are often the very things that God uses in them as adults. I still am amazed that that book insight was spot on for my now 32 year old daughter.
    (And have another kid…pronto!)

  5. “I am more secure knowing that whatever life throws my way, I’ve got a God who can give me the strength and assistance I need to make it.” amen…in our weakness, He promises to be Strength…and sometimes…we are…very…weak.

    What a comfort your experience will be to other moms in the same situation. When you share, they will see light at the end of their tunnel as you testify to His Strength.

    all for GOD,

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