For those who wondered, the pro-life letter to the editor was accepted by my newspaper (after I cut over one hundred and fifty words to get it down to the correct word count). I’m afraid that going over and over my letter to see where I could cut unnecessary words has put my mind on my babies for the last week, so I’ll admit that this devotional is very personal and little lengthy. Feel free to skip.
Some of the events with four premature babies were an emotional roller coaster for me. There were times that I felt rebuked. When I was mourning the time one of my babies would have to spend in the hospital, a well-meaning person told me that “at least you will have a baby, and everything will be all right.” My head knew that, but my heart was still reeling.
Since I didn’t take any of my babies home right away, I had weeks of driving to the hospital to visit them. I remember standing by the elevator and watching a young woman with her baby as they were dismissed, and it grabbed my heart. In that moment, I wondered what it would feel like to have a baby and just go home with the baby in my arms. Instead of empty, like I was leaving.
At times, I knew that things should not be a big deal. But they were, and I couldn’t change my turmoil. Life is like that. Sometimes we feel isolated and full of emotions that others may not understand.
Years ago, when a couple from my childhood church lost their baby, someone comforted them with, “You can always have another baby.” They weren’t comforted. They would still have had pain even if someone would have told them, “Isn’t it wonderful that your baby is in heaven?”
You may have grief that no one else gets.
No one else could go in to visit my babies except Todd, and I felt alone. I have a very insecure side. I spent hours working with my babies to get them to learn to suck, swallow, and breathe. Lactation consultants would help me, and sometimes things would go great.
Then there were times that I had brusque nurses who made me feel dumb, and I would have to work up all my courage. There is nothing quite like a baby having a bradycardia episode while you are nursing them. The alarms start to yell, nurses scramble, curtains are yanked back…and I would feel so insecure and exposed.
We had worked with Abigail as she slowly made progress. The doctors felt like she was close to going home. My heart soared! Todd couldn’t make it to Wichita, so I went to the hospital alone to do “Mother Baby.” It was a trial period where you do all the care and feeding to prove that your baby will thrive and can be dismissed.
She didn’t thrive. And it felt so personal!
I know that doesn’t make sense, but it’s true. Instead of gaining, she lost ground. They became so concerned for her that they took her from me and put her back in the Special Care Nursery. They shaved a spot on her head and started an immediate IV of antibiotics. Forget the car seat that was supposed to take her home!
I left the hospital alone. As soon as I got in the car where no one could hear me, I sobbed and wailed the whole way across Wichita! I was distraught.
It would not have helped if you would have patted me on the back and told me it would be okay. And, yes, it did end up all being okay.
I’ve often wondered about Jesus’ response when Lazarus died. He knew all along that He was going to bring Lazarus back from the grave. He knew!
I would think that He would be inwardly smiling at the situation. “Mary, Mary, Mary. You don’t need to mourn. It’s all going to be okay.”
But He didn’t. He wept. He felt the pain! I believe that he felt Mary’s pain, Martha’s pain, the feelings of the other loved ones, and even Lazarus. Just knowing that brings me comfort!
The same lactation issue came up with the twins. Only this time, they had received so many bottles in the hospital that it was extremely difficult to make the switch. We were home in July of 2007 and still struggling. I was devastated. We still had problems with their heart rates dropping, and sometimes I felt like I couldn’t work with them like I wanted while my three year old and five year old were on the loose! They needed me too, and there wasn’t enough of me to go around.
I did the only thing I knew. I talked to one of the prayer warriors in my life at the time…my dad. I said, “Daddy, please pray! They are not getting this!”
Of course, Daddy agreed to pray.
Then in the next few days, an amazing thing happened. My feelings all changed, and nothing felt as raw anymore. I resolved that bottles were an acceptable solution. I didn’t think anymore about it until the day that Daddy called me. He was so cheerful, so upbeat. “It all worked out, didn’t it Sissy?” he asked. “The problem with the babies eating?”
I hated to burst his bubble. He sounded so sure. “No, Daddy,” I answered. “They never did get it. But it’s the strangest thing. All of a sudden, I didn’t care anymore.”
“But Sissy,” Daddy told me. “That’s what I prayed. I asked God to either help the babies or to help you.”
And God had helped me!
Sometimes God doesn’t change the storm. Sometimes the wind blows just as loudly. Sometimes He changes me!
There have been moments in the past year when I wanted to run to Daddy and pour out my heart. I know he would pray for what is concerning me today…things far beyond feeding issues with my twins. But I have a heavenly Father! Even though Daddy is in heaven, I can pour it all out to my God! He never makes me feel dumb. He understands!
Today as I pray for loved ones, I ask God that even if their storm does not change that He would change them.
Bowed beneath your burden,
Is there none to share?
Weary with the journey,
Is there none to care?
Courage, wayworn trav’ler,
Heed your Lord’s commands.
There’s a thought to cheer you:
Yes, He understands.
All His ways are best.
Hear, He calls to you,
“Come to Me and rest.”
Leave the unknown future
In the Master’s hands.
Whether sad or joyful,
-Wm. J. Kirkpatrick