Kiss Your Miracle

motherhood after infertility

Advocate April 28, 2009

Filed under: Infertility,Motherhood,Others — Linnea Curington @ 1:01 pm

Mother’s Day is coming soon and this is my first year with a child. I actually got to celebrate last year because I was seven months pregnant at the time and my family showered me with cards and presents. But this will be my first official Mother’s Day. It’s a strange transition to go from dreading this holiday to enjoying it. It’s wonderful. But I can’t help thinking about my friends who are still longing for a baby, unsure if it’ll ever happen.

On Mother’s Day a few years ago, Pastor Colin Smith began his sermon by mentioning that Mother’s Day is not entirely happy for everyone at church. He pointed out that a person might have a difficult relationship with his or her mom or a mother who is no longer living. A person might be struggling with infertility or a past abortion or a miscarriage, all of which might be emphasized by Mother’s Day. I honestly don’t remember the rest of his sermon, but I will never forget how I felt when I heard those words. Infertility is painful and lonely, and hearing him acknowledge that someone like me might be struggling that day made me feel understood instead of forgotten. Even though Adam and I hadn’t told anyone about our infertility at that point, I felt like that church was a safe place where my feelings were valid even though they weren’t happy.

This morning I sent an email to the pastor of our church here in Florida, asking him to consider including a sentence or two on Mother’s Day for those who are struggling. I don’t think a simple acknowledgment like that takes any honor away from the mothers at our church – if anything it’s a good reminder for us moms to be grateful for the children we have. Even though one in six couples in the US will face infertility, almost no one in the church talks about it, and that can make it even more isolating. Those of us who’ve dealt with infertility in the past are in a good position to speak up. I’m not sure if my pastor will see the value in mentioning painful circumstances on Mother’s Day. If he hasn’t dealt with infertility or a miscarriage himself, he might not understand. But if he hasn’t thought of it, at least I put the idea in his head.


Imperfection April 27, 2009

Filed under: Faith,Motherhood — Linnea Curington @ 1:12 pm

Sometimes my baby reminds me of Chewbacca from Star Wars. While drinking her bottle she often stops, pulls away and lets out a big, Chewy-like yell, then goes back to feeding as usual. Is she just expressing herself? Letting out pent up energy? I’m not really sure. She’s always been restless. Even before her birth she moved constantly. One night near the end of my pregnancy Adam and I actually went to the hospital because it felt like she was doing flips inside me, and I’d read somewhere that if your baby’s movements seem “frantic” you should get checked. The nurse hooked me up to a fetal monitor for fifteen minutes and came back with this report: “Your baby’s vital signs are healthy, but that is one active child you’ve got in there.” I looked at Adam with terror in my eyes, wondering what we were in for as new parents.

When I finally found out I was pregnant after our years of infertility, I couldn’t wait to be a mom – to hold my baby, comfort her, and nurse her. People had told me how wonderful breastfeeding is, how it causes a rush of feel-good hormones to flow through both mother and child. I’d also heard that it could be difficult at first so I took a breastfeeding class during my pregnancy and read books about it. I was determined to make it work. When we brought Sky home from the hospital my milk had come in and all I needed to do was get her to latch on properly and drink. It sounds so simple! But Sky did not cooperate. She cried almost every waking moment and when I’d feed her she’d suck a little, pull back and cry and squirm, suck a bit more, then pull back again. Sometimes she’d thrash around with my nipple in her mouth. I began to dread feeding her.

I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. She seemed so frustrated, and that made me frustrated. “You need to relax or your milk won’t come down,” my mom instructed. But relaxing while your baby is screaming her little brains out is not so easy. We went to see a lactation consultant. She was very nice, but it didn’t seem to help. By the end of the first week I’d broken down and given Sky a bottle, the very thing I hadn’t wanted to do. Even with the bottle she would cry, but at least it didn’t hurt me to feed her. The pediatrician found nothing wrong with her – she was just fussy. After two months, I gave up. I loved my baby, but I hated breastfeeding her. When combined with other, non-feeding-related crying sessions and major sleep deprivation, I felt like I was going insane. With Adam’s encouragement I began to feed Sky formula exclusively.

There are many things about motherhood that haven’t turned out the way I’d imagined. I wish breastfeeding had gone better. I wanted to be a perfect mom and I’m not. You know what though? Sky is doing great. She is a healthy, happy little girl. And I can’t take credit for it. God is the one shaping my child’s life. I do my best, but he is in control, and I’m so thankful he can make up for my imperfection.


Unfinished April 26, 2009

Filed under: Faith,Infertility,Motherhood — Linnea Curington @ 3:18 pm

My book club is currently reading The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman and a line stuck out to me the other day. Hoffman describes a character by saying she “loved unfinished things. Finished was over and done with; she liked process, she liked moving things: rivers, clouds, heartbeats.” I sat there staring down at my book, thinking that I wish I could say that about myself. It’s very poetic and beautiful, and in a sense, it’s true – who doesn’t love rivers, clouds and heartbeats? But what I really love is certainty. I can walk through a process, even enjoy it, when I know for sure I’ll have what I want in the end.

Sometimes I wonder about my family. Is it complete now, just the three of us? If it is, that’s okay. At one point in my life I wondered if I’d ever be a mother, and I will always be grateful for Skylar, our miracle baby. But if it was just up to me, I’d definitely have more children. I grew up with four brothers and two sisters and I don’t want Sky to grow up alone.

I don’t know what the future holds though, so sometimes I fight the desire for more babies. I don’t want to want another child. I don’t want to be that vulnerable again, to willingly walk back into that risky place where I’m asking God for something I might not get. It’s safer to pray without faith and just ask God for things that seem like they might already happen. Praying for another baby means getting my hopes up and maybe facing disappointment. It requires me to acknowledge my total dependence on God and the lack of control I have over my life.

Adam and I could decide one child is enough and that we’d rather not even start down that path of hoping, trying, waiting and praying. We could decide that our family is finished and protect ourselves from being let down. But what kind of relationship will I have with God if I try to guard my heart from him? So for now I’ll choose uncertainty, risk, and possibility.


Victory April 25, 2009

Filed under: Faith,Infertility,Motherhood — Linnea Curington @ 7:48 am

When Adam got home from work yesterday I left Sky with him and walked down to my sister-in-law Aron’s house for our once-a-week prayer session.  I have to admit, relief flooded my body as I headed down the road – not because I felt inspired to pray, but because it meant a break from being at home. It had been a weird day. Sky had fallen asleep in the car for five minutes – five minutes! – and that was enough to steal her entire morning nap. She was too awake to sleep, but too fussy to enjoy anything. Then she had an explosive poop, and while I was trying to get her yucky clothes off she managed to put her hands into the poop and smear it on her head (ick ick ick!). A single diaper change turned into an hour-long process including a bath for Sky and a whole bunch of laundry for me. I arrived at Aron’s house in a daze – exhausted, overheated, and irritated.

We went out to her back porch and I sipped a glass of water, trying to refocus my thoughts. When I asked Aron about her day she shared a bit about the Bible study she leads for high school girls. She’s been trying to convince them that God’s hand is on them in every situation, even when they can’t feel it. “I want them to know that none of their pain is wasted. God can redeem it all.” She acknowledged that we don’t always get to see full redemption here on earth, but that many times we will – if we persevere in faith. Then she said this: “At the end of the day, all that matters to me is that I refused to give Satan the victory.” I sat back in my chair, thinking about infertility. Satan wants to use it to make a woman give in to doubt and despair; God wants to pull that woman close and create in her a faith that goes beyond circumstances. Whether she realizes it or not, throughout each day she is allowing one side or the other to have his way in her life.

Suddenly it occurred to me that the same truth applies to me now as a mother. During my infertility I thought a lot about God and how I wanted to be a person who praised him every day, even if I never had a child. There were plenty of times when I was overwhelmed by my emotions, but infertility is a crisis, and I knew I had to choose God every day just to survive as a Christian. In the mundane day-to-day of life though, it’s harder for me to stay focused. Things that are insignificant in the long run warp my perspective and I find myself tired, feeling a vague sort of sadness over regrets from my past and a general anxiety about the future. There are times when it actually feels good to let my thoughts wander and those dark feelings take over. It can happen without me realizing it, and it often doesn’t even seem like a big deal. But Aron’s comment reminded me that there’s more going on each day than I can see. I Peter 5 says that we should be sober and alert because our “enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (v. 8).  I don’t want to over-spiritualize things and blame Satan for my bad mood when it’s really my own fault. But that’s exactly the point – I have a choice about who I allow to move in life. Self-pity, jealousy, ingratitude – they’re sneaky sins that quietly settle over us when we’re not paying attention. They seem less serious than other more visible sins. But they have the power to make us completely ineffective in the kingdom of God. We can’t really be there for others or even hear from God when we’re all wrapped up in ourselves.

As I walked home yesterday I suddenly felt wide awake, broken out of the complaining haze I’d been drifting around in all day. Pastor Colin Smith says this about the spirit realm: “In every situation God is at work and your enemy is never asleep.” It’s a simple question: who has the victory in my life today?


Blessings April 23, 2009

Filed under: Motherhood,Skylar Grace — Linnea Curington @ 7:05 am

Things I Love About Skylar Grace

  • Everything is fascinating to her. She looks at the world with her eyebrows up, interested in it all.
  • the way she waves hello – with her hand backwards, so it looks like she’s waving at herself.
  • her sweet baby neck – it’s the softest thing I’ve ever felt and I can’t kiss it enough.
  • her eyes – they’re a deep turquoise blue with long, black lashes – just like her daddy’s. I always told him it wasn’t fair for a guy to have such beautiful eyes.
  • the way she laughs after she burps.
  • When I go get her out of her crib in the morning, she’s so happy to see me I feel like a rock star.
  • When she pulls up on something and makes it to her feet (her new skill), she gets this big, proud smile on her face and looks at us, waiting for us to clap and congratulate her. And of course, we do.
  • She is a water baby. She can be falling apart, crying and exhausted, but the minute she’s in the tub she’s all smiles again. It makes me excited for the beach and the pool and vacations down the road. She’s never been in a body of water bigger than her baby pool and I can’t wait to see her expression when she’s floating around with me in Lake Michigan this summer.
  • When she gets nervous, I’m the one she wants.
  • her tiny baby fingers – sometimes careful and sometimes destructive. She’s just figuring out that she’s in control of them.
  • the way she loves to run errands. Well, not the car seat part. The shopping part. When she’s the fussiest at home, the answer is a trip to the grocery store. Put her in the cart at Publix and she doesn’t make a sound. She just looks all around her, totally enthralled. I too, love the grocery store (it’s the one place I can walk into and spend a whole bunch of money without guilt – plus, I love food), so it’s perfect.
  • her delicious skin -I tell her she’s so yummy I’m going to eat her up for dessert.
  • She is my baby, an answer to prayer, and a testimony of God’s goodness.

Next Page »