Kiss Your Miracle

motherhood after infertility

Nursing February 26, 2010

Filed under: Infertility,Motherhood — Linnea @ 10:48 am

“Please God, let him be a few ounces heavier,” I prayed as I drove Micah to the pediatrician this week. An hour later as we left the office, I was fighting back tears. Micah hadn’t gained any weight at all; he’d actually lost more.

When we got to the car I let myself cry. “I feel like such a failure,” I told Adam on the phone as I drove home. “Why would you feel that way?” Adam said. “You’ve done nothing but breastfeed Micah since he was born. We haven’t given him formula or a pacifier or anything that might get in the way. It’s not your fault if he needs a little more to eat.” I knew in my head that Adam’s words were true; some things are not in our control. But somehow I still felt responsible. It reminded me of our infertility – I knew the vague sense of guilt and inadequacy I felt was not from God, but it was still hard for me to move past.

Later that day I sat down with the breast pump as the pediatrician suggested. “I don’t like you,” I told it, even though I knew pumping might boost my milk supply. The memories of my middle-of-the-night pumping sessions during Sky’s infancy are not happy, and I’d hoped to avoid pumping for baby number two. So many people say breastfeeding is easier the second time around and I thought maybe I’d fall into that category, but apparently I don’t. So I sat and pumped and felt sorry for myself.

Then suddenly I remembered something. When my friend Niki dealt with several breastfeeding issues a few years back, she had to use a pump many times throughout the day and night. At the time Adam and I were struggling with infertility, and Niki told me later that she handled the stress and pain of constant pumping by praying for me. “It helped me get my mind off myself,” she said simply. Her spiritual maturity in that moment overwhelmed me. Did I ever handle stress or disappointment that way? By praying for someone else?

Remembering how Niki prayed for me brought back another memory – telling her I was pregnant. I’ll never forget the joy and excitement of that moment. But amazingly, I’m able to push it to the back of my mind, which is what happened this week. Instead of concentrating on the wonder of having another (!) newborn, I’d allowed my breastfeeding struggles to be my main focus.

Caring for newborns around the clock can be isolating and it’s easy to lose perspective. I don’t want to minimize the importance of breastfeeding; I have great respect for mothers who do it month after month despite the physical drain it can be on a woman’s body. But when I step back and remember the pain of not having children at all, I’m able to grasp the fact that there are bigger problems in the world than my baby drinking formula.

I don’t think it’s wrong to feel disappointed that I’m not able to breastfeed exclusively. But I can’t let my emotions get stuck there. I think Niki is onto something – I need to redirect my thoughts the way she did. There will always be something in my life that can steal my joy if I let it. But God has given me the ability to prevent that. Niki blessed me so much with her prayers. Knowing she was thinking of me during our infertility helped me feel less alone in it. I too, have many friends still waiting for God to bless them with children. And I think my pumping sessions are the perfect time to pray for them.


Linni February 23, 2010

Filed under: Family,Motherhood — Linnea @ 2:06 pm

Yesterday I was sitting in the kitchen with my mom after a really rough night with Micah. “I want to write something for the blog today,” I told her. “I feel like there’s a lot I could say. But I’m just so tired that I don’t think I can find the words.” And just like she’s said many times about many things over the past week and a half, she responded, “I’ll do it for you.” So today you get to read a post by my mom, written last night.

As Linnea’s mom, it’s my delight to be her guest-blogger tonight, giving her a bit of couch time. Busy mommies don’t get much of that.

Skylar turned 19 months today. As I sang “Happy Birthday” to her, she sang back at me: “Laaa, laaa, laaa, Bible shoooow.” She sings this brief tune fifty times a day, and none of us is sure what it means. We’re calling it a worship song.

Little Micah, two weeks old today, is making good progress, although he’s living up to his Grandpa Nate’s description of every newborn: The Little Dictator. Micah runs the show from evening to 6:00 AM, which is when Linnea and Adam choose to call it morning. Although a young daddy can’t do much to nurse a new baby, Adam is doing his part by taking Sky through her bath and bedtime routine, and then cheerfully pacing the floor with Micah after that.

Today, as Linnea reached a new exhaustion-low, I could see tears behind her eyes even as she struggled to look on the bright side saying, “I know it’ll get better soon.”

Linnea is my baby, and I want more than anything to help her. With each of our seven children, I referred to their early weeks as “The Dark Night of Newbornism,” and because of sleep deprivation, Linnea is in the darkest part. Although a new mommy is tired beyond description when midnight comes, her little bundle from heaven says, “No. Not tonight either.”

Linnea, Adam and I agree God created the piercing cry of a newborn to motivate parents to help quickly. Without that, every newborn would die, which is the crux of a new mother’s dilemma. The baby needs such constant help that mama is in danger of having nothing left to give.

In my role as Grandma Midgee, I love playing with Skylar during the day and bouncing Micah on the exercise ball here and there, but my most valuable contribution is assuring and reassuring my daughter, “This soon shall pass.”

She knows that, having come through the Dark Night of Newbornism with Skylar and realizing the kind of baby-enjoyment that’s just around the corner. But extreme fatigue has a way of overshadowing logic, and today I was reminded of her older brother Nelson’s tried and true line of thinking: “Lower your expectations.”

Linnea’s expectations are almost in the basement, but as I look back on this day, she’s accomplished a great deal. She had Skylar up, fed and dressed with a barrette in her hair by 8:00 AM, went to a doctor’s appointment, did a load of laundry, took a mile walk, showered, made her first trip to the grocery store with two children, put all the groceries away and nursed the baby nine times. Not bad for a day when nothing significant was on the expectations list. The only thing missing: a nap.

“Linni, you’re doing a spectacular job! And maybe, just maybe, your adorable little Dictator will let you get some sleep tonight. Just don’t ‘expect’ it.”

PS – I (Linnea) actually did get more sleep last night than I have so far, and when I woke up this morning everything seemed a little brighter than it did yesterday. I also have to add that I would probably be spending half of each day in tears if my mom weren’t here right now. Seriously, she’s that helpful.


Simplicity February 18, 2010

Filed under: Family,Motherhood — Linnea @ 6:43 pm

The newborn days are simple days. Lack of sleep makes everything a bit hazy, but it really doesn’t matter too much since I have nowhere to go and nothing on my agenda. Just hanging out with my mom and sisters, Sky and Micah. And nursing. Lots and lots of nursing. I should probably be napping more to make up for not sleeping much at night. There are plenty of helping hands here to make that possible. But it’s just too nice to have my family around, and even though I’m exhausted, I’d rather sit on the couch with a cup coffee and chat than go into the bedroom to sleep. There is a part of me that can’t help but look forward to that night somewhere down the road when I’ll get to sleep for eight consecutive hours again. But these days are wonderful in their own way and I plan to appreciate each one.


Content February 16, 2010

Filed under: Family,Motherhood — Linnea @ 8:09 pm

Having a baby is a wonderfully overwhelming thing. Micah is eight days old and over the past week I’ve had moments of bliss – watching him sleep in my arms – and moments of panic – watching him scream in my arms while Sky tries to climb up my legs. I am so in love with my children. At the same time, I wonder how well I’ll cope with both kids at home when there’s no one else around to help. But I actually know the answer to that: I’ll deal with it one day at a time, one hour at a time. So for now I’m doing my best not to think about tomorrow at all. Today my mom and sisters are here, and they’re staying for a while. This morning I came out from the bedroom after putting Micah down for a nap and found Sky sitting on the floor with my sisters, reading magazines and chattering away. The house was full of sunlight. I sat down at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and my mom and found myself thinking that I wouldn’t change a single thing about this day. Besides add in a bit more sleep, that is.


Birth February 12, 2010

Filed under: Faith,Motherhood — Linnea @ 1:38 pm

Some women believe birth is a beautiful experience unlike anything else, and I would agree with that statement. But before birth comes labor. My Grandma Johnson used to say, “Labor is a trip to hell and back,” and though I might not have phrased it quite the way she did, I would agree with that statement as well. I can’t say there was much I enjoyed about the labor process. But here’s the thing: my entire labor – from 1cm to delivery – took just three hours. Three hours! How many women get to have that experience with an induction? Though I’d been hoping to go into labor on my own, God gave me the next best thing, and I have no disappointment over it whatsoever.

Yes, the labor was rough. I very quickly reached the point where no position or back rub or word of encouragement helped. I didn’t have time for an epidural. I remember telling Adam at one point, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this,” to which he replied, “You’re doing great.” During transition the pain felt crazy and out of control. But then, after ten minutes of pushing on my side, our son was born. And the birth – the birth! There is nothing I would change about that moment. The midwife placed our Micah Nathan on my chest and tears rolled down my face. I’ve never felt such an intense combination of relief and joy in my life. Sky’s birth was a bit traumatic and scary. I don’t really remember the first hour of her life. But Micah’s birth was just the opposite. I remember his cry, Adam’s face, even the happy chatter of the nurses as they weighed the baby and cleaned him up.

We are home now, and I’m grateful to be done with the pregnancy, the labor, and even our stay at the hospital (though I definitely miss those baby nurses at midnight!). I’m currently tired and overwhelmed. But underneath the exhaustion is a sense of awe at God’s hand of blessing on my family. At 4am this morning I was walking around our living room with a wide-awake Micah and my eyes settled on a picture of my parents. Adam and I both think this baby looks like my side of the family. I see my dad in his sweet little face. I don’t know why God took my dad to heaven when He did. Our grief is still sharp. But Micah Nathan is here now too, reminding us that when God allows pain, He offers comfort as well.

“I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips” – Isaiah 57:18b-19a


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