Sunday, August 9, 2015

My Mom With a Chronic Illness Story: An Infant in Tears

"Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." (John 16:20-22)
* * *
My beautiful baby girl was born on September 3rd, 2013, in perfect health, but a few weeks later, I got a whole lot sicker than I've ever been before. I didn't think that was even possible. How on earth could I get any sicker? Well, I went from using the bathroom 20x a day to 40x, from being in pain at 4 (on a pain scale of 0-10) most of the time to an 8, from one medication to try and control the disease and symptoms to a lot more than one... You get the idea.

Sure, the physical and emotional stress and exhaustion stemming from the struggle of caring for a newborn had something to do with the worsening of my symptoms, as did the subsequent hormonal insanity and my horrible birth experience. I had 46hrs of non-progressing labor followed by a c-section I had to beg for during which the spinal stopped working before they were finished and the pharmacy didn't have the right anesthesia on hand. Yes, I remember everything. Yes, I experienced major surgery without anesthesia. Yes, I was treated for PTSD. (Small towns are great for raising children but not so great for having them). But all in all, my disease just plain got worse and it still isn't put completely right despite all the med changes and there is/was/will be nothing that I can do about it.

I gave birth to a healthy baby: an absolute gift from God. I promised myself that I would be happy with that, and yet there I was wanting more.

"It is very dangerous to promise ourselves the security of even one hour, for very frequently in that one brief hour this fleeting life comes to an end." (Johann Gerhard, "What Is Human Life?") Disappointment runs rampant in our sinful, fallen world. I'm wasn't able to enjoy motherhood the way a healthy woman would. I couldn't take my new daughter out and show her off as often as I'd have liked. I couldn't take care of her and the house at the same time. I was often forced to set her down in the middle of nursing so that I could run to the bathroom, and I heard her crying for me loud enough to break anyone's heart, and it left mine in pieces. I wasn't even able to produce enough milk for her so we had to supplement with formula, an immense failure in our breastfeed-exclusively-for-one-year-for-better-health-for-your-baby-it's-only-natural-or-you're-a-bad-mom-but-let's-not-mention-using-daycare-forty-hours-a-week culture. (Some women have no choice when it comes to that either). This one failure alone just about did me in, the guilt surrounding what I wasn't able to give my baby girl was unbearable. (If you are struggling with this, please talk to someone. Your baby really will be okay).

All this left me with a whole lot of guilt and tremendous (and viciously accurate) feelings of inadequacy.

Christ didn't just die for all the bad things that we do. He died for all the good things that we can't do. I do what I can, and it's never enough. I am inadequate. It's an objective fact. And it's why I need Jesus. What I can do isn't enough for perfect, but it is enough because God has done the rest for me and for my daughter who has to get by without being exclusively breastfed. And so when the guilt threatens to own me, I step away from that nasty mirror Satan brandishes in my darkest moments and I look to the Cross. As for not always cherishing this life as the gift that it is, well...
Suggested verse to repeat when your inadequacy threatens to overtake your thankfulness
is from Romans 8:18.
"The sufferings of this present time
are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
Josephina ("Josie") Ryann Smith