Written November 14th, 2008…
I love Facebook. I love being able to view friends’ pictures and it’s pretty obvious that I like to post my own…seeing as I now am up to 60 albums. 🙂 My favorite subject for my facebook albums has become my beautiful baby boy. I wanted to write a little note here, however, because I wonder if other people, like me, look at friends’ photo albums and think that life for them must be as picture perfect as the photos themselves. Here it goes…
Though my life has been so incredibly blessed over the past 3 months with the entrance of Isaiah James Johnson into it, it has been anything but easy and certainly far from perfect. Though he does seem to have a smile on his face 75% of the time, if you took pictures of our life from day to day, neither one of us would be smiling in ALL of them! Of course, no one posts the pictures of the sleepless nights, days with belly aches and nap struggles, or mom’s emotional meltdowns (I seem to have at least one a week).
I know in my head that life can’t be perfect, but I have trouble accepting that in my heart. I had an easy and enjoyable pregnancy; a quick, smooth, and unmedicated delivery; and so I naturally assumed that bringing my sweet baby boy home would be smooth as well…sure it wouldn’t be easy, but I could control and fix any problem that would arise, right? After all, I’ve read every baby book, studied parenting strategies, researched on the internet, and paid very close attention in childbirth class….so I was ready! 🙂 Oh dear…
We found out pretty early on that Mr. Isaiah was not going to go “by the book.” Our first and most frustrating struggle was his quick 30 or 45 min. catnaps and difficulty getting him back to sleep in the middle of the night. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I prayed, the boy would just not stay asleep. There were also times when he would fight sleep so hard and scream like he was in pain. I talked to other moms, but some of them had either magically forgotten those first few months of their babies’ lives or else has seemingly perfect babies…so I ended up feeling more alienated. I tried every strategy, googled anything and everything on the internet, and even resorted to buying a “sleep program” which I promptly returned for a full refund after finding that it didn’t tell me anything that I hadn’t already heard before! Those things only left me MORE frustrated and feeling like I must be doing something terribly wrong (the authors obviously had never met Isaiah Johnson). Poor Adam even threatened to burn the books and throw our computer out the window. 😉 I just couldn’t fix it, which was horribly difficult for me and realized how little control I have and how much more I needed to depend on my Father.
We found out about 8 weeks into Isaiah’s life that he had an allergy to cow’s milk, which meant his poor little intestines were inflamed from all of that milk, cheese, and icecream I was pounding. Sooo because I was nursing…that meant no more dairy for me. Though his naps stayed the same, everything else dramatically improved in a few weeks. He was more pleasant during the day even w/o long naps and sleeping much better at night. Things got a little interesting a few weeks ago, though, with the entrance of 2 tiny little teeth in the mouth of my little 13 week old (the average baby gets them at 7 months) which left him in pain and irritable. His persistent cradle cap still wasn’t going away either and we noticed a rash developing all over his tiny body. Even though I was staying off of dairy and even eggs, he still seemed to have belly pain from time to time. THEN, the nights took a dramatic turn for the worst. He was starting to wake up every hour and sometimes not going back to sleep for a long time. Oh, how we’d pray at night and plead that God would just let Isaiah relax and go to sleep. There were many days that I felt like I was at the end of my rope.
After Isaiah’s eczema started getting extremely worse, we took him back in to see the doctor a few days ago. The doctor said that the severity of it is very unusal for a breastfed baby and that it looked like more food allergies. This time I was told to wash EVERYTHING – his clothes, our clothes, blankets, towels, etc. in a very special hypoallergenic detergent. If that didn’t help the rash improve, I needed to try to hold up on nursing and try giving him a very special and very expensive (6 cans for $190…thank God for WIC!) formula. I started washing everything, but after the worst night we’ve ever had with him, I decided to go ahead and start the formula anyway. Isaiah has taken to it well, which is a HUGE praise considering he had never even come in contact with a bottle before, and we’re praying that it helps our little man. The thought of giving up breastfeeding, if that’s what it will take, is emotional for me. It hasn’t even been 48 hours yet and I miss it already. BUT we’re willing to do whatever it takes to make Isaiah better! Poor thing…it’s amazing to me that he’s still happy at all.
I write all of that because, for me, it has helped tremendously to have other moms be vulnerable with me…allowing me to see their imperfections and struggles. Over the past 3 months, I’ve experienced feelings of inadequacy, desperation, shame that I wasn’t a “good enough” mom, the mourning of life the way it used to be (being a friend, youth pastor’s wife and a wife in general looks different now), and then guilt that I was even feeling that way. I’m learning, however, that I’m not alone…even though it sometimes feels like it.
Over the past 3 months, I’ve also experienced the most intense feelings of joy, peace, excitement, and even contentment. Isaiah amazes me every single day and I often can’t help but squeeze him because I love him so much. I’ve also fallen even more in love with my husband (which I didn’t know was possible) and need him more now than ever. God has proven Himself faithful over and over and over again. Though there were times where I felt like He either couldn’t hear me crying out or else wasn’t listening, I’m thankful now that He’s letting me walk through this storm. I’ve never had to depend on Him more or surrender my desire to “fix” and control my own life. God’s desiring to build character in me that I couldn’t have any other way. I’ve been convicted that although I often want the destination, I don’t usually want the journey it took to get there – it seems just too hard! I’ve also realized that much of my struggle came from not only comparing myself and my situation to others, but also viewing motherhood as a choice that I made rather than a CALLING that God gave me. What an AWESOME responsibility…but encouraging knowing that of all the people in the world, God chose ME to be Isaiah’s mom…so He’ll equip me to do so.
Though my relationship with God and my life as a mom are FAR from picture perfect, I have a God whose strength IS. I am so so so pathetically weak, but my God has never proven Himself stronger.