I am the mom who never sent my babies to the nursery in the hospital.
If the nurse had to take them, I waited on pins and needles until they returned.
I wanted skin to skin as soon as I popped them out. I didn’t care if they looked like someone had pulled them out of a giant tub of sour cream.
I wanted to breastfeed exclusively as long as I could.
Their precious rear ends rarely touched a bassinet or swing because I would just snuggle them and watch them sleep.
I waited almost 10 months to finally hold these sweet things in my arms, I didn’t want to miss a single second of bonding once they were finally here.
Well, the reality that my experience with Robbyn would be completely different set in as I sat in a dimly lit postpartum room by myself.
I forced Jordan to get some food with his parents, we couldn’t see Robbyn for a couple of hours, and my left leg was still so numb I could barely stand up.
The room was quiet. Had I really just had a baby? Or did I dream all of this?
No newborn snuggles. No awkward fumbling as we try to figure out breastfeeding together.
No breastfeeding in our future either, due to the toxic medications I would soon be starting and the bilateral mastectomy in my very near future.
No sneaking a pacifier in her mouth while the nurse is out of the room.
No peeking into the sleep sack to recount all of her fingers and toes.
My baby was on the floor above me in an incubator.
Don’t get me wrong; I knew this was our destiny once we found out she would arrive a full 6 weeks early. I was ecstatic she was strong, and I was able to hold her for almost an hour, but her tiny body had tired out, and now she needed to rest.
She hadn’t needed to be intubated and only required a small feeding tube through her nose, but that was to be expected. At 34 weeks, she had not yet developed the reflex that allowed her to suck, swallow, and breathe at the same time and she could not eat enough to gain weight without tiring.
She had done phenomenally well, and I was so grateful that she was healthy. This could have been so much worse, and I personally know some of the world’s strongest parents who have watched their babies go through much more terrifying circumstances. After seeing a tiny glimpse into what they have gone through, I have the utmost admiration for them and how they handled their trials with such grace.
So, it didn’t seem fair to be upset about our small hiccup when God had already blessed us so much.
The two other moms and their sweet babies I know who have very recently endured long NICU stays, and multiple surgeries have inspired me with their strength and reliance on God.
Chapter 31 in Proverbs is all about what it means to be a godly woman. (The whole chapter is excellent if you are curious about what it says.) In verse 20 it says, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
I was in a pretty “needy” state once we were home and Robbyn was still in the NICU without a foreseeable discharge date. Both of these women who have experienced this before checked on me multiples times offering prayers, advice, physical and emotional support every time I see them.
They have been doing just what Verse 26 says a godly woman should, “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” They used the previous trials God allowed them to face, to now assist me. Something that I intend to do for others now that I have been there. These two women continued to care for their husbands, their households, their other young children in the home and continued to nurture their children spiritually by assuring they rarely missed a Sunday of church to learn that Jesus loves them.
I also know another mom who waited years, YES, YEARS, to get her already adopted son and daughter out of Africa because of paperwork and red tape. She had so much strength. How could I be upset about a possible month-long NICU stay when she waited patiently for years for God to allow her beautiful babies to be brought home, and she gave praise and glory to God every step of the way? She has inspired me to be a woman like verse 25 describes. “She is clothed with dignity and strength. She laughs without fear of the future.”
Dignity and strength.
No, that was not me.
Such powerful words.
Guilty and afraid was more like it.
Fearful that this baby in the incubator would never know who I was pending my PET scan results. Guilty for having to induce labor forcing her into a possibly lengthy NICU stay. Guilty I wasn’t with her most of the day providing her care. Guilty that she would have a different newborn experience than my other children. Guilty that I was dumping two small children with relatives every evening so we could see our new baby. Guilty for not seeing our baby to go to Reed’s first baseball game or having Ryanne’s second birthday party while Robbyn was 30 miles away in an incubator.
I was having some serious guilt. I feel like I hear this over and over again from moms around my age. You have probably heard the phrase too.
Feeling guilty for leaving your child while you go to work or them not having as many playmates because you are a stay home mom. Feeling guilty for not putting them in enough activities or debating if you have them in too many activities. Worrying about not having a Pinterest perfect Christmas, to retaking your Instagram picture so your messy house isn’t shown. This mom guilt comes in all different forms and it torments us no matter the mom’s circumstances.
Definitely not Pinterest perfect but perfect nonetheless.
We forget that we are daughters of the King, and He gave of these children, whether biological or adopted, knowing we were the perfect woman to raise them.
He knew that you might have work full time or night shift to provide for them, or that you wouldn’t be able to afford to throw the best birthday party, and still, he handpicked you to raise them. He entrusted you with these precious children. I am learning that the negative thoughts and fears about whether I am doing the right thing for my children are Satan trying to take time and energy away purpose God has designed for me.
Proverbs 31 also say a Godly woman, “arises while it is yet night and provides food for her household.” I believe whether you care for your family by staying home or by working part-time or full-time, you are providing for your family the best way that God has shown you.
One is not nobler than the other. Whatever the job God has given you, you should do it to the best of your ability. I am also learning that if I approach God in prayer about the role he has for me, then I need to have peace with that decision instead of this misplaced “mom-guilt.”
James 1:5-6 says “If any of you lack wisdom you should ask God who gives generously to all, without finding fault and it will be given to you. But when you ask you must believe and not doubt. Because the one who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown and tossed about by the wind.”
I don’t want to be like a wave tossed about, second-guessing whether every decision I make about my children is the right one. I want to be the the Proverbs 31 woman whose “strength and honor are her clothing” I am trying my best know to turn over my concerns, fears, and misplaced guilt to God and have peace about my circumstances.
He knew when I had Robbyn that she would be in the NICU and he knew I had two small children at home. He also gave me a fantastic support system to care and love on my kids when I’m not there whether it is our family or the amazing NICU staff.
“She is clothed with dignity and strength. She laughs without fear of the future.” Did you read that? She laughs! Laughs! She’s not even saying, “I know God has my future under control, and I’ll try and be ok with that…”
No! She boldly laughs because her God, My God, the creator of the universe, has already has a plan for her future, so she has nothing to fear! I want to be that bold with my faith in God. I’m not anywhere close yet but I will keep running toward him.
5 thoughts on “Dignity & Strength”
You’re gifted at communicating your journey with your readers. It is so encouraging for us as you point always to God as you walk in big faith.
You’re loved and prayed for.
God is blessing many people, as well as you and your family,
as we read your meaningful words ✝️🙏❤️
I am immensely blessed and encouraged! Thank you for sharing 💗
Thank you, Kari 💓 you are a wonderful woman and mom. Always an inspiration to me and many others!
Kari, your words are SO powerful for all of us, what ever part of lifes journey we’re on. I am so proud of you. Not many women have the gift of “words” nor the knowledge of the Bible, to bless and encourage us as you are doing. God is using you and your circumstance to speak to many. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable. Love you.