New Blog Post for AJN: How I Would Prepare My Daughter to Become a Nurse

My kids have been asking me surprisingly specific questions about my work as a nurse lately. I really enjoyed writing this blog post for American Journal of Nursing because God knows the two occupations that have consumed my days and thoughts this past year have been nursing and motherhood.

And at the end of the day, I realize this was a reflection for myself as well – what I have learned and continue to need to learn as both a nurse and simply as a human and as a Christian looking to live faithfully and well in a complicated world.

You can read the entire post here.

anchor for the years

Ten years into being a pediatric ICU nurse, I find I still grieve the saddest patient cases the same way I did from day one. It hits the day after with unpredictable tears, and I’m discombobulated as I try to reorient myself to my “normal” life and all its demands on me as mama, while still feeling haunted by the harsh reality of the story I bore witness to for 12+ hours just the day before and all its demands on me as nurse.

It’s like having this bittersweet privilege to pass through a blackout curtain where one side cannot see the other. Normal healthy families cannot imagine the agony of critically ill ones. Critically ill ones ache to remember what normal life felt like as it now feels too out of reach. I am the witness between the two sides that pull in opposite directions. On one side, I am playful, silly and tempted to be dismissive. On the other side, I am heavy, somber and sometimes over-responsible. Sometimes they collide inside me and that too is disorienting.

But in this particular moment in history, normal life is also not quite normal. Sands continue to shift, kids’ schedules continue to change, and I am looking for the anchor when I feel unmoored.

I am fighting today to remember that one of the best things I can do is carry the lessons from the darker, heavier side into the lighter spaces where I can see through the layers of all “normal” life’s demands and find what really matters for today. Loving God, loving my neighbor, my children…and being loved.

A Letter from a Parent to Teachers in the time of COVID-19

The school year started with all the assumptions we make about how life is going to go.

She’ll go to school, she’ll make more friends, the teachers will work their magic, I will have some breathing room for myself, repeat for nine months. At the end of the year, my child will have learned whatever she’s supposed to learn for her grade level and I’ll say thank you to the teachers with a gift card, and see you in the Fall!

Come March 2020 and the notice of shutdown of school campuses due to COVID-19.

I realized in an instant that I didn’t know how to work a teacher’s magic. In fact, I was humbled to learn it’s not just magic. It’s a freaking ton of hard work, tenacity, commitment to the kids, commitment to (and patience with!) the families, incredible flexibility with each child’s unique temperament, iron stomach for politics, creativity, and an understanding of their own worth as powerful shapers of future generations even when the majority of people take a teacher’s job so much for granted.

With all the other parents, I mainly fumbled and sighed and cried my way through the first few weeks of “homeschooling.” But our amazing principal and teachers showed up to our kids and our families with a revamped plan that must’ve kept them up all hours of the night to create (and re-create). Led in that spirit, my first grader didn’t seem to bat an eyelash at all the changes. She never melted down, never complained, only remarked now and then that she missed seeing and hugging her friends and teachers. But her teachers stayed positive, engaged, affectionate, appropriately strict, and very much at the helm.

As painfully long as some of the days were with managing kids at home all day every day with distance learning, I got to see through the Zoom classes how a teacher brings a group of children together in a spirit of hope and community with an unshakable focus on continuing growth and education. I got to know my daughter’s classmates and their parents. I got to know my own child better – how she thinks, how she works through struggles, what sparks her to speak up, what inhibits her, what excites her, what makes her sad. I got to know those things about myself better as a parent as well.

By the last week of school, I finally felt surprisingly settled into the new rhythm, as exhausting as all the demands were. And then it was time to wrap up the school year. There was a winding down of online coursework, but there could be none of the on-campus celebratory end-of-year activities. There was a drive-by the school to wave to teachers and staff, where I went to shout “Thank you!!”out the window and found myself trying not to wail with sobs instead. There was a brief pickup of classroom materials and a side hug with her teacher after asking permission, adjusting her mask and dousing her in hand sanitizer. Emotions were at times muted, at times surprisingly acute, mostly confusing.

Then came the final class Zoom meetings. In a talent show on the second-to-last day, another little girl in class said she had a song to sing about saying good-bye but how everyone remains in each other’s hearts. It was off-key and acapella, but at the end of her song, a little boy then burst into sobs. I looked over at my daughter and she was quietly fighting back her tears. It was her first sign of sad emotion since the quarantine started. I wrapped my arms around her, she turned off her video, and waited to compose herself before getting back into the Zoom meeting. She said they were just happy tears.

Today. The final day of school. The online class talent show finished up, and it was time for all the children and their teacher to say good-bye. They all clasped their hands together and pumped their fists back and forth from their chest to the computer screen, “sending love” as their teacher called it. My daughter stayed on until the last minute, as one by one each little square for each classmate’s face disappeared from the virtual classroom. She was already blinking back tears but as the meeting ended, she buried herself in my arms, and we were both crying together.

This year, our kids lost so much. But in this mysterious, imperfect, painful, beautiful, terrible, magical way, we have also gained so much. And teachers and school staff, I now know that you are the most hard-working and the most magical people I know. We did it, and we did it together, but you led the way with your grit and your heart. Our family is sending you all our love.

When an Over-responsible Caregiver Learns a Life Lesson from a 5 Year Old

I have in recent weeks come up against my limits at times of what I can give to others and accomplish in the course of a day, and it hasn’t always been a graceful acceptance of those limits. I have instead resented them, and then learned the harder way to heed them and their inherent God-given wisdom rather than slam myself up against them to see if they will budge (they won’t, not much anyhow).

It can be a double-edged sword, this tremendous pride and meaning we caregivers find in being so good at seeing the needs of others and going to them with openness to help meet those needs. This characteristic is both its own reward and its own potential enemy – precisely because we are so good at it and there is always more need. When I find myself holding too tightly to my caregiver persona to be my personal motivator and satisfier, there always inevitably comes a point where I am hit with my finitude, and either become embittered or humbled by it. Which response I choose will set me on a trajectory one way or another.

Choosing to become embittered may initially make me seem stronger and tougher, but in the long haul my heart only grows empty and hard. Digging my heels into the role when I have in fact hit my limits has only led to resenting others, and ultimately judging myself rather than listening to myself when I feel my own needs emerge. I become more a shell of a caregiver than true substance.

Choosing humility frees my identity from the need to always be (perceived as) the strong one for others. It allows me to value myself in all my strengths and limitations, and gently voice rather than demand what it is I need. It allows me to rest, allows me to receive help, and most importantly allows me to love and receive love based on who we all are, not what we all do or need to do.

My 5 year old daughter showed me in one simple exchange how much I had lost sight of what’s most important in my perspective as a caregiver, and invited me back into the beauty of it.

“Mommy, what is a privilege?”

“Well, it’s something that you are so lucky to be able to do, something not everyone gets to do. It’s different from a responsibility, which is something you have to do.”

“So… a privilege is like how you get to be a Mommy to me and Kayla?”

She stopped me in my tracks and showed me the change of heart that I needed. She wasn’t looking at an incomplete checklist of all my responsibilities. She was looking at our relationship.

“Yes honey. It is a privilege to be a Mommy to you and Kayla. It is a privilege.”

 

The Elusive Work-Life Balance: On Self-Compassion

I’ve started a separate blog for my nursing-related topics, as my writing on nursing is beginning to take on a momentum of its own. Many of the original posts are lifted from this site, but I’m adding new content every 1-2 weeks.

My latest post is on the elusiveness of the work-life balance as a mother and nurse, and the role of self-compassion when that balance feels near impossible to find:

http://heartofnursing.blog/2017/05/30/work-life-balance-self-compassion/

Staying in the Hard Thing: When Glory becomes Gritty

I seem to live in a perpetually tired state nowadays. If I’m looking for the easiest, most honest response to “How are you?” my default answer will be, “I’m tired.” Tired as a mom of two littles. Tired as a nurse to critically ill children. Friends and coworkers nod in empathy, and praise Jesus for all things coffee. It sometimes feels as though we are a people living collectively on the edge of burnout. It begs the question, how do we endure in the hard thing?

I’m not referring to acute crises. That’s its own animal, and I am guessing most everyone has a similar approach to toughing out emergency situations, which typically throw people into sheer survival mode. Bury the debilitating emotions to process later. Do the immediate, most important tasks at hand. Absolutely let the non-essentials slide. Lean on your village. Fall on your knees in prayer. Do each thing as it comes, one thing at a time.

The hard thing I’m thinking of is the hard thing for the long run that you never imagined would be such a hard thing. In fact, you thought it would be the glorious thing: Start your own business, write and publish a book, get married, raise children, work in a job you feel passionate about, become renowned in your field. We set out with a sense of calling, not completely naïve, but confident and motivated enough to choose the dream. The business. The book. The person(s). The career. The glory of a very real and truly beautiful dream.

So what are we to do when the glory becomes gritty? I dreamt about one day marrying a man who had a tremendous heart for ministering to people. The dream came true, and then I found myself crying out to the Lord in tears, “I can’t keep up with his heart! I can’t do this.” When I was first exposed to pediatric ICU nursing, I knew right away this was where I belonged and wanted to be. It was so deeply personal and meaningful. But the experience has not been without moments of tremendous struggle and doubt. I didn’t know it involved all the things it involves. I didn’t know it would make me feel all the things I feel. And I didn’t know it would make me fight so hard to feel anything at all some days. When I became pregnant, I dreamt about the sweet relationship I wanted to cultivate with my children. I didn’t know what to do with the fact that I felt dull, sad and guilty in the first few hours after giving birth to my first child. I have constantly surprised myself at how angry and selfish I can choose to be as a mother. What do we do with our disappointment or disillusionment when glory becomes gritty? How do we stay in the hard thing?

Glory becomes gritty, and this can be bewildering and disorienting. Part of this, I believe, is because in the beginning, we chase the glory because we are blinded by the glory itself. This is not a cynical statement; it’s just the nature of dreams. Maybe we need some initial blindness to even have enough courage to start the pursuit. Our dreams and ideals launch us out of inertia and felt mediocrity, and they carry us when little else can. They are beautiful and often God-given. But in an Instagram-inspired world, the glory can blind us to the fact that these are also hard things. We’ve all seen the photos: a Pinterest-perfect small business grand opening, a well-designed book display on release day, hugely romantic wedding pictures, adorable shots of kids in their Easter best smiling ear-to-ear while hopped up on way too much chocolate, a beautiful portrait of a nurse quietly holding a patient’s hand with reciprocated expressions of gratitude, an executive in his/her prime delivering an impressive speech at a podium. In contrast, there is very little to inform us of the down sides outside of direct experience. The gritty aspects of living out our dreams can catch us by surprise all the more because of the blindness we had in the early days. Perhaps this is why Jesus warned us,

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Luke 14:28-29

We may start to ask ourselves, “Do I have enough in me to see this through the way I originally hoped?” In my most exhausted, discouraged moments, I would try to remind myself, “I chose this!” I chose motherhood. I chose PICU nursing. But somehow that blanket self-motivation has been insufficient and almost even self-blaming. For how could we have known all of what we were choosing? We chose the romanticized version of the story in the beginning, didn’t we? It’s always the glorious path we want and hope for. But people change, unforeseeable situations arise, and they change people – including us – in unforeseeable ways. I’m beginning to realize, it’s not so much about “I chose this” as it is, “I continue to choose this, all of this, today.” I am not the same woman my husband chose to marry over a decade ago. I am quite certain I am not who he envisioned I’d be at this stage. This is not about my insecurities; it’s about every person’s inability to foresee the future. He is choosing me now, and I him. I am choosing my children now, and I will choose them when they change on me again and again in all the years to come. I am choosing PICU nursing for what it has shown itself to be now, and I will continue to do so for as long as my life is called to that ministry.

The discovery of how un-glorious, monotonous, or outright excruciatingly painful the hard thing can be in the trenches, may temper the glory, but it can actually magnify the meaning if you can push through. The meaning in the everyday moments may not become readily apparent until the crisis moments show up. I watched my patient and her parents endure an agonizing six-hour delay of her surgery to remove a tumor. Six extra tortuous hours of telling a very hungry toddler trapped in the hospital that she cannot eat. This is agony for any parent of a healthy child on a normal day. For parents bearing crisis-level stress, it is an indescribable test of patience and longsuffering. Whimpers and occasional whining became intermittent screaming and kicking in the last hour. The parents shut their eyes tight and clenched their jaws with grit. And then, I beheld the glory. In between screaming sessions, the little girl would say, “I love you, Mommy. And you love me too.” The mommy’s reply was always the same, “I love you more than anything.” The little girl lying next to her daddy in bed would occasionally call out, “Mommy?” The exhausted mommy’s reply was always the same, “I am always here for you.” There was no question they had a long-established foundation of love and commitment. I could imagine these exchanges practiced in their home in their everyday mundane; the parents never would have imagined they were practicing for this crisis moment in the hospital. The beauty of their shared love with their child was nothing short of glorious, in the grittiest situation they could find themselves in. Staying in the hard things now helps us stay in hard things for the future. We develop muscles of perseverance, flexibility, hope, perspective, faith, and deep love.

On this side of heaven, some things should be hard. If everyone has written a book or started a small business, then the meaning of each has by default decreased exponentially. I don’t want to feel as though it’s easy to take care of critically ill children and their parents, or else my heart has forgotten how to be moved by important issues. Some hard things should be hard, as we are people who still open our hearts to dream, hope, and care in an imperfect, fallen world. It is our gritty longing for Heaven, groaning quite frankly against the Hell we may see.

For Jesus, God in the flesh, glory became gritty as He walked amongst us and walked His final steps on a dusty road to a cross – for the love of others and the glory of God. We look to Him.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

On Thinking Small, Dreaming Big, and Being Loved

It is a strange thing to be profoundly loved, to know you have been created for a high purpose to God’s glory, and to also be acutely aware that your life is fleeting, a drop in the bucket at best, even if lived out to 80, 90, 100 really good years.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.” Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

These are long, hidden days where the monotony can cloud over me in a mind-numbing fog of back and forth between food prep in the kitchen (because why are we eating everything and nothing ALL DAY LONG) and oft-feigned excitement about playing hours of make-believe in the living room. I’ve got a heart full of dreams that may or may not come to pass. I appreciate the encouragement to pursue them, and pursue them I will, but I’m not convinced they are guaranteed if I just believe and work hard enough at it all. I’ve got vision and desire to be involved in changing the world, but some days I can barely manage my impatience with my kids. I am brought down from the clouds over and over, to right here, right now, change starts here.

I’m fully known and seen and significant, and yet I am small and fleeting like the grass, here one day and gone the next. If my work in a pediatric ICU has taught me anything, it has taught me this: Nothing about my life is a given, and the world goes on without me. I may live 95 years and leave a legacy as a thought-provoking author with phenomenal children who will be lights in their generation. I may live just one more month and all my thoughts of book writing, all my dreams for my children, all my vision to be a part of world-changing work could die with me in a freak accident. It’s not to be morbid, it’s to say that I matter and I don’t all in the same breath, and there’s something strangely liberating about both sides of that coin. I am restless against all my constraints – the incessant duties of motherhood, the indiscriminate nature of potential disease and tragedy, the maddening inertia of writer’s block. But one day my kids will leave the nest, and one day someone else could write the book, probably better. It wouldn’t mean I was loved less or tasked with any lesser purpose. It would just be my kids’ time to go, and someone else’s time to realize an important dream.

At the end of the day, what I realize is this.

Nothing is owed to me, but grace has been given for today.

So I’ll play make-believe and stack blocks, and I’ll make the effort over and over to not send a message that the passions of my little ones are any less significant than my own. And I’ll write, and dream, and if there is a God-ordained time for some fruition of these seeds in my heart, then it will be from Him and for Him.

When You Think of Me

To each of my girls, ages 1 and 3:

Our days run into each other with repetition and predictability. Wake up, eat cereal, play, make ourselves presentable, drop you off at school, pick you up, eat, play, bathe, watch TV, play make-believe, read books, wrestle, argue over toys, argue over snacks, cleanup time, evening meltdown, Bible stories, snuggles, sleep. Every day I grow restless over the humdrum, but every night I can’t get enough of the cuddles and try to hold on to your baby-like features just a little bit longer. Our days don’t change much but you do, somehow, in secret when I’m not looking. You’re thinking about things more. You remember things more. I can’t help but wonder what you are starting to make of yourself, of me, of relationships, of God. Everyone says the mother-daughter dynamic is complicated. Are we really doomed?

I want you to think of me as gentle, but oh the times when my voice is harsh. I want you to think of me as steadfast, but oh the times I’m tipped over the edge without forewarning. All of my flesh wants you to think of me as the perfect mom, but there is nothing like the refining fire of family in constant proximity in its ability to reveal every shortcoming.

But I heard you ask a question the other day. I know you heard and learned it from me, and it gives my heart so much hope.

“Will you forgive me?”

When you think of me, if you think of good things, then thank Jesus, our best model of love and grace. But what I really want is for you to think of me as a Mama who asks for your forgiveness.

When Mama asks for forgiveness, it means we can be confident forgiveness is a thing. There is real forgiveness to be granted for real sin. Sometimes your Daddy, meaning so well, excuses Mama’s sin by saying Mama’s just had a long day. The thing is, every day is a long day for an innately selfish soul asked to die to herself to serve others over and over and over again in the context of parenthood. It is not ok for me to justify my sin by saying I had a long day. My call is to love and serve you as Christ has loved and served me. When I fail, my confidence in coming to you for forgiveness is the confidence that forgiveness exists in fullness and power, because Christ first forgave us.

When Mama asks for forgiveness, it means Mama is not perfect, and my lack of perfect will hurt you. It means you are worth enough for Mama to learn to lay down my pride and defensiveness and propensity for self-justification in order to tenderly acknowledge that the state of your heart matters, so much.

When Mama asks for forgiveness, it means Mama needs your forgiveness to have a whole and free heart. We were made for love, and you and I were given to each other to love as only a Mama and her little girl can love. I need your forgiveness to live an unhindered life with you the way we were intended to live. When forgiveness enters in, we are not doomed.

When Mama asks for forgiveness, it means Mama wants you to know Jesus. For you to lay down your own heart to show me love when I have hurt you badly, you have to know the One who laid His heart down for you that way first. That’s the real thing.

Living in the house of grace is where we can live free. You and I are going to go through our storms but I want to live this life with you.

An Upheaval of Fundamentals

It was the most common phrase people would say to me when they saw me pregnant with the first, and again with the second. “Your life is going to change when you have the baby.” “The second one is a game-changer.” Change was glaringly obvious as I felt the growing fetus sap my energy away, as I saw baby items invade my home, as I found myself thinking and reading about all things baby. I knew I’d be tired. I knew I’d be busy. I knew my home would look different. I knew I’d have tremendous responsibility like never before.

It’s the absolute shaking up of all my core fundamentals, though, that I never really saw coming. I didn’t expect to find myself so utterly exposed by becoming a parent – what I value so fiercely at the core of me; how I react when those values are challenged; how my seemingly calm demeanor can rise and fall like a tidal wave with deep love and deep resentment within minutes; what my own longings have been and still are as a child to my own parents; and ultimately where I place all my hope and peace for myself and my precious flesh and blood.

My fundamentals as an introvert have been shaken up. I love and need time alone to recharge. Beyond that, in my alone time, I need clarity of mind to explore and articulate my always-busy thought life, through writing and through deep conversations with trusted friends. But time alone now comes down to the kids’ nap times, and even then, it is typically overtaken by never-completed housework, bare-bones meal planning, or zoning out because I can’t seem to focus on anything to save my life. Deep conversations with friends are rare, as the majority of conversations are interrupted by “Oh C, don’t touch that! Oh honey, you want to open Mommy’s water bottle? Oh sweetie, you need a diaper change. Oh really, your blanket has Minnie Mouse on it?? That’s so exciting!” I’m sorry, friend, what were you saying? It’s ok, I’ve lost my train of thought too.

My fundamentals as a neat freak have been shaken up. Toys, poop, spit-up, personal clutter that I don’t have time to put away. I never knew how closely I tied a sense of self-respect with a clean home.

My fundamentals as the child to my parents have been shaken up. Becoming a parent brings to the surface all my memories and feelings about my own upbringing. I love my parents and will never fully realize all the love, sacrifice and hard work they poured into me. But we are broken people, all of us. We’ve all got our issues. And nothing brings them to light like becoming a parent myself.

My fundamentals as a wife have been shaken up. I thought I knew how to share life, how to love and joyfully serve my husband, how to receive his service towards me. But when I’m at the end of my rope after a long day of managing diapers and tantrums and meals and discipline and “Mommy Mommy Mommy” and picking up the toys that were just put away 20 minutes ago and 20 minutes before that, how do I really feel about the distribution of housework? I used to espouse all kinds of convictions about putting husband before kids, but most days, the practical reality is that I leave him to fend for himself and struggle to even give my leftovers because then what is leftover for me? The great irony is, he offers to serve me and give me time off, and then I struggle deeply to receive this from him. Did no one warn me of this, or was I just that naïve and oblivious?

My fundamentals as one who believes in and loves a gracious God revealed to us through Jesus….even those have been shaken up. Not in the sense that I doubt His existence. But in the sense that I used to measure my own convictions by how consistently I spent these deep times in prayer and worship and Bible reading, pouring out my heart of hearts and quietly, fully, receiving His love and encouragement. I used to measure my convictions by how active I was in social justice issues, being involved in caring for the homeless, the poor, the victims of human trafficking. These days, my prayer life is scattered because I hardly know where to begin, and once I’ve begun, my brief alone time is gone. My involvement in the world has shrunk exponentially to the walls of my home, for the most part. How deep is my understanding of the grace of God? He is pleased with me, not because I’ve managed to keep up all my spiritual disciplines and all my social justice involvement and all my perfect modeling of a godly Christian woman (please note the sarcasm!) to my girls. He is pleased with me because He loved me before I even knew Him, before I ever chose to acknowledge Him much less try to follow Him. He is pleased with me because Jesus has already taken all my guilt and shame, and doesn’t need my good works to ensure His favor. His grace and love abound here in all my shaken-up fundamentals.

Given all of this, it is an amazing and profound gift to be able to still say that it’s worth it. All of it. These little humans who can overturn all my fundamentals and make me struggle so deeply on a daily basis, they possess such beauty and wonder that they are still worth all of it. What a testimony to the love of God our Father for us. The Creator and King of the Universe coming down from His throne in Jesus to live among us, to feel all that we feel, to serve us, to wash our feet, to die a horrific death in our stead, because this is who He is, this is how beautiful and loving and gracious He is, and this is how much He felt we were worth it. How amazing. These little humans upheave all my fundamentals, and in doing so, they show me a greater glimpse of God. Yes, it’s worth it.

for comfort

To my sweet girls,

Almost every day, I look at each of you and can still hardly believe that I am a mother. I know my birthday is coming and the number isn’t getting any smaller. People may look at the number and think I should have had you both ten years ago. But I feel as though I should be wiser at this age, or as wise as someone at least ten years beyond me, before I can feel like a legitimate mom. When I watch the world news and see what I see at my workplace, the responsibility to nurture and guide you through this crazy world feels so daunting. Some days, I wish I could keep you in this innocent baby and toddler stage forever. Somehow it feels safer for us all that way.

There is something about the way you each look at me. Your inherent recognition that I and your Daddy are more than just your primary caregivers. We are connected in a way that goes unspeakably deeper than all the shared days and nights under the same roof. You lived inside of me, your heart and lungs and brain and fingers and toes grew inside of me until I could see that you were in fact a whole and living person, all at once unique from me but absolutely connected to me in every sense of the word. We are family, the four of us. We will learn from each other how to have healthy relationships, God-willing. We will learn respect and hurt and forgiveness and sharing and boundaries and togetherness and individuality. We will learn love and the depths of joy and pain that come together with love. We will learn about Jesus and struggle through the hard questions about God and life together. I’m on this journey with you, sweet girls. I still can hardly believe that I am on this journey with you as your mama.

I took care of a patient the other day that made me think so much of both of you. Through the partially closed blinds, I watched her mama sway, slowly back and forth, holding her baby so tenderly with all the love and ache that could not be contained by a hospital room for a precious sick baby. The doctor’s orders said it was ok to put the baby at mama’s breast for comfort. For comfort. They meant for the baby but it was for mama too. I knew she couldn’t put her baby down. She needed to hold her. She needed to comfort her. I couldn’t stay in the room. I didn’t know how to help prepare a mama for the hardest days ahead without falling apart myself. I thought of both of you girls and wanted to hold you both to my breast so tightly that night. For comfort.

I want you to know, I am your mama, but I am not your Savior. I won’t be here on this earth forever with you. There will be days, perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently, when I cannot hold you to my breast for comfort. I want you to know Jesus, sweet girls. Our Heavenly Father gave up His Son, gave up His only Son, to take our suffering and our death, so that all the hurt you will experience from within and from with-out in the course of your life, will one day be wiped away in the perfection and ultimate healing of Heaven. I want you to know the One who will always love you perfectly when I fail you. I want you to know the One who will teach us to love and forgive each other when we have hurt each other. I want you to know the One whose tender and strong hands put your heart and lungs and fingers and toes together in my womb with a skill that no accidental science could ever dictate. This is Love who put you together. I want you to know Him, sweet girls. He knows you and loves you so much. He is your forever Comfort. I want to take you to my breast and bring you to Him. This is what I want more than anything to do for you as your mama. For comfort. Because He is good. He is so, so good.