Friday, September 10, 2010

Still Holding My Breath

I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful advice you have sent me already. There seems to be a theme among your words: Take every thought captive. Thank you for not only reminding me of the importance of this but that I am not the only one who struggles in this way. And thank you for pointing me back toward my Jesus, my comforter and the true source of my joy.

I was just in tears a moment ago trying to express to my husband that I've been struggling lately. I hesitate to talk openly about this because I don't fully trust my emotions right now. I just had a baby and I am more than sleep deprived so tears come easily these days. I am sure many of you can relate. But this is different. I think my struggle is real. I am not just tired and hormonal. I'm, well, I think I'm scared.

I have come to the realization that I am still holding my breath.

Since Colton was born I've experienced a revival almost. The joy that accompanied his birth breathed life back into me. He is so precious and small and cute. He has the fattest little cheeks that puddle on his shoulders. This week he smiled a real smile for the first time and I felt my heart melt. I just love those little magical moments.

But I find myself not enjoying them like I should.

Recently I spent three days in the hospital with Colt. He woke up with a rash of blisters on his cheek and a swollen eye so I took him to his pediatrician to make sure he was okay. He was only four weeks old so I was wanted to err on the side of caution. But what I thought would be a quick appointment ending with a prescription for some topical ointment of some kind became three miserable days in Children's Hospital testing Colt for HSV.

It was not fun at all. Herpes in infants can be life threatening so we had to do the tests for Colt's protection which included tapping his spinal fluid (twice because the first time was unsuccessful) to test for the virus and starting him on an antiviral that is given through an IV, an IV that took five attempts to finally get, in a vein in his foot that failed within 12 hours. Did I mention that the medication takes an hour to administer (every eight hours) and it hurts as it goes in? My poor little guy was not a happy camper and neither was I.

In the end it turned out not to be HSV praise the Lord. We never did find out exactly what caused the rash of blisters on his face. They sent us home with a clean bill of health. We were exhausted but relieved and Colt seemed no worse for the wear. Babies are amazingly resilient.

I, on the other hand, am less so. For days I watched him like a hawk in case the rash showed up again or he exhibited signs of illness. It took a while for my anxiety to lessen and when the fog finally cleared I realized something...

Since the moment I got pregnant with Colton I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I held my breath through the entire pregnancy praying nothing bad would happen but bracing myself for the worst. I thought that when he was born I would be able to breath again. But I still couldn't.

I was scared those three days in the hospital most definitely, but what I realized is that I am scared pretty much all the time. I don't walk around freaking out, but inside I am bracing myself for the impending tragedy, whatever it is.

I have never struggled like this before. I have never been a paranoid or fearful person. I don't know what to do with these feelings. Especially when I know they are robbing me of my joy with my son.

I need advice.

I know how fast the time goes. This season with Colt is going to be over before I know it and I don't want to miss is, I really don't. I want to soak it in and enjoy it without fear and anxiety. I want to be in spit-up covered bliss (my little guy spits up SO MUCH-any advice how to help him spit up less in frequency and quantity?). I want to look back on this time and know that I was fully present. Loving Colt is easy. He is irresistible. But loving him freely without the baggage is turning out to be a real challenge for me.

How do I do it?

Share your wisdom with me please. Feel free to leave advice as a comment. I'll take it to heart.


  1. Oh my, it pains me to read this post almost. I can so imagine what you are going through....though I don't....yet. I think those thoughts are always there. For those of us who know the pain of losing a baby(ies), we would be inhuman to not have thoughts like that. I know that after Chase died, I had such a traumatic experience that somehow, my mind did not "wander" to places I would not let it. There were times that I could not let back into my brain yet and I would not let myself think of them...until I was ready. What I learned from that was that I *can* control my thoughts. As impossible as that may seem sometimes, I can control them and not think of that "pink elephant" so to speak. I feel that made me stronger and helped me through my grief. I was able to remember things as I let myself and deal with them and heal with them when it was time.
    The fears you have are true. Of course you have them. I still check my kids' chest when they are sleeping....making sure it rises and falls with each breath....and I did that before we lost Chase. I can only imagine how I will be when we finally bring another one home. I read your post with baited (sp?) breath hoping you had a happy end to it. But you will. You obviously love Colton more than you can probably handle but you two will grow together. I know you enjoy being a mom and you will be and are a great one to Colt, too. I wish I could tell you more from experience but looks like you will be teaching me on this one. I'm so happy for you Rachel. Colton is absolutely beautiful and Dustin looks like an awesome big brother! Hugs to you and your family.


  2. I can't speak to your experience, but when trying to control my thought life, I find repeated, "rote" prayer to be very helpful. Also: reading the Psalms. Before Julia was born, I was very afraid of going back to the dark place I found myself in, and by coincidence, started using the Book of Common Prayer for devotionals. Reading the assigned Psalms each day (about 3-4 a day) and doing the morning or evening devotional prayers enough that I memorized them helped a lot. I had words of scripture memorized and strong prayers on my lips. I murmured them when I was in labor, or nursing in the middle of the night. They sustained me.
    I think speaking God's truth and promise into your darkness and fear will help. Affirming your faith in God's prescence and provision will help. I find the emotion and rawness of the Psalms so affirming when I am despairing and fearful--the Psalmists are so often right there with me.
    May God cover you with his protection.

  3. Oh Rachel. You know what - you wrote a post on fear and the lies we believe as a result of our fear that has stuck with me. I can't remember how far back but it was huge for me.

    Feeling like the other shoe is going to drop- I can totally relate and have had the same exact thoughts and fears of not enjoying my baby boy like I should. I wish I had something profound to say, but all I know to do is surrender my thoughts everyday, often more than once to God. I remember the early days after he was born I was intensely fearful that he would just stop breathing. I mean it was bad. I was terrified all the time. And slowly this whole mommy thing is getting a little easier (I feel like that's the wrong word, but I hope you know what I mean) and I am not *as* fearful as I once was.

    I have to make myself, consciously decide that today (everyday) I will enjoy him. Every spit-up, every smile, every laughter. And at the end of the day nothing I can do will ever change what might happen. NOT having control in itself if a scary thought, but it's so silly to think we do have control, and I so wish I did.

    Just give yourself time, Rachel. And be easy on yourself. Mothering a healthy baby after losing your girls is not the same as mothering your first child Dustin. It just can't be. You are different, your life is different, and your innocence is gone.

    I wish so much that I could give you a real hug but please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Words cannot tell you how thankful I am for you, your blog, your girls and your willingness to share your story.


    ps- Joseph is also huge on spitting up, and I mean HUGE. (yuck!) and I am solely nursing, so if you find any tips, feel free to pass them along :)

  4. Hi, Rachel. I cannot speak from experience, but here are a couple of blogs that I encourage you to check out...

    Ashley McWhorter

  5. I think the fear is a normal thing after loss. I know I'll be a little more fearful once our little one arrives. I can't really tell you how to do it. Just keep relying on God. He's the only One I know of that can get you through anything.

    Do they think Colt has reflux?

  6. Rachel, to a certain extent, I know how you feel, as I would describe myself as hypervigilant in overseeing the saftey of my son. I can only imagine it is even more difficult sleep-deprived with an infant, let alone one who has already been hospitalized, poor litttle guy. Hang in there, I wish I had some advice for you, just know you are in my thoughts, and here if you want to talk through email, or otherwise.
    As far as the spit-up, he may have reflux. You could ask your ped. if he's too young to put a wedge pillow under his mattress (if he's even in a crib?), or elevate him somehow if it's reflux. Or, it could be something you're eating if you're nursing, or he could be intolerant of the formula if you're not. You've probably thought of those things, but that's all I've got for you.

  7. I feel you girl! I know the agony of watching stick after stick on your sweet little baby, the crying and nothing you can do! I know the days in the hospital not having any idea what is going on, and the relief you feel on the way home from the hospital. Also the painful medications! All we do is live every day as joy filled as we can because for us it really may be the last one. I pretty much just forget that all the bad is right around the last and next corner! I don't know what to tell you except time will help and of course prayer! Knowing God is in control and we have little to do with the timing of the events in our lives helps me a little! I love you Rachel!

    Chelsea Marshall


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