Saturday, January 29, 2011


As I transitioned into motherhood, there were a lot of things that I didn't expect -- blessings that left me speechless with gratitude.

I didn't expect to have a pregnancy free of complications.

I didn't expect to have a straightforward, relatively easy birth.

I didn't expect to have a healthy, beautiful son (beautiful in our eyes, anyway!).

It's not that I expected a horrible pregnancy and a sickly child -- but I didn't want to assume that everything would be easy, and I was determined to give all of those expectations to God. I wanted a natural birth so badly, but in a hospital with a C-section rate nearing 40%, I knew there was a possibility that everything wouldn't be "perfect." But whatever happened would be God's will, so I stopped praying for the birth I wanted, and asked instead for grace and contentment no matter what happened. And it happened as I had hoped; only a few details were different than my "ideal," and I can look back with joy and gratitude on the whole experience.

But what I didn't realize was that I did have expectations that I hadn't given to the Lord.

I expected nursing to go well -- not perfectly, but well.

I expected a leisurely two weeks of resting and enjoying our newborn.

I expected to give away the sample can of formula that the hospital gave us.

I had read and researched, and I knew how nursing was supposed to be -- I knew it didn't just come "naturally" (at least for most people), but I thought I was ready to handle any troubleshooting. When I saw our little man's tongue a few hours after birth, I suspected tongue-tie. Not having had the opportunity to examine many infant tongues, though, I thought I was probably wrong. I wasn't. The pain was horrible, and the tongue-tie also prevented our little man from feeding well and getting the nutrition he needed.

And then, on the day we were discharged, little man's bilirubin levels were a touch high. Jaundice makes infants extra sleepy, which certainly hadn't helped with nursing. So after our discharge from the hospital, we had three consecutive days of early morning blood tests and doctor's visits. There went my peaceful time of rest following the birth! And when the levels didn't go down after two days (and nursing consisted of a screaming, arch-backed infant and a very frustrated mother), I listened to our pediatrician and opened that can of formula.

I had been so ready to give up my pregnancy and birth to the Lord, but I didn't realize that I was holding back so much! I was frustrated, emotional, and exhausted. I was terrified that supplementing would ruin all chances of nursing, which was something I was dedicated to doing. Nothing seemed to be going right (because it wasn't going my way).

But little by little, by God's grace and with a great deal of help and perspective from my husband, I began to drop my expectations and see God's hand in our situation. That "evil" formula got rid of the jaundice in no time flat, which meant we didn't need more serious treatment. The nursing gradually improved, and he's been off formula completely for several weeks. And while the tongue-tie can't be fixed until he's two months old, he's healthy and I'm in a lot less pain.

And now, at last, I'm grateful. Grateful that I found out about tongue-tie "by chance" on a blog I don't normally read. Grateful that formula gave us the chance to get back on our feet. Grateful that he can nurse in spite of that faulty frenulum. Grateful that God didn't give me everything I expected, forcing me to seek Him rather than rely on myself.

I wish I had trusted Him from the beginning, rather than trying to rely on my feeble (read "nonexistent") resources. Our challenges certainly aren't over, and every aspect of learning about this new little person is bewildering. But I have to remind myself that when God sends challenges, He also grants the grace to deal with them -- and that grace is sufficient for me!


  1. Such a touching post full of wise observations. My daughter was jaundiced too. Trying to nurse in the beginning was AWFUL. I'd cry and cry that we couldn't "get it right.". But it got so much better!

    God is faithful in all things. Thank you for the reminder!

  2. Shannon,
    Your nursing experience sounds almost identical to mine (which I plan to blog about shortly). Amelia was tongue-tied, but they clipped it when she was a week old. How come they won't clip Little Man's? I also had to give her formula because of suspected jaundice and hated every second of it.
    Nursing is great now, but was SO difficult at first. However, I've concluded that it seems to be that way for everyone!

    Good for you for keeping it up!

  3. I am so glad it is working out for you! I had a lot of problems getting my daughter to nurse as well. I had never expected it to be so challenging. I broke down a few times (yeah, like weeping in front of the nurse when I finally consented to use a bottle for her jaundice. It worked out in the end though. For Katherine's problem I didn't have to use formula, but using a bottle was such a let down. I was so worried I would be a slave to the pump for her whole infancy. However, she got over it in a couple of weeks.

    God knows what we need!

  4. Wow, so humbling! Thank you for sharing!


    Laura Lee

  5. Wow, it's so encouraging to hear that these issues are more "normal" than I thought, and that they do go away! It's so overwhelming in the moment -- especially since it's so vitally linked to your child's health, and it seems like something that should just *work*.

    Keri, that's crazy how similar our situations were! Our pediatrician said that an ear/nose/throat doctor wouldn't clip Little Man's frenulum until he was 2 months because of the risk of infection (or rather, how dangerous an infection can be at less than two months). I was really hoping to do it earlier (which I think is more normal, and I've never heard of it being a problem), but since things have been going okay we decided to just wait. When we brought it up, I was really hoping he'd just say, "Oh yes, let me take care of that for you right away!" :-) I really look forward to reading your story!

    Thank you so much for your encouragement -- it's very timely! :-)


  6. Though I am not married and so therefore have not had children, I was so encouraged to read your honesty in this post dear. :) As an older girl still waiting for God's work in the area of marriage and a family of my own, I must daily trust Him in different area's of my life. :)

    I heard somewhere that married woman must learn lessons from the Lord but that we as single woman must learn those very similar lessons (of trusting the Lord and leaving things in His hands, etc.) the same as the married women. ;) I have found this both to be true and a comfort. :)

    So though I was quite sorry to hear of your struggles dear Shannon, I was blessed to hear of how God worked in this area in your life. :) And I am so glad to hear that things are starting to get better for you and little man and will pray that they continue to do better for you. :) Congrats on your sweet little one and may God give you guidance, strength, and comfort for the days and weeks ahead.

    Blessings and Hugs!
    In Christ,

  7. This is just a big old heartfelt thank you from your loving sister!

    In an odd way it's an encouragement to know that when you get married all the struggles don't go away. And that the lessons in patience, contentment, and learning to trust on Him are lessons that will be useful in the future (although I will probably have to learn them again ;D ).

    Your honesty in showing us how God has been working in your life, really brought tears to my eyes.

    Thank you for being willing to share!

    Tiffany (beloved sister and devoted aunt!)

  8. Shannon,this blog entry has touched my heart more than you'll ever know. Thank you for your thoughts.

    I've had three children, so far. I've had a nursing challenge in some way each time. I had been though it all with the first two and had persevered,especially with a very little girl who is well below the charts even now. With my third baby I was confident I would nurse him well. Something went wrong after he was born and I started losing my milk. He was under 5 1bs and I had to supplement. At two weeks we almost lost him due to a severe kidney infection. I tried everything to maintain nursing, but couldn't. I was desperate,panicky and devastated. I did NOT want to give up. I wanted to nurse him so bad. At three months I went fully with formula. I had such a hard time letting the Lord have this area of my life. I didn't know how hard I was holding on to MY desires. I am thankful for the options that are out there when there is a need as this. I always threw out the cans offered to me,but this time was different. I have a beautiful 15 month old son who did well on formula. It was not how I planned,but it was His best this time around. I learned some hard lessons in trusting. I would do whatever is needed to make my baby healthy and I would use formula again if needed. My husband said that I was making nursing more important than the baby that I had in my arms(saved from the potential of death). I am truly thankful. His best is always best.

    May you be encouraged. Congratulations on your little blessing. He is handsomely beautiful.
    ~Shannalee from S&S forum

  9. Shannon, thanks for sharing how God has shown grace to you! Although I had no problems nursing my son, I do remember that learning curve of first-time nursing, and wondering if you're doing everything right -- and to add any problems on top of that must be so emotionally draining! Even though it is hard, the best thing we can do is give up our "control" and rely on God to show us His way. May God bless you as you seek to trust Him more fully! (Something I am continually learning, too!)

  10. Rachel and Tiffany, I'm so glad this can be an encouragement to you! I debated over writing it in the first place and edited it several times, so I'm very glad to hear that it can be of service!

    Shannalee, I'm so glad to hear that God worked so wonderfully in your situation and gave you a healthy son! Your story was such a blessing to me, thank you!

    Laura, thank you for your sweet encouragement! It is difficult to realize that learning to trust God is a never-ending process -- but at the same time, it is a such a glorious blessing to have a God who loves us enough to keep teaching us that lesson, even though we fail! :-)


  11. I glad you shared. I had some similar experiences.

    I expected a healthy pregnancy. I ended up with pre-eccampsia.

    I expected a natural child birth. See above, plus I had placenta previa and in the end had to have a c-section.

    I expected nursing to work out well. We opened the evil formula too and baby had formula for the first few days until my milk came in, the jaundice went away, and we fixed the tongue tie.

    I didn't handle the fact that things didn't go as I planned very well for the first couple of weeks. I felt like I trusted God to take care of things and it seemed like he didn't.

    However, I have a BEAUTIFUL HEALTHY BABY and need to focus on that. Thank God for taking care of my son.

    I wouldn't trade his health for any of my expectations.

    And now I know to let go and trust God to take care of things, and if things don't go as planned to just go with it.

    I had other unrealistic expectations like that I'd be able to keep up with housework, do sewing for pay on the side, etc. But that's a little off topic.


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