Despair vs. Truth




Where do I turn when I don't see God's love and care? 

What do I think when my heart is filled with the pain of watching my son pass away all over again in my mind's eye? 

What do I do when I get depressed over all the things I'm missing out on as a new mom? 

One thing that has been a huge help to me are Truth Statements. This idea came from my friend/ pastor's wife who has been giving me counsel since Jack passed away.
The goal is to have the Truth Statement and Bible verses so well memorized that when discouragement comes I can immediately combat it with truth from God's Word. 



This is not a band-aid fix. This is a battle. Someone once told me that if I can worry then I can meditate, and that worry is simply meditating on the wrong thing. So rather than looking at my seemingly depressing circumstances, I need to look at the Controller of my circumstances.

Here are some of my struggles along with Truth Statements and Bible verses that combat them. I hope they are a help.

1

  • My Struggle: If I only would have done something differently, then perhaps my son would have been born healthy or he would have survived.

  • Truth Statement: The loss of my son was not my fault. God chose to take care of him in heaven for His glory and our good.

"Jesus answered, 'It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.'" John 9:3
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30 


2

  • My Struggle: No one understands what I'm going through. No one knows the deep grief I feel. I'm all alone.

  • Truth Statement: I am not alone in my loss, I join the ranks of Hannah, Elizabeth, and the nameless, faceless women of Bethlehem at advent. In my grief I will feel alone, I will struggle to be comforted, but in the end I will know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings and I will be able to comfort others.

"A voice was heard in Ramah,weeping and loud lamentation,Rachel weeping for her children;she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:18
"For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too." 2 Corinthians 1:5


3

  • My Struggle: I only had 9 months and 2 weeks with my precious boy. I will never see him again. This loss is too great to bear.


  • Truth Statement: God's gifts are to be treasured while we have them. I will treasure his gifts in his timing for a moment now and for an eternity to come!

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 


4

  • My Struggle: This pain is too much. I can only find solace in myself (or burying myself in busyness or meditation or whatever I turn to for rest apart from God).

  • Truth Statement: My pain will push me somewhere. My pain needs to push me to God. 

“It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 119:71 


5

  • My Struggle: God has forgotten me. If God is in control, then He obviously doesn't care.

  • Truth Statement: In God, I believe I will find favor both now and forever. 

“I would have despaired, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

6

  • My Struggle: My life is out of control. Being childless is not what I thought would happen. I thought I'd be rocking my baby to sleep. I thought I'd be pushing a stroller down the sidewalk like the mother I see outside my window. Sometimes my "mommy instincts" kick in and I freak out because I can't find my baby... then I remember. 

  • Truth Statement: My life may not be what I hoped or imagine it to be, but my God is sovereign.

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9


7

  • My Struggle: Is God only good because He gives good gifts? I just saw a post by a friend who praises God because He healed her baby. Has God then abandoned me?

  • Truth Statement: I know God could've healed my baby Jack. Even though He chose not to, I will still serve Him. God has not abandoned us, and He is with us in the valley.

“If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18


As the struggles morph over time, my friend and I are adding more struggle-specific truth statements to help battle despair and embolden faith in Christ. I hope and pray these truth statements are an encouragement to someone out there. 
"Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all." Philippians 2:17

– Hummingbird 


*If you or someone you know is suffering or been through a great loss, I highly recommend seeking biblical counsel from a mature Christian.








My Life Is Changed Forever





My Life Is Changed Forever


It was November 5th, my husband and I were getting some last minute family pictures before my due date. We walked all around our local park. It was really cold, but we had fun and made some memories. 


My mom had come to visit so she could help us out after our baby was born. That evening she made us a delicious sweet potato soup. Halfway through our meal I noticed that the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having the last couple weeks started to get stronger. 


I didn't want to get too excited too soon, so I tried to ignore it as long as I could. Finally, I couldn't help it. I started timing them. Five minutes apart! Woohoo! Some more time passes... Three minutes apart! I think this is the real thing! It's around 1 or 2 am, and I call my midwife to let her know where I was in my labor. After hearing me go through a couple contractions, she told me to come into the birth center around 3 am. I tried to sleep as best I could because I assumed I would have a long labor. Ha! Good luck trying to sleep when your long awaited baby has decided it's time! 



The drive there was super uncomfortable, but I was excited and could not wait to meet my little baby. My room at the birth center was all set up and ready to go. Finally it was time to meet the one who's been kicking me in the ribs and giving me heartburn for 9 months! My husband helped me non-stop through my entire labor: back massage, counter pressure, essential oils, labor music, etc. He was my mainstay. I didn't think I would want my mom to help me too, but I'm so glad she was there because I couldn't have done it without her help. She supported my arms through my contractions and read me the Bible verses that I wrote in my little labor book. It was almost 10:30 pm on November 6th, and after over 20 hours of labor, about 3 1/2 hours of pushing, using a birthing ball, 3 different birthing stools, birth tub, etc. etc. my baby was almost here!



The Most Glorious Moment of My Life


I moved over to the birthing stool and gathered up all my strength to make one final push... my baby was born!!! My mom and midwife caught my baby then immediately handed him to me. He was so long and beautiful! What is the gender?? He's a boy!!

The Moment Everything Turned


The next thing I know my midwife took my baby and placed him on the floor in front of me. My son let out a small cry then started to fade. I was alarmed and didn't know what was going on. The cord was cut. After about a minute of trying to give him air with a bag, she moved him to the warming table to give him oxygen and CPR. The birth assistant called 911. Only a few minutes past till the EMTs arrived. As they were trying to stabilize my son's vitals to no avail, they called out asking for his name. With all the labor and birth hormones floating through me, I was so confused. I did everything I could to focus. Jack! His name is Jack! Then they whisked him away.




The Whirlwind


I was so confused and dizzy from such a long, hard, and exhausting labor. I was given some things to help me not go into shock or lose any more blood. My mom went with Jack, my husband stayed with me because he was afraid he might lose me. Hindsight is 20/20 and we should've had my husband go with Jack. But we didn't know. We made what we thought was the best decision at the time. Not too much time passed before my husband joined my mom, mother-in-law, and my son Jack at the hospital. My pastor and another friend met up with them too, and my pastor's wife came to help me. Then my mom came back to the birth center and we all decided I should get an ambulance ride over to the hospital so I could be with Jack and my husband.



Our First Night As A Family


The doctor told us that my son Jack was born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). That's where a hole in the diaphragm causes his organs to be in his chest rather than in the abdominal cavity. Jack looked so tiny and helpless lying there with all these tubes coming in and out of him. My precious son. Was he in pain? They assured me he wasn't. Will he make it? The doctor said 5-10% chance he would make it through the night. Oh my heart! Please let me wake from this nightmare! My husband and I told the doctor and NICU staff to do everything they could to keep him alive. Hardly sleeping that night, we were in constant prayer. The verse that kept echoing through my heart since they first whisked my son away was Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."




The Helicopter Ride


We were told that if Jack made it through the night and stabilized enough by tomorrow then he could be life flighted over to a Level 4 NICU at the University of Utah where he could hopefully receive the needed surgeries to fix his CDH and hopefully save his life. God did just that. Jack became stable enough for him to be put on the NICU helicopter and be life flighted to Primary Children's. My husband got to ride with Jack and the crew, and my family and I drove to meet up with them. By this time my dad and father-in-law had flown in to help out as well. I'm so thankful. 
My husband called to tell me Jack needed a surgery ASAP to give him any chance of survival. Of course, we said yes. By the time I arrived they were finishing up Jack's ECMO surgery. My husband pushed my wheelchair to our son's new NICU room. Oh my little baby! Hooked up to so many machines, hanging on by a thread! I once dreamed of the day my baby would be born when I could give skin to skin and bond with this precious new life. But we weren't allowed to touch him. The neurologist was concerned of severe brain damage and too much stimulation could hurt him at this point. 



NICU Parents of a NICU Baby


For the foreseeable future we would be NICU parents. Thankfully, we lived only about 10 minutes from the hospital. It was nice to be able to go home, get a shower, sleep in our own bed, make our own food, etc. But my husband and I also used the Ronald McDonald rooms in the hospital so we could stay close to our son on crucial nights, like after surgeries and such. I've never been so thankful for McDonald's. 

My milk came in and I had to pump. Not easy! God blessed me with a good milk supply that I stored up for Jack in the hospital's milk bank. But with the stress of watching my son's vitals go up and down, lack of sleep, and not knowing how to pump well caused me to get 3 infections in 3 weeks. When you have one of those, you feel like you're dying. Tried antibiotics, didn't work for me. Tried a bunch of natural remedies, and found some that worked well and fast. I hate that I had those infections. It kept me home when I wanted to be with my baby.



Special Moments


Jack was improving after a couple of days, so they allowed us to touch him. I'm so thankful. At first I could only hold his tiny hand as he lay still, his only movement coming from the oxygen machine. But then one day as I placed my finger in his little palm, he wrapped his fingers around mine and gripped tightly! I touched his foot and his sweet toes curled! Oh my heart! Another day passed, and I saw my son's eyes for the first time. My love! My sweet baby boy had dark brown hair and deep blue eyes! He was so handsome! Sometimes he would suck on his oxygen tube, raise his eyebrows, or stick out his little tongue. So cute!



From Fear to Praise


Two weeks, 3 surgeries, and a plethora of scary moments later, Jack seemed to be on the mend. His last surgery was to pull his organs through the hole in his diaphragm and close the hole. Right before he went in for that surgery, they told us to say our goodbyes just in case. My heart sunk and I started to have severe anxiety. We went to wait in a family room and a few of our friends came by to be with us and pray with us. They asked us how they could best help, and my husband told them what we were both thinking. We knew that the only words that could calm our souls in that moment were God's words. So we sat in the room reading Bible passages to each other intermixed with prayer. We read in Psalms, Isaiah, Revelation, and others. God did a mighty work in my heart through His Word. He took a heart paralyzed by fear and turned it into a heart of praise. I had such deep peace in the midst of that storm. After the 2 hour surgery, the surgeons came in to tell us how it went. Because Jack's abdominal cavity was not large enough to fit all his organs, they had to place them in a sterile bag on the outside of his abdomen. They said it went well though and were cautiously optimistic. The doctors and nurses kept reminding us that he was still the sickest baby in the hospital. 






The Worst Night of My Life


The day after his surgery, Jack seemed to be doing a little better. Not as well as we hoped, but he still showed some slight improvement which made it his best day all week. Around 7:30 or 8 pm, the nurse was trying to draw some blood but was having trouble. She got what she needed, but then suddenly Jack's blood pressure spiked then plummeted. All at once his numbers started to drop. I watched in horror as I heard "Code Blue..." over the intercom and doctors and nurses rushed in. For hours they worked on my baby Jack. Trying to carefully balance his cocktail of IV medications, while giving him blood transfusions, epinephrine, blood pressure meds, etc. Then the surgeon told us that his organs were filling with blood and they needed to open his bag to relieve the pressure. With no time to sterilize a thing, they did what they needed to do. Very disturbing for me to watch. But I couldn't look away from my son! We asked them to do everything they could. Once they exhausted every method, our nurse practitioner and friend knelt beside us. He said with a broken heart that they've done all they could do and Jack's heart is kept beating now only by epinephrine. We needed to make a decision. Hardest decision of my life! We decided Jack needed to be held and know he was loved as he passed away. The nurses wrapped my son up in a blanket and handed him to me. I wept loudly. My husband held me and Jack as we both cried. I then gently handed Jack to my husband so he could hold our son for the first time. Hardest moment of my life: holding my son as his last breath left him.




My mommy heart and empty arms ache with the deepest pain. The hole in my heart is a raw flesh wound that will never heal till I hold my son again.



Since losing my son, my whole world has been shaken. I've wrestled with some deep, hard questions. I've questioned my faith. I've questioned God. I've questioned everything. 
Perhaps, if I am able, I will share those in future posts.



I want to end this post with hope though. God has truly sustained me and been faithful in spite of my faithlessness. 

– Hummingbird