Where is God When Motherhood Hurts? Part 1

If we were all really honest as mothers, most of us would probably admit to wondering where God is on the hard days . . . the hard weeks . . . the hard months . . . the hard seasons. There are moments when motherhood hurts, when you are completely drained and have nothing left to give. When God seems deaf to our cries and blind to our tears. Where is God in those moments? Where is God when motherhood hurts?

During the course of this last year, I’ve journeyed through just such a season. My heart broke a million times, every hope was taken away, I was dry, broken and weary . . . but during this season, I also found the answer to this question. I want to share our story with you and in doing so, I want to also tell you exactly where I've found God to be when motherhood hurts. This will be long, but I hope you will find it worth reading by the end.

My hard season began February 16th at 8pm. I was pregnant with our second child and steady contractions were just beginning. Labor had begun. The whole pregnancy had been difficultwith a threatened miscarriage at the beginning and concerns over my heart and blood pressure during the middle and end of the pregnancy. I was ready for it to be done and hold my baby.

On February 17th at 2:15pm, we welcomed our handsome little baby boy, Gator {nickname used for privacy}. His real name means “Who is like the Lord? He is gracious!”

Gracious . . . it means merciful; compassionate. I didn’t know how gracious the Lord would show himself to be towards us in the months to come . . .

Where is God When Motherhood Hurts? Part 1

To backtrack a little, I was really, really hoping to be able to breastfeed Gator successfully. My firstborn had struggled with it from birth, it had been excruciatingly painful for me, and we never succeeded though we gave it our all.  I ended up exclusively pumping for him from the time he was 6 weeks oldandcontinued for 7 months until I couldn’t anymore due to supply issues. Gator breastfed soon after delivery without any problem and I was ecstatic. I had so longed to be able to breastfeed my second born . . . and it seemed as if everything would be perfect.

By the afternoon of the next day, I noticed he became very gassy and unhappy after feeding. He hadn’t been that way the day before. He had been pretty quick delivery and his system had been full of mucous. Due to that, he hadn’t been incredibly interested in feeding until the second day. There was a marked difference in his behavior once he started seriously feeding.

Call it mother’s intuition or the whisper of God, but I knew that day he was reacting to my diet. I asked the nurses and lactation consultant if I should be concerned and each told me no, it wasn’t possible for him to be reacting so soon. I needed to relax and not worry so much they said. I did my best to take their advice . . .

For two long months I took their advice and those were the longest two months of my life.

Gator’s belly was upset all the time. He was excessively gassy, couldn’t sleep more than an hour at a time, he had constant diarrhea, a constant diaper rash, and he vomited entire feedings—I would literally feed him and then hold him on my lap as he vomited everything back up on numerous occasions.

We didn’t carry burp clothes for spit up, we carried receiving blankets to clean up whole feedings.

He screamed and writhed in pain almost all the time and the only way I could get an hour or two of sleep at night was to hold him like a teddy bear and try to sleep in between his stomach pains.

After two months I decided to go with my gut and I cut all dairy and soy out of my diet. There was a marked improvement within a day, but his system was still upset.

In the meantime, breastfeeding had remained painful for me the whole time. His latch looked fantastic, but I was in toe-curling pain every time he fed. But, he was feeding—which was more than his older brother could ever do—so we kept going.

As I was doing some research one afternoon, I stumbled upon some information regarding lip & tongue ties. As I dug a little deeper, I realized he had both and they were what was causing my pain and some of his symptoms. I praised God for leading me upon this information! My husband and I decided to have the issue corrected via a laser procedure.

I nursed Gator immediately after the procedure and for the first time ever, breastfeeding wasn’t painful. It was amazing—we finally both enjoyed feeding sessions. It was what I had wished for, what I had hoped, and I felt as though God had led and finally answered my prayers.

I thought surely this season was coming to an end and the hard days were over . . . but instead things got worse.

A few weeks after cutting dairy and soy out of my diet, his symptoms returned with a vengeance. I cut more things out of my diet, his symptoms got worse. I cut more things out, his symptoms got worse. By this point, his bowel movements were full of blood from his system being so irritated.

He was in misery, I hadn't slept in months--I had nothing left, but life kept demanding. I went on a hypo-allergenic diet, and still his symptoms worsened. During these diets, I hit the point of losing a pound or more per day because it was just so hard to meet his needs, the needs of my firstborn, and find food sources he could tolerate.

By that point, I couldn't go on and we decided to turn to formula. We tried every infant formula on the market—his system could tolerate nothing. Finally we got a referral to a pediatric gastrointestinal specialist and they placed him on an amino-acid based formula.

It was impossible for him to react to this they said . . . yet while he was on it, the blood in his diapers increased and he continued to get worse.

During those days, I felt abandoned by God. Nothing made sense—on one hand I truly believed He had led me to discover the issues that were hindering breastfeeding; but on the other hand, we had been forced to stop due to Gator's continued reactions and the stress it was placing on me.  In addition, my baby was in awful pain and nothing had helped. He would eat, writhe and scream for an hour or more, and then vomit most, if not his entire, last meal. We would then repeat the process. 

Our final option had caused him to grow worse--there was nothing left to try. I had prayed, begged, pleaded and wept before the Lord for my baby boy--but He seemed silent to my cries. Hope deferred causes the heart to grow sick (Proverbs 13:12)—and my heart was sick. I was weary and I couldn’t take it anymore. Where was God in all of this?

Continue to Part 2 . . .

{Post linked at The Deliberate Mom, Mom's Morning Coffee}