When I was in 10th grade, I completely messed up a research paper that was probably the biggest grade I’d get in English class that year.
The teacher took me aside and gently told me the ways in which I had failed to complete the assignment and I began crying enough tears to fill a swimming pool.
But as I sat there with my cheeks all wet and thinking that I would never be asked to move up to the 11th grade, my teacher (who happens to be a famous author and blogs over HERE) said that she would let me have a second chance.
If I redid the assignment correctly, she’d toss the other paper and it would all be like a bad dream.
When we got pregnant with the Happy Baby one thing that kept marching through my brain was this thankful spirit that the Lord was giving me a second chance.
You see, with the Happy Buddy, I was a hot mess the whole first year of his life.
I fretted constantly about his growth (is he gaining enough??), his nursing (what if my milk supply dwindles and I have to put him on formula?!), his schedule (I can’t possibly go to church today because it might interfere with his nap), his health (did that stranger really just kiss my baby on the cheek?!), his pacis falling on the floor (I wonder what kind of deadly disease is now lingering on that MAM), his diaper rashes (should I be doing cloth diapers?), his first foods (is he going to die if I don’t feed him organic?), his sleeping (will he remember that we let him cry-it-out and hold it against us forever?), his playing (why hasn’t he rolled over yet? So-and-so-friend’s baby is practically walking already!), what kind of soap I used for his baths (I’d never read ingredient labels for soap until I had a kid)…
But then I worried about bigger issues, too (hello vaccinations). Almost to a point where I felt paralyzed by the fear.
The fear that I would make a decision and somehow ruin the Happy Buddy forever.
By the time the Happy Buddy turned one I looked back and felt kind of sick to my stomach that I had missed out somehow.
I had spent so much time being anxious that I don’t fully remember the moments where I just plain enjoyed his sweet baby-ness.
I could not wait to get a do-over. Another baby that I could say, “Eat artificially colored M&M’s and greasy pizza for all I care, just let me kiss those chubby cheeks a hundred million times a day.”
Naturally, when the Happy Baby arrived and before I could even kiss his precious cheeks twice the doctors were whisking him away uttering phrases like, “It could go either way…”, I had the thought What about my second chance?
And then the days turned into weeks and suddenly the fears I had about the Happy Buddy seemed kind of silly in light of the obstacles the Happy Baby was already facing at the beginning of his life.
Suddenly I didn’t care so much that the NICU uses Johnson & Johnson soap for bath times.
Suddenly I didn’t care so much when the doctor said they needed to start adding formula to my breastmilk because he’s breathing so fast and burning so many calories he needs the extra boost to help him grow.
Suddenly vaccinations seemed like a walk in the park when we were faced with the decision to put the Happy Baby on chemotherapy-powered drugs for 6 long weeks to try and fight this virus.
Suddenly the things I am anxious about are more about how no one is there to hold him in the middle of the night, respond to his every cry, stroke his hair back, turn his mobile on, or hold his paci in place for hours at a time just because it makes him happy.
I drink in his smell, thank Jesus for every diaper change, and cherish the feel of his peach-fuzzed earlobes.
When I am with the Happy Baby there is no time to think about the long-term consequences of all that he’s endured the last 5 weeks.
Because I’ve learned that I have no control over the outcome of the Happy Baby’s life.
No amount of organic food I ate during my pregnancy could have made a difference in how the Lord designed the Happy Baby and this season of our lives right now.
With the Happy Buddy I had let my pride rule my faith – bearing this unnecessary, strangling burden for every single decision.
Jesus says parenting is a whole lot easier than that (check out Matthew 11:30).
Now don’t get me wrong.
I am not saying to throw all caution to the wind and let your child eat chicken nuggets, fries, and chocolate milk every day (although if your baby is in the NICU for an extended period of time, this action might be unavoidable), stay up late every night, and exist without any boundaries whatsoever.
I am also not bashing my sweet cloth diapering or organic-food-growing friends. I’d totally do cloth if I wasn’t so addicted to convenience and I try to buy organic whenever our budget allows.
You must find what’s best for your Happy Home (and never judge another Happy Home that may choose to do things differently than you).
What I am saying is that while making well-educated, prayerful choices for our children is super important (you can bet the Happy Hubby and I have been on our knees about every little thing we’ve chosen to pursue concerning the Happy Baby’s health), when we let ourselves be overwhelmed by the responsibility, we take our eyes off of Christ and the very fact that our kids are not our own.
They belong to Him.
We are not in control.
This is the second chance I have been given.
To choose to treasure the time I do have with my baby – however long it may be – and not be afraid of what the future holds.
Because He is God’s child.
A child who was fearfully and wonderfully made by the very hands of Christ, who had all the days ordained for him written in His book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139).
A child who is covered by the promise that God has good plans for his life – plans to prosper him and not to harm him. Plans to give him hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
And I’m pretty sure that whether or not he wears cloth diapers is going to change that.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.”
*Update – God has blessed us with good progress this week! The doctor took the Happy Baby’s Superhero Hat away (phew) and he is now on a high air flow machine. We are praying that he will be weaned of that soon. He continues to seem stronger each day – a credit to our great God. Next week they will repeat the swallow test to see if he is strong enough to nurse/take a bottle again (please pray for victory in that!). We are also waiting on some test results in order to move forward with a diagnosis. Thank you, everyone, for your prayers and support. I am eternally grateful for the strength your faith has given mine!*