With Levi born on Ash Wednesday I knew that we would be store for a very "Lenten" Lent. I would have a lot to offer up - mostly in the realm of sleep - and I entered this season with an open mind and an open heart to what would be in store. Armed with lots of prayer intentions, I spent many a sleepless night offering each feeding and time awake for our family and friends. And, surprisingly, this made my nights of no sleep not only bearable, but oh so fruitful.
But more on sleep (or lack thereof...) later. Because, while I thought that my Lenten offerings would stop there (because living on no sleep is a big enough Lenten cross in and of itself, right?) God had more he would throw our way.
Around 2 weeks old I noticed a big change in Levi. We were just getting over thrush (a yeast infection in the poor little guy caused by the antibiotics we were on) when I noticed that his feedings weren't going all that great, meaning he would nurse for a minute or two and then scream. And scream and cry and scream some more. It would take me an hour to get 5 minutes out of him and finally he would get so exhausted that, when he was nodding off to sleep, I could finally get the rest of the feeding in. At first I thought he was colicky or that it was caused by the fact that I make enough milk to nurse triplets (TMI?). I called the lactation consultants a few times and they told me what I thought to be already true: overactive letdown, foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, yada yada yada. But then, after 4 more weeks of crying during feeds, crying in between feeds and naps, crying at night, and the fact that he was just so uncomfortable, I knew something else was up. At this point he would only nurse if he thought he was getting the pacifier, meaning I would trick him with the binky and once he was calmed down, try to feed him. It got to the point he was going 4-5 hours and only feeding for a few minutes. Add to this the fact that he seemed to spend all his awake time moaning, and you can see why mommy poured herself a glass of wine (or two) every evening around 6pm...
The third time I called the lactation people, the consultant mentioned Reflux. At first I thought "no way" but then the gagging and refusing to be put down began a day later and I knew she was right. The day after Easter, knowing that Avila suffered from the same thing, my doc put Levi on a low dose of meds and, after upping them to full dosage this week, little man has finally turned a corner.
And I feel like Levi was born all over again...
He is a new baby! He is actually smiling, and happy, and laughing, and cooing, and comfortable, and EATING! He has spent the past two days making up for the past 6 weeks. And I can't tell you how much it brings me joy that my baby is not hurting anymore. And while reflux is not something I wish on any baby (acid in the throat? no thank you) of course God used this time to teach me a lot - something he likes to do when bringing me through the hard stuff.
First of all, God taught me about love. True love. Because true love isn't butterflies and roses - it's bouncing and rocking (and sometimes crying with) a crying baby for two hours straight. True love is holding a baby in a rocking chair at night because he can't be put down. True love is exhausting every option and moving every obstacle until you have an answer. And while I wouldn't have chosen this path when Levi was first born, I have emerged on the other side a more loving mother than I was before.
I am also reminded of how much God gave me His grace these past couple of months. Max was an easy-breezy baby so he doesn't count, but the last time I went through this, with Avila, I was not only dealing with reflux, but also Post Partum Depression. And the fact that I was a new mom. This time around I have been so much more at peace despite the trials (must be the wine) and reminded that, if we simply chose to put one foot in front of the other and rely on our Heavenly Father, God will get us through anything. I give every once of credit to Him for getting me through the hours and days with a sad little baby with very little breaking down, myself. If left to my own defenses I would probably still be rolled up in the fetal position on the floor. :)
And lastly, I have been taught the value of hope - true Christian hope. Because my main prayer through this all hasn't been to take away the struggles (well, except for Levi's struggles because it's no fun watching a baby suffer) but rather for God to give me hope. I needed a light at the end of the tunnel to push me through the feedings and the nights awake. I needed a beacon of grace to make everything we were going through worthwhile. This hope came not on the form of some special feeling or wisdom into the future, because that wouldn't be true hope. True hope is when we can trust without knowing the outcome. We trust because we believe that God is all powerful, and that everything is possible with him. And so, I trusted. Well, not all the time (sorry for the things I said to you, Lord, in the middle of the night sometimes...) but I trusted most of the time. And, with answers on the other side, He has come though once again.
I know that more struggles will be thrown our way and I know that a lot of people are going through a lot worse with babies, with life in general. But for now I bask in the Easter joy that comes to me in the form of a baby who is sleeping and laughing and who looks at me with eyes not filled with pain, but with joy and peace and a little bit of flirting thrown in.