When Your Dreams Turn Into Nightmares
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
It was a dream come true. In fact beyond anything I could ask or imagine…
The results of a routine pregnancy test indicated a potential problem that turned out to be not one, but two babies in my womb. I was going to have twins!
When our news started to spread, I was over three months pregnant. Beyond the time of early miscarriage. Beyond the point of danger…or so I thought.
So many good wishes.
“Oh if anyone can handle twins it’s you…”
“Wow! Double the blessings!”
“Twice as much to love, two blessings from above.”
My husband and I just couldn’t believe it. I felt great. The babies were developing beautifully. All good!
At almost 20 weeks gestation, right after a prenatal exercise class, I started spotting. 24 hours later, I had lost my babies. My body had gone into imperceptible labor that could not be stopped. My waters broke. I had to deliver two tiny girls, too underdeveloped to survive outside my womb.
Our dreams were shattered. Depressed. Despairing. Terrified, I wondered, would I ever carry a child to term?
Getting pregnant again was fraught with anxiety. Then, once I was pregnant, fear of losing the baby gripped me. I made it past three months. Then past the 20-week mark. And finally past the anniversary of my twins’ death. Farrell Amarie was born healthy in the middle of a heat wave on June 19, Father’s Day fittingly, 8 lbs. 13 oz., 19” long.
Thrilled, elated, excited, so full of hope and promise…and still, some fear. We left the birth center within 24 hours.
Farrell wasn’t nursing vigorously, but this wasn’t unusual in the first hours of life. She was probably exhausted from her journey to the “outside” world.
When Farrell was three days old, we had a routine appointment with the pediatrician. I thought Farrell was nursing fine. She seemed hot, but it was still a heat wave. And yes, my breasts were heavy and sore, engorged with milk. But I had heard this would happen when my milk “came in.”
At weigh-in, I saw the alarm etching my doctor’s and midwife’s faces. Farrell had dropped a pound in three short days.
The nurses gathered round to counsel me as I tried to nurse Farrell. She wasn’t latching on properly, they noted, trying to make light of the situation, “She’s what we call a lazy sucker. She’s just not getting enough milk.”
The nurses tried to console and relax me as I realized in a panic this was not working! My breasts weren’t working. Farrell wasn’t nursing properly and wasn’t thriving. I stayed at the center for hours as all my caregivers patiently, purposefully helped me figure out how to feed my baby. What the heck? Wasn’t nursing natural? I had watched my sister nursing two babies like it was nothing.
I wasn’t doing this right. Afraid to go home, I was frustrated and freaked out.
Two days later, we returned to the pediatrician. They needed to keep a close eye on my baby.
The doctor gazed at Farrell as though he had never seen such an amazing newborn before. But worry quickly replaced his delight when he placed Farrell on the scale. She was down to 7 lbs. 4 oz. She had lost 1 lb. 9 oz., when she was supposed to be gaining weight.
Oh my God…was I going to lose another baby? She seemed to be disappearing before my eyes. I couldn’t believe this was happening…
Again, my dream was turning into a nightmare.
Farrell was admitted to the hospital. She slept in a metal crib that was cold and bare. I slept fitfully by her side in a lounge chair. All kinds of tests ruled out disease, defects. My little infant had a spinal tap that showed nothing.
I pumped my milk, it seemed almost constantly, day and night. We had to measure every drop Farrell consumed. My breast milk had to be supplemented with formula in order for her to gain weight. This was so not the plan; not what I had imagined. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I nurse like everyone else?
Thank God, after five days in the hospital, Farrell was thriving. She had gained enough weight for us to go home. Fearful that I wouldn’t feed her properly, I was wracked with more anxiety than I had ever experienced before.
For six weeks, my life consisted of pumping and measuring breast milk so I could be sure Farrell was getting enough…and so I could provide the milk so rich with nutrients and antibodies for my infant.
Every day, I was tempted to give up and switch to bottle and formula once and for all. I didn’t want to be a fool…or a fanatic. I just wanted to do this thing right!
Every single day I prayed, “God, if I need to give up, please help me to do it. Help me to just do what’s best for Farrell.”
And every single day, once a day, towards evening, Farrell would nurse vigorously and contentedly.
At six weeks, Farrell was doing beautifully. Visiting family for the day, I decided it was time to either nurse or give Farrell bottles from that point on. Doing both was just too time-consuming and stressful.
Farrell nursed without any problem. In fact, she refused to drink from a bottle ever again..
I had so many dreams, hopes, and visions of what having babies was going to look like. Some I had to let go of. And some I had to hold onto with everything I had, pushing past fear, doubt, and disappointment to dreams that came true.
What's your story? Have you ever had to push past fear to reach your dreams?