Pumping quickly became a time where I allowed for my emotions to surface. Eight times a day I was attached to my own machine, unable to move, and able to wallow in my sadness. Many times, while milk poured, so did my tears.
At times, I felt as if I was shaking my fist at God, asking Him “Why?” I had given Him my life; I had served Him faithfully; so why had He given me this child? Why had He chosen this road for my family and me? I had more questions than I had answers.
I was so afraid. Afraid of an unknown future, afraid that our family would live with limitations due to Nichole’s disability. I was afraid that people would look at her different, afraid that they would look at me different; now the mother of a child with special needs.
And I was afraid that my family in Mexico would believe the very thoughts I wrestled with that were prevalent in our culture. That I had done something wrong and was getting what I deserved. Or that Nichole would never be whole. Although I knew it was not true, those lies would suck at my heart, like leaches, and I painfully would pull them out.
When I thought about my dreams, I felt as if hope and happiness had been taken away from me. The dreams I had for my family were gone. The dreams of having 2 girls close in age being best friends were gone. The baby I had expected was gone. Taken away and replaced by a broken child that had attached me to that very pump because she could not eat on her own.
It would be easier if she died. The pain and sadness I have is engulfing me Lord! I don’t know how I will ever be able to enjoy life again!
The very thoughts of wishing for my baby to die would hit me, bruising my soul. What kind of mother would wish for her own child to die? A terrible mother, a mother that could not love. A broken one.
I am broken Lord. So broken. I cannot even find love inside my heart for this baby.
I had said before, that being a mother had taught me about unconditional love. There was nothing Ellie could do that would make me stop loving her. I was mistaken. It was easy to love Ellie. She was perfect. She was everything I always wanted, and the baby I had expected. Nichole, on the other hand, was not. She had come to challenge my unconditional love. I wondered what my love would have looked like if Ellie, instead, had been born with Down syndrome.
I was confronted by my selfishness. I knew that the fears I had were all about me. I only cared about how Down syndrome would affect my life. I grieved the loss of my dreams and my future. Me, me, me. My, my, my. I was broken, just as broken as my baby and perhaps even more. Perhaps I was broken in the places that really mattered. In the places where love abounds and flows from the heart.
I don’t make mistakes. God whispered. Your heart will expand and you will learn about the richness of my love. This is the child I have for you.
I don’t want her Lord! I don’t want this child!
Every morning, as Andy left home for work, I knew he felt relieved. Relieved that he could spend some time away from me. Sadness, worry, and anger had overtaken my being. I had little patience, the smiles were few, and I cried constantly. I did not like who I had become. I did not even know if I loved my baby. And I blamed it all on Down syndrome.
I needed to talk to my husband. I wanted to make things right, yet, I did not know how. What I did know, was that talking to him always made things better. One night, as we lay in bed, we began talking.
“The Bible says that God does not give us more than we can handle, right?” I asked him.
He looked at me, silent for a while.
“That verse from the Bible is often taken out of context.” He said. “That verse refers to temptation. God will not give us more temptation than we can handle.”
“Well what about this. What about us?” I asked, “Does God give us more than we can handle when it comes to…life?”
My husband, knowing what was in my heart, gently said, “Yes honey, I think so. I think often in life we are given more than we can handle. If we could handle it, we would not need God. But when we are given more than we can handle, it is then, and only then, that we realize how much we need Him. We need Him to take over, to lead us, and take control of our lives.”
“I think this is more than I can handle,” I said with tears in my eyes.
“I know,” he said as he reached his hand to hold mine.
“And I need Him to step in, or I am going to lose it.” I continued.
We were silent for a moment, then Andy spoke once more.
“I want to share something with you. Something that God spoke to me about Nichole. I was reading some hymns the other day, this one “I Come To The Garden Alone,” says…
“And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.”
“This is what the Lord said to me…” Andy swallowed, controlling his emotions for a moment, “God said to me, “Nichole is my own, and I am sharing her with you. Will you love her? The joy that you will share, because of her, none other has ever known.”
We looked at each other for a while.
“Nichole is not ours honey” Andy continued, “She is God’s precious child and He has entrusted her to us. I will love her, and I am confident we will experience great joy because of her.”
“Maybe we need her.” I said.
“Yes, maybe we need her. And maybe she needs us too. Maybe we need each other.”
As we went to bed, I continued to think about Andy’s words. I imagined God, holding Nichole lovingly in His arms, smiling down at her. Looking at Andy and I, extending His arms to hand her to us and saying, “This is my precious child, Nichole. I love her. She is precious to me. And I have chosen you, of all people. Will you love her? Will you love her like I do?”
I was broken, broken in so many places. Yet the Lord still loved me. It did not matter that I was broken, it didn’t matter that I did not know how to love. His love was unconditional. It was His love that mattered. I depended on His love, because I needed it, I needed Him.
This is more than I can handle Lord. I need you to step in.