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Ebenezer 2.0

So Isaac was born just before Christmas in 2003. You can hear my laugh of joy on his birth video — A fitting tribute to our little Gift of Laughter.

But he was born just a tad too soon despite the tests that said his lungs were mature enough. He needed some breathing help, and he developed pneumonia. So he stayed in the NICU for 10 days. Ten very long days.

20031226 - Isaac Sunbathes

That was tough. Driving across town every morning to the hospital was the happiest time in our day. And driving back home as late as we possibly could was the most miserable. I felt like a mama dog whose puppies had been taken away too soon. I ached for him, but I knew first-hand that it could be much worse. We hardly slept, and we ate Christmas cookies and Hickory Farms gifts for breakfast and dinner, and lunch was instant soup from the March of Dimes.

We spent Christmas day at the hospital, teasingly insisting over and over that it wasn’t really Christmas that day. Christmas wouldn’t come until Isaac came home. We watched A Christmas Story next to his NICU bed, and I knitted a still-unfinished sweater.

After getting him born and keeping him healthy, we faced another (what seemed to be) insurmountable hurdle — latching him on. I had to breastfeed him. I had to. After Elise’s birth, I never felt more perfectly useless as my body was preparing to nurture a life who wasn’t there. I had re-read all the baby books, but it’s difficult with a NICU stay. He just wouldn’t latch on.

On one of those nights at home, I sobbed in prayer on the floor of our bathroom over Sheila Kitzinger’s book (her text seemed to be the only one to talk about hospital stays and nursing). I begged God to help us both figure it out. Sure — it’d be cheaper and healthier and all. But it was more. I needed to heal.

We never figured it out while we were in the hospital. We even stayed the last three nights in their live-in rooms, and I still had to resort to the bottle.

On New Year’s Day, we came home — all of us. It was our Christmas we had dreamed of for so long. And that night, Isaac and I finally got in our nursing groove. He latched on!! Amen!

20040101 - Home at Last, Our Best Christmas Gift 1

But this little gift obviously hadn’t read the same books I had. According to the loudest and most recommended “expert” and even the NICU docs and nurses, he was supposed to eat every 3 hours for about 30 minutes. This lil’ guy was eating every 2 hours for an hour!!

And sleep? Are you kidding me? Nuthin’. Nada. I remember sleeping on the floor next to his crib. That barely worked. We tried the swing. We tried white noise. We tried pacifiers. The experts said that he should be sleeping a certain amount and eating on a certain “routine.” There was a little hope with Harvey Karp, but generally nothing was working like they said.

I discovered that that highly recommended expert was flat out wrong. Really wrong. I’ll say it more plainly — every single thing that I read in Babywise proved to be entirely false. None of it worked. The eat-play-sleep routine? Pshaw! Isaac was eat-play-eat-sleep-eat-eat-sleep-eat-eat-play-eat. He was hungry! And sleep? Only next to mama.

20040102 - Mommy and Isaac Nap

Somewhere in my desperation I found Kellymom. I read her site voraciously. While nothing Ezzo said worked (even though he claims his way is God’s way!), everything Kellymom recommended worked. Every single thing. Her complicated advice amounted to the brilliant “feed him when he’s hungry!” Doh!! Of course!! And the sooner you help a crying baby, the sooner he stops crying, just as Dr. Sears says!

When Isaac was 6 weeks old, Grant was leaving on an overnight school trip. I was scared to be alone with this little life. Someone had recommended I carry Isaac in a sling during the day to help him sleep better at night. A sling! Yikes!! No, no! I don’t want to be one of those dreaded “marsupial moms” that Ezzo derides. Not me! But again, I reminded myself that everything Ezzo said was a fool’s errand; and everything Kellymom had recommended worked. So for $0.56 I made a ring sling.

Magic! Holding that little person near me was bliss for him and for me. That was how he had spent the first nine months of his life. Why shouldn’t he want to be near his mama? He slept better. He was happier. He had everything he needed — me!

Before he left, Grant said with a smile, “Honey, you know what you are, don’t you? You’re an attachment mom!” Yes, I knew it. I had realized that I was the dreaded villain Ezzo warned me about. But my baby was growing and learning. It seemed pretty obvious.

Since I had so much down time holding and nursing and cuddling that wonderful blessing, I read a lot. And I decided to read all the Bible verses that mentioned nursing. Wow! What a vivid lesson. Like Isaiah 49:15:

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.

I discovered that verse on Convocation morning — exactly a year after I had discovered that Isaac was in my tummy. That morning was the longest I had ever been away from him. I ached for him. I was actually physically uncomfortable. And look at that — God feels the same way about us! He says He remembers us just like a nursing mom remembers her child. There was no physical way for me to forget Isaac, and God cannot forget us either. Amazing!

It was that organic connection with Isaac that made me understand on a cellular level how much God loves me. How He holds me when I’m crying. He keeps me close in the dark. He nurtures me — not just every few hours or until I’m 8 weeks old. He doesn’t push me away until I live up to His standards (which I never could). He loves me first, and I then learn how to love.

When Dr. Teruel first mentioned breastfeeding to me when I was carrying Elise in 2001, he said, “Breastfeeding for the first year is the best start you can give your baby!” I giggled inside thinking, “A YEAR? Are you kidding me? Maybe 6 months.” And when Isaac and I had such a rocky start, I didn’t even know if I’d make it a week. Not only did God answer that little prayer of getting him latched on and helping me heal, in His gracious way, He taught me so much more. He taught me about Himself and His deep, organic, parental love for me.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Isaiah 40:11

[tags]Gary Ezzo, Babywise, William Sears, Kellymom, Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding[/tags]

12 thoughts on “Ebenezer 2.0

  1. Ok, and what do we do when they are 14 months and still nursing anytime they want all day long? Pizza is the only thing else that will do. Nothing else, absolutely nothing. :o)

  2. Well, Joanna. . . . That all sounds about right for my experience too!! 😉 The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least for the first year and as long as it’s beneficial to Mommy and Nursling after that! 😀

  3. What a wonderful story of blessings and grace, and patience. Thank you for sharing your blessing with us.

    I love the photo of you and Isaac sleeping. It’s beautiful. He looks so peaceful and content.

  4. I deeply, painfully grieve the years, the LOVE, I lost because of my foolish lack of discernment in listening to “that expert.” I can’t get those days and precious moments back.
    I’ve been reading and listening now to Dr. Neufeld (Hold on to Your Kids) on attachment parenting. And I cry. It is not too late to do things differently now. But there are still tears for the nights I didn’t sleep with my babies.
    And that is a very, very hard thing.

  5. Oh — your story brings back memories of trying to force my baby girl (who came 3 1/2 weeks early at 4lb 14oz) to conform to that awful, know-it-all, no-room-for-the-out-of-the-ordinary Ezzo! There she was screaming in the middle of the night desperately hungry (because her tummy was smaller and she NEEDED THE FOOD!), but because it wasn’t the three-hour mark, I wouldn’t feed her. Oh, my heart breaks at the memory. After one month of pumping every 3 hours around the clock and giving her a bottle, my precious little preemie finally latched on. January 14, 2001 — 4:00 a.m. I’ll never forget that.

    I abandoned awful Babywise with my 2nd baby and things went SO much better. Things got even better a few years down the road when I finally stopped letting Childwise hang over my head, too. Oh the things I wish I knew then….

  6. I couldn’t agree more. I remember watching the Ezzo videos for a class at BJU (before I was a parent) and thinking how insane those people were. Now that I am a parent, I know they are insane! Great post. I enjoy reading your blog.

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