To the NICU Mom: Stop Trying to be Strong

nicu 2.8.14I wondered, “Who robbed me?” I never asked the question out loud; rather, it was a question I felt deep in my bones.

She came fighting for breath, so we fought next to her. And that lovely, hazy fog of sleepless newborn nights I had expected instead became a sharp-focused sprint to keep her.

All of a sudden, I felt I was living a life meant for someone else. Instead of mama snuggles on the couch, I sat vigilance at the side of an isolette. And, while I was meant to be struggling to nurse, I sat cumulative hours pumping behind a pink and orange patchwork curtain, then learned to draw up that milk with a syringe and feed it through a tube. I learned trachs and O2 sats; I learned fear and prayers and miracles. All the while, I tried to reconcile the life I expected with the one I lived.

I’m telling you this because I think you might feel the same grief of expectations, all while people are telling you just how strong you are. And maybe, this all feels like a little more than you can handle— meanwhile, people try to cheer you up by telling you that God will never give you more than you can handle.

If we were sitting together over a cup of coffee, here’s what I would tell you: Continue reading

Setting Down the Heavy Things

There are things- heavy things- we carry for so long that we forget what we hold. And when they’re gone, well, it takes a little while to realize they’re really gone.

Our bodies, our muscles, our minds become accustomed to the weight— sure, we grow stronger as we endure, but there’s also this part that knots up to bear the stress. A knot that stays for a little while, even after you’ve put the thing down. Continue reading

Decisions, Decisions


The night we met, we mapped our pasts on napkins with a pen I found buried at the bottom of my purse. We told each other stories through lines and graphs—where we’d been, what we’d seen, who’d helped turn us into the almost-adults we were at 22.

The day I knew I’d marry him, we sat on a dock watching the sun creep down past the skyline. He told me where he wanted to go, what he hoped to do, who he wanted to be. Somewhere, on some subconscious level, I knew we could build something good together. Continue reading

When the World Feels Like Chaos

I’m guest posting today over at Abide. Here’s a teaser of the article I wrote based on some of the things I’ve been thinking and feeling over the past week:


We’re swimming in noise. Scratch that—we’re drowning in it.

The voices, the opinions, the breaking news, the he said/ she said. It all serves to hype and excite, to keep us clicking and scrolling. And even when we sign off, the world still seems to spin in chaos.

Chaos breeds fear. Fear drives out peace.

And then what?

Is peace so elusive, so flighty and frail?

I think no.

It was the shepherds, the ones with dirt-lined fingernails and threadbare clothes, who saw light blaze through the darkness in the middle of their night shift. The angel army came to proclaim the name of God in heaven and claim peace on earth.

That peace is titanium strong, and it hasn’t gone anywhere.

So, how do we find it and feel it?

Read the rest here.

The Invisible Road


The other day, she touched my neck in the hollow right above the collarbone. She said this: “Mommy no have trach. Daddy no have trach. Sister no have trach. I have trach.”

“Yeah, baby,” I said. “The trach helps you breathe.”

“Why?” she said.

For now, because she’s two, I simply said, “Your vocal cords make it hard for you to breathe.”

Satisfied, she clambered off my lap, went to play blocks, and left me a little broken-hearted.

It’s hard to give her the pieces of her story. Especially when I don’t really know what happens next. I’d like to be able to wrap it up nicely, the way I end her bedtime books—a problem solved, a lesson learned, and a kiss goodnight. Continue reading



I was washing my hands in the sink outside the door to the Pediatric ICU. I looked up and caught my tired face in the mirror. At the same moment, another face, another mama, was doing the same: Inspecting her own exhaustion like she was looking at a picture of herself and wondering how she got here.

Under her breath, she muttered this one sentence prayer like she was reading it directly from my own heart.

Lord, have mercy.

Continue reading