For When You Just Can’t


I was going through some Instagram pics yesterday and stumbled across this one. My heart stopped. I ached deep and hard, if only for a breath or two. This was taken after we found out Marilee had a heart condition. After we realized I, her mother, had friggin’ Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. After she had been moved to isolation. After we were unsure whether or not I would be able to hold her at all for a week.

Do you know how long a week is for a mommy and her baby? It is an eternity.

The moment after we told the nurse what was going on – after we group-diagnosed me – I lay in that baby-less floor of the hospital – the floor where they send all the mommies who don’t get to sleep with their babies by their sides, and I slipped into an oblivion. My hands and feet were itching enough to make me want to scream, and my heart was breaking enough to make me want to disappear.

Marilee, this baby who was two years in the making, born only because God said, “Yes,” after He said, “No.” Twice. Marilee, with the unexpected racing heart and the eye lashes that reach to heaven. Marilee, who lay in a bed in a room full of other crying babies and beeping machines. Marilee, who might not know the touch of her Mama, the comfort of my smell, the calm of my voice for a week or more.

I could do nothing to care for my sick baby. Nothing.

“I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. Jesus. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. Please, Jesus.”

My whole being just lay down on Jesus. I stopped trying to be strong enough. I stared at the wall and absently scratched my blistered hands and feet. Josh asked me some questions. I mumbled responses. My mom came in a little later. She hugged me. I wept hard into her shoulder, letting myself need her entirely. She asked me if I wanted anything and then sat with me for a while.

I have never known brokenness until that moment. I thought I had, but I was mistaken.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

I know people pray for me. I know that there is power in it. But this was the first time I experienced the power of Jesus and the prayers of the Saints hoist me up and make me strong. In only a moment, there was clarity and direction.

I sat up and asked for a decaf Caramel Macchiato. I hooked my boobies up to the pump, and as the torture device did its work, I set an alarm on my phone for every 2 hours. If this is all I could do, then I would not fail. I would pump until I was bloody and beyond if my milk was all that I could offer my miracle. And I believed that everything would be okay because of Jesus.

As it turns out, God allowed for me to hold my girl sometime that night. I had to put on the scary, plastic suit while other parents looked on curiously every time I entered her room. It was humiliating because I was the diseased one. But I was able to hold her.

There are so many things I want to tell you about those weeks. I’m going to take the next month or so to do that now and again, because this little miracle baby who loves her Mama to the moon and back and is a natural joy multiplier, even though she didn’t know my touch for a week, even though she was poked and prodded and put through immeasurable pain, she is turning 1 at the end of August. That is a big deal. I want to remember it all, because my God was heavy present through every blow of our family’s journey to bring her home!

I also want to offer encouragement to all of you who may be walking through a thing that is too much.

The most encouraging thing I can think to say is that soon this will all be a memory. -Lauren Kelley

I think of this quote often, and marvel at the fact that somehow, it is. The pain, the exhaustion, the confusion – it really is JUST a memory.

But what I learned about God’s heart? It remains tangible and present. It changes the way I live today. He is hope, sustenance, and every good thing. Lean on Him. He is enough.

4 thoughts on “For When You Just Can’t

  1. I'm swallowing my massive lump over and over again. We love sweet marilee and i can't believe she's going to be a year already! love reading what God has taught you through your journey.

  2. Oh, my goodness, Emily…..I cried thru this whole post! It was sooo moving and real and sad and happy and such a great blessing! Thank you for revealing your heart totally ad completely with others (me included!) I love you, dear sweet "daughter-in-love"!!

  3. I stumbled upon your blog through Stacey Thacker's and cried while reading this post. That exact verse you mentioned has spoken so dearly to me two times in my life and both were sitting in a hospital room with my middle son. He, too, was a NICU baby and struggled so mightily in those first days. I couldn't hold him or feed him, but could just gaze into his isolette and pray. Problem was that I was too tired and emotional to think of what to say…I just sat there and God put the thoughts together for me. Fast forward a few years and we were across the street from that first hospital in another scary place with him struggling to breathe for several days. I would watch his monitors and the same fog descended upon me and yet I felt peace. Perfect peace. God is amazing like that!

  4. Emily-you have me crying too early this morning. The thing I remember most about that time is realizing that God was answering prayers in mighty, obvious ways. You were leaning on Jesus and He was holding you up, getting you through the moments, days, weeks. It was very apparent to me while I was here, wanting so badly to hug you and gaze at that baby girl. What a testimony of how God truly sustains us when we are stretched far beyond what we can bear. I love you and am looking forward to more posts about Marilee's introduction to the world…even if they make me cry!

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