Stop The Ride, I Want To Get Off


It was love at first sight when Luke was born two years ago. He was perfect in my eyes so I was surprised when a birth defect was discovered during his newborn screening. It was mild but would require surgery to correct. My husband is a physician so like a child who has just taken a tumble, I looked at him to gauge how concerned I should be. He didn’t seem too worried so I wasn’t either.

A few days after we got home from the hospital I googled Luke’s condition, marking the last time I’d experience peace for the next sixteen months. Hopes and dreams for my boy collapsed one by one with each account I read. When I wasn’t cluster-feeding my infant, I was reading about botched surgeries and broken lives. I wasn’t sleeping and soon slipped into a dark place. Instead of enjoying my infant, our last, I found myself distancing myself from him. It hurt to love him. I’d lay him back in his crib as soon as I was done nursing him; simultaneously feeling guilty for not savoring those precious moments and knowing that lingering over him only caused more tears.

It was up to us, his parents, to decide whether or not to have the operation. As his defect was not life-threatening, it was considered elective surgery. All the experts suggested doing the surgery before he was 18 months old. Time was ticking as our indecision built. My reading and research only confused me more. Our long-awaited appointment with a specialist was a bust. We felt no connection to him and he refused to give us any direction in our decision.

ET QuoteAt my darkest point, I was convinced that either decision would ruin his life. Truly damned if we did, damned if we didn’t. My mind was on a hamster wheel I couldn’t exit. I was frustrated with myself, “Snap out of it would ya? Go for a walk! Pray! Put on some lipstick for goodness sake!” I’d command of myself. But I couldn’t. I was stuck in a deep pit and couldn’t get out.

On one particularly bad night, I reached out to a handful of my godly girlfriends. I was wracked with anxiety and depression and knew I could no longer do it on my own. I told them everything, Luke’s condition, my fears, our indecision, how utterly hopeless and stuck I felt. It was hard to press “send” on that e-mail but also strangely freeing when I did. There is power in bringing the darkness into the light. And I was tapping into it. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46

By morning the responses started pouring in, my spirit lifted with each one. My friends assured me Luke’s defect was not my fault (one of my deepest fears), that God loved my son even more than I did, that He had a plan for him and that He was still in control even when it didn’t seem like it. Their words and prayers, a soothing balm to my broken and beat up heart. My husband and I scheduled and canceled Luke’s surgery three times in three months. My friends marked the date on their calendars… and erased it, along with us. Soon the spell of sadness and fear that had taken residence in my heart and mind slowly dissipated.

Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory. Proverbs 11:14

Last summer I came across this quote by Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite authors in her book, Savor:

I know what it’s like when the things that always used to make you happy don’t do the trick anymore because you can’t break through the sadness and fear that are covering over everything in your life. I was there, and I’m not there anymore, and I’m so thankful. You’ll get through this, and you’ll find yourself in an entirely new place. You’ll find your old self again. You’ll laugh easily and sleep well. It will happen. I promise.

I realized that was me, that was where I was, but I wasn’t there anymore. Thank you, Lord. Luke’s issue hadn’t changed but it had been right-sized in my heart and mind; a mild condition we could either seek surgery to correct. Or not. It felt manageable again.

With my newly restored mind and calm heart, we sought out a second opinion. The consultation with the new surgeon went great. He was personable and his expertise brought heaps of blessed clarity. We decided on the spot to go through with the surgery using him. The operation was an utter success. Not one of our 2,345 fears came to fruition and the recovery was, get this, RELAXING and ENJOYABLE.

13041346_10154011635035985_7587336097880691872_oI’m still not sure exactly what I was experiencing in those dark days: Post-partum anxiety? Depression? A spiritual battle? A truly jacked up cocktail of all of three? I’ll probably never know for sure, but I treasure the lessons that challenging time gifted me. Lessons on waiting, hope, faith and godly community. I’m thankful for God’s ability and goodness to heal our broken hearts, bodies and minds when we can’t help ourselves.
Most of all, I’m thankful for my boy, savoring every bit of his two-year-old rough and tumble but sweet as pie goodness.

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

21 thoughts on “Stop The Ride, I Want To Get Off

  1. Hillary says:

    Your little guy is just beautiful! I am so glad that all worked out for the best and that God guided you to that more compassionate surgeon. What a difficult time to go through after giving birth; uncertainty robs us of our time and joy.

    Praise God that all is well!


  2. helloleahgrey says:

    Uuuuuugh Mama!!! That is the WORST!! I can kind of relate except that thankfully I didn’t have to go through surgery with my son. When he was born we noticed he had a lump on his forehead. To be honest, I cried. I thought he was deformed. The doctor said it was something called “Craniostinostis” (totally could be spelling that wrong). Anyways, the soft spot in his head had formed too early and now his head was a weird shape (and Google told me that his brain might grow out the back or side of his head). I cried again. Long story short, my boy was miraculously healed and we didn’t need to get the surgery but the whole process was agonizing. Your boy is BEAITIFUL!! I’m so happy to hear he got through the surgery okay 🙂


    • Kelly Russell says:

      Oh girl, you know what I’m talking about then. Scary. Bullet dodged in both cases and so thankful but geeze, it’s scary in the meantime! Oh, and Google needs to die. Here’s to healthy, happy, whole boys. And thankful, thankful mamas.


  3. mbethany says:

    I’m so familiar with this kind of season. You nail it on the head when you say that you reached the point where the condition hadn’t changed, but it was right-sized in your heart and faith. So many things look giants to us. Thank the Lord He’s bigger than all the giants and has plans for each and every one. Also loved your honesty about “hitting send” and the freedom that follows. Just experienced that 2 days ago myself with something. Exposing darkness to light. Giants don’t look so undefeatable there. Thank you for sharing, so happy to connect!


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