Category Archives: trauma

Crying Over Spilled Milk: The Traumatic Wean 

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Sometimes I can see how people think  I’m strong and amazing. Like today when I read the post I’m about to share from a year ago.  It’s hard to believe I was in a place to worship so boldly.  Because I was at the very end of a very hard thing that I had first about back in nursing school: the traumatic wean. 

Now I was 24 and childless when I graduated from the College of Nursing. That means I still had nights when going “dancing” meant drinking a little too much with friends. Children were treasures to be enjoyed at family holidays and in my dreams of my own future family.  So I memorized phrases like risk for mastitis and comfort measures and cold compress and feelings of depression and anguish.  

And even though I was professionally trained and experiencing the loss of my fourth child, nothing would prepare me for what I was about to experience.  

I was still in the ER when the thought first occurred to me that something horrible was coming. Something Beyond and different from the horror of grasping life without her. Something physically horrible.  I was going to have a massive supply of milk with no destination. A deposit of love and life that would not be allowed to be given.  

My entire body responded in a rebellion and rejection of her absence.  Of its dependence on her.  Pain and heat seared through me. My body could not contain the swell of hope that would no longer flow freely. In fact I believe I’ ve never fully taken on the anger that is hallmark to grief because I bore it physically that week. Every cell I have was enraged and revolted against me . . . as if I had decided her number and called for her quick exit. 

It was punishing and unexpected. One morning my breasts were a cozy village filled with life and love. Marked with safe boundaries and comfortable familiar nooks. By the end of the day, my chest had become a wasteland of devastation.  A scorched and barren country with no citizens to call its own.  I had been pillaged completely and without warning.  But not all storehouses were ravaged.  There was a bounty that could be offered to another tribe. I would be avenged. Because my God is just. He is an avenger. If I have been pillaged, I can trust it will be for good.  There is no need to cry over spilled milk made of love and hope and the best gifts of myself. Because even that Will be delivered by Him.  

The following was posted a year ago right after I found out what Gods plans were for my milk supply.  I wish those plans had been different. I wish I could say mine! Like an angry toddler but I am a mature child of the King who knows the truth: not my will, but your will be done. 


The God of Life Keeps GivingApril 29, 2016

I made a commitment to pump for my daughter daily as soon as my supply was well established and she had good weight gains going . . . as a result I had 80 ounces of life giving breastmilk but no longer held a baby in need. . . 

It brings me great joy to know that God is providing vital immunity and nutrition for an adopted newborn through the milk I was trying to provide for Ellis Grace. It was senseless to keep but so painful to throw away. So God will have me do neither and will instead claim victory in blessing another baby with boosted health. So I say again- my God sees me and assures that I do not toil in vain. . . just as He uses each drop of milk to the benefit of a precious child, He will make sure that each of my tears is holy and blessed for His purpose. Praise God from whom all blessings Flow. . . 

#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

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Double Vision: Trauma Recovery

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Trauma Recovery has truly been one of the greatest adventures I have ever gone on with God.  It’s dark and confusing and I’ve had to get really good at seeking, asking, and hearing that spirit voice above the noise that trauma continues to generate.  It’s like going through a dark narrow cave and finding yourself stuck – – scared and squished- – it seems there’s no way out and then you hear Him say “twist this way” or you see a light shine exposing an opening you can comfortably reach. 

You keeping hiking toward lofty views with soaring victories but you also find yourself sinking on quicksand.  It’s not enough to suffocate you. He would never allow that. But it’s enough that you don’t feel solid ground and He allows a lot of that.  And when you don’t feel solid ground long enough , you wonder if you will ever feel solid again. 

He’s been faithful to guide me through every hurdle that trauma throws in front of me. All of the hurdles are different widths and heights and I can’t distinguish either while I’m running. So I must listen as the Father directs me in the exact approach needed to overcome the hurdle.  

One of the first hurdles was the repeated flashback visions of my daughter as I found her. 

As a Christian, I knew it was actually a good thing. . . A glorious homecoming and a wonderful peaceful way to move to a place called paradise. But as a mother, who found her child not breathing– this was great trauma to me.  Flooding my body with panic at the thought of that memory. 

Asking God to replace this image was the therapy of choice. My tribe called out to God to provide the right image.  I tried to think of actual angels carrying her homeward. And I tried to think of radiant light streaming to the spot where she lay. Nothing would stick and my mind always drifted back to pale, lifeless Ellis and the panic that vision brought about in my heart. 

So it seemed I would be stuck in that pressed nook of the cave forever. Until I went to a bathroom at a thrift store/ lunch counter in Atchison. I sat down, looked up and there it was. A picture that was much closer to the truth of the moment. A picture that whispered of things yet unseen. The picture of sweet chubby rosy cheeks, perfectly curled hair in a perfectly peaceful place. I don’t believe my daughter is an angel but I did believe she soared with the Angels. So even those subtle wings were right. It was exactly the right image to replace the image that was wrong in so many ways. 

And so every time I think of her lying lifeless in my bed, I make a conscious choice to replace that image with the cherub of my choosing. Really of His choosing.  Because as the tribe called to Him, He made sure that picture would call to me. The world calls it image replacement therapy and I call it  Gods gift. It cost ten dollars. But to me, it’s priceless. A light in a dark cave. An opening giving away to more comfortable territory.  

We’ll go on like this, He and I . . . Exploring each layer of trauma together. Claiming the ground of recovery with maps, clues, and bits of light He tosses me. I need only wait for the next one. 

Did You Hear the News? 

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You’ve just heard the most tragic news. It’s sad. Shocking. Terrifying.  And maybe you stop to say a sincere prayer. Maybe you cry right where you are because of  their loss . . . The way their world has suddenly changed forever has rocked you to your core. You can’t imagine what it would be like to suffer such a paralyzing fate.  You don’t know what to do but one thing is for sure: you need to connect and rally around other humans United by the shock and sadness of this event.  Maybe the strong feeling to reach out to the actual family is suddenly upon you. 

What do you do? Well that’s up to you. But I’m begging everyone with truly good intentions to hear me out.  I know it sounds crazy but is there any way that respect and privacy could rise to the highest sense of urgency for a few hours? 

Trauma and sudden loss of life are tender topics. They are serious weapons of mass destruction but there are known elements that can soften their blow.  And it matters how you hear about these events and from whom.  It takes time to get a hold of the right people. It takes time to assemble the right support. It takes time to allow for code blues and body identifications to run their course.  For people to hear the words ” I’m sorry there was nothing more we could do” and to understand them. To say goodbye. To call the people – so many people who deserve to hear from a family voice. And to make decisions. 

And there is no dress rehearsal for death. You get one chance at all of it.  There is only one time you will hear those words. You don’t get to push a reset button.  I am sorry we live in an age where some people hear their sacred news on a social media comment. I know how disorienting it is to get “I’m sorry. We’re praying for you “texts way before you know what your prayer needs are.  I’m sad that containment and insulation are nearly impossible in these moments. We had to hurriedly send a family member to retrieve our boys from school because somehow people had already heard the news even though we hadn’t left the hospital.  We could have easily been denied the Holy privilege of bearing that news as a family together. 

So let it stop you in your tracks.  Let it break your heart and lift your prayers and rock your world. But please let it do those things for a very long time before it causes you to hit the SEND button.   Because that police scanner isn’t broadcasting breaking news , it’s begging you to let that first responder call be the only call for a good, long while.  

A Thousand Words

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This picture posted in my Facebook memories for a year ago. What do you see? An adorable boy holding an adorable baby? The calm joy that comes in keeping a sleeping baby in a sleeping state? 

I see a boy who “should” have had a sister of his own to Hold take delight in feeling the love of holding somebody else’s brother.  I see in his arms what was ripped from my arms. I see my arms stretching out to keep the world spinning and keep it still at the same time. I see victory in the midst of surrounding defeat and I see peace in the dangerous gusts of stormy winds. I see a miracle. Unexplainable control of self and circumstances. I see courage and bravery and tenacity unrivaled. I see a love bigger than myself and a life worth holding onto. 

I would love to tell you that I have no idea what made me fight so hard for the ability to attend a baby shower less than a month after my own baby died.  Because it does seem crazy now. But the truth is I needed to remain true to my ideals and values – even in a season of grief and unrest.   If we stop living and loving and caring when one of us dies, then we all die.  And man is appointed to die but one time. And that time is not while he is still living. 

I love my friends. I believe we should rejoice with them as they are rejoicing. I believe new life should be celebrated and that friendship is more important than selfishness.  I believe that babies fresh from heaven should be loved and admired by as many people as possible. And I believe it enough to fight for it. 

To fight my own panic in the baby section of target. . . To fight the enemy that says I could never make it through the shower and would humiliate myself. . . To fight the part of me that stopped breathing when he asked if he could hold baby Henry. But not just to fight.  To win. 

I died a thousand times this day and even the days leading up to it. But only so I could LIVE. Live true to the me I’ve always been. To that which I hold dear. To the work He’s being faithful to complete. It ain’t always pretty but it’s always good and it’s always worth it.  And the alternative is death- only the kind of death where you are still alive. And He didn’t die for me to live like that.