Breast Engorgement and the Love of God

It’s a little weird writing about breasts in a Christian-themed blog, but I am a doctor so I can get away with it. Plus you can’t see me giggle and blush.

Throughout pregnancy, a woman’s breast can increase 1-2 cup sizes as the tissue changes in anticipation for milk production and breastfeeding. It’s quite remarkable really what the body is capable of to care for the new life on the way. Sometimes though, if breastfeeding does not go well, they can become painfully engorged.

While my breast tissue has remained the same (thank goodness), I feel like my heart has undergone an engorgement of sorts. I’m not talking about a cardiomyopathy of pregnancy (which could happen to moms), but it seems like in emotional capacity, and even ability, my heart has grown. It’s a change both in quantity and quality.

Quantitatively, there has been just a huge surge of emotions, especially after the delivery, but even in the months leading to the big day. A couple weeks ago I was reading a children’s book to Priscilla’s belly, and right in the middle I started to cry. And not a burning-behind-my-eyes manly cry, but tears actually broke free, sliding ever so tenderly down my cheeks. Where in the world did that come from? I can’t even remember the last time I had real tears. Just looking at Ansley doing nothing but sleep, I am sometimes overwhelmed by how much I love this little thing.

And this love is different. Qualitatively, it’s a different form– a purer form — of love than I have experienced. The love I have for my parents and for Priscilla comes close, but even that love has been influenced by their actions towards me. Of course I love my wife, but I didn’t love Priscilla the first time I laid my eyes on her. If I did, it would have been quite creepy since she was just a junior higher. For sure I love my parents, but much of that I think has to do with the care and love they have shown me. That’s conditional love.

But Ansley has existed for less than a week and has done nothing but eat, sleep, poop, and cry all night. Yet I know I love her and will love her no matter what (check back with me in her teenage years and I hope this is still true). It’s the closest thing I have come to experiencing pure, unconditional love.

They say that the love of a parent for his or her child is the closest thing we can get to understanding the unconditional love that God has for us. It’s no surprise, then, that one of the major pictures of God in the Bible is that of God the Father, and we as His children. Unfortunately, because of our fallenness, there are many broken families. As a consequence, there are many broken pictures of God.

Christian parents, we have the task of redeeming the picture of God’s unconditional love for us through our love for our children. A professor said in class once, “Our role as parents is to give our kids the most appropriate picture of God so that when ‘God comes around,’ they will recognize Him.”

By the way we love our kids, our kids will be introduced to their heavenly Father, and those around will catch a glimpse too. When they read about the amazing love of God, that love will seem familiar, inviting, because they have already felt it from you. John 3:16 would not just be a cliche, but an experience based in reality. Parenthood really is a high calling, your prayers are much appreciated.

To all my recently married Christian friends, do take some time to enjoy marriage and build up your relationship before the babies come. But don’t wait too long though. The world needs more examples of God’s unconditional love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

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Home Sweet Home (A recap of this past week’s excitement)

Wow what a whirlwind of a week this turned out to be. During my sermon last Sunday I half joked that when we met again for service we might be new parents. I have to be more careful with my words.

Even though we are a full week early, the timing could not have been better. The baby turned out bigger than anticipated, and the doctor even said that if the baby stayed until her due date, Priscilla would have needed a c-section. Looks like Someone knows what He is doing.

These last several days are just a huge blur. Now that we are finally home, I have a chance to process it all. More for my own sake, here’s a recap how our little miracle came into this world. If you don’t care for the details, you can scroll through to see the pictures. It all started about 9 mos ago after a romanti… just kidding we won’t go that far back.

Tuesday morning (12/30/14) while I was getting ready for my last week of work, Priscilla mentioned she had a small amount of discharge that was more watery than usual. She hadn’t had much in terms of contractions, but after an extensive review of medical literature on Google, we decided to just go in to be safe. Turned out to be a good call.

Around 8:30 am we arrived at Labor and Delivery, and they sent off a sample to the lab. Thirty minutes later, the nurse confirmed that Priscilla was leaking amniotic fluid. Even though it was a very small amount, they decided to admit her to induce labor since she was at a higher risk of infection (GBS + for the medical people) and told us that the baby will come in the next 12-24 hours.

Hearing that, I went into panic mode since I thought I still had one more week to prepare. While Priscilla got admitted, I went home to tie up what seemed like a million loose ends for work, church, and just regular life before disappearing for at least 3 days.

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Turned out I didn’t have to rush since her induction lasted quite a long time because other than the fluid leaking, Priscilla was not at all in labor. They started the medicines around 10 am, and by 10 pm she was only about 3 cm dilated. We spent the day chatting, watching movies/shows, and hanging out.

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Originally we had wanted a natural delivery without too much meds on board, but by that time Priscilla was exhausted from being in the hospital all day. We decided to go for the epidural to help her relax more, and that turned out to be another good call.

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Around 10 pm, the epidural went in and early AM 12/31/14, things started to move, but even then it was still painfully (pun intended) slow. The rest of her water broke, and the contractions started to come on stronger and stronger.

After around 4 am, she finally reached 10 cm and was ready to start pushing. Unfortunately, the baby didn’t seem to want to come out. 2.5 hours later, Priscilla was pooped out (not literal), and the baby only progressed a small amount.

Around 6:45 am, the doctor came in and decided to give it one last go at pushing. If baby didn’t come out, then it was to the OR we go. Praise the Lord it didn’t come to that. With the help of a vacuum and some extra encouragement, Ansley entered the world at 7:06 am!

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Almost 24 hours after going in for a quick check just in case, we had a brand new baby girl. The next two days was setting into a routine of feeding, resting, and showing her off to visitors. We have had so much support and love from those around us, thank you! I have never gotten so many Facebook likes with any other pictures/status updates.

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All the leftover time, we just hung out and enjoyed the gift God has given to us. We were sad we weren’t able to be with family and friends on New Year’s Eve, but we had fun celebrating as a new family. And by celebrating we mean feeding and changing poopy diapers past midnight.

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Your eyes do not deceive you, that is a steak dinner they give for new moms! As for the rest of the stay, it was pretty uneventful. Ansley had some jaundice that needed additional blood tests, but those turned out fine. Friday 1/2/15 in the morning we were discharged home!

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It really is a miracle, this whole birthing thing. As I watch my daughter move and squirm in her new bed, it’s surreal to think only days ago it was her that was making Priscilla’s stomach move. God really has knit her from the womb, and as I have loved her before she came out, I know that God has loved her even before she was conceived.

It’s crazy that as exhausting as these last couple of days have been, it is just the beginning. We are in totally way over our heads, but surrounded by friends and family, and with God’s guidance, somehow we trust that it will turn out alright.

A big thank you again to all who have come alongside of us in this journey, and a thank you ahead of time for walking with us. It’s going to be an eventful 2015. Happy New Year!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16)