As you know, I only breastfed Evelyn for four days. I felt completely at peace with that decision, as did Justin. It was best for our family situation to have Evelyn drink from a bottle and to save me from the pain and stress of nursing. However, there have been numerous days these past two and a half months that I have thought I made a terrible mistake. Especially when it came to Evelyn’s bowel movements.
See, the problem is that Evelyn can’t poop by herself.
How a baby who couldn't poop by herself teaches us Christ's Atonement. Click To Tweet
Evelyn had passed her meconium (the first newborn poo) even before she was delivered. She pooped a few times while in the hospital the first few days as she fed on my colostrum and milk. Then, when we switched her to Kirkland brand formula (the big can you buy at Costco), she stopped pooping. For almost four days, she would push and strain. Her legs would be up to her belly, her face would turn red. Nothing ever happened.
She would have plenty of wet diapers but was never able to pass bowel movements. Finally, after four days, with my mother consoling me, I pumped her little legs and pushed her knees up to her belly. After tortuous moments of Evelyn crying in pain and frustration, and me crying to see her in pain, poo came out. It was big, it was thick, it was green, it was pasty. Not the kind newborns should have.
We decided that the Kirkland brand was too hard on her. So, we switched her to Gerber Soothe with Probiotics. It was supposed to be a softer formula and the probiotics would help regulate her bowels. Our pediatrician also told us to give her some prune juice. The combination did loosen her stool, but she still couldn’t poop on her own. She was also very gassy and would have upset tummies. We tried essential oil blends, Mylicone drops, gripe water, prune juice, pumping her legs, everything. She still couldn’t poop on her own without us pumping and pushing her legs the whole time.
We visited a gastroenterologist who suggested she might have a milk allergy and to put her on some Miralax for a week to see what happens. Well, the Miralax definitely turned her stool to liquid, but she still 90% of the time couldn’t get it out herself!
One day, she was pushing and grunting and straining and crying. I tried to help pump her legs to pass the bowel movements and nothing was happening. But, I could see that she needed to poo. The whole stress of my poor little newborn daughter being unable to relieve herself was getting too much for me to bear.
I knelt on the floor, tears streaming down my face, and cried up to God. “Please, Heavenly Father, please. Help Evelyn be able to poo on her own. Please, I hate seeing her in pain. It’s killing me. Please, Heavenly Father, I am so willing to take the pain away from her. I’ll take all the bowel and digestive issues, her constipation, and hard stools. Please, I’ll take the inability to poo by myself. Just please help her and don’t have her be in pain anymore.”
I know you really shouldn’t bargain with God, but I was desperate. As a parent, I was physically ill because I was watching my precious baby suffer.
Then, I heard a crystal clear voice, “You don’t have to take on her pain, for I already have.”You don't have to take on her pain, for I already have. Click To Tweet
Not only has Christ taken upon himself all the sins of the world, but He has also taken upon himself all the pain of the world. That includes my not-even-two-month-old daughter’s inablity to poo by herself.
As a mother, I wanted so badly to help my daughter out of pain, I was willing to take the pain upon myself. But, Christ already did. He already suffered for my daughter. He knew the trials she would go through, even at this tender age, and He already helped her through it.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son John 3:16 KJV Click To Tweet
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)
Being a parent has taught me so much about our Savior and our Heavenly Father. I have learned so much about the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Christ. Heavenly Father loved us so much that He was willing to let Christ suffer for all of us so that we could be redeemed again. Christ loved us so much that He was willing to do as His Father asked of Him–to be crucified for our sakes.
Today I declare from this pulpit what has been said here before: that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. When Isaiah, speaking messianically, wanted to convey Jehovah’s love, he invoked the image of a mother’s devotion. “Can a woman forget her sucking child?” he asks. How absurd, he implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us.
This kind of resolute love “suffereth long, and is kind, … seeketh not her own, … but … beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Most encouraging of all, such fidelity “never faileth.” “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed,” Jehovah said, “but my kindness shall not depart from thee.” So too say our mothers.
You see, it is not only that they bear us, but they continue bearing with us. It is not only the prenatal carrying but the lifelong carrying that makes mothering such a staggering feat. Of course, there are heartbreaking exceptions, but most mothers know intuitively, instinctively that this is a sacred trust of the highest order.
I am so blessed to be a mother and so grateful God has entrusted two of His sweet souls in my care. The opportunities to learn of Him through my experiences of being a mother is one of the best gifts He could give me. He is teaching us what it is like to be Him. He is teaching us what it means to create, to love, to become like He is. Motherhood is a gift. It is a divine calling. And even with all the heartache and pain that comes with it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
**Note on Evelyn’s current condition**
This prayer and event took place a few weeks ago. Currently, she is on a formula called Enfamil Reguline. My SIL’s SIL had a baby two weeks after I did, couldn’t nurse because of pain, and her daughter had the same issue. They tried this formula and she started pooping by herself. On this formula, Evelyn has produced a few small and a few average sized poops all on her own. We are still using a little bit of Miralax, but too much causes her belly aches.
We had another update with the gastroenterologist who doesn’t believe anymore that Evelyn has a milk allergy. She diagnosed Evelyn with “infantile dyschezia.” Basically, it takes to movements to poo: 1) pushing to get it in place and 2) relaxing for it to exit. With infantile dyzchezia, Evelyn can’t or doesn’t realize how to relax her muscles to allow the bowel movements to exit the intestines. It is basically something that she just has to grow out of.