Every couple months we take time during our worship service for Everyday Doxologist, an opportunity for a City Church member or attendee to share how the Gospel influences his or her everyday work.
My name is Tracie Abrams. I am a wife, mother of four, pediatric nurse, and lactation consultant. I specialize in breastfeeding challenges and infant oral feeding issues, specifically from birth to one year. After 14 years in the hospital setting, I left to do outpatient care, and for the past three years I’ve been working at a pediatric office. Most of our community does not have the means to seek lactation help outside of our office.
I meet my patients the first days or weeks after they’ve had their first or seventh child. And for you parents out there, we all know what a remarkable and vulnerable time that can be. The hospital honeymoon stage has worn off, and we are alone at home with noone to reassure us. Why is my baby screaming all night, why won’t they feed, why do I hurt so bad, why do I feel so horrible, why do I feel guilty for feeling this way? These are just a few of the questions I bear witness to when I meet with families. It’s despair.
And I am reminded of the broken world we live in. We come to our new parenting role with old pains from childhood, old hurts done to us, feelings of insecurity, ideas of the kind of parent we think we should be and old coping mechanisms that rely on our earthly selves, giving us a false sense of control. How could this precious beautiful gift that the Lord has given us be tainted by these feelings? But sometimes it is.
There is hope though. I see God daily in my work: a husband lovingly strokes his wife’s shoulder as she cries; a baby crawls to his mother’s breast and finds it without her help because she is paralysed on the left side of her body; or a mother’s milk that wasn’t there the day before, a day much later than hoped, has finally come in.
God has walked with me in my own parenting struggles and pain, and it has served me well. When I had my last two infants, I was unable to breastfeed or produce milk. And by the generosity of other mothers, through Him, I recieved their pumped milk to feed my babies for months on end. There were days when I knew I only had enough milk to last a few more feedings. I would plead to the Lord asking for his guidance and provision. Time and time again, my prayers were answered, and I would be connected with one of His angels, sometimes a stranger, who could donate milk to feed my baby. I felt heard. I try to mirror that care on the families I meet through Him.
Last week, a mother reached out to me looking for milk. I knew of no one at the time who could provide it. I told her that much and said, "I have faith. I will pray because it always worked for me." And sure enough, the next morning, I received a text from a former patient who had recently weaned her child and had a freezer full of untouched milk...did I know anyone who needed it?
How great is He? Such a simple request to quiet such huge worries, and He heard it!
He does provide. He does listen.
As I’ve witnessed God’s grace, I realize that breastfeeding was just my gateway to loving parents and children. It doesn’t matter to me how a mother chooses to feed her baby. Is she attuned to her baby? Is she marveling at her amazing body that created this baby? Does she see herself as the person God sees her as? Does she feel loved?
So, aside from the tangible ways that I serve, like establishing feeding plans, or diagnosing a problem, I just want to be a cheerleader for Jesus. I want to share my pains. I want to meet parents where they are, providing grace and mercy as He did. I want to cultivate empathy, hope, strength, encouragement, and comfort. Sometimes these things are the only thing I can offer.
I pray for my patient’s that their fears or pains be put on Him. I want moms and dads to feel they are perfect in their messy selves and are loved with no expectations or requirements as promised daily by our creator. We are stronger in numbers and stronger when we turn to Him.