The problem with writing some particularly painful moments of your life is that you have to go back to that moment to access details of the memory. Currently, I'm writing about the days leading up to Avery's tracheotomy at eight weeks old and I just realized I've been holding my breath as I type. I held my breath a lot back then. She was so air-hungry and exhausted from her constant struggle to breathe and screamed almost constantly since a steady scream ensured a steady flow of oxygen, even if it spent all of her energy to secure it. She would sleep for only minutes at a time before she scream out again for her next breath.
Thankfully, Avery was so young that she will never remember those days, but for the rest of my life- I will never forget. I'll never forget having to gently shake her from a particularly deep sleep so that she would remember to take her next breath (something her brain is still trying to master). I will never forget filming the numbers on her pulse ox as they dropped lower and lower so the next attending physician I spoke with would believe me that she was definitely not as "stable" as they had maintained.
I'll never forget sleeping only 3 hours a night when Cody would take his shift with her. I'll never forget having to hold her in a very specific position to optimize her very minimal airway behind her obstructive tongue. My arms burned and my soul ached. I'll never forget suffering from mastitis over and over because I couldn't pump and hold my gasping infant at the same time. I'll never forget feeling too guilty to wake my husband to take over for me because he was also completely exhausted even as I felt the familiar lumps, piercing pain and threatening fever worsening.
I'll never forget making the call that we were ready to choose a tracheotomy for Avery and immediately being given a surgery arrival time for the next day. I'll never forget the weight of that choice bearing down on me as I assumed the responsibility of becoming Avery's voice. The trach I had just chosen for her had stolen her every sound. To preserve her life I had made her temporarily mute, not even able to audibly cry.
I'll never forget finding my own voice through becoming hers. I only learned how much weight my own voice had until it was the only one speaking for the both of us; until it was the lone advocate for my child's life. It had to be honest, hopeful, clear and unapologetic. It had to be the kind of voice that Avery would be proud to have. It couldn't be whiny or pathetic. It couldn't be weak or inconsistent. It couldn't be cruel or selfish.
Proverbs says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (31:8-9)
There is so much power and purpose in being the voice for those who have none. Far more powerful and fulfilling than making all the noise for yourself. But you can't be an advocate for something or someone you don't know- a cause you can't see. One of the greatest gifts I have received since becoming Avery's mother was the forced change in my perspective. I couldn't just see my own life anymore. I was thrust into a world so much bigger than myself. I began to see needs outside my own- situations more dire and painful than I would ever experience; a world bigger than my next outfit, my next vacation, my next workout.
A fulfilling life is one lived for a cause bigger than yourself. Jesus Christ is my advocate, interceding on my behalf, so I can be less worried about myself and more more worried about the causes He has laid on my heart. He is The Voice for me, so I'm free to use my voice for others. He will never leave me or forsake me, so I will never leave or forsake those He has called me to advocate for.
Speak up. Who and what will you defend? What voice will you have? Will it name-call and tear down or will your voice be a voice of reason? Peaceful yet passionate. Loving yet logical. Will it be honest even when it hurts? Will it be smart enough to stay quiet when it doesn't have the full story? Will it be worth more than critical comments on a social media post? Will you make it count?
Its your voice. You decide. Decide wisely. Know the power of the preposition. Your greatest good comes from advocating FOR something, instead of always railing AGAINST.