Sweet will be the flow’r

November 18th, 2010

What is the difference to a mother between her own baby, and someone else’s baby?

My own baby smells just right.  And looks…just right.  I know my baby’s features better than my own.  My arms recognize my baby’s familiar shape and feel.  I would know my own baby in the pitch dark just by feel and smell.

One of my lingering fears during my pregnancy was that Verity would seem foreign to me.  That I would have a hard time bonding with her.  That she would have that look and feel and smell of someone else’s baby.  Wouldn’t there be something different about her that would make her feel strange to me?  Sweet, to be sure, but not right.  Not mine.

It’s time for me to make two confessions.

[I feel safe saying this now because I have grown up from where I was back then.  You understand how it’s okay to tell your parents about something you did back when you were waaaay younger. ]

The first confession is that before Verity was born, I prayed that she would be cute.


The second is that when I first got a good, clear look at her as the pediatrician was examining her in the hospital, my heart sank.  Between the effects of her hasty birth and her “differentness,” she was, in fact, not cute.

In that instant came thought #1, “This is how it feels to have someone else look at your baby and think that there is something wrong with her.”  Thought #2, “Oh well, die to it, Susanna.  It’s time to grow up and get over it.”   Thought #3, “But I will have to take pictures for others to see!”

[Oh dear, that doesn’t sound good at all.  But it is the sad truth.]

I felt very protective of her.  I tried not to feel sensitive to every nuance of every glance toward her.  I used a big bow to camouflage the fact that the back of her head looked flat.  I wanted everyone to, oh please, look past her homeliness and see a little valuable person.  A part of my heart is now outside my body.  Please don’t injure it with light esteem as it lies there in open view.

It wasn’t until after she came back to my hospital room from the NICU that first night that I really learned my baby.  I needed space and time in order to discover and delight in the gift God had sent me.

The many charms that babies have to offer are so subtle.  They must be savored slowly, deliberately, and quietly to be properly appreciated.  You rush it–you miss it.

And the savoring doesn’t grow lesser over the course of ten babies.  It grows deeper with the greater knowledge of the hurried passage of time.  Let the time flow on around us.  I will not miss this pleasure.  God has given me richly this child to enjoy.

By the next morning, she and I were moving together.  We had disconnected physically, but we were now connected down below the surface, down at the level of knowing.

That was just over twenty weeks ago.          

The other day I was singing to Verity before I laid her down to sleep.  She was turned toward me, up close to my face.  She loves the singing, of course, and was smiling with her bright eyes on mine, laughing around the thumb she had stuck in her mouth, and reaching up to my face with her other hand.  Then she began to hiccup.  And as I gazed at my baby’s face, I was overwhelmed by an enormous welling-up of…I don’t exactly know…normalcy?  It was so familiar, so right, so comfortably like any of my other babies at this age.

What makes the normalcy so poignantly significant is that there is more.  Always there is more.

More difficult?  Yes, but not nearly as difficult as I had been braced for.  The dread of Down syndrome is blown way out of all proportion to the reality, if over 90% of babies with Down syndrome are being aborted.

It is in the design of God that when we embrace the difficulties He ordains as necessary for us, there comes a greater good.

More awareness, more wonder, more contemplation, more amazement, more significance, more appreciation, more savoring, more joy.

The joy is hard fought.  Hard won.

Hard is worth it.  Hard is good.

Hard must be good, because our sovereign God is good.

“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy and shall break with blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace; behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding ev’ry hour; the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan his work in vain; God is his own interpreter and he will make it plain.”  ~William Cowper







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20 Responses to “Sweet will be the flow’r”

  1. maureen a. ;) says:

    I think you have summed up the unspoken feelings of all mothers.  Can anyone possibly love our sweet babies the way we do?  What if they’re less than perfect according to the world’s standards? 

    I remember when my dd #1 was a baby.  I was so thrilled to finally have a little girl!  She was very chubby and had an abundance of hair.  I would get very defensive about people commenting on her “big cheeks” or her “wig.”  I even cried one night after I was together with a friend who had a baby girl that was “ooohed and aaahhhed” over much more than my baby because she had cuter physical features.  I feel so ashamed now.  I was comparing my tailor-made gift with someone else’s gift. 

    Thank you for sharing your feelings.  Your sweet Verity is treasured by our family, even though they only see her in pictures.  They remember to pray for her, and they ooh and ahh over her.  God has given you a beautiful gift, and she is being cherished in your family as the string of pearls that she is.  Thankfully she was not thrown into the pen of the swine who would trample on her. 

    Love you,

  2. Ilisa says:

    Thank you for your honesty.  I often pray, as of late, for forgiveness for the evil I see inside.  What is evil is that I too felt disappointed when Calvin was born.  What was really hard for me at first was his thick little neck that I have since come to love.  I know that if I were a mama cat, I’d be thrilled to have that extra skin!  I wish I weren’t like that but I guess at the same time, I thank God for choosing this path to teach me.  I am grateful to God that I have Calvin, or I’d continue as I was.
    I admit that I still have a hard time when I see adults with Ds, but instead of being worried about how I’ll feel as Calvin ages, I know it will change because I love him.  I am always praising God for teaching me how to look past the physical shell we carry.  I am learning to love all people, because of Calvin.  How wonderful is that!?

  3. Jennifer says:

    love all the pictures!  She’s so sweet!  I especially like all the ones in her bed as she’s settling down.  Veriity is such a doll! 

  4. Sandie says:

    My 2nd DD would tell you that all babies are homely.  I, on the otherhand, think all babies are beautiful!  I remember the pic of Verity with the huge white bow.  She looked adorable!  All of the pics you share have been lovely. 
    I remembering feeling very protective of Christopher, too.  Esp. when we went to the surgeon’s office, who always insists on a group of residents observing. 

  5. Angela in MT says:

    Oh I can so relate to the feelings in this post.  I felt almost the exact same way about Ally.  I was so afraid of what she was going to look like.  And frankly, her cleft was much worse than we ever expected.  It did take some getting used to.  But once all the medical people cleared out of the room, and I was able to “learn” her, the bond was amazing.  And the joy I have learned to savor through our journey with her, is a priceless gift.
    Thank you so much for making the time to write!

  6. Joy Horton says:

    Oh, Susanna! If ONLY everyone in the world could read this post – to understand the preciousness of little Verity, of all babies, but especially those who happen to have DS. They are NOT DS – they HAVE DS. They are little babies (first) who have DS. 

    I have no words to accurately express The Blessing of Verity in MY life, and seeing and hearing your honesty (thank you for your candid confessions in this post). I thank you for your transparency and for allowing us “out here” to peek into your world.

    And what a beautiful, beautiful world it is!!! I LOVE the pics!!!


  7. Cousin Jill says:

    Oh Susanna!  I, too, appreciate your honesty but she’s more than cute – she’s adorably precious in every way.  I am so immensely enjoying watching her grow up via your blog.  Thank you for all that you take the time and courage to share.

  8. Tami Swaim says:

    It’s so funny how much she seems to like that frog!

  9. Stephanie Blanchard says:

    Joy took the words right out of my mouth.  I posted a blog a few entries back about people first language. 

    She’s your daughter first and has DS.  And she is beautiful.  ’nuff said.

  10. Marilyn Osborn says:

    Thank you for your transparency.  I could write a similar post regarding some issues we had with our adoptions.  You have a beautiful heart and I love to know your innermost thoughts.
    I wish you could see how long we linger over the pictures of that precious baby doll of yours.  She makes me giddy sometimes with all of her adorableness!  :)
    Thank you for continuing to share her with us.

  11. Tina Hubik says:

    Hello Susanna,

    I am enjoying the photos of your sweet Verity! I know it has been a long time since we have spoken, but we would still like to have your family over for a meal. Please let me know which days of the week are best for you! We’d also like to talk to you about the adoption process you are going through.

    Much love,

    Tina Hubik

  12. Elizabeth G says:

    I just wanted to say:
    Look how amazing Verity is! Holding her head up like such a big girl! And up so very tall on her forearms! Good job Verity! Good job mama!I’m so impressed with her social skills! Hannah just started really making prolonged eye contact and reaching for faces. And, the other day, when she was in the thick of a huge cold and had thick nasty yellow snot flowing like a river from her nose and was covered in slobber from the mouth breathing, she gave me her first great big open mouth kiss right on my mouth. And it was beautiful. The most moving first kiss I’ve had, because it was my little baby girl.

  13. Veronica says:

    Verity is SO cute.  I love peeking at your pink blog and seeing her sweet face.  I appreciate your posts but don’t have much time to comment, we are still in the hospital with our little one.  After eight healthy kids our ninth baby was born with Goldenhar syndrome, which affected his heart severely and most outwardly obvious, a very deformed ear.  I am still struggling with how to deal with the comments and my own feelings about it.  I needed to read this post today!

  14. Susanna says:

    Veronica, your little boy is just PRECIOUS!  Our family will pray for him, and for you, and for the rest of your family.

    (P.S. Are you on Momys??)

  15. Susanna says:

    Tina, I got your phone number, just didn’t publish it.  We’d love to come, and I’ll call soon, Lord willing!  (By the way, the photo you sent is still right here on my desk!)  :)

  16. Susanna says:

    To everyone who commented with kindness and understanding on this post–THANK YOU!


  17. alice says:

    Susanna, do you know what? I was worried that my first biological child would not be cute! I had two beautiful Asian babies and I was afraid the product of my husband and I would be homely. (BLUSH!) Maybe for some of the same reasons you feared–he would be DIFFERENT-looking than the babies I already had. Soooooo silly of me–he was, as Verity is, just lovely. And just as much mine as my first two. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your photos of your precious girl!

  18. Shauna says:

    Yes!  All I can say is yes.  That is it exactly!  You seem to always manage to put words to my feelings.  Verity is soooo cute! And she holds her head up so well, Reagan is only 9 weeks, but she isn’t even close to that and I so want her to be able to hold her head up and look at the world that so fascinates her!

  19. rejoicedover says:

    I just found your blog today. A friend posted your two year update about Katie on Facebook. Sine I lived in Bucharest caring for abandoned infants and children and can completely relate to Katie’s experience in the orphanage, I am hooked on your blog. I’ve been scrolling through your posts from this time period. I noticed in this and another that pictures of Katerina are included. Were they in the original post? Had you guys met her by now? I’m trying to followvthe timeline of events i how yall came to bring her home. Thank you for sharing Katie’s story with all the pictures – such an amazing testimony to. God’s healing and restorative touch!

  20. Susanna says:

    Hi! Thanks for the heads up! No, we hadn’t met Katie, so sorry for the confusion! It’s because I don’t title photos and when I upload a new photo to the blog with the same number as a previous photo with the same number, the new photo replaces the old one. I guess I’ll have to start titling photos! Please feel free to let me know if you find more out-of-place photos like that, as I would love to edit them out of posts. Thanks again and thank you, too, for commenting!

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