DON’T GIVE UP – Sarah Bates


God has turned some of my most exhausting and most challenging sleep-deprived days into a message of hope and divine promise to encourage the discouraged.

My husband Michael is a domestic pilot who is frequently away from home for at least one night, and often up to three nights, a week, so I am the full-time, stay-at-home parent to our now three young boys.

Nearly two years ago while I was preparing dinner for our then two years and one year old boys, I realised that I was feeling completely overwhelmed and dwelling negatively on the daily situations and challenges that we were confronted with since we were blessed with our second son, Liam.
And here I was, pregnant with our third baby, wondering out loud where God was when I called out to Him to calm my mind’s unrest at the remembrance of the intense demands on my time, energy, and emotions from the day Liam was born.  My mind was in turmoil, I felt like I had a storm raging within my head, and I knew that only God could give me the perfect peace that I once possessed.
I desperately wanted to know an actual date and time when the oppression on me would lift and release me to feel free again.

Yes, though I walk through the (deep, sunless) valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod (Your Word, to protect) and Your staff (to guide), they comfort me.

Our precious little Liam was a silent reflux and colicky baby who would cry loudly for hours, plus gag, choke and vomit during and after each feed, especially when he was laid down in his cot.  The only times we could get him to stop crying, and sometimes even shut his eyes, was when we cradled him upright in our arms, which wasn’t ideal when I also had a very boisterous and constantly talking 14 months older son to parent.
My washing loads were were non-stop as a result of all our clothes and Liam’s bedding being soiled from his constant vomiting, and in one night alone both Liam and I had seven outfit changes, which was very disheartening!

My Mum had been staying with us for 5 weeks since Liam’s birth, but when the time came for her to return home to New Zealand, we all realised (Michael, myself, and Mum) that it was in our family’s best interests to extend her stay, up to a year in total; and I immediately and desperately sought medical, especially pediatric, advice on how to reverse, or at least ease, Liam’s digestive disorder.

After being referred to several specialists, none of whom had “the answer”, we followed advice and put Liam on a dairy-free diet, which made no difference at all to the pain and discomfort he was in.
All the specialists tried to reassure us with such advice as, “Give Liam another month, and as his digestive system matures he’ll outgrow this silent reflux and colic stage he’s presently in”.
But the months came and went, and there was still no improvement in his condition. By now I was very discouraged, burdened, feeling helpless, and even beginning to resent the fact that Michael and I were paying such high specialist fees for not even a hint of a positive result from any of these visits.
However, the last pediatrician we visited took one look at Liam and immediately stated “This baby is so exhausted that he needs sleep!!!”
Well, he referred us to the Masada Private Hospital’s Sleep School’s Mother/Baby Unit here in Melbourne, which gave us some hope.
Michael organised to have the week off work to look after our very active oldest son Harry, plus both our mothers were available to free Michael up to visit Liam and I for our 5 nights at the sleep school.
The nurses were fantastic, and they settled Liam in his own individual room, away from my room, for all his first 48 hours sleeps, which ensured that I was left in my own private bedroom to experience my first peaceful, uninterrupted, quiet and quality sleep in 14 months!!
On the third day, the nurses trained me to take over Liam’s new settling and sleep routine, and I was absolutely amazed at how after reading him a short story, then laying him down in his cot wide awake, that he didn’t make a single sound as he watched me leave his room!! = absolutely incredulous! The nurse assured me that she would come and get me if Liam needed me to reassure him that I was still close by, but I would not be picking him up, instead, I would gently roll him away from facing me, pat his back as I made “shushing” sounds, and once again leave him to self-settle! – and this new routine worked like a miracle from God from that day on!
Our once sleepless baby had changed within a few days to effortlessly going to sleep for a solid 12 hours overnights, plus would willingly have lengthy, quality daytime sleeps!
All the praise and glory to God our heavenly Father, who desires the best for us, His children.

I now realised that I had become physically weary and emotionally disheartened and “drained,” even to the point of just going through the motions of my daily routine to simply survive during Liam’s first 14 months of life.

I had allowed the enemy, our adversary Satan, to rob me of my hope, and I was unable to exercise my faith while under oppression, and I certainly had no expectations left of seeing this breakthrough which God had given me!


II SAMUEL 5:19-20 AMPLIFIED VERSION: David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines?  Will You deliver them into my hand?  And the Lord said to David, Go up for I will surely deliver (them) into your hand.”  v20 “And David came to Baal- perazim, and he smote them there, and said, The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like the bursting out of great waters.  So he called the name of that place Baal-perazim (Lord of breaking through).”

So, returning to the day I was preparing my two boys’ dinner.  Yes, I was feeling completely overwhelmed, and allowing many negative thoughts to replay in my mind, the still raw and very vivid memories of all the stress, pressure and tension when Liam had been so unsettled and needing full-time attention as a baby. Without consciously knowing it, I began to listen to the lies of the deceiver, who was causing me to feel isolated, worried, discouraged, confused, hopeless and frightened.
After two days of being bombarded with these lies, I finally shared with Michael what I was enduring, and he naturally was very concerned and encouraged me to explain all this to my obstetrician whom I had an appointment with the next day.
I did this in an unexpected torrent of tears, even expressing to her that I was feeling defeated as a mother, even before I had given birth to our third baby.
She was extremely understanding, encouraging and reassuring. After checking our baby’s position and heartbeat, she gave me a referral to a specialist; and on visiting him, he concluded that I was suffering from Post- Natal Depression after having Liam, and I was still in a state of “burn out” and overwhelm, despite Liam now being a calm, placid and “loving his sleeps” boy! HUH?!!! I was baffled at not having had PND before, yet was now being diagnosed with it nearly two years on!!
I had always been such a positive person, always helping others, and felt more than confident and capable doing mum life solo while Michael was away on work trips.

He discussed strategies and implemented an emergency relief plan to ease my load and take care of my mind and my thoughts leading up to having our third baby.
We put Harry into daycare for 2 full days a week (I had to overcome some “mum guilt” from my part being a stay at home mum thinking that it’s my job to have him home with me).
A good friend and my sister in law both had Liam once a week on the days Harry was at daycare.
Michael worked no overnight trips away and didn’t take on any extra work he was offered.
We ordered weekly meals to be delivered to take a load off etc…

I continued to see my specialist for 6 months as he wanted to track my progress and ensure my support systems were functioning well even after I’d given birth to Noah, our very welcome and loved third son.

My last conversation with my specialist has left a marked impression with me, as it was about God.
He was talking about the evolution of man and as he paused I politely jumped in and said I don’t believe in evolution and the Big Bang theory but know that God is real and truely alive as I am sitting here, a living, breathing, purpose-filled testimony of His hand throughout my life, especially in my hour of wanting to give up six months earlier.
It stopped him in his tracks and he was lost for words and kind of jokingly and a tad annoyed challenged me what my view was about when my kids reach school age and they get to choose their gender!!
I replied softly yet boldly they know their identities without a shadow of a doubt, they are loved and secure knowing God had them on His mind before they were even born, they 100% know God specifically made them male and they will
always be male.
He was silent as he gazed out his window with his legs crossed tapping his foot, the sound of the wall clock ticking in the background.
He said ‘Sarah you have a joy that I have not seen in any of my other patients’, and he continued to explain that “I deliberately put multiple tissue boxes every day next to the chair you are sitting on as the majority of my clients cry into them every session how broken they are and don’t want to look to anything positive but harvest self pity, hopelessness and hurt over their lives”.
You look to something greater, something I can’t get my head around.
‘I know you will go on and do great things as a mother, as a wife, I don’t need to see you again!!’

I stop to reflect on that specific conversation and know that it was God’s intention that we cross paths so that I could share God’s truth in this ever changing society.

I urge you after whatever difficult season of suffering, whether spiritually, mentally or physically you have been faced with or are walking through right now, or what you encounter in the future…

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace (Who imparts all blessing and favour), Who has called you to His (own) eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen , and settle you.

Everything the enemy has stolen, God is going to restore: the joy, the peace, the health, the dreams, the calm after the storm.

Do you press into God when the going gets tough?
Do you hunger and thirst for more of God during these moments?
I would like to say I did, but in this chapter of my story, I ran just like Jonah did, in the opposite direction; withdrew from God and His promises over my life and looked to other things to help me through my wilderness moments.
But even when I did, I always ended up coming back to The One Who has everything I need to get me through my tough times – GOD!

RUN TO JESUS my friend.
Everything you need in this season is found in Him.
No amount of self help books, podcasts, sermons, speaking to specialists to seek answers, can help you as much as a moment in God’s Presence.

Please don’t isolate yourself or withdraw, it’s so important to be connected into a local church and be surrounded by a healthy family community who speak life into your situation and stand alongside you declaring God’s promises and His breakthrough over your life.

God says we are loved.
God says we are chosen.
God says we’re forever His.
And His is the voice I must choose to believe.