I was looking back through my old blog at some of the posts surrounding my first weeks and months of mothering, and then the transition from one to two babies. It's all a bit of a blur. But I do remember it was hard.
Those sleepless nights multiplied into utter exhaustion. I found myself trying to blend the mentality of my previous life with the reality of my new one. I found it didn't work. My frustration came in moments when I was hoping for peace, control, and success in my days- and found all of that to be lacking. "Worn ragged" is a term that often came to mind.
Don't hear this as complaining. There weren't words to express my gratitude for the new season. My babies were a dream come true and I saw them as gifts. But even the overwhelming thankfulness I felt didn't change the fact that life as I knew it was gone and there were inevitable growing pains.
It felt like from moment to moment I vacillated between joyful contentment and feelings of complete inadequacy and frustration.
The days could be hard. But there was a uniqueness about them.
Something deeper surfaced. Feeling so incredibly weak, I prayed over and over again for strength. Over and over again He provided.
I challenged myself during all those hours of feeding my babies to do so without my phone in hand. So I'd grab one of the books beside my chair or just sit and think.
If I were to humbly offer encouragement to a new mother I think it would be this:
Understand they will be rough, or at least they are for most of us. Your little one will have sleep issues, probably combined with stomach and skin issues. Be prepared for lots of issues.
Instead of doing everything possible to resist the difficulty, press in to it. Instead of fighting the stress and strain with things that won't satisfy in the end, fall in to prayer. Allow those moments to build some muscle.
When we lean in to our own weakness, we open the gate for his mighty power to rush in.
My friend and I were laughing the other day remembering the coping mechanisms we used to survive those hard times (and of course still use). Sometimes both my babies would be up before the sun and my husband would be off to school. I felt completely exhausted before 6am and wondered what I would do with a full day ahead with only a drop of patience left.
I would strap them in to the car and head a couple minutes west to the edge of our town. We would drive along the country roads, watching the sunrise, moo-ing at the cows, and listening to music. It gave me a moment of peace and a big dose of hope for the coming day.
I read an Amy Carmichael biography, A Chance to Die, the week before our oldest son was born. It's an inspiring story that demonstrates how seemingly mundane "motherwork" can always be an offering to the Lord. No matter how small or unspiritual a task seems, it can always be done for His glory.
Amy Carmichael never had any children of her own, but she became a mother to hundreds of orphans in India where she served as a missionary in very humble circumstances for over 50 years. She sacrificed her entire life and counted it as joy.
...if the Lord of Glory took a towel and knelt on the floor to wash the dusty feet of His disciples (the job of the lowest slave in the Eastern household), then no work, even the relentless and often messy routine of caring for squalling babies, is demeaning. To offer it up to the Lord transforms it into a holy task. (p.182, A Chance To Die by Elisabeth Elliot)
The not-so-glamorous work in those baby days humbles and stretches you.
In His presence is fullness of joy, so if we invite Him into those moments, joy is possible. Selfless love, having to put your own desires aside moment after moment, creates deeply rooted strength. Embrace it. Press in.
By His grace and through His strength, it makes you stronger.
For anyone interested, here are a few other resources that inspired me in the early mothering days:
Inspired to Action's "Maximize Your Mornings" ebook (Her whole site, as well as her podcast, is wonderful. I've used her prayer calendars for a few years now.)
If nothing else, read the Bible. Truly, that is where the greatest source of strength will be found. While you're feeding your baby read a verse, or listen to something like the Daily Audio Bible if you don't have the energy to read.
(And, of course, if your feelings seem to run deeper than the normal "baby blues", ask for help. So much can be gained from services like professional Christian counseling.)