Before I write anything, I always pray it comes from a place of grace and what the Lord wants. I am under no assumption that everybody who reads this blog is exactly like me, with the same convictions and opinions, but I know that each one of us has a story to tell.
Our story of miscarriage and a small part of my experience with postpartum has sparked conversations with women and mothers all over the world that I never would have imagined. I have been so encouraged by how the Lord has been able to connect so many people, and how stories of His faithfulness have been so beautifully displayed in each of their lives. And with around 10 short weeks until our second baby boy arrives, I’ve been thinking so much about honesty not only with myself, but with others.
When I lost our first baby and when I brought Cove into this world, I craved honest relationships. I want to preface what I mean by “honest relationships”: not ones with people who complain all the time about their situations, because I think that can be confused with honesty, but women who are upfront, real and humble about their struggles, life and where their hope is.
I hope you can identify with who I am talking about… These are women who you can talk with openly, even about the hardest of things in life, and you walk away feeling completely refreshed and encouraged, not judged and inadequate by the world’s standards. If you don’t know those women, I am sure you’ve been in relationships with the opposite where every time you leave a conversation with them you are second guessing yourself, feeling less than or just as miserable as you were before.
I am thankful for the fact that even though there are some of the exhausting relationships in my life, God has brought strong, brave women to be honest with me about things. Honest with me about their stories. Honest with me about how I need to pick myself up or trust less in myself and more in Him.
I started to notice a pattern about these honest women.
- They were brave in sharing their stories, but quick to point out the fact their stories weren’t really about them. Side note: Their stories always ended in hope. Maybe not always in they way they wanted their prayers answered, but always ending in hope and trust.
- They possessed refreshing realness because they were authentic from a place of truth.
- They were considerate in how, where and who they shared their stories with.
And oh how I long to be those things. Please be quick to call me out when I am not.
As I approach the birth of our second baby boy, I am working hard to be real and honest with myself this go around. There are a lot of things that will be totally different that I can’t prepare myself for, but I can remember what I have learned thus far and hopefully use it as I walk through this season. This isn’t some sort of advice or lessons for new mother’s per-say, as much as it is a public list of things to remind myself of (in no particular order).
- No one walks through motherhood the same. So stop comparing. You might think you and your best friend will raise babies the same way, but you might have completely different birth stories, different children and very different struggles. There will be people who go through the exact same situation as you, but they don’t have your personality or may not have the same way of dealing with those things. THAT’S ALL OKAY! Keep your focus on where God has you. Pray for discernment on what He’s trying to teach you through your situations. And be okay with your version of motherhood looking different than someone else’s.
- Give yourself a break, and don’t let the little things steal your joy. I can still remember Ian grabbing my knees as I sat there sobbing over my baby while the sound of the breast pump buzzed over and over. I looked at him through bloodshot eyes and tears and he said “give yourself a break”, with a lot of really great advice and gushy stuff following. Sometimes things don’t work. And in my case, breastfeeding didn’t. Some moms would tell you that I just didn’t try hard enough or long enough, and that’s always a reality, but I had about five really big things up against me plus a series of sickness / allergic reactions where I just couldn’t get healthy again. I’ve heard stories of mom’s going through much worse and making it happen, but that wasn’t the case for me. I had to sit there and decide if I was going to cry myself to sleep for the next year about it or I was going to say, “You know what… the best thing for me and my family is to stop trying, pump as long as I can, then let the boy be happy and drink his formula.” The day I gave myself a break and let it go, I finally started to enjoy life a little more. (I would say Ian enjoyed life a little more after that too, haha). I let something I thought was going to define me, but really didn’t, steal my joy.
- Embrace the season. It may be one of the hardest seasons of your life, but don’t wish it away. I look back and think how fast it all went by. Babies don’t keep and days come and go quickly. Grow where you are at and love every minute.
- Swallow your pride. You can read a little more on how I struggled with this here. You would’ve thought I learned this very well in the four years of marriage I had prior to having a baby, but I still have a lot more to learn even now. I started out thinking I could do it all and ended up crying out to God every day, saying I can’t do this without you. Even on the good days, I need Him more than ever.
- Lay down your measuring sticks. I am not sure when we starting using things like natural birth, breast is best or potty training our kids before they talk to become things that define us as moms, but I’m sorry, that just doesn’t mean you are #winningatlife. You may have done ALL of those things or NONE of them, but they don’t define you as being a “great” mother, even if you want or think they should. On the flip side, you could be a mom who desired so greatly for all of those things to work out for you and they didn’t. Maybe you didn’t even get to experience childbirth because of things that were out of your control. I’ve spoken with mothers who would love for a chance to deal with pregnancy issues if they could only know what it felt like to carry a baby for nine months who instead, became incredible mother’s through adoption. Let’s lay down the measuring sticks society has handed to us and start holding hands and lifting each other up like we all say we want to do. We don’t always get to choose the path the Lord has for us, but He has us on ours for a specific reason. You are the exact mother your child needs, whether you make your baby food from scratch or your kid accidentally picks up a dried cheerio and eats it off the floor.
- Keep your mind and heart in the Word. I know you’re tired and may be weary, but the time you spend in the Word you will never regret. The more we saturate ourselves with God’s Word, the more we have the wisdom we need for each day and each step with our children. The more we seek him, the greater the peace that fills our heart on those stressful days. The more we talk with Him, the more our minds are fixed on what’s above and less on what society is draining from us. You may not have a lot of time, but when you can recharge yourself with more than coffee, read His promises.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
“You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”‘
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.”