I don't write as one who is seasoned and experienced with lots of wisdom to share in this subject of motherhood, but instead, as one currently in the middle of stormy waters, trying to find anything and everything that will keep me afloat! And quite frankly, things are just getting started! With my oldest child age 3, my youngest at 16 months and now 5 months pregnant (which also happen to be pretty symptomatic ones), I often wonder what in the world am I doing?
God has put a love for babies and children in my heart from as long as I can remember! I was the kid obsessed with babies, and cared for my baby dolls as if they were real. I couldn't see a pregnant woman without wanting to touch her belly. I had prayed for my future children even before becoming a Christian, and have always had the desire to have a large family--something around 4-5! I longed for the day I would get to hold my very own little one into my arms to nurse, nurture and love. During my college years I worked as a nanny, and cared for many different children of all ages, and absolutely enjoyed every minute of it! I had cared for newborns to middle school kids, and loved every single stage of childhood. I had also seen all kinds of temperament and behaviors, and felt pretty confident I could tackle that parenting thing! I longed for the day I would be blessed to stay home and be able to raise my own little people!
Once I had my life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ, this desire in my heart only grew deeper and stronger, and in the coming years He continued to reveal His desire and purpose for me to not only raise children, but to raise them for HIM, in Truth, to reveal HIS character here on earth. Then, came my first pregnancy!
I cried with fear and excitement as I first saw those two pink lines on my pregnancy test! I knew deep inside life would change completely and forever, but I knew it would all be for the better! Once 7-8 weeks hit, I started getting very sick from the pregnancy, and for the next 6 months all my hopes and dreams of what pregnancy looked like were completely shattered! I always had that "rosy" picture of pregnancy, where I would be consumed by this miracle of life, and I would have this intense connection with this life growing inside of me...praying, interceding and talking to it daily! After all, I had felt connected to my future children even before they existed! Now it was FINALLY here, inside of ME!
But no...I felt no magic, no glow, no excitement, no connection. All I felt was SICK, terribly sick, tired, exhausted...depressed! I counted those first 12 weeks like a child counting the days for Christmas. Everyone said that once 12 weeks hit, I would feel so much better. Week 13 came, 14, 15, 16...20, 24...then at some point between 6-7 months of pregnancy things did start to improve as far as nausea, vomiting (which included peeing in my pants and busting blood vessels inside my eyes and face! I looked as if I had frekles all over!) and the chronic fatigue, but only to give its place to all sorts of pain and discomfort from an oversized belly and growing baby, and then towards the end came the icing on the cake: gestational diabetes with finger pricking 4 times a day!
During those first six months, it was hard to smile, let alone truly enjoy the miracle that was taking place! But a miracle WAS taking place, and on the day that miracle came to greet me into this world, I was COMPLETELY overcome by its power! The emotions I felt when I heard those first cry are inexplicable! The LOVE that overtook me was like nothing I had ever experienced or knew even existed. It immediately reminded me of GOD, and the unfathomable LOVE He has for us! If I could love that much, imagine God--Who IS LOVE??? No wonder He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life!!! (John 3:16) It was such a deep love and joy that I experienced, that it made up for all the trials before and the ones that were very soon to come.
Caring for that child in the early months was *THE* hardest days I had ever encountered (probably to this day!). Not only had I not slept for 3 days prior to her birth because of fake pre-labor that kept me up all night, a toddler that kept me up all day, and a real *long* induced labor, plus an extra night at the hospital with nurses in and out ALL the time...but little did I know I would not sleep more than half an hour to an hour at a time, for many, many weeks to come! On top of the sleep deprivation, I had a horrible post-partum recovery with very heavy bleeding (looking back, probably some sort of hemorrhage!) AND of course, lovely hemorrhoids to deal with! I tell yah, hemorrhoids were harder than anything I dealt with in labor and delivery! (For this first one, because for my second, epidural didn't work as well, and let me tell yah...that's hemorrhoids on steroids!!!)
NOTHING would make that pain go away! In addition, I really struggled with breastfeeding, and nothing on earth could get me to help my baby take a proper latch! But determined to breastfeed, I endured GREAT pain every three hours, to what felt like knives stabbing at my nipples every time she nursed for the first month! I was a complete mess! Even my long dream of that magical nursing bond had been shattered! At the end of a long night I would call my mom in the morning desperately crying, saying I just COULD NOT DO THIS! I felt like I would just pass out and not make it through another day. That my body would just shut down! My mom encouraged me saying that I could and I would! That women had done it for generations, and I would as well! She told me about my premature brother and all her trials with him, and assured me that things would get better. I held on to her words.
"This too shall pass"... became my new motto! Just like the pregnancy sickness passed, all that I was going through would also pass! But in the middle of it all, the LOVE and JOY I felt with that miracle in my arms made me feel like I could live life like that FOREVER, and it would be ALL worth it! I tell yah...love like this is just inexplicable!
But God is a LOVING and GRACIOUS God, and NEVER gives us more than we can bear, and ALWAYS provides us with a respite from our struggles! (1 Cor. 10:13) And it so happened that even though my husband was in medical school during that time, his schedule worked out providentially that he was able to have two months and a half off from school exactly during those difficult times! God is GOOD! God knew that was the only way for me to handle my non-sleeping baby, who needed to be walked for two hours after each feeding, PLUS recover from delivery!
All that DID pass...and life normalized. Then another pregnancy came, one that kept me sick for 8 months instead of 6, WHILE caring for an active toddler...but this time during my husband's medical residency, so GOD graciously blessed me first with medication that helped tame things a little during pregnancy, and with an AWESOME post-partum recovery and a baby that would sleep ALL-THE-TIME! I could not believe that child was real! She would eat, poop and sleep! That's it! No walking, no bouncing, no swaddling, no "shushing"....nothing! Once she started sleeping through the night, she would sleep until 9am (where my firstborn would wake up at 5am and be ready for the day!). It was heavenly!
Then life started to pick-up, and the struggles with tamper-tantrum, and my first born strong-willed temperament began to challenge me more and more. The endless demands with both girls and housework began to increase, and then came pregnancy number 3! Miserable as usual in the beginning, but around 4 months things began to slow down considerably, and now other than the weak immunity that seems to be letting me catch every possible virus out there, things seem to be unusually calm as far as pregnancy symptoms goes.
But as calm as things seem to be getting pregnancy-wise, the tornado has hit hard in the realm of parenting, discipline and training my strong-willed three year-old, and even what was supposed to be my calm and sweet 16 month old! On top of that, keeping up with the housework and all my projects and to-do lists, seems more like catching that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! The closer I seem to get to it, the farther away it gets from me!
About two weeks ago, the storms that seemed to be hitting our home were so strong that I really felt hopeless and helpless! I was in deep distress, thinking daily what did I get myself into? God must have made a mistake to trust *ME* to raise these children, for HIM!?!?!?! How can a sinner like ME, teach little sinners like my children, NOT TO SIN??? As my pastor says, Christians are the most weird people alive! "For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:19) No wonder we're just weird! And now another on the way??? I can barely handle what I have!!! And homeschool??? Am I CRAZY???
One thing I noticed in the past couple of years is that my oldest daughter (perhaps this will be true with all of them) goes through cycles of trying behavior. She goes through a season of REALLY difficult behavior, followed by a season of calm, and that seems to be cyclical. We had a difficult season a while back, where I went desperate looking at all the parenting books I could find at the library or online, searching for anything that would help me get through to her heart. Then things calmed and we had a wonderful season of sweetness, obedience, and huge compliments from people around! Then the tornado hit! The worst storm I had ever encountered with her...or maybe a better word would be a HURRICANE, because it was LONG and STEADY! It lasted much longer than previous ones, and its intensity was devastating! I was blown away. Felt empty, inadequate, and lost in my own fury at the apparent impotence I had to making any lasting impact in her behavior. I felt like I had nothing left in me, so there were many days I would just sit and cry...cry with her, cry with my husband, cry with God!
And in those days I went desperate and ordered at least 5 books on parenting from Amazon! My husband kindly reminded me that the Word was sufficient, and it had all I needed. I knew he was right, but I just yearned to find that one book, that would provide me with that one thing I had not yet tried, and would prove successful! Granted all the books I got are Bible-based, they are serving to encourage me in many areas, and some I am truly thankful for its practicality and heart-based strategies. But what has blessed me the most during this time of trial, has been the encouragement and prayers from my LOVING husband and sisters-in-Christ! I have truly felt God's hands on me through them. It's amazing to see how God works through His body to bless and encourage His people!
In the past week and a half, the storm seems to have passed, and we have enjoyed mostly blue skies, with some cloudy days here and there. But I know it's hurricane season, and another one is bound to hit again, so I definitely want to be better prepared spiritually when it does! For this, I believe this ONE book I am now just starting to read (while still working on my stack of parenting books!) will be completely appropriate: Seasons of a Mother's Heart, by Sally Clarkson. I have recently met a sister-in-Christ who invited me to join a book club she's about to start with this book, and I know it could not have come at a better time! That's just how God works!
I plan on using this "Pressing On" section of my blog to share the meditations of my heart as God ministers to me through the reading of this book and the fellowship with sisters going through the different seasons of motherhood! And hopefully I will end this journey with the encouragement I need to continue pressing on to be exactly where God wants me to be!