Recently I gave a devotional at a friend’s baby shower; I rewrote that devotional as an open letter to a mama friend. Enjoy.
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Dear Mama Friend,
I’ve been a mom for about 10 minutes, so naturally I feel totally qualified to share some wise advice on how to be a perfect mother…
Being a mother is the most difficult and most rewarding thing you will ever do. At least, that’s what I told myself this week when I was up with my 7 month old every 2 hours all. Night. Long.
My friend, you’re in the early stages of having a child, and for some moms that is the most difficult part. The first 3 weeks were for sure some of the hardest for me. I remember after the first week of having a newborn (who’s days and nights were completely switched), I had this crushing feeling of wanting to give up and run away. They call it ‘baby blues’, but it felt more like disappointment. This wasn’t what I thought it would be like.
And then JJ got older, and slept better, and life was slow and easy. Our days were filled with coffee at friends houses, people stopping us on the street to see the cutie baby, and a new moms’ worry about things that now seem so small.
As our babies get older, the things we worry about get bigger and bigger. At first, it’s how much they eat, poop, pee, sleep – eventually it’ll be how well they walk, talk, and read. And I trust that as those worries fade, we’ll see how small they were and how we should’ve trusted God more. And hopefully we do in the next season of mothering.
Some of the best advice I’ve been given as a mom is to follow my gut and trust my instincts. This has paid off in some ways, but first let me tell you a few times when it did not.
When JJ was born, she had a little extra fluid to clear out of her lungs, which took about two weeks. But when she was just a day old in the hospital and turning blue in the lips from choking and coughing, I did what any hormonal, sleep deprived new mom does – I freaked out. And as a result of me freaking out, the nurses freaked out. And the pediatrician freaked out. And eventually everyone was freaking out – Jessa was in the NICU, and I was sobbing uncontrollably. I sat in a puddle of tears and solemnly look my midwife in the eye and asked, ‘IS SHE GOING TO DIE?’ Yikes. Both he and TJ exclaimed “NO!”. My midwife assured me ‘the only reason everyone else is making a big deal about this is because you’re making a big deal about this.’ Oh. Whoops.
This is an instance when I couldn’t (yet) trust my gut. It wasn’t quite fine tuned.
Another less extreme example is when JJ was a month old and we took her to a relatives first birthday party. There were lots of kids around, but most were cousins to Jessa, so I had let my guard down a bit. I got up to get myself some food along with Tyler, but he suggested that we shouldn’t both leave her unattended. Her older cousins were near by and I assured him it would be fine. Before we could even get into the next room where the food was, I watched as the birthday boy picked up a drink off the coffee table and dumped its entire contents DIRECTLY on my sleeping one month old baby. Whoops. **insert new mom hysterics here** Tyler was right, and in that instance I shouldn’t have trusted my overly optimistic gut.
Recently though, trusting my gut paid off. JJ had a slight allergic reaction to something one day at lunch, so I had called Health Links to see if it was something to be concerned about. While they assessed her over the phone, we realized she had a mild temperature. They advised us to watch her temperature, but they didn’t think the rash was too serious. Over the next few days though, her fever bounced all over the place, resulting in her 6 month needles being cancelled and a trip to the ER. Of course, by the time I got to the emergency room, her fever was gone and I’m sure everyone assumed I was delusional, and one of THOSE moms. But, I was concerned. The next day JJ woke up with a very low temperature and blue-ish lips, so we took her to the clinic to be assessed again. I felt silly and stupid, as her temperature was normal by the time we saw a doctor, and I was assured that she was either teething or had a random virus. They ran a few tests and we left. Again, I was being THAT mom.
About a half hour later, while we were having lunch, the doctors office called to tell me JJ had a bladder infection. But instead of feeling relieved after the doctor called, that we finally had an answer, I felt sick to my stomach. What if I hadn’t brought her in? What if my self-concousiousness about looking like a crazy new mom had won out? What if I hadn’t called health links to check on her rash and hadn’t realized she had a fever? What had I done wrong that caused her be sick and need medicine at such a young age????
BEING A MOM IS HARD. And I feel like the most repeated advice we get as new moms isn’t all that comforting! “Trust your gut” , “you are your babies best advocate”, “God made you the mother of this baby for a reason.”
It seems comforting at first, but when you’re holding a screaming baby at 3am and scouring Google or WedMD articles that explain why they won’t stop crying or doing X, Y, and Z – you’re thinking “Me?? I’m their advocate? I’m my babies best shot?! That’s not comforting! That’s terrifying! I don’t want to make the hard choices. I don’t want to decide when to start them on solids. I don’t want to do decide how or if we sleep train. I’m not qualified!!!!
And neither are you, my friend. No one is. But God trusted you with this baby. And He equip you, and give you strength to make it through the thick and thin, if you rely on Him and put your trust wholly in Him, and not in your own abilities.
And frankly, that qualifies you enough, and your baby is really ok with you making the rest up, learning some along the way, and googling everything else. And from what I’ve learned in my own life, God’s grace is sufficient and He is able to redeem ANYTHING for His glory and our good, even a tired moms’ mistakes.
So, my mama friend, my advice: trust your gut – but sometimes don’t. 😉