Rough Crossing

The name of our game is "Joy in the Journey" because we want to encourage you to find the joy in your motherhood. But what about when the journey is a bit rough?

I guess because I am now starting my third trimester, I have been thinking a lot about the babyhood of my older children and just my journey through motherhood in general. Some of it has not been easy.

With my first, I really struggled with breastfeeding and, though I nursed her for 14 months, was never able to exclusively breastfeed. Breastfeeding was something that was super important to me because I knew it was so healthy (for the baby and myself) and in my eyes it was what I needed to do in order to be a good mother (for me, not shaming anyone who chooses to not breastfeed!). And it was very shattering that I could not do it the way I wanted to. Every time I topped a feeding off with formula, or even my own pumped milk, (and I had to top off most feedings) I felt like a failure. I shouldn't have, but I did. It was so hard! I was talking to a friend this week and we both decided that if you have never struggled with breastfeeding, you can't understand what it is like. It really made me feel like a failure as a mother.

I think the biggest struggle with my second was that I was overworked. I had a two year old and a newborn and was babysitting a one-year-old 5 days a week AND waitressing 3-5 evenings a week (I went back to work when my second was only 2 months old). Typing all that out makes me think, "Well no wonder you were depressed, genius, when you were pushing yourself so hard!". Let my stupidity be a warning to you, don't push yourself to go back to work after having baby until you feel ready. Or if you are a stay at home mom, give yourself some slack and grace and allow yourself some postpartum rest time. I don't care if the dust bunnies pile up or you have to switch to paper plates because you can't keep up with the dishes, give yourself a break! It is for your health and it is worth it.

I had a fantastic postpartum experience with my third. I had an open hernia but I had a brace I could wear that held it in and allowed me to be active. I also didn't go back to work full time until he was close to 5 months old (see, I can learn my lesson sometimes). I lost a ton of hair from hormones and my eyebrows have never recovered, but that is really the only downside that I can think of. 

I can only remember glimpses of the babyhood of my fourth. It was a very dark, very painful time. I can't help but cry just thinking about it. I was in so much pain from having two open hernias and so much in despair because, when I finally got my insurance to pay for my surgery, it wasn't successful and left me in even more pain than before (my baby was 8 months old at the time of the surgery). I went back to work a month after surgery (another stupid thing to do) and was in so much pain I could hardly stand it. I remember how cute he was, I remember trying to love him and my other children, but so much of that period of my life has been swallowed up in the black memory of pain. I know there were good times in there, but it feels like so much of that time was wasted because I wasn't getting the medical attention I desperately needed. I'm still sitting here bawling just thinking about it.

The pregnancy of my fifth baby was pretty painful (though I am sure the pain was lessoned because I was no longer working) but his birth gave me some relief. I think it was an answer to prayer, and that giving birth stretched and shifted things, because the pain didn't return in full until close to when I had my surgery, 6 months postpartum. Recovery from this surgery was tough (I was cut open about 8 inches!) but it did result in at least a 60% reduction of my pain. I feel like, along with the reduction of pain, I was able to enjoy the babyhood of my fifth more than some of the others was because I was not working and my girls were older (ages 10 and 8) and able to help me more around the house and with the baby. 

Plus, I think I had learned a few things from my past experiences. And that is why I write all of this to you. I know it's a long post, but I hope God will use my stories to help you. Learn from my mistakes, please! I know God can bring good out of any situation, and if He uses my mistakes and trials to encourage you to do better, it makes me happy.

I don't know what kind of seas you are going through now, mama, but I pray that you will turn to the Holy Spirit to help and guide you. Because He is the only reason I have made it through these tough mothering times. And He brings joy out of even the worst of circumstances.

Lots of love, 



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