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.