Pregnancy and motherhood have kicked my butt.
Scares and ultrasounds through the first trimester. Monitoring our son in Seattle every few weeks during my second trimester, all to be told he looked perfect at 29 weeks. Then being in the hospital twice for preterm labor. Lots of sleepless nights trying to time contractions and decide if I needed to go in.
On top of it all, a very real anxiety disorder and PTSD from my brain tumor and missed miscarriage. Constantly fearing bad news. Afraid of having it all ripped away from me again. Panic attacks for the span of every ultrasound.
Then, an eventful 24-hour labor that left me afraid to ever do this again.
And now, holding my sweet baby boy, whom I love so much it hurts. Being afraid to go to sleep at night because I want to watch him and make sure he’s OK. Having to make decisions about his care. Everyone having differing opinions about what’s right and wrong.
Before I became a mom, when I was terrified of not ever being able to conceive — and of course after my miscarriage — I didn’t get it. I’d hear about moms struggling and think “wow, she should just be thankful she’s pregnant/has kids.”
But now I’m realizing more and more that just because something’s a huge blessing doesn’t mean it’s easy.
As I’ve struggled I’ve often had friends and family members tell me I just needed to be more thankful, or count my blessings, or realize how blessed I am. But that’s just the reason us anxious people often struggle. Because I am so in shock that I actually get to be a mom, that I’m terrified. I’m not ungrateful one bit, and this blessing is far from lost on me.
I spent my whole pregnancy convinced I was going to lose him, so of course, when he was born I had a hard time connecting and understanding that he was really here, healthy and all.
And I shouldn’t have had to be ashamed to admit I was struggling. I didn’t need to hear things like “you know all that stress affects the baby”, “you’re just making this harder on yourself”, or “it could be worse.”
Because for many women pregnancy is hard, uncomfortable, scary, tiring, and feels unending at times.
Then you’ve got taking care of a newborn, which is no joke. Those first few weeks were amazing and also very emotional. Having him outside of me all of the sudden was terrifying. I was a sleep-deprived, hormonal, anxiety-ridden, sore postpartum mess.
And I felt like I had to hide it.
All I’d ever heard about was that instant love connection, of not caring how difficult it is because of how much you love them. Not being so exhausted by the time you push your baby out that you can barely keep your eyes open enough to see them. Not feeling terrified to take them home because you have no freaking idea how to take care of a real-life human baby who depends on you for everything — even if you are the eldest of 5 kids.
…or still feeling like you’re flying by the seat of your pants nearly six months later.
While the burst-out-of-your-chest love is so real and true, I had no idea how hard it would be. I didn’t hear about the wanting to run away for a few hours. Or freaking out through nighttime feedings because your baby won’t latch, you’re exhausted, you’re terrified he isn’t getting enough to eat, and to top it all off you feel like someone took sandpaper to your boobs. Or the mastitis. Oh, the mastitis.
I didn’t know how terrified I’d be of seemingly simple decisions like where he would sleep. Because no matter what you choose, someone says it’s unsafe, or evil, or damaging.
I wanted this for years. Growing up my biggest dream was to be a mama. My biggest fear during my brain tumor struggles was that I wouldn’t ever be a mom. I had completely idolized motherhood, and now, by the grace of God, I’m actually getting to experience it.
But that doesn’t make it easy.
We can be immensely grateful and thoroughly overwhelmed at the same time.
We can love our babies to the moon and back, and still struggle to get through each day.
We can thank God morning and night for these amazing blessings, and ask him for the strength to take care of them.
Because most things in life aren’t just rainbows and sunshine. I’m not sure how it’s possible that the past year has been my best and my most challenging.
But I know that for God to grow and shape me, I have to have growing pains. And that while I always think the next thing, in this case, motherhood, will cure my anxiety and make me feel completely fulfilled, none of it can. This life is both beautiful and hard, and our ultimate hope is in Christ.
Pregnancy was terrifying. Motherhood is HARD. Oh is it. And I’m not even six months in. But even in the still of the night, when I feel frustrated because my son has woken up for what feels like the 100th time, I can’t help but feel immensely grateful despite the struggle.
I think back to when I wanted him so badly it hurt. So badly I cried on the bathroom floor and begged God to give us our little Leo.
And I remember that I’m so blessed to be his mama that it brings me to tears. Because I never thought I’d be a mama at all.
Motherhood is freaking hard. And I have days where I seriously wonder what I got myself into. But that’s just what I’m learning — that some of life’s most amazing blessings also bring our greatest struggles.
And I’m not afraid to admit it anymore.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” —Romans 5:13