It was the dead of winter in the West Village of New York City the night my first son was born. He did not enter the world easily, and after almost two days of extreme physical exertion, pain, and sleeplessness , my husband and I were both exhausted. Delirious, really.
The next 72 hours of our hospital stay were a bit of a blur. My family had not yet arrived, and my weak body was not ready to receive visitors. I was uncomfortable and longed for my home.
The doctors decided to keep our baby a few more days, but my husband and I were instructed to check out and make room for others.
Fortunately, a kind nurse took pity, ushering us down a hall to an old room no longer in use. She said that we would be “off the radar” and that they would call at nursing time.
We ordered Chinese food and pulled up a movie on our computer. There we lay, curled up together on a twin-size hospital bed as the snow fell outside. The room felt cold and dark. My sore body could hardly move.
When my husband stepped out for a few moments I lay there in the quiet, all alone.
Truthfully, my heart was sinking. I felt trapped.
I mourned the loss of life with just my husband. I already missed the independence and freedom we enjoyed for almost five years.
What I really wanted was to go somewhere with only him and return to normal life.
The pulls and demands of this child held me captive.
Of course I loved our baby beyond belief, and I wasn’t truly wishing him away. But in those dark moments I was straddling two worlds: the past and the present. I was trying, impossibly, to exist in both. I had to make the final jump. I had to let go of the old and fully embrace the new.
So I did. And I’ve never prayed so much in my entire life as I did over those next few days, weeks and months.
The nursing pain, the sleepless haze, and war wounds from birth- all tangible reflections of the state of my heart as well. The transition into life with a baby was not quite the smooth, cuddly one I had envisioned. I longed for the comforts of my old life which possessed some semblance of control.
I prayed through the colic, the seemingly unending crying, and I asked God what I could learn from it all. I clung to his promises.
The Lord was near and words like these from 2 Corinthians came to mind frequently:
“My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness.”
Little has changed circumstantially since then, but God has graciously been at work in my heart. He has allowed me to feel such fulfillment and joy in this work. I consider each day with my children a priceless treasure.
I sometimes find myself grasping for my former independence. Those moments point me toward the eternal reality that my life is not my own, but Christ’s. I am his. In his grace, he has given me to the devoted service and love of my family – as a wife, and as a mother.
And that’s part of the beautiful and painful journey of motherhood.
It’s about refinement and sacrifice. It’s about recognizing my inability and selfishness, and then pressing hard onward, completely enveloped in His grace.
So today when a trail of little ones follows me into the bathroom at a moment when privacy would be nice, when a tantrum rings out in the grocery store, when the coveted nap time evades us entirely, I still celebrate motherhood.
I celebrate the incredible gifts God has given in these children.
And I celebrate the way he makes me more Christlike by the grace and strength only he can provide.