I signed up for a writing class this past summer, thinking that now would be the perfect time to explore this untapped gift. I’ve always had a knack for words–better or worse–and hardly use them sparingly.
So when Keegan came into this world and I was suddenly without words, I didn’t know how to handle myself. Friends would text me all day long, asking if I was okay, and I didn’t really know how to respond because I didn’t know if I was okay.
Back to the writing class.
In the beginning of June, I was in on a conference call with my other “classmates,” and our teacher gave us a prompt–twenty minutes of uninterrupted writing. Her question? When it comes to writing, what are you afraid of?
And I discovered that when it really came down to it, I was afraid of what I would find in the dark corners of my soul. Because deep down, I felt shame. Shame about motherhood, shame about my selfishness, and shame over my sudden inability to cope in a healthy way.
I need to be really scary honest here: I didn’t become a mother right away.
I know, right? That’s despicable. How could I not be so grateful for this child? How could I not love him with every fiber of my being?
But see, that’s just it. I loved him, but I felt completely unqualified to take care of him, and I didn’t know how. I felt like surely there was some other woman somewhere else who was more capable than me. In the last weeks leading up to his birth, my due date kept getting further and further in the past. My OBGYN didn’t want to induce, because it greatly “increased the risk of a c-section.” I understood that. I didn’t want that! So we waited. And I did everything possible to make this baby come on my own. I mean, everything. Every list, every natural remedy, every-single-last-thing and there was NO sign of Keegan’s arrival, right up to the induction. So finally, when he was nearly eleven days past due (and no, his due date was not wrong… for the love), my doctor decided to induce.
And before you even go there—I know all the conspiracy theories behind induction. I watched “The Business of Being Born” while I was pregnant. We took birthing classes and I read every book I could get my hands on. I know that contractions with Pitocin are 3x more painful than contractions without. I packed our bags at 36 weeks, ready to go. I had a birthing ball that I bounced on endlessly in the last weeks leading up to Keegan’s birth. My due date came and passed. Nothing. I drank raspberry tea like it was my part-time job. Nothing. I ate every spicy thing I could find and put special, weird ingredients in my food. Nothing. I did lots of that thing “they” say makes labor start. Nothing.
So off we went, ten days after Keegan’s due date. We arrived that night to spend the evening in the hospital. I don’t remember a lot about that day. I remember eating lots of ice chips, and I asked my blonde nurse where she did her hair. Even in labor, I was thinking about my hair. (If this isn’t a window into idolatry, I don’t know what is.) I wore an oxygen mask all day because Keegan’s heart rate was dropping due to the Pitocin.
And you know what? It would be really easy for me to keep going here… to tell you about the pain that followed and the weeks of depression that quickly came after and how I battled through shame and guilt over how it all went down, but you know what?
I’m done with shame. I’m alive. Keegan’s alive. We’re healthy. I am done wondering if things could have gone different, should have been better, or whatever. I have a healthy, beautiful, happy baby and I through with shame and moving onto gratitude.
And for me? Gratitude has changed everything.
I didn’t instantly become a mom. It wasn’t as instinctive as I hoped, and it took extra time for me. If that isn’t you, you need to know, you have a gift. I am jealous. But if that is you, and you feel a little like me and a lot of crazy, I need to say something to you here. So would you sit down and let me whisper something directly to you?
You are enough.
It’s okay that you don’t have this figured out yet.
It’s alright if it wasn’t what you thought it was going to be.
There is grace for you.
There is love for you.
And there is hope.
I don’t know where shame has taken your soul captive, or how long you’ve let yourself believe something that just isn’t true, but I do know this: it’s not worth it and it’s eating you alive. Never before had I experienced what the true healing power of Jesus could do until I gave Him my shame and said, “Here, take it, I don’t want it anymore.” And slowly, I became a mother. I became a mother when I left it all there, in all its muck, and instead decided that this motherhood thing was designed to be messy, imperfect, and a little-bit-crazy. That maybe, perhaps, motherhood was created in such an overwhelming way that we would have no choice but to reach out our hands and ask for help, to come to the Father desperate for guidance, and to allow others to come in and love our babies in ways we cannot.
2 thoughts on “how i (slowly) became a mother”
Beautifully written, Anne! I appreciate your honesty:) I think a lot of new mothers have feelings like this but no one ever talks about them. This isn’t helpful and I know it left me feeling all alone in my struggle, as I had the same exact feelings you did when I had my first. I, a follower of Jesus, felt ashamed to think thoughts like, “Adam does a better job with Will than I do, He could probably be totally fine raising him without me. I should just leave.” Thankfully, by God’s grace I never acted upon my thoughts. I saw my sin more vividly than ever before once I had a child, and I saw my need for Christ more vividly as well. Thank the Lord he delivered me out of those thoughts and spoke truth to me through His word and believers in my life.
I will say, though the first two months of Henry’s (my 2nd) life were full of sleep deprivation and frustration with figuring out a newborn out yet again, I did not experience the same feelings of depression I did with Will. I remember telling Adam that I feared I would fall into those thoughts again once Henry came and that I was praying against it. He gently said to me, “Jess, don’t pray against trials but count them as joy. No matter what happens, remember that God is still good and that He will give you the grace to walk that road.”
I am thankful for you mothering story…it reminds me of 1 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” God uses trials like this so we can rely on him for comfort and so we can minister to others during their trials.
Have a beautiful day, Anne:)
Jess, I know it has been almost a YEAR since this comment has gone by but I don’t know how! I am so sorry I’m just now responding, but thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing. I agree 110%, no one talks about it and there’s so much shame around those early weeks and months and the feelings (and hormones) that come with them. Thank you for sharing your mothering journey. You’re an amazing mom!