Today our little Kate is three weeks old. I can’t believe how quickly these 21 days have passed and how much she has changed and grown in such a short time. I want time to slooooow down, but I know it won’t, so I am doing my very best to be fully present and enjoy every moment, hold her as much as I can and take lots of pictures, because I know that in the blink of an eye, she will be as big as these two boys running around my house.
When Jack was a baby, I remember being confident and nervous all at the same time. I was confident in knowing the kind of mother I wanted to be, but nervous in walking that out when my instincts often led me in the opposite direction of popular opinion. But I found my footing and by the time Aidan came along, the nervousness was gone and I was full of confidence, bold in my parenting style and ready to prove that I could be a supermom of two.
This time around, I am still confident but less bold as I have grown comfortable in my parenting style and have nothing to prove. To each her own.
I am nervous again. Phillip says that I act as if Kate is my first. Fretting about the color of her poop and frequency of spit ups and how quiet she is in the carseat and poking her while she naps to make sure she is breathing.
I am also humble. I have thrown the notion of supermom out the window and I welcome any and all help. Help from my sweet mother-in-law who does my laundry and loves extra on my boys. Help from a dear friend who comes over on her day off to hold Kate so that I can get a shower and clean up the house. Help from the precious ladies at church who are still bringing over dinner several nights a week so that I don’t have to cook.
Kate’s birth wasn’t easy on my body and I am still very much in recovery. This full-of-energy, can’t-sit-still, get-back-in-the-game girl has been forced to slow down and take it easy. And I am thankful that I have. And I am so thankful for the community of women, of mothers and sisters in Christ, who have come alongside me to help in ways big and small.
In her book Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way, Shauna Niequist says…
Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands, Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, earthy, gutsy.
I think the newborn stage is such a bittersweet time for a new mother.
There is the up-all-night, haven’t taken a shower, marathon nursing, my-clothes-don’t-fit, why-won’t-my-baby-stop-crying, does-she really-want-to-nurse-again aspects of having a newborn. Some might call them bitter.
And then there is all of the obvious sweetness. The soft-as-velvet cheeks, tiny fingers curled around my pinky, gentle milk drunk sighs, sleepy grins, eyelids fluttering in twilight sleep, the perfect little newborn stretch with arms bent up and back arched and head turning slowly from side to side only to yawn and fall right back to sleep sweetness of it all!
A few nights ago, my I just had a baby body was bothering me a bit more than usual and I came across these beautiful words…
Your stretch marks, extra skin and pudge around the middle, and bags under your eyes are all evidence of something beautiful—the life that grew inside of you. The life that bears the image of our God.
What a beautiful truth. Being pregnant, giving birth, and mothering a newborn are certainly not always easy, but I don’t wish away a moment of it, because it is all so very beautiful and bittersweet.
And what an honor it has been to be chosen by the Father to bring forth and care for another precious new life made in His image.
I feel so very blessed.