I was 21 years old. Finishing up the first semester of my senior year in college, I stayed home after Christmas break to prepare for the upcoming arrival of our first baby.
David and I were very blessed. With his work, I was able to stay home. While in the hospital, David presented me with a contract to buy a home I had been wanting (it was even pink!). We had both sides of the family within a few miles of us. We had some savings in the bank. We were healthy and loved each other to pieces (still do, praise God). In other words, we had it about as good as it can get.
And yet, bringing home that baby was tough.
She was beautiful…perfect. But I was terrified. So scared that I made David pay cash for us to stay another night in the hospital…I was too scared to go home. She became very jaundiced and needed special lights at home that looked like a mini tanning bed. Breastfeeding was a six week nightmare (I eventually made it for about 5 months) that included cracked and bleeding nipples, mastitis, a clogged duct that got infected and felt like the flu, and a yeast infection (I had no idea what that even was so I suffered needlessly for a week before finally reaching out to my doctor!). By day six, I was a total mess. And truthfully, it was six weeks of a learning curve, under the watchful and sometimes critical eyes of friends and family.
Why do I tell you all this?
Because after speaking with some young moms last week, I know many of you don’t think I ever struggled through those first few weeks…months…years. Or that I don’t struggle now. And it would be wrong of me to not share with you those private fears, sometimes public mistakes, or overwhelming challenges.
Because those are the things that MADE David and I who we are! They forged our marriage. The challenges strengthened us and caused us to encourage one another even when we had no clue what we were doing. And more than anything, all those fears and challenges drew me closer to the God I needed to draw from for strength and wisdom. He was the one who would teach me how to love this child and even my husband in ways I had yet to understand.
As the years went by and the Lord added to our family, each time it was an incredible blessing but also had it’s challenges. Many times a birth coincided with a our house selling and a move, maybe some financial stress. Choose to look on these difficulties as opportunities to grow in your faith and see Him prove Himself strong. Don’t let them weaken your marriage or cause you to look anywhere but to Jesus for the answer. Especially when, postpartum, your emotions run away with your brain.
After 15 newborns, the challenges are expected and understood. The emotional freight train that follows is curtailed greatly with sleep and choosing to bottle-feed. And yet, every time, they make me remember what an amazing man I married and what an awesome God we serve.