I've been a mom for 18 months now. Yes, my baby is only 8.5 months old, but I actually became a mom 9.5 months before she was born, didn't I? As soon as I found out I was expecting our first little bundle of needs (which I mean in the most loving way possible, of course), I lost a little bit of my freedom when it comes to the way I lived & the decisions I made. All of the sudden, everything I put in my body and on my body and breathed in and listened to and experienced was affecting someone other than just myself. I had to give things up, I had to be careful, I had to make sacrifices and compromises and I suffered for the sake of my poppyseed-sized daughter.
Having a pretty rough first trimester quickly introduced me to the new season of life I was entering into. I was so sick that our schedule & our diet & our sleep revolved around our baby already. Just as I was starting to feel better halfway into my second trimester, I was diagnosed with placenta previa (when the baby's placenta covers the opening to the cervix) and sent to a high-risk OB. This eased us into having an extra, and significant, expense to budget for each month. I was also put on "modified bed rest" and had to take it very easy (aka be bored and restless and unproductive -- some of my least favorite things to be). I suffered for the sake of my banana-sized baby.
Entering my third trimester was accompanied by insanely painful heartburn, shooting sciatic nerve pain & waking several times a night to hobble to the restroom. I began worrying about everything baby related. I continued to worry about finances and the possibility of needing a C-section due to the placenta previa and that if I walked by someone outside smoking that my baby would be born with lung cancer. I suffered for the sake of my cantaloupe-sized child.
I woke up at 7:30 AM the morning before Madelynn was born with my first real labor contraction. By 9:30 they were 3 minutes apart, lasting 1-2 minutes each. My labor only got harder and more painful until she finally arrived at 12:05 AM the next day. I suffered for the sake of my brand-new, beautiful and perfect in every way, Madelynn Rose.
But, this post is supposed to be about patience, not suffering. So, let me tell you how my suffering has crushed my patience, and then how the Lord has shown me grace & revealed to me my sin in order to make me perfect (Christ-like) -- in my process of sanctification & redemption.
Since M was born we have been in and out of doctor's offices, seen several lactation consultants, visited various specialists, stayed overnight at a children's hospital on two separate occasions, gone completely broke once or twice, cried more, prayed harder and been the most overwhelmed/exhausted/broken than ever in our lives. Welcome to parenthood. She has been waking up every hour-hour and a half since the morning we brought her home from the birth center. Until fairly recently she's been an all-around miserable baby most of the time despite our best efforts to keep her happy and healthy by providing her with unconditional love (and unlimited mama's milk). And even now that she seems to be a fairly happy baby at least some of the time, she can't stand being put down or left in a different room -- and don't even THINK about using that gorgeous crib that you paid way too much for and have not yet had to change the sheets on.
I have been so worn thin, all while being so very grateful. I've been so utterly exhausted, yet feel extremely blessed. I often get to a breaking point where I use a tone of voice with her that I'm not proud of. I even more often lay in bed with my blood practically boiling out of frustration that I can not move my aching arm for fear that I'll wake her and have to begin the battle to calm the poor girl to sleep all over again.
Ok, so far all I've done is a whole lot of complaining. While I do often feel the need to vent about all the ways my life is "so hard" right now, I really do understand that things could be so much worse and that I am uniquely blessed with suffering that comes in such a beautiful package. My baby is healthy and home with me. My baby is beautiful and growing and learning. She makes my heart fuller and happier each and every day -- at least in-between the long, difficult hours. She is hands-down the most worthwhile thing I've ever suffered for.
I wanted to be open & honest here about the season the Lord has me in right now. I typically paint a much prettier picture of my life via social media by posting pictures of my girl at her very happiest and videos of her impossibly adorable personality that shines through more and more often as she grows. I want to speak positively about her and focus on all the incredible/amazing/thrilling aspects of parenthood, without hiding the fact that it is also astonishingly difficult (which any mama can attest to).
Through this seemingly impossible trial, though, the Lord has revealed to me some things (both good & bad) about myself that I clearly need to be aware of -- so that I can be encouraged and so I know how to pray & how to humble myself before Him.
I have a short temper on little sleep. I am exceptionally stubborn & determined. I am selfish, impatient & prideful (even more so than I was already aware of). I have a huge heart and love with everything I am. I am a perfectionist. I feel that I lack a "mother's intuition", and doubt my decisions unless they are backed up by research and proof. I worry way too much. I would do anything to make my daughter happy & healthy. I am willing to make huge sacrifices and suffer for the sake of my baby, but usually not gladly and sometimes very begrudgingly. I am selfish & impatient. I compromise my relationship with my husband to focus solely on my daughter, and take out my frustration on him first. I can survive on virtually no sleep, and can even act like I'm handling it well when in the presence of others. I am really bad at apologizing, confessing and genuinely praying for forgiveness. I am impatient.
I could go on, but you get the idea. I lack patience, and the Lord is making that so clear to me in this tough season. I can only hope & pray that He is holding a mirror to my face, revealing the ugliness in my heart, so that He can mold me and heal me through this.
So, for now, I am (im)patienly awaiting relief while learning and striving to be more patient, for as long as it takes. Not that my suffering will ever end this side of home, but I'm sure I will at least be granted a full night's sleep again someday!