It’s 3:30 am, and I find myself waking again with a jolt. My eyes, blurry and still half-dreaming, dart open, and my ears burn from the faint cries of my baby girl, growing ever louder across the room. My sleeping body begins to rise as the adrenaline pumps through my veins, and I become more alert to my little one’s cries for hunger and the need for another feed.
But that’s when I cringe.
I’m still only one week postpartum, and the incisions from my c-section burn like a knife ripping through my whole stomach as I try to move. I grab the side of the bed and pull myself up as fast as I can, biting my lip to stave off my own cries. This is the fifth time this evening I’ve gotten up to feed her, and my body feels like it wants to quit on me already. But I push on.
Thankfully, my feet finally hit the floor, and I make the slow walk to her crib. I nurse her, change her diaper, and rock her for what seems like an eternity before she falls back asleep. But before she does, she wiggles and coos in the dark, her eyes wide open and alert, and my own head begins to nod just a little. I’m now fighting back pain and exhaustion, while holding this oh-so-precious gift of life in my hands, and yet another feeling sinks in — despair.
Will she ever fall asleep? What if she stays awake all night? How much longer can I keep rocking her before the pain in my abdomen becomes too great to bare? Why is she awake again anyway? I just fed her thirty minutes ago. Did I not feed her long enough?
My mommy guilt digs in deep, and that’s when I begin to cry. I begin asking God, even begging Him, to help my sweet baby girl fall back asleep. Truth be told, it’s in many ways a selfish prayer – my body hurt, and I want to crawl back into my own warm bed and pass out from exhaustion.
But that’s when God speaks to my heart.
In the darkness of my bedroom, as I rock my little girl, with the pain and the exhaustion, God’s words come to me: “This is the good life.”
Here I am focusing on all the negative aspects of the moment — my own struggles and pains, the not-so-perfectness of this night — and yet God is challenging me to change my perspective.
Isn’t this little girl I hold in my hands the answer to a year-long prayer for another child? Isn’t she healthy and wonderful and beautiful, made in God’s own image? Did my heart not burst with joy and love and gratitude for her the moment she was born? Yes, yes, and yes!
As I begin thinking about all this, I realize something: just because something is hard, it doesn’t mean it is not good.
I have a lot to be grateful for — even the fact that my little girl is hungry is a sign of her healthy appetite and that she is growing. I still cry at this point, but now my tears are tears of joy.
The pain is not gone, and every time I bounce her up and down, the muscles and skin around my incision pull and stretch in the most terrible ways. My eyes still want to shut, and my body is just as weary and exhausted as it was ten minutes prior. But now I’m not thinking about those things. Instead, I am thanking God for all the wonderful things in that moment and especially for my baby girl.
The day is probably still going to be a bit rough. Let’s face it, I’m going to be sleep-deprived beyond my imagination. And my toddler son will most likely be waking in a few hours, typically kickstarting our day before the sun even rises. I’m not sure if I will be able to get a nap in today or shower for that matter, but my perspective and attitude on the days and nights to come has changed.
In welcoming a new (and second) baby into our family, my whole world has changed. I can see it as twice as challenging and exhausting or I can see it as doubly good. What God has given our family — in my toddler son and now newborn girl — is an incredible blessing, and He wants me to enjoy them each and every day.
There’s something beautiful in that truth. I think of the verse in Ecclesiastes that states,
And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 8:15 (ESV)
Sister, our lives will be hard. There will be trials and challenges at every turn. But it is also the life God has given us, and for this reason it will always be good. May we find joy today, even in the hardships, and trust in God’s goodness through it all.