I just had the honor of spending four days with a dear friend, supporting her through the birth of her seventh child. It was a tremendous privilege to be there for those amazing first days. It was also a bit surreal to be on the other side of that season of my life and to watch, so closely, someone else experience it. She had to have a C-section, and I have had six of those, so the process was extremely familiar. Her sweet nugget also had to go to the NICU for about twenty-four hours, another process familiar to me. In the end, all is well. She had a perfect baby boy, who was happiest skin-to-skin on his mother’s breast, and it was a beautiful reminder of God’s undeserved goodness toward us, and that this vocation is such a beautiful, awe-inspiring privilege. It was also a reminder that it is really hard. I watched as this beautiful mother gave up her body for this sweet life, and I marveled that I somehow did the same thing over and over and survived. And then I barely slept for four days and turned into a half-functioning human who could barely remember my name, and I marveled that I also used to live like that perpetually. I woke up every couple of hours to help my friend get the baby situated to nurse, or walk her to the bathroom, or situate her pillows, and my whole body ached, but I knew my pain was nothing compared to hers. I know the searing pain of an abdominal incision, and I also know the deep, blinding love of a new baby that helps you forge ahead in spite of that searing pain. We were truly made to give ourselves to others and there is nothing quite like motherhood that allows us to do that so completely. This time, the baby was not mine, and there was some grief mixed into this experience for me, but mostly I stood in awe—in awe of our ability to endure so much for our children, in awe that God lets us participate in this life-giving miracle, and humbled that even though my body cannot make any more of these perfect creatures, God still allowed me to participate, in an intimate way, in the miracle of new life.
Now I am home with my giant people, feeling a little guilty about the week I missed at home, and a little stressed about all there is to catch up on, but mostly I am grateful. Also, I am really tired. Last night, I slept in my own beautiful bed, uninterrupted for eight hours, but I still feel exhausted. So, to all you mothers who haven’t slept in days, or months, or years—you are the bravest, strongest, most amazing women on the planet, and you are defying reality, because you are up and functioning, and managing homes, and cooking meals, and giving up your bodies again and again. The good news is, you will survive. The even better news is that you will someday sleep again. In the meantime, I promise that what you are doing is worth it! So take a deep breath, squeeze those babies tight, and, please, take a nap if you can!