Friday, September 25, 2009

An Invitation

The hours and days following the birth of my son, Jack, are a haze to me. I don’t remember anything besides working hard to get him to latch on to my breast every two to three hours which consisted of his crying, followed by my crying, and eventually a successful feed. I was functioning off of less than a couple of hours of sleep at a time and without the help of my husband and mom I think I would have lost it.

My main objective: Survival.

I found I struggled relating to people. My relationship with my husband Tim was awkward. Even a simple kiss, which was once the most natural thing in the world, felt strange to me. I snapped at my mom and the other family members who came to help. And my son was a stranger to me who I apparently tortured each feeding. I didn’t bond with Jack until he was nearly two months old.

My relationship with God? Nonexistent.

I found that the stuff I normally talked to God about suddenly didn’t relate to my life with a baby. God didn’t offer much input on breastfeeding or on if a circumcision was healing. He didn’t tell me why Jack’s poop suddenly turned green or how to make it yellow again. And I was just too tired to try to think about anything else.

Eventually things got better. Tim and I reconnected. I fell in love with my son. And instead of being annoyed with them I longed to live closer to the rest of my family. But God still did not seem relevant, so I didn’t seek Him.

My “bible” became all of the different breastfeeding and baby sleep books I could get my hands on. I was obsessed with caring for Jack. It was all I could think or talk about. Because leaving the house was a hassle and I was often very tired, I didn’t go to church more than a couple of times the first two months.

My god was no longer My God, but my baby. A person I obsessed over and loved more than I ever imagined possible. Someone I would die for in a second.

I haven’t worshipped God like that in a long time.

Months ago, God gave me the desire to write reflections or devotions for new moms in order to encourage them during the first months/year of motherhood which has been the hardest transition in my own life. I want The Toothless Grin to be a place where we not only laugh about the ridiculous and lament the struggles, but a place where we can explore who God is and what He wants to communicate to us, the mommies of the world. So from here on out it is my goal to post something each week (as I am able) exploring a mother’s relationship with her God.

I am excited and nervous to start off in this new direction and I hope you accompany me on this journey. Please, let me know what works and what doesn’t. Tell me when you agree and when you think I’m off my rocker! I need all of your feedback to know if I’m on track. This is for you moms after all. My experience is just one of many so I need your help.

I hope to hear from you!



  1. Don't underestimate the power of hormones in all of this, too. I don't understand it well, but I've observed it. Who knows but what you had a touch of post-partem depression. When I experienced several months of chronic pain after an RSI, I discovered that the particular syndrome often led to chemical changes in the body and to depression. I couldn't understand why God was so absent during all of this, too, and was amazed how he very gradually but noticeably returned after getting on antidepressant medication. Yet it's never been an exact correlation, so I'm not prepared to ascribe God merely to sociobiology!

  2. Upon reading this post, it seems like you may have some feelings of guilt for being so focused on Jack. I think that God hardwired us moms to be completely absorbed in our babies when they need us most. I also think that God loves you for loving his child, Jack. Are you feeling like you loved Jack TOO much? Maybe the answer isn't to love Jack any less, but to love God more? (?)

  3. Wow! Great insights, both of you.

    Craig, I have often wondered if I've struggled with postpartum depression and part of me says yes while another part of me has discovered false theologies I held during that time. I'll blog about that soon.

    Kelsey, I'm not sure if guilt is the right word. I think in focusing on Jack I was caring for him as God wants like you said, but some of that care was fear driven. I was afraid I would mess him up and so I read and read and read... it was stressful. I don't think I loved Jack too much, but yes, I definitely need to love God more. Don't we all? I like your insight that "God hardwired us moms to be completely absorbed in our babies when they need us most." I need to process through those insights some more.

    Hope that clarifies a few things. :) Thanks to both of you!

  4. i think it is mother nature to be sorry worried and nervous over everything as a new mom, i know i called the nurse advise line so many times when dominics poop was orange or when it sounded like he aspirated, i was talking to a dr at work her baby is a few days off of dominic and she is the same way.. she is a doctor right now we were talking about how difficult it is to feed them we want to force them to eat but know that it will not help, and how worried we are because we want them to be around and play with other babies there age, but we don't really want them in a day care because of all the flu going around. i can definitely relate to the feeding after i gave dominic a bottle because it hurt so bad and i got so frustrated when he would not latch back on, i am so proud of you for getting though it you had an even harder time. there were times i was so tired and martin was not helping enough that i didn't even know if i wanted to be a mom, and i am so sorry to say that. as we all learned being a mom is probably the hardest thing in the world because its a different kind of difficult when we have a hard time at school or other thing we usually know how to solve it study more, apologize etc... but with another baby esp cause everybaby is different we dont usually know what to do. but it is also so rewarding when we see are babies giggle etc.. I just want you to know i am so proud of you, you are an amazing mom to strungle though that long with the breast feeding and not give up.

  5. Leah, thank you for your honesty in this, I know how hard that can be. I would agree with all the other posts, hormones play so much into everything you described and just be aware of this when you stop nursing... I had a lot of trouble when I weaned Silas. I also think that a lot of what you said is normal for a first time mom especially. You are for the first time responsible for the life and survival of another human being... why wouldn't you obsess and try to make sure you are doing everything right. Thankfully we realize more the next time around that we can't be "perfect parents" and that we can only be the best parents God has made us to be for our child(ren). And yes, it is hard with your husband... I found myself thinking it was my baby, not his... I mean after all I fed the baby, got up with the baby in the morning/night, changed the baby's diaper most of the time, etc... I think a lot of that was hormones and LACK OF SLEEP!!! Anyway, I look forward to reading more... thanks again for sharing.

  6. Leah, I love how I can always come to your blog for honest answers and honest thoughts. Thank you for sharing about the hard times and the glimpses of the good times. You have a gift sister! Even though I am not a mom yet, I still struggle with trying to live my life and carry out relationships with my husband, friends, family, students, and God. It is encouraging to know we are not alone.