Sleep Deprived Doesn’t Have To Mean Faith Deprived
New Hope for New Moms
Making the transition to becoming a first-time mom isn’t easy. Growing in faith at the same time is even harder. After all, how do you find quiet time with God when you can’t even manage a five-minute shower? The first step is to look to moms who’ve been there for guidance. Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood is a new devotional that packs honesty, faith and twenty instant best friends into a book so helpful that even frazzled moms will seek it out.
“With everything that happens during the first year, it’s easy to think your baby is getting in the way of your relationship with God,” says editor Julia Attaway, “But God designed babies to be needy and all-encompassing. So it’s clear He had something else in mind—He wants you to relate to Him in new ways, through your child. What Your First Year of Motherhood aims to do is help new moms grow in faith by letting them walk alongside mothers who have been there and not only survived, but thrived.”
The devotionals in this book aren’t about faith in the abstract: they focus on real-life stories and the kind of spiritual insights that only come from experience. Popular MOPS author Susan Wallace, for example, tells of a night when she lost her cool with her baby who wouldn’t sleep; Latina writer Debralee Santos contributes a lyric story of learning to be patient with her mom. There are laugh-out-loud moments, like Faith Bogdan’s riff on discovering her mother-in-law has fed her daughter a container of sugary pudding. And there’s the heartbreaking loneliness of Carol Hatcher’s drive home from the hospital with an empty car seat, as her baby remains in the ICU.
The writers are Titus 2 women, and the companionship they offer to new mothers is like a deep breath that releases tension. “This is hard. But this is normal,” one devotion explains. In sharing their stories, the writers (which include one dad, for a different perspective) invite the reader to grow with them as they slowly progress through the ups and downs of the first year. One devotional by well-known mocha mom Dianna Hobbs, for example, directly addresses the need to put pride aside, and seek help when needed:
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14 (KJV)
“You’re fine Dianna,” Mom assured me, flashing a grin that lit up her dimpled cheeks. But I didn’t feel fine. Actually, I didn’t feel anything other than depression, irritability, and emotional detachment from everyone, including my 6-week-old. But I was too embarrassed to say that.
So on a cloudy August day in Buffalo I drove home from my mom’s house, grappling with even more confusion than I had before. Although I had hugged and thanked her for listening to my venting session, truthfully, I didn’t think my mom understood at all. It was my fault, though. I’d only revealed a little bit about the sadness I was struggling with. I didn’t want this euphoric new grandma, who had just told me what an awesome mom I was, to know how conflicted I felt deep inside.
I pulled up to our green and yellow Victorian home and sat in the driveway, thinking. Why wasn’t I strong like my mother? She made having 11 kids, staying in great shape, and being married to my impossibly stubborn dad look deceptively easy. But how?
Once inside the house, I unstrapped the baby carrier, and gently placed my baby in the crib. I picked up the phone, and began dialing. Mom’s sing-songy hello was met with my quivering voice. “Mom, I really need some advice,” I said, as hot tears washed over my face.
God, let me never be ashamed to request and receive trusted counsel when I need it.
As your baby grows, the faith issues change. In month two, contributor Erin MacPherson, author of The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby, worries about breastfeeding at her Bible study group. By month eleven, she’s grappling with understanding her son’s growing disobedience.
Why was he so dead-set on being naughty? Had I done something wrong?
While I was pondering that thought Joey jumped into my arms, slid down my body, and crawled across the floor to his toy chest. He began stacking blocks, creating a fortress that seemed far beyond his years. He was independent. Creative. Strong. Full of personality traits that could be used to honor God, and improve the world. Instead of thinking of Joey as naughty, I could view my son as having the seeds of zeal. We’d still have to weed out the naughtiness, but we also needed to recognize and nourish his God-given energy and gifts.
Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood is organized by the babyÕs age, with a short devotional for each day of the entire first year. Each month opens with a spot-on prayer and practical tips from experienced moms. “Remember that God is trusting you to do this (even if youÕre not so sure about it yourself!)” it advises the how-do-I-do-this mom in the first month. At the back there’s a special section that covers topics like preventing loneliness, keeping your marriage strong, and knowing the difference between normal hormonal mood shifts and postpartum depression.
Sleep deprivation, joy, frustration, laughter—God is there, through the whole range of emotions in the first year of being a parent. Finding ways to give it all to Him, to meet Him on this new road you’re walking, is what Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood is about.