Blessed Mother’s Day to all mothers and everyone who steps into the place of a mother! Today, I wish to share about how I have personally experienced the presence and goodness of God through the challenges of motherhood thus far.
The first 3 months of becoming a mother were some of the darkest and most desperate days of my life. Although I had read up on adjusting to life with a newborn and postpartum depression and anxiety while pregnant, nothing really prepared me for being hurtled head-first into the stark new reality of life as a mother. Within four days of Josiah’s life, I found myself back in the hospital with a suspected postpartum heart condition, thereafter being discharged upon discovering that the symptoms I was experiencing were the result of severe postpartum anxiety. I struggled greatly with the anxiety that left me terribly sleepless and feeling constantly on edge for the next few months. I was perpetually exhausted and unable to experience the joy I was supposed to be feeling upon the birth of my much longed-for child. Breastfeeding was also an immense struggle, often leaving me feeling trapped, lonely and worthless. I felt like an empty shell of myself, and gradually sunk into despair and hopelessness. There were many moments when I wondered, have I made the biggest mistake of my life? If having a child was supposed to be one of life’s greatest joys, why was I feeling so despondent? Why was it so hard to relate to my baby with warmth and love? I wondered if I would ever return to a joyful and peaceful state again.
Lost in the darkness, the only option I had was to cling to God. Every day, I cried out to Him in prayer and begged Him to give me healing from my anxiety and sleeplessness and to fill my heart with hope and peace that only He could give. I decided to use the long hours stuck in the breastfeeding chair to pray and read passages of Scripture for comfort.
I frequently read Psalm 145:15-16. “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” I felt that God was reassuring me that He would provide not just for the sustenance of my child but also for my sanity. I also drew great strength from 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10. Previously, I had trumpeted the phrase “God’s grace is sufficient” as an easy response to any perceived hardship without actually experiencing much real difficulty at all. It was only when I found myself emptied of all human strength with no other solutions at hand that I actually had a real opportunity to discover just how sufficient God’s grace for me is. The reality of these verses had finally come true in the darkness of my postpartum anxiety and depression.
As thinking about the future would leave me despairing, I learned to rely on God to sustain me simply through each individual moment. As the moments, then the hours, then days passed one after another, I looked back and realised that God was present in each one of them and sustaining me through them all. I journaled down every small thing I could think of to be thankful for – even something as simple as successfully putting Josiah down for a nap. Doing this helped me to see that the smallest moments can also be miracles, and true joy can be found in the simplest things.
God also graciously provided love and strength from the community of Christ who upheld me in constant prayer, in particular, many mothers from YCKC who reached out with empathy and encouragement. God also provided an excellent confinement nanny who was nurturing and capable, alongside my family who were also a great source of support and strength. In Ronald, God wonderfully provided the most hands-on father who got into the thick of caregiving with me from the get-go.
God gently revealed that He had chosen me, out of all the women in the world, to be Josiah’s mother, and therefore He would give me all that I needed to be the best mother to my baby. As time passed, Ronald and I learned how to better care for Josiah, growing to be more familiar with his cues and behaviour, and after making some important adjustments to our feeding methods, life with Josiah began to stabilize. I felt that God gave me new eyes to truly see Josiah for who he is, and I began to grow in my love and delight in him more every day.
I want to encourage every new parent who might be struggling in the same ways I did – God’s grace is TRULY sufficient for us! It may be terrifying to fall completely into His hands without any other kind of human ‘guarantee’, but with every comfort that is disrupted by parenthood, God’s grace goes deeper and wider to not just hold us, but transform us more into His likeness.
By sister Ethel Yap