New Mom

Happily Ever After?

By Molly Kennedy

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In John 16:33, Jesus makes us a promise. He tells us that in this world we will have trouble. He promises that. I don’t know whether I should be comforted or annoyed by the fact that life is hard and he knows it. But I didn’t know how challenging it would be to become a mom.

I had always wanted to be a mom. I babysat when I was younger and then progressed to a camp counselor, pet owner, and teacher. My college roommates voted me the most likely to own a station wagon…the irony of that being that I was the last of all of us to get married and have kids!

I knew how it was supposed to be—babies brought indescribable joy.  When I finally got pregnant (after a year of frustration and thoughts of possible infertility), I was thrilled. I had seen friends and family members who loved being pregnant. I looked forward to sailing through my pregnancy and bringing home my beautiful baby. I knew how it was supposed to work.

Looking back, I know now that God will sometimes give mountaintop experiences but He’ll take you on a completely different trail than the one you had planned. And I am a planner. I like seeing the schedule in advance so I know what to expect and what items to take. I prefer a nice, easy ascension where I can stop and smell the columbines, have a sip of water, and enjoy the view. I don’t expect to be clawing my way to the top, hanging by a tiny rope, unprepared for anything.

My pregnancy wasn’t exactly textbook.  Morning sickness—ha!  I longed for morning sickness. I had twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week of nausea for three months. And, as it turned out, that was the easy part.  

In the third trimester, my body started breaking down. My body—my baby’s only home—started to betray me. The doctor told me that the baby was safer outside of my body than inside. My body had become a toxic wasteland, and the baby had to come out—it was seven weeks before my due date.

The doctors started inducing labor. Because of my condition (preeclampsia and HELLP), I was hooked up to extra drugs so that I wouldn’t have seizures (another side effect of this condition). 

I had been in labor for twenty-four hours and was a half hour away from delivering when the baby’s heart rate dropped.  All of a sudden, a whirlwind of doctors and nurses flew into my room and rushed me down the hall. I found out later that my mother and mother-in-law were frantically trying to get my husband into his scrubs (not an easy thing with his huge feet!) so that he could be with me.

Four minutes after we had entered the delivery room, our baby girl was delivered by emergency c-section. 16 inches, 3 pounds 14 ounces. She was whisked off to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; I didn't even get to see or hold her that day because they couldn’t unhook me from all the drugs yet. Not exactly the easy, beautiful trail I had been expecting.  

Since I was unable to leave my hospital bed, and my baby was unable to leave the NICU, I had to use a pump in order to get a few drops of milk for my baby. Since she was so early, my milk hadn’t fully come in yet. My husband would whisk the precious liquid off to the NICU in order to feed her.

The following day, I held Grace Ellen for the first time, and she was beautiful and small and perfect. She stayed at the hospital for twelve days, a miracle in itself because the doctors expected her to be there for at least a month. St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown Denver and suburban Littleton are not exactly next door but with the distance between Grace and me, it felt like a world apart.

John 16:33 starts with Jesus’s promise about having trouble in the world, but it ends with Jesus saying this: Take heart! I have overcome the world!

Kurt and I brought Grace home on a beautiful summer day. We had finally reached the mountaintop! Looking back, would I change anything? Would I change the journey that I had? The strange thing is I don’t think I would.  Even though God’s plans to get us to the top were not exactly the way I would have done it, He got us there. He was with us every agonizing step of the way. And I know I saw more of God’s glory through the trail He took us on than I would have if we would have had the ideal, easy baby story. 

Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Glory be to God on high….when things are easy but more importantly when things are not. 


Embracing Your Mom Bod

By Lindsey Racz

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Confession: I am a recovering perfectionist. Sadly, there have been seasons of my life through which no one and nothing was safe from my raging perfectionistic tendencies—including my body. For many years, I mercilessly and meticulously scrutinized every part of this body I’ve been given. Every. single. inch. Not a one was safe. And because I now work as a therapist specializing in women’s issues, I know I’m not alone.

We, as women, are so very harsh on our bodies. And why wouldn’t we be? We are bombarded with images of perfection. We checkout at the grocery store next to sleek and shimmering bodies on countless magazine covers. We turn on the TV and suddenly our living rooms are paraded by 15-year-old Victoria Secret models. Come on! We think to ourselves. These “women” haven’t even hit puberty. This just isn’t fair! We glance through our Insta-feeds and even the older generation of women we once looked up to are now posting perfectly lit and angled body-selfies. “Wow” we secretly, if not sub-consciously, say to ourselves. “She looks good for her age; I better up my game!” And so, we stand in front of the mirror a little longer in the morning. We try on a few more outfits, hoping to find something that makes us look a bit slimmer. We commit to a Keto diet, a stricter interval training routine, a little more hot yoga, and hope for the best. But it seems the harder we strive, the more behind we feel.

Why is this a losing battle? Because our bodies weren’t created to secure our hearts. Our deepest longings cannot be filled by toned abs or a number on a scale.  1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 says this about our bodies:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

It’s clear that we are to care for our temples. I’m pro-exercise and pro putting good foods into our bodies; however, the current culture twists these things into a form of idolatry. Look again at 1 Corinthians 6—"your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you.”

Yes, mamas, these bodies are simply shells! Lest we forget why we have them, let us all be reminded. Look down at the body you are sitting in right at this very moment. This seemingly mundane thing (yes, including those thighs that might just have a few stretch marks) is breathing, reading, processing, and beating. It houses the most precious gift we could ever receive—the Holy Spirit. It was not made for criticism or to be used as a tool of seduction. It was not made to get us attention or wear clothing that detracts from our integrity. It was not made to be objectified or beaten down or forced into a size it is not. It was not made for promiscuity. It was not made for starvation. This body you see? It’s a gift, a tool, and a house for the Holy One living in it.

I remember looking into the mirror in horror shortly after arriving home from the hospital following the birth of my second baby girl. The pregnancy was emotionally traumatic as she faced health issues; I had so many things to focus on besides my body. And yet, there I stood. Feeling simultaneously swollen and deflated, hormonal and sad. A pit in my stomach began to form and I wondered if I would ever look or feel like myself again.

But then, God. 

Yes, God. He has a way of teaching us in the smallest, quietest moments. He was there with me in that moment full of self-criticism and He gave me an ever-so-gentle word of truth that I’ll never forget.

Do not worry about feeling like ‘yourself’ again, precious daughter. You are more yourself now than ever—you have just been broken and poured out to create a life, just as I was poured out on the cross for you. I was beaten, hung, bloody and unrecognizable, all so that you could live.

Let us use up every ounce of our youth on God’s purposes instead of desperately clinging to it.

As mamas (biological or adoptive), we pour out our bodies each and every day to take care of our littles. Our hearts break for them in prayer.  We are tugged on, stretched out and run ragged by emptying ourselves into the gifts that have been entrusted to us. Let us thank GOD for these bodies that allow us to do these mama-warrior tasks! Let us care deeply but not obsessively for these soul-houses of ours. Let us use up every ounce of our youth on God’s purposes instead of desperately clinging to it. Let us stop comparing and start sharing the light of the One who lives within.

Cheers to our ever-changing, gravity-succumbing, Holy Spirit-dwelling mom bods, fellow mamas. We truly wouldn’t be here without them; they are a gift to be cherished and embraced for as long as we all shall live.


It's Ok to Not Be Ok: A Postpartum Tale

By Lindsay Barnett

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After my daughter Natalie was born, which I can’t believe was almost 3 years ago, I jumped right back into living life as I normally did. Only I slept a little less and had to get all my work done during naps or with a baby attached to the hip. I had an easy pregnancy with no morning sickness, didn’t get any stretch marks, and my natural birth went exactly as planned. At my 6-week postpartum doctor visit I didn’t have to check a single box tasking if I was depressed or experiencing any type of baby blues. And I’ll admit, I didn’t understand how any mother could admit to being depressed when having a beautiful new baby to love. “Yeah, motherhood is hard, what did you expect? We’re all tired. Suck it up, wash your hair, and stop being 'lazy'," my internal voice would say. 

Fast forward to present day.  I’m 3 weeks postpartum with my second, sweet little Everly Quinn. This time around I didn’t particularly enjoy pregnancy and I definitely did not escape the beautiful tiger stripes all over my body. Despite all that, she’s perfect. She is the best little sleeper and nursing has been going great.  But out of NOWHERE, I was hit with a panic attack. 

Explaining a panic attack to anyone who has never had one is very difficult. It’s a physical, out of body experience, that makes you feel like you’re having a heart attack, or drowning, or riding the spinning tea cups at Disney on full speed. It’s terrifying and you feel like you’re going crazy. But this wasn’t my first attack. 

The first time, 9 years prior, I called 911. And then the second was 4 years ago while out on the town in Las Vegas for my sister’s bachelorette party. That episode only lasted a couple of hours and I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack, so I just retired early for the night. But this one was 14 hours. 

“Please God, when is it going to stop?” I was on my knees praying—no, pleading—for God to do something! The more I tried to tell myself to stop thinking, the more I was thinking about not thinking it and my mind just couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone my girls. 

I’m so fortunate my husband was with me and stepped right in as super dad, but I know it was hard for him to understand what was wrong with me. I looked fine on the outside. And in the moment, I couldn’t find my voice to even explain anything other than I needed his help. All I could do was lay in bed and wait for it to end. In the meantime, I listened to worship music and read scripture.  I clung to Isaiah 41:10-13, 

Don’t panic. I am with you. There’s no need to fear for I am your God. I will give you strength. I will HELP you.  I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I am not letting go.

Like so many women, I don’t like asking for help. But why is there so much shame in admitting the need for help? So much shame in admitting that I am dealing with postpartum anxiety. If I hadn’t asked for help and trusted God to get me through the attack, I don’t want to think how my day could have ended.

I was pushing myself to get out of the house and portray to others I was a rock star mom, who could do it all with a newborn and a toddler.  I didn’t want to rest, because I thought people might think I was lazy. And I didn’t want to tell anyone about my attack because I didn’t want to be perceived as an unfit mother.  But I just had a baby! And no matter what type of delivery one has, birthing a child is trauma and stress.

I’m learning that any kind of stress in combination with hormonal imbalance is a recipe for disaster. And that, not only am I not crazy, but I’m in the majority of moms who has experienced some level of depression and/or anxiety postpartum. 

My hope in sharing my story is that other women who have experienced anything similar after having a baby will speak up. I would encourage you to reach out to new mommies and share your story without shame, as well. That might be what she needs to hear to have the courage to ask for help herself.  And above all, if this is you right now, turn to the Lord. Put all your trust in Him and know that He is not letting you go through this alone.  


10 Things I Learned My First Year of Parenting

By Brittany Rust

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This past weekend my son Roman turned one! One year ago he entered the world and made it a better place with the joy and love he shares each day. One year ago I held him in my arms for the first time and my heart melted—I was smitten. One year ago he made me a mom.

Parenting hasn’t always been what I thought it would be like. It’s been better than I could have ever imagined but it’s also been more challenging in some ways. All in all, though, it’s been one heck of a journey! 

In honor of this one year celebration and reflection, I thought I might share some things I learned over the past twelve months. Maybe you’re expecting and this will give you some insight into what’s to come. Or you’re a new mama needing to know you’re not crazy. Or maybe you’ve been on the journey a few years and have your own insight to offer—please do so in the comments. Remember, we’re all in this together! 

To be honest, I learned many things this year but here are the top ten lessons from my first year of parenting.

  1. There’s no joy comparable. Nothing touches a woman's heart like being a mom. That moment you hold your baby for the first time is an explosion of happiness. But also, each day brings opportunities of joy shots right to the soul. The way they look at you, or snuggle into your arms, or learn something new--it's all full of overwhelming happiness. Being a mom truly is the best gift in the world; a gift that keeps on giving!
  2. It’s ok to ask for help or advice. I think sometimes we feel we need to be a supermom and give the impression to others that we have it all figured out. But no mom does and you shouldn't carry such a heavy weight. Being a mom at all (because all kids are different), but especially a first time mom, brings so many questions with it. Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. I've turned to Facebook when I was unsure of something and it's been amazing to see the support from other parents out there! Know that you don't have to, and shouldn't have to, go at it alone. We are part of the Body of Christ and the kind of community we have there is a beautiful thing.
  3. Be careful not to parent your spouse. I'm not saying every woman does it, but I imagine it's not unusual. When we're parenting our kid all day it happens that sometimes we transfer that over to our husbands. Or think we know what's best for the kid so we try to tell the dad what to do. This act can be very damaging to your marriage and it's important you steer away from developing this habit. Here is a blog I wrote on the subject for more insight and encouragement.
  4. You will feel failure but that’s normal. Being a mom will likely make you feel like a failure perhaps more than anything else in this world. It's because of the immense amount of love you feel for your child and the desire you have to be a wonderful mom, both of which are noble things. However, it can also lead you to be hard on yourself. Learning to manage these moments of failure will be so valuable to your journey as a mom. Here is a post I wrote on the subject if you'd like more tools on overcoming failure.
  5. A baby is just that...a baby. Sometimes in the frustration or exhaustion we forget that we are dealing with tiny humans who have no other form of expression but crying. There have been times I've wanted to talk sense into my little one but I've had to remind myself that he's just a baby. I can't rationalize with him when he has emotions he can't understand, or when he doesn't feel well, or whatever else may be frustrating him to the point of irritability. Just remember that crying is really the only form of communication they have and try to be patient. Perspective goes a long way!
  6. Celebrate the milestones but enjoy the time it takes to get there. Especially as a first time mom, you are always looking for and anticipating the next stage. "I can't wait til they crawl! And then walk! And then play on their own!" At least for me, I was looking forward to the next milestone out of excitement or next season because the one I was in seemed hard. But what I have found is that now I'm missing those earlier seasons and I wish I wouldn't have rushed through them so quickly. If I could encourage you, I'd say enjoy the season you're in. I've heard that before and shrugged it off but truly, you will miss what is behind. Enjoy where you are at while you can. Besides, the next milestone brings its own challenges ;)
  7.  You’re understanding of the Father deepens. It's incredible how becoming a parent changes your relationship with the Father, in a better way. Being a parent and knowing that kind of love and sacrifice gives you insight into the Father's love and strengthens a bond with Him you didn't have before.
  8. You’re not crazy. I can't tell you how many times I thought I was the only one going through what I was going through. But then I'd be reminded in the middle of the night when I was feeding Roman in the dark that there were other mamas out there doing the same thing. Or I'd share a struggle on social media and moms would say, "Me too!" Just know you're not alone, and know that you are not crazy! We all go through hard and crazy moments as a mom...we're all in this together!
  9. Being a mom makes you a better person. Being a mom sure does have a knack for pulling the selfishness out of you. It's a wonderful at pulling the unlovely out of you! Your flesh will fight the pruning at times but receive it, knowing God is using the challenges of motherhood to make you more like Christ. It's a wonderful school of becoming a better person.
  10. Cherish all the moments. It flies by. Soak up ever single moment!

I hope this helps some other mamas out there. Truly, motherhood is a gift and we can cheer each other on in the journey! If you have something you’d like to add, please do so in the comments! 


P.S. Here are a few pictures from his birthday, in case you're interested!