It's trial by fire, and all of the books in the world can kind of help but will not change the fact that your baby is not a book. Your baby is a tiny person, that will have likes and dislikes and hate tight pants just as much as you do. I mean, definitely support the head. Just understand that it will always be in the presence of people you don't know well when you talk about your baby's strong neck that they do the "crazy whiplash flail away from you" thing that makes you look like a novice parent that doesn't know to support her baby's head. I am a novice, and it's okay.
More than wondering what my body would look like after I gave birth or when I would ever sleep again, I worried about postpartum depression. Based on the fact that before ever getting pregnant I used to have to put myself in premenstrual quarantine each month because my hormones seemed to render me emotionally unstable (read: ruinous of all relationships and/or hungry like a wolf) - I was nervous. Most of what I'd read about postpartum depression said it affected a lot of new moms several days after delivery, but most descriptions seemed vague. What would I be sad about? What is the depression like? I'd been depressed before, but it seemed daunting that it would happen when so much was required of you to care for a new human.
Thankfully, I was never overtaken - at least not in the capacity that I was anticipating. I was blissfully happy about my new little family. I was ramped up on adrenaline, and if I'm being totally honest - having this done really seriously helped with hormone balance (don't judge).
I struggled a lot with anxiety, though. I know every mother that has woken up every ten minutes and stared at their baby's chest waiting for it to rise and fall understands that. I felt like I was in a fog of seeing the world in a new way - through the eyes of a mother that had no control of the world around her.
In the first couple weeks, Bryan somehow convinced me to leave the house. We went for ice cream and a walk in a park near our house. Being with my little family was precious and good, and I was thankful. I felt completely overwhelmed by strangers, though. I was acutely aware and burdened by the heaviness and brokenness of the world that our daughter was born into.
I'd get swept up in thinking of all of the perversion, disasters, and horrible things that happen every day - and then sadness that I had no control or power to stop the possibility of any of it happening to her. I was letting my thoughts run rampant in vivid macabre scenarios of all the terrible things that could happen. What if Bryan were in a car accident on the way home from work and died? What if I woke up and Elsa had suffocated? My fears were crippling me. All I wanted was the comfort of having the guarantee of her safety. I wanted to know we could promise her a good life.
Sharing my worries and fears with a good friend, I was immediately relieved to discover I wasn't alone in my struggle (well, duh). She understood, and gently went further into the issue to the struggle that was happening in my heart. Control. Fear. Worry. Anxiety. My feelings were warranted, but I couldn't stop my thoughts there. I had to think about what was true even if it was really hard.
God gives us grace in our time of need - as they happen. The things I was thinking about had not happened, were not guaranteed to not happen, but I was losing precious real time in life that was happening by living in a sad place in my mind that didn't actually exist. I had to start to work really hard to filter my thoughts and feelings through, "Is this thought: true, honorable, just, pure...?" I usually never get past the "is this true" part.
I have to practice every day - and I'm going to go ahead and guess that's oh, you know THE REST OF MY LIFE. I am learning more so than ever that I cannot let my thoughts be passive and expect good to come from it. I have to trust God with Elsa, and with Bryan, and with everyone I love. As easy as it is for me to think of all of the horrible things that could happen - I have to rest in God's sovereignty and trust that He is good, He is in control, and that He loves my baby more than I ever could. I have to find comfort in His promises and know that He will help and love and comfort us in our time of need as they happen, but that I can't entertain my imagination. It's dangerous and debilitating and distracting. It is a battle to fight for joy and to keep choosing it, but it is worth it.
In the short time that we've come to know and love our girl, God is teaching me over and over (so mercifully) that I have no control. I am seeing what an honor it is and what power there is in praying for her, and to thank God for her. For every moment - good, bad, and ugly. I can teach her about the beauty of knowing Jesus, and I can tell her how much peace and comfort there is in trusting that the God who knows the number of her days and the hairs on her head loves her immeasurably more than I am able.
For anyone that is a mother or about to become one, I pray you are surrounded by the God of peace and know that you are not alone, you are loved, your baby is loved. Your anxious thoughts and worries are known by God before you think them. I pray for comfort and hope for the journey in knowing Him. Our hearts really are outside of our bodies now -- but there is so much joy to be had and my prayer is that we continue to fight for that. I hope your sweet moments far outweigh the hard ones. I pray that you know you can be brave, because the victory is already won.
(P.S. This book has been a great blessing to me. I'd recommend it to anyone that struggles with fear, anxiety, or worry...not just mamas).