Often in the hazy newborn days, I combatted the feeling of baby-imposed house arrest with a postpartum pep-talk. It always started with my baby’s birth story. I painted myself as a triumphant girl-boss supermom, my invincibility proven by surviving two days of traumatic labor. It always ended a little something like this:
If I delivered this child into the world, certainly I can . . .
tough it out until nap time.
control my emotions.
change one more diaper.
get myself and my baby out of the house today.
Yet, feeding myself this positive self-talk never sustained me. Nor will it sustain you. You need another story fed to you — a greater story of a greater love. Even though you just delivered a child into the world, you are the one desperately in need of a Deliverer.
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
You will not find this story within yourself, but within the Bible. Just as God opened your womb, he will also open your eyes. Ask him to show you. Just as your baby, who can see only nearby, blurry images, can magically spot you across the room, you will begin to spot your heavenly Father in the blurriness of new mom life.
Conception will remind you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), that God commanded you from the beginning to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), and that God himself, too, became human flesh (John 1:14). Pregnancy will give you empathy for the Israelites who awaited their Messiah, and will awaken a longing for Jesus to return. Childbirth will give you a glimpse of the fall (Genesis 3:16) as you feel the visceral pain of sin and separation from God.
Before Christ came, a postpartum woman needed to endure a month-long purification period before drawing near to God’s dwelling place. A priest would then make atonement for her by sacrificing a perfect lamb (Leviticus 12:6). Jesus Christ was your more perfect lamb, every new mother’s once-for-all sacrifice. He serves as your intercessor, praying for you on every exhausting day. And he promises to be with you — yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He sacrificed himself to atone for you, so that you can always approach the throne of grace in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
What Motherhood Teaches You
The true prison is not postpartum life, but the yoke of sin you once bore. But Christ has freed you by his death and resurrection (Galatians 5:1). In this season, he will strip your idol of self, leaving you feeling as naked as the day you were born (Hosea 2:3). As you size up your new body with its stretch marks and flappy skin, you will ponder what it felt like for Eve to be naked and feel no shame (Genesis 2:25). Just as you tenderly snap each onesie on your own newborn, Christ will clothe you in garments of salvation and robe you with his righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
As you look forward to a day when God makes all things new (Revelation 21:5), you will see glimpses of the gospel renovation already happening in your heart. The Holy Spirit abides in you, making you holy, not just so you can approach his temple, but so that your body can be his temple (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Like your infant child, you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), walking in newness of life (Romans 6:4). You will become a kinesthetic learner and receiver of the gospel. You will learn to love your child as Christ first loved you (1 John 4:19), caring day and night for a baby who cannot reciprocate. You will see Jesus, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). When you respond to your baby’s cries, you will know that God responds to yours (Philippians 4:19). As you nourish your baby, you will also come thirsty for pure spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2).
You Can Do All Things
Postpartum mama, take heart. Hold fast the Word of life — Jesus! When your friends stop bringing meals, when grandma has gone home, when the devil comes disguised as loneliness and mastitis, and when sleeplessness is driving you mad, declare that Christ’s grace is sufficient, and his power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). It was, after all, from his own house arrest that Paul wrote the words, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Yet, Paul did not go it alone, and neither should you. In the very next verse, he says “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble” (Philippians 4:14). Paul received immense support from the church. Know that God delights in providing for his people through each other. Reach out. Give your community the gift of serving you, experiencing the gospel both with you and through you. Be convinced, like Paul, that your life season serves to advance the gospel (Philippians 1:12). It is just as much about their need as it is yours.
After my first baby was born, my mom spoiled me and stayed with me for two weeks. When my dad came to pick her up, he assured me I would be a great mom, and in the same breath, he reminded me that postpartum depression is real and common. Being a mental health counselor, I didn’t think I needed the reminder. But I needed it, and so do you.
Every postpartum season will be filled with high highs and low lows, but postpartum doesn’t have to be a prison. Seek help immediately, and from a professional, if you are unsure that what you are experiencing is healthy. Yes, Jesus is with us yesterday, today, and forever, but that doesn’t mean we can’t visit a doctor. They are often God’s vital means for caring for us.
As you tell your sweet baby’s birth story, remember to tell your own. Christ’s redemption is written all over Scripture, but it can be told again through your life and motherhood. Proclaim God’s story for you. In the wake of your delivery, tell the world about your Deliverer.