This is adapted from a real letter I wrote to a friend struggling with the news of a new pregnancy.
This is something I can relate to more than I’d really like. My most recent pregnancy in particular came along a lot sooner than I hoped.
So first, I want to say I’m sorry and give you a hug. And then turn around and congratulate you. I’m sorry because this is a hard thing to bear, and you’re not feeling up to it. But, we are talking about a real person and a new life that God is adding to your family, so it is something to delight in. (I realize, too, that the fact that you aren’t necessarily inclined to right now is hard and sad in itself.)
When I found out I was pregnant with Haddon (#7) I was pretty upset. When he was born I had five kids 5 and under, or four kids 3 and under, or three kids 2.5 and under—take your pick. With each baby it has further cemented me as a crazy, big family weirdo. Even in a church community that loves children, with many families having children very close together, it can still feel embarrassing and lonely.
It goes without saying that it’s difficult to trust God with another child. And, in your case, you’re leaving behind a job you love, which only adds to the difficulty. But this is where God has put you and this is how he wants to use your time and energy right now. Even though we may not like it, it’s comforting to remember that God sees and cares and has planned every aspect of our lives to make us more like him and to further his kingdom.
Thinking of Mary’s prayer when she says, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto to me according to thy word,” has been particularly helpful to me in taking on more pregnancies and children. Early in this latest pregnancy I would pray often that God would make me a willing servant, and that my heart would be as strong as my body. Because, apparently, God has made me to bear many children!
Last semester my Bible study group read a biography of Amy Carmichael. I remember reading how, early on, Amy’s work in India turned from traveling evangelism to taking in and caring for children. At first she was reluctant to make this change, but she learned a Tamil proverb that says, “Children tie the mother’s feet.” Amy wrote: “Babies are truly a venture of faith, and in India at least, they tie the mother’s feet. We knew we could not be too careful of our children’s earliest years. So we let our feet be tied for love of Him whose feet where pierced.”
I found this illustration freeing. When we realize that this really is the work God has called us to, there’s room for peace and contentment to grow. Other things fade so we can better do the important work God has placed in front of us.
Having a bunch of children (or several children close together) is not likely something we’ll regret, provided we don’t grow bitter. But it is really hard. I do regret the time I’ve already spent in the little years being angry about how hard it is and asking, Why me?
It’s a real fight, and we need to constantly ask for the faith to do battle. In the early years I would often find myself singing or meditating on the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour.” But I didn’t do this kind of thing enough, and I’m still working to get better at it. I wish I would’ve turned to God in prayer more quickly back then. So do your best to get to it now. Ask others to pray for you when you’re struggling as well. Ask God for spiritual help. But also ask him to bring others to lend a hand and lighten the load.
About 3–4 years ago we had four kids in our three bedroom apartment, we were trying to homeschool, we were starting the process of house hunting, and then I got pregnant. We were overloaded, and I asked God for help.
Then, about the time I found out I was pregnant, a new grad student moved to town and made contact with our church. Jake was still the college pastor then, so he got in touch with her. She and her family, who visited often, spent many days and several weekends with us over the course of the next couple years.
They are the most servant-minded people I’ve ever met. They took care of our kids, helped with our new home and yard, made us food. When I went into labor with Geneva (#5), they watched the kids. Their help and kindness relieved a lot of tension and stress during a very difficult time for us. I didn’t realize until awhile after they came into our lives that they were God’s provision and answer to my prayer for help, but they really were.
As a pastor’s wife, I also know what it means for your husband to have a demanding job with a hectic schedule. I remember once asking for prayer in a Bible study prayer group because I was weary of my husband being away from home a lot. Keeping up with the babies by myself was a difficult load to bear. One of the ladies in the study was married to a doctor—the kind who is always on call. (It’s a pretty similar lifestyle if you think about it.) She said she had learned that if she needed a husband at home, God would’ve given her one. That thought still stings my heart a little, but there is truth to it. Just like adding babies, this is what God has planned and God’s plan is always good.
With that said, you really need to talk with your husband about your fears and anxieties, about your temptation to anger, and about how you’re doing with your crazy life in general. And you need to be open to seeking counsel for your marriage. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to grow apart and become bitter with each other under the stress of these things. It’s so much better to work together and grow during these difficult early years.
Finally, some more practical notes:
- If you can, find a single girl to befriend and bring along with you. Someone willing to learn to be helpful. Someone you can disciple. This will provide you with some help and also with the opportunity to serve someone outside your home.
- I don’t really know the dynamic here, but be thankful for every bit of help you get from your mom, such a blessing. Make sure she knows and feels your gratitude. Helping isn’t easy for anyone.
- Be patient with yourself and your life. It often takes time for God to bring you around to trusting him. And, of course, your faith won’t be complete this side of heaven.
- Remember that you won’t be in this stage forever, so do your best to enjoy it. Though I don’t miss the crazy, I do already miss my older kids being littler.
- Use the outdoors, friends, and music liberally. A little Julie Andrews can do a whole lot of good. #spoonfulofsugar