Washing my feet

They all mean well.

That is what I have had to tell myself multiple times in the last two weeks.

I was blessed with an incredible daughter, Micah,  born to me August 29. She is a total sweetheart, and a great joy… with one minor exception… she is not “average” by any means. What I mean by this, is that in quite a few areas she is really far on one end of the spectrum, and this has not made it easy in multiple ways.

For instance, the “average” newborn goes through about 12 diapers a day. My daughter goes through about 18-20 diapers a day (meaning I am changing almost a diaper an hour!). The “average” newborn also eats about 8-12 times a day. Week one Micah was crying for food about 15 times a day, and most of those at night. Oh… and the best part… the “average” newborn sleeps 16-18 hours a day, and about 8 of those at night. Well, my little one generally sleeps only 12-14 hours a day, and is only getting about 4 broken hours of sleep at night.

And the sleep thing… well the sleep thing is torture.

And that’s where the “they all mean well” comment comes in.

You see, everyone seems to have an opinion for me. For the most part it involves either smiling and saying “oh yea, everyone has to deal with the sleep thing” or telling me their hard-fast rule for how to fix the sleep thing. Funny though, once I tell them she only sleeps for one 2 hour section at night and then for about 3 or 4 half hour sections, people usually respond with “oh! Wow! Mine wasn’t that bad”.

I am learning to smile and nod, but I am realizing that true support looks very different than the oft given advice.

I have cried myself to sleep almost every night since I became a mom, and I completely did not expect this. But, I have also been completely overwhelmed by the true support offered by my family and some unlikely sources.

First unexpected source of support has been an online mom’s group that set up a meal train for me. When I am running on very little sleep and trying to force myself to sit down more to let myself heal properly, hearing a knock at the door and opening to a warm meal and smiling face has been the biggest blessing ever!

Second source of support has been my amazing mom. She leaves her phone by her bed and wakes up to my call between 7 and 8am every morning, so she can come up and watch my darling while I get two hours or so of quality shut-eye; also, completely wonderful and more than I could expect.

Lastly, my largest source of support has been my husband. I know he is amazing, but I have been so overwhelmed by his constant attention and sacrifice on my, and Micah’s behalf. He goes to work all day, but still willingly wakes at night to comfort me, comfort Micah, change a diaper, or even just sit with me while I feed her. When he was not working I guess I expected it, but he has so impressed me with his love as he has continued to self-sacrifice for us, even with his 5am wakeup hanging over his head. A few days into our journey as I was crying, Micah was crying, and Luke was holding me, he gently whispered to me “I am washing your feet”.

This has been the theme. Just as Jesus washed his disciples feet to exemplify his servanthood, and just as we symbolically washed each other’s feet 3 years ago on the wedding alter, he has been sacrificially washing my feet during the most difficult two weeks of my life. He has been a type of Christ to me, and all I can do is thank him and remain humbled.

Being a mom is teaching me already. I am learning to respond with grace when people mean well, even if I know 100% that they cannot understand my given situation. I am learning to have patience and try to be joyful when every fiber of my being shouts out to be mad and sad. And lastly, I am learning to receive love from others, and say thank you. It is not easy to have to sit back and accept help because you literally have no ability to continue on by yourself, and this is probably the greatest thing I could ever learn. I know it will make me a better mother, a better wife, and a better daughter. I am being broken, my pride is being broken, and I am understanding more and more the love my Jesus has for me, and the love of those around me!

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8 thoughts on “Washing my feet

  1. Maggie, I am sorry that I have not met you yet, but I can tell that you are one terrific person and especially Mother to Micah. All moms handle the situations differently so bear with everyone as they try to tell you how to raise your child. You have to make your own dicisions regarding Micah and remember that she is not like any other child. She is yours and Lukes and you will do the things necessary to raise her correctly. There is not one book that can tell you exactly how to rear your child. Be patient and thank God for your blessings of his love as well as your family and friends.

    • Thanks Martha :-). It is the start of an incredible journey, and though it legitimately is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life so far, I have complete confidence that it is worth every moment! I hope to meet you one day in the near future 🙂

  2. Oh, how I hated the “Just waits” and the “Oh yea, I did thats” of the people around me after Dimitri was born. That, unfortunately doesn’t get better! “Sleep when the baby sleeps?” Yea right.

    All those averages might seem like the “normal” way a baby behaves, but the average baby, changed 12 times a day, might poop EVERY SINGLE diaper and blow out all over the bed and you… 12 times! The average might eat 8-12 times a day, but they might latch on, and STAY on for 2 hours at a time. That’s a lot of boob time. The point I am trying to make is that you are not alone in all this. My first 4 months of breastfeeding my cleft-lip baby was no fun at all, but take every day 1 hour at a time. At the end of the day, think about 1 thing you are thankful for. One deed, one word, one look from your baby and meditate on that for a little bit. Try to recharge.

    If there was one thing I took from my early days with my son, it was never ever feel like a failure or feel guilty for asking or accepting help. Your husband doesn’t deserve a whole night of sleep simply because he goes to work everyday. You just gave birth to his beautiful little girl! You are painstakingly feeding her with your body, all day long! That takes energy, fuel, time, and a boatload of emotional strength! He is your partner in all of this. His job right now, besides his 9-5, is to take care of you and your daughter. It sounds to me like he’s doing just that!

    Keep on going, one day at a time and it does get better. One day you will wake up and she will be 6 months old and you will wonder what happend. I know I did! (And D only sleeps for 90 minutes at a time, all night. Every night. I feel your sleep deprived pain.)

    If you ever want some one to talk to, cry too, complain to, or just need some help, let me know. I’ll see you tomorrow with a delicious dinner. 🙂

    • Thanks Joanie :-). I am learning to be thankful for all of it and I will never again act like I know exactly what someone else is going through as a parent. It sounds like your journey with Dmitri has it’s own ups and downs and I can’t even begin to understand them. I love that we can learn to be there for others though even if we don’t understand it all. Thanks for your support!

  3. That is very touching, Luke’s whisper to you. I really want to say something here, but I’m not sure what. It’s tempting to share my own story, to tell my own woes.. just as a way of showing empathy… to show understanding…
    I struggled a lot with accepting help. I felt so sleep deprived and tired, even breastfeeding was a complete frustration… I wanted help so bad but there was maybe one or two I felt close enough to, and even then, I got it in my head that they didn’t want to help… why should I have to ask, don’t they know I need it? So I waited for the offers, and when it didnt come… day after day… sleepless nights, no friends over, family too busy with their own concerns.. trying to heal from 4th degree tears and an hour of stitching, trying to take care of a barely one year old along with Vera… hormones running wlld… I guess, Im no sure if I should even share this or where I am going with it….
    I remember getting to angry. I was sad, but the sense of “Noone understands” “Noone even cares” “Noone wants to help” along with the constant crying of a colicky baby… it turned into desperation, sometimes I would put them both in their cribs hoping for just 20 minutes of rest, but one crying set the other off…and I would lay with my head between two pillows to drown out the noise in vain…and cry. Man thats so depressing.. but…
    Maybe Ive had some “aha” moments since then. Ive been forced to learn to ask for help. Forced to learn that, help might not just come to the door and knock… you may have to seek it out..which can be embarrassing, after all… your lucky if youve gotten to brush your teeth by 7PM that day which concludes your entire “getting ready” ritual. Your house is a wreck because who has time to clean when you are exhausted and tending to the needs of one who seems tiresomely,..needful. And then its like… you want to invite someone into that mess so you can……sleep. Even though I desperately needed it, it still felt like such a stupid thing to ask for help for. So I didn’t… and I put on a sane front, but I felt so tired, angry, alone, depressed..

    Hindsight is 20/20 they say… I know you arent asking for advice, even annoyed by it… but, ask for help. ASK. Its hard… for me, I wished they would just come… The fact they didnt made me think they didnt want to, which made me angry. Oh well, for the sake of your sanity, ASK for help. Be braver than I was, and ASK someone into the mess, with your pajama clothes and messy hair and messy house… get what YOU need.
    You may never get the empathy you need.. when someone helps they may just say “oh, Micah wasnt so bad”…and that could possibly make you feel a little miffed because maybe its as if they dont believe you, maybe they think your not that strong, maybe they dont think shes that bad..
    Oh well.. Get what YOU need! It will help you to be the best Mother you can in such a trying situation.

    I sincerely hope you can relate to this a little… it really is vulnerable to reveal the ugliest parts of me, and a very desperate time in my life… and really for not the greatest advice, but, I dont know how else to show what is really my motivation for saying any of this… that I care… I wish I could help… but yes, motherhood has been a major purging/learning/growing process for me..
    I’ll be praying for you Maggie, sincerely.

  4. I really like the things you wrote, Maggie. I too had that atypical baby who didn’t sleep much and seemed to constantly eat and need changing. There are no words to describe those emotions and the exhaustion you feel. People’s comments don’t help, you just get through it the best you can, and the only thing I remember thinking was “wow! I am so deficient in the serving mode” because I was fighting it so much. I just tried to focus on how I was learning to serve, and to keep focusing on doing the best I could each hour of each day. Luke is so encouraging! You are truly blessed!

  5. This is a very well expressed and beautifully written description of a tough situation. I went through this sleeplessness and endless napies with my son too!
    Endless people, whose babies had always been easy as anything, had streams of advice for me, as if they had actually discovered some magical way to make their babies so easy when in reality, they were just lucky.
    After a while I started telling these people “I can see you really want to help me. It really WOULD help if you could…” and then I’d ask for specific things they could do that would really help me in a practical way. True friends did help, the rest kind of melted away out of my life.
    Like you, I’m blessed with a husband who I think is really an angel in human form, and he’s always been the greatest help.
    In the end I found out my son’s endless crying and nappy problems were a result of him having got lyme disease from me, crossing the placenta and also in breast milk. I thought I didnìt have it when I got pregnant, but it turned out, I did still have it. The sleep deprivation eventually made my own latent infection flare up again in all its glory. I wish I’d known that sooner, as he became a very calm and easy baby once he was being treated.
    So, all the advice other people had offered me was totally irrelevant! They’ve got the message now!

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