True Things: Middle of the Night Motherhood

This is a guest post by my lovely friend, Amy Brockhaus of Tiny Green Elephants


With the moon shining down, the cold night air pressing against the windows menacingly, you wouldn’t hear them, their silence learned. This is where they come from.

It’s really just too many children, with no parents to hear their cries, not enough workers to care, they learn that their voices won’t be heard, their needs will go unmet. 

They silence themselves, don’t hope for comfort or cry for care.  Which is where we found our son and daughter.  My husband and I found ourselves in Russia, upstairs in a crumbling building, the smell of cleaner and mildew and twenty tiny eyes on us, hopeful, but silent.

We took our son and daughter home with us, and they joined our family, from 3 to 5 in a day, our two year old suddenly with two siblings, an older sister and younger brother.

Our middle of the nights looks different from most families who bring new children home.  Most new parents are up with tiny cries, meeting little needs, teaching at such a young age that they are safe, and the world is secure, just because they are there.

Our nights were different.  Our son, 18 months old would cry pitifully when we rocked him to sleep, he wasn’t used to the touch, the care, it overwhelmed his system.  We would stroke his small cheek and whisper prayers over him, “That he would know he is safe now, that his heart would be filled.”  As the moments passed, his little body, so boney and frail back then, would grow limp and only his featherly, brittle hairs at the top of his head moved as we rocked, back and forth.  His thumb nail was almost sucked off, his only form of comfort his entire life, his thumb was his mommy, his daddy, his big hugs and comfort, his release from fear and loneliness.

And so each night we rocked, as his body grew rounder, his hair grew thicker, a shift happened within.  The cold air was pushing against our windows from outside as well, but it stayed outside, and didn’t creep into his heart.  His heart was here, with mommy and daddy, as he learned to suck his thumb, less, and breathed a sigh of relief.

Our daughter, 10, held all of her comfort, her wish for a mommy and daddy, hugs and love and fear in her thumb, as well.  We spent a good deal of those first few months allowing these children, our children to learn that they aren’t alone.  That they aren’t in charge of protecting their own lives, that they are cared for.  Basic, right?  No, revolutionary.  The single thing that changed them more than anything else that entire first year.

“You are not alone.  We are here for you, and we will be here.”

Sometimes people, if they saw our kids before and after say, “Wow, that’s so cool!  Must take a special family…”

But the secret is, it actually doesn’t.  All we had to do was be here.  In our homes, and tell them true things.  

“You are loved.  You are safe.”

It was so basic it’s almost easy to miss, to overlook and think there must be something more, but there wasn’t.

// Let us believe that God is in all of our simple deeds and learn to find Him there // Tozer

When I think about Jesus, what stands out most to me isn’t the bigger things he did, he didn’t adopt lots of kids, start a bunch of programs, follow a list--but he went fishing with people.  Ate meals with friends, stopped and talked to people on errands.  “Well, He’s God, so he must have done lots of fancy things…”

Well, maybe not.  Maybe his fanciest things was his focus; time spent.  Looking at people and telling them true things, no need to rush them away.

Our kids now, the orphanages wouldn’t recognize them.  They are chapter book reading, singing, dancing piano playing, sweet loving kids, filled to the brim with life.  They are kind and gentle and are a true gift to us, I’m not just saying that phrase, but they really are.  Those first few months were less glory and more life re-hab.  The medicine being time spent, which layered in the thought; “You are not alone.  You are loved.”  Over and over.  And isn’t that just what everyone needs to hear.  

Don’t count yourself out.  You have you, and that is enough to change lives, seriously.  Crazy, right?

//Toward evening the disciples approached him.  “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late.  Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”

But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them.  You give them supper.”//

Amy and her husband, Andrew, have three kids, two by way of adoption. Now-a-days the Brockhaus clan spends their time gardening, planting trees, hosting large dinners of unfancy food for lots of people and trying to see people the way God does. You can read more of their adventures at Tiny Green Elephants.

He Trusts Me: Middle of the Night Motherhood

This is a guest post from the wise and wonderful Tracie Moss of Living Well Ministry.

I sat down amongst the other women with the weight of motherhood pressing me into the chair. I looked around and everyone appeared to be happy, with friends, and seemingly had it all together. I was exhausted and so weary from the last few weeks not sure I could stay awake for the talk. Everyone talked about how excited they were to be there and participate in the event when in reality I came because two hours of free childcare was offered.

I grabbed my coffee and sat back down just settling in to my own time of "quiet." No one crying, no one needing to be fed, no one needing re-direction for the 100th time, and no one fussing. Just me and my coffee in a sea of women who I couldn't measure up to as a mother. Surely they have it all together, they look so happy and put together with make-up and coordinating jewelry/shoes. I didn't even think of coordinating; I just needed to get out the door so I could drop her off and sit at this table for two hours.

I really don't remember what the talk was about that day but I do remember three profound words that were spoken. "He chose you." The speaker went on to encourage that God chose me for these children of mine, on purpose. He knew exactly the Momma they needed and He chose me. Now, I am sure you have heard this before but that particular day, these words soothed my hurting soul. I was feeling so un-motherly, so weary and worn from the push to just finish the day. With her words I felt God's smile of approval and I immediately had the thought, "He trusts me."

He trusts me when I am weary and at my wits end. He trusts me when the strong willed one seems to baffle me more than pull at my heart strings. He trusts me even when I don't know how to soothe my children. He trusts me when I feel like I'm sinking in piles of bottles and diapers and laundry. He trusts me even when I don't.

The truth is, He knew exactly the Momma my children needed and He hand pick you and me for this time. No other woman on the face of the earth would do. And I have settled in the truth, He trusts me. 

Tracie Moss is a wife, mother, military wife, speech pathologist, speaker, and friend. She lives in Southern California and enjoys spending time with her husband Kevin, daughters Emma and Ashley, son-in-law John, and grandchildren Coleman and Gracie. She is passionate about living life to the fullest. You can find her at Living Well Ministries.

Sleep Rant of an Insomniac Mom: Middle of the Night Motherhood

Please welcome another wonderful guest blogger, Kayla Wells of Mommy's Soap Box.

I blame it on the lack of sleep. All of it. The house that looks like Toys R' Us and Old Navy used my house for dumping grounds. The 3rd cup of coffee in 6 hours.  The half eaten chocolate bar I bought at the health food store (therefore it must be full of magical healthy goodness right?!). I blame it and all the over emotional responses, the tears, the soreness...all of it. On lack of sleep.

I have truly always struggled with insomnia. I've tried medications - they made me so goofy I couldn't be responsible for myself. I have tried yoga and Pilates - my butt thanked me for the toning and sleep still evaded. I tried all kinds of "remedies" and nothing really worked so I got in a rhythm and moved on.

And then I had my first child.

Trust me insomniacs...Plain 'ole insomnia is a nap in a hammock by the beach compared to life with a screaming colicky infant. I literally walked the halls for HOURS at a time in the middle of the night, tears streaming down my face willing my baby to sleep. It didn't work. She is almost 8 now. She still only sleeps for 8 hours about once a week.  In the crazy process of getting her to be 8 years old, my amazing hubby and I had 2 more kids (again, I blame lack of sleep clouding judgment) . They are 4 and 2. They don't sleep much. And seldom at the same time.

When new moms come to me and are exhausted and asking how long this phase lasts I sigh and simply say "it depends on the kid." Because it does.

I don't consider myself to be some expert parent. In fact, I find that term kinda laughable. Every kid is SO different I don't understand how anyone could be an expert on any kid related subject. BUT, I got 8 hours of sleep once last week. My 2 littlest have been asleep for 20 minutes, and I have been able to eat an artichoke and quinoa without any kid comments or sound affects while writing this little post. So, I am figuring out my own kids. Maybe by the time the youngest is 8 they will all be sleeping. HA! With the sandman style luck we've had I probably won't be able to KEEP them OUT of bed for 8 hours at some point.

If you are reading this and are a new mom... there's hope. There will be something that works and you will sleep again. In the meantime, you WILL find a way to be a new kind of normal without the sleep. Take a nap. really. just.take.a.nap.

If you are the parent with kids who have all slept through the night from 3 weeks on and take 2 or more 3 hour naps during the day: Congratulations! You have it figured out. For you. And no, I don't want to hear about the "sleep method" you chose to use that "worked". Chances are I have already tried it and it didn't work or I am too tired to try something new anyway. 

Just give me a hug and a latte and we're good.

If you are still in that group without kids and reading this and thinking "Good gravy. I am NEVER having kids."  Let me tell you. It is so worth it. I may not get much sleep between 3 kids, a geriatric dog, and a husband who snores, but, I wouldn't trade one moment of sleep for the sights and sounds of my loved ones. Not even a moment. 

I blame lack of sleep. For every one of these sweet blessings. 

New to the blogging world, Kayla Wells, author of Mommy's Soap Box, is a wife of over 10 years and mother to 3 children and a very old golden retriever. Her passion has always been writing and sharing the thoughts on her heart in a straight forward way. Her inspiration for her blog, and everything else in her life, come through her faith in God and her family.

Journey by Moonlight: Middle of the Night Motherhood

This is a guest post from a wonderful soul-sister, the brave and beautiful, Kelly Pappas of Beautiful One Birth Services.

The phone rings.  The worst iPhone ring that you possibly could choose (the incredibly annoying siren) ringing at top volume, waking me from the depths of sound sleep. A mom is in the midst of journeying towards motherhood. Underneath the moonlight. She needs encouraging words, comforting hands, and a breath of fresh air. Her husband needs the same.

I am a birth doula, and my middle of the nights tend to look like this. With my own two young children sleeping soundly (another reason I know I was called to this work: my children both have been solid sleepers from the get-go. I know, not really the blog series to be discussing children who sleep well…I digress), I often find myself venturing to sleep with my phone on the loudest setting, and my prayers focused towards sweet couples who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their sweet little ones.  I get dressed and grab a snack, only to creep out in the middle of the night, unsure of when I will return and what the night will hold. There is a thrill in it, there is a reverence in it.

While we often talk of motherhood as a society, we rarely speak of birth.  If we do speak of birth, it is mostly in jest, or in horror, and often not in the sacred reverence it truly deserves. By definition birth is bringing forth new life. What a thing to be in awe of, what a God to be in awe of!

Has there ever been such a juxtaposition of intensity (or discomfort, pain, or whatever else you want to call it?) and beauty?  Has there ever been a more intentional process that has God’s fingerprints ALL over it?

It’s funny what the middle of the night does to moms. Mamas become mammals in the dark. The more you learn about birth the more you see how wisely God designed the process (duh!). With melatonin at its peak in the very wee hours of the morning, and melatonin having been shown to help encourage contractions, it all makes sense.  Kind of like how cats love to hide in the back of your closet in the dark to birth their kittens, human labor often begins in the depths of the dark. And for good reason. Comfort. Security. Relaxation. Trust. Even in the dark. Especially in the dark.

There is a spiritual parallel here, yes? The depths bringing beauty, the pain bringing joy, the surrender to the tough stuff bringing GOODness. God’s best for us.
This is birth.
This is life.
This is good.
Even if it doesn’t always feel good.

So To You Sweet Laboring Mamas in the Middle of the Night,

You are not the only one awake right now, timing her surges and wondering what the rest of the night will hold. You are not the only one who is moaning and swaying and trying your hardest to just. keep. breathing. You are not the only one gathering your hospital bag goodies together, wondering if it’s time to head in. You are not the only one calling your midwife telling them it’s time to come over. You are not the only one wondering if there is any way she can possibly handle the cup that God has given you to drink, wondering if it is all too much handle and second guessing your whole idea of letting things play out naturally. You are not the only one who just wishes she could fall back asleep and let the harder work start in the morning. Other mamas are on their journey with you, whatever that journey may look like. Doing the hard work of bringing new life into the world.

What I have found in my own journey as a birth worker is this: There is no greater parallel for life in general than what we experience during labor and birth. There are no greater spiritual truths that I have learned than those I have learned supporting amazing women and their husbands in the journey of a lifetime. There is no greater surrender than I had to offer than that I did throughout my own two births (both happening in the middle of the night). This is my body. This is your temple. Even in the darkness, do with it what you will.

And that couple with the annoying siren ring on my phone? As I reach their house in the middle of the night and I hear mom moaning and groaning, I know she’s close. When she looks at me and tells me in a quivering voice, with tears in her eyes, “I just can’t do this anymore.” I know she’s close. In the darkness her midwives arrive. In the darkness she climbs a mountain unlike any mountain she has ever climbed before. In the darkness her husband watches his wife transform in to a warrior unlike anything he’s ever seen before. And in the darkness she moans and sways. and works. And in the darkness, the newest life on earth arrives.

And guess what happened next?

The sun came up.

Praise The Lord for the Light.

This post is part of the "31 Days of Middle of the Night Motherhood" series.

Kelly Pappas is a wife and a mom to two littles, along with being a birth doula and childbirth educator. Her heart is to glorify God through serving others. Read more from Kelly's heart and learn more about her doula services at Beautiful One Birth Services.