“Protecting My Peace in Motherhood” by Kate Santana
My excitement of being unexpectedly pregnant prompted me to download every pregnancy app I could find and to try out all of the features. I was soon sucked into the “what to expect” message boards to communicate with other mothers who had similar due dates to me.
I wanted validation that my symptoms were normal. But for every person who experienced severe lower back pain like me and had a healthy pregnancy, I could count on finding another whose pregnancy ended in a devastating miscarriage.
With every sad story, the need grew to keep reading, hoping I could find more happy endings than sad ones. It had barely been a week of knowing a life was growing inside me, and I was baptized into the truth that motherhood can be a tough place to live with peace in your heart instead of worry.
From those two pink little lines onward, I was on a battleground where worry and peace were duking it out, and I was going to play a huge role in determining who won.
I finally decided to give up my message board reading and googling of every symptom after several weeks, much to my husband’s relief. But the struggle for peace was far from over.
We chose the name Olivia Joy before the first trimester ended – Olivia means “olive tree” and symbolizes peace and I wanted nothing more than for “peace and joy” to grow to maturity inside of me, both literally and figuratively.
My first step in protecting my peace was the strong desire to have it.
The Word says “above all else, guard your heart” and it’s not just talking about dating well or staying away from toxic relationships. Guarding my heart during pregnancy meant I needed to control what stories I heard.
I decided to listen to positive birth stories only, helping me focus on the task at hand without any thoughts of “what if” entering my mind. If someone tried to tell me a scary story, I quickly stopped them and said out loud, “that’s not going to be my story.”
My prayer journal became my daily companion and I scribbled my prayers to the Lord about every detail of labor and delivery, the song “Tremble” playing in the background with these lyrics:
Peace, bring it all to peace … Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble, Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear.
I was winning the battle against worry with the weapons of prayer, praise, and a protected heart.
I knew that the war was not over, however, and the reasons to worry would only become louder and more complicated once Olivia was born.
By God’s grace, we were able to have the birth I had prayed for and held a healthy and beautiful baby girl in our arms. There was so much peace the first few weeks after her birth and amazing amounts of joy.
Despite some less-than-ideal moments the first few days (we had to go back to the hospital multiple times for the baby’s jaundice and I went to the ER feeling really unwell), my journey into motherhood is something I remember with only great feelings, and that was in large part due to my mom staying at our house for a week to help with the baby and with everything else under the sun.
Peace, it turns out, can be facilitated (or crushed) by those around you, and it is contagious.
God is the bedrock of my peace, and supportive family and friends are the walls that hold it up.
My mom, whether she knew it or not, entered the battleground with me and fought for my peace with a smile and a willing heart (and lots of yummy food).
But the time inevitably came when my mom left, my mother-in-law went back to work, and it was just us and, as it would turn out, a very cranky baby who was very hard to soothe.
As flu season began, the fears began to creep back in. I still remember convincing myself that Olivia had meningitis because I started noticing teensy tiny little dots on her skin, only to have my sister tell me she just had dry skin (palm to face).
Something had to change because I was worrying myself into some really crazy thoughts. I hypothesized that social media was at least partly to blame for my fears and lack of peace.
I know people don’t share sad or tragic stories on social media to intentionally scare others. But that was the cumulative effect of seeing so many scary articles come across my newsfeed.
I decided to fast from social media indefinitely because my peace was worth “missing out” on the daily happenings of social media.
Best. Decision. Ever.
My anxiety and worry dropped significantly. After weeks away, I signed back on once and I couldn’t close the floodgates again once I’d opened them.
I have learned, though, that sometimes I need a 3-day, weeklong, or month long break from social media to calm my fears again. Protecting my peace means not allowing my mind to be filled with sad stories of people I don’t personally know.
Protecting My Peace
We made it through flu season without getting sick. Thank You Jesus, but my daughter did suffer from really bad eczema her first winter. And it was my fault, 100% (I say this because having learned some valuable lessons last winter, this winter she hasn’t had a hint of eczema appear!).
I didn’t know how often I needed to lotion her, or what the right lotion was. But I bought 5 different kinds. I didn’t know whether I should bathe her more or less often. I know now we have hard water and it was affecting her skin badly.
This may seem like such a small #momfail but it was heartbreaking to me to see my daughter’s skin so red and irritated and to realize I was the reason she was in pain.
My peace was shattered, and picking up the pieces felt impossible. Who was to say I wasn’t taking care of her wrong in other ways too, ways that would cause future pain?
I knew I couldn’t be a perfect mom, but I thought I’d get pretty darn close. This red rash all over her belly made me realize I was sorely mistaken.
That rash, though, taught me a huge lesson about peace. I am going to fail my daughter. We aren’t raising her perfectly, not even close despite our desire and our very best efforts.
If my peace were based on covering all my bases, I’d be in serious trouble. We need the loving wisdom, grace and mercy of our Savior.
Praying for Wisdom
Every single day, morning, noon, and night, I pray and ask God for wisdom, grace and mercy as we raise Olivia. Wisdom to know what to do.
Like the time it was 10:27 PM on Christmas Day and we needed to decide whether or not to take her to Urgent Care before it closed at midnight. God came through and made the decision clear.
Grace to make our family a loving, happy, peaceful one where all of us feel the presence and goodness of God permeating our lives. And mercy to cover all our sins and shortcomings. To protect Olivia when we fail to think ahead or fail to realize the danger in any given situation.
There have been a dozen “close calls” already where I just thank God for watching over her because she could’ve gotten hurt. Like the time she reached up to the counter (since when could she reach up there?) and pulled down a cutting board that happened to also have a big knife on it.
I constantly pray that God would protect her in ways we can’t even THINK of.
And these prayers have brought peace, and they bring peace on days where worry seems to want to sneak its ugly little head back in.
Protecting my peace in motherhood has taken many forms already and Olivia is only 16 months old! I’m sure God will continue to teach me how to rest in Him, how to guard my heart, and how to pray fierce mama prayers.
The war isn’t over but I’ve won a few battles with the Lord on the front lines, making the way to peace clear and giving me the boldness to walk in it.
Not every day is a winning day, but praise God that in Him, final victory is assured.
This post was written by guest author Kate Santana.
Kate Santana is a new wife turned new mama, sharing what she learns as she researches 5 topics at once, and gets over-excited about everything! She loves spending time with Jesus, pools on sunny days, coffee in the morning, and finding thrift shop treasures.
Looking for more encouragement in motherhood? Here are 7 powerful scriptures to speak over your children on a daily basis.