Allowing the Shepherd to Carry You Through Postpartum Life

Isaiah 40:11

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.”

On December 6, 2018, we welcomed our second son, William “Wells” Denison, into the world. It feels like just yesterday the doctor put him in my arms, but it also feels like a million years ago.

My days are so long—the nights are even longer, but the weeks and months fly by. I still find myself in the midst of that sleep-deprived, groggy season packed with questions like: When was the last time he pooped? Is he eating enough? Why doesn’t he sleep like his brother? Maybe he’s teething? And the list goes on…

With my first son, I had an incredibly painful, hard recovery. The verse from Isaiah above was a lifeline for me then, and I find myself returning to its goodness and hope now two years later.

This messy season

There is no question, postpartum life is hard.

It is a blur. It can be so isolating as a new mom and incredibly hard to find people to relate to. Some days it feels like it’s just one thing after another going wrong, and absolutely nothing goes as planned. Trying to simply get out of the house can take an hour!

I am five months postpartum with my second son, and I would say postpartum life is not easier or harder the more times you go through it. With each child comes a new set of challenges.

I have found this new baby to be so different than my first. And my birthing and recovery experiences to be completely different as well. It is a transitional season that requires massive amounts of grace—for yourself, your spouse, your other children, your new baby, etc.

This season is messy, hard, confusing, and vulnerable in so many ways. And I think that’s why God gives us this imagery of a shepherd with his sheep.

Our gentle shepherd

This is something we as mothers can so deeply relate to. Not only that, but this gentle leading is exactly what mothers with young children need.

Even in the midst of postpartum life, as hard or as hazy as it may be, whether I can feel God on a good day or all I feel is my own pain, exhaustion, and frustration on the bad days, God is gently leading me and is carrying me close to his heart. And there is nothing as sweet as this realization.

And whether my day is good or bad, it doesn’t change this fact: he is with me.

Whether I’m a “good” mom or disappoint myself all day long, he is gentle with me. In a season full of unknowns and variables, it is so comforting to have this truth to hold on to.

As we act as shepherds of our little flocks, gently leading and carrying our little ones close to our hearts day by day, may we take a moment to pause and feel the presence of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, right there in our midst. May we allow Christ to carry us through it all. May we allow ourselves to be gathered up in his arms and not resist him.

I can’t tell you how many moments I’ve had where I broke down in tears of frustration because of a diaper blowout, nursing latch problems, split breastmilk, etc. The reasons are endless. In these hard moments, may we put aside the “do-it-yourself” mentality and allow Christ to be gentle with us and bring us peace.

God is with you and for you

Christ wants to make his nearness and joy known to the postpartum mama. He is delighted in us when we may feel like a total failure. He wants to ensure we have rest and space to recover when we feel like we should be endlessly doing. He is so for us, when we feel like we have to take care of everyone else.

And the truth is, we must slow down and let him tend to our needs.

In the very exhausting moments, he is there. In the very frustrating moments, he is there. In the blissful, newborn snuggle moments, he is there.

And I feel like if we can hold onto the truth that Jesus is in it all—the good, bad, and the ugly—we will feel him carry us through this challenging, stretching, refining season of postpartum.

So slow down, mama. Take a deep breath of grace and fall back into the Shepherd’s arms.

He’s got you.

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To the postpartum mama, how can you take some time today for yourself? Even if it’s simply five minutes to intentionally breathe deep of God’s grace while you’re feeding the baby? Is there someone you can reach out to today so you might not feel so isolated and alone? Has someone been offering you help, coffee, or company and you keep refusing?

Maybe you could take them up on their generous offer today. Is there any way you can put headphones in and play your favorite worship song? Or even listen to the Word of God read aloud through the Bible app?

Whatever you need today, know that the Good Shepherd wants to see your needs met. Allow him in today, to speak gently with you and carry you through the next moment.Whatever you need today, know that the Good Shepherd wants to see your needs met. Allow him in today, to speak gently with you and carry you through the next moment.