On May 1, 2012, my life changed forever. Again.
My third baby was born.
Emerald was long hoped for. After multiple miscarriages, I was beginning to resign myself to the reality that I may not have any more children. But, then she arrived.
And, I really thought that I was beginning to have motherhood figured out. After all, I had gotten two other human beings from birth to eight and four years old, and I was actually sort feeling smug about my mothering abilities. I was a confident mother. I felt competent. I felt like I was in control of things. I was sure that when this third little doll arrived that I would whip her into shape, get her on a schedule, lug her around in a sling, and go on with life.
But, then she arrived. And she cried a lot. She wanted to be held twenty-four hours a day. Two other children still needed me just as much as before her arrival. I was exhausted. I felt like a failure. I felt weak. I felt like everything I knew about mothering flew away about a week into her life.
I don’t know what it is about that third child. For me, it was like starting over. It was just as shocking as having the first one. Life changed in every possible way, and I wasn’t prepared for that change. My two other children were older. We were way done with diapers and pacis and not being able to go to the movies. Plus, there was now a serious math problem: my two hands + three children = not enough hands.
And, believe it or not, I had to start over as a mother. I had to relearn why we do what we do. I was back to that first really hard square of giving yourself out for someone who can’t give anything back.
Then, in no time at all, she learned to look for my face when I spoke. She learned to smile. She learned to get that chubby little fist to her mouth. And, I watched her in amazement, and I remembered that it is a privilege, a trying and challenging and exhausting privilege, to be given one of these little souls to love and nurture. And I put her on my shoulder, our faces touching, and her little baby gurgles in my ear took me back to other precious moments with my babies. And I put my hand on her tiny back and it stretched all the way across. I paused to consciously consider how small she felt under my hand, and I vowed to remember that for the rest of my life.
When Emerald turned my mothering on its head, I turned to the only place that I could. To my God. And, for one of the first times in my life, there wasn’t an ounce of pride or confidence or self-reliance in me. I was empty. And He showed me what it’s like to depend on Him.
All of my kids’ arrivals left unique marks on my spirit. But, when Emerald was born, God gave me what I desperately wanted and then He showed me what it is to be desperate for Him.
It’s amazing what a difference one little life can make.
I thank God for the third baby, the wild card, the one I knew I wanted but never understood how much I needed. She is loved.
What a beautiful message to all mothers who are considering trying again–and to all mothers in general. 🙂
Thanks so much, Sasha!
I was reading and thinking that you will say something horrible and unpleasant; I did not want to find that something went wrong, but I wasn’t as I expected. What a joy! Again, I have enjoyed your post… it’s very inspiring.. Three kids..that’s a lot..I am afraid of taking a step to have that first one little nugget…
🙂 Thank you! And, for what it’s worth, I think you should go for it! 🙂
sorry, it’* wasn’t.
Thank you for this. I have been on the fence about having another child, but this is a beautiful reminder that every hard moment comes with a lovely one.
Thank you, Caroline! You’re so right. It’s all worth it.
I loved this post!
Thanks so much!!
Beautiful! Now I must have another baby. Please excuse me while I go call my husband at work 😉
Ha ha! Go for it Jolyn!
Oh my. I have two girls now (ages 3 and 1) and I recently told my husband I wanted to wait on #3 because in a few years I might have a better handle on all this mothering stuff. God keeps steering toward the message that I’m going to be severely disappointed if I think mothering will ever get easy. Thanks for this. Great perspective and a great reminder to always rely on the Lord. Your children are beautiful!
Thanks so much for your kind words!! Motherhood isn’t easy, but so worth it. 🙂
I loved your post! As a mother now expecting her third child (already having a 4 & 2 year old) I have been to some extent ansty about our third child and whether it not I’d make it! it was very enlightening into the process i’m sure I will experience in s dike what similar fashion!
Blessings on your new adventure! You’ll do great!
Patrick and I have friends that are about to have their third child. They asked us if it was really that different going from two to three. Our only answer was, “well, it was easier to go from three to four?” 🙂 Going from two to three was really hard for me, but so amazing too. Great post Melissa!
Angie, lots of people have told me that after three it’s easier. I don’t know what it is about the third, but it’s a doozie! Thank heavens it’s all worth it!!
Absolutely beautiful and so transparent. Thank you for sharing this testimony to God’s faithfulness and all the beautiful pictures that accompany your story. It really blessed me. 🙂
Thanks so much!
Rena M Nunley
Each child brings its joy and pain, its sunshine and rain. The interesting thing is that this never ends! Sometimes I wish for the days when ours were little…so that I could do some things differently because I have (now) learned from some of those mistakes. But the Lord knows that and He knows that we did our best at the time He makes up for our mistakes, thankfully! That doesn’t mean our children will always “turn out” like we thought they would but it does mean that we have a clear conscience…not only about our parenting skills but also that our children’s decisions are now theirs, not ours. And the results of those decisions are also theirs, not ours. These are some lessons I’m still learning these days after being in the empty nest now for 8 years..
Wise words, Rena! Thank you!
I’m so thankful you linked to this post. It could not be more fitting! I’m just a few weeks from having my third. We experienced a miscarriage as well, and my youngest is 3 1/2. I’ve been feeling pretty confident going into baby #3. I’m thankful for the reminder that I am not in control and desperately need the Lord! Thanks Melissa. I have so appreciated your writing over the years!
Ashley, congratulations! You will do great. Thank you for you kind words! You have really encouraged me today. Blessings on your growing family!