When Sacrifice Hurts

Before we had a baby I heard lots of people say “oohh…having a baby changes things forever!” with the implication that having a child in some way spoils your life. More specifically I often heard people suggest that babies can ruin your relationship with God and with your spouse. 

Now that we’ve had Ivy I can see where they were coming from; it’s so easy for relationships to become stagnant when you have a baby that seemingly takes over every moment of your day.

Just recently I’ve asked God to show us how to live a life that is glorifying to him with Ivy thrown into the mix.
It has been my dream for years to be a stay-at-home-mother but now that it’s here I’ve been uncomfortable with some of the habits we’ve slipped into; the lack of quiet times with God, the lack of quality time spent with Josh and the lack of joy (read: downright grumpiness) after sleepless nights.

What God revealed hasn’t been easy to hear or to put into practice. 

He showed me that it isn’t the baby that is the root of the problem but that having a baby has stripped me back and revealed my selfishness. 

My selfishness when I choose to watch yet another episode of Grey’s Anatomy rather than picking up my bible, my selfishness when I put myself first and ignore Josh’s needs, my selfishness when I get frustrated at having to look after the baby when all I want to do is sleep or finish one of those half-written blog posts. 

Last night Josh and I had a long talk about our expectations and frustrations in parenthood. I’ve realised that a lot of my frustrations stem from the feeling that I’m not doing things well. There are times when I feel worthless because I’m not living up to the expectations that I set for myself as a stay-at-home-mum.

However it’s easy to live up to those expectations when they’re things you love. When I naively imagined family life I focussed on all the things I enjoy – spending time with Josh and Ivy in the countryside, having an organised and hospitable home, being fulfilled and useful in church.
In reality it’s rarely been like that because I no longer have time to dwell on the things I enjoy. 

However, if only I changed my expectations there are plenty of things that I could do well but so often my selfishness is stopping me because they’re all things that include sacrifice.
I could be using my extra time feeding the baby reading my bible or praying, I could be a better wife by choosing to put Josh first even when I just want time alone, I could choose to find joy in the less enjoyable parts of parenthood rather than being resentful. 

God has been challenging me to let go of my expectations and just be the best Christian I can be in the circumstances, he’s challenging me to embrace the sacrifices that being a parent includes and to rely on him when I’m too weak and tired to do it on my own. 

It’s a painful lesson and one I’m slow in acting on but it’s necessary if we are going to survive and grow through this new season of our lives. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


  1. It's so true. There IS time to read your bible. There IS time to spend in earnest prayer, but we have to be willing to give up something earthly for it.

    It's a daily thing to work on - giving up your own wants and "needs" for someone else while still nourishing yourself spiritually. Let's just keep praying for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives as we navigate this totally new life!

  2. I think every new mom goes through a similar phase. We have a certain paradigm for life before we become moms, but then a baby throws everything out of balance. We need to find a new paradigm that involves husbands, homes, church, devotional Bible reading, AND a helpless little baby that requires us to take care of her every need. That doesn't happen naturally, and it takes discipline and self-denial to make it happen right.
    If it's any consolation every human (not just moms) has to deal with what we want to do versus what we need to do. Even Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, mentions this exact inner struggle we all face. (Romans 7:14 to 25).

    Praise God, we have victory through Christ Jesus! But we must set our affections on things above rather than earthly things (Colossians 3:2). That might mean turning off Grey's Anatomy. (Or in my case, getting my hind-quarters away from this computer!)

    Someone once told me, "We make the time to do what's important to us." What that means to me is, if we make Godly things our priority, we'll make sure we fit them into our schedule.

    I'll pray for you (and myself too!), but I think we should ALL pray for each other, because every Christ-loving woman struggles to find a Godly balance between taking care of others and taking care of ourselves.

    Now I really, REALLY need to turn off this time-sucking computer and set my own house in order!

  3. Rach I love your honesty - I find it tricky enough now without a baby so can't really work out how it only gets harder! Sending you a huge hug. x

  4. Thank you for this post...I needed it. Whether you're facing parenthood or learning to love another unselfishly, it is so so important to place God at the center of your life: without Him...it is so hard to love others and to even take care of yourself...so yes! We do need to pray for one another...always.

  5. Love your honesty and your ability to hear God in the situation. Love you. xx

  6. Love your honesty, Rachel.
    I think I needed this post. I was having the same problem... although I have no babies. But my photography business was taking me a lot of time, and I wasn't placing God at the center of my life either.

  7. When you have a new baby, nobody expects you to have a tidy home, let alone tidy cupboards! You and Josh will never get this time back, and if you feel that something has to give, then let everything around you go to blazes, and concentrate on each other. I'm sure Ivy will make her requirements known!
    It does get easier. Babies learn to play. They sleep more reliably. Get a playpen - then you will know that she's safe when you are doing other things. Don't expect your quiet times to be at the same times that they used to be. If you know that she will sleep for an hour after being fed, use that. Take every opportunity to sleep!
    Above all, look after yourself. If you don't do that, then everyone around you will suffer. See it as a phase - as in, "I'm not going to worry about a tidy house until she's at least * months/years old."
    You CANNOT do everything. Don't try!

  8. Hi Rachel,

    I’m not a mother, and so I can’t speak from experience. But all parents I know have struggled in the first months with their new babies. My cousin’s daughter is now 6 months old and sometimes my cousin still needs to call her mother to help with the baby, because she’s too exhausted.

    I believe your tiredness and even grumpiness are normal consequences of trying to adjust to this new and demanding (and wonderful!) element in your life. So don’t be so harsh on yourself! My advice is: slowly adjust your expectations; try to appreciate this special phase with your tiny baby (even if you don’t have time for anything else!); keep with the good communication with Josh; do your best with the time and energy you’ve got and don’t be too harsh on yourself when your energy levels are depleted; keep remembering yourself that this is the hardest phase and that in a few months things will get easier!

    I wish a lot of strength (and self-nurturing)!

  9. Rachel, this is so true, and I think I'm going to share this post the next time I do one of my "great posts" round-ups. I love where you said that having a baby really just revealed that selfishness - that is so, so true! I've gone through the exact same thing, and I love how you voiced that in this post. Very challenging!