With the hum of the noise machine and my son, Isaac’s, bedroom door cracked open we snuggle on the rocking chair. I hear the dog’s nails tapping down the hallway until he reaches the door and pushes it open with his nose. He sits in front of us while we rock back and forth. 

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream,” singing together, we continue to rock. 

“This again, Mama.” 

“You want me to sing some more?” I ask even though I know the answer. It may be because he, too, truly loves this time together, or he just wants a few more minutes before going to his crib. Either way, I keep singing

“Come and fill our hearts with your . . .”

I leave space for him to join me, “. . . peace.”

“You alone, O Lord, are . . .”

“Holy,” he sings with a smile on his face.  

“Come and fill our hearts with your peace. You alone, O Lord, are holy.” 

And then I pause and wait for the final word. We both smile and sing together, “Alleluia.” 

It’s the time of the day when there’s more darkness than light. A hint of red streaks across the horizon with the setting sun. With the final kiss goodnight and the quiet closing of the door, I tiptoe down the hallway into my office. In a single motion, I grab the video monitor and my computer, turning both on. I adjust the papers on my desk before opening a Word document for an evening writing session.

RELATED: Let Me Love You a Little More, Before You’re Not Little Anymore – 5 Ways to Cherish Your Child Right Now

The video monitor sits to my right propped up between my planner and scattered pieces of paper. I see Isaac rolling around in his crib with the pillow and blanket scrunched to the side. He holds a book in his hand turning the cardboard pages. I turn up the volume and listen.   

I hear him talking and singing to himself. I can’t see his face, only his head moving back and forth, his thumb coming in and out of his mouth. I focus my gaze on the monitor and listen to him sing the songs we sing together throughout the day and the words from books we read over and over again.

If I listen closely, I can make out the history of our day through his wordsthis remembering and reciting before sleep comes.  

“Tire swing, swing high. Faster, faster, I slide down, on tire swing, mom go church night, I play park, I swing tire swing, go slide, I stink garbage truck, Mommy pick me up. Our father, Amen.”

There’s a pause followed by his offering of one word: Alleluia

RELATED: I Hope I Loved You Enough Today

I hear his feet before I see him; the fast pitter-patter of toddler legs running down the hall.

“Mama!” he screams as he rounds the corner into the kitchen. 

“Isaac awake!” Charlotte follows close behind. “Down hallway?” She asks without waiting for an answer before she runs back down the long hallway. Isaac quickly follows, and I’m left in the kitchen hearing a chorus of cheers, screams, and running feet. 

Their laughter continues as they arrive back in the kitchen. 

“This again?” Isaac asks his sister without waiting for an answer and bolts back from where he came. 

“Ahhhhh, eeeeee, ooooooo!” Both kids chant. For these few minutes, I smile at the joy they share, their friendship, and a glimpse into their future lives when they have one another’s support. I know, however, this playfulness will soon turn into yelling of “mine” and “no,” but for now, as their feet dance across the floor and their voices rise in unison, I only have one word to offer: Alleluia.   

RELATED: No One Warned Me What Would Happen to My Heart When I Became a Mom

“I think I need to push. Or go to the bathroom. I need to do something!” I sway back and forth in the hot tub, just a few minutes after arriving in our labor and delivery room. I had been looking forward to extended time in this hot tub prior to our baby’s arrival in the world. With his sister, the hot tub provided great relief and the passing of time during the 24+ hours of labor. 

Her brother, however, had other plans. Just as soon as I told Stephen I needed to push, I threw up. 

Crawling out of the hot tub I reiterated, “I need to do something, it feels like the baby is coming.” 

We’d only been in the hospital for two hours. 

The next thing I know, back pain searing through my body, I’m on my hands and knees asking, more accurately begging, “Can I push now?” 

I remember not having much choice in the matter and screaming in both delight and pain as the midwife told me, “The baby’s coming, go ahead and push. Take a deep breath in and push long and hard.” 

Two, maybe three pushes, and the baby arrived. Stephen whispered in my ear, “It’s a boy.” 

I don’t know if there’s a technical term for the time between a baby’s entrance into the world with their first cries of new life and the placing of the baby on the mother’s chest. In those minutes, there’s such a rawness of life in all its beauty and messinessa time when the baby feels the sting of cold air and no longer the warmth and security of the mother’s womb. The moments of sheer relief for the mother.

For me, that time, both seemingly forever and not long enough, could simply be: Alleluia. 

RELATED: God Bound Our Hearts Together With Threads of Love

“Lub-DUB, lub-DUB, lub-DUB.” It’s a sound of strength, this baby’s heartbeat. This confirmation that new life grows inside of me. I don’t realize it at the time, but each visit I hold my breath a little before the Doppler gets situated and the baby’s heartbeat can be heard. 

“Lub-DUB, lub-DUB, lub-DUB,” I hear and smile, releasing any tension and unspeakable fears. It’s the same at every appointment, the holding of my breath and releasing as soon as the heartbeat can be heard. A silent moment of thanks while also remembering how fragile life can be.   

It’s this same heartbeat heard over and over again in doctor’s offices that I continue to hear in all Isaac’s singing, laughing, and talking. As he’s naming his world and finding his voice, this heartbeat of his, once beating inside of me, continues to beat straight to my heart. His small voice reverberating through my entire being. 


Originally published on the author’s blog

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website or follow her work on Facebook.

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

You Came between Us

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler between mom and dad under sheet

Right in the middle of our deepest love, you came—just between us. A silent, unseen surprise. A mysterious miracle of incarnated love and joy. From that sacred moment that we couldn’t imagine being any sweeter, came you. Sometime in the middle of all the daily goodbye hugs, my stomach began to grow and you came between us. This beautiful bundle of life blossoming right inside of me. And we were in awe of every single tiny formation of you. In awe of who you were, excited by who you’d be, in awe that you were ours. You came between us...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

God Redeemed the Broken Parts of My Infertility Story

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Two young children walking on a path near a pond, color photo

It was a Wednesday morning when I sat around a table with a group of mamas I had just recently met. My youngest daughter slept her morning nap in a carrier across my chest. Those of us in the group who held floppy babies swayed back and forth. The others had children in childcare or enrolled in preschool down the road. We were there to chat, learn, grow, and laugh. We were all mamas. But we were not all the same. I didn’t know one of the mom’s names, but I knew I wanted to get to know her because she...

Keep Reading

I Look Forward to the End of a Work Day for a Whole New Reason Now

In: Motherhood
Dad hugs toddler at home

Those minutes matter. Whether it’s 5 or 15, every single second of them counts. Unless you’ve been there, it’s impossible to explain. I’m not sure there are any words that could really create the right picture. But believe me when I say those minutes count. I’m talking about those final minutes leading up to that door opening and some form of relief being on the other side. Those minutes you never thought would come. Those minutes mean you made it through another day, and there is (possibly) some relief in sight. This is a new experience I wasn’t quite ready...

Keep Reading

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

I Wasn’t Sure You’d Be Here To Hold

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother with newborn baby on her chest in hospital bed

I stood naked in my parents’ bathroom. Even with the tub filling, I could hear my family chattering behind the door. I longed to be with them, not hiding alone with my seven-month round belly, sleep-deprived, and covered in pox-like marks. For three weeks, I’d tried Benadryl, lotions, and other suggested remedies to cure the strange rash spreading over my body. No luck. By Christmas Day, my life had been reduced to survival. Day and night, I tried to resist itching, but gave in, especially in my sleep. At 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., the feeling of fire ants...

Keep Reading

To My Wife: I See Your Sacrifice

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Family of 3 sitting on floor together at home

Selfless. No other word more clearly depicts your commitment to your family. Motherhood is drastically different than you dreamed of your whole life—the dreams of what sort of mama you would be, of how much you would enjoy being a mother even on the tough days. Since day one of our relationship, you’ve been selfless. Since day one of being a mama, you’ve been selfless. Your love for your family shines through on the brightest and darkest days. But on the dark days, it shines the brightest. I can’t count the hours of sleep sacrificed, the tears cried, the time...

Keep Reading