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I gasp and aww as you share the news of discovering the pink double lines on the pregnancy test. I wrap you in a hug and tell you I’m excited for you. 

Yet behind my smile, underneath the praise and congratulations I give, I feel . . . sympathy. 

I don’t feel pity–I’m genuinely happy for you–but I smile like someone who’s walked (and is still walking) the hard, oftentimes painful, road of motherhood.  

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m thrilled the Lord has granted this desire of your heart. Yet a part of me wants to stroke your hair and say, “Oh, dear friend, you have no idea. I’m sorry for the hard days to come.” 

Right now your experience of motherhood is hugs and squeals, expanding waistbands, and fluttering kicks. Motherhood is daydreaming and planning, making lists of boy and girl names, and marveling over the miracle of life within your womb.

Enjoy these months, my friend. Celebrate and be celebrated. Glow in the loving attention of loved ones. Receive the help that flows generously in your direction.

Because it won’t always be this way. 

The meals and help you enjoy out of the hospital will dwindle as the hard days of parenting begin. The questions of, “How do you feel?” and urgings of, “Don’t get up! Let me do it for you,” will be replaced with an assumption that you no longer need help. (When nothing could be further from the truth.)

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Postpartum adrenaline will leak out of your system like coffee down the drain, and you’ll experience the type of fatigue that makes you wonder if you’ll ever feel normal and competent again.

Your sweet newborn, who used to sleep all the time, will fuss and cry at all hours of the day and night, leaving you feeling physically haggard and emotionally bruised.

Trite as it sounds, the saying rings true: Motherhood is hard.

Motherhood is the kind of hard that has you sobbing on your bed, dreading the next painful feeding that will come again in two and a half hours. Motherhood is the kind of hard that makes you feel so angry when your infant screams for hours on end before falling asleep each night. It’s the kind of hard that leaves you feeling isolated and trapped at home when your baby still naps three times a day. 

Yet, don’t misunderstand me–while early motherhood is shockingly hard, motherhood is a precious, uncomparable gift.

As your baby sleeps on your chest–his tiny body rising and falling with your breathing–you will experience a sense of contentment and joy you’ve never known before. When your daughter giggles for the first time–Oh! How ecstatic you’ll be!

While I’m happy for your first pregnancy, I have an insider’s perspective on motherhood. Ushering a child into the world is incredibly vulnerable, and my heart aches at the potential pain and inescapable challenges you will face.  

You may undergo an emergency cesarean. Breastfeeding may not come naturally. Those tender moments you’d envisioned with your newborn child may be spent in the hospital, rather than the nursery you tastefully decorated. 

I won’t tell you this, of course.

I don’t want to scare you or plant weeds of worry in your mind. I want you to revel in the wonderful possibilities of motherhood.

Yet, I don’t want you to be unaware of the hardships and sacrifices that motherhood requires. If you ask me–and you really want to know–I will share some of the hard I’ve experienced, such as anxiety during and after pregnancy, postpartum depression, and feelings of abandonment from friends and family. 

Motherhood is an amalgam of deep-seated joy mixed with profound pain. 

Motherhood is neither all joy nor all pain. It’s a beautiful and complex combination of the two. 

Yet even then, I will assure you motherhood is worth it.

The truth is, everything of true value comes at a cost. While motherhood may feel like it costs more than you can mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually afford, the little human being who will eventually call you mommy is worth it. The intimate joys and privileges of motherhood are, undoubtedly, worth all the hard.  

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And here’s the best news if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, you don’t mother alone. Isn’t that such a relief? When you feel depleted, His Spirit living within you is more than enough. When you feel weak, His grace is made perfect in weakness. You can do hard things because the power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of you. 

So while there is a flicker of sympathy behind my eyes as I celebrate the good news of your first pregnancy, I have hope. While I know you’ll face difficulties and pain in early motherhood, I’m confident you’ll also experience inexplicable contentment and joy as you mother your little one. 

Congratulations, dear friend!

Shara-Rae Jansen

Shara-Rae is a stay-at-home mom to two adventurous boys. There’s nothing Shara-Rae enjoys more than meaningful conversations over coffee, walking forest trails, and reading a good book. For more encouraging content you can check out her blog, www.shararaejansen.com, or look for book suggestions on her IG, @shararaejansen.

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