Grace for a Growing Family
Author Suzanne Hadley Gosselin examines the spiritual, emotional and social challenges of bringing a new life into the world from the perspective of a young mother who has given birth to three babies in less than five years. In her new book, Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood, she addresses real-life issues and offers real-life advice. Gosselin took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for HOPE.
Q: New moms are inundated with so much information about pregnancy and childbirth. What makes Expectant Parents stand out from other resources for soon-to-be parents?
Many pregnancy resources give soon-to-be parents health information and practical advice on newborn topics, such as diapering, sleep schedules, and doctors’ visits. Expectant Parents focuses on what you can do during this unique season to prepare emotionally, socially and spiritually for being parents. It’s also a marriage book, in that it offers a lot advice from experts about strengthening your relationship with your spouse in preparation for the adjustment of adding an infant to the family. We refer to a “marriage-centered home,” which is a home where the couple looks to Christ and makes their marriage a priority. This type of home holds deep and lasting benefits for children as they observe their parents modeling a healthy marriage.
Q: What were some of the experiences you had as a new parent that you felt unprepared for and wanted to share with new parents in Expectant Parents? My biggest adjustment was the life-change whiplash that came along with leaving my full-time job as an editor to stay home and care for my son. Even though being a stay-at-home mom was my dream, I didn’t realize ahead of time the social interactions that I would lose, and how lonely and isolated I would feel in my new role. Also, I didn’t fully realize how having a baby would shift the dynamic between my husband, Kevin, and me. We couldn’t focus on each other the way we had pre-baby, and we had to learn to be intentional about date nights and conversations that strengthened us as a couple.
Q: How have you leaned on the Lord during the ups and downs of becoming a new parent?
I’ve had to seek His strength and help in a new way since becoming a mom. I realize I’m not always “up to the task” and need to call on Him daily for the grace I need to be a loving wife and mother. I’ve also had to go to the Lord to find my identity in the midst of so many changes.
Q: How does becoming a parent change your relationship with God?
I think your relationship with Him changes because you suddenly have to trust Him with this other person you love so desperately. Our son had a healthy, normal delivery, but developed seizures six months later. Kevin and I had to lay down our own hopes for Josiah and choose to believe that God loved him more than we did and had a plan for our son’s life. You want to make everything perfect for your baby, but ultimately, God is the one in control. Trusting Him with your child starts when you first find out you’re pregnant and continues for the rest of your life.
Q: Many women in this generation are successful professionals, and they might have trouble finding their places in what you call “mommy culture.” What do you recommend moms do to connect with other mothers with whom they can identify?
One of the moms in the book talked about how she anticipated her social life would be changing dramatically when she quit her job to stay home with her first child. She and her husband prayed that God would provide her with new friends who could encourage her and sustain her during the next season of life. She even cultivated some of those relationships before her baby was born! I wish I would have done that! I was not proactive about securing an after-baby social life. As a result, I felt isolated and became unreasonably dependent (emotionally) on my husband. Eventually, I realized getting out and getting a cup of coffee with a girlfriend—especially another mom—was sometimes more crucial than keeping my baby on schedule or cleaning the house.
Q: What is the number one piece of advice from Expectant Parents you would share with parents in preparation for delivery day? Be flexible with your expectations! You may be planning on natural childbirth but end up needing a C-section. The most important thing is a healthy mom and a healthy baby. So go in prepared, but be ready to let go of your idea of an ideal birth experience if you need to. Also, invite God to be a part of the experience. Pray during labor. Listen to worship music. Have someone write memory verses on your white board. Do whatever it takes to remind yourself that God is with you and He plays a huge part of this amazing miracle.
For more information about Suzanne Hadley Gosselin or Expectant Parents, visit her online at www.suzannegosselin.com.