I have been blessed during my life with many holy women who are dedicated to raising souls that God has entrusted them with. They see each new life given to them as a promotion.
My mother has always been a constant reminder that Mary, our Heavenly Mother pondered these things in her heart. I believe that each child God gives to us we are to stop and ponder. Ponder what fabulous miracle this new little body is. Ponder how each child was deigned by God even before your father and I knew of your existence. Ponder how God has plans for you already. Each child is meant to change you as a mother. Each child stretches your heart to love and to love deeper.
My very favorite quote from Mother Teresa "LOVE begins at Home. It is not How Much We Do, but how much LOVE we put into what we do." I had this on our refrigerator most of your childhood.
Here are a few basics that I adhered to after each new child given to us. My mother passed this wisdom to me. Her mother passed this wisdom to her.
1. Give yourself 3 months for the chaos to settle down. Expect it. It is normal. Mama has changed. The whole dynamics of the family has changed. Your father and I expect it after every baby. After three months, you will truly find it miraculous. You will say to yourself, "Things really seem to be calming down."
2. Expect nothing of yourself for the first six weeks. If you want to clean, clean. If you don't want to clean, don't clean. If you need to order pizza, order pizza. If you need to have the little ones watch a few extra movies, watch a few extra movies. Don't worry or stress about anything. Don't make this the time to judge if you are a good mother or not. You are tired. You are overwhelmed with gratitude for your new life. If you have weight to lose (like your mother), don't put pressure on yourself to get it off right away.
3. Remember your husband needs a break to. Your father and I try to go on a date shortly after we have a baby just so we can talk and look at each other. We've had the best talks and cries. I tell him my fears and he always calms me down and reassures me everything will be fine. Try to do small things to make him still feel so special even though you are completely consumed with the new baby.
4. After most of my babies, I feel a distance between me and my other children. It has helped me to take each of you on a date. It may be to Starbucks for a hot chocolate, or just along to the grocery store. I take this time to really focus on the child with me and to let them know how special and loved they still are to me.
4. Most women I talk to are so overwhelmed during the first three months after a baby, they feel as though they could never have another child. This isn't the time to be thinking of such decisions. Your life will settle down. This new person will very quickly become part of the rest of the crowd. It is normal to feel overwhelmed, over emotional, over tired, etc., etc. It is the map of this journey.
5. Do not put pressure on yourself about your "lack" of prayer life. I am not saying Do Not Pray, but don't beat yourself up for the sudden change in your prayer life. I often try to give God my little gifts...diaper changes, late night feedings, jealous two year olds. Sometimes all I can pray during the day are the simple words, "I love you, Lord." If you can, nothing is better than making a holy hour with your new baby. I love just sitting in His presence and saying or doing nothing. Sometimes, I cry. I tell Him my worries and ask Him to mend my heart. I ask Him to be with each child during this time and let them feel loved by Him.
6. Just a random memory I have: Shortly after one of my babies, it was a day that all were squirly including myself. Instead of correcting everybody and lecturing them about this and that I said, "That's it. Everybody get an ice cream bar." Your faces were wonderful. We went and sat outside and the ice cream was medicine. I know you all were expecting me to lecture and were quite surprised. It was a wonderful memory and not the norm, but sometimes necessary during hectic times.
These are just simple things, but have proven to be very helpful to me. I hope they are helpful to you. I love you and will be here for you if God calls you to the vocation of motherhood.