life in survival mode {3 weeks post partum}

The weeks following the birth of a child are so intense.

Intensely wonderful. Intensely tiring, trying, emotional.

I am so happy. The joy of getting to know a new little person, even if it is very taxing on the body and the sleep cycle (ha!!), is beyond-words profound. It’s so exciting to introduce him to every friend and family member and stranger! 🙂 I am overwhelmed with how much love God can give a mother for a new little person. I thought after baby #1, baby #2 I would be “used to” this joy and wouldn’t be so awed by it. But he’s brand new! A new life, a new personality in our home, a new face to study and new everything to discover about him. And he’s absolutely wonderful.

Ezra Neal  |  3 weeks old

Ezra Neal | 3 weeks old

Also – I can be so emotional! Though I am overall so happy, in certain moments I feel like “I JUST CAN’T TAKE IT!”…my eyes are dry and red from staying up through the night with Ezra, my body is achey and sore, my hormones are a bit whack,  almost *none* of my maternity clothes or pre-baby clothes fit, and it’s overwhelming trying to take in all the transition that is going on in our home. It can be discouraging to feel like I have little control over my home and schedule while we’re still sorting that all out (and while I have to let some of it just go, in favor of rest and healing and time with our newborn!). The simplest things feel like a life/death struggle. At moments I let fear take over…“oh my word, life with three is just – like this! No rest, no freedom, no grown-up time!” But I know it’s not true. This is just an especially taxing couple of weeks/months. And – even if everything is kind of overwhelming, I am so blessed seeing my 3 little ones and knowing that they are blessings straight from the Lord! (Psalm 127:3)

(Not only are they gifts – they are weapons! If you follow me on Facebook, sorry for the double-share, but this article was so encouraging to me as a mother, so I thought I would share it again: arrows (and why the fight is hard)…you’re welcome!)


I guess you could say we are in survival mode. That means basically covering only essentials, and only just getting by. It’s a steep uphill climb right now now. Not exactly a stage you want to stay in, but one to pass through and thank God you, well, survived. Even though survival mode can be pretty ugly (hello, I never shower or get dressed and I ugly cry at least once daily), it feels like truly living to me.

In the intensity of my joy and struggle, I feel like this survival mode is abundant life for me. I hope we move on to another season before too long (and I am looking forward to that – and sleeping again someday!)…but in the midst of this time, I fully intend to soak up every blissful and (sometimes) agonizing sleepless night with my newborn. I believe this is rich, full, truly-alive living for me. Sometimes the most difficult and even dangerous things are those that make us feel most alive…the fear and faith and thrill in being a witness for Christ in a hostile place…the gasping for breath pushing yourself farther than you thought you physically could…the muscle-cramping, thirsting and sweating in a mountain climb, only to summit and soak in the glory of God’s creation…the scary moments.


Nels and I have been reading Bear Grylls’ autobiography, and I really enjoy his perspective on life, persevering in “survival” and adventure. He says that in growing up he discovered his love for challenges, and “Adventure felt the most natural thing in the world, and it was where I came alive.” Moments of visceral pain, exhaustion and emotion are not easy. But sometimes they end up producing the outstanding highlights and generally make life thrilling. In that way, I feel like saying ‘yes’ to God in this time of raising a family – this is abundant living for right now. Even if it looks like sweatpants and smoothies for dinner (again). Even I’m not my sharpest, fittest or most put-together self for the time being.

I really feel like we are living a bit of an adventure and I think that we may one day look back on “survival mode” with fondness, noting this intense time as well-worth any struggle involved.


“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” {from John 10, ESV}

How about you? Have you experienced “life in survival mode” in any ways recently?

❤ jc


One thought on “life in survival mode {3 weeks post partum}

  1. This is really honest. I’m not a mom yet, but I really like how you show that whatever the hardship, mustering love and courage for your own child is natural and nothing to worry about -which I do!!! Thanks for sharing, and I hope you get sound sleep ASAP 😉 xx

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