The joy and grief of motherhood

Dear sister-

Images by Blue Ivy Photo and Morgan Moon Photography

This is a letter to the mothers out there: the new moms, the seasoned moms, and the waiting moms.

We all have unique stories. I’ve learned many hard things in my motherhood journey, and I know I have so much more to learn. Without a doubt, God will continue to refine me. The thing about refinement is it’s at times painful—yet necessary. Like the refinement of precious metals, we only get more beautiful with every pass.

This is my motherhood story. I pray it brings you comfort knowing you’re not alone.

I became a mother in college. I was young and blissfully unaware. I was so unprepared for the chaos and beauty of motherhood—the challenges it would bring. It was a time in my life I could control almost anything thrown my way; I had checked the boxes, and I had faith that it would be perfection. Then I became a mother…

My oldest son was quite an introduction to motherhood. He didn’t sleep for the first year of his life; looking back I’m not entirely sure how I managed to function. Then at 20 months, he was diagnosed with autism, and my world shattered. 

That day, when we heard the doctor utter the words our hearts may have already known were true, a process of grief began. It is an undeniable pain and a necessary process. I personally had to grieve for the dreams I so lovingly imagined the day my son was born; dreams he would grow up, have friends, graduate, go to college, get married, have kids—all with his peers. I had to let those dreams die and learn to live in the moment to simply survive my new reality. Nothing had really changed to the outsider looking in—my son was still my son, same as he always was—but on the inside, in my heart, everything was changed, and I was drowning. It took nearly 3 years to fully cycle through the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Grief is not linear; I still have rough days. I still feel anger or sadness on occasion. But by God’s grace, the rough days have become fewer and further between.

When my son was two and a half years old, we had my daughter. She was everything he was not as a baby; they could not have been more opposite! She is without a doubt a miniature version of me, which makes mothering her exceptionally difficult. It’s as if I’m being forced to experience all my childhood struggles once again, through raising her.

Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Oh, how my faith has been stretched—painfully so. Many days I clung to God’s promises in scripture to get me through. When I lay down at night in utter exhaustion thinking to myself I can’t continue like this, I can’t manage, I can’t figure it out, I’m too tired, I’m not able, or I’m not qualified; I would recite these promises:

  • It will be worth it (Romans 8:28)
  • His grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • He will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19)
  • He will direct my steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • He will give me rest (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • He is able (Ephesians 3:20)

I was certain we were done having children! I was beyond overwhelmed by motherhood. Between my son’s difficulties, my daughter’s highly emotional nature, and my own chronic health conditions, having another child was simply not a possibility. Then God changed it all. 

A full 6 years after my daughter was born, we had my youngest son. Even before I was pregnant with him, I was praying that God would bring joy back into my life. I had just been diagnosed with a lifelong condition and was mentally drowning. I did not feel any capacity for joy. I did not recognize myself. Repeatedly, through dreams, mentors, and scripture, God spoke a promise of Joy. 

John 16:22 says “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

Just like that, through an extremely difficult and scary pregnancy, God brought laughter back into my life. He gave me the chance to experience motherhood from a fresh perspective; what a gift it has been. 

The truth is—motherhood is messy, scary, beautiful, miraculous, humbling, overwhelming, and wonderful all at the same time! It’s full of sleepless nights, tears, joy, and laughter. It is refinement.

One last note to you dear reader:

If you are struggling with infertility or infant loss—I pray you will experience the joy after your time of grief. That hard-won joy cannot be stolen. Grief is necessary and not to be rushed, but the joy born of grief is a deep well.

God will provide for you. God is still with you, in the waiting place. He knows your heart, your longings, and your grief. He is not afraid of your feelings or your pain. He loves you just as you are. He isn’t asking for perfection; he is asking you to trust him. Scripture uses the Hebrew word yacha, which means “to wait,” “hope, wait expectantly,” and “wait in hope.” Waiting and hoping are wound together like strands of rope.

Psalm 62:5 (TPT) “I am standing in absolute stillness, silent before the one I love, waiting as long as it takes for him to rescue me. Only God is my savior, and he will not fail me”

You are not alone.

Keep persevering. One foot in front of the other. One day and one deep breath at a time. Joy comes in the morning.

This blog post was written by Sarah Heimbruch- owner of Blue Ivy Photography and the blog Loving Life with Intention. Sarah’s mission is to spread hope and joy through the sharing of stories both in written word and visual imagery. You can see more of her work at (images in post by Blue Ivy Photo and Morgan Moon Photography)