Hold it Loosely

Given the rip-snorting responses to my Mom-zilla post, I feel I had better get back in here and get a few more things said. Thanks for all your comments, ladies. I’m sorry I didn’t get some of them cleared sooner….I’m taking care of five wonderful grandkids for a few days, and the sun has been shining, so my computer has been gathering dust.

Let me restate a couple of things. A bride should make all the necessary preparations for a beautiful wedding, and a mother should make all the necessary preparations to give birth. It would be foolish not to. I have no objection to the bride or the mother who has planned things down to the most minute details. Jesus said it was all right to tithe the mint and the dill, so long as we didn’t forget the bigger issues. We don’t want to get ourselves worked up over having everything exactly as we want it (whether to please ourselves or to gain approval from others who have strong opinions), and fail to see how obsessive or self-centered we have become in the process.

I have no squabble with women’s birth choices because they are their choices, not mine. The issue I was addressing was the need for a mama to hold these things loosely so she doesn’t become a demanding prima donna in the midst of an event that is bigger than she is.

I am not advocating one kind of childbirth over another. I am not arguing for unpreparedness. I am suggesting that we should not become overly distracted with our expectations, plans, and opinions. Everything should be in an open hand before the Lord. I am suggesting that Christian women should approach childbirth as they do everything else:  in faith, with humility and grace. And besides the obvious desire to have a healthy child, every woman should pray that she will birth in a manner that pleases and glorifies God. She should want to please God by being a trooper, by being brave, by being cooperative, by being grateful, by pushing to the glory of God. She should want her husband to be proud of her, not embarrassed. This means she will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in the midst of childbirth. She will not turn into a mom-zilla.

How does she turn into a mom-zilla? By flipping out at her caregivers, by being demanding and bossy. By being angry when things don’t go exactly as she had planned. By playing the blame game. That’s the mom-zilla I described. Someone mentioned in the comments that we tend to look for the perfect experience so we can film it and put it up on the world wide web. Exactly! In some cases, otherwise modest women become exhibitionists in sharing their (immodest) birth pictures, videos, and stories. But that’s another subject. The point is that we are to be consistent Christians in everything. So by all means women should make birth plans with care and wisdom, but always with a “Lord willing” attitude.

So, thanks again for the comments. I can see it is a hot-button, a tender subject, and one that can illustrate exactly why we need to deal with this….

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21 thoughts on “Hold it Loosely

  1. Thank you Nancy for the Mom-zilla post and this follow-up. I’m always grateful for, and convicted by, the gracious way in which you respond to those who read into your words.

  2. You mean having a “big day” doesn’t trump loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and my neighbor as myself? Oh.

  3. Thanks for this post! I think these things are excellent to remember in ANYTHING that I tend to hold dear – feeding healthy food to my family, or having a good routine in our home, etc. I like this quote in particular:
    “I am suggesting that we should not become overly distracted with our expectations, plans, and opinions. Everything should be in an open hand before the Lord…every woman should pray that she will birth [or carry out any task, I think] in a manner that pleases and glorifies God.”

  4. Nancy, I really appreciate this post and the previous one too. We’re are preparing for our first birth, and about a week or so ago I rather suddenly found myself almost desperate to “figure out” just what I need to do to make everything go well. The reminder to hold my preparations and planning loosely is so welcome. Thank you for the encouragement.

  5. Wow. What a topic! I guess I would call myself a “non-planner” when it comes to delivery and I feel in the minority these days. When my current midwives ask for my birthing plan I pretty much tell them, “Well we’ll take what we get and work with it.!” I have delivered 6 soon to be 7 precious ones with no two stories alike. The “experiences” have been so varied that I could go on for hours and discuss the details as most of you can.
    I think what I appreciate most about these 2 posts is the need to be flexible as women and not irrational. To take what the Lord gives us, even if your 2nd born decides to come on Superbowl Sunday and you find yourself in the delivery room with a man you have never met because he was the Dr. on call and he is more than perturbed because he is missing the big game.=) That was an interesting day. Were these experiences great? Nope. Do I trust that they were in God’s hands and part of his plan all along? Yep. Do I make a change the next time around? Yes, because we do have so many choices here in the U.S. of A.
    Would I pick again some of the unfortunate things that have happened in my deliveries? Of course not. Would I go through that again though if that was what the Lord had for me? Absolutely.
    Isn’t that one of the truest blessings of being in Christ? That we can trust that he works ALL things out for the good? Would we as his people ever pick the ways in which he chooses to refine us and make us more his own? I can speak with all truth that I would never have picked the ways in which God has desired to sanctify me. We have the ability to take what he has given to us “good” or “bad” and learn from it what he needs us to learn.
    In 1 Timothy we are told, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” This is His primary means of drawing us to himself. All that to say we need to be careful that our preferences don’t get in the way of his sanctifying work in us. We will have pain, we will have suffering in labor birthing tub or no. Will we be “MOM-zillas” about this or not? Or will we face this too with faith, love, holiness and self-control?
    I appreciate a willingness to discuss the topic and grow each other in Christ. May he work in us what is pleasing to Him.

  6. Thank you so much for these two posts, Mrs. Wilson! I am always encouraged when you write.

    I think the mom-zilla trap sucks us in because we are being immodest and self-centered sometimes. But most often, I think it rears its head because we are very very fearful about the safety of our babies. The distress and debate in the comments of your first post will pop up in almost identical fashion during a conversation on immunizations, for instance, because we moms are putting our babies out there for a big, bad, unfriendly AAP to inject and protect. Just like vaccines get a really bad rap for causing childhood illness and autism, etc., childbirth practices get the blame for infant problems that are often life-long.

    But doesn’t it follow that a wise and loving God had that in His plan? Blaming the delivery doctors/midwives/blinking lights/eyedrops for your baby’s medical issues, blaming the vaccines for your child’s autism, is ultimately, focusing blame on someone you can reach because you can’t quite reach God.

    I have experienced first-hand the result of doctors not completing medical tests that the mother later thought should have been done, and the baby has had a lifetime of medical issues stemming from no one knowing how low her bloodsugar was at birth. This was 30 years ago, and the bitterness and struggle that has stemmed from my family not accepting the medical problems as God’s will, but rather poring over medical records and tracing the “fault” back to a certain doctor, is the real tragedy.

    This experience made me very, very fearful in my own deliveries, and I had to set those worries aside and trust that these doctors (whom I’d chosen carefully) did care for me and my child and wanted us both to be healthy and happy. There is great peace there, whatever the permanent medical problems that the Lord brings into a baby’s life.

    A mother will always struggle with blaming herself for not protecting her child if something goes wrong, and the hurricane that swirls around the birthplan conversations is often made up of regret and blame and a frantic effort to prevent other younger mothers from having that same regret. This goes both ways, and I’m not choosing sides–the homebirth folks can rightly say that the hospital folks are just as fearful.

    Thank you for reminding us to focus on the miracles.

  7. As a home-birthing natural birth enthusiast who sometimes is more enthusiastic than loving, your original post was very, very convicting…God didn’t tell us anything about how to birth our babies. He did tell us to raise them up in His nurture and admonition. And getting that right (with His grace) matters far more than how they come into the world.

  8. Nancy,

    Thank you again for your edifying words. I, too, esteem the graciousness with which you temper your responses.


    I truly appreciated your post. You have much wisdom to share and your heart for the Lord is evident. But my dear sister–and I say this with love–I don’t believe that the verse in 1 Timothy you referenced is quite so narrowly defined. For if that were the case, those of us whom our good God has not blessed with pregnancy and childbirth would be in somewhat dire straits in terms of our sanctification. It is a difficult verse and, perhaps, one over which we should all labor greatly (pun intended). 🙂

    In His love,

  9. Lori-

    Thank you for the gentle reminder. I did not mean to narrowly define the verse and am quite willing to admit that I may have a wrong understanding of it entirely. I will do my best to study and reflect more in the future before making blanket statements. I have been blessed to know many who have not been granted pregnancy or who have lost their children and am continually humbled by their example of Faith, Love, Holiness and Self-Control through their various trials and sorrows. I am happy to add you to the list of people with whom I am (now) acquainted as a sister who reflects Christlikeness and patience with those of us who don’t think before they speak.=} Bless you.

  10. I didn’t read any comments to your “mom-zilla” post, nor this one, but I have to say that I wish a few gals I know could read that post before going into the delivery room (or their bath tub at home, wherever they may be delivering)… If there is anything that makes you realize the world does not revolve around you and your needs, it should be child bearing… Thanks for the insight, as usual!

  11. Amen to this post….and it’s so important to keep it in mind that God is the giver of life, so we can trust Him with the uncertainties of childbirth.
    I think it is the deepest, sweetest and most genuine opportunity to practice submissive obedience when we trust God to help us bring our babies into the world safely.
    That trust can give us the strength to “under-react” and remain peaceful when labor feels like it’s more than we can manage. And I think that this “under-reaction” is what it looks like when we don’t give way to fear.

  12. Amen. I am grateful for the birth of my first child, but hope that in no way I ever exhibit mom-zillaness. This is timely read, as we just lost a pregnancy. You have to hold loosely all of your expectations in life.

    “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-16

  13. Nancy, thank you.
    I read these two posts as an impartial observer, being quite certain that Mom-zillahood wasn’t anywhere near a pet sin of mine. Then there were some faint stirrings down deep in my heart, and I realized that I have not forgiven the nurse I had (truly, a Nurse-zilla) for my last birth. I have been gossiping about her and harboring significant ill-will for her treatment of me.
    I know that she was wrong. However, for me to continue in this bitterness is the very sin of making it all about me that you brought up initially.
    I have found myself becoming defensive and self-centered in planning for this next birth — only half-joking in reference to having my husband bring a baseball bat to protect me the next time; considering the staff who will be present as potential enemies with whom I will do battle, rather than arming myself with love and remembering that this will be another chance to testify as a child of God. I may have to speak up, but a martial attitude is not called for.

  14. I really appreciate the tone of these posts. I think the most misunderstanding could come from this idea: “How does she turn into a mom-zilla? By flipping out at her caregivers, by being demanding and bossy. By being angry when things don’t go exactly as she had planned. By playing the blame game. That’s the mom-zilla I described.”

    It is vEry against my nature, but I can say I have been a ‘demanding and bossy’ Mother with caregivers when it comes to my children, but only when they refuse to respect my differing opinion and give me no other choice. I ultimately am responsible to protect my children and sometimes it is the responsible thing to do to be demanding and bossy in order to protect your kids. And I hate it. But I am the steward of MY children, not the doctors. Yet I don’t believe I’ve ever sinned in my communication with them. And that’s the distinction some are making here. Because for some women there CAN be a difference between being ‘demanding and bossy’ (which can sometimes be necessary!) and being ‘angry when things don’t go exactly as planned’. When we get angry it’s a sign we have made a good experience or birth plan an idol- a good thing that has turned into an ultimate thing. This is what women who care a lot about birth have to fight against. Yes, I believe God is ok with me wanting my children to come into the world the way I know is healthiest for them. AND I keep His glory and goodness as first priority in my mind so that if it doesn’t happen, I thank God for modern medicine and focus on His glory so that I can be grateful no matter the means and no matter the outcome.

  15. I love this reminder that we are to display the fruit of the Spirit consistently–even if we are in the intense pain of childbirth.

  16. Nancy- I thought one of your readers made a great point that “the mainstream American birth culture needs to be scrutinized from a godly perspective.” I think this is what might strike a nerve in some of those women who are truly frustrated by a system that seems to put convenience over the health and welfare of the baby and/or mother. Many times doctors want to intervene to speed things a long (breaking water early, starting pitocin asap) and I think women often feel pressure to go along with such things. If they don’t stay firm and have a plan, they may crumble in the midst of contractions. If they don’t get a little adamant and even seemingly rude, they may find their wishes ignored. I think a whole post could be attributed not just to momzilla attitudes, but to doctor-zilla attitudes and medical practices that try to rush and manipulate that which may need to happen on its own. Women are often encouraged to schedule inductions so they can have a firm date as to when baby will come. Many times this leads to a c-section. I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count, especially with my friends who are first time moms.

    Though it is true that there can be an momzilla attitude, I think if you address it on this level, it’s only fair to address the larger (and more influential?) attitude that is the counterpart to all of this… namely, the attitude of MANY doctors. I would love to read a post on how to respond with godliness to doctors who may be looking at the whole thing from an unregenerate perspective. I would love to even read a post on how a godly doctor could better prepare a mom for birth and for the many variables therein. Sometimes it seems like doctors are driven by fear of litigation. I know there’s only so much we can say since we’d be speaking above our heads (since we’re not doctors ourselves and I know it’s a sticky subject), but I think the same could be said for interpreting a mother’s insistence on a birthing plan. So many unique situations. Yet we have general biblical principles we can apply.

  17. Just wanted to tell you what a blessing it was to read this several days ago, right before I went into labour with my fourth! It was an excellent reminder to go into the birthing process with a heart posture to bring glory to God. By his grace he took me through a very intense, short(3.5 hour) drug-free, two hours of pushing with the head stuck delivery…yes with some tears but also with laughter and grace. At the end of the night, another young nurse decided she might have kids one day after witnessing Jesus help us through it with joy. This also happened with the delivery of our third. 🙂 there truly is something to be said for holding things loosely and trusting Jesus in our birthing experiences! Thank you for the reminder and the encouragement…it made a difference for us!

  18. Oh yes…and it’s a good reminder for the early days of baby Gloria’s life too…when not much goes according to plan…ever. 🙂

  19. This is an excellent response to your prior comments and one that is a little more tender to those of us who God made into preparers. Plan, prepare, practice all you want. Know what you believe is best for your family under ideal circumstances. But in the end, don’t make your expectations into an idol and trust God with the process and outcome.

  20. Perfect. 🙂 I should have read all three articles first instead of just all the commenters interpretation of the articles. (Although some were merely trying to “temper” it as this article has so gracefully done.)
    The funny thing is Momzillas and Bridezillas never “turn into” that. That’s what they were all along. So it’s pretty easy to tell if its a case of a sense of duty or self centeredness, just by looking back. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

  21. Reading this much later than when you posted AND being a preparer and organizer by nature – I so believe that we must glorify God in all our actions -I am now finding that as a mother in law – so humbling in so many wats

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