Dear James and Stacy-
As you welcome your little boy this month into your home and into your arms (he's already in your hearts), we as a community wanted to take some time tonight to encourage you and pray for you.
When your son is born, you will be born as parents. By the Lord's doing, you have made a son and he has made you a mother and a father.
Like your son will experience new things:
breathing for the first time!
eating from his mouth for the first time!
seeing and hearing clearly for the first time!
wearing clothes... a diaper…for the first time!
So you too will experience new things.
How to feed this baby.
How to help this baby sleep.
How to care for his needs.
How to understand his cries.
How to help him feel safe, loved, and cared for.
Observing you both, it’s obvious that you already care for you baby. You are making your OB visits (once a week now?), wondering what he’ll look like (probably like both of you, considering how much you two look alike), considering his layette (for life in Colorado), and choosing his life-long name.
You'll have lots of questions. You'll look for lots of answers. Many well-meaning people – even complete strangers! - will be happy to give you answers. Many books are available on the subject. You may feel that you need to turn to these for solutions. You may find that some advice is irrelevant for your situation…or even contradicts other bits of advice you receive.
May I encourage you and James that God will give you every bit of wisdom to care for your child?
There’s a story in the Bible that illustrates the wisdom God gives mothers and fathers to care for their children for their specific situations.
We read in the book of Exodus about the time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. The king of Egypt issued a command that put the Israelites into a less-than-ideal situation for child rearing. The threat to their baby put one Israelite mother and father in a challenging situation requiring God’s great wisdom.
I don’t think the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting has an answer for this one! I doubt any mother could relate, saying “Well, when my son was little, this same sort of thing happened and this is what I did…”
This situation required wisdom from no one less than God Himself to care for this child.
2:2 And the woman conceived and bore as son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months.
2:3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it with tar and pitch. The she put the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.
2:4 And his sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.
Of course we know this story about Moses. How the princess saw his basket and had him drawn out of the water. About how sweet, courageous Miriam approached the princess and asked if she could call a nurse to nurse the baby. We know how the baby’s own mother was able to keep and feed and care for her baby until the child grew. We know about the big picture, how this baby’s miraculous rescue would result in the Israelite’s being “rescued” from Egypt and set free to enjoy the Promised Land.
I read this passage recently when Jude was just a few months old. As a parent, I thought more deeply about this passage from Moses’ mother’s point of view. How would she have felt to bring a child into this situation? How would she cope? How would she care for her son?
I don’t know a lot about Moses’ mother, but we learn some from clues in the text:
2:2 She saw that he was beautiful.
First I thought “Well, obviously! What mother doesn’t think that about her baby?” To further understand, I looked further into Scripture and found that Hebrews comments on this passage.
Hebrews 11: 23
By faith Moses when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
The first thing I noticed here was that the writer of Hebrews expands the situation not only to include Moses’ mom, but also to include his dad, picturing a unity in Moses’ parents: “hidden by his parents”…“they saw him”… “they were not afraid”
I believe these parents were God-fearing people, fearing Him above the king’s edict. I also think they had spiritual eyes, seeing that Moses was no ordinary child. Finally, I think God gave them wisdom as to how to hide their baby.
We see a unity in Moses’ parents: together experiencing the situation, together assessing the situation and together responding by faith.
There are going to be times in your life as parents when you don’t know what to do. Maybe at 2 am. Maybe when all the other mothers are telling you one thing and you both feel that your baby needs something different.
This is a great opportunity to come together as a husband and wife, discuss your family, go to the Lord, and operate together as a unit.
The second thing I wondered was how they hid him. Jude slept almost 24 hours the first couple of months, waking only to feed. If their baby was like this, I get how they could have hidden him initially.
But what about after three months when "she could hide him no longer"? After three months, Jude was having more “wake time”. Between naps, Jude enjoyed interaction: talk, touch, socializing. He especially enjoyed engaging with his sisters and brother. In addition to a few naps during the day, Jude had a long stretch of sleep at night– he would keep sleeping, but after about five hours I would wake him to feed him because I was concerned about what that meant nutritionally for an infant only 12 weeks old.
I asked Jude’s pediatritian about it at his next appointment.
“Is all night too long for a baby this age to go without a feed? I’ve been waking him after five hours. Should I keep doing this?”
Our seasoned pediatritian Dr. Beesley smiled.
“Don’t worry about him nutritionally at this point. At three months, you don’t need to wake him. Most parents want their baby to sleep through the night like that. Some three month old babies have long stretches of sleep during the day, but most parents wish that that long stretch was flipped to nighttime so they could get a good sleep, too.
Tongue in cheek, Dr. Beesley said, “If you want him to sleep long during the day, keep waking him up at night!”
This is pure speculation, but what if baby Moses mostly slept his first three months? What if, when he developed to the point of needing more human interaction, “his parents could hide him no longer.”? How on earth could Moses be kept quiet and still in a dark basket covered with tar and pitch day after day? What if God had given Moses’ parents the wisdom to “wake him during the night”, giving him a longer stretch of sleep during the day?
In the covering of the night, Moses’ mom surely could have engaged, entertained, and interacted with little Moses. And when the sun began to rise, perhaps Moses yawned and was placed in his basket, to fall asleep, not for the night, but for the day? Sleepy from the night’s activity, maybe Moses’ mom yawned, too, and fell asleep at home, leaving Miriam to “baby-sit” for her sleeping brother by the reeds along the bank of the Nile?
One thing I do know from experience is that God can give us as parents thoughts, ideas, and clues as to how to care for our children in ways far beyond human wisdom. Wisdom doesn’t always come from experience. Erik and I are on our fourth child, and we still say, “I wonder if we should…?” Whether this baby is your first or fifth, God can give wisdom for the unique situations you find yourselves in as a family.
May I encourage you to go to the Lord for the wisdom you need to care for your son?
Right now, your baby is attached to you - receiving every bit of nourishment and cleansing through the umbilical cord you share. He has everything he needs, so long as he stays attached. You know the result of that from experience: hearing his heart beat for the first time. Feeling flutters along the way. Presently finding it hard to breathe, maybe, as he’s grown! So long as he stays attached to you, he remains healthy and growing. He is not exerting any effort to survive. It is his dependence on you that ensures his life and his growth.
Likewise, so long as you and James remain attached to the Lord, He will provide everything you need.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in Him, he bears much fruit;
for apart from Me, you can do nothing.
As you are presented with questions, may you use this as an opportunity to come together as husband and wife: to discuss…to dialogue…to go to the Lord and seek Him. As you go to Him together, as husband and wife, with your questions, He will counsel you. He will guide you. He will build your house.
Sometimes, He may direct you to a book or a person. But at the end of the day, you can rest assured that He is the One who has been at work, building your house. That's why it's so important to have your own personal relationship with the Lord, knowing His voice and finding confidence in Him.
At first, your questions will be how to feed, change, bathe and clothe your baby. Then the questions will develop into how to communicate, correct, train, discipline your child. I hear the questions continue as they reach their teen age years and adult years.
I can't think of a better time to practice going to the Lord with your questions because they evidently won't stop. Who better knows you, your family, and your child than the Lord?
And as for your precious son, what could be better for him to know and experience first-hand: that my mom and dad together demonstrated a spiritual dependency on the Lord?
At the end of the day, what will be remembered won’t be whether you swaddled him or not, put him on to sleep on his back or tummy, had him sleep in a closet or a room. What he will remember is that you loved him and you sought the Lord for how to best care for him.
As your baby grows, may he observe you both depending on the Lord, and may your child hear the Lord's voice early, seek Him, respond to Him, and live a life of dependence on the True Vine.