Friday, March 20, 2009

Initiation into Motherhood

When my 10-month-old son threw up on me today, I knew I had completed the initiation phase into motherhood. What started with my own vomiting (a couple times a day during almost half of my pregnancy) has continued with my baby’s vomiting. And in between that was an excruciating labor, sleepless nights of caring for a newborn, and the insecurity of figuring out how to care for an infant for the first time.

But just when I think I’m starting to get it figured out, I experience a rough couple of days—more like a rough couple of weeks, actually. Off and on for the past two weeks, my baby has an ear infection, which we thought we’d licked with the first round of antibiotics last week. However, it has moved to his other ear, giving him a fever for the past two days. At 4:30 this morning, after getting up with him five times last night, I finally decided to give up on the hope of getting any more sleep. I held him until he fell asleep. I slept beside his crib, as I knew he’d wake again.

I spent the morning at the doctor, then the pharmacy, then back to the pharmacy again, all the while, caring for a clingy, hurting baby. Apparently, the second round of antibiotics—stronger this time—is a bit too strong for my baby’s tummy. Hence, the vomiting on me, followed by vomiting later in his crib.

My day could be told by millions of moms around the world. It’s same story I heard from my girlfriends before I had kids.

I never knew how they did it—sacrificing sleep for weeks on end, dealing with vomit, never getting a break. And sometimes I don’t know how I do it. I see myself giving up so much of what I used to hold dear—independence, clean clothes and sleep. And I’m amazed that I forget to even let it bother me—at least most of the time.

Of course, my mom has been a big help. We’re actually at my parents’ house for a visit right now. My mom was the one who did the late night load of laundry tonight, to clean all of our clothes and sheets soiled by the vomiting incidents. I see my mom in a new light now that I am one. I know now what she did for us. And really—what she still does for me.

As much as I’ve always wanted to be independent from my parents, pulling away, demanding my own freedoms, I know now how much my mom put into me. And even as I still resist too much of her involvement in my life—always wanting to learn things on my own—we now share a camaraderie as moms. She understands. She knows how tiring it can be. She knows how to help me, and is my most willing supporter and fan.

After all, some 30 years ago, she experienced many days like mine—involving babies, vomit, sleepless nights and sacrificial love.


  1. Hi Rebecca!
    It's very nice to meet you too! I've so enjoyed actually connecting with some of you missionary wives on the field. Up until recently our connections with MAF have been with headquarters only and so I'm super excited to get to know some of you who are currently on the field. I SO wish I could have seen all of the episodes of the All Over The World series on Bornea. I'll have to save up and buy it I guess. =0) It sounds like you are at the end of your furlough so I'm sad that we didn't meet up early and I could have met you in person when you were at headquarters (we live about 15 min. away). I'm looking forward to meeting the Forneys in June when they are on furlough.

    I'll continue to follow your blog and hope your little one is feeling better soon!

    your sister in Christ,

  2. Hi Rebecca,
    I have enjoyed reading your blog. I was wondering if I could ask some questions about your daily life in missions.
    I am having a hard time finding out what a wife to a pilot in missions does. My husband and I are praying about joining the mission field- he is currently a pilot in the Marine Corps. I am unsure of what will be expected of me.?? Does every wife have a different job depending on where they live? Any information you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
    May God bless and keep you and your family in His perfect peace.
    Sincerely, Connie Harrison

  3. Connie,
    Thank you so much for asking. My husband, Brad was also in the military before joining MAF--in the Army. And my dad was a helicopter pilot in the Army, and is now retired, working with a ministry with military youth (Club Beyond). So, we understand that military lifestyle. Where are you living now?
    About your question. MAF doesn't require wives to work. Most of them are stay-at-home moms and are busy taking care of a home. Some of them work as teachers or nurses, if they choose to do that. I volunteer at a clinic for children in my neighborhood (it meets once a month). I also visit the sick in the hospital (the patients that my husband flies in for medical care). I have also taught English in my home (1-2 times a week). I also just spend time with Muslim women, visiting them in their home, or inviting them in my home. Most of my first term (3 years of it), I had no kids, so i had lots of time to volunteer. I did all those things because i wanted to, not because of any expectations. Some (not all) of the wives with lots of kids do these type of ministries, and include their kids in it. Like some of them have English clubs for Indonesian kids in their homes, or bring their kids to visit the sick. Others do hospitality, hosting visiting missionaries in their homes. Other moms are home schooling their kids, so that takes up most of their time. Really, it's up to the wives in MAF. I have heard that JAARS (the flying arm of Wycliffe) used to (I'm not sure if it is still the case) require the wives to do some work, like volunteering or teaching in the schools, helping with office work, etc. But with MAF anyway, I feel like we have the freedom to do as much or as little (or even none) of ministry work as we choose. I like that freedom, so that I can figure out what is best for me and my family at different times, without feeling outside pressure.
    Please let me know if you have any other questions. I'll be praying for you guys!

  4. Being a mother is the ultimate lesson in self-denial. And also in reliance on God. May God be your help and strength.

  5. Hi Rebecca! It was so fun to see that you stopped by "Missionary Moms!" I had come across your blog even before you came across mine. What a small world! I am sorry your little guy has been so sick. I just prayed for you all. Also, I just added you to the blogroll. Thanks for sharing your life and ministry through your blog! What an encouragement! I know other missionary moms will love getting to know you too! ~Ashley

  6. Hey Rebecca,
    Thank you so much for the info on wives. We are currently stationed in NC and he is a helio pilot ( Cobras). Thank you for your prayers. We have the desire to serve in missions but are praying for direction of God's will.
    I hope you enjoy the rest of your down time.

  7. Can I ever relate to the ear infections! Jack went through so many antibiotics before we finally put tubes in his ears in January. The antibiotics just weren't working, and he was in so much pain all the time. The tubes were a God-send. Now we are all sleeping through the night, and Jack is a very happy boy.


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