growing pains in this new life


One morning at the villa with my family (see photos from our week away here and here), my mom offered to watch the kids and sent me outside with a magazine.  Barely 15 minutes had gone by before she was sheepishly bringing me my crying baby… do you think he knew I left him or something? :)

Anyway, Gil and I stayed there for about an hour.  After eating, he eventually dozed off on my shoulder.  I asked my brother to take some photos of us.  Isn’t it such a beautiful setting?  But also, for me, these photos capture a beautiful memory of time with my son.



To be frank with you, these days have been hard.  Hard in ways I never anticipated. Gil is two months old today, and these past two months he has spent mostly needing me, fussing/crying/screaming, or tenuously asleep (often next to me).  Elliott and I have felt our reserves of patience and perspective draining away, and the result is that we’ve been short-tempered with everyone (each other, Lena, Gil, the cat…).

Basically, in two months Gil has taught us more about the difficulties of parenting than Lena did in two years.

Meanwhile, I have felt such a complete loss of self.  I am writing this while sitting on the living room rug surrounded by scattered toys and unfolded laundry.  Gil is next to me on a blanket, kicking away and touching my knee with his fist.  He is making little noises that tells me his brief happiness will not last much longer.  I am wearing my new uniform — yoga pants, nursing tank top, slippers, and whatever hair style I slept in — and I am struggling to find words in my fuzzy, sleep-deprived brain.

*pause to soothe Gil to sleep*

When I say “loss of self,” I mean two things.  First there is the natural loss of the person I was: someone who had one child, who could keep a relatively tidy house, who put on regular clothes every morning, who managed to leave the house without every trip turning into a “you aren’t going to believe this” story.

But there is also the loss of self because there is very little room for self anymore in this new life.  My baby needs me, my toddler needs me, my husband needs me (and needs not just the leftovers).  There’s almost no time to read a book, to work on a knitting project, to read a friend’s blog, to write a long email.  The natural response to this — selfishness — predictably and frustratingly just sets us all back instead of moving us forward.  And yet selfishness rears its ugly head more than ever when self is continually denied.

I don’t have any well-thought-out, clean way to conclude here, especially as Gil is crying again already.  Let me simply say… these pictures give me perspective.  Gil, for all his anxious tears these days, is still a handsome, healthy little boy, and more than likely he’ll outgrow this stage.  And so will we!

I am so grateful to be a mother.  To be his mother.  I love him so.


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38 Responses to growing pains in this new life

  1. Jonathan March 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Thanks for the open window into your life and its growing pains. You’ll have to be ready to give Erika and me some good perspective when we enter that stage! O_O

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Pleeeeease enter it soon! Lena and Gil need cousins! :-)

  2. Rachel March 25, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Oh, my heart hurts for you…. I’ve been there (sort of – my oldest was 4 when our youngest was born). The best advice I ever received was to hire out what you can – hire someone to come clean once a week, hire a nanny to come help one or two mornings a week (even though you may not be able to leave Gil with the nanny, you can nap with him while she plays with Lena – the Italians will help around the house a bit as well!)…. the money spent is well-worth your sanity and good for your marriage as well. The expenses can be temporary; you’ll get on your feet eventually. I wish I had taken that advice sooner.

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      Thanks for this advice, Rachel! Elliott has given me the gift of hiring a cleaning lady a few times in the past few months and it is life changing to have a truly clean house! Once our lives settle down a bit, I’ll think about having someone to come help with Lena, too. You’re so wise about the expenses being temporary.

  3. Caren March 25, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Hi Becca,

    Just to re-introduce myself, I’m Eden’s college roommate and a long-time friend of the Garbers. I just had to comment to say that, yes, you’re right that this stage will pass. I only have one (who’s now nearly 8!) but we had some very hard months in the beginning with her. She was fussy, rarely happy for long, apart from my body. To complicate things she was born 8 weeks early, and after a month-long stay in the hospital was released with the instructions to keep her as happy and calm as we could, because allowing her to cry for prolonged periods was not good for her neurodevelopment. Wow! Talk about pressure! But all that to say, we managed to muddle through those early months with the help of a couple good slings, and it really did pass. And to be honest, I feel like the care that I was able to give her (I wasn’t working at the time, and I didn’t have another little one to care for!) really paid off in the long run. It wasn’t long before my fussy, uber-needy baby turned into a cheerful, confident toddler who would happily go to the care of another adult. And all those fears I had about nursing her to sleep? (It was the ONLY way to get her to sleep for nearly a year, and I worried that it would NEVER end!) From about her first birthday on, she’s been the EASIEST kid to get to sleep! (She has plenty of other challenging qualities, :) but sleep isn’t one of them.) So I do think the pendulum swings some times, and I hope that it does for you sooner rather than later.

    May God bless you in the balancing of care for yourself with your three loves. To everything there is a season, and this season with surely pass.

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

      Thank you so much for your encouragement, Caren! As many have told me, “your kid won’t go to college sleeping in their car seat” or “your kid won’t get married still crying themselves to sleep” and so on. These days are so brief, for all their hardship, and they are honing us for great things!

  4. katie March 25, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    thanks for sharing so vulnerably, becca. it’s easy to put up a false front and much harder to be really honest about the hard times. i will be praying for you and elliott and the kids during this sleepless season!

    i’m still single, and a lot of your life feels very foreign to me. but reading your experiences and those of other friends welcoming children into the world gives me a new respect for my own parents and the love and patience they showed me.

    these photos are really beautiful and i can speak from experience with colicky, screaming younger siblings– it won’t last forever. i hope within a few months this will feel like a distant memory and gil will be mostly smiles!

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

      I’m glad to know that you remember Trisha and Lauren as being colicky and fussy… because they definitely were not when I knew them! :-) Good reminders that it’s all stages.

  5. Carrie March 25, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    I actually read parts of this post to my husband and told him, “see? we are not alone!”

    As a new mom, it is so easy for me to feel like everyone else has this figured out. Thank you for being open and sharing the hard. I can relate and I love your perspective at the end – we are blessed to have our little babes and this is only a season.

    I hope you enjoyed having family around!

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Elliott loved that you read it aloud to your husband! Yep, you’re not alone… isn’t it nice to know?!

  6. Phi March 25, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    Becca- I so appreciate your openness about your life and honesty about your feelings. Thanks for sharing! :)

  7. Irene March 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    Becca, thank you for sharing. My heart really goes out to you — Gil sounds so much like Vera when she was an infant, and I remember clearly the grief, anger and disorientation of feeling the “loss of self” that you describe so accurately. Yes, there was the constant fussing, nursing, and screaming, and she would not allow anyone but me to hold her for months. I never felt like I could expect other people to hold a screaming infant, so I never got a break. Don’t be shy about asking someone to give you a break from Gil sometimes– anyone can endure one hour of crying, but you have to endure 24/7. And it really does get better and better. Best wishes and prayers coming your way.

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      Irene, this comment meant so much to me because I think about you and Andrew with newborn Vera ALL THE TIME these days. I was shaken by how hard it was for you two (or three, really) and how much patience and grace it took to endure her colicky days. It gave us all (in the community group) so much joy as we started to see her grow out of her fussiness, too, and I remember being delighted with what a sunny personality she developed. Your grace under pressure with a crying baby has been something I’ve clung to as I’ve walked the floors for hours with Gil. Thank you for your prayers!

  8. Steph @ meet.make.laugh. March 25, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Such a lovely post. Your vulnerability is so endearing, and relatable. Appreciating the little things are always the best way to get through a tough time or change. and My co-blogger Cindy just announced to the world that she is 5 months pregnant, and while we are all SO excited for her it will be a big adjustment! She is the first of our close friends to have a child, and I imagine it will be contagious. Exciting, but scary at the same time!

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      Congratulations to Cindy! I am sure the blog will take on another interesting facet with this fun addition to the group!

  9. Bekah March 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    I love reading your blog Becca. Thank you for writing so honestly about the hard things in life as well as the good and beautiful things. I hope this stage with Gil passes quickly, and that you are able to find time to nourish and sustain yourself. I also hope that as your own stores of strength and patience are depleted that God would be filling you with His, which are plentiful and unending, and that your faith might deepen and grown even more through this trying time. Peace to you, cyber-friend :).

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      I love the truth you mentioned of God’s stores of unending patience and strength filling my depleted stores. He is indeed doing that for us!

  10. meggie March 25, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    I totally relate to you Becca…the loss of self and the resulting selfishness! You are a brave mama! I will say that my husband has been encouraging me our jobs as mothers is very important. We are raising and shaping these children to be adults who glorify God! These are such impressionable years and we get the privilege of shaping them. Though the tough, tiring, continual obstacle days, I pray God shows you He is very proud of your work!

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

      Thank you, Meggie! I know you’re writing as one who truly knows what I am going through, as your two boys are very close in age. Thank you for your encouragement!

  11. Joy @ Caspara March 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Oh, thank you for your honesty. I always (only half-jokingly) say, “I don’t make mellow, or ‘easy’ babies.” They are all very energetic, loud, busy… but healthy… kids. So I have much to give thanks for. Wyatt was probably my easiest newborn, thank God because he was my fourth and my husband deployed right after his birth. But he sure is keeping me on my toes now!! :-)
    Sometimes I lose my perspective, too. I think we all do. But I think honesty and supporting each other in these moments so we can come through and see our little treasures for all they truly are and praising God for them… That’s what it’s about. Hang in there!

  12. esther. March 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    I have no advice to offer as I have not been where you are now. BUT I do have love to send and prayers to offer up. Take each day one moment at a time!

    Much love to you, friend!

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

      Thank you, dear Esther.

  13. OM March 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    I can relate completely, Becca! I’ve found myself asking for just 10 minutes alone, on the verge of tears, after many weeks of 24/7 with my Oath. Sure, I love him and caring for him… but he is demanding, stubborn and very vocal. It is hard, exhausting work, that many times we feel nobody understands or appreciates. Or, at least, I do. I’ve yet to receive a word of encouragement (people just seem to tell me that I am doing it all wrong and that I should send Oath to a daycare), so I’ll make sure it is not your case and tell you:
    You are doing it great, and your kids have the best mother of all. It might be hard (though worth it), but it is so because you are doing it right.

    You’ll get your self back sooner than later, in the grand scheme of things, and you’ll be even more thankful for it after having know how it is to be so disembodied, so to speak.

    Love and strength to get through it all,


    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

      Yes, thank you for this encouragement! And thank you for sticking to your guns, too, and being the best mother possible for Oath.

  14. Heather Miller March 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Grace, grace, grace to you sweet Becca! As I type I’m in my 3-day old pajamas (yuck!) that are covered in all sorts of bodily fluids from my kids, I haven’t even looked at my hair, put on deodorant or brushed my teeth yet today (it’s almost 2 in the afternoon). But, we’ve all had 2 meals and the bums are clean…I think. Don’t look at Grayson’s nose or you may lose your lunch. I praise the Lord for a neighbor who took my oldest for a few hours this morning. Our baby is teething so our nights are sleepless (right when I was only waking up once a night to nurse, of course).
    All this to say…you’re doing an amazing job. You are not alone. The Lord knows our deepest needs, you are not forgotten on His almighty, gracious radar. Thank you for your honesty in these difficult days. Each baby is different, each momma is different. Little by little. One day at a time. Grace, grace, grace to you.

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

      This comment made me laugh because I could relate to almost everything: pajamas, runny noses, brushed teeth, and more. Thanks for sharing and being honest, Heather!

  15. Lucy March 26, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    isn’t it amazing that while God asks so much of us in caring for our children…we have to give up our own desires to meet their sometimes relentless needs, at the same time He gives us an overwhelming Love for them so that we have a new willingness to die to ourselves.

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

      So true… thank you, Mom, for dying to yourself and loving me!

  16. Kim March 26, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Oh What a season you are in…. my wise husband has reminded me of our “season” at so many points throughout our lives….. He is very good at giving perspective to my whinings and longings…. “one day mother you’ll have all the time in the world to do thus and such….” he is correct and continues to be correct as our seasons have changed. As the mother of three wonderful teenagers I have days, rarely, but they do come, when I say “ah-if poopy diapers and tantrums were all I had to worry about.” Blessings on you and your family. Steal some time away and breaks when you can. And love, love, love them up.

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

      I keep reminding my husband about seasons too! Already we had moved into such a different level of independence with Lena, and that time will come with Gil, too. Perspective… grace and perspective!

  17. Alica March 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    I’m sorry these past few months have been so hard! Kiddos take so much time and energy…it’s draining sometimes for sure! I remember my Mom told me, when mine were small…”one day at a time. You don’t raise them to age 18 in one week!” While it didn’t make the tough times go away, it was a good perspective. It sounds like you are trying to think positively, and treasure the good moments. That alone, is half the battle!

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      Thanks for the perspective and the encouragement! One day at a time… I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

  18. Bethany Colas March 26, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    You summed up perfectly how I’ve been feeling lately too. I was just telling Brandon last night that I’ve never worked this hard in my life and I feel like there’s not enough of me to go around, but being a mom of two has brought me to a new level of dependence upon God. Abby’s a pretty easy baby, but Hannah has had a really difficult time with this transition and she needs me in a very different way than Abby does but it’s hard to give her what I feel like she needs while caring for an infant. Not sure I’m making sense, but all that to say, I’m thinking of you, empathizing with you, and sending up a prayer for you today! God says he has equipped us for the good works he gives us to do, so I keep reminding myself of that throughout the day. That, and when things get really hairy, I tell myself to keep my head down and press on because this too shall pass. Have you ever read Loving the Little Years? Great book with short little chapters, but really helps me keep this time in perspective.

    • Becca March 26, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

      Once again it sounds like our days are very similar in so many ways! Thanks for all your encouragement and understanding. And no, I haven’t read “Loving the Little Years”… I just gave it away to the thrift store on base after an over-ambitious purging of my pregnancy-related books. I have regretted that decision since then when the book has come up several times in the past week! I’ll have to see if I can buy it back…

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  21. Hollie January 1, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    I just want you to know what encouragement and solace this post has been for me in these early months with Ryken… He’s had a similar start to Gil’s — colicky babies DO exist! And all that you’ve written about having two babies (even to the detail of “your new uniform” which must be the uniform of all mothers of 2! In fact, its what I’m wearing right now!) was so right on for me. Thanks for your openness and your beautiful words.

    Much love,


  1. he turns one tomorrow... - Becca Garber - January 24, 2014

    […] this year with mischievous little Gil; he came into our lives like an 8lb hurricane and really shook things up for awhile. But as the months have gone by, his blond curls and heart-stopping belly laugh have […]

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