The first weeks of my second postpartum have come and gone so fast. Last time around, I remember thinking, “Dear God, will this ever end?”while this time, I find myself praying, “Dear God, please don’t let this end.” There are many aspects of this newborn season that are precious to me: the long naps you and I have taken together, the adoring kisses your sister bestows on you, and yes, even the 3 AM wake ups.
I’ve been revisiting Genesis to consider my own postpartum theology. In Genesis 1, YHWH forms the world from chaos over six days. After each day of creation, God says that creation is tov, good. After all the creation is completed, God says that everything tov meod, “VERY good” (1:31). And then God rests on the seventh day, because why would one keep laboring when the finished product is so very good?
Just as I thought about my pregnancy and birth as one way I bear God’s image and participate in his redemptive creation story, I’ve come to understand my postpartum period as a time of rest reflecting God’s sabbath as well. Instead of continuing to labor and exhaust myself after giving birth, I’ve taken this time to pause, rest, and heal. I think this time of rest honors the goodness and beauty of the tiny, perfect baby (that’s you!) for whom I labored to give life. I’ve held you close for most of these weeks, God’s words from Genesis resounding in my ears as I cradle you in my arms: “She is good. She is so, so, so good.” Why should I continue to labor now, if rest was sufficient for God after he created a world so wonderful?
While to an outside observer (and probably to my faculty advisors…), I look foolishly unproductive, I’ve been reflecting on the wisdom of Qohelet (a Hebrew word for “teacher/preacher,” which Christians generally refer to as the book of Ecclesiastes) about the balance and beauty of the seasons of life. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Qohelet lists the various seasons of life: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” (3:1). Then at the end of that list, Qohelet observes, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (3:11).
This is a season when milk-crusted burp cloths lie, carelessly strewn on the coffee table and over the armchair, when spit-up stains linger sometimes for weeks on our sheets. And it was good.
This is a season when someone, or multiple someones, is frequently—usually?—crying in our apartment, sometimes me. And it was good.
This is a season when other vocational goals I have are set aside, temporarily, while my colleagues without children move ahead faster than I. And it was good.
This is a season when your daddy and have not a moment of privacy, day or night, because we can’t afford a babysitter and you sleep in our room. And it was good.
This is a season when the number on the scale alarms me and my pre-pregnancy clothes taunt me, but I’m focusing instead on the strong work my body has done to give you life. And it was good.
This is a season when I choose to rest whenever I can, letting our apartment remain a disaster zone, prioritizing healing, bonding, and enjoyment over perfection. And it was good.
One day, too soon, life will look different, and I won’t spend all my days snuggling a newborn. There will be seasons where my academic work moves forward faster and when you are old enough to play with your sister for a few minutes so I can take a shower. That too will be beautiful. But for today, I’m embracing this season, to take the time to honor the holy labor I’ve done, your goodness and beauty, and the divine image that we bear.
And it was good. It was very good.