When my wife and I learned that we were expecting our first child, it was a moment filled with both joy and anxiety. We were so excited to learn that we were going to be parents, but our minds were immediately filled with all of the things that would need to change in our lives. How are we going to afford a baby? Who is going to stay home with the baby and who will work? What about daycare? More importantly, how are we supposed to take care of a baby? Does it need food? How does one change a diaper? What about discipline? What about electrical outlets? What about family worship? What about spit up? Many questions arise when realizing you are an expecting parent, but it is okay to take a deep breath and to trust the Lord to help you and your spouse thrive as parents.
I can’t say that the pregnancy, birthing process, and first year with our firstborn was easy. Maybe things go smoothly for many first-time parents, but that was not the case for us. There were many hiccups along the way (I mean that very literally). For myself, I know that I handled those eighteen months very poorly. God had to a do a work in my own heart that I didn’t realize was necessary for my sanctification. I can look back on that time now and see how God sustained me and pruned me. Maybe your circumstances and situations are very different from mine, but there is one thing that I know for sure: you are going to need God’s grace through this process.
My wife recently informed me that we have another little one on the way. I had a whole range of emotions yet again. I was more filled with excitement this time around because I figured I knew what I was in for. A few weeks later, one of her friends asked her what advice I could give her husband now that they also are expecting their first child. The father was experiencing anxiety and was unsure of how to handle the whole process. It was this specific question that led to the counsel that I want to share with you. This is what I would say to any expecting parent, whether this is their first child or not.
Embrace This Time as an Opportunity to Trust God More
The first thing I would say to an expecting parent is that you need to embrace this time as an opportunity to trust God more. It is clear from Scripture that God is the one who opens and closes the womb (Genesis 30:22; 1 Samuel 1:5-6). This baby was not an accident. This baby may have been unplanned by you, but this baby was not unplanned by God.
If there is even a single moment during this pregnancy that the thought of getting an abortion or the hope for a miscarriage crosses your mind, you need to repent and recognize that this desire is entirely from your own sinful, selfish, fleshly heart (Mark 7:21-23). You must not allow your anxiety and selfish desires for life to remain the same to rule over you. Instead, recognize that these thoughts and desires stem from your own unbelief in God’s sovereign goodness in the timing of this pregnancy. The Bible not only tells us that the Lord opens and closes the womb, but it also says that children are a gift and blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5; 128:3-4). Do you really believe that?
When I am trying to get the attention of my son when I need to say something very directly to him, I get down on my knees, hold his head still, and I ask him to look at me in the eyes while I give him instruction. Expecting parent: Please look at me in the eye for a moment. Do you really believe that this child is a blessing from the Lord? You have to decide whether you are going to answer that question based on your emotions or based on God’s Word.
Do Not Let Anxiety Interfere with or Corrupt Your Relationship with Your Spouse
The second bit of advice I would give to expecting parents is that you must not let your anxiety about the future interfere with or corrupt your relationship with your spouse. The anxiety, discontent, selfishness, and possible anger can drive a wedge between you and your spouse. The biblical commands to love your spouse did not cease when conception happened. This time is a special time when God can grow you personally. It is also a special time when God can grow you and your spouse relationally.
Husbands may have to start helping with the dishes. Sorry. Wives will need to be patient with their husbands when they feel horrible. Husbands often have no clue what their pregnant wives are going through. This is a time for husbands and wives to really be patient with one another, communicate with one another, serve one another, and love one another. This time will help both spouses grow in their relationship together and in practicing the one anothers of Scripture.
Do Not Expect Everything to Go According to Your Own Plan
Third, you must not expect everything to go according to your own plan. This pregnancy will challenge your own control on your life and force you to trust in our sovereign God, who alone is in control. When my wife first went into labor, I thought I needed to get her into the car as fast as possible and drive a hundred miles per hour to the hospital so that I didn’t have to deliver the baby myself. Maybe that happens for some people, but it was almost 24 hours before my wife delivered our son. Instead of rushing, we ended up walking up and down the hospital hallways until she started having labor pains. Needless to say, I didn’t bring my walking shoes to the hospital. We thought we had everything all planned out, but even small, unexpected things happened that threw our plan out the window. Moving to a new apartment on the same weekend was one of them. As you prepare for this baby to arrive, it is important that you turn over control to the Lord. James 4:13-15 and Matthew 6:25-34 would be good verses to memorize and apply when your plans don’t go as you planned. Even after the baby is born, your plan and your expectations may need to change.
Remember That the Joy Outweighs the Stress
Last, you must remember that the joy of a new baby outweighs the stress that comes with a new baby. After the baby is born, you will have many sleepless nights. There is no way to prepare for this, but it is going to happen. Further, your child may have colic. Your child may have other health problems. Your child may need a surgery. Your child may not sleep like a normal human being until a year later. But your love for your child will grow more and more over time. That your child is a blessing from the Lord will become evident to you. Remembering this now will help you endure the difficulties of the pregnancy.