It’s easy to pinpoint the day my entire life changed. Eight years ago I went into the hospital with my son safely contained in my body and left 72 hours later, carrying this ridiculously vulnerable and achingly beautiful new person in my arms.

Becoming a mother was the most significant transformation in my life. One day I was Julia, a Christian, a wife, a writer, and editor—not least a person who could take a shower or use the bathroom pretty much whenever she wanted.

Then I became a mom, and it felt like the world I had known was over, and a new one, one I was not fully prepared for, had begun. That sounds dramatic, I know, but it was the way I felt those first few weeks of motherhood.

We had a hard time, my new son and I, with the whole nursing thing. And as we staggered through those nighttime nursing and pumping and supplemental bottle feedings together, I found myself thinking with a sense of resigned desperation, This is what the next 18 years of my life will be like.

I loved my new son, but each minute felt so freshly challenging that the whole enterprise stretched out before me like an eternity. What felt so overwhelming was the all-encompassing nature of the job. There was no clocking out or heading home from motherhood; it was your round-the-clock vocation. Suddenly the most important thing about me—maybe the only significant thing about me—was that I was a mom.

It was a tremendous relief to realize that some of my struggles could be ascribed to a chemical depression caused by a medicine I’d been prescribed to increase my breast milk. Once I’d stopped taking it and my son and I had settled into more of a routine, motherhood and life in general felt a lot easier.

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