Angela Thomas, mother of four, knows firsthand the joys and challenges of a new baby in the house, and through her PRAYERS FOR MOTHERS OF NEWBORNS (previously published as PRAYERS FOR NEW MOTHERS) she becomes a trusted companion for the rollercoaster ride of becoming a new mom.
The first-person narrative prayers are organized into five sections: "The First Days," "Joyfulness, Tears, and Rest," "Fears and Anticipations," "All to Jesus (I Surrender)," and "Blessings," generally following a new mom through the first months of parenthood. Ten to twenty different short devotional prayers appropriate to the section follow, plus a scripture verse for each reading. Baby showers, breast-feeding challenges, sleep-deprivation, the chaos of undone housework, holidays, the baby's first smile, unshed pregnancy pounds, teething --- all are taken to God in prayer.
There are prayers of awe and amazement, as when Thomas gazes at her newborn daughter and exclaims to God, "Although I tried, I could not imagine the magnificent work You were doing in the secret place of my womb ... I feel keenly aware that my life will never be the same ... How did I ever live without her?"
She prays out of concern when her newborn becomes jaundiced, and a home healthcare nurse turns their house into a makeshift pediatric unit. "So very early, I must learn to trust You to care for Anna Grace. I do. She belongs to You...." Thomas prays out of frustration when nothing she does calms her crying baby: "She's come undone. I've come unglued. I don't know what else to do ... God ... Give calm and assurance to her little spirit. Let her rest peacefully."
In "Aftershocks" Thomas laments the afterbirth pains she feels, taking it to God: "Lord ... I'm frazzled. I'm crying. I desperately need Your comfort and healing." In another reading, she struggles with postpartum depression: "I am overwhelmed ... Night sweats and chills ... A numb heart paralyzes all of me ... Wipe these tears away, and give my husband patience ... Restore bright days and my hope for the future." New mothers will be comforted knowing that they are not alone in their "blue" days.
Thomas also prays for her friends who are moms --- the new mother whose husband recently has filed for divorce, the friend whose baby has Down Syndrome, the woman who adopts. And, in becoming a mother, Thomas gains a new appreciation for her own mother --- something that parenting tends to inspire. "Lord, her legacy is one that I long to pass on ... Continue to teach me through Mama how to love my babies well."
While honestly acknowledging the many challenges of having a newborn --- coping with sickness, sleepless nights, disruptions in routine, and total exhaustion --- Thomas's devotional prayers are mostly upbeat, sometimes even humorous ("Thank you that a belt is in my future and that baggy jeans might work pretty soon"). Most prayers end on a note of gratitude and praise.
Although new moms might pick up this book for themselves, this is clearly packaged as gift-giving material. The lavender hardcover is gender neutral, and a purple ribbon marker and decorated endpapers are a nice touch. Less attractive are the rather uninspired black-and-white photos of baby gear that kick off each section. However, this is a companionable book for Christian moms looking for help in articulating the joys, exhaustion, anxieties and delight that only a newborn baby can bring.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on January 7, 2005