By a certain point in my twin pregnancy, I was able to balance bowls of food: canned peaches, cereal, sliced dill pickles, an entire container of hummus, on my belly.
“Can I get you anything?” My well-intentioned husband asked.
“A night’s sleep without heartburn? The ability to fit into normal jeans? Time travel to skip this part and get on to the good stuff?”
Twin pregnancy was amazing, yet excruciating. The best thing and at the same time, the most challenging thing I’d ever experienced.
Even though I was nauseous from sun up to sundown and felt like there might be more than two babies hiding in my uterus (I double checked with the doctor regularly), I was in love. I patted my stretching belly with tenderness. My husband massaged my tired feet with almond honey lotion and calmed my fears about everything from cat litter to anatomy scans to cold cuts.
When I turned thirty (I told myself at twenty-two), if I didn’t have children of my own, I’d adopt. But too soon, thirty came and went. Life tumbled down in front of me: building a career, surviving failed relationships, experiencing loss of loved ones. And then finally, miraculously, my longings were fulfilled in quick succession. I met my husband, got to wear the lacey white dress, and then found out if you get pregnant over thirty-five, it’s considered a geriatric pregnancy.
I was grateful beyond words and marveled at how God had fulfilled the deepest longing of my heart and soul: to be a wife and mother. Even if I was a pregnant Golden Girl.
In the book of Genesis, I read about the story of Sarah and how she, too, got pregnant after years of aching prayer, then a slow surrender to the fact that it might not happen. Just when she thought there was no chance, like me, God surprised her.
Like Sarah, my miracle babies were so treasured, even in my swollen, unsure womb. Through pregnancy, how in awe I became of a God who came through against all odds. And yet, (there is always a “yet” dear reader), one thing that no one ever tells you is that for a little while during pregnancy, you grieve the loss of yourself.
Yes, I said it.
I remember the moment this happened to me.
I sprawled on the couch at the end of the first trimester (for twin pregnancy this is like the beginning of the third for “normies”) curled up in a lavender quilt. The sun of mid-February reflected off the snow and fell into patterns on the floor. As I whimpered and groaned with nausea, I was hit by a sudden realization: the me I had known all my life, the person I was at that exact moment, was going to die.
Jesus says in Matthew 16:25 (NIV): For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
I’d heard this passage before, but never in the context of what I was about to experience in motherhood. Until getting pregnant (my mother-in-law asserting I was the most pregnant person she’d ever seen), I did not realize what this verse actually means. I never felt the true calling to lose my life for God’s sake.
Motherhood is a beautiful call to selflessness. But it is not always lovely. Or easy.
Sometimes this call to selflessness is guilt-ridden and ornery and grotesque. It is covered in milk-spit, Cheerios, and odd-colored poop. It brings moments of inward reflection that cause me to fall to my knees and pray:
Lord, have mercy on me, a mother.
Yet when my twins look at me today with their cherub eyes or I hold them close and stroke their corn silk hair, I am reminded what a blessing this journey is. The loss of self in motherhood, this blistering, beaming thing, is transforming me for God’ glory. It is a gain so priceless that through it, I get a glimpse of the kingdom: this upside-down place where the last are first and where loss is gain.
What a beautiful truth this is.
Dear momma, if you are feeling spent, overwhelmed, unsure, or unsteady, I’d like to encourage you with these words:
In all of what you experience in pregnancy and motherhood, even in the loss of who you were, you will gain more than you can imagine. And this more is all that matters.
Caroline Beidler, MSW is an author and founder of the storytelling platform Bright Story Shine where she has released her eBook: 10 Practical Ways to Make Your Recovery Shine and a 7 Day Recovery Reset Devotional. She is also a team writer for the Grit and Grace Project and blogger at In the Rooms. She also leads Creative Consultation Services, LLC., a business focused on creating sustainable addiction recovery support services and a Research Collaborator with the Lyda Hill Institute on Human Resilience. Caroline lives in Tennessee with her husband, Matt, and her twins, Henrick and Violet.