by Claire Swinarski
I always thought I’d have a bunch of kids . . . until I got diagnosed with hyperemesis in pregnancy.
That’s been my cross to bear—the fact that my vision of motherhood involved a pile of kids. But now that I’m pregnant with baby number three and once again dealing with nine long months of sickness, my husband and I have been reconsidering that vision. Hyperemesis is beyond the typical “morning sickness.” It’s hours with your head in a toilet, weekly IV appointments, and constant monitoring of your unborn child to make sure they’re growing appropriately even though their mother can barely keep down a saltine. It’s mental anguish and debilitating nausea and not sweeping your kitchen floor for four weeks at a time. It’s random smells (a new car, someone else’s coffee, etc.) bringing out your embarrassing gag reflex. It’s pain, and it’s not a pain I think I can handle again.
If you’ve ever faced one of these moments, you know what I’m talking about. Maybe yours looks more like:
I always thought I’d be married forever . . . until my husband left me.
I always thought I’d be a biological mother . . . until I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
I always thought I’d work in publishing . . . until the magazine I edited folded.
I always thought I’d be a stay-at-home mom . . . until my husband lost his job and I had to join the corporate world.
I always thought I’d be an avid hiker . . . until chronic illness made me unable to climb.
I always thought I’d vote a certain way . . . until I was introduced to a different way of thinking.
Looking at who we thought we were, or dreamed we would be, and changing it is challenging. It can be a terrifying to let go of an “I always thought” and instead be met with “what’s happening now?”. It can be even more terrifying to trust God throughout the process. Because when the world is shifting underneath your feet, it can often feel as if a circumstance is stealing your identity. Who you believed yourself to be is no longer who you are. Can you still trust yourself? Can you still trust God?
When I start to get the anxious feeling of but this wasn’t what I had planned, I try to remember this: that God is outside of time. God knew before I was even born what my life was going to look like. Just because I had a plan doesn’t mean that it was the right plan, or even a good plan. God knew exactly what would happen, and He knew exactly how my plans would change.
I’m still not sure how many kids we’ll have. Maybe we’ll wind up with the five or six that we dreamed of, or maybe we really will be done after three. But no matter what, I’ll know that my identity is not in “Mother of Many Kids.” My identity is in Christ and there’s no “until” in that identity. It’s forever. It’s eternal.