I was not excited about the week ahead last Monday morning. My husband was leaving to go to New Orleans for work and I was jealous. I usually go with him and spend the week writing, shopping and eating but this time I was out. Being 37 weeks pregnant with twins, traveling to NOLA and spending my days eating endless beignets and Po-Boys was not congruent with my doctor’s orders to rest.
As the week continued, I began thinking about how much our life is about to change in the best ways with the addition of our two precious miracle babies (This time last year, I was reeling from a fourth miscarriage and navigating news about my reproductive health from my doctor that caused me to ask questions I was afraid of the answers to – the primary one being if I was meant to have biological children).
But I was also thinking about the losses I feel at the same time. And this made me feel like a terrible person. I should be happy, joyful and definitely not becoming this distressed over the list I was mentally writing: A loss of life being just me and my husband. A massive reduction in self time. Way less spur of the moment beach trips, lunches and drinks with friends, my body - which has changed way more than I imagined (and realizing the immense value I have placed on my fit, lean and skinny self over the years). My list went on until it became a full-on pity party.
That’s when I heard the familiar voice of shame telling me I was a “bad mom” for thinking these thoughts. Feeling the twinges of grief and at the same time the anticipation of the massive miracles who are a few days away had me lopsided in my heart and mind.
While crying into my coffee and asking Jesus to fix whatever was wrong with my brain, I remembered something from the foster care and adoption class we took this year before we found out we were pregnant with twins. Our facilitator talked to us about gains and losses and how with every gain comes a loss. Or multiple losses. She said it’s better to acknowledge those losses than pretend they aren’t there. I was struck by her further explanation as she told us stories about how unresolved grief over losses can lead to the inability to fully experience the joy of the gains we receive in place of the losses. She was right. Pretending I don’t feel the strain of loss as I walk toward these gains will only cause a sprain in my heart...and I don’t want to limp into this next season. I want to run.
This whole idea does not just pertain to people having babies or bringing children who have been through trauma into their home through foster care and adoption. I think anyone can relate to the unsettling that comes with big changes or unmet expectations in life. We live in a culture that sometimes tries to shame us when we feel negative emotions. I think being honest about those feelings is the doorway into experiencing true joy, even though the walk through the door might be filled with tears and nostalgia for what used to be or the idea we thought our lives would be.
I share this to let just one other woman, or anyone at all, who feels like I have know that’s it’s ok. It’s ok to mourn the losses and celebrate the gains at the same time. Don’t let shame bark at you behind the door to the future or lie to you about the joy awaiting you on the other side. The story is only beginning to get good.
(photos taken by @laura_jean_bell)