I looked in the mirror.
Tears streamed down my face.
But not tears of sadness, or disgust, or guilt. No, these tears were different. These tears flowed from pride.
Pride for what my body has accomplished the last four years, because let me tell you, it’s been a ride.
Over the last four years I spent 18 months pregnant. In the last four years I spent an additional 18 months providing, with my body, the sustenance that my babies needed through nursing. In the last four years I’ve experienced hormone levels rising drastically and dropping just the same. All my insides moved and shifted and made space to grow two tiny humans on two separate occasions. Then my body did something magical and painful and terrifying and exhilarating and excruciating – labored and gave birth to those two tiny humans. My body was broken – literally ripped apart – to bring them into this world. And yet somehow through the brokenness of my body my heart was made whole.
My nipples bled for them, bound and determined as I was to give them the nutrients I knew their little bodies needed. I cried silent tears for months on end during feeds, sometimes even crying out in pain. But I pressed on. Because they were worth it. And I knew things would get better. And guess what? They did.
I spent 18 months waking all hours of the night to tend to those sweet babes, desperately shushing and rocking and bouncing and swaying in my fruitless attempts to get them to go back to sleep. But we made it. And eventually they slept. And so did I.
I squinted my eyes at my reflection as I looked a little closer.
The extra fat around my midsection bulged and the stretch marks – now shiny white, jagged lines – shimmered slightly in the light.
Ah, thank you God that my stomach stretched and morphed over those nine months to accommodate the growth of my babies not once but twice. Thank you that my body was a safe haven for them as they developed and grew, and that they were born healthy and whole.
My breasts sagged, a little more lifeless now that no more milk was needed from them to nurse my sweet babes.
Oh thank you Jesus for giving me the strength to breastfeed. Thank you that I conquered such a feat and was able to give my babies the nourishment they received from my milk. What a glorious design you have put in place for us.
The wrinkle on my forehead didn’t smooth out when I relaxed my face, but instead remained.
Jesus in heaven, thank you for the laughter that has caused these lines to appear. What a beautiful reminder of the wonderful life I have lived this far!
My wide-set hips and squished together thighs seemed to stare back at me, gone the sculpted legs of my youth.
Father, these hips make such a great seat to perch my babies on, and these legs – oh but these legs keep me up and moving, meeting the constant demands of motherhood day and night, night and day. I get to run and chase after my children as we play, hearing their squeals of delight. What joy! I get to take them on walks and teach them how to ride bikes and climb the playground equipment at the park. Yes, thank you for these legs of mine.
My arms squished unflatteringly against my sides, loose and fluid now that I don’t spend five days in the gym anymore.
But Jesus, thank you for these arms that are able to hold and cradle and snuggle and hug my babies each and every day. Thank you for arms that lift them and carry them and show them that my love for them is “sooo big” as I stretch them out wide!
My shoulders, broad with a slight lilt downwards… stooped somewhat after months of hunching over, nursing my baby.
God in heaven, thank you for making these shoulders broad so that I may bear the weight of motherhood on them. It is a heavy weight – the heaviest weight I have ever known – and the biggest blessing and privilege I have ever had. Thank you for entrusting me with such a weight, and making me strong enough to bare it.
I glanced at that reflection once more. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down.
And I smiled.