this is motherhood {too}: when motherhood dissolves you.

May 23, 2014, This is Motherhood Too, 8 Comments

this is motherhood {too}By Bethany Stedman.

I am an amateur author. And as I study the craft of writing, there has been one aspect of the craft that has stood out to me. You have to take your characters somewhere that they don’t want to go, somewhere your audience doesn’t want them to go. This is how you create a good story. This is how characters change. If you never take them into a situation that they didn’t want to face, they will never be transformed. And transformation is exactly what we all want to see in a good story. 

Motherhood, like so much of life, has been so different from what I expected. It is exactly that challenge to my expectation that has created the most transformation in my heart and life.

When I was in college I took a class on teaching children with special needs. I became convinced that I was going to have a child with special needs. My prayer every night became, “Please, God, don’t let me have a child with special needs.” 

Years later when I became pregnant with my first child, I began to live and breathe that prayer again. I was terrified. I was convinced something would be wrong with my baby. I begged God constantly. “Please, Lord, let him be normal.” Oh, how little I understood that word, “normal”. My view was so narrow, so shallow. 

My son was born and by all accounts God had answered my prayer. He developed normally. But, he was not easy. He cried incessantly the first three months of life and needed constant entertaining and soothing. Despite all of our best efforts, and reading every sleep book I could get my hands on, he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 3 years old. He did nearly everything early and was far too smart for his own good. He questioned everything. He turned everything into a battle. He was challenging. He broke me. 

At that time, I didn’t get the special needs child I had feared, but what I got in my son tested and taxed every ounce of strength and patience I thought I had. 

this is motherhood {too} a special needs journey by beth stedman

When I became pregnant with my second child my fear was gone. Perhaps because I believed that after my son I could handle anything, even a special needs child. But, I think, more than that, I just had an illogical expectation – I assumed that because I had one normally developing child I would have another normally developing child. 

And then my daughter came. My worst fear from college became a reality. My daughter was diagnosed with microcephaly at two months old. When she was four months old I listened without fully comprehending as the neurologist said the words, “bilateral polymicrogyria.” He explained that  it meant that both sides of my daughters brain were not developing correctly. 

With that diagnosis we were thrown into the world of special needs. We were ushered into early intervention services, and weekly therapy appointments became our new normal. this is motherhood {too} a special needs journey by beth stedman

Months later that we learned the full extent of what my daughters diagnosis would mean. We were told slowly in stages. Her diagnosis falls under the category of cerebral palsy. It is unlikelythat she will ever be able to walk or talk. She will never live on her own.

I have held my daughter and cried for the expectations that I had for her life that were lost. I have held her hand through more doctors appointments than I can count. Feeding tubes, hip braces, AFOs, adaptive equipment – these things have new meaning for me. My life is full of things now that I never knew anything about before all of this.  

It is not what I had expected. It is not the place I had wanted to go. 

Motherhood with my son looked different than I could ever have dreamed. It was more difficult, and required more of me, than I ever thought possible. That was true with my son, but it has been even more true with my daughter. 

In different ways, through both of my children, God has taken me places I didn’t want to go. Like a good author who crafts a story that will change both the characters and the audience, God has crafted my story. He has taken me places I never would have chosen, places that those around me, those looking in on my story might never have chosen for me either. 

I often think about the transformation that caterpillars go through to become butterflies. I used to think that they spun their cocoon and then just grew wings and popped on out. But that isn’t how it goes at all. 

Caterpillars don’t just grow into butterflies. Instead they totally dissolve. They essentially become DNA soup inside their cocoons. Their transformation requires that they lose all that they had thought that they were, all that they had previously known, all that they had expected. 

For me motherhood has been a lot like that DNA soup. It has been a dissolving. A letting go of the self that I had previously clung to, and learning to cling to God instead. It has been far more difficult than I could have ever dreamed. It has been a place that, if I had known all it would entail, I would not have chosen it. But, it has been exactly what I needed, exactly where I needed to go. It has been the beginning of my transformation.

It has been through motherhood, this difficult, challenging motherhood, that looks different than I had expected, that I have met God and met myself. My prayer is no longer, “Lord, please let me children develop normally.” I have seen the challenges of the normally developing and the challenges of those labeled with “special needs”. My prayer now is “Lord, transform me. And transform my children.”

This is motherhood {too} – this breaking, this dissolving. This losing all that you had expected and finding that in the process of the transformation there is unimaginable beauty. 

this is motherhood {too}: when motherhood dissolves you // a special needs journey by beth stedman

Bethany Stedman is a woman learning to trust. She is married to a loving husband who happens to have an aggressive cancer. She is mother to a daughter with severe special needs and a son who keeps her laughing at every turn. She is a woman who is learning early how to bow to a God who is sovereign and good. She writes about life with God, parenting, marriage, and anything else that comes to mind at 

This is from the collective writing project: this is motherhood {too}. Do you have a story you’d like to submit?


  • Reply Charity July 24, 2016 at 9:40 PM

    I enjoyed your story. My daughter Mila also has microcephaly.

  • Reply Dr. Patel DDS July 5, 2014 at 2:12 AM

    Dr. Patel DDS

    this is motherhood too: when motherhood dissolves you.

  • Reply Jemelene May 26, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    As I try to gather my thoughts I can only say Thank you for this. Beautiful and touching and life giving.

    I could have written this: “I have held my daughter and cried for the expectations that I had for her life that were lost. I have held her hand through more doctors appointments than I can count. Feeding tubes, hip braces, AFOs, adaptive equipment – these things have new meaning for me. My life is full of things now that I never knew anything about before all of this.

    It is not what I had expected. It is not the place I had wanted to go. ” but not as eloquently.

    This journey has drawn me close to the Lord and given me new people to love and be loved by.
    Thank you for this beautiful piece.

  • Reply Michaela Evanow May 26, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    Beth, I love you how lay your heart out here, in this beautiful post. It makes me think, it teaches me, it makes me ache, it gives me hope. I too, have tasted DNA soup…but knowing there are mothers out there like you, that understand, that move forward in hope, it gives me courage.
    love to you. I’m so thrilled you shared here.

    • Reply Bethany May 26, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Much love to you as well Michaela! Thank you again for the opportunity to share!

  • Reply Writing Somewhere Else Today - May 26, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    […] Hop on over there to read the whole post. […]

  • Reply Bev. Nash May 26, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Beautiful Bethany, and family, there is such a beauty and grace that radiates from your words, and your choice to choose life in the midst of such trials! I pray for healing for your whole family in the midst of this transformation. God is good! He never intended for any of this to happen to you. His intention for us is always good as yours is for your children. I have been praying for you! You are a woman who trusts, and blessed are all those who trust in The Lord and knowing He is Good! His names represent who He is ! ” Ps. 9:10, and those who “know Your name “will put their trust in You; for You , Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. My heart and the Lords goes out after you…….thank you for sharing your Journey with us……in His love, Bev.

    • Reply Bethany May 26, 2014 at 5:01 PM

      Thank you so much Bev!! You are so very right God is good, so very deeply good, and he desires wonderful things for his children. Thank you for your prayers – they mean so much to us!

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