Our value as women is not measured by our ability to bear children. Nor by the number of children we choose to have. Adoptive mothers are just as much mothers as I am, or Jill Duggar for that matter. With that said, I am so grateful that God has allowed me to collaborate with Him in creating and growing our four children, one of which wears angel wings. He didn’t need me. He could have spoken them into existence as He did in the beginning, but He let me participate in the process. What a wondrous gift!
You might think that my anxiety leading up to my third birth would be far less than it was with my first, but it really wasn’t. I think it was greater. It wasn’t anxiety about the pain involved; it was all about when and where I would be when my labor started. Half Pint came fast and furious, so I couldn’t help but fear that I would end up giving birth at home, surrounded by my two then-traumatized toddlers, while my husband tried in vain to make it home from work. Funny how we worry about things that are completely out of our hands! I’m sure God was laughing at my silly anxiety, because the timing could not have been more perfect.
Friday night, nine days before my due date, as we were getting our girls ready for bed, I felt the first maybe-not-so-Braxton-Hicks contractions. While Jason finished up bedtime, I stole an opportunity for a quick shower. Afterwards, I alerted my dear friend and volunteer birth photographer, Kristen, that things were getting started. I also called my friend and neighbor, Sandy, to ask if she would be able to come down the street and crash on our couch with the girls sleeping upstairs when we left for the hospital. Honestly, I don’t know how people get by without friends like this!
Jason decided to lie down and get a little rest while he could. I wish I had been able to do the same, but I was too excited. I passed a few hours designing free printables for my Our Daily Bread post, paying the mortgage online and reviewing the contents of my hospital bag. (I’m a little Type A, if you hadn’t noticed!) Around midnight, things were starting to speed up, and Half Pint’s birth in mind; I thought we should head to the hospital.
Kristen met us at the main hospital entrance and we went in together. We hit a minor snag, which at the time was a BIG AWFUL TERRIBLE NO GOOD snag from my point of view. I’m choosing to omit the details of this experience, but I will say this. If you are a man and you are dealing with a laboring woman, sarcasm and mock pity are not the best approaches. That is all.
We finally made it to our room around 2:30 a.m. Not long after that my Dream Team arrived, composed of Kristen, “Mama Linda,” (a close friend, L&D nurse, and former college dorm mom) and Hannah, the sweetest, most caring midwife. I was in such good hands. My very ruffled feathers settled down and I was able to focus on the task at hand: having a baby!
Now I’m one of those crazy women who likes to feel all the feels of childbirth. No, I don’t think this makes me a super mom. No, I’m not looking for a pat on the back. No, I don’t have a mental illness. I just don’t love the thought of a big needle puncture in my spinal column. More than that, I like being fully present and physically connected to what is happening. I would have loved it if Eve had gone for a banana instead of the forbidden fruit, but still, God did design our bodies for this very purpose. This is why I have chosen midwife care for all three of my pregnancies. Midwives will stay in the room and hold your hand and encourage you to stick to your au naturale dream birth. (They will also happily order you an epidural should you decide you want one!) But they are there; they don’t rush in when you’re ready to push. Hannah was wearing a pin that said, “Midwife, at your cervix” – ha!
For me, enduring labor pains requires two coping mechanisms; water and withdrawal. As soon as I had been monitored for the minimum 20 minutes, I asked if I could go sit in the shower and spray warm water on my belly. This is my happy place. Getting out of the bed and having that quiet soothing time to myself always makes things happen for me. It’s hard for me to keep up with the timeline exactly, because time does weird things when you’re in labor. An hour can feel like ten minutes or two days. All I know is that I spent some time in the shower and progressed from 3cm to 6cm.
With that encouraging news, I headed back into the shower, but didn’t stay for long. I was beginning to get sick between contractions and feel shaky and weak – both signs that the end was near. Jason helped me out of the shower the second time. I doubt I could have made it out by myself. My legs felt as wobbly as a newborn calf! We finally got me back in the bed and were so excited to find that I was almost complete. At this point, I was able to communicate with my team, but when a contraction came I would close my eyes and shut everything out to endure the intense pain. It swallows you up, like a riptide pulling you under; all you can do is surrender to it. We decided to go ahead and break my water so I could begin pushing.
Now, I think if you were a fly on the wall in the room that early Saturday morning you would agree that I was very calm, quiet and stoic throughout my labor. I’m a real trouper through it all. That changes completely when it comes time to deliver. I can silently breathe through the most intense contractions, but when it’s time to push, I scream like I’m dying. Ask Kristen. I actually apologized in advance to everyone in the room, because I knew it was coming!
Thankfully at 6:28 a.m. after pushing quite loudly through a handful of contractions, my little man was out and I heard his sweet first cry.
Now, I know I just delivered our third baby, but I have to pause and brag on my hubby for a second. Through each of our children’s births, he was the best birth coach a woman could have. He’s fought off a crazy phlebotomist trying to get a CBC on me while having a contraction, faithfully fed me tiny ice chips between contractions and whispered encouraging words when I needed them most. He’s also “caught” every single one of our children. When I start pushing, he gloves up and gets ready to catch that slippery babe. How awesome is he?!
For me, childbirth is such a Holy experience. God’s love for me is revealed as I feel that undescribably intense love for my new child. Just as Man Cub entered the world messy and helpless, God sees me covered in sin and spiritually helpless without His own Son’s redeeming sacrifice, and He loves me nonetheless. He kisses my cheesy head and whispers that He loves me. And that sacrifice! It is so unfathomable to me as a parent.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, who He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:4-7
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