When I was pregnant with my daughter, I felt so lousy physically, I had no idea how labor could be that much worse compared with the discomfort I was having. Sure, I worried about it and wondered about it. But, I was extremely naive about what to expect. What bothered me the most and kept me a little too anxious was being seen in that state of undress with an audience. I opted to do a natural childbirth, not because I wanted to boast about my birthing prowess, but because I had been longing for so many years to birth a baby I wanted to feel everything!
Whew! I felt it. I felt it and then some. Toward the end, my husband was trying to keep the oxygen mask on my face because I was fighting so hard against the crowning of the baby I had great difficulty trying to breathe. I was losing my wits and losing my strength. The nurses kept telling me I was fighting against it and to just relax and push when they said to push. My husband chimed in to tell me to listen to the nurses. I wanted to rip out what little was left of his head of hair and scream, “SHUT UP!!! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!!”
Everything went black when I gave it one last push and I literally saw stars, just like in the cartoons. But, in the midst of the stars and darkness, my body was suddenly flushed with this sensation of RELIEF! It was overwhelming. I had goosebumps and I was shivering as if I were freezing cold, even though I was burning up and soaked with sweat. I felt such an intense amount of relief that I was grateful to have experienced what I just experienced. I know. I think labor and birth makes you a little nutty. As if I weren’t prone to a little nuttiness already. *ahem*
When I was pregnant with my son, I had it a little easier during the pregnancy. However, since I knew how badly it hurt to give birth, I was scared. I could not stop obsessing about it. I wanted to do another natural childbirth, but I was still out of my mind with anticipation of the pain. My son hurt worse than my daughter. He was bigger than she was and the labor itself rocked me to the core. I saw more stars and darkness than I did the first time around and it was as if I were stuck in some strange cartoon.
There was one point, as I was pushing during the crowning moment, when the room went silent and the doctor asked me to stop. I got chills up and down my spine and my heart may have stopped, especially when I saw the look on my husband’s face. The was some maneuvering and then the doctor quietly asked me to go ahead and push. I gave everything I had left within me to push in order to get my baby out and get my baby help for whatever was happening.
When my son finally arrived, instead of being flooded with relief, I was terrified. In my mind I was praying Psalm 23 as I looked at his limp, purple body. I had never in my life seen that shade of purple and blue. I once handled the bodies of deceased individuals resulting from various causes of death, yet I had never seen that. My son wasn’t moving, he wasn’t making a sound, and I heard my voice ask weakly, “Why isn’t he moving? What is happening?”
My husband held my hand while we watched them work on our baby boy, trying to get him to respond. In the back of my heart I was praying frantically, “Lord, please don’t do this. Please don’t take him!” I was about to loose my mind. I even wanted to do a rewind and be in labor all over again if it meant my son would be okay.
They explained, as they worked on him, that the umbilical cord had been wrapped too tightly around his neck and was so short it caused some issues. When the doctor had asked me to stop pushing, she was untangling him and assessing whether or not I would need emergency surgery to get him out safely. Thankfully, emergency surgery was not my destination that day nor was the loss of my baby. My husband and I both burst into tears and shouted with joy and relief when we heard those first little bleats of our newborn son. He got pinker and pinker the more he bleated and wailed! I just looked at the doctor and cried, “THANK YOU!!!”
That baby boy is teething now and getting into everything. When he cries, he is loud and piercing. While it can be frustrating to deal with the cries of an infant, I find it comforting to hear. His cries let me know that my baby boy is here, alive and well. Sometimes, when he is crying, he looks at me as if to say, “Why aren’t you doing anything to help me, mama?” Really, I am doing everything I can, including holding him quietly. There are also times when I need to lay him down, walk away, and allow him to cry briefly while silently pleading, “I am trying to help you! Quit working against me, son! I don’t know what else to do other than let you go ahead and cry.”
My daughter is a now preschooler who has some serious boundary testing skills. I have learned more lessons about our personal relationships with God by dealing with her than I ever have anywhere else. Talk about testing and wrestling with the will. My husband likes to tell me that she is her mother’s daughter and, Lord help him, he has two of us to deal with. I give him the stink-eye, even though I already know I can throw around my will like a stubborn goat. My daughter really does come by her strong will honestly.
I have noticed that the Bible refers to a great many things as resembling labor and childbirth, like in John 16:21:
When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.
I stumbled across a wonderful blog with snippets of wisdom and word to encourage us to keep pushing during the trials we encounter. As I continued to read this person’s writing, I could not help but feel as if the emotional nature of what God has been walking me through is exactly like being in labor and pushing during the crowning moment. There have been stages of this emotional process that are quite like the stages of labor. I have even been experiencing the Lord’s silence and the nudge to be still. I have a very difficult time with stillness and I have found myself panicking like I did when my son was limp and looking lifeless.
When it is dark and I feel unable to hold on any longer, I have been holding onto God anyway. God is with us and I truly believe He wants the pains of our past to give birth to JOY, FREEDOM, and HEALING in Him! The tears we experience are evidence that we are, indeed, alive and well. Psalm 56:8 even lets us know how God feels about our tears:
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
Even when God is being silent, we need to trust that our Shepherd is working hard to get us untangled from the things that suffocate the life out of us. Sometimes we are even working against His efforts to free us, much to our own detriment, and I am often guilty of doing so.
I am learning to trust Him more deeply with each passing day. I am learning how to ask for the strength to hold onto Him while I get still and let go of everything else.
I absolutely believe that our tears of pain will soon give way to tears of profound joy, even if the situation and circumstances we find ourselves in seem hopeless. I have found myself practicing thankfulness, which is right on par with the season we are entering. The more I thank Him for my blessings, the less burdensome other things are starting to become.
There is power in thankfulness and praise. Keep pushing through and give the Lord thanks today for all He has done!
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
This post appears in the book: Shattered in Him © 2016 JD Mays