I spent 14 hours in active labor. I was in what they call “Labor Land.” Which means that everything in the real world was blurred by complete immersion into my body. The sensations take over your whole body so there is no ability to recognize and interpret the surrounding environment.
And it’s true, people will tell you what birth is like but there’s no real way to explain it. There’s no real way to relate because every situation is unique. I’ll spare you the graphic details and there are many, but there is something ancient and wise about giving birth that I want to talk about. I truly feel like I was inducted into motherhood.
Giving birth was the induction ceremony, and it was full of tests. Here’s what I’ve learned coming out of one of the greatest activities God designed us to do: replenish, be fruitful, multiply.
1. God’s Design is Perfect
So, maybe the way I handled labor wasn’t perfect. Maybe I would have chosen a different way for babies to come out. Maybe I questioned whether or not I could handle it after 8 hours of pushing. (Yes, I was fully dilated with contractions less than a minute apart for 8 hours–delicious shift at work).
Experiencing that really made me realize how strong I was. Not because I’m just a strong independent woman, but because God gave me everything needed to handle hard work. It was through the strength He promised me that I found endurance to continue trying even when the situation looked grim. At one point, I thought she’d never come out.
God designs us to work, to labor. And He equips us with the necessary resources to do work, like when my whole body would tremble, it was not convulsion but actually my body’s way of distributing hormones.
Thinking about it now, and trying to imagine myself from the outside looking in, I was definitely in animal form. Not in some mystical way, but in a very natural and productive manner. The whole event felt like a marathon, which means there wasn’t much time for me to consider my emotions or facts about anything. Nothing mattered, except for laboring. Because nothing mattered, the job was successfully completed with great focus.
2 Corinthians 9:8
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”
2. Memory of Pain
Yes, it was painful. I don’t really like to speak of it that way because pain is usually considered a bad thing (let’s talk later). I remember thinking for a quick second, “I understand why some choose to get an epidural.” That was something I decided from the beginning that I did not want to do. Slightly masochistic, I knew that I wanted to experience every part of birth. I also don’t even take ibuprofen for headaches so that’s just who I am. I want to know what my body is feeling.
However, I was so swollen, exhausted, beat-up after delivery my first thought after she came out was “I’m never having kids again.” I truly felt like I died multiple times throughout the process and was forced back to live the dying moment–that’s what alternating between contraction and non-contraction felt like. The being dead part was during the not contracting stage. So in some ways, I wanted to die, haha, I’m exaggerating…I think.
My midwife told me “the memory of the pain will go away and you will want to have kids again.” And it’s true, I already forgot what the pain was like. I know it was there but I can’t imagine it anymore. My optimistic reflection means I can add in pleasure or humor to the memory. Which I am not sure was exactly there during the time. This makes me think about how we see hard work, struggles, labors of love. I’m overjoyed with this little girl so I can look back and add touches of happiness where there was great pain. Sometimes, we can do this in the opposite. Sometimes, we look back with a bitter taste that causes us to emphasize the memory of pain. We can add in stress or sorrow based on our current state, causing us to remember labor as being more difficult than it was.
It’s better to look back with joy, as an overcomer, who accomplished what God allowed. Like, cooking a beautiful baby for nine months and getting burned while taking the bun out of the oven. The burns aren’t so bad when you taste the baked goods!
“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.”
3. Changed Plans
“You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather…”
I love the ocean, I love lakes, I love rivers. I love water. The sounds, the movement, the life, the rhythm, the colors. It’s why I have a mermaid tattoo.
I originally planned for an at-home water birth because it seems beautiful and relaxing. However, as my due date approached I became apprehensive about delivering at home. So much mess, too much stimuli, my dog, it just did not seem ideal. Maybe, IF I get pregnant again in the future when I am married, and it’s just me and my husband then I will try again for a home birth.
But I had to reconsider and so I decided to have a waterbirth at the birthing center. While I labored in the water for an hour or two, the water wasn’t helping. I couldn’t push hard because the water relaxed me so much that my muscles were weak and I could hardly move. My intentions were good and the environment of water seemed right prior to labor but at the time, it just wasn’t right.
My love for water did not matter and it was not conducive. Sometimes, we can paint a beautiful picture of what we want. There’s no harm in that, but we have to be flexible when it’s time to switch brushstrokes. We can’t always have what we want and when God makes that apparent to you, then it’s time to change what you are doing. Staying in the water slowed down my labor and could have caused serious complications if I fought to stay in for the aesthetic. We have to let some dreams go, especially when we are valuing the image above the actual effects of pursuing the goal.
“A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.“
I am so blessed to have a healthy baby. I am so blessed to have been able to recover quickly. (Take care of your body and soul!) It takes time to make a baby, to produce a great work, and in that, there will always be lessons for the soul.