One thing I have always known since I was a little girl, is that I wanted to be a mother. There was a desire in me I couldn’t explain. As a baby, I loved babies. I enjoyed nurturing, providing, and being there for others. When my husband and I got married and we completed our graduate programs, we decided to take the leap and grow our family. Thanks be to God we were able to quickly, and my journey to motherhood began.
The one word that comes to mind when I think of my first pregnancy is naïve. I had been dreaming of and romanticizing that time of my life for so many years, that I made a lot of assumptions. I assumed everything would be okay, I assumed doctors would want what was best for me and would communicate with me, I assumed “my body is made for this” and so childbirth would be instinctual. In many ways that was true, but my labor and delivery did not go as planned.
I do not often share my birth story because I do not want to contribute to any negativity or fear surrounding childbirth. In fact, which seems to be all pregnant women hear. I am also aware that other people have far more traumatic experiences. Overall, things did not go as planned and there was no communication about the several medical interventions that were completed. While they may have been medically necessary, I was never told what was being done to me or given any reason as to why. As a result, I did not feel in control of my own body, and felt I had no choice in my labor.
After giving birth I was placed in a wheelchair to be moved into another room to recover and rest, but instead was left for an hour while my husband kept me from falling over asleep with our child in my arms. After my husband confronted the nurses, they admitted they had forgotten about me and finally put me in our room. I was hurt, I was disappointed, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through it again. Something I always pictured as being such a beautiful and momentous time in my life was so ugly. How did I go from feeling like that, to preparing for a second child? God healed my heart.
The next day I was holding my daughter as she slept, and I was flooded with love for her. It was in that moment that I understood something fundamental: she didn’t do anything to earn that love from me. In fact, I had just gone through something that I frankly didn’t enjoy! My daughter just was and so I did.
We are taught repeatedly throughout our lives that God loves us as a Father loves a child, but it was not until that moment I grasped what that meant. If I loved my daughter so deeply just for existing, how much more does God love us? We don’t have to earn it, or ask for it, because it is given freely. I know in my heart that God gave me that gift of understanding, and even though I experienced hardship to learn it, it was worth it in the end.
The thing is, we can’t plan our labor and delivery. Emergencies happen, our bodies or babies may react differently than we predict. People may be unkind or impatient when working with you. We can plan, and nest, and practice for months and still not be in control. I don’t say that to scare any expecting mother, I have come to find comfort in knowing that God will be with me and help guide me through it all. I know this is true because hardship does not cease after childbirth, it continues into parenthood. There will be many times you feel as if things aren’t going to plan.
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord,Psalm 121:1-3 ESV
who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
God will not abandon you.
Psalm 94: 18-19 reminds us,
When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.Psalm 94:18-19
It took about six months after childbirth for me to heal, and that healing came from knowing that my labor was 15 hours out of the many months I had already spent with my child, and the years that were to come. My love for her was bigger than those hours and my faith was stronger than that pain. I had already felt God guide me and console me during both that hardship and the hardships I had encountered as a new mom.
I began to ask myself…could I do it again? The answer was simple: I could. We have been blessed to be expecting again, and so I am approaching this pregnancy differently. My advice to all expecting mothers is this: find a provider who is a good fit for you. There are many, many different providers out there and they all have a different approach. It is okay to shop around! While you cannot plan your labor and delivery, you can build your team who will be there to fight for you and support you. The biggest member on that team (besides your partner), is God, and He will not fail you.
Guest Devotional by: Christie Luibrand