19 January 2015

The Tapestry of Birth

One year ago the tapestry of my life changed forever. I gave birth to my third baby, my love child. She is my reminder that year five of my marriage was a good one. However, she is also a reminder that year six was tough. Morning sickness sapped the strength from the bones of our marriage. Thirty three weeks of nausea will do that. I spent a lot of time laying on the couch or on the bathroom floor feeling sick, sad, lonely and discouraged, but those times also gave me the chance to think and pray.

At first I prayed for healing and relief, but slowly the Lord worked in my heart. I began to pray for those suffering incurable illness, infertility and despair. I prayed for those getting married and those losing loved ones. When morning sickness threatened to pull me into depression, talking to God kept my perspective in check. It was a crucible of illness. By the grace of God, after the fire of trial I was left with a sense of greater love and gratefulness instead of a burnt residue of bitterness and bile.

It was in this state of physical weakness juxtaposed with spiritual strength that I entered childbirth. On a bitterly cold January night my beautiful baby was born into the hands of a sweet midwife after not quite 2 hours of labor. We drove home later that night and I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning staring at the baby who had changed me quite profoundly.

I couldn't have put the transformation into words that night, but my little girl changed the way I looked at birth, motherhood and, most importantly, myself. You see, I was looking forward to this birth in a way I never had before. This was to be my first natural labor and I felt able to embrace the hard work ahead because I was well informed this time*. I'd read about hormones and inner strength, bonding and the intoxicating smell of a baby to her mother. So that night when I opened my eyes and fell deeply in love with my very own brown eyed girl, everything clicked into place.
The birth was hard and empowering and exhausting and victorious. I had a goal and I accomplished it through prayer and support. After a couple of weeks of contemplation I finally found the words to best describe the transformation I felt.

I was a tapestry and birth had changed the very fabric of my being. This birth stretched me physically, emotionally and spiritually to my maximum, but it was a blessing. Because I gave birth in an environment filled with love, kindness and gentleness I was not scared as I neared the edges of my ability to cope and maintain self control. As my body expanded and opened it felt as if the tiny holes between the warp and weft of my body and soul were exposed. While I was stretched so thin, the warp of self control and independence was pulled taught against the weft of gratitude and encouragement. It was only then that there was space in my tapestry for a new thread to be added, the thread of my baby. With the fabric of my being pulled to the extreme, my love for her was woven into my very being that night.
Even now, I feel bonded to her in a way that I never quite experienced with my first two children and I believe it is because of her birth. It has nothing to do with how much I love her, but instead it has everything to do with how free (or I might even say compelled) I feel to listen to my instincts and nurture her as I should. This little girl and I were able to experience the full benefits of birth that God gave to mother and child and for that I am grateful.
This birth nourished not only my physical and mental health, but my spiritual as well. For the duration of my pregnancy I desperately prayed one request over and over. I prayed that I would be open to a quick and easy delivery. My second birth was 18.5 hours long, so when my labor was progressing rather quickly I started praying. I had barely registered that my water had broken and I was already pushing. To maintain my composure the only thing I could do was pray. The Lord was so near to me as I labored and called on his name. It is a night I will never forget.
Tonight I am sitting beside a joyful little one year old with wispy curls and eyes full of mischief. She plays peek-a-boo with gusto and hardly ever leaves my side. She is secure in her place in the world and I am secure in mine. Because of the night we met, I am a better mother to her and her siblings. I am proud of my body and what it can do. I am more in love with my Savior and his mercy on me.

The tapestry of my life is one shade richer because of my baby. Happy Birthday, Honey B.

*Here are a few books I recommend to begin reading about natural labor and the importance of midwives. Start here and they will lead you down a delightful rabbit trail:  Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Birth Matters and Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding all by Ina May Gaskin.

1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely beautiful. I relate to this personally, and your thoughts and feelings resonate deeply with me. God bless you and your beautiful family.