Minutes after Rosie, our first child was born, the first and most prevailing thought in my head was, “I can never do this again.”
God is so merciful. And by his grace, I was able to do it again. And again.
And last week, our fourth child, Remy Lochlan Chester was born into this world.
This is the story of his birth.
After about two weeks of nothing happening, two days past my due date, I woke up about midnight having mild contractions. They seemed regular enough to start monitoring them, so I timed them on my cell phone. They ranged from about 5 to 8 minutes apart. I decided to get some sleep in case this was the real thing, assuming that the contractions would get strong enough to keep me awake sooner or later. But they stayed the same all night long. I was awake every five to 10 minutes, breathing through contractions, then nodding back off to sleep in between. Except for a 30 minute space of really crazy and intense dreams where I was fighting for my life in various scenarios, I slept like this all night long, waking and praying that I would know when to go in to the hospital.
About 6 a.m. the contractions started to get more intense, although they were still spaced pretty far apart. I decided we better go on in. Randy got up and started getting things together. I called Mama and Daddy, who were waiting by the phone. They said they would be there in about 15 mintues. I called my midwife, Denise, who has become a very dear friend to me and has been there for each of my children’s births. She wasn’t even on call, but she told me to let her know when things started progressing. I called her, told her what was happening, and she said she would meet me at the hospital and start getting things set up for me. I sat down and waited for Randy to get the car loaded. The contractions eased off while I was sitting, and I began to wonder if this really was the real thing. But when I stood up, there they were again. My parents arrived, and we hurried off, trying to get out the door before the kids woke up for the morning. I sat in the front seat of the car (a first, as I am usually laying in the backseat, breathing heavily through contractions by the time we head to the hospital), Randy and I talked about how we hoped this was it. I prayed that it wouldn’t be a false alarm and that I wouldn’t have to go to bed one more night wondering if I might wake up in labor.
We got to the hospital and Denise met me in the waiting room. She asked me if I wanted to walk back to the room. Since things weren’t really intense, I said yes, and we walked back. We talked while we walked. I told her that I was still smiling and laughing, so I knew I must not be that far along in the labor. She said you never know… We stopped a time or two on the way to the room so I could breathe through. Having had two hard and fast previous labors, I didn’t know what to do with these long, luxurious minutes in between the contractions. I had no concept of time. I had no real idea how much longer I would be in labor. My midwife and I walked along the hall and talked about music and life, pausing here and there for me to lean against the wall and breathe. It was surreal.
My water broke while we were walking. I expected things to pick up, but there wasn’t much change. Still long spaces of conversation, speculation, and knowing that this was the day we would see our boy.
Randy had gotten everything in the room that we needed. He put some music on–my labor playlist–and Denise started filling up the tub. I decided to go ahead and get in the water, hoping that my muscles relaxing would speed things up and I could start pushing soon–even though I really didn’t have any idea how far I still had to go. It was getting more intense, but the contractions still seemed so far apart. Everything was really clear, I was really focused. Every time I had a contraction, I tried to remind myself that this is the way it feels when you have a baby. I tried to think of it like that, instead of thinking of it as intense pain.
I listened to the music and sang along with the songs. I wanted to hear songs that really ministered to me. Most of the songs on my playlist were sung by Randy, whose voice means more to me than anyone else’s in this world. I love to hear him sing. It really soothes me. One of the songs that he wrote recently took on a new meaning as I sang it during my labor. There is a bridge that says this:
And I will sing for You the song no one else can sing
And I will give to You the praise no one else can bring
I will not offer up what costs me nothing
You gave Your everything for me.
I had begun to see this birth as the song that only I could sing, the act of labor as the praise that only I could bring to the Lord. If there is one thing in this world that only I can do, it is to be the body through which these particular souls are born into the world. I cannot think of any better offering I have to give to the Lord. There is no other time in my life that I have ever truly been able to sing “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and all that’s within me…” and mean it with more of my heart than when I was in labor.
Randy put on his swimming trunks and got in the tub with me. Time seemed to stand still. He helped me breathe through the contractions as they got harder and harder to deal with. Things got really intense, and I prayed that God would help me. I must have been in the tub for 20 or 30 minutes when I started feeling different and knew it was time to push. I was determined to push that baby right out and be done. With my first three children, it was such a relief to be able to push and actually work with my body instead of just trying to surrender to whatever it was trying to do to me… This time, pushing threw me. I wasn’t prepared for the sensations I was having while he was moving down. I couldn’t get in any position that felt right. I felt like when I pushed my hips were going to break. I had never felt that before. I was afraid something was wrong–that I had made it this far and might not be able to finish the job. I didn’t know what my options were at this point. I said I didn’t want to do it anymore. I begged God to help me. Despite Denise reassuring me that I could do it, I felt completely out of control. All of the mental preparation I had done up to that point–thinking of the pain as a different kind of sensation, thinking of each contraction as an offering of praise and a way for all that is within me to bless the Lord–all that was useless. At that point, all I could think about was staying alive and getting through. I was panicked.
I’m not sure how long I was in this state–probably about 15 or 20 minutes.
And then suddenly, he was right there. Randy said he could see his face. I pushed, and Randy delivered the baby at 9:08 a.m.
He was healthy and beautiful. And it was over. And it was the best feeling in the whole world.
Remy was 9 lb. and 7 oz., with beautiful creamy skin, perfect chubby cheeks, and light red hair. I loved him right away.
When I was young, I used to spend a lot of time in prayer, reading the Bible, trying to hear God’s voice. Since I have become a mother, I have not had the time or the undividedness-of-heart to spend that kind of time with the Lord. But I feel like He has spoken to my heart so clearly and so profoundly through the births of each of my children. The lessons I have learned in these four labors are lessons that are imprinted deeper into my heart than any others I have learned. They are the kind of lessons that can carry you for years…
Remy’s birth reminded me that I am strong. But my greatest strength truly is when I am weak, painfully aware of my own human frailty. In my weakness, God’s strength is made perfect.
I am so thankful to God for teaching me this lesson in such a beautiful way. As I type this, I am looking at my brand new boy, asleep beside me in his little swing. He smells like a newborn, and his hands are tucked up close to his face. Every once in a while, he smiles in his sleep. He is beautiful and dear, and it seems like he still carries some kind of secret with Him about God–as if he remembers Him from the womb where he was knit together.
I am so thankful God has made me a mother. It is such a beautiful way to grow.