poppy's birth

poppy’s birth was one of the most beautiful, holy moments of my life, & we are so grateful for God’s grace, favor, and presence on that day.

but before i begin, first let me say that though i’m a home birth advocate, my first birth was in a hospital, and i’m incredibly grateful for it, as heron’s birth had complications. i had a quick natural delivery with a midwife, was very well cared for, & my birth plan was respected by hospital staff. and i learned from that experience that i would be a good candidate for home birth. i don't vilify hospital birth, but have definitely experienced the beauty of birthing at home in the subsequent three births, & simply hope this story can encourage some women to choose it (or, at least, natural childbirth) if the choice exists, acknowledging that sometimes intervention is necessary. more importantly, though, i hope my story illuminates that the pain of childbirth is nothing to fear. the day i labored to bring poppy into the world was so rich with meaning & instruction by my loving Father, as i saw Him transform any pain into joy, all the day resplendent in light and worship. & isn’t that just like Him, & just how He carries us through life? when we look to Him in trials and suffering, and welcome them as friends, He creates in us a deep & abiding joy, a peace that carries us through, & such a profound knowledge of His grace that we can’t even recollect the pain in the hardship. all is calm and all is bright and all that's left is the memory of His presence...

the lead-up to poppy's birth was longer than usual for me. contractions started the afternoon before, slowly, but just enough to let us know her arrival was imminent. by the evening of the 9th we thought poppy would be joining us in the middle of the night, so we sent the kids over to grandma & grandpa’s just before bed, telling them they’d probably be meeting their baby sister the next morning! as soon as they left, contractions died down; josh & i enjoyed a lovely evening & a long night of sleep together. the morning continued without incident, and, with the kids still away, we enjoyed the most wonderful date of a morning. the perfect breakfast, a sunny walk to the park, lingering talks, prayers, songs, worship, and lunchtime, too. God even showed us a rainbow!

by mid-afternoon things finally started up again in earnest. an hour in, & contractions were already strong. the Lord had been leading me to pray that He'd take away the curse of the pain of childbirth, even though i don't fear pain and have a high pain tolerance. & do you know what? every contraction, though intense, was filled with such joy! with each one i'd exclaim, “thank you, jesus!” josh would ask, “did you just say, ‘thank you, jesus?’” and i’d say, “yes! i’m so happy!” and the tears would stream down.  

we filled up the tub, then continued to enjoy the afternoon as labor was only intermittently strong (a strong one only every 20 minutes, then a barely-there one three minutes later--not my usual pattern of 2-4 hours of active labor + 2 minutes of pushing = baby!). the curtains were open, sun streaming through, birds chirping, magnolia and cherry trees blooming outside.

when contractions would die down, i’d ask for more—we were so eager to meet our little one! whenever josh & i would join together in prayer, i’d immediately experience a strong one, and again, such joy. i’d bow my head during contractions, lift it up and feel the sunlight on my face, filtered through the cherry blossoms outside.

the day turned stormy, we closed the curtains, evening came, the candles were lit. 

when it was time—birth time, there were two minutes of pushing, & i was holding poppy evangeline! finally born at 8:49 pm on march 10, thirty hours after the first contraction, seven of those hours in active labor. the reason for her long, slow entrance finally made sense—she was posterior, & my body was taking a long time to figure out how to birth this upside-down baby (head down, but flipped over)! and yet i never even experienced back labor. hallelujah!