As I mentioned in part 1, much of the magic and spiritual richness of my daughter’s birth happened in the cushion of time surrounding the actual birth experience, particularly the weeks leading up to her birth. While all my other children came 5 to 10 days early, this baby chose to make her appearance 5 days “late.” As we waited, wondering when our baby would be born, we were once again called upon to “surrender.” I took comfort in reading the words of a wise and wonderful nursing professor, Lynn Callister:
Waiting denotes an active process . . . requires continual self-examination, constantly trying to become more worthy, and ever-deepening and progressive discipleship of a broken heart, a contrite spirit, a yielded will and consecration of self. (“They That Wait Upon the Lord”)
And the words of my friend and book collaborator, Heather:
In Hebrew the word ‘wait’ is also the same word for ‘hope.’ . . . A woman waiting for a child . . . has a unique opportunity to put her faith and trust in the Lord and demonstrate her willingness to wait upon the Lord’s timing. When she learns to be patient and hopeful she opens herself up to receive miracles and great spiritual gifts.
Their words became my reality in those weeks of waiting. I journeyed through a beautiful process of self-examination, consecration, surrender, and love. I did receive miracles, and I will forever treasure the beautiful gifts of peace, love, and comfort I received in that waiting time. . . the bonsai tree, the beads and blessings, the Botanical Garden trip, the birthing necklace made with my daughters, the special family prayer, my first pregnant due date, celebrating that due date with cheesecake and my first belly cast, and many insights and lessons gained through prayer and pondering.
On February 13th, as I sat in my car in the garage, reading the “mother blessing” words I had just received in the mail along with my beads, big fat happy tears were streaming down my face. I was totally overcome with awe, love, joy, empowerment, peace, strength, and confidence. These words of blessing from Robyn went straight into my heart and soul:
As the birth of this little one nears, I would like to remind you that you will be blessed with the aid of angels. I have been touched as I have read of your loved ones who have passed through the veil. Surely they have and will be present during your earthly sojourn. They are surely rejoicing at the arrival of your sweet baby. . . . My hope is that this bead will remind you of the errand of angels and their nearness to us especially as heaven opens to bring you this little spirit.
Though I had gone to bed fearful and “not ready” to welcome my baby many previous nights, on February 13th, as my husband and I went to bed, there was no fear, just peace and love filling us and surrounding us. I placed my newly-created birthing necklace on my nightstand, finally emotionally and spiritually ready to welcome my baby whenever he/she chose to arrive. When we turned off the light, suddenly my husband said, “Whoah!” And I said, “What?!” And he said, “Look at your necklace!” What we saw shocked and amazed us both.
I had chosen seven beads to represent seven women in the world of spirits… three of my baby’s great-grandmothers, a sister-in-law, a cousin, an aunt, and a dear friend. I felt hopeful that these seven women (among others, perhaps) would be present at my baby’s birth, lending us their love, strength, and protection. The beads were mostly clear, sort of spiral-shaped, with a swirl of white in the middle. I had used them to make Christmas ornaments a few years ago and had plenty left over. Perhaps it was coincidence, but—coincidence or not—I was filled with joy and love and assurance as I stared in amazement at my birthing necklace in the dark that night. My seven spirit sister beads were glowing in the dark! For the next ten nights, I laid my birthing necklace on my nightstand before going to sleep, turned off the light, and smiled… filling each time with love for God, my baby, and those seven women who I believe used a tender, creative, and playful way to let me know they would most definitely shine light and love into any darkness or difficulty in our birth journey ahead.
My sister arrived in town Monday, February 21st. Originally, when she made her flight arrangements, her plan was to spend a week helping me care for my kids as I adjusted to life with a new baby. We thought the baby would be a week or two old by then and my husband would have gone back to work. Instead, I was still pregnant. So we enjoyed a few days of sister time instead. And she was able to ease her way into the graces of my toddler son who I had spent much of my late pregnancy worrying about… wondering how that momma’s boy was going to react to our new arrival, whether he would be awake when I gave birth, at a loss for how I was possibly going to handle meeting his needs in addition to the needs of my new baby. As I watched him slowly warming-up to my sister during those days before the birth, the worries in my heart eased.
Wednesday evening, February 23rd, as my sister was busily cooking dinner for my family, the Braxton-hicks contractions I had grown accustomed to—tightening and releasing regularly multiple times every hour of every day—started to feel suspiciously like the real deal… coming more in my lower back, radiating around to my lower abdominal area. At first I was hesitant to hope, but after they’d been coming (admittedly still far apart and mild) for a while, I started timing them. 7:10, 7:34, 7:56, 8:07…
Later, when I was cuddling with my daughters at bedtime, I had a couple of contractions within two minutes of each other. That’s when I said, “I gotta go.” And my 5-year-old said, “Why?” And I said, “I need to call my midwife!” And, as she had every night for weeks, she said, “Wake me up if you think you’re going to have the baby!”
When I got up and walked around a bit, the contractions spread out again, but I figured I’d call anyway to give Mary a heads-up. She said to get snuggled up in bed and see what happened. Later, she told me she slept in her clothes that night, expecting to be coming over to catch my baby soon. Before heading to bed, I chugged a couple of glasses of my birthing smoothie, informed friends/family and the internet that we might be having a baby that night, and had my husband take a belly pic, just in case it was our last chance. The last contraction I recorded that night came at 10:16. Then I laid my birthing necklace on my nightstand, turned off the light, and tried to sleep.
Despite the contractions, I did fall asleep fairly quickly. But I spent the next six hours or so going through a repetitive cycle every 30 minutes or hour… contraction wakes me up, I get up to pee, I go back to bed… contraction wakes me up, I get up to pee, I go back to bed… and so forth. Sometime after 4:00 a.m., after getting up (again) to pee, I decided to stay up for a bit. I sat on my birth ball in the dark at my desk and updated friends, family, and facebook on the latest. The contractions seemed to come closer together while I sat bouncing there. Then I realized how hungry and lonely I was. So I woke up my husband.
The next hour or so was really special to me, especially in retrospect. I had wanted to spend lots of time with my husband, alone, in absolute darkness during this birth, but those precious moments in the wee hours of the morning of February 24th were some of the only private moments we had. As brief as they were, they were very sweet and special for me. We sat up together in our bed in the dark and talked. Then I told him how hungry I was, so he made me some toast. Before lying back down, cuddled together for some more rest, I asked him for a blessing.
All the words of that blessing were a comfort to me, but it was these words that sent a wave of warmth and love through my body and tears streaming down my face:
“God wants you to know that you are surrounded by angels.”
My friend, Robyn, and my glowing necklace had given me reason to hope, but in that powerful moment, I knew.
I was surrounded by angels.
Read “Surrender, part 3″ HERE.