He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust. -Psalms 91:4
With each of my births it has gotten harder and harder to write about the experience. A birth carries with it so much depth, so many layers of emotion. I feel like human language doesn’t have the capacity to truly encompass or articulate the profundity of it all. At the same time, I think that writing is an important way to process intense experiences, and I value having a record of important events. So, despite the weakness of the written word, I am sitting here with my baby strapped to my chest and my birthing music playing in the background with the intent of documenting my fifth venture into giving life.
I was afraid to let her come out. Having this baby inside of me had been such a peaceful journey. As my belly grew, my mental health steadily improved. I felt so stable. I felt so safe. But giving birth was going to create a lot of inevitable upheaval. And I was afraid of what was going to happen to me. Would I plunge into darkness again? Would my stable, happy world crumble to pieces as it had more than once before? Would I be able to give my baby the love she deserved?
In the weeks leading up to the birth, I spent a lot of time processing those fears. And I knew that those fears could potentially interfere with labor progress if I didn’t figure out how to let them go. When I woke up early in the morning on Christmas Eve with contractions, I felt a bit of panic. And when I used the bathroom and noticed the blood, I knew I had to finally come to peace with letting this baby come out of my body. My husband comforted me for a bit, and then I told him to get some sleep. I texted several friends and family members about the bloody show and mild early labor contractions. Then I sat in the early-morning glow of the Christmas tree and meditated.
After the sun was up and my family was awake, I talked to my 12 and 10-year-old daughters about the bloody show and showed them some diagrams of cervical effacement and dilation so they could understand what was happening inside of me. Then I took a long bath. And then I took a long shower. We took one last 38-week belly photo, and then I relaxed on my bed while my husband did some guided imagery with me, working to help me release my fears.
During this guided relaxation, I had a flashback of a previous guided imagery experience. The image I recalled was of Jesus draping a white scarf (with fringe on the edges) on top of my head. Until that morning, I had completely forgotten about that incident. I smiled as I remembered it because the previous week, when I had packed the bag I intended to bring to the birth center, one of the items I felt impressed (though I didn’t know why) to put inside was a long white scarf with fringe on the ends.
Several months ago, I was fascinated to learn that the word translated as “wings” throughout the Old Testament can also be translated as edge, border, corner (as of a garment). Malachi 4 reads:
But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings (vs. 2).
Here we see the same word, signifying both wings and the edges/corners of His garments. In the New Testament, the primary language is Greek rather than Hebrew, but I find it significant that the woman with an issue of blood is healed by touching the fringe/border/hem “hanging down from the edge of the mantle or cloak” (Source) of Jesus Christ. The Messiah quite literally had healing in His “wings.”
So on Christmas Eve, as I thought about that white-fringed scarf, it was a pleasure to realize that I have been and continue to be “under His wings.” And it made perfect sense why I had felt prompted to put that scarf in my birth bag. With those thoughts and images to comfort me, I drifted into a peaceful sleep and remained there for several hours.
Previously we had made plans to visit my aunt and uncle for Christmas Eve dinner. With the early signs of labor, I wasn’t sure whether I felt comfortable traveling to their home. But after my nap the contractions continued to be sporadic and mild, so we decided to go ahead with our visit (with my birthing necklace and bracelets on and the birth gear in the car, just in case).
When we arrived at their home, my uncle repeatedly declared, “Look at this radiant mother!” Honestly I wasn’t feeling very radiant, but he was pretty adamant, so I managed to believe him that I really was glowing in some way. Perhaps it was all the angels following me around? We had a lovely time eating Mexican food, chatting, and exchanging gifts. Then sometime before nightfall, I had a surprisingly intense contraction, following which I turned to my husband and said, “It’s time to go home.”
As we made the homeward drive west, we watched the sun setting, and I wondered what the night would bring. As much as I hadn’t wanted a Christmas baby, a part of me felt more and more aware that like-it-or-not, ready-or-not this baby would probably be coming soon. We were very likely going to receive Hope for Christmas.
[The second part of Hope’s birth story is HERE.]