My Birth Story, Part I: Pregnancy and War

You wouldn’t think the two would go together, pregnancy and war, but oh, they do. From the minute I started even thinking my body might be hosting a new life in the near future, I started preparing. I started taking prenatal vitamins 4 months (yes, pretty much right when we got engaged) before the wedding, because I knew we’d talked about babies and I wanted all that folic acid and all the iron and all the goodies because I’m a scientist and a planner.

Each day a tiny reminder that I hoped it would happen, months before trying.

Then the wedding came and those long conversations took place that were so exciting: we were on board for a baby, so help us God.

Even though I’d never tried for a baby before, and never had the experience of something going wrong, a part of me was still afraid. Maybe because so many close to me had struggled with their fertility, waited months or years, I was trying to be logical and excuse any possible delays. But God answered on our first plea with the faintest pink line. I was pregnant!

And then immediately, I was a secret-keeper! Boo!

They forget to tell you this part, it’s the unwritten instruction after “two lines means positive” on the pregnancy test, it goes “tell only the people who will be your support system in case of the M word.”

The M word. Literally the first grenade chunked at a mama who just learned there’s a tiny, tiny human in her womb.

Everything can just end, Helena. Those first weeks. We don’t schedule appointments til you’re 8 to 10 weeks. Oh okay.

Let’s do math: baby count starts at first day of last period aka 2 weeks before conception ish, then you have to wait till about 4 days before the next period is due to get a positive with those overpromising fancy sticks, so that’s “3.5 weeks” when I knew I was pregnant.

You mean to tell me that the next 4.5 to 6.5 weeks are just a blind waiting game? Bring in Google, what can I eat? What shouldn’t I eat? Is it okay to exercise? No rollercoasters. No hot tubs. Just be very careful in general, there’s no recipe for how to keep a baby in there, just know all their organs are forming so be the healthiest you can be, ever. Good God, okay. God help me.

Meanwhile, there are negative symptoms everyone says will happen, like a one-size-fits-all misery poncho I was supposed to wear. But I felt okay. I was extra sleepy but not nauseous. I was picky with what sounded good to eat, but I could eat smaller meals and I felt fine. I was excited in my secret, giggling with family and my best friends. I decided I wasn’t going to believe everything they told me, because I was already experiencing something different, answered prayers for no nausea, no sickness.

I began at this point to stop thinking of the M word and just to pray. I was referred by two Godly mamas to a book called Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you’ve seen God do miracles in front of your eyes, you can handle this book. Basically if you’re been scuba diving with Jesus and you’ve read the book of Acts and thought “I believe it,” then Supernatural Childbirth won’t sound crazy.

I began to pray for a pain free childbirth with no complications, no tearing, no prematurity, no hemorrhage. I prayed for 100%. Not 90, or 85, but the full birth miracle package. Why not, right?! It’s Jesus, for Christ’s sake. By the time we announced the pregnancy, both Buddy and I were sold out on a supernatural birth. I got really quiet about this, because it sounded crazy banana sandwich. Also, I didn’t want people who didn’t have that experience to feel like I thought I deserved something they didn’t have. I didn’t want to invalidate their trauma, especially if part of their healing was to share their story. Even if it was a terrifying, unique story that would clearly cause fear to a first time mom! I learned to listen with a filter.

Every time I got “advice” about pain or complications, I rebuked it in my head haha, like someone had just spoken death over me. I thought “that’s not my story.” My thoughts stayed the course, believe it or not. I trained my mind for war. Birth was gonna be my victory, my Jericho, my Valley of Berakah. I recited and memorized birth affirmations. I told my body it knew how to birth, and that birth was a normal thing, a common rite of passage designed by God, who is kind. He designed sex and birth. I signed up for both and thanked Him.

We decided that the birth would be very private, and chose a Godly, wonderful doula to be with us (Buddy and I only, aside from birth staff). We chose Atlanta Birth Center as our birth location and prenatal care provider. We chose a midwifery model of care. We did minimal testing, aside from gender DNA (I was way too curious). We only had one ultrasound at 20 weeks, and no cervical checks before labor began. No family in the waiting room, no immediate visits. We safeguarded that space for rest and recovery.

I can say now that pregnancy was wonderful. I was healthy. I had a virus that made me achy for 4 days, but that was it. I had to learn how to SLOW DOWN in the end, lest I’d hurt myself trying to get up too fast. I didn’t swell, nor had back pain. I slept well, even with the frequent bathroom trips. I wore my rings until it was the day to have the baby. I gained about 17 pounds, no diabetes. Baby was head down when she needed to be, my placenta was not in the way. All those answered prayers!

I prayed for supernatural birth. God’s answer, though not exactly as I asked, was even better. Here comes part 2!

Comparison vs Compassion

The best friends I’ve ever had are the ones who are selfless enough to celebrate with me when I am rejoicing and who are compassionate enough to mourn with me when I am mourning. There’s scripture that tells us to be this way, and I can appreciate so well the inclination of the hearts of these precious friends, to wherever my heart is.

Because isn’t that what it is to be a friend? To incline the heart toward another?

Even in their worst funks, my best friends would sincerely scream “YAY” with me and jump up and down. They found sincere joy in my victories. We share life like that. I win, they win, even when they’ve been personally feeling that deserty, rough patch. They’d reply back with 15 exclamation points, and several smiley faces, and I could feel the genuine happiness for me. FOR ME. For the thing I’ve been waiting for, or waiting on, or breaking through, or learning. My baby steps are just as exciting. They’re in for the journey, celebrating my mile markers.

On the other hand, from the heights of their mountaintop experiences, they have come bounding down to my valleys, to comfort me in my heartaches. They’d set aside their time and listen to me. They’d hold me. They’d cancel plans. They’d make me food, and watch movies, and tell me the best jokes they had. It’s the most loving thing I’ve ever experienced, truly, when one steps away from their non-crisis life and steps into someone else’s pit to sit with them. Like Job’s friends sat with him, no words are needed. I have friends like this.

They’ve taught me to mourn with them, to lay aside my free time and get my butt to a funeral, and to experience the intimacy of a mourning family. I’ve had the honor of being brought into such a precious fold of trust. I’ve cried for people I hadn’t met, but I met them through my friends’ tears, words, and stories. They were my people too.

They’ve taught me to celebrate them, to lay aside the female tendency to compare and despair. I’ve stood by them as they became wives and mothers, heard those phone calls of “he’s the one!” and those calls of “we’re having a baby!” and my singlehood was so outweighed by sincere joy that I couldn’t help myself but feel HAPPY! Truly truly happy, because I was gaining with them. Their additions were my people too.

I haven’t had to censor myself or make my friends censor themselves out of joys and sorrows, because of fear of the reaction. I didn’t have to hold back good news or bad news, because we have this compassionate flexibility of sensitivity. It’s unspoken. It’s a ‘come as you are’ and a ‘what’s really going on’ relationship.

ON THE FLIPSIDE… I’ve lost friends who couldn’t do this thing, this compassion thing. When I’d come by saying “HEY GUESS WHAT!!!” they were Eeyores, ya know? The  grumpy donkey from Winnie the Pooh? They just couldn’t muster up a smile. They would “hmm” and I could tell they didn’t care or believe my excitement was valid. Party poopers, man.

Big rain clouds on a parade are the people who compare themselves instantly and cannot stir up joy within themselves to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. They miss out on a TON of joy, a ton of laughter, a ton of smiles, and a ton of parties. They don’t get invited, and a lot of people stop “wasting their time” trying to have a two-way-street friendship with these people. Then, they feel rejected, even though they reject others CONSTANTLY by refusing to have empathy. It’s a sad thing. Eeyores gonna Eeyore, I guess. I wish they wouldn’t.

Comparison is a nasty thing. It’s a nasty lie. It says that because someone has a blue kite, you’ll never have a blue kite. THERE IS MORE THAN ONE BLUE KITE, PEOPLE. It says that because one friend found her love, that you won’t? What? That makes no sense at all. These are the people who are like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, the ones who sit outside a party, sulking,  because they just don’t understand who they are and what their rights are as children of a GOOD Father. THE GOODNESS OF GOD DOES NOT RUN OUT. He pours and pours and pours it down. Then, He keeps pouring, because there’s still more. If you believe this, it will show. If you don’t believe this, it will show. Our faith can only go as far as our awareness of God’s goodness (Bill Johnson).

You can rejoice for other people, I promise. You can stir up that trust inside you, and when your time comes, which you must believe it will, people will rejoice with you as well. You won’t be the lonely, sad, rusty, old one to the side, not unless you choose to act that way by pushing away anybody who is happy, and make ‘choosing out of joy’ a lifestyle. How would you feel if people treated you the way you treat them? If you had the good news instead? It’s okay to celebrate. It’s okay to trust God’s timing. It’s okay to be happy when it isn’t for you or about you. It’s okay to incline your heart, it’s made to do that.

It’s okay to have compassion, even when your cup is running low. The overflow of another might just spill into yours.

On Baby Fever

My mind is a bit blown right now. I sometimes think that the things I desire are selfish, or that they reflect a lack, or a discontent heart.

In my latest bout of baby fever, watching all the Asian babies in the airport, I felt that pang for children. Oh, the womb.

Ready for this? Jesus stands outside of time, yes? So He already knows my kids. And grandkids. He is OBSESSED with them. Sick in love with them, their hearts, their laughter, their smiles. They are also appointed to fulfill Kingdom work. They are important to Him, and His desire is for them.

Guess how they’re gonna get to earth?
The method He planned before time?

Ding ding ding: me and my future husband.

So…. Think.

If JESUS desires ultimately more to knit these warriors into life, He HAS TO place a desire in me for marriage and a longing for children that mirrors HIS DESIRE that these things take place for His Kingdom.

It starts in His heart, from the beginning of time.

Not my selfishness or lack, or loneliness, but HIS plan of love, His presence, His fullness that will be reflected in the lives of the much-awaited lineage that will succeed me. Made in His image.

They’re His kids first. I’m feeling the pangs of His heart as Creator and Father. He wants their praises, their love. He wants to hold them infinitely more than I do. So it will happen, and my prayers can chill out, because they agree with the Father’s heart. I don’t have to beg or worry.

Mind blown. Thanks, Jesus, for planting Your desires in me, aligning me with Your will, which I long for: good, pleasing, perfect… and adorable.