Saturday, September 26, 2015

How I Prepared My Mind for Labor

When I was pregnant with Josiah, I read books about labor and delivery, talked to many women about their own experiences with giving birth, and watched numerous episodes of A Baby Story, striving through it all to prepare as best as I could for the unknown: the birth of my first child.  But as hard as I tried, I couldn't really imagine how it would be to give birth; and through that experience, I learned one of the biggest keys to having a successful birth experience: staying flexible.  :)  During that labor, I discovered that one thing that was supposed to help a laboring woman--watching her baby's head in a mirror as it descended in the birth canal--did nothing for me.  But in the end, Josiah was born, and everything was bliss.  :)

Being pregnant with David was a whole new adventure, especially because I was doing it in Israel.  Again, I read books and talked to other mothers; but this time I added new steps to my preparation--like taking a tour of the hospital in Tel Aviv and trying to understand the Hebrew words of the tour guide!  When the actual day of his birth came, I was distracted enough by my mom's arrival at the airport that I didn't even realize I was truly in labor; and by the time I did realize it, things went pretty fast.  But even in this labor, I discovered that something else that was supposed to help a laboring woman--having a focal point to look at, like a picture of a loved family member (I had a picture of Josiah)--did nothing for me.  However in the end, David was born, and everything was bliss.  :)

During my pregnancy with Tobin, I read the book Supernatural Childbirth for the first time; and although I have some mixed feelings about it, I will be the first to admit that the book helped me tremendously in the area of preparing my mind and spirit to give birth.  In a way, I did the mental work of labor during the pregnancy; and then when I got to the actual labor, I found myself able to relax and enjoy it MUCH more than I would have previously imagined.  The last half hour before he was born was tough; but until that point, I sailed through labor pretty easily.  Such a gift!  Tobin was born, and everything was bliss.  :)

I got pregnant with Shav when Tobin was only 9 months old; and since my fourth child came so soon after my third, I found myself dealing with an extra measure of fear because I hadn't had time to forget the hard work of childbirth!  The anxiety I felt as the birth approached stood in sharp contrast to the peace I had taken with me into my labor with Tobin.  Mentally, I wasn't as strong and ready as I would have liked to be; but in the end, Shav was born, and everything was bliss.  :)

While pregnant with Moriah, I again read the book Supernatural Childbirth, and I took a considerable amount of time to write down specific scriptures and fill my mind with those promises of God.  During the actual process of labor, although I hadn't planned for this to happen, the phrase "carry me" became my sustaining prayer (I wrote about this here), and the image of Shav in the raft at the waterpark (written about here) was at the forefront of my mind, inspiring me to a similar level of leaning on the Lord as I gave birth to my daughter.  It was a sweet, sweet time of trust.  Moriah was born, and everything was bliss.  :)
Fast forward to the year 2015 as I approached my sixth experience with labor and delivery.  For so long during this pregnancy, I had felt that it was all very unreal; and even as the end of those nine months drew near, I dragged my feet in some of the necessary steps of preparation for giving birth (like registering at the hospital and packing my bag for the hospital) because it still didn't seem real, and I still felt like I had plenty of time.

But at some point, I woke up and realized that soon and very soon, I was again going to experience the process of birth; and I needed to get ready for it.

"HOW IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO DO THIS?" was my not-so-profound thought.  "How do I get ready for labor?  What is going to be the song/verse/image/other that gets me through this time?  HOW DO I DO THIS??"
And then one night, I was listening to some music on YouTube--something I often did because I had a playlist already set up with some songs I wanted to listen to during labor.  I had previously added 24 songs to the playlist, and I found great delight in turning that on and enjoying the music, long before I felt any real contractions.  I still enjoy that playlist!  :)

Somehow, in the midst of doing that, I clicked on a piece by Jon Schmidt--he's the piano part of The Piano Guys--and listened, for the first time, to his song "Waterfall."  Before that, I had rarely listened to his solo pieces because I enjoy so much the collaboration that characterizes the piano and cello (and sometimes other instruments or voices) pieces of The Piano Guys; but for whatever reason, I "happened" to listen to "Waterfall" and instantly loved it.  And it became #25 on my "While I Labor" playlist.  :)

Here, take a moment to listen to it, if you wish.
I don't think it was an instant revelation; but over a period of time as I listened to this piece and pondered some scriptures, I began to get an idea of the image that would prepare me for labor.  This is the image...

I'm standing under a waterfall; and as the water pours over me, it strips away more and more of me until the remaining form of my body is transparent.  I am still there, but I am almost nothing.  My baby, however, is real and solid and strong; and as the water continues to rush over--and now through--me, the power of that water is what compels the baby to descend in the birth canal and ultimately be pushed out of my body in the glorious freedom of birth.  I don't do it.  It's the water that does, and the water is peace.  "Let the peace of Christ flow...let the peace of Christ flow...let the peace of Christ flow..."

That repeated phrase, that mental image, and that song were the things I returned to over and over in the days leading up to Benjamin's birth.  When waves of nervousness and fear tried to overwhelm me, I focused my mind once again on the thought of the peace of Christ being the waterfall that would flow over me and bring forth my baby.

How could I have known that my sweet sixth child would be born in the water?  I could not have guessed that, for the first time ever, my brain would not be required to make the decision to push a baby out of my body; but instead, a force greater than my conscious mind would take over and draw that baby out of me.

Looking back, I can see how perfect that image was to prepare me for Benjamin's birth; but at the time, I had no idea.  I fully believe, however, that it was God speaking to my heart, speaking peace, speaking assurance, giving me something to cling to when I began to doubt.

It was the peace of Christ, and it flowed powerfully.  

May it continue to do so, not just at the moment of Benjamin's birth, but all the days of his life!!
~ photos after Benjamin's bath on 9/25/15 ~

1 comment:

sally said...

Wow! What a testimony! Surely God was with you--and you with Him--in a very close way. Such sufficient grace at just the right time. Thank you for sharing this.