Two years after Cooper was born, the time had come for me to give birth again. Once again, my water broke during the night. I went to the bathroom and returned to bed to try to get some sleep before the contractions started. As I rolled over, I caught a glimpse of the shadowy corner of our bedroom. There was something unusual about it. A vision flashed into my mind, and I saw angels packed into our small room. There were so many angels in that dark corner that their wings were smashed and flatten into each other. The air felt electric with excitement! I realized that the angels had come to witness the birth of a human child, a child of destiny and purpose, a child who carried the very likeness of the Almighty God. I had the sense that almost nothing could thrill an angel more that witnessing the birth of such a one.
Well, I was filled with excited anticipation as well! If the angels were already here, the baby must be coming soon! How could I sleep under circumstances such as these? This labor must be destined to be the most supernatural and glorious one yet! I had heard of the book, Supernatural Childbirth, which told of women who had birthed babies with NO PAIN at all!!! I had personally met three women with virtually pain-free experiences, and I was convinced that this was possible. Perhaps this was my time for a supernatural labor!
The sun rose and I got up to eat breakfast. Slowly the rest of the world began to awaken as well. It was Father’s Day and the summer solstice and the longest day of sunlight of the entire year. I whispered into Chris’ ear to wake him up, “Happy Father’s Day. We are going to have a baby today!”
His eyes snapped open in shock and wonder.
“Yep, my water broke!”
We walked around the block many times that morning in the beautiful June air. I was hoping that this baby could be born before noon so we could announce it to our friends before church let out. Yet the walking didn’t do much to bring the contractions, it just wore me out. By the time I got into the birthing pool in our bedroom, I was pretty tired. My normal position of kneeling in the water with my upper body leaning on the edge of the pool was no longer comfortable. My joints were all sore and my legs were trembling. Sitting in the pool wasn’t comfortable either. Lunch time came and went.
Finally, I just had to stand up in the water. All that remained submerged were my feet and calves, but nothing else felt good. I continued to watch the clock as the hours inched by. Never watch the clock when you are in labor! Bad Idea!
“Come on Baby! It is time to come out now!” I said in exhaustion. “Why is this baby taking so long?” I asked Chris and the midwife and anyone else who was present. I sounded very pitiful and whiny. This labor felt like a struggle. I was weary and in pain and the baby didn’t seem any closer to being born.
Struggle…that was a word that had perfectly described the entire pregnancy. I had felt sick and tired most of the time. I struggled to take care of the six children and keep the house running. Chris was struggling to keep his faith. He was working two jobs to pay off the huge burden of debt we had created during our time in Colorado. He was a diligent and hard worker at any job that he had. Yet still, many times we weren’t sure how we were going to buy food that week or keep the water running.
God had given me a name for this child that I had taken to be a prophetic word for our family. It was Ayani, a name from Africa which meant, “Victorious in the Struggle!” I was sure that this baby was a girl since all our girls had names that began with the letter “A.” Somehow God always provided everything that we needed and I knew that we would be victorious in paying off this debt. And sure enough, God had made it possible to pay of every cent of it…just three days ago! I knew that I would be victorious and eventually give birth to this baby…but right now it was a struggle!
Pretty soon I felt like I could no longer stand up, but I didn’t want to lie down. Chris plunged his feet into the birthing pool, put his strong arms around me, and held me up. I don’t know how long he did this, but it felt like an eternity! It was now supper time.
Finally I felt like I might need to push. Sure enough, there was the head! Oh Glory!!! A few more pushes and the head was born. I could hear the midwife instruct Chris on how to gently rotate the body in order to allow the shoulder to clear. Yet nothing was happening.
“Can’t you just pull her out?” I whined.
“You have to push,” the midwife said sweetly.
Yes, of course I had to push. My seventh baby and I had forgotten to push! One more push and the baby was born at 5:34! A healthy baby…boy!!! I couldn’t believe it was another boy!
He let out the tiniest cry and promptly fell back to sleep. He slept soundly for the rest of the day as the midwives where cleaning him and weighing him, as we were holding him and fawning over him. Chris was concerned.
“Are you sure he is alright? Shouldn’t he be crying?” he asked.
“Oh, he is fine,” they answered. He was such a peaceful baby. I had spent hours reading scriptures and loving affirmations to this baby while he was in the womb. I think this was why he was so tranquil. He felt totally loved and accepted by his God, his parents, and his world despite the turmoil that was all around him.
“That is why you took so long to be born,” I thought. “You were sleeping peacefully the whole time!”
The next two days were very difficult for me. I was shocked that I had given birth to a boy. I thought God had spoken to me about the perfect name, and it was a girl’s name. I felt confused and wondered if I could hear God’s voice at all. I was so wiped out, that I didn’t leave my room for two days. I was tired deep in my bones, yet after-contractions racked my body every time the precious bundle would nurse, which was all the time! I had never had such painful after-contractions. They were much worse than labor, because they would go on and on and on…for days!
On the third day they began to subside. One the third day we also settled on a name for our prefect baby boy. The name that I thought was a girl’s name, Ayani, was actually masculine and we choose a variant of the name for his middle name, Ajani. We were victorious in the struggle! We chose Calvin for his first name because that had always been a favorite of ours. I realized that God had spoken to me about this child and his name; I just misunderstood some of it. Just when we think that we have our lives figured out, something unexpected happens. This is good for us, because it keeps us looking to God and not to our own understanding.
It wasn’t until days later that I remembered the angels! They had been there the whole time, I was sure of it. They had seen my pitiful performance which was neither glorious nor supernatural. And in the midst of my arduous toil, I had completely forgotten about my divine audience. I felt pathetic and disappointing. I hadn’t experienced supernatural childbirth.
Yet God began to show me that Calvin’s birth was supernatural and majestic. It had been held in awe by angelic beings, even though I had been totally unaware of the honor.
I thought of the most amazing and supernatural event of all time; when Jesus hung on the cross; naked and shamed, beaten and bloodied, rejected and despised. It didn’t seem supernatural or triumphant. Yet it changed the entire working of the universe. Jesus triumphed over sin and death once and for all in those agonizing moments before his death. AND IT WAS GLORIOUS!!!!
Birthing a baby can be…shall we say, embarrassing, awkward, and humiliating to put it very mildly. A woman can find herself almost naked, not looking her best (maybe looking her worst), doing and saying things she would never normally do or say. She is being poked, prodded, stressed, and stretched in her most private parts. Yet God calls it beautiful and sacred. Birthing mother…you are stunning and graceful. You are veiled and guarded with glory.
Birth is always a promise that the work of Jesus can be manifested in another life.
Mother, you make that promise possible. Birth is always a miracle, whether it is full of bliss or full of pain. It is a wonder, and angels never tire of the mystery.