Sunday, March 24, 2013

When Noah Was Born . . .

The week that Noah was due, my dear friend Tracy from high school, graciously came to stay with us. This was such a gift because it gave me some adult company during the last, long days of pregnancy as I waited for labor to begin and because we would be able to leave Joshua with her when we went to the hospital.

She had one week to be with us and then she had to return to her life. Day after day passed. No baby. My due date came and went. No baby. Four days after the due date, no baby. The day before Tracy had to leave us, we were still waiting. It was a rare, sunny May evening in Seattle and I heard the music from the ice cream man driving through our neighborhood. Boy did I want some ice cream! As quickly as I could possibly move being nine months pregnant, I grabbed some cash and raced like a tortoise outside. Barefoot and waddling down the sidewalk, I chased that ice cream man in vain. He drove away, leaving this very pregnant mama overly-irritated that I didn't get my ice cream.

Well, that waddling did the trick, because that night as we went to bed, I went to lay down and clap! My water broke. When my water broke with Joshua, there was no sound. I had heard of this phenomenon and thought it was an old wives' tale. But no, there was a distinct clap! noise this time and then things got really started.

When examined at the hospital, I had not dilated at all. Contractions were happening every couple of minutes and they were intense. Hours went by. More and more contractions. After another examination, I was at one centimeter. I remember thinking, Are you frickin kidding me? All of this work and pain and I'm only at one centimeter?! I wasn't supposed to receive an epidural until I was at about 4-5 centimeters. This was partially because I was trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and also because an epidural can slow down labor. In the mean time, more and more contractions.

Jason and I tried to walk up and down the hallway. I could hardly do it. I tried to take a bath, but it only made me vomit. They tried to give me other pain medications, but they did nothing. After twenty-four hours of intense contractions, I hadn't eaten or drank anything but a few ice chips, hadn't slept and was only at 3 centimeters.

Finally, two of the nurses had pity on me. They allowed for me to receive an epidural and I will never forget the relief. I was also given just the tiniest drip of Pitocin and was able to sleep. When I woke up a few hours later, I had finally dilated to about 7 centimeters. About another hour went by and I was finally ready to push.

At that point, I was really frightened. I had delivered by cesarean with Joshua and now I needed to push out a baby. All of the sudden, I felt very overwhelmed and inadequate of the task. I was scared, I didn't think I could do it and was afraid that I would just end up having another cesarean. My shoulders were rigid with stress and anxiety, tears were fighting their way past my lashes and my breath was quick and shallow. I knew the doctor was going to walk in the door any moment and expect me to be ready. I wasn't ready. I couldn't do this.

In that moment, I prayed. I asked God to give me strength so that I could push my baby into the world. I asked Him to help me feel His presence. I will never, ever forget what I felt next.

Quite suddenly, my body relaxed as I felt the Holy Spirit spread over me. I was filled with joy, with love, with confidence, with strength and with the knowledge that God was in the room with me right there and then. All of my fear vanished and the task in front of me seemed pretty easy, exciting even. Billions of other women had done this. So could I.

I have never in all of my life felt the presence of God the way that I did in that moment.

About forty-five minutes later, our son entered the world. We had still not decided on a name, but Jason took one look at him and said, "He's Noah."

I have told Noah many times about that experience and how I have never felt the presence of God the way that I did on the day that he was born, always causing his big, beautiful eyes to light up with a twinkle and a small smile to spread over his face.

And I believe that since the day he was born, that sweet boy has been filled with the Holy Spirit in a more tangible, noticeable way than most of us are. Noah seems to understand God in way beyond his years. Before he was two, Noah told me that he had music and God in his heart. He may be very shy, but if you wait and watch, you will see the Holy Spirit work through him.

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