I’ve heard time explained in two different ways. There is chronos time, which signifies each passing minute, it is the measure of time. Karios time is the experience of time. Was the minute gone in the blink of an eye, or did it drag on forever? Was it one of many minutes that disappear in a day without notice, or was it a minute that you’ll remember for the rest of your life? In the explanation of karios time, God is often the one credited with enabling the experience to transcend a moment in time and take it in for ALL that it is worth. I think that sounds about right, given its those moments when you see the supernatural invade your natural surroundings that BLOW. YOUR. MIND.
I don’t care if its your 1st or 19th and counting…. Birth will blow your mind. Every single time. Being so completely out of control of your own body, as it brings forth a new LIFE. An entire being with a purpose and future known only to God, with features so tiny, perfectly formed. Knowing YOU are its witness in this life to its first breath, movements, and sounds. You testify to the world of her presence, acknowledge her place in history, and experience the weight of what it means to hold a life so precious and fragile in your hands.
The crazy thing about birth is its almost IMPOSSIBLE to remember the details. With each of my three prior, those moments leading up to and immediately following remain only a haze. I feel like partnering with heaven that closely on something must be akin to Moses experiencing God’s glory in the Old Testment, Exodus 33:22, “When my glory passes by, I will place you in the cleft of a rock, and cover you with my hand until I have passed by”.
Labor/Pushing is about as close to being caught ‘in a rock and a hard place’ as I can imagine. You’re kinda stuck… the baby HAS to come out. With the drugs/c-section we now have the ability to choose to miss the pain of it all, and believe me when I say there is NO judgement in choosing to. However, looking at it through spiritual eyes… there is an odd beauty to it all…. being caught in that hard place, with the hand of God covering you as His glory passes by. Read the entire interchange between God and Moses within the passages of Exodus 33: 12-22, but rather than reading from the perspective of a man who just delivered a nation…. read it as a Mother preparing to deliver a child…. its breathtaking.
This is how I read it… in summary.
“‘Lord, you have told me to lead this child, but who will you send to help me do that? You have said you know me by name and have found favor with me, then teach me your ways so I can continue to find favor in you’. God replied, ‘my presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’. I replied, ‘If you don’t go with me, I don’t want to do this on my own. Come with us on this journey so that anyone that sees me raising these children will see you, that it would distinguish us from all others on earth.’ and God said, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I love you and know you by name.’ So I asked God…’Show me your glory’ and He replied ‘I will cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, The Lord, is in your presence. But, you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live. There is a place near me where you may stand, when my glory passes by I will place you in the cleft of a rock and cover you with my hand until I pass by, then I will remove my hand and you will see my back, but my face must not be seen.”
This post…. and the beautiful pictures my amazing friend Melissa captured, is my attempt to witness and testify to the incredible miracle I was a part of on Monday. Look closely…. the Glory of God is passing by.
At 10pm on Sunday night I was crawling into bed, disappointed that another day had passed and baby girl had made no indication that she was intending to come soon, when I felt the ‘first’ contraction. It wasn’t the first contraction at all, rather one that felt exactly like the hundreds I’d had in the days/weeks leading up to that moment, so it only served to annoy me when I wanted to fall asleep. Given the false alarm these contractions had stirred a week or so prior, I told myself I wouldn’t even think about timing them unless I had more than 10 in a row. 10 contractions later at 11:30pm, I started timing them, still annoyed I wasn’t sleeping. At 2:30am, and roughly 40 contractions in, I figured I’d get up and start walking around hoping to get the contractions to intensify or get closer together. Which caused them to stop and REALLY tick me off, believing it was gonna be another sleepless night and false alarm. However, when I laid back down they started back up again… still only 8-10 minutes apart, and no stronger in intensity. Frustrating.
At close to 5am, with no sleep, they FINALLY moved to 5-6 minutes apart. In the DC area the mid-wives are very clear that you should do your BEST to avoid calling in active labor during rush hour time frames (7-9am or 4-6pm), so rather than waiting a couple more hours to confirm and risk having a fast labor they missed, I called and left the decision up to them. They decided it would be best, given I was overdue and prone to quick labors, to head this way, and arrived close to 6am….. At which point I shifted from anxiously wondering if this was real labor, to feeling like I was being watched like a pot of water waiting to boil… in a word self-conscious.
Before we go any further, let me introduce you to the key players in our day. I have some incredible friends, and many had offered to help with whatever we needed. Melissa (right) is the one you have to thank for ALL the incredible pictures to follow, and Courtney (left) welcomed my three to hang with her two for a FULL day play date…. both of them rockstars!
Then there was the mid-wife team of Hillary, Dorothy, and Lori…. These women are like peace incarnate. They floated from room to room and blended in with their surroundings when they weren’t immediately needed but able to pop immediately into action when they were. Baby delivering ninja’s.
Back to the start of our day together…..To get some fresh air from the self-inflicted pressure I was feeling to ‘perform’ and pop a baby out now that everyone was waiting on me, Kevin and I headed out for a walk around the neighborhood. I was hoping the exercise would help things progress a little faster, and to some degree it did, but not as quickly as I would have liked. In total we walked probably 4-5 miles around my neighborhood, over the course of 4 different walks. We’d walk, come back, I’d get antsy with everyone around, and make Kevin take me on another walk. This was our morning from about 7am-10:30am, when it finally got too hot to go back outside.
Once the mid-wife checked me and put my mind at ease that I was, in fact, making progress and the baby WAS coming at some point today, I was able to relax into the rhythm of the day a bit more. Contractions kept coming, and were increasing in intensity, but still only lasting roughly a minute followed by a 5, to sometimes 10 minute, break in between. We hung out together in the living room, telling stories of other labors, the mid-wives would tell stories from other births they’d attended, or just discussing other random things going on in our lives. As a contraction would come, the voices would die down or shift to words of encouragement, Kevin always right at my side for support, and then when it was over we’d go back to our conversations again.
Just after noon I got checked again and was TOTALLY pumped to hear I was at 9cm’s! I figured the end was near, given AJ had been born so quickly… I was wrong. For the next two hours the contractions were rough, and my water never broke, which had me convinced I would still have longer to wait AFTER it finally did. We finally moved to my room when I couldn’t stand up any longer, or converse, around 2pm…. and that’s where things get fuzzy for me. That’s my cleft of the rock with God’s hand covering me moment… I could hear them talking…. but I couldn’t focus on anything but the pain and by the supernatural grace of God my body continued to do what He created it to do… in spite of me.
And then…. She was here. Being that close to God and not seeing His face leaves you a bit speechless. Dumbstruck trying to figure out what just happened. All the thoughts and feelings swirled, and I couldn’t really nail one down and hold onto it long enough to analyze. The pain was still very much real, but NOTHING in comparison to what it just was, and in its place was my daughter. The reality of that is STILL computing as I write this.
A home birth differs from a hospital in many ways… not just the fact that there is no option for drugs. The after birth is a MUCH slower process. Rather than a team of nurses sweeping through and attending to mom and baby separately in a whirlwind of protocol driven activity intending to get you moving out of Labor and Delivery and into a waiting recovery room, the mid-wives wait on body/baby/mom to indicate their next steps. They followed their own protocol of sorts, but it was peaceful, and it seemed to all occur outside of me, Kevin and the baby. I do remember specifically asking Kevin, and then confirming with the mid-wife that someone had checked and confirmed it was a girl :), just had to be sure. She was a little ‘dusky’, was the term they used, so they gave her a hit of oxygen to pink her up. We nursed. They attended to the clean up process, and the entire time I never moved and neither did baby girl.
I threw Kevin for a loop when they asked for the name. We had finally agreed on Selah Dawn before the birth, but in that moment, as my mind swirled and I wasn’t truly sure if I had SEEN her, despite having been looking at her for more than the last hour, I paused. I stared at her for a long moment, analyzing the details of her face, trying to make sure this name, that would carry her through life, would fit. It would. Selah (pronouced: Say-luh) Dawn, which translates to ‘pause and reflect (Selah) before first light (Dawn)’ was the perfect way to capture all that had just occurred…. pausing to reflect on God’s glory.
Next they moved to gathering the ‘stats’ of her birth…. Height: 20″
Weight: 8lbs even
After that we got down to the business of letting the world know. While I still don’t miss Facebook, it definitely WOULD have been handy in that moment, rather than having to parse together no less than 20 texts, many of them group texts to reach more people. I know there are still MANY we missed, and I’m hoping given the fact my brain was mush in those moments, you can forgive me :). We called Courtney to have her bring the boys back home to meet their baby sister, and enjoyed the last few minutes of peace before their arrival.
The last 36 hours have been a blur of wonder and awe…. much of it spent doing what I do after each of my babies have been born…. staring at them, trying to figure out how I got this lucky, and wondering what the adventure of their life will hold. We are doing great, and SO thankful for the outpouring of love and support that surround us. My mom’s plane lands in an hour, the boys are love struck puppies following her every movement, even AJ has already learned to pronounce her name and loves giving her kisses. However, I am trying to ensure he’s getting a little extra love and attention as he tries to make sense of why he has to be gentle around mom now, and why I can’t pick him up like he’s used to. My mom will be here for a week then Kevin’s mom arrives for a week, and after that Kevin will take his week of paternity leave to ensure I’ve got adequate help, and shortly after that we’ll bring her back to Michigan to introduce her to our extended families. It’s going to be an INCREDIBLE summer, and I will do my very best to make sure I continue posting pictures here of all our adventures, and what its actually like adjusting to life with a daughter and FOUR kids?!?
If you made it all the way to the end…. way to go 🙂 Kevin glanced over while I was typing at one point and commented ‘you’re really including everything, huh?’….. This post was more for me than anyone else…. I know the haze will set in on this birth too, and eventually dull the memory of something so incredible…. and I wanted to capture it as closely as I could remember it…. to hold onto the experience of seeing God’s glory… hopefully you got to catch a glimpse of it through the details as well.