Reading Tiffany’s latest blog had me reminiscing about the birth of my daughter and what a special time in my life that was. Tiff was there for that season so her blog is particularly close to my heart: not only did her birth stories inspire me to pursue mine, but she was one of the dear friends who gathered round me and saw realised one of the most treasured moments of my life: the birth of my Lucy Rose.
To give context, our first child, John, was born 2 years before: a gorgeous, big baby boy who ended up coming via a c-section after a long hard labor. I cried as the doctors told me we were headed to surgery - so relieved to know we would meet our boy soon, yet utterly surprised and disappointed that it was turning out this way.
In the years leading up to that I had dreamt and imagined the moment of birthing a child. The act of labor and birth felt embedded in my heart as something I connected with deeply and felt born to do. I wasn’t afraid of the experience and could only imagine it being extraordinary. Perhaps that simply sounds naive, but I actually believe it was a true vision of what we as women are created to do - to nurture, birth and bring to life children, dreams and much more.
The funny thing about dreams and desires is that they are unique and what one person longs for might mean little to another. But as I let my heart feel what it truly did, not what I felt it should or what others might, it still longed for the experience of a natural birth.
A month after my son was born I was in worship and distinctly heard in a voice in my heart ‘The redemption of this will be a huge part of your story’. Oh how right that has proved to be! I had no idea the full extent of what this phrase would mean. But it planted in my heart a knowing that for our next child I would pursue a natural birth with a firm hope that it would be victorious.
18 months later and I became pregnant with our daughter. I was delighted at her coming and filled with expectation from the promise I had heard. But for every dream there are obstacles to be overcome. Ours was the discovery that no hospital within 100 miles would allow the natural delivery of a baby following a c-section. We had never considered anything other than a hospital birth, but with a holy peace, at 33 weeks in we settled on having her at home with a team of midwives. Though it came with risks, it set our hearts alive in a way that confirmed it was our path.
At the time I was meeting weekly with a group of women who were fast becoming some of my closest friends. As I thought over the upcoming birth I felt drawn to share with them how deep a desire this was and invite them to support me in the process. One friend saw us acting as metaphorical midwives to one another, surrounding each other in significant moments as we brought to birth things we had carried deeply inside. This was my turn to be in the middle. A vulnerable privilege.
I wish I could put into words exactly what this was like. The group became an extraordinarily safe space to voice the deepest desires of our hearts. We never judged if they were too big or too small, too lofty or too insignificant. It was so much more than a support system: I had a deep knowing that there were ones who had taken the dreams of my heart into theirs. Flesh and bones began to form around what had once been hidden seeds, and they started to come to life.
The months leading up to the birth were filled with anticipation and nerves, not to mention the tensions of buying and moving into a new house just days before our girl was due to arrive. And yet a deep sense of being prepared and an unshakeable faith for the moment that I could only wait for.
5 days overdue, Lucy was born at home in a birthing pool by a roaring fire, surrounded by 2 midwives, a doula and my husband. And my girls on the end of a text message thread. It was intense, painful and required more of me than perhaps anything I had done before. Yet magical, exhilarating and redemptive beyond words. I remember vividly those sweet tears of relief as I held her and wept, saying over and over ‘I did it’. In reality, not I alone, but the collection of ones who I couldn’t have done it without.
Since then many of the girls in our group have moved far and wide to follow their emerging dreams. As we met together for the last time before they moved away, I was overcome by emotion as I remembered the extraordinary things that had happened in each one of us over the previous two years. And ringing around my heart was a resounding invitation to ‘Do it again’. It is painful to invest so deeply in one another only to release each other and say goodbye. And yet what was gained in baring our souls to each other has quite honestly changed each one of our lives.
So I no longer consider myself to be a lucky one, who happened upon a great group for a great time. I see an ever-laid invitation to find those who I can run alongside. Whatever the cost, I pray that I will do it again: find ones around me who I allow to see me at my core, and together find that sacred substance that brings to birth our most treasured hopes.