My husband David and I prayed about the birth of our first child everyday. One of our prayers was that labor would start early in the morning after a good night’s rest.
On November 13th I went to bed at 10:00pm and woke up at 11:00pm with contractions. That was my “good night’s rest”, one hour. When contractions started they didn’t stop. There is a type of psychological torture where the person is tied to a chair and water slowly drips onto his face. It’s tolerable at first but after 17 hours of water dripping on his face he starts to go crazy. That’s how I felt during labor. I could handle the contractions at first but after hours of them I started to feel like I was going crazy. It felt like my bones were breaking and I couldn’t get into any of the positions that I had practiced. It didn’t feel like it was ever going to end.
David and my doulas, Dani and Abby, all prayed for me throughout labor. I prayed desperately for relief and it just wasn’t coming. My prayers felt desperate and cold, rejected. I wanted to feel like the Spirit of God was there with me. I wanted that emotional experience as well as the physical relief. It didn’t come, at least not for a while. I was tired and scared and feeling hopeless like my body wasn’t making any progress at all.
About 15 hours in, my water broke. I was so relieved because it meant that my body was actually making progress. And the pain was significantly reduced. I could handle it. I could move around again. I felt like a new person. I was completely motivated to push him out. I don’t remember that last part of labor being too difficult at all.
After he was born the midwife had to put her hand into my uterus and feel around for pieces of the placenta (this is rare, my placenta grew against a fibroid so it looked like a piece was missing). It was terribly painful but still something I was able to handle. The Lord gave me strength to endure the first 15 hours of labor and then granted me relief for the final 2 hours.
Paul said to the Corinthians “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.” (1 Cor 3:1-2).
My labor was my first real taste of solid food. Many times as a baby Christian my prayers were answered. But my prayers were not answered during labor, not like I wanted. What I needed to do was to lean on the promises of God. I didn’t feel the Spirit of God with me so I should have leaned on His promise that His Spirit dwells in me. (1 Cor 3:16). I should have leaned on the promise that regardless of how things look and feel to me, God is good.
I am one of the people Paul was referring to when he said “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). My prayers for relief weren’t being answered and so I should have relied on God’s promise that my strength would come from Him.
I felt desperate, scared, and hopeless because I wasn’t leaning on His promises. My advice is when you’re doing your labor prep (trying labor positions, practicing breathing, packing your bag) include studying and memorizing God’s promises so you can lean on them during labor.
Many times during labor I said “I can’t do this, I’m too weak.” In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh. He said “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:8-10). Today I too gladly boast of my weaknesses so that God, who gives me strength, may be glorified.