Lent Day 10
Today we celebrated Harper’s first birthday. I made a small cake, which we shared as a family and Miss Harper has a few gifts to open. Sunday we will be having a bigger party with family and friends. The topic of today’s reflection is ‘a mercy given and a mercy received’. I immediately began thinking about Harper’s entrance into this world, after a whopping 80 plus hours of prodromal labor (and yes, they can go longer). Is there an example of mercy in this story? Every mercy we experience is given to us by somebody, and sometimes it is up to us to receive it, or be open to it. This story is about just that, being willing to accept mercy.
I should start with the beginning. Before I even became pregnant with Harper my husband and I knew we wanted a homebirth for our second child. In New Hampshire these things are pretty easy, no one really tells you where and how to have your babies. My case was only slightly more complicated because I had a cesarean with Makayla. I met with a doctor, who gave me a 30% chance of having a regular homebirth and not a repeat cesarean. In my mind, I was going to have a homebirth. I did everything under the sun to ensure this was going to happen, but ultimately I knew the entire thing was up to God. People would ask:
‘are you scared?’
‘what happens if you need to the hospital?’.
These are valid questions, but my answer was the same: God is always going to be God, wherever I give birth, He will be there.
When my labor began we got pretty excited–this was it, the culmination of countless prayers and a panoply of natural childbirth research. We stayed at home for a while, and as things got more intense, we headed to see the midwife. However, my labor stopped when the sun comes up the next morning, and despite a long night of hard work, I made little to no progress. This went on for four days, I was ‘spinning my wheels and getting nowhere’ as my midwife put it. My labor would intensify at night, and peter out during the day. I tried a lot of things in an effort to get the labor to progress, including strapping on my snowshoes and taking off into the woods in a fit of righteous indignation–what was going on? I was supposed to be having a peaceful candlelight homebirth! It became evident, as the sun began to set on day four, that something was amiss. I needed to receive some mercy at this point, and as it was, I had a few options. Number one: the midwife offered some meds that would have knocked me out for quite a while. Number two: I could go to the hospital. It was up to me. I knew I needed to go to the hospital, I knew in my heart of hearts that this idyllic homebirth was not God’s plan for this birth, so I choose option two. I was in the operating room shortly after we arrived to the hospital–it was nothing rushed or frightening, but the doctor did reassure me that what he saw was not ‘normal’, and that coming to the hospital when I did was the right choice. I knew at that point that God’s mercy and protection had been upon me and this unborn child. Thankfully, I had been able to swallow my pride and receiving this mercy given.
We were blessed with a healthy baby girl, whom we named Harper May. In contrast to her stubborn debut, she has proven herself to be amenable and happy in all situations. She is such a blessing and we all love her in such an uncomplicated and joyful way.
People asked about my failed attempt at homebirth:
‘are you okay with how it turned out?’
‘are you disappointed?’
Did I have to reconcile some of my prideful emotions, yes of corse, but I was able to do it while praying with my husband in the hospital room. I was able to release all the expectations I have placed on myself and receive the compassion of surrender. And when all was said and done–God was still God, and I still had a baby, He is Good.
A mercy prayer