“I wept seeing her cry out to God for it all to end, because I couldn’t do anything to make her pain stop in that moment.” Justin says, describing his experience watching his wife deliver.
Childbirth is an enigma of beauty, pain, and the miraculous. Though the natural processes are explainable, it’s difficult to remain incredulous about a supernatural creation after witnessing a child’s first breath. At first, only a tiny life embedded in the mother’s womb, and yet, enters the world a breathing babe.
Such moments don’t come without cost–the wonder of childbirth is coupled with excruciating pain. An agony that isn’t swift. Labor is hours long–in rare cases exceeding a day. Due to the intensity many women will opt for medicated births or epidural procedures. Perhaps rightly so, as they make labor somewhat manageable.
Thus, few women will willingly face the challenge of natural birth at home. Less than 2% to be exact. Kristen Young, a homemaker from Arkansas, planned to join this select few of mothers and take on her first at-home natural birth. This, is as “natural” as you can get.
Kristen arrived at the decision after having a rough experience with medical providers during her first pregnancy. She was told natural birth wasn’t an option due to her bone structure. Furthermore, she and Justin wanted to do more research on early childhood vaccines before giving them to their first son. They were pressured–and clinics wouldn’t see their first son if he wasn’t vaccinated. “Something just didn’t sit right with Kristen and the judgement she felt from most clinics in our area.” Justin said, recalling the experience.
After years of research and two more children, Kristen was warming up to an unmedicated birth at home with her family.
It wasn’t and easy thing to comes to terms with. Justin believed in his wife’s abilities–she’d done this before–“… afterwards, she’ll be reminded of how strong she is. All the anxiety she’s felt will dissipate as her body does what it’s created to do.” But Justin admits a natural birth at home wasn’t exactly settling. “I was incredibly anxious about the whole experience … There wasn’t the assurance I was used to that the baby’s heart was beating and everything was okay.”
Indeed, Kristen had her former youngest son natural, and had two other children with medication, but those births were in the hospital under the supervision of doctors–with medical intervention prepared if it was needed. Kristen was having her child in the own home with only a mid-wife and her family present. Some reports exist that at-home births have less complications, but God forbid, if a complication came up that called for a medical doctor and fully equipped hospital room that simply wouldn’t be a part of the equation for Kristen. The nearest hospital is close. Was a five minute drive close enough if something happened? After much thought, Kristen was up for it. Her husband eventually came around to the idea, too.
When it was time, they did all they could in preparation for the day of their coming child. Kristen prepared herself mentally, and went into the situation with confidence and trust. However, the day of her child’s coming, Kristen was not spared the pain of childbirth despite her courage.
“… when I started to feel a contraction coming on, there was extreme dread, not knowing how I was going to make it through the next one. The pain really is indescribable–but I liken it to your hip bones being broken in half.”
At the height of the pain Kristen begged God for it to stop. She needed the baby to pass through. “The final ascent to birth brought me to a point of utter surrender. … and I didn’t know how much longer I could push on.” she describes.
The pain didn’t cease. Christianity doesn’t teach suffering stops at man’s whim–rather, God says there will be suffering. The pains of childbirth are promised to humanity after the fall of Adam. “To the woman he said: I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing. With painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, but he will rule over you.” Says God to Eden after confronting them on their disobedience (Genesis 3:16 ESV). There are many such times this is described in the Bible. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the persecuted Philippians, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only to believe in him but also suffer for his sake…” (Philippians 1:29 ESV).
In the last hours of her child’s birth Kristen’s body reached its breaking point, and the strength she needed for the final push was absent. Here, in the sufferings, the grace of God is revealed.
Mercifully, it was God who provided Kristen with the strength to successfully deliver her child in the final moments. “I couldn’t do another contraction, and I couldn’t finish this. But, I kept having what I needed each time. God met me in my weakness.” Eventually the child passed, and Justin presented their child on her chest. A healthy Josie Kate was born at 10:25AM on December 19, 2021. Josie Kate’s birth is symbolic of child-like faith. No vital monitors, assurance of the future, or safety-net in the form of medical staff. Faith, alone. “It caused us both to have to trust that the Lord put our baby in Kristen’s womb and that He is good no matter the circumstances.” Justin said.
Kristen will join a long line of believers who experienced the suffering ordained by a sovereign creator. Christians, though in their suffering, delight in the grace and providence of God knowing He is present. Again, the great Apostle is clear, “nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39).
The birth of children is illustrative of the twin truths of suffering and providence. In the depths of pains and agony–a type that is explicitly given to humanity after the fall–a new image bearer is born in the world. In the depths of despair and exhaustion, God is good, and his mercy is undenied.
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