February 6th, 2008 was a Wednesday. Not just any Wednesday: Ash Wednesday. Did you know that Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent? And that the focus of Ash Wednesday is repentance? Well, repentance has a lot to do with what happened around here on February 6th 2008.
Over the last 9 years and 6 pregnancies I've grown accustomed to midwifery care and homebirths, no unnecessary interventions or tests, no pain medication, no condescending tones or questionning looks. This 7th pregnancy began much the same.
Then came week 30. I measured as if it were week 33. I laughed "Well I did just spend a few days at my mom's house and boy can she cook!" The midwives didn't laugh. They gave me until the next visit. However at week 32 I was measuring as if it were week 37 and so began the most frustrating and faith testing few weeks for me. And to let you know a bit of the end before we get there, I was very much failing the testing of my faith. More on that soon.
The midwives are required to send "large measuring women" to consult with an OB. This in itself made me cry. I don't want an OB. But then foolish me to ask, "What is wrong with measuring big? Could it just be the way I am carrying? (and the fact that I'm 30 pounds over weight?)"...Maybe....or it could be too much amniotic fluid, or too large of a baby, or gestational diabetes, or some kind of genetic disorder.....
more crying on my part. This is getting hard. I don't do hard. I only do easy. I'm lazy and phlegmatic and this feels like too much.
So to make this long story slightly shorter, I submit to all kinds of tests that I would normally, politely, decline. All tests show normal results. I do not have too much fluid. I do not have diabetes. My baby does not have some malformation or genetic disorder. He/She may be large....Maybe quite large. And as the OB likes to remind me multiple times each visit "You are Grand Multiparas" (which by the way just means I've had more than 4 children). This combined with the "large baby" concern is leading him to believe that if I have a homebirth I am bound to hemmorage and bleed out on my bedroom floor. Therefore he decides for me that I must have a hospital birth governed by an OB, not a midwife although he will allow them to come for moral support, with blood transfusion ready, IV in....waiting for me to bleed to death.
Ah yes. Now there is a relaxing thought as I approach my last few weeks of pregnancy. So like I said, my faith was being tested. My ability to trust in the Lord's Loving Sovereignty was being tested and I was failing miserably. That's where I was at when I wrote earlier. I just felt like everything was out of my control (and it was) and that somehow even the OB had taken things out of God's control. Maybe God meant this to go easy like the other 6 but the Dr. had thwarted His plans.
I kept hearing "Rest....rest.....rest....be still and Know that I am God" and I would say "okay...You are God" and then I'd start freaking out again.
Wow, this shorter version of the long story is still quite long. Sorry about that.
So fast forward to Monday Feb. 4. Remember? I went to hospital thinking I was in labour? After that I was definitely discouraged. Now I was second guessing even my ability to know if I was in labour or not.
Tuesday I spent grumping. And making lasagna and soup for my freezer should this baby ever decide to come.
And then came Wednesday. I told my husband to go to work. You know what they say about a watched pot.....it never goes into labour...or something like that. That's when I noticed that along with these really random, sporadic, inconsistent, yet pretty strong contractions, that it was Ash Wednesday. Of course the kids ask what that means and I have to confess I really don't know except that the Catholic school makes the kids put ashes on their heads in the shape of the cross....I think.
Thanks to Google I see that it is all about repentance, and that Psalm 51 is the reading of choice at most churches. I am cut to the quick and find myself in tears again. But now they aren't angry, fearful tears, they are tears now of repentance and sorrow for my lack of faith and horrible witness both to the midwives and my own children. I spend some time getting right with the Lord and asking Him to forgive me for not believing that He would, and could, do as He wills no matter who is in charge of my file. And for thinking He wasn't loving me by doing something different than what I wanted.
I finally call the midwives and am overjoyed to find that my favourite midwife is back from vacation (a day early by my count) and ask her what she thinks I should do. The contractions have been coming all day, but never in a rhythm that I could call consistent (every 13 minutes, then every 8, then every 4, then every 17....not helpful). She says I don't sound "urgent" and that she'll check me on her way home. I do.not. want to go to hospital early again just to be sent home.
5pm comes and the midwife pops in. I say hi come on in. She checks me. She says "You are 5cm. We need to go now if we are going to go". I say "Sure, my bag is packed, let me call the sitter"....She stops me and says "I'm not sure we have time to get there. Have you seen the weather?" And for the first time I notice that in the last 30 minutes we have been caught in a very bad snow storm....icy roads, poor to no visibility and every thing. Oh. Okay.
But I always take 7 hours or so from this point right? Not this time, she says. She calls Labour and Delivery at the hospital to tell them we are coming while I call my mom and dad to come, and the friend across the street to come in the meantime (my folks live almost an hour away and in this weather?....well the lady across the street would cover the 'inbetween' time.) When I come upstairs to tell the midwife that we are all set, she shakes her head and says "They told us not to come the roads are so bad. They agree that a home birth is safer than a 'on the side of the road in the back seat during a snow storm" birth."
I have to smile. Really? Since when do hospitals say "don't come"? So we page the OB to let him know what is going on and to 'get his permission' (I'm not sure if that's the right term but I hope you get my point). After going over all his concerns with the midwife (no antibiotics on hand, no blood, does she know how to stop me from hemmoraging.....whatever) he gives his okay and asks that we page him again to let him know when baby comes that all is okay.
Well, less than 4 hours later little Zachary arrived, easily, beautifully, quickly, nearly painlessly (I'm not even kidding) healthfully, hungrily, handsomely, peeingly, wonderfully......
And I cried again. Usually I laugh when I hold the baby for the first time. This time I cried. Still ashamed at how I had treated the Lord for the last 6 weeks. Sad for how I had to learn the lesson this way rather than trusting him the whole time. I cried with gratitude and humility and sorrow for my sin and relief and awe at His forgiveness. Shocked that we got 'everything we wanted'. The midwives say "Smart baby. He knew he didn't want to be born in a hospital. He waited for the storm." I thought "Merciful gracious Lord to give us this good gift even after I'd been such a faithless pill."
Zachary means "the Lord remembers"..... He remembers His plans, His purposes, His ways. He remembers my desires, my frailties, my weaknesses, my character. He remembers what is best for me and what will glorify Him.
If only I will learn to remember those things too.
He doesn't always work things out just as we want, and that is not what I gleaned from this experience. I learned (again) to surrender to Him, to watch for how He is working, to trust that He is always on His throne, never sleeping, never caught off guard, always proactive never reactive, always doing what He wants......
This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father's world: why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!
And now you know the rest of the story.