A good friend asked me to attend her home birth, so I have been impatiently texting her and calling randomly to ask useless questions, like "So, do you think you'll be at church tonight? Just wondering. No reason..."
You see, her due date was a week ago and she had her other 3 children early, so I have been on pins and needles waiting for the big day.
And as birth days are wont to do, it finally came.
It was the most amazing, painful, peaceful, difficult, beautiful, messy, miracle I have ever witnessed.
I have often thought that waiting to give birth must be much like waiting to die.
There is an element of the unknown; How long will it take? When will it finally be finished? Will I be able to manage the pain? Both birth and death end in a glorious reward, but there is turmoil involved in getting there. Blood and tears. Grief and joy. The Lord being near.
I have given birth to 6 of my 8 children without drugs, so I knew what was in store. Lots of waiting, some discomfort, more waiting, more intense discomfort, pain so intense you want to run away from it, and finally a sweet babe in arms.
But that was from my perspective, the mother giving birth.
This time I was able to be a part of the same process from a different place, the supportive friend.
For the first time, I saw, through the distant eyes of an observer, what my husband had done for me so many times; back rubs, wiping a sweaty brow, holding steady a shaky hand, looking with admiration at exhausted eyes, encouraging "Yes, you can do this!"
At one point I told the midwife, "I feel like I am intruding on such a private, intimate event, like I shouldn't really be here." She admitted that she often felt the same way, that she loved to see the sweet way husbands support their wives, whisper prayers together, cling desperately to each other.
It was such an awesome honor to have been included in the entire process. Watching how tenderly the husband cared for his hurting wife, hearing the prayers of the midwife, I thought, "Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place!"
I felt helpless, repeating the only words I could think to say, "You're doing great!" "You're almost there!", wishing I could take away the pain, but knowing there was only one way that baby was getting out.
The midwife assigned me to write down the time and whatever stats she told me to record. The end was intense. I found myself holding my breath as the baby's head was born into the bathtub full of water, but the midwife's soothing words calmed me as she encouraged the mother to finish pushing whenever she felt the urge.
The seconds slowly ticked by. The room was silent.
Finally, another contraction and the baby was born. We all applauded. The midwife sang, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow", and I recorded the time.
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.