Our Birth Story- Lucy Colette Hartfiel
I have been quoted by noting that God is never late, and never early. Somehow it seems that I forget this in my own life-- and I forgot it every day for the last several weeks of my pregnancy. My two oldest daughters were both born two weeks early. It was convenient that they were as eager to arrive in the world as I was to get them the heck out of my body. Lucy on the other hand decided to take her time- and on her due date- she decided that she would also be neither late nor early.
95% of babies are born on a day other than their due date. With this stat in mind we agreed to close on a new house on Lucy's due date. For weeks prior, I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions and timing them daily hoping that Lucy was about to make her arrival. While I was anxious for her to be born, I was also nervous. I had natural births with both of my older girls and had both excruciating and beautiful birth stories with each. While preparing for my first child I remember the concept of labor being so abstract. I told myself often that this was where every single person came from in all of history, so surely I could survive it too. While pregnant with my second daughter, I remembered that I was an Amazon Woman who dominated her first birth experience. I was confident that I would surely dominate again! This time, my attitude was summed up in three words, "I don't wanna." I knew exactly what to expect, how it would feel and how painful it would be. It was as if I was standing on the edge of a pool filled with ice water and I knew just what it would feel like when I jumped in.
For this reason, as the weeks passed I began to dread labor more and more. However, I was so miserable in my gigantic body that I was torn between my fear of labor and my need to no longer feel like a mobile home. There were moments when I thought the ground was shaking with each step I took- like a T-Rex approaching in a Sci-Fi film. I was sure there were children hiding in closets nearby trembling as I approached.
On the morning of Sept. 29th, Mark got up to head to the closing of our new house. I hadn't planned on going and had even filled out a Power of Attorney so that I could sleep in. Mark was shocked when I got up and got dressed to join him. I felt completely normal until we were driving on the freeway on our way to the title company. At 7:30 a.m. I felt the first contraction and instantaneously knew it was distinctly different than the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing before. I timed them at 8 minutes a piece for several contractions without mentioning it- just to be sure. We got to the title company early, and in the Texas spirit decided on Whataburger breakfast to kill some time. In between the ordering window and the pick-up window, I looked at my husband and said, "So, I am having real contractions." His jaw dropped. I told him I would get out and walk to the end of the parking lot just to make sure they didn't stop. When he picked up my breakfast taco and then retrieved me, I was sure- "I am in labor."
We headed to the Title Company and walked into our scheduled 8 a.m. appointment. Mark greeted the secretary by saying, "Hi we are here for an 8 a.m. closing and my wife is having contractions so we need to make this quick." The lady we'd be signing with quickly entered the room and explained that she had dreamt the night before that she was rushing someone to the hospital in labor! Our good friend and realtor showed up and we explained the situation. In 25 min, we closed on our house while I was signing papers and timing contractions on an app under the table. When we finished, the women looked at me and asked how far apart my contractions were- "two minutes" I answered, "We have to go!"
Excitement overcame us during the short ride from the title company to the hospital. I was still nervous but I knew I was jumping in that pool and it was game time... like it or not. We got to the hospital around 8:35 to find that there wasn't a room for us... which we experienced with our middle daughter as well. After being moved into four different rooms, I knew it could be worse- at least I wouldn't be giving birth in a stable. Mark sent a text message to my mom who was home with out older daughters. They were conveniently watching a video on her phone when the text popped up and my oldest read that we were at the hospital! Seven year old Maria told three and a half year old Clare that Lucy was on her way. Clare didn't believe her!
Meanwhile, the pain was as bad as I remembered, maybe worse than I remembered. In the prior weeks I had read some articles in an attempt to pump myself up about my birth experience. The over-arching message that God spoke to me through these articles was that I wasn't in control. For many, epidurals are about managing or controlling pain- for others natural birth is about maintaining control themselves- yet the birth experience in and of itself is truly about allowing God to be in control. This is what life is about-- and it is the only way that great suffering can bring about life. Doesn't Jesus know this best of all? Suffering brings life- Resurrection- creation, re-creation. Love hurts, and in this moment I was able to say to this child, "Lucy, this is my body given up for you."
In the natural birth program we use they often refer to riding the "wave" of the contraction to it's peek and them coming down the other side. The image that I held so dearly through each contraction was that of the Apostles in the boat with Jesus during the storm. There was a storm raging, there was no doubt. Like the Apostles, I was scared and doubting... however, I wasn't alone. I knew Jesus was in the boat- and He was bigger than the storm. I knew He was there so confident in His abilities that He could rest. As each "wave" washed over me, I clung to Jesus and His peace and rest. I said His namen and I clenched His presence and I knew He was in control.
For several contractions I offered up Lucy to Jesus, asking that He would carry her through the storms in her life and cling to Him. I tried to be specific, offering one contraction for her purity, another for her surrender to His Will, another for her sanctity, safety, health etc. Each moment of suffering brought me closer to this:
All of a sudden in an instant it was over! Jesus spoke to the storm and better than the sun, I saw this face:
A new wave rushed over me- and it was gratitude. I was SO thankful for the suffering that could bring about such a miracle. This person who was inside of me seconds ago, was catapulting me toward Praising God in the next moment. This is my prayer for her and for her presence within our family forever. I hope that Lucy will always be catapulting into the Lord's goodness by our love and that many might experience His faithfulness through the witness of her life.
At 9 lbs and 20.5 in, Lucy made the biggest entrance into our family yet! Her sisters are head over heals and snuggling with her (or snuggle-buggling as the middle sister calls it) is definitely their happy place. Six days after Lucy's birthday we moved into a house big enough for a family of five!
New beginnings and new blessings abound. In the storms and in the sun-- Praise Him.