I was up all night last night. And when I say "all" night, I do mean ALL night.
(I haven't pulled an all nighter like that one since college. Me and my friend A. decided to toilet paper our entire girl's dorm while staying up all night studying for finals. When everyone walked out the next morning it looked like a glorious winter wonderland! Except not. We also received work detail for using the school's toilet paper! Ha! Oh, the joys of attending a small Baptist college...::sigh::)
I had the privilege of photographing another birth last night. And just so you know, in my book it is always a privilege to photograph life. It is an absolute gift to be able to witness and capture a little one's first breath in this world. To be able to share in and photograph one of life's greatest joys as husband and wife is truly an amazing experience.
I was called to the birth center at 9:30 last night. Little did I know when I arrived at 10:30 pm that a baby wouldn't be born until 6:09 the this
morning and I wouldn't be heading home for almost 12 hours. It was a long night to say the least. Definitely different from photographing my first birth which was 4 1/2 hours from the time I arrived until the time I left.
As usual, Charlotte was an awesome baby! She slept through the whole thing, waking up only once to nurse around 4 am and then sleeping until 7 am ~ after all the excitement was over!
It was a hard birth to witness in some regards. Mama got stuck between 6 and 7 cm for many hours. She was exhausted from having been laboring for 24 hours and she was a first time mama to boot. Her energy and strength were waning in the wee hours of the morning and it was hard, at times, to listen to her cry out, "how much longer?". I could empathize. Those last hours feel like days and the option to just "go to the hospital" starts looking better and better all the time. This is where good coaching and encouragement from husbands and midwives is essential. And if I had to make an educated estimate, I would guess about 97% of the time ~ mama's make it to the end.
But as I watched, sometimes painfully, and listened to this mama's pleas last night and this morning, I was reminded of something. A stark realization that Monk and I had both come upon after the birth of Hope. It was a realization that would change both of us and humble us to our knees. Last night I was quickly taken back to that moment at the birth center when Monk and I, through tears, had both discovered the same thing.
We had just experienced Genesis 3:16
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Because of Man's sin, there were going to be certain, lasting repercussions. A curse for the serpent, "the dust you shall eat" the rest of his days, a curse upon the ground for Adam that he would have to work by the sweat of his brow, etc... And pain in childbirth was what was brought upon woman.
Before Hope was born I had experienced four previous births, all medicated in some form (Madison not so much, but not ALL natural either) at the hospital. I had never really experienced that "pain in childbearing" because I was always numb from the waist down. For me, birth in the hospital was less of a process and more of a procedure. I didn't get Genesis 3:16. I read it, but I didn't get it.
After Hope, I got it. But the great part is that the Bible doesn't stop there. It doesn't just say woman will have pain in childbirth and that's it. That's where John 16:21 comes in. It reads:
When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. ESV
And there, my friends, is the miracle. We forget. We suffer through the birthing process with the pain that is at times, unbearable and yet God, in His goodness and grace, gives us a reward. When we hold that sweet babe, we forget. And not only do we forget, we get to have joy. Great joy!
This morning at 6:09 am I saw that. I saw a woman, who at just moments before her baby was born, was experiencing that pain in childbirth. A long, hard labor that at times she didn't think she could endure. And then, the minute that baby girl was finally born and she was given to her mama, the pained expression disappeared from her face and was replaced with a huge smile.
And then her mama said, "Hi, baby girl. Momma loves you so much".
I can't even begin to describe what it's like to see that played out. It's one thing to experience it yourself, but it's a completely different thing to watch someone else experience it. To see those verses come to life. To watch God's faithfulness played out right before your very eyes.
He is faithful, my friends. Yes, He is.
Welcome Baby Liza. May you one day know what your momma went through just to tell you that she loves you.