I kind of hated it when she would say stuff like that to me. Because what she said was true, and truth can be uncomfortable, even annoying, since sometimes I'm a toddler and I don't like to do what I know I'm supposed to do. Read: get better - grow up - get over myself.
Two weeks before Blaise was born, her words came back to me. They were a spiritual life preserver thrown out from my memory as, sadly, I had forgotten all about them.
Her wisdom really did rescue me from drowning in the waves of worry, doubt, and despair that kept pulling me under into the depths of self pity. I just couldn't get over the fact that our seventh son had decided follow in the stubborn footsteps of brothers #2, #4 and #6, by hunkering down for a long twelve days past his due date.
Practicing real, sincere, prayerful gratitude isn't always an easy thing to offer up, especially when you've decided that you simply cannot survive being pregnant for one more single solitary day.
If you've ever been in my flip flops, you understand what I'm sayin' here. At 40+ weeks your whole body aches. You haven't seen your ankles for a good three weeks. And the only thing thing that fits is your husband's bath robe - which you've convinced yourself, with the right pair of
But, given the fact that my chocolate stash, and all my other earthly comfort-seeking strategies for distraction had failed to keep my inner tantrum sector from screaming, When in the hell am I going to have this baby??!, I gave in to the one thing that I should have been choosing all along: GRATITUDE.
(See how it says attitude right there in that word? Probably not a coincidence, huh.)
Still determined to help this baby get his birthing rear in gear, I gathered up my gratitude and, as I contemplated God's generosity, proceeded to mow the lawn, weed the garden, and walk the curbs around neighborhood until I couldn't walk any more.
Unfortunately, all that determination made me a wee bit tired. It just so happens that the only prayer I had prayed for myself over the last two months of pregnancy was that the Lord would allow me to go to the hospital feeling rested, and that circumstances surrounding the birth would be relatively uneventful (unlike the last time). Because I'm not able to handle an epidural, I need every ounce of energy and strength possible to get through the labor and delivery.
But, wouldn't you know, the night of all that curb-walking, around 11 p.m., just as everyone was sleeping soundly and it was finally my turn to crawl into bed, ba-boom. Contractions.
At first I wasn't too worried because I had been having contractions at night for about three weeks. And, since those were all uneventful, I figured this was just a repeat situation. But, after about three hours of activity, things really started to crank up.
Wanting to labor at home as long as I could so that Steve could sleep, I settled in to the recliner and tried to rest. Around 4 a.m. it was time to wake Daddy up. Exhausted, yet excited, I grabbed the coffee pot and, in desperation, chugged down the cold bitter cup that was leftover from breakfast and waddled out the door into the dark.
Once we got to the hospital, my contractions began to slow down. I wasn't about to pop into the maternity ward only to have them tell me I wasn't in "real labor." So, for nearly an hour, Steve and I walked a loop around the admissions floor until my contractions were two minutes apart.
After checking in, I was happy to hear from the experts that not only was I really in labor (insert eye-roll), but also dilated to a SIX (insert rock star jump).
Like the six births before this one, the details of the labor and delivery quickly faded as the miracle of life passed from my womb to my arms.
But there are two very poignant moments during the labor that I don't think I'll ever forget....
About an hour before Blaise was born, I had really hit a wall. It took every last bit of energy I could muster to keep my emotions and bay and to stay focused. As I stood hunched over the bed, leaning on the rail for support, I looked up at Steve seeking his encouragement. In our silence, the exchange of glances spoke a thousand words. His eyes told me that he knew just how fragile I felt.
Leaving my side for just a moment, he went in search of my journal, the one that I had recorded a little over one hundred prayer requests from my readers, friends, and family. Returning to my side, he opened the book and laid it between my hands. As I hung my head over the scripted pages, one by one I read, again, the needs that had been entrusted to me weeks ago. As I prayed, every weakness and every pain I was feeling was completely taken up into those intentions.
As I prayed I remember seeing very clearly in my mind the image of the crucified Christ. Up until that time, I had only considered that it was our sins alone that Jesus bore upon the cross. But, it was there that He also took ahold of our every pain and suffering as well. He knew, with deep love and tender compassion, every ounce of pain I would endure to bring a new life into His world, just as He knew every measure of suffering being borne by the hearts of each and every name I had written on the pages of my journal.
In that space in time there was a beautiful unity between us all - Christ, myself, and those whom I was praying for. I cannot describe the peace and joy that flooded my soul at that moment.
I was once asked, since we have had multiples, if the experience of giving birth ever ceases to be amazing . The answer is a resounding, no. It's a truly humbling, yet thrilling experience each and every time. Steve and I are always a total mess at the moment of the birth. We hug and kiss and bawl over our new child, completely unaware of anyone else in the room.
It's a glorious time!
One by one they held him...(Not pictured, Ninja Joey, who was only allowed to admire from afar.)
George, the first to request the honor of holding his new brother.
Andrew, Mr. Tender.
Henry, so proud to finally be big enough to hold a baby on his own.
Ben, the oldest holding the youngest. I can't even type that without getting teary-eyed.
Charlie, 100% in love.
In the end, it was the boys who chose Blaise. They campaigned hard for his name, and came out victorious - we just couldn't say no.
Blaise has no idea just how incredible the father who holds him truly is.
Blaise is my parents' seventeenth grandchild.
My dad always tells his children that he has more love than grandkids. He's right.
Oh, my darling Blaise!
Thank you for reminding me that patience is the fruit of gratitude.
Your sweet face will forever be a reminder of that truth!