A little over a year ago, my husband and I found out that I was pregnant. We were naturally overjoyed, but also a little terrified of the actual birth process.
Giving birth is a painful, messy, and dangerous process. All my life, I’ve taken care to acquire no injury worse than a scraped knee, so I really had no idea what my pain tolerance was. And frankly, I did not look forward to finding out.
I kept telling myself that no matter how bad it got, the pain was finite. I did not know how long I would be in labor, which is the most painful part. In some cases, it could last up to a few days. But I knew that one way or another, it would come to an end. And that thought really helped.
Such comforting thoughts, however, were surprisingly unhelpful once labor started. The pain was all-consuming, and late one December evening, it started coming like waves. Each wave of pain increased in intensity, growing and growing until the pain peaked and subsided. Then, for short moments, I’d feel almost normal before the next wave of pain started building. During most of labor, there was little I could do but ride each wave as best as I could.
As I lay on the hospital bed writhing fruitlessly in search of a more comfortable position, the doctors finally gave the command to “push.” Finally, I could do something. As the pain peaked, I pushed with all my might, only to collapse panting as the pain faded.
Again, the pain rolled over me. I pushed. I collapsed.
“We’re almost there!” I heard the doctors tell me. “We can see the baby’s head. This is it! Push!”
Once more, I pushed with all my might, but still, the baby did not come. Each time they told me, “this is it,” I believed them less. I was growing more exhausted and discouraged. I didn’t know if I could keep pushing. It didn’t seem to be resulting in anything. There was so much pain, and I was so tired. How could I go on?
At this point, my husband leaned in to my ear and whispered, “God is strong.”
God is strong. God is victorious. God has already fought and won my battles for me.
Again, the pain grew, and I was told to push. I was near the end of my own strength, but like my husband reminded me, I was doing this on God’s strength. Though I, Christine, was drained, God sure wasn’t getting tired or discouraged anytime soon. By His strength, I pushed as the pain crested.
Still nothing. Collapse.
Once more. God’s strength. Push. Push. I could feel him. I could feel my baby slither out to greet the world.
Was it done? Can I collapse now?
I fell back onto the bed, exhausted. I couldn’t move, though I wanted to get up and see the baby. I could not describe how happy I felt. I was done. I didn’t need to push any more. The baby was born.
Suddenly I heard the baby cry—a loud, angry wail that filled my heart with joy. Before me was a fully formed, beautiful little human being whom God had lovingly created. And God had let me be a part of it. God had used my pain and sustained me through the worst of it so that I could be a part of His glorious work.
Giving birth was the most painful and exhausting thing I have ever experienced in my life. I was almost overcome by it all, until my husband turned my focus back to God. I was weak, but God is strong. Once God had my attention again, He sustained me and gave me more than what I needed.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”—Isaiah 41:10