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God’s Perfect Plan in My Imperfect Birth Story

Written By Lisa Jong, China, originally in Simplified Chinese

I never imagined that I would have to undergo a cesarean section when I was pregnant with my first child.

At the time, I was young and healthy. I could easily hike 10km up the mountains, and clock at least 10,000 steps a day. So I ignored any information about C-sections, and did not bother to take any precautions. To me, C-sections were to be undertaken only as a last resort. My baby bag consisted only of the things I would need in case of a natural childbirth. Besides, I thought I had an ace up my sleeve: I knew that God loved me, and was certain He would grant me a natural childbirth.

I was also confident that my baby would be born full-term, i.e. at 37 weeks, and not premature. After all, my obstetrician said she was “very satisfied” with my condition and my baby’s.

On the third day of my baby’s 36th week, I walked out of my obstetrician’s office with a spring in my step. My baby weighed just a little above average. Her head was pointing downwards and her umbilical cord was not entangled. Everything looked perfect.

That day, I had lunch with my husband. He bought me a drink and then told me to buy myself a nice outfit as he was planning to take me to a special restaurant the following day for a “final celebration” before the baby’s arrival. Happily, I went shopping alone, preoccupied with thoughts about where I should eat and how to spend my evening afterward. Little did I know that my life was going to change that very evening.

When My Water Broke

After picking out my new outfit, I felt a little tired and decided to get some Korean food. Unfortunately, there were no seats at the nearest restaurant, as it was packed. Just when I was debating whether to go home for dinner, I spotted another Korean restaurant. I immediately dashed over. Taking my seat, I realized that this restaurant was run by Christians. A banner which read “Lord, I come before you” hung on the wall and Christian praise music played in the background.

The standard of the food, however, was disappointing; it was nowhere near what I was expecting. Gulping down my third glass of water, I texted my friends to complain about the poor “testimony” these Christian owners were giving by serving poor Korean food. In the middle of my messages, I sneezed, three times in a row. That’s when I felt a popping sensation—my water bag had broken.

I had considered numerous scenarios while planning for my baby’s birth, but none of them involved my water breaking while I was alone in a restaurant. It was so unexpected; I couldn’t move and was at a loss. I called the hospital, and was told to go to the bathroom and check whether the water had broken or if I was bleeding.

Where was the bathroom? And how did amniotic fluid look like? I had no idea. I was then told to catch a cab to the hospital. But I was on the third floor of a highly confusing mall, and the thought of having to find my way through the labyrinth to the ground floor to hail a taxi made me light-headed.

God’s Perfect Arrangement

Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was in a restaurant owned by fellow Christians. So I plucked up the courage to ask the staff for help and to lend me a towel and a phone. Then I went one step further to ask if one of the waitresses could accompany me to the hospital. Thankfully, they were more than willing to help.

It was a bad time to hail a cab; it was rush hour and traffic jams were aplenty. Also, when we got downstairs, I realized that my location was not ideal for catching a taxi. Just as I reached the sidewalk, however, one of the waiters successfully managed to hail a cab for me.

Eventually, we made it to the hospital without any delay—despite the fact that the driver had never been to the hospital before. My husband reached seconds after I arrived. But the biggest relief to me was that my obstetrician just so happened to be on duty that afternoon.

My Fear of Pain

By then, the panic I felt about my water breaking was mixed with feelings of excitement. Finally, I was going to give birth! I even looked forward to the contractions I had heard so much about. But no contractions came. The doctor, after inspection, said that there was no sign of dilation in my cervix. I was presented two options: induced labor or C-section. Because the concept of C-section was so foreign to me, I instantly picked induced labor.

At this point, the leader of my small group arrived and began praying for me and encouraging me. Being terrified of pain, just being hooked up to the IV machine had me howling with pain. The anesthesiologist then explained to me how painful induced labor—and the process of getting an epidural—could be. When I heard that the epidural needle would hurt even more than the IV injection, I shuddered.

With much encouragement from the doctor and anesthesiologist, I decided to choose the less painful route—C-section with general anesthesia. The surgery went very smoothly, and within half an hour, my baby was born. When I saw my baby for the first time, my heart swelled with thankfulness.

Later, my doctor told me that the delivery had been far from smooth. Had I chosen induced labor, they said, I would still have ended up getting an emergency C-section because his scans had shown that my baby’s umbilical cord had been wrapped around her neck. I was also told that the doctor had nearly lost me as well, as complications had arisen while I was being anesthetized.

Thankfully, my anesthesiologist had the necessary equipment on hand to deal with my condition, which was a rare one. Mine was the most difficult case he had encountered in over 30 years as an anesthesiologist, he told me. Under normal circumstances, I would not have chosen to give birth at that hospital as it was very far from my home. But the fact that I was there was no mere coincidence. The anesthesiologist said that other hospitals might not have heard of my condition and known how to respond.

So that is the story of how everything that could have possibly gone wrong during my delivery did. My water broke while I was out alone, my baby was born premature and her umbilical cord had been wrapped around her neck, and I almost lost my life while being anesthetized. And yet, by God’s protection and grace, I had a perfect delivery. He led me to Christians willing to take me to hospital, kept me calm during the journey, and led me to choose to have a C-section, which turned out to the safest option. Every detail of my delivery is a testament of God’s overflowing love.

It was through my problematic delivery process, that I was able to truly experience God’s love and protection, learn to rely on Him, and be grateful.

I can’t be more thankful for how things had panned out. I am immensely thankful and fulfilled.

 

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:8-10)

“Rejoice always . . . give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18-19)

If Not for Him, Pain Would Have Overcome Me

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.

Again.

“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

ODB: Christmas Sacrifice

December 26, 2015 

READ: Galatians 4:1-7 

When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son.

Galatians 4:4

 

O. Henry’s classic tale “The Gift of the Magi” tells of Jim and Della, a young married couple who are struggling financially. As Christmas approaches they want to give special gifts to each other, but their lack of money drives them to drastic measures. Jim’s prized possession is a gold watch, while Della’s is her long, beautiful hair. So Jim sells his watch in order to buy combs for Della’s hair, while Della sells her hair to buy a chain for Jim’s watch.

The story has deservedly become beloved, for it reminds us that sacrifice is at the heart of true love, and sacrifice is love’s truest measure. This idea is particularly appropriate for Christmas, because sacrifice is the heartbeat of the story of the birth of Christ. Jesus Christ was born to die, and He was born to die for us. That is why the angel told Joseph, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Long before Christ’s birth, it had been determined that He would come to rescue us from our fallenness—which means that we can never fully appreciate the manger unless we see it in the shadow of the cross. Christmas is completely about Christ’s love, seen most clearly in His sacrifice for us.

— Bill Crowder

In what ways would you like to say thanks to Jesus for what He has done?  



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ODB: A Fragile Gift

December 25, 2015 

READ: Luke 2:1-7 

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

 

When we give a fragile gift, we make sure it is marked on the box that contains it. The word fragile is written with big letters because we don’t want anyone to damage what is inside.

God’s gift to us came in the most fragile package: a baby. Sometimes we imagine Christmas day as a beautiful scene on a postcard, but any mother can tell you it wasn’t so. Mary was tired, probably insecure. It was her first child, and He was born in the most unsanitary conditions. She “wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7 nkjv).

A baby needs constant care. Babies cry, eat, sleep, and depend on their caregivers. They cannot make decisions. In Mary’s day, infant mortality was high, and mothers often died in childbirth.

Why did God choose such a fragile way to send His Son to earth? Because Jesus had to be like us in order to save us. God’s greatest gift came in the fragile body of a baby, but God took the risk because He loves us. Let us be thankful today for such a gift!

— Keila Ochoa

Dear Lord, the Strong and Mighty One, I thank You for becoming small and fragile on that day long ago. It amazes me that You did that for me and the rest of Your world.


May you know the peace of Christmas every day of the year.