A friend’s recent labour story provoked me to think back on my own and, in doing so, I realised something. I had missed something crucial in the battle.
I spent the period between Jan 2020 and Feb 2021 devoted to God, pursuing God, but doing it feeling very much like Job. I asked daily why God wasn’t helping me. I asked Him why He had abandoned me. I asked Him why He had to do all of this to me at once, all of this refining and purifying, all of this testing.
For some context, January 2020 saw me give birth to my daughter. My dad was in the midst of brutal treatment for incurable blood cancer and we had just moved to Monmouthshire, leaving all of our friends and comforts behind in London.
On January 10th 2020, at around nine pm, my daughter arrived. She arrived after over 100 hours of labour, 29 of them active. Thanks to being hospitalised in a rather nightingale-esque hospital my active labour began with me not having slept, eaten properly, or drunk enough water for four days. I was exhausted. And then, they induced me.
You may have heard before that I firmly didn’t want a c-section and so that was the line I drew with God then and there as the midwife looked me in the eye and told me I would end up having a c-section. I ignored her and instead said to God; no c-section.
So I laboured, with gas and air, worship music (no epidural) and my amazing husband and mother with me for 29 hours before finally allowing a surgeon to assist in the end with an episiotomy and forceps. I demanded to be discharged the next day, stealing a syringe to feed my daughter colostrum if needed as she still hadn’t latched properly.
Then began 12 months of absolutely no sleep (she slept her first chunk of longer than 2 hours 13 months later) all the while navigating the swirl of my dad’s cancer, the swirl of challenging finances, the swirl of feeling friendless, the swirl of renovating a house.
I sobbed on my knees to God daily. I had painful revelation after painful revelation of how much of my old man I must have been keeping alive, for God to be letting so many hard things happen at once. It was a raw and refining time. Defying my human spirit and commanding my soul to find peace and joy, despite my emotions, became my daily challenge.
Then, last week as my friend talked about her labour I realised in a flash that I had missed God in the battle. I realised that I had been taking all the credit for my labour. I’d just assumed that I was stronger, or had more endurance, than other women but in fact, of course, God was with me. He was there strengthening me. Giving me supernatural pain relief and energy, determination and boldness to defy the medical team. God heard my plea for no c-section and He stood with me to make sure that was what happened. God was with me in the battle and He has been every day since.
He placed me in a beautiful house with my husband and family so on the toughest of days my mum was there to scoop me and my daughter up, make us delicious food and send me back to bed. He gave my dad the strength to carry on walking, every day of his treatment, so he could take my daughter for walks up the drive in the afternoon and give me and my husband a moment’s respite together. He timed our becoming parents so it lined up perfectly with our best friends over in Australia so we could cheer each other on and share war stories over Zoom. He was with us in the battle.
Once again I find I’ve had to relearn a simple, scriptural truth. We are not promised an easy, happy life – quite the opposite actually. But we are promised company and companionship in the battle. We really are safe under the shadow of His wings. He really does send His angels to strengthen us. His timing really is perfect and He really does hear our heart cry in the midst of our great pain.
He is with us friends. Don’t let the heat of the battle trick you into thinking He’s not.