Finding Grace and Trust in Childbirth

Just a few weeks away from our due date, my husband and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our second child. But along with that impatient expectation of finally meeting this baby, I’ve been finding that anxieties and fears can riddle my brain when I least expect it. Will this be another c-section? If not, what will the pain be like? What’s my true pain tolerance? Will complications arise again with this delivery? Will I go into labor on my own? Will my ideal birth plan happen? What if my water breaks in public?! I could go on and on with hundreds more thoughts, but I’ll spare you!

When my personal idol of choice – control – is challenged with so many questions like these but no answers, I can’t help but realize that I am often placing my trust in my circumstances and in my own ability to have a “successful” birth. I am prone to look inward at myself rather than turn my eyes to God alone as the sovereign Creator of not only myself, but this precious life.

But my false sense of control over the details deteriorates when I remember the sobering birth of our first child. A placental abruption, a lot of blood, and an emergency c-section were sharp reminders of not only my own mortality, but my son’s as well. Who am I to do anything but trust the God of the universe – the God who has complete control over each and every life that is given and taken away? My own ability is crushed as I look at the trust I had no choice but to place in another’s hands.

So, a few reminders that are helpful to me as I ask God to prepare my heart for the arrival of baby number two:

  1. My plans for labor and delivery may be at times a wise and helpful tool, but childbirth is an occasion for me to learn afresh that “the heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps,” (Proverbs 16:9). I must hold my plans and opinions on the “right way” loosely, because God is sovereign, and I am not. He is my refuge (Psalm 18), not my doctor, my experience, or my birth method.
  1. God knows what I need, and what my baby needs. A friend reminded me recently that God knows what is best for my body, and he knows what is best for the delivery of this baby. I don’t. I don’t know if it will be best to have a c-section or not. I don’t know what will be best for my physical recovery. I am not self-sufficient and I don’t have what it takes to protect this life, but God does.
  1. Childbirth, and its accompanying pain, point to my need of a Savior. Gloria Furman puts it like this: “Birth pains are a specific part of God’s judgment on Eve for her sin (Gen. 3:16), pointing to our need for a Savior. But painful and mortally dangerous pregnancies are not God’s final word, for he has promised a Rescuer (Gen. 3:15)! The pain we experience in childbearing is a call to repentance and faith, like a flashing neon sign pointing us to the cross, where Jesus suffered in our place to deliver us from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9).” Childbirth thus becomes a means of grace in my life.

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