Labor Pains

This past Sunday’s second reading really resonated with me, since I can recall with clarity the labor pains I went through 3 weeks ago.

St. Paul writes in Romans: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. . . We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now. . .
we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”

On June 26th I woke up with contractions. Since my other two kids needed pitocin to induce contractions, I was not sure how to handle these on my own. The weren’t close together, but they were strong and so I headed to the hospital. When I was 6cm dilated later that day, my water broke during a strong contraction and I was ready for an epidural. You guys, even with a good working epidural, pushing was really hard.

My husband swears I only pushed for maybe 20 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. There was lots of groaning and “I can’t do this anymore” talk. But my body isn’t made to be pregnant forever, and I’m told after Luke’s head came out, next popped out his hand and he did a little wave like he was saying, “hello world. I’m here.”

There was groaning as I waited for my son to be born because I knew that there was something better coming than just my labor pains. I had to get through the suffering to be able to hold my new baby boy.

Just like we aren’t pregnant forever, so we aren’t on this earth forever. The redemption of our bodies, our birth into new life, is what we were made more. What felt like an eternity of pushing was really only 20 minutes. Our suffering on this earth can not last forever. We were made for more, and the suffering will be transformed into glory before we know it.

What sticks out to me during that time of pushing was all the encouragement from my husband, the nurse, and the doctor. “You are doing great!” “You’re almost there!” “You can do it!” That helped me make it through. We can call on the intercession of family, friends, and especially the saints to help get us through our current sufferings. The saints have all been there before us and they are cheering us on to the finish line, the end of labor pains, the crown of glory in eternal life.

"Hello, world!"

“Hello, world!”

Nursing…and The Cross

My daughter Lily is 10 months old and it has been a hard 10 months. (see: letter to women) When she was 3 weeks old, she had a small procedure done to cut the skin between her top lip and gum. The thick band of skin was making it impossible for her to suck properly, and in those agonizing weeks before the procedure she had already tore away my skin, caused lots of bleeding and incredible pain.

It would take me about 4 more months to fully heal from the bad nursing and a horrible cash of thrush.  In those 4 months the pain was so great that I couldn’t even hold my baby to my chest. I could barely lie down or shower. The burning pain of the thrush felt like it was never going to go away. All my spare time was consumed with reading people’s thrush remedies online, trying them out, and disinfecting everything we touched. My kitchen counter looked like a pharmacy with all our treatments and pain medications.

There were many days when I would call my husband crying telling him I wanted to give up and die.  The pain and the postpartum depression were overwhelming me and I didn’t think we would even make it through end of the day.  Surviving those first few months of her life was the hardest thing I have ever endured.

As I was nursing my daughter to sleep a few weeks ago, I was looking at her sleeping so peacefully in my arms.  In a moment of grace, I blurted out, “I would do it all over again.”  It surprised me. I had gone through the darkest part of my life after she was born, but I was claiming to do it again just so I could hold her; so she could experience life and have a chance to know and to love God.

ImageIt’s one of the most profound experiences of love I have ever had because now I could now more closely relate to Christ’s love on the cross and understand with new meaning the words, “This is my body, given up for you.”  I had shed blood; I had endured what felt like death, and this little bundle in my arms had been worth it.  I can’t say I still feel that way all the time, but it doesn’t take long to recall that moment of grace with clarity and renew my love for my daughter.

Dear mothers, as you know, love hurts and love requires suffering: suffering that is united to Christ on the Cross.  And yet, this deep love is also what we were made for and what we long for.  Whether you are sacrificing sleep to nurse through the night, or have mastitis, or encounter the biting of a teething baby, we nursing mothers are all sharing in the greatest love of all: the sacrifice of the Cross.