My little sister, Caitlyn, is hilarious and brilliant and far more hardcore than I’ll ever be. Two weeks ago she went deer hunting while nine months pregnant because “It’s deer season, and it’s not like I’m going to wait all the way until next year.” Five days later she gave birth to her fourth baby. Like I said: hardcore.
Isaiah 43:2 New International Version (NIV)
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Water can be deadly. As I write this, refugees are risking their lives to journey across the Mediterranean to Turkey and Greece. Some of them will not make it across. The water will claim them.
Water can be scary. Just this year northern Wisconsin, just north of my childhood home, faced historic floods. People lost everything and roads were impassable for weeks.
When I think of water, I think of the giant inflatable tub waiting in my bedroom for the birth of our fourth baby.
This is my fourth baby and I am waiting in great anticipation to fill up that tub and get the show on the road.
I have been here before. It’s not my first rodeo, as they say. Yet the fears and uncertainties surrounding birth are still present and occasionally rampant in my mind. Am I strong enough to do this again? Will the baby be healthy and stable? When will it all happen? Could there be a blizzard? (The answer is yes, since we already had two feet of snow by November’s end…)
My due date is December 6th and I live in northern, and I mean an hour and a half north of Duluth, four hours north of the Twin Cities, NORTHERN Minnesota. I want my baby to come out screaming and healthy. I’d also love for the midwives to be there, and they have a couple hours’ drive if the weather is good. Hence my blizzard fear.
There’s a lot of water involved in birth. As God says in Isaiah, “When you pass through the waters…” Labor is an immense, athletic challenge and this sweet baby will be born from waters (the bag of amniotic fluid) into waters (the calm safety of the birth tub).
It will take a lot of work for this little one to make it from water to water. The reminder that I’m not alone is one I’ve been repeating to myself over and again.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
God will be with me. My husband will be with me. My team of skilled midwives will be with me.
“…the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” At each birth, I thought labor would overwhelm me. I’ve had moments each time where I’ve begun to think and believe and worry that I can’t, but it has not finally overwhelmed me.
My God has sustained me and this outstanding little creature. He will sustain us still.
Where are the waters you fear? As you wait to cross over them, how is God sustaining you?
I will read these verses again in a few weeks and all my anticipation and anxiety will be gone. I’ll have a new birth story, a new baby, a new story of God’s goodness.
Instead of needing to find comfort in Jesus through the truth of this verse, I will find truth and fulfillment in it’s promise.
In the meantime, I’m waiting.
Update: Well, since writing a few weeks ago, baby Haven Dorothea graced us with her sweet presence. I was able to labor in my water birth tub in the warmth of our bedroom for five hours; but alas, she was not born in the comfort of my home.
Our nurse midwife let us down deeply, and chose not to drive north to our home for reasons that are still unclear and unjustifiable to us. We are thankful for our baby’s safe arrival but also devastated that our birth was full of confusion and tears.
I find solace right now in the delicious baby smells as I nudge my nose beside Haven’s cheeks, and in the truth that the mother of our Lord certainly didn’t get to give birth where she wanted.
I am greatly unlike Mary, but I’m comforted in knowing both she and I were forced to travel in some unpleasant circumstances to give birth (and I am sure glad my travel arrangements didn’t involve a donkey).
The name Haven was on my husband’s and my list from the beginning, but we agreed that we didn’t want to settle on a name until we met this little person and got to know her for a few days.
After she had been alive for two whole days and we began to process the difficulty (no midwife, laboring at home, driving to the hospital, a brutally long time in labor transition, and an eventual sunny-side-up delivery, to name just a few things…) surrounding her birth, we became even more convinced that her name needed to be Haven.
Our home, the nearest hospital, a stable in Bethlehem — wherever we are born and wherever we give birth, the Lord is our haven, our safe place.
When she and I passed through the waters, the Lord was with us both.
How has the Lord met you in the midst of unexpected circumstances this Advent?
Caitlyn Bangs blogs with her husband Jared over at He Sowed She Sewed. They make their home in northern Minnesota with their four kids. Together they minister at First Baptist Church where Jared is an associate pastor and Cait helps with children’s ministries. Caitlyn has never met a hockey game, Reese’s peanut butter cup, or baby she didn’t love at first sight.
Read Cait’s husband Jared’s Advent Devotional here.