My younger son loves to pick flowers for me–a sweet, timeless mother/child ritual that I love. Yesterday afternoon, I was given this daisy and was delightfully surprised to find an inch worm on the underside. An unexpected visitor received in an open palm.
Last summer, I led a class on the subject of prayer at our church. One evening, we talked about postures for prayer. We discussed the practice of raising hands, folding hands, closing eyes or not, bowing , and kneeling. Our pastor mentioned how the simple act of resting your hands on your lap, palms up, helps you to open your heart and mind to God. The palms up position prepares you to receive from God instead of just shooting petitions in His direction. It leaves you with a spirit of openness.
I want to live “palms up,” ready for surprises to land in my open hands. I think the birth of our little girl, Charlotte*, is going to be a big step toward living that life.
Early in the morning on Monday, June 27, I woke suddenly. I felt a long, strong–but not painful–contraction. I immediately knew what it was. I waited for another–about 15 minutes. For the rest of the early morning, I felt these unmistakable sensations every 15 to 20 minutes. I was able to doze between them. I was excited, joyful. Both of my other children were born after their “due dates,” so I wasn’t expecting this to be happening yet. Later in the morning, my mom came over to hang out with the boys. I’m so glad she did! By noon, I was becoming uncomfortable and excited at the prospect of our new baby coming soon. At one, I took a shower. The water was soothing, and labor began to speed up. At two, I notified the midwife that I was in labor. Over the phone, she listened to me experience two contractions. I approached each sensation quietly, slowly swaying my hips and breathing softly. Between these contractions, I could chat pleasantly. The midwife and I agreed that it was okay for me to stay home for awhile since I was quite comfortable.
Here, the journey is filled with surprises. I had to be open and ready to accept what was to come, even though it looked nothing like the tidy birth plan that I had discussed with the midwife several weeks ago. In the next hour, I worked through each contraction by rocking on my rocking chair, the same chair where I nursed two precious sons. The room was very warm and sunny but filled with boxes for our move–not the place where I imagined I would give birth to our 7 lb. 8 ounce baby girl. That’s right…in a single moment, labor went from “normal” to oh-my-goodness-the-baby-is-coming-now! My husband welcomed our daughter with his own open hands, receiving her into the world. Her birth was smooth, quick, and completely healthy. If this homebirth had been planned, I would call it perfect, but the next hour was filled with the arrival of an ambulance and the harrowing ride to the hospital (ouch!). I was never so happy to reach a hospital or hear the voice of my midwife.
I’m not sure which surprised me more: the homebirth or the fact that I now have a daughter, a daughter. I was so sure that I would have the trio of sons, but God has decided to charge my husband and I with the nurturing of a precious little girl instead. When my first son was born, I looked at him and felt the enormity of preparing a little boy to become a man. That prospect excited and frightened me. Raising a daughter will bring new joys and new challenges, and I’m thrilled to accept every bit of it. I’m ready for the surprises, my hands are upturned in openess and in praise for a healthy birth and a healthy baby.
*Until today, I’ve always kept our childen’s names and faces “private,” but since I want to share how we chose Charlotte’s name, I decided to be more open this time.