Saturday, January 2, 2010

Life Lessons from Birth

It's been a week since my little Jedidiah was born and I've had some time to reflect on his birth. Being my 6th birth (5th without pain medication or medical intervention, 4th home birth), I've learned a few things about how to get through the pain and difficulty that birth naturally brings. And it seems that each experience keeps getting better and more manageable. This is not because of anything special in me or that I am some sort of supermom. Not at all!!! What I have learned is this: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matt. 19:26) I've come to wonder how anyone can birth without Jesus!

Having experience as a doula (childbirth assistant) I have helped many women find ways to make the pain of childbirth manageable. There are lots of ideas and helpful information out there! But through personal experience I have come to believe that it is only when we rest in Jesus that we have the kind of joyful, God-honoring birth that He desires us to have.

So what does this look like? Here's my experience with Jed's birth. As labor intensifies the contractions feel like a tight band wrapped around my pelvis with strong cramping all along the front radiating around through my lower back and even down into my thighs. I imagine the giant, powerful, loving hands of my Creator God wrapped around my hips squeezing the baby down further and further with each contraction. This beautiful imagery helps me to relax and surrender my body over to Him to do His work in my body and bring my baby to me. I trust the wisdom of His perfect design when He created my body to do this work of birthing this baby. I think about how He has secretly fashioned and formed this baby in my womb all these months and has known my baby which only His eyes have seen. He is now working in my body to bring the baby and reveal His special gift to me!

As the contractions intensify the only thing I must do is surrender more to my Creator's hands, relaxing my whole body and resting in Him. This seems opposite of what I want to do. It seems the natural tendency in response to pain is to tense up with fear and worry. But instead I must respond with more trust and surrender and completely relax my body. When I do this the pain begins to subside. When I fear and tense up, the pain intensifies.

The morning I went into labor a friend of mine gave me a verse that helped me so much through my labor. Isaiah 26:3, "He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee." With each contraction I would whisper this verse or pray, "Jesus, bring the baby," or sing praise to Him. We listened to worshipful music in the background. Steven was there helping me, he would sing to me about Jesus. It was peaceful, restful, worshipful. This was Jesus' work. And oh how beautiful, as He brought the reward out of my body and into my arms. Oh the joy! A beautiful baby boy! I am always overwhelmed by the goodness and love of my Father to give me yet another amazing love gift! I am so undeserving and it truly overwhelms me.

As I have reflected on Jed's birth and the things I have learned, the Lord has shown me how these lessons apply not only to birth but to all of life. Birth is just the beginning! I've heard it said (and have said it myself) that birth is the hardest work you'll ever do. I've come to see things differently. The work that comes after birth is the most challenging- raising these little ones day in and day out, teaching, training and disciplining them so they will know, love and follow Jesus! The pain a woman experiences as part of the curse continues through all of motherhood. And the natural tendency of our flesh in response to these trails and "pains" of life is to tense up in fear, anxiety or frustration. But just like birth, this is Jesus' work! He will do it in and through us if we let go, surrender and trust in Him. "He will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusts in Thee." ( Isaiah 26:3) The more life hurts, the more we must trust and relax. "Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6)

We must fight against our natural response and train ourselves to respond in trust until we are totally surrendered to Christ, letting go of our fears and worries about the future and rest in perfect peace in Jesus. He is the Creator God who not only designed a woman's body for birth, but also designed and planned every day of our lives before there was even one of them! (Ps. 139:16)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..." Prov.3:5

No matter what you are going through in life right now, remember "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Mt. 19:26) As we trust in Him in the midst of the trial or "pain", God can transform our experience into a peaceful, restful, worshipful one. And oh how beautiful, when He brings us through it and we see the reward of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives! It makes me wonder, how can anyone live without Jesus?

Meet Jed

Meet Jedidiah John Mena!!
born December 26, 2009
9lbs. 21 1/2 inches

Jedidiah is from the Bible and means "Beloved of the Lord"
John is after Jenny's Grandpa on her dad's side (John "Johnny" Vasquez). He went to be with Jesus this year.
We're calling him "Jed"

We were expecting Jed to make his entrance long before Christmas (due date was Dec. 15th). My mom arrived on Dec. 13, hoping to make it in time for the birth! Well, we ended up having about 2 weeks of visiting, baking, getting ready for Christmas and waiting for the baby...not exactly what we expected, but it was fun. My mom's husband Ray (Grampy) arrived on Dec. 23, just in time for our Christmas celebration. We thought there would be a week old baby for him to see when he got here. Little did he know he'd be the one taking care of all the kids while I was having the baby! Thanks Grampy! When Christmas Eve came and there was still no baby, I got kinda sad. I was hoping to be holding my little one for Christmas. Now I was realizing that I may not have a baby for Christmas after all! Here's me on Christmas Eve...
After saying, "Comon' baby, comon' baby...this will be the night!" every night when we went to bed, Christmas Eve night was a little different. Now we were saying, "Just hold on baby...not tonight!" We had everything ready to celebrate Christmas with the kids in the morning. And we were all ready for a good night's sleep. Poor baby...all these mixed messages! Well, that night my contractions began. I was trying so hard to tell myself that this wasn't really happening and go back to sleep. Morning came and Steven and I were in our room getting things ready for the birth while the kids are saying, "Come on! Let's go have Christmas!" We wouldn't let them out of the room and tried to prepare them for the possibility that Christmas might be postponed. I called my midwife and told her what was going on. Contractions were still pretty spaced apart, so we decided I'd just watch things and let her know when things got more intense. So, we continued with the morning and had a wonderful Christmas morning together with the kids and Mom and Ray. I don't know if mentally I put labor off so that I could have Christmas with the family, but the labor pretty much stopped after a while and we had a long, fun day celebrating the Lord's birth together. I knew that that night things would pick back up and labor would begin. I was right...kind of. We all went to bed thinking we'd be back up in a few hours having a baby. But we all got to sleep through the night (well, I slept in between contractions that were 10 min apart most of the night). Again things slowed down a little in the morning, but not for long. My midwife arrived at 7am and got everything set up for the birth, then went out to get some coffee and bide some time since labor had slowed. Sure enough labor picked up while she was gone (she said that's what usually happens...I think she did it on purpose:). Meanwhile I had taken a shower and was doing my make-up, stopping to relax during contractions, which were starting to get closer and more intense. I finally stopped and went to the bed. I needed more help for these. Steven and Mom were by my side. My hair was still wet and I was getting cold, so Steven brought me the blow-dryer. We have a picture of me drying my hair in bed an hour before Jed was born. Pretty funny. It was a wonderful birth experience. God was so near to me, helping me every step of the way. He taught me some wonderful lessons through it. I'll share them with you in my next blog. I praise God for answering all my prayers for this birth...that it would be easy and safe. Baby Jed came into my arms healthy and safe and beautiful. Here we are just moments after the birth...
A little bit later Steven went out and announced to the boys and Grampy that the baby was born! Grampy had been taking care of them all morning (he was born at 12:49pm). Here they are running in to meet their new baby...
The boys still didn't know if it was a boy or a girl, so we let them discover it for themselves. Here I am pulling back the blanket and waiting for them to figure it out!
Another brother!! Just what they wanted. They tell me they want a house full of boys. I tell them that we already have a house full of boys! But I guess you just can't have too many! We love boys!!!

Here's Grampy finding out it was a boy...he was SURE it was a girl!
A few minutes later Hailey Jo woke up from her nap and got to enter in on the fun of meeting her new baby brother. She loved him from the start and kept saying, "Baby...baby." It was so cute!
Here is Jed weighing in at 9lbs even. We've started a tradition with our last few babies. We take votes from all the family as to what the gender and weight will be. This time we said we'd give a prize to the closest winner. And guess who it was! Grandpa (Steven's dad)! He got it on the nose: BOY- 9lbs.!! Way to go Grandpa!!! We'll be sending your prize in the mail soon! :)
Daddy, the expert with measurements, gets to measure his boy. Head- 14in, Chest- 14 3/4in, Length- 21 1/2 inches. Big boy!
Mommy and her sweet baby, in the matching outfits that Aunt Jessie sent

Mommy and all her blessings
Check out all that dark hair! And does he look like he was just born to you? He looks like he's a week old! Wait a minute.... maybe 2 wks old. He was 11 days late!

Here we are...all 8 of us! Or should we say "Steve and Jen plus 4 less than 10". Ok, that was a little hokey, so of course you know that Steven came up with that one! :)
We are so glad that Jed came before Mom and Ray had to go home. He was born on the 26th and they left on the 28th. Here they are enjoying Jed one last time before they leave.
We had such a great visit with them and were sad to see them go. I'll post more about our visit and Christmas later.

Thank you all who prayed for us as we awaited the birth of Jed. Your prayers were felt and God has been gracious once again. Sometimes I wonder how long He will continue to pour out His grace and goodness on us. It's just so overwhelming...too good to be true. Then I remember Psalm 136:1, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever." Psalm 145:8-9, "The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made."

Thank you Lord for your steadfast love!

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Here are some fun quotes:
Jake- "We have 5 boys but only 1 Jedi."
Ben- "He's so toot! I like to call him Jed cause he's a Jed-head."
Zack- "He's just overflowing cute!"
Sam- "Hi widow Thed!" (translation: "Hi little Jed!" - he has the cutest lisp!)