I have shared the partial story of your birth on our family blog. People like to hear how it happened, and I love to talk about it. Birth is so exciting! You need to read that post first before you read this because it details the basic physical aspects of what happened which are important to the overall story. However, as I mention in that post, I didn’t share every detail of what I experienced during your birth there. Instead, I am writing this letter to you and will keep it unpublished until there are many more posts to cover it up. Then, when I finally publish it, no one will see it unless they look back in the archives (Something that I don’t think happens very often except by me and your Daddy, and maybe Aunt Whit!). I don’t want this story lost and I know the best place to keep it is the blog, but I also want you to know that I did my best to protect it and keep it special for you and our family and a very few special friends that I will invite to read it.
Near the end of my pregnancy with you I naturally started to think more about labor and delivery. I am sorry to say that almost all my thoughts were negative. I wanted you here desperately, but I didn’t want to go through the necessary pain that was required to get you here. You see, I knew I would be having another unmedicated birth. Getting an epidural was out of the question. I didn’t want to endure another spinal headache or the blood patch required to fix the spinal headache. It was just too hard on my body, particularly with Alaster. My back was messed up for months after his epidural! I looked into other types of pain relief but they didn’t sound much better. I could have an IV drip, but they told me it really just takes the edge off and that it would mean continuous monitoring (which I hate!) and no laboring in the water (the only place that I felt good during labor with both Alaster and Truman!) To top it all off it makes you groggy. How could I not be fully present when you were born? No way! That option was out too.
I really did try to have a positive attitude. I knew I was being childish. I knew that women had been giving birth this way forever and that it was perfectly normal and that I would be fine. I knew it. But making myself feel it was a different story. I tried to comfort myself and change my attitude in a myriad of ways, even praying for a change of heart, but each attempt failed. At the end of the day I just didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to feel the pain, but I was going to. There was absolutely no getting around it, and I felt horribly trapped.
So despite my efforts to change how I felt, I went into your birth in a very less than happy place. But the night my water broke I still desired to feel better about it so I did the only things I could think of. First, I asked your Dad for a blessing, which he gave. Then, after being checked in to the hospital and settled in our room where we were supposed to be trying to sleep (ha!) I started singing hymns in my mind. Singing hymns lead to thoughts of the Savior and His Atonement. It was a very familiar and comfortable place for my thoughts to be. The gospel, particularly my testimony of the Savior, has always been my biggest comfort and hope. Of course it would be so now! What a blessing that I was given some time to ponder before labor really began in earnest.
While focusing my thoughts towards Him, I remembered some very simple, beautiful doctrines. I knew that because of the Atonement the Savior knew what I was feeling right at that moment. I also knew that He had felt all the emotions of the last few months and the physical pain that I was about to endure in labor and delivery. I let those thoughts simmer inside and I could feel them begin to calm my spirit.
I continued. I thought about how He had not only felt my pain but that He had also felt the unique pain of every woman who had ever or who would ever give birth on Earth. What would the combined weight and pain of every single birth feel like? There are what, 7 billion people in the world right now? And that is just right NOW. How did He endure that? And then I remembered that childbearing pains were just one of a thousand types of hurts that He felt and definitely not the worst. I was filled with gratitude and awe and love for Him. He did that. He did that for me!
But He probably didn’t want to do it. Right? No. He didn’t. I knew that too. Maybe He even felt a little trapped just like me. Sure, He had signed up for the Atonement, just as I had made the choice to become pregnant, but when it came right down to it… when He was staring at it in the face… Hadn’t He asked His Father if there was any other way? Hadn’t He wanted the cup removed? Please don’t misunderstand me. In no way was I comparing myself to the Savior or giving birth to the enormity of the Atonement. It just made me feel better to know that He had felt that same “I don’t want to do this,” feeling when facing an unavoidable pain in His lifetime and mortal experience. It was another reason that He would know how I felt, and it strengthened my resolve to put my trust in Him to comfort me through the process of giving birth to you.
I pondered all these things as I lay in bed while Daddy tried to get some sleep, and they stayed in my heart as the contractions began and the work of labor started. I woke Daddy up and spent time with him, allowing my thoughts to be distracted and lightened by him (that can be important sometimes too!) and by the TV show we were watching. I was in just a little bit of pain with those early contractions, but I could feel them getting worse. Eventually I made my way into the bathtub.
In the water things were quieter. There were no distractions. Daddy was still there, but we didn’t talk much. There, in the quiet of the the water, mind again turned to thoughts of the Savior and also to my Heavenly Father. I thought about Daddy’s blessing and the how he had told me that I would feel Heavenly Father’s love through this process. I decided in a firm and final way that I would do everything in my power to trust Him for the rest of the experience. I would put it in His hands completely. I would ask for His help. I would let go of every negative thought and feeling surrounding this birth and completely submit to His will. I knew my role as mother and the process of giving birth was divinely appointed. It was His plan, and I would align my will with His. I was finally ready to let go of my negative feelings and have faith.
I remembered the blessing that Corey gave me, specifically the part where he said I would feel Heavenly Father’s love. I wanted to do something to actively focus on feeling that love. So as a contraction began I closed my eyes and pictured Heavenly Father. I knew that would help me focus on Him and nothing else. In the picture both He and Heavenly Mother (to my surprise) were there, and the Savior was at their side. All were brilliantly white and warm. I was not having a vision, but I absolutely feel like the Spirit was influencing my visualization. As I pictured Them I repeated over and over in my mind two phrases that represented every comforting and important thought that had come to me. The first was “Trust in the Lord.” I trusted that I was in His hands, that He was watching over me, strengthening me, helping me, and sending me His love. I trusted that it was wisdom in Him that He had ordained children to come to Earth this way. I trusted that He had made my body capable and strong and able to be His instrument. I trusted that this experience was part of His plan for me and for our family. I trusted that the Savior knew what I was going through and how best to comfort and help me. The second phrase I said was “She’s almost here.” It was a reminder to me that every contraction was bringing me closer to you. They needed to come. They had a purpose. I would welcome them instead of fear them as they brought me the baby that I wanted and loved and prayed to have. I went as deeply into these thoughts as I could, ever keeping my minds eye fixed on the picture of my Heavenly Family.
Dorothy, as I exercised my faith in this way and completely submitted my will to His, nothing doubting, the miracle happened: By the Spirit I knew what to do to keep the pain at bay, and through the enabling powers of the Atonement I was able to do it. There is simply no other explanation for what happened. Because of Their help, and the help that they sent… I felt angels, especially my mom, were there supporting us (And I believe the midwives and your Daddy were Earthly angels in this context too)… I was in complete control. I was able to direct my body to relax and it obeyed.
It is amazing to me to think back on the experience and realize all that happened simultaneously. I was picturing my Heavenly parents and Brother, noting how They looked and felt, repeating and thinking about meaningful phrases, instructing my body and breathing, feeling support and love from both sides of the veil, talking to my health care providers and Corey (when necessary) all at the same time and with miraculous results.
At one point I tried to tell Daddy what wonderful things were happening. In between contractions I told him I couldn’t believe how well things were going and I lamely tried to sum it up by telling him I felt “so supported.” I had to stop though because it was so wonderful to me that I started to cry and it threw off my concentration. I would have to save the full story for later, but I hoped that he could feel the Spirit that was so powerfully in the room.
In the end, as you know, I did finally feel the full measure of pain as I gave the final pushes that brought you into the world. But I know now that being allowed to feel it was a blessing. It was a necessary, meaningful and even beautiful part of the whole incredible experience.
Dorothy, as I said in my first post, your birth was one of the most powerful and tender spiritual experiences of my life. It may be the closest I have ever physically felt to my Heavenly parents and to the Savior in my mortal experience. It was a miracle, and I hope that you will recognize it as such and feel the truth of what I say.
The Spirit certainly taught me things during the experience, and it has continued to teach me important, lasting lessons as I have continued to ponder your sacred birth in my heart. What wonderful things I have learned! Things about family. Things about pain and suffering and sacrifice. Things about faith and submission. Things about love and mercy and Heavenly relief. Will you do me a favor and ponder what I have written and let the Spirit teach you too? I hope we’ll be able to talk about it together someday 🙂
I love you my Dottie Dear. Thank you for being my very own daughter!
Never forget that your life started with angels and glory and love on every side. I certainly never will, you special, beautiful girl!
I love you unalterably forever,