Joy comes in the morning!

A birth story shared by a student who attended my 
Christian Childbirth Education intensive:

How (Ella) Grace Became (Ella) Joy 

The birth of a baby is monumental. Pregnant women and infants garner attention like no one else--except maybe puppies and kitties... Wonder why? I do.

It's not like either pregnancy or infancy are unique--most women experience the one and everyone experiences the other. So why do people want to touch expectant bellies and sweet little cheeks? Why does the smell of a baby melt most women and maybe a lot of men? Why do strangers gaze at babies and smile when they don't acknowledge the existence of dozens of people who are nearer to them?

I've wondered at this...and I think I know why. Pregnancy, birth, and infancy bring to our souls recognition that we are indeed created in the image of a creating Creator. God created us, formed the first humans with His hands, and breathed life into them. And He wrote into our humanity the ability to participate in that phenomenon. Two people come together and through a million miracles are used to bring forth more life. The act of conception carries in it dozens of irreducible complexities; in utero development is mind-boggling; and labor and delivery continue to reveal more of the miraculous as science is used to understand it further.

For some reason, I felt the weight of all this more with my second pregnancy. 

And there were several divinely appointed factors and events that lead me to approach my second pregnancy with more reverence for God. I spent lots of prayer time asking God to bring me to a spiritual milestone through my child's birth and all that lead up to it. And I became expectant in more ways than just the physical.

A mother of two suggested taking the Christian childbirth class with Shannon after she took the class before her second child's birth. She said it made all the difference in having a positive experience with a natural childbirth. My sister-in-law, who was my doula, also recommended that I take the class. So she and I signed up and went to class together. 

I think that through the class and through Shannon, I was given words to match the desires of my heart. During the first session, Shannon posed the question: what if this birth is more about glorifying God than it is about the specific way it happens. That's what I wanted, to see God's glory manifested through the birth of our second child. I think it is really important to learn about what is going on in the physical sense in childbirth, but it's even more important to put God in the center of the whole experience. 

Shannon encourages and prays for her students to do that and teaches the class to that end. She also lent me a book that she used in building her curriculum for the class: Redeeming Childbirth by Angie Tolpin. That book was also very significant in my preparation for Ella's birth.

I also asked several other people to pray with me. I wanted God to help me face and overcome my fear of the pain a natural childbirth brings. I asked Him to use the birth to bring my family closer to each other and each of us closer to Him. I asked Him to reveal His glory--the traits that make Him so worthy of praise--through the delivery of His creation, my baby. And I did so in faith that as I prayed His will, He would answer, as His Word says He will.

As my labor began around 10:30 on the night of June 29, His peace kept me calm, joyful, quiet, and of a sound mind. There were a few things at the beginning of my labor that could have been the beginning of anxiety and stress, but as I prayed about those things, giving them to Him to handle, God heard me and answered. He ordered the timing of everything from my support team getting to our house, to my contractions, and our arrival at the hospital; the team of nurses and aids; and the music that played on Pandora. Yep--even that! I'll explain.

On the way to the hospital at around 6 a.m. on June 30th, I was in active labor, riding most of the 40 miles with my eyes closed. My mom and sister-in-law, who were riding in the back of my mom's car with me as Josh drove, prayed with me. We sang along to "Holy Spirit" by Francesca Battistelli. They continued helping me with the back pain contractions caused. Then at one point, Bethany commented that the sunrise was really pretty. I think that was one of the few times I opened my eyes, and when I looked at the sky, God brought to my mind part of Psalm 30:5: Pain lasts through the night but joy comes in the morning. At that, I asked Him to make that the truth of my labor and to bring the baby during the morning.

Labor continued to progress quickly at the hospital and within an hour-and-a-half, I was pushing. When I felt like I'd be overwhelmed by the intensity of what was going on in my body, I cried out to Jesus. He answered in the song, "Your Love Never Fails." I heard a very short part of the chorus in a moment when the room happened to be quiet; it says, "There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning." The very Words God had given me in the car. I knew it was from Him and was resolved that the baby would come during the song.

In a final push, the baby was born and in my arms.Praise poured out of me. I was crying, laughing, and praying while I told the room what God had done through His Word. I named the little girl lying on my chest, though no one had announced her sex. I said that I knew she was a girl because of the song and the name God gave her through it--Joy. Josh and I had agreed on Ella Grace if the baby was a girl, but I wholly believe that God used His Grace to bring about Joy

Four minutes after she was born, we confirmed that the baby was a girl!

A few day's after Ella's birth, Bethany wanted to verify that she had been born during "her song," so she watched the video she had taken to see if she could hear. She could hear the lyrics, "There may be pain in the night" then my midwife, Janey, said, "Nikki, reach down and grab your baby." Ella was literally born as the song proclaimed, "Joy comes in the morning!" At 8:42 be exact!!!
God, the one who created then used dust to bring forth life, can even use music to bring about His glory! He can take pain and bring life. He can take the ugly and make it beautiful. 
And He reminded us of that through Ella's birth. 

And just to be sure we didn't miss that message, Pandora followed "Your Love Never Fails" with Gungor's, "You Make Beautiful Things Out of Dust." If you don't know these songs, look them up. And if you don't know God, look Him up, too! You can find Him through Jesus. Just ask Him to reveal His glory, and then watch His grace bring joy to you, too!

"I will not hide God's righteousness in my heart; I will speak of His faithfulness and saving help. I will not conceal his faithfulness and love from the great assembly." Psalm 40:10

    All photos were taken by Life & Peace Photography by the very 
talented photgrapher and birth doula, Bethany Payne!