(As I reread this, I realized there is a great deal of missing back story. It would take forever to tell all of that. Suffice it to say, we lost a little boy, Ransom (our second pregnancy), prior to becoming pregnant with Aspen. I had a dream about Ransom when he died, and after I delivered his body, I had the same dream. This time, at the end of the dream, God showed me a baby girl. She was big, with little bits of dark hair. I knew that this was a promise from God. We chose not to have an ultrasound to determine her sex. Instead, we just believed the promise that God had given us through that dream. This is the story of the promise being fulfilled. Enjoy!)
A PROMISE FULFILLED – THE BIRTH OF ASPEN ELZIE
God is so amazing. I’m constantly in awe of His perfect timing for all things. I admit I was struggling to be patient for the arrival of this little girl, but yet again, He showed me that His timing is best.
Aspen’s due date was January 7, 2010. The day came and went. Ephraim had been born on his due date, so I did not expect to go past this one. God knew better. I was able to be reminded to enjoy every minute with my baby girl, whether she was inside or outside the womb. I was gently redirected to praise Him while I waited. I had been having contractions on and off for several weeks, so I was frequently wondering, “Is this it? Is it the real thing?” It gave me several opportunities to pray for preparation and increased patience.
On the morning of January 12, 2010, I woke up and told Quincy that we all needed to go see Grannie at Hospice. He had already gone to see her by himself and tell her goodbye, but I really felt like the Lord was prompting us all to go, to let her “see the baby in my belly,” and to tell her goodbye. We went and did just that. When one of the nurses came in the room, she asked when I was due. I told her I was 5 days overdue, and she immediately replied, “Oh, they are waiting on each other. I know some people might think I’m crazy when I say things like that, but I’ve worked at Hospice long enough to know that things like that happen all the time.” I told her I didn’t think she was crazy at all, and that I felt exactly the same way. When we were leaving, I felt confident that Grannie would soon go be with Jesus and that Aspen would soon come be with us.
That night, January 12, 2010, our family joined the Fosters and the Warners for a Tied Together shoe sorting party. We found out that several families were in need after the fire at a Chets Creek apartment complex and spent the evening working to provide their footwear needs. During this time, I had about 5 contractions. They were about a half an hour apart, so I wasn’t sure it was the real thing, though they were more intense. Is it a coincidence that my labor would begin at a Tied Together shoe sorting, the ministry that was born and grew, in many ways, out of little Ransom’s life and death? Is it a coincidence that, after Ransom’s death, God showed me through a dream, the exact little girl that I hold in my arms now? My God is not a God of coincidence.
I went home and contractions continued. They became a bit more regular, so I called Sharon to give her a heads up and started baking a cake! I also called my mom to come watch Ephraim, because it was getting late and he needed a slumber party friend so that we wouldn’t have to worry about him.
The contractions quickly progressed to every 5 minutes, but they were still very manageable. During this time, I was sitting on the ball or on our bed, listening to worship music. Quincy was with me most of the time, and also trying to get the birth tub filled and all the other things prepared for labor. As I was listening to music, praying, and having contractions, I was remembering my dream about this little baby. I was remembering that she was a big girl with little bits of dark brown hair. I had seen her. I cried and cried thinking about how God did not have to show me this baby or give me any sort of promise after Ransom’s death, but He had done it anyway. I was overwhelmed with my own unworthiness. I told Quincy how it felt easier to deal with contractions for a baby that I already knew. It was quite humbling.
Sharon arrived and we sat around discussing life. At around 3 a.m., we had been sharing what we’d learned of Grannie’s life with Sharon. We later found out that this was around the time that Grannie went to be with Jesus.
Not longer after, I decided to get into the birth tub. Contractions continued, but remained very manageable. At some point, I felt “pushy.” This labor felt very different than Ephraim’s had. He was posterior and a full 2 pounds lighter, so it is really difficult to compare the two. I suppose that her size and position allowed me to feel the coming down a little more acutely than I had with Ephraim. To be honest, I felt like I was pushing with every contraction from 5 cm on. I did not notice a real delineation between the two types of contractions. Anyway, Sharon checked me and I was only at 5 cm. It was not time to push.
After 4 ½ hours in the tub, things seemed to be stalling. I had slept between lots of contractions and was really exhausted. We all were. Sharon suggested that I go sit on the potty and try to be out of the tub for awhile. I did. The contractions immediately picked up. After some time in the bathroom, I laid in my bed with Quincy. Contractions became intense. Enter the “Jesus-prayer-for-mercy-labor-mode.”
Those of you who know me know that I am not typically an outwardly emotional person. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I think it really boils down to pride and/or insecurity. I’m convinced that God uses labor in my life to humble me and break through that tough exterior. I am a vocal birther. If you are there, you know exactly what I’m thinking and feeling, because I AM TELLING YOU. Actually, I’m mostly praying. Throughout these next contractions, I was praying a variety of things, like, “Jesus, help me. Jesus, rescue me. Jesus, let me push. Jesus, carry me, etc.” Also, I spent some time focusing on the “Jesus Jesus Jesus” prayer method.
Once we were all pretty convinced that labor had really picked up, Sharon wanted to check me. I was terrified. I told Quincy that I needed him to pray for me because I was afraid of being checked, afraid of where I would be at, etc. He prayed. He and Sharon both reassured me, telling me I had nothing to fear, and I remember agreeing with them and saying, “I know you’re right. I know you’re right.” She checked me and I was at 6 cm. I actually wasn’t disappointed though. I knew that whatever was about to happen, was about to happen fast. Things were intense. I was on the verge of complete panic, and I knew this was transition.
Sharon suggested I get back in the tub and back into a squatting position. I did. I remember looking at the clock when we left the bed to return to the tub. It was 10 am. I remember praying, “Lord, just let me be done before lunch.” Hahah
Wow. Things were intense in that tub. That squatting position really does its job, but it is painful. I was still vocal and praying throughout contractions, but my focus shifted slightly. I was fighting really hard to praise God through these contractions. I knew that I could praise God, but I was hurting. I was praying, “Jesus, help me praise You. I know You are good. I know this is what’s best. Help me.” I’m not sure of the exact timing, but about 30 minutes later, I was complete. Again, I really felt like I was pushing since I had been at 5 cm, but pushing began in earnest at around that time. I had been moaning, grunting, and making all the primal sounds of birth, but it only took 8 minutes to push her out! Her head was a full inch larger than Ephraim’s had been, and the pushing felt much more painful than it had with Ephraim (although a dulled memory is probably the real culprit for that). I know that, at one point, Sharon tried to get me to reach down and feel my baby. I thought I was going to completely fall over into the tub, so I refused.
When Aspen had come out, Sharon told me to reach down and get her. I did. As I pulled her out of the water, the only way I know how to describe the moment was being absolutely crushed by the weight of God’s glory. There she was. It was the baby in my dream. She was big, she was a girl, and she had little bits of dark hair. I wept. I don’t mean that I cried a sweet cry. I wept. It was the whole body heaving kind of cry. We had come full circle. The promise had been fulfilled. God did not have to show me this baby before her birth. He had done it. We had trusted Him that she would be a girl. We hadn’t had a backup plan. No “just-in-case” boy names. No purchasing of lots of gender-neutral items. We’d stepped out and believed Him…. And here she was. My baby girl, the promised child. Quincy cried with me. My mom and Ephraim came to see her. I know my mom was crying, but Ephraim was just excited. My mom said that when the two of them went back downstairs, he started picking out the toys that she could have. What a sweet big brother.
I am absolutely amazed and in awe of our God. The miracle of new life is overwhelming in itself, but to have this little miracle in this way is just crushing, in a good way. Why does the God of the universe love me so much? Who am I that He is mindful of me? I keep thinking of the lyric from Addison Road’s “What Do I Know of Holy” that says “Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be, the slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees.” I have such an infinitesimally tiny understanding of the King of Glory, and He peeled back a bit more of the veil to reveal His blinding light to me. I am astounded. To God be the glory, forever and ever.