When my second child was two-and-a-half, we starting thinking about conceiving a third baby, a thought that both excited and terrified us simultaneously. Could we really afford another child? How would we pay for the birth, being without maternity insurance? Could I really handle mothering three children? Gently, the Lord communicated to us that we would be blessed if we chose to invite another child into our home and that He would ensure that we had the means to provide for that child’s birth and life.
A few months later, I became pregnant. Each day was a constant struggle between faith and fear as we strained to hold fast to the Lord’s assurances that we would have the money we would need. And I had to make a decision—where would my 3rd baby be born? We had never felt comfortable considering home birth in the past, but we knew that having our third baby at home would cost thousands of dollars less than paying for a hospital birth out-of-pocket. Only a week after I got a positive pregnancy test, I was already agonizing over the decision. My husband gave me a priesthood blessing in which the Lord told me that He would guide me to make the right decision for us. This scripture spoke to me in my dilemma:
Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him (Alma 58:11).
I agonized more and more and settled on a hospital birth with nurse-midwives recommended by a friend. I definitely never had an overwhelming feeling that it was the answer to my dilemma, but it felt fine in the beginning. After three or four prenatal appointments, I had met most of the nurse-midwives and loved them all, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t quite the right path for us. So we went back to the drawing board and opened-up that agonizing question again. Only this time (and for the first time in my life) I was really open to accepting home birth as the answer, and so was my husband.
On Halloween night (2008), my husband and I spent a couple of hours praying for guidance, searching the scriptures, and exchanging our thoughts and feelings. We felt that the Lord was leading us toward a home birth and that our next step was to pray and ask the Lord if this choice was right. When I prayed, I asked God to please help us to receive a clear answer so that we could move forward with confidence.
Then I asked for a priesthood blessing. What followed was one of the most tender and beautiful spiritual experiences of my life—the kind that words feel inadequate to describe or explain. The actual words of the blessing were marvelous, but more than the words was the feeling that overwhelmed me. We didn’t get far into the blessing before tears were streaming down my face as I choked back sobs (and I don’t cry easily). I felt the most incredible burning in my heart—like I was being filled with the burning, life-giving love of God. There is nothing in the world like that feeling. It completely overwhelmed me. I don’t know if an answer to my prayers has ever been so clear. When the blessing was over, I just hugged my husband and sobbed in his arms with joy and gratitude for the beautiful gift God had just given us.
Our answer was clear: we were having our baby at home!
We continued to seek the Lord’s guidance as we selected the midwives who would attend our baby’s birth, Mary and Nedra. And the Lord, my God, “did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith,” just as He had told me He would, through the scriptures, at the beginning of my pregnancy.
The blessings and miracles continued to pour down upon us. In February, I attended a doula training workshop (offered for free as a gift to the community by the doula trainer) where I met many women who would become my friends. One of them, Cassie, offered to be my doula and take photographs of my birth (again, for free). She also took some maternity photos for us (like the one above). Unexpected additional income came to us, with the probability of further additional income opportunities in the future. Just as the Lord had promised, we found ourselves with enough and to spare financially, and our baby’s birth was completely paid-for by my 36th week of pregnancy.
Then, on April 1, 2009, my son made his debut. My water broke in the afternoon, contractions started a couple of hours later, and about five hours later, I was clinging to my husband’s arms over the edge of the fishy pool, moaning through the hardest contractions.
I could tell I was in transition when I found myself reaching my limit. It was at this time that I turned to God. I don’t think there is any other physical experience that brings a person closer to the veil between earth and heaven than childbirth—particularly the 7 cm to delivery span. I silently cried to God: “Help me!” My mind wandered back and forth between my present physical surroundings and an otherworldly distant space. Somewhere in that space I found myself calling to my deceased friend, “Catheryn, I need you now!” I don’t know if it was her voice or my own that whispered in my head, “It’s almost over. You’re almost finished.” My husband’s soothing touch and the words “It’s almost over” playing over and over in my head are what carried me through to the end.
I moved to the bed for the delivery. Perhaps it was Mary’s oil and hot compresses, but I never really felt the “ring of fire.” I didn’t even really know the head was out until I heard someone say, “His head is out!” Then Mary said, “Reach down and pull out your baby!” I grasped onto his warm, slippery shoulders and pulled him up onto my chest. It was 10:55 pm on April 1—an April Fool’s day baby!
At first all I could see was the top of his dark-haired head and his slippery arms and back. We touched and rubbed him—alternating between smiling at each other and staring at our baby—as the midwives draped a towel over him. I breathed quickly in and out, saying something like, “Oh my gosh!” and then, “Is he OK? Is he OK?” Mary smiled and calmly said, “He’s just fine! He’s doing great!” Everyone started talking and smiling and taking photos. My husband felt a tear roll down his cheek and watched it land on my shoulder.
Afterward, I was so full of energy and endorphins that I couldn’t stop smiling and didn’t really sleep for at least a day. Within an hour after the birth, I was up and showering. Then I went downstairs to grab a bite to eat, almost as though my body hadn’t just given birth (intact perineum… woohoo!). The next days, weeks, and months I spent in bliss, more deeply in love with my tiny little boy than I ever imagined I could be. I had never experienced anything like the intense, fierce bond I was blessed to experience with that tiny baby boy, despite having two older children (whom I loved).
When the Lord communicated to us all those years ago that we would be blessed for inviting another of His spirit children into our home (two years later, we invited our 4th), I couldn’t have imagined just how blessed we would be. I know with all my heart that our greatest blessings and joys come when we allow the Lord to guide us in all of our decisions.