Redemption & Shalom: More Than A Birth Story
Image credit: Amelia Hambrook Photography
Do you like birth stories? I do.
At first I loved them because I needed to hear how labor and birth could be – for others, all normal and beautiful and full of love and connection.
My first birth experience was quite the trauma, and I went to see a therapist when my first baby was 4.5 months. I realized it was probably not normal to still be in tears every day, think it’s okay to leave my baby by herself in her bouncy chair thing, and notice her stop smiling.
So I took myself to a therapist, who made sense of everything for me. She showed me plain and clear how logical it was I felt this way, that all people who go through shock & trauma & PTSD feel the same way.
It only took 3 sessions before I was my good old cheery self again, all energy and smiles and actually wanting to do fun things, actually delighting in the pure joy that my daughter was –and still is!!
And one week ago today I gave birth to my 4th –and last!!- child.
It was the most perfect, beautiful, absolutely incredible experience.
It felt a lot like… redemption.
This 4th pregnancy was unexpected –oh SO unexpected!
Seeing that we needed fertility treatments and IUI after multiple miscarriages to conceive our 3rd , we thought we were done. Even our endocrinologist/ fertility specialist said we could never again conceive on our own. I mean, that’s as clear as it gets.
So to say I was surprised when I saw that + sign, strong bright blue, on the home pregnancy test is the biggest understatement.
It felt like too much, like a cherry on top of a gorgeously iced 4-tier cake. How can it be? Why me? It seemed as though God should choose someone struggling to even have their first… But His love does not compare to my petty calculations and logic.
Surprise gave way to 9 months of pondering this truly extravagant gift, a strong reminder of God’s extravagant love for us, whispering: “You are not too old… I have seen your tears and counted them. Here is a new life I crafted just for you, this new soul a gift so your cup overflows.”
Pondering gave way to wonder and thanks as my due date came and went; extra days to feel sweet, vigorous, unstoppable life kicking and punching and hiccupping away.
And then, to be able to walk in the hospital, have very manageable contractions (thank you gas and air!! Woot! Love that stuff more than chocolate!), experience the overwhelming transition contractions, when it seems you are losing control and you just want out, receive relief from an epidural, rest, and push out a perfect baby boy just hours after walking in… that is pure, healing, bliss.
Unexpected, powerful, extravagant. Like the Father’s love for us.
Redemption labor and birth, life from death, beauty from ashes.
So here I am, mother of 4 babes. Home-schooling my 1st and 3rd graders, teaching my 2 year old and a 4 year old boy I have under my care every day of the week, caring for a 5-month-old German Shepherd puppy, growing a community of health and wellness with a company I adore, and writing the occasional blog post.
Yes, my plate is very full. And it’s funny, you know; I was a bit apprehensive before Justin was born, that it would all be too much. But my full, my overflowing plate is a daily reminder of God’s good, over-the-top gifts, and it leaves me free to pause, and let go of control.
My days are made of sitting on the couch or in my bed, nursing constantly, changing tiny diapers and tiny outfits, burping baby & trying to find 5 minutes to hop in the shower –it doesn’t always happen- staring at my new babe, all furled up like a budding leaf in the spring.
My days look a lot like surrender, because I have to. It’s no accident that newborns are so needy…We get distracted and busy and forget the most important things. A newborn will scream until he is fed, and won’t sleep unless he has a full stomach, a fresh diaper and clean clothes. They doze off as they nurse, so it takes an hour instead of 10 minutes. And that is a very good thing.
All of these compelling demands create a bond between mother and child, weaving threads of love that will last a lifetime…
So I sit and ponder and let go. I let my 2-year-old hop on the couch and fiercely love on his brother, I let my older kids help themselves to breakfast and snacks and spill milk and use copious amounts of Nutella on their bread.
And I dream, too, of all the Thanksgivings and Christmases and family reunions in the future, children and mess and laughter everywhere. I can smell the food, see the stars in little eyes, hear the tippity-tap-tap of small feet running around the house, accompanying squeals of joy.
But for now, sitting on the couch, hoping there will be a shower. Pause. Selah.
Peace in the chaos, a Shalom, this inner state of being, not dependent on anything going on around me. I have peace, I am at peace.
Not because everything is orderly and beautiful around me, but because I made room in my soul for it.
I have Shalom because I choose it.
And this is my prayer for you, too.
Beauty from ashes.
Shalom in the chaos.
All the beautiful photos in this post (other than those noted) are credited to Amelia Hambrook Photography
Keren is a world traveler, wife and mother of 4 children -who keep her on her toes! In a past life she has worked as a Registered Nurse in pediatrics, Montessori assistant teacher, blog writer and French teacher. Her days are now filled with caring for her kids, managing two health and wellness communities -one in French and one for English speakers- as well as educating others in natural remedies and how to make everyday products using essential oils. Her favorite day is Sunday, when she gets to enjoy church community with her husband while kids are having a good time!