Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Theology of Childbirth

These words are from Josh, a guest post if you will. He is so eloquent it's almost un-human. I asked him to write something about Beck's birth and left it at that. This isn't so much the "story" as much as what he observed in me that day which isn't the approach I necessarily expected but I thought it was lovely and could be inspiring to some. I'm aware that the fact that I'm posting this could come of as braggy but that is not my heart whatsoever. I'm not she-woman who just sneezed out a baby on accident, I'm a small wimpy gal who had doubts about natural childbirth and read a book that gave me a whole new mindset. More on that soon... - Abi

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Daddy love


I like theology. I like it a lot. As fun as theology is to read and to write, how one applies their theology is the “proof in the pudding,” as they say. That’s tough.

This is one reason why watching my wife have our son was a deeply impacting experience. Sure, you cry because you see your baby for the first time. Sure, it’s beautiful and spiritual and all that mumbo jumbo. And, of course, it is as Chandler Bing so eloquently put it: “One disgusting miracle.” But, my wife, who impresses me daily with her character and integrity, managed to wow me with her applied theology.

A theology of child birth.

She studied for months. She prayed over and meditated on what she learned. She recited beautiful liturgy. She thought critically through what she had been taught (good and bad) and what she had learned that called into question what she had been taught (good and bad). 

On the heels of the massively influential Grantly Dick-Read work, Child Birth Without Fear, my wife explained to me how she had laid down each of the old horror tropes hopelessly tethered to labor and childbirth for centuries. Excruciating pain and agony, terror, turmoil… My wife had come to believe that none of these things belonged in her paradigm for what it meant to deliver a child.

For Abi, labor was to be understood as hard work. Toil, even. But not as agony. Not as anything to be afraid of.

And on November 28th, 2013, I watched with my own eyes and heard with my own ears my wife apply her theology of childbirth. Her application was steadfast. Unflinching. No drugs, no intervention. It was nothing short of beautiful to behold. 

Abi did not scream or panic. There was no grimace of torment. There were no yelps of anxiety or fretful murmuring. I can only assume many women have resigned themselves to the supposed inevitability of suffering in labor, and in their resignation and their fear, created for themselves the very physical pain and mental anguish they feared. In the same way, my wife resigned herself to hard work without pain, and thusly made it so. (Abi's note: Not entirely. I definitely did experience pain in labor but the point here is how it is dealt with. Embracing it as a means to a beautiful end as opposed to a punishment or just pointless pain.)

Don’t get me wrong, often things go awry in birth. Sometimes all the right thinking in the world cannot spare one from a painful complication when delivering a child. But my wife did not believe pain was an inevitability, and I watched as she carried her belief into reality.

Calm, collected, serene. She smiled and laughed through contractions, nurse after nurse asking with genuine disbelief, “are you sure you’re feeling these?” One physician calling her “the poster girl for natural childbirth.” At one point, someone leaned over to me and asked, “did she take hypno-birthing classes or something?”

No, she didn’t. She’s applying her theology of childbirth.

A doctor joked to me (with, I think, an edge of sincerity), “maybe don’t tell too many women about your wife. They’ll all think it’s as easy as she makes it look.” 

What a disservice it would be not to tell Abi’s story! She never said it was easy, in fact, she said it was hard work. But if Abi was able to throw off the shackles of fear and agony, I have to believe others can follow in her example just as she walks in the example of those to do the same before her.

At the heart of this whole “childbirth theology” thing are beautiful concepts like the fact that children are blessings and that love involves risk. Cliché, I know, but there they are nonetheless. It was only in the last hour of Abi’s labor that I realized how deep these truths resonated with her, how profoundly they had formed her thinking and her practice.

Waiting between pushes for a coming contraction, I could hear her whispering to herself. Barely audible, but there. And when I leaned toward her, I discovered no whimper, no lament.

Over and over again, to herself she whispered: “He’s worth it. He’s worth it. He’s worth it.”

And when, moments later I held Beck Henson Porter in my own arms, I could see what Abi knew before me. He was worth it.

Daddy love


18 comments:

  1. This is perfect. You guys are the most adorable little family!

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  2. Oh my goodness, I'm crying. This is beautiful.

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  3. This was beautiful. The end really resonated with me. I suffered from a condition during my pregnancy calles hyperemesis gravidarum (www.helpher.com). Hg is a horrible disease, and i suffered from it the whole pregnancy, but i spent those long nine months saying the same thing, hes worth it, hes worth it, hes worth it. And boy he is!!! To me, birth was the end of that horrible struggle, and while very hard work, resulted in the most amazing gift, and gave me my life back. God is so good!

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  4. Beautifully said. I was being given grief the other day about how I open I am about how much I love my husband. I was a bit shocked. Really shocked. Have we really come to a point where we must mock and shame people who truly love one another and support each other? If we talk about how much we love and respect our partner, does that mean we are frauds? I consider none of what I read here braggy. I consider it honest and beautiful and romantic. I consider it everything a partner should be. Thank you for that and congratulations again to the three of you...

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  5. this brought tears to my eyes, those last two sentences made my heart melt.

    I read a lot about natural birth, prepared myself mentally as well and did great throughout the contractions but my fear of not being able to tolerate the last contractions made me give in and get an epidural but your story made me wish I hadn't. I know I can't change that now but you really inspired me (and trust me I talked to girls who had natural births as well as read a lot on natural birth).

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  6. This is so lovely. I hope that I too can one day carry and birth a child with such a wonderful theology in mind. Congratulations to you both.

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  7. This so happy to hear I wasn't alone in this, I had a very similar experience. When I talk to my friends about it I tell them about my experience to give them hope that it's not always horrible. Unfortunately do it doctors and pushing medication on them most of my friends have not had a good experience so it's so nice to hear someone that did. You're absolutely right about having the right mindset, it changes everything, especially since there is a purpose behind all the pain.

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  8. Definitely not braggy…the Porters don't have a "braggy" bone in their bodies! Josh is so dang eloquent, this was so beautiful it brought a little tear to my eye. Love your theology of labor Abi, and that Beck Henson is one sweet little man!

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  9. This was amazing and so moving. Thank you for sharing.

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  10. I've been a long time reader of your blog, but I don't think I've ever commented.

    Thank you both for sharing your story. They were both so eloquent and beautiful and both made me teary. Congratulations to your beautiful little family.

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  11. Wow, this is beautiful!!! I can't wait to read about the books your read and the techniques you put into place. Your heart for your son, and the way your husband relayed them, brought tears to my eyes!

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  12. That was so touching. Thank you guys for sharing your story, it really was enlightening. I could really tell that you saw giving birth as a true labor of love. As my daughter turns 13 this weekend, I will follow your lead Abi, and repeat how much she is worth it, so I don't kill her.

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  13. That is incredible. My sister-in-law had two natural births that same way (she stayed calm and relaxed the whole time...and even danced on the birthing bed during contractions!). It actually got me thinking that I would like to give birth that way too. I've always been completely anti-natural birth because of the pain and agony depicted in movies and whatnot, but when I heard her story and read yours, I know it'll be painful, but it will be so worth it. Thanks for sharing! Your husband has such a way with words!! haha

    xo
    Amy
    http://artoftheheartblog.blogspot.com

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  14. amazing story, josh! thank you so much for sharing. it's wonderful to read this from a husband's perspective. and the line at the end about what abi was whispering to herself made me completely tear up. it's just powerful stuff.

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  15. I too love theology. I believe we as Christians are called to find a live our theology in everyday life. This post just about brought me to tears. The elegance in Josh's writing, the faithfulness of the Lord, and the strength that Abby showed are proof that beautiful things are worth the time and effort! Thank you so much for sharing and being a testament to others and myself.

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  16. This is absolutely beautiful! Left me in tears. Being anywhere from days to weeks away from delivering my first two little babies has left me in fear, but this has delivered me from that and I know that both boys will, in fact, be worth it. Thank you. :)

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  17. Oh God! This made me cry. You girl rock!!! Like really rock!
    Bless you sweetheart ♥

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