The week before I gave birth to James I dreamed that I gave birth to a stillborn baby boy. It sounds sensational, I know, which is why I'm just now bringing it up.
With L I dreamed of holding a happy baby girl. With Ben I dreamed of snuggling a cute little boy. With James I dreamed that on the soft brown carpet in my bedroom I delivered an ashen boy with black hair. I told Travis about the dream. "Oh no," he said. "That can't happen." And then we both chose to ignore the dream.
I think most people assume that I regret having a home birth. I do not.
Near the end of my pregnancy with James I felt uneasy about the upcoming birth and I considered going to a hospital. I was afraid of another long labor, and so I gave myself permission to transfer if I no longer wanted to be at home. I reviewed all the reasons we chose home birth in the first place. I prayed about it and never felt convicted to not birth at home. I asked people to pray for a labor lasting less then 10 hours and I believed that I would be eating my chocolate blueberry cake in my own bed while Trav napped with our newborn.
My labor with James was perfect. It was beautiful. It was eight hours (way short for me!) and when I pushed I never tore. I am sure this sounds amazingly selfish, but for me that labor was the best part of the first seven weeks of James' life. I cannot change what happened, though I would to spare my son, but I am thankful that I have those eight lovely hours.
But my lack of regret is not based on the fulfillment of my ideal labor.
In all my prayers I never felt that God was urging me to give birth in a hospital. I never felt led by the Holy Spirit to leave my home the night of James' birth. In fact I felt like we were on the verge of something great - the next step in this huge blessing from God. James was a little bit of a miracle even in his conception, and all through my pregnancy we were reminded time and again of the goodness and faithfulness of God. Travis and I believed that God wanted James to exist for some great reason. "Maybe he will be pope," we even whispered to each other as we laid in bed at night. I looked forward to meeting this little person who had a future full of hope and possibilities, and I was excited to see what great things he would do for the Lord.
I cannot feel bad about being at home when clearly that's where God wanted me to be. As I explained it to a friend, "God set the table."
God put down the linens, laid out the dishes, arranged the flatware, and set out the food. He invited me to join Him so I showed up and sat down in the chair He pulled out for me. Everything has been as He wanted it to be.
the consolation of a beautiful labor
the sixty-one minutes when he didn't have a heartbeat
the doctor who said to give him five more minutes in the ED so she could tell the parents that they'd done everything they could
the way his heart started at five minutes, just as they were stopping
the confirming him with the name Linus
the way his organs kicked in, one after another
the way his leg continues to heal
the way he takes a bottle, sucking it dry
the way people have prayed, fasted, given alms, and done good works
the way his story helped a woman evangelize for 45 minutes in a grocery store
the way little children have every word of the Sheen intercessory prayer memorized
the way my dad is going to Mass again, on a regular basis, for the first time in my life (don't tell him I put that on my blog - he'd kill me!)
the way I have relearned what it means to be pro-life
the way I have relearned how to pray, and trust, and praise, and say thank you.
How can I feel guilty about a choice I made - in good conscience and after prayer - when that choice so clearly has me and my family smack dab in the very middle of God's will.
You can still think I'm crazy and selfish for giving birth at home, but if you believe in God then I don't think you can judge that I made a poor choice and my son is suffering because of it. It is obvious that God allowed this to happen because of the great good that could come from James' redemptive suffering.
Travis and I knew, nine months ago, that God would use our son to accomplish marvelous things. We just didn't know that those things would include conversions, repentant hearts, and miraculous healings.
I feel great peace about the home birth. For what it's worth to you, my heart is filled with peace.