9:30 pm, six years ago to the day. Lying on my bed, hollering for my husband at the top of my lungs. Totally unconcerned about my three kids (1, 3, and 5), sleeping in neighbouring bedrooms. Concerned only about the fourth kid who’s suddenly – and so forcefully – trying to push her way out of my body. Thinking, “if he doesn’t get here soon, I am going to have to birth this child myself. Like those strong farm women used to do, out in the rice fields…”
Exact thought. Am I going to have to do this myself? Because suddenly I knew that my baby girl was coming, and she was coming fast. And I couldn’t get off the bed.
But my husband did come, bless him. He’d been out in the car, securing the new infant carseat… because he knew we were headed to the hospital that night. I was in labor after all; we knew the drill. I’d called the labor & delivery ward to tell them we’d soon be there. I’d called the babysitter and the doula. Everything was in motion. I was just waiting till things were further along before we headed into the hospital.
But our sweet baby girl jumped the gun and at least two stages of labor and suddenly was just READY.to.be.born. My husband called 911, and the woman – after taking our name and address and dispatching an ambulance was on its way – started walking him through how to deliver a baby.
I was apologising. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” I said, over and over. How had we come to be in this situation? My poor husband – a man for whom labor and delivery are an agonising process. A man who intentionally “stayed up near the head” during the labor and delivery of his three prior children. A man who lamented the loss of the old-school birthing protocol- back when the man was expected, even asked, to stay in the waiting room.
But now. “Stop apologising; FOCUS!” he said. He was in charge. He’s amazing in an emergency, and this certainly qualified as that. He was in his element. He was quick and competent, and between his capability, her insistence on being rapidly born, and my doing the work… the whole thing was over in less than 3 minutes. I know for sure, because I got the 911 recording (a public record, so easily obtainable). It was lightning fast. She was out, she was perfect, and it was over. Within minutes the ambulance and the doula and the babysitter were knocking at the front door in quick succession.
Afterwards he said it was like helping a ewe birth a lamb, something he – my hobby farming man – had done numerous times. And why apologise?, he said; it was his favorite birth. By FAR his favorite birth. He got to sign the birth certificate as the doctor. The name that was top on his list – Matilda (meaning “Brave Warrior”… and hero of the Australian outback “Waltzing Matilda”) – proved itself to perfectly fit this circumstance. She was brave. And her coming was certainly “outback.” Our Matilda won the day.
Those few short moments – hectic, intense, scary, thrilling… They comprise one of my most cherished memories. I think of how admirably my husband performed in our accidental home birth scenario, how well we both performed, and to this day it fills me with pride and gratitude. Amidst moments of strain or disunity, normal fare in the midst of every marriage, we pulled together when it counted. And we pulled together well. We shone. I will always be grateful for that most unexpected event, for how God led us through it (all three of us) and carried the whole thing off. This, my daughter’s birthday legacy to me, is one I’ll always ponder when middle April rolls around.
One thing in life is certain: we will be handed adventure. In all shapes, in all sizes, and all kind of unexpected times. Usually in a tangle of rapid-fire and mixed emotions – surprise, fear, thrill, disbelief, overwhelm. Some adventures will be painful and disappointing; others will turn out to be shining moments, one we’d never anticipate could shape and define us as they ultimately do.
May I live with a heart open and ready to welcome the unexpected, whatever adventure may come. May I live with a heart of trust and courage, like my Brave Warrior daughter did on the evening of her birth….. The same trust and courage that I pray will characterise her, and all my children. May we each remember the sovreignty and goodness of our unexpected God who holds the moments of our lives in his hand. This same God who – in Jesus – willingly lived out the biggest adventure and performed most bravely of all.
This article originally appeared at SusanBArico.com.