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A Spiritual Birth

By Hanna Szigeti

Birth is spiritual. The months of pregnancy after conception are a spiritual experience: A little baby grows inside the womb and demands nourishment and extra space, causing his or her mother to surrender to the miracle of pregnancy. A pregnant woman “fasts” from specific foods, drinks, and behaviors in order to provide her child with a healthful environment in the womb. After the birth of the baby, the self-sacrificial love of a mother is a testament to the love God has for us. 

I was ready for my baby to arrive long before the due date in February. My husband and I chose two names for our baby because we decided to wait to find out the gender of the child until the day of the birth. I read several books about birth, participated in a birth class with my husband, and spoke with many mothers about their own birth stories, but nothing could prepare me for the surrender giving birth required of me. To surrender to the birth process is spiritual. 

When I was a girl, I waded out into the ocean to where my feet touched the sand if I stood on my toes. The waves rolled in, one after another, and I dove into the waves; as I emerged to breathe, I had just moments to prepare for another wave. The waves rolled onto the shore, a never ending rhythm. 

Contractions are ocean waves. With each wave, the intensity demanded my attention and my surrender. I chose to give birth in a birth center, where epidurals are unavailable. I chose to feel the waves because I wanted to experience labor in the most natural way possible. 

I labored for 20 hours, and I pushed for nine of those hours. Surrendering to the natural process and letting my body do the work was difficult. The support of a team of midwives, a nurse, my mother, and my husband helped me push through the exhaustion and the intensity of the contractions. I labored in the tub, the shower, on a birth stool, in my husband’s arms, and on the bed in the birth center. I listened to my body: I rested when I was tired, moved and changed positions when I was uncomfortable, and sipped liquids when I was thirsty. Instinct is key during birth, and I trusted my instincts. 

The length of labor pulled me under the waves and held me for a time. There were several contractions where I wanted to give up and find an easier route to meeting my baby. Each time I wanted to give up, my own mother stood by my side to support and encourage me. The power of faithful women in community together is beautiful. 

My mother used hypnosis to take me through the wave of each contraction. Before scoffing at the idea of hypnosis, think about how often one daydreams. I was unsure of hypnosis prior to labor and birth, but this method helped me dive into each wave as the contractions brought me closer to my baby. My mother transported me to a lush, green meadow with wildflowers of every color. She described the scent of the flowers and the bees that buzzed from one bloom to the next. The song of the birds rang in my ears, and the chirp of the crickets enveloped me. She described the sundress I wore and the books I carried. Her words carried me through transition and the strongest contractions, and even though February flurries loomed overhead, I was in the meadow in the middle of summer. 

Trusting and knowing at the end of labor and birth that I would meet my baby, I was determined to keep going. At one point, I asked my midwife if I was almost done. I wanted her to give me a timeline, or to tell me I needed just five more pushes. But she said, “I don’t know.” I had to trust in the process, in my baby, in my body, and in God to see me through the labor and birth. 

Toward the end of labor, in the midst of all the hours of pushing, exhaustion consumed my body. Even without knowing when labor would end, I kept going. Birth is spiritual because the strength required to labor and give birth and endure without pain medicine does not come from our own bodies alone, but from Spirit. All of the hours of reading, researching, and birth classes gave me knowledge, but not strength. Birth is humbling because one cannot give birth alone. 

My husband caught our baby with the last push and placed her on my swollen belly. Her eyes were open and she struggled to breathe at first due to fluid in her airways. The midwife suctioned her nose and helped her take her first breath. My husband and I named her Eden. 

Eden is a miracle baby: I was diagnosed with stage three endometriosis one year prior to her conception, and my husband and I did not know if we could even conceive a child. But with God, all things are possible. 

I held my little Eden in my arms, and I knew in that moment how much God loved her and I. I would die for Eden—I would willingly lay down my life for her. The love mothers feel for their children, that self-sacrificial, unconditional love, is close to the love God has for all of us. Giving birth to Eden changed my perspective about all people, and I see others, even strangers, as beloved by God. My little daughter is a joyful baby. She smiles often, even at strangers, and she loves to laugh. As I watch her grow, I recognize she is on a spiritual journey, too, and I cannot wait to see where God leads her.