I had just finished throwing up for the first time (not the last) into a handful of paper towels when the midwife walked in.
“I’m sorry. I threw up” I said to her, although that would have been pretty obvious from the vomit covering my t-shirt and bed sheets (paper towels not being particularly appropriate for the task). She smiled and told me not to worry, they saw it all the time.
The truth was I was so entirely relieved to see her face that I would have thrown away even more of my dignity to ensure it. This was the midwife who’d led our prenatal classes, who’d been so kind when the tears came unbidden during one of them and my fear tumbled out in mixed up words. I’d come home that day and dared to pray what I so hoped for – that she might be on shift when my time came.
And then there she was, walking in to our delivery room minutes after we’d arrived, my contractions already strong and frequent. It felt like answered prayer. It felt like a whispered assurance from the Spirit that She was there, that She was in this with Rasmus and I and our unborn baby, that we’d be ok.
Our midwife stayed with us through the next six hours of labour and pushing.
Every time I opened my eyes between each painful contraction she was there, crouching next to the ball I was swaying on, leaning across the edge of the bath. She was present, she was focused and she was calm. The more vulnerable and overwhelmed I felt, the more I needed the sight of her, her words of reassurance and encouragement as I did the hardest work of my life.
Mine was not a calm labour, no silent intense focus as I had imagined it. Rather, I yelled and shouted my way through each contraction. I leaned and pushed against my husband, needing his strength. I felt hugely vulnerable and I worried I was doing this all wrong—wasn’t natural birth meant to feel empowering and transcendent?
But then each pause between surges, there she was, close by and attentive, telling me how well I was doing, how well the birth was going.
Later, when the doctor needed to make a small intervention to help our baby be born, I turned to her: “I’m scared,” was the simple honest truth that spilled out. Her eyes filled with compassion as she told me with so much gentle confidence, “You don’t need to be scared. Your baby is nearly here!”
Moments later, she was lifting our daughter out of the water into my outstretched arms and we were gazing in dreamlike joy at this chubby vernix-covered child that we’d waited and prayed for. And she was there, wrapping us in warm blankets, her beaming smile reflecting our own surreal elation.
“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs… We are enlarged in the waiting… Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.” -Romans 8, The Message.
I am convinced now that the Holy Spirit is a midwife.
She comes to us in simple raspberry-pink scrubs and crouches next to us through every hard and painful moment. She leans in and her eyes pour compassion, her calm words are strength and reassurance, her very presence is Hope.
And we are enlarged in the waiting; in every agonizing moment of waiting for the promise to be delivered, we are being expanded and transformed. And so we yell and fight through the pain because the Spirit in us, She’s also a warrior and She’s making us fierce, She’s making us brave.
She will help us birth the promise that is in us.
She’ll stand with us through it all until the moment we finally behold how beautiful and glorious it is. And then she’ll celebrate with us, her joy mingling with ours until our hearts are fit to burst.
This post originally appeared at She Loves Magazine.