It’s on the 2nd of November, at midnight. My husband and I arrived at the hospital. It’d been raining the whole day and finally brought the chill of the early winter. Having parked just outside the building, I took a deep breath in the cold, humid air as I slowly stepped out the car with my watermelon-sized heavy belly, along with a big bag of baby and nursing clothes, blanket, and some toiletry. The contraction had gotten more and more frequent and intense—-every 10 minutes or so, I would feel a rush of increasing pain in my abdomen, during which I had learned to breathe through.

We checked in quickly. In the monitoring room, the midwife examed me and told me that my cervix had opened to 4 centimeters. Since I had to be induced for giving birth to my son last time, I was hoping this time I could go for an all-natural delivery, no induction nor epidural, if I could bear the birthing pain. So when the midwife asked me about my delivery plan, I told her my thought, and she arranged me to one of the natural delivery rooms where I could either have a natural delivery without any medication or epidural whenever I wanted it.

We followed the midwife to the room. It’s a spacious, well-equipped room with a bathtub in the middle, two beds, an excise ball, and three pieces of thick cloth hanging from the ceiling to help with labor and delivery. Another midwife came in and introduced herself to us. She would be the one assisting me throughout the night.

With the ongoing contraction, I finally settled in a somewhat comfortable position on a big bed piled with pillows. Some contractions were more intense than the others. Since the midwife put the monitor on my belly to control the baby’s heartbeat and contractions, I could read the intensity of each contraction from a screen through numbers. I could also feel it, of course. Whenever it hit, I would close my eyes, slowly take a long deep breath, and slowly breathe out. It did help to manage the pain.

My iPhone showed me it’s 3:00 am. I felt exhausted. The only thing I wanted to do is to sleep. In-between the contractions, for those two or three minutes, sometimes I would doze off, then woke up again with the pain. My husband sit on the floor by my bed and was very sleepy too. He tried to squeeze my hand when I felt the pain, as I’d asked him. The night seemed endless. I prayed for more strength to endure the increasing pain.

The midwife came in to check on me from time to time. She told me that I was doing well with the breathing technique. She suggested it might be helpful if I hug the excise ball and lean on it. I did limp over to the ball and tried the hugging posture, then was hit by a big wave of contraction. It was so painful, and nothing helped. I managed to return to bed, thinking this might be the limit of my pain bearing.

A couple of minutes later, by the time my cervix opened six centimeters, I told the midwife that I wanted epidural. She was a bit surprised, asking if I was sure. I strangely felt a little guilty that I might be failing her expectation for me to have the all-natural delivery since she was affirming my breathing technique earlier. Or maybe secretly in my heart, I felt guilty for failing myself and God by giving up persevering in this laboring pain, and failing to join the club of those brave moms who could proudly share with others that they endured the fullness of birthing pain. I prayed, and felt God whispering to me, “It’s ok, baby, get the epidural. It’s not a competition.” Then I told the midwife I was sure.

The anesthetists soon came and gave me the dose of epidural. The pain soon went away. I became numb to the contraction pain, only feeling the increasing pressure against my cervix for pushing the baby out. Thank God for modern medicine that I was able to take a short nap after receiving epidual, and gather some much-needed strength before the final push.

One hour or so passed. It’s 7:15 am. I’d received another dose of epidural, and it’s time for the final push.

Here I was, lying on the delivery bed, with IV tubes on my wrist and monitor on my belly, surrounded by a midwife, a student midwife, and my husband. I carefully followed the midwife’s instruction, whenever the monitoring screen showed a contraction, I would grab tight both of my knees, take a deep breath, and push as hard as I could. Once, twice, and three times, repeat.

“Come one, push! It’s progressing! The baby’s coming out more and more. Do you want to see the baby’s hair?” The midwife kept encouraging me. No, I didn’t want to see the hair. I tried to stay focused and save all my energy to push.

When it’s very close to having the baby’s head out, the midwife asked if I knew the gender of the baby. I told her it’s a girl. And she said, “You have a boy, and now you are giving birth to a girl. In French, we say it’s ‘Le Choix du Roi’, which means the ‘King’s choice.’ You are doing well! You will soon see your baby girl.” My eyes welled up at what she said. “The King’s choice,” what a gracious word! Isn’t this little girl indeed a gift from the King of Kings for our family? And I was going to see her at any minute! Gratitude filled my heart as if I was granted some new strength to push one more time.

In case of tearing up the old wounds from my last childbirth, the midwife suggested cutting part of my perineum to give more room for the baby. I agreed. At that point, nothing mattered but to see my baby girl. One more push. Sweat and tears, I gave all I had. Even with the effect of epidural, I still felt dying—- wilfully pushing myself to death so that I could bring life to the other human being, and live. I thought about Christ, and the Calvary where He died to bring redemption and real life to us, and his resurrection.

“Here, she comes!” I finally heard the soft cry of my baby at 8:24 am. I surely cried louder than her. They put her on my chest. I looked at her through my tearing eyes. Oh, she’s so beautiful. She’s perfect and the perfect choice of God for our life.

Today, Esther, our baby girl is 18 days old. She’s been gaining weight and growing very well. Caleb, our two years old son, adores his little sister. Being married for over three years and living overseas, from just two of us to a family of four, we’ve overcome quite a few barriers and still overcoming. The King’s choice, the lead of God in our life, surely is a gracious gift. Embrace the gift—- the life with all its ups and downs, leaning in, even to the point of painful suffering, then, watch the new life birthing out, a new day coming.

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