My fourth pregnancy poked along to the very end. I often tell my youngest, “You were just so comfy inside you didn’t want to come out!” On a sunny spring day, after labor had stopped and started all day, Rob finally convinced me to call my midwife for encouragement and an update. “Just relax,” she told me. “Have a beer and take a long soak in the bathtub.” Sure enough, that’s all I needed. Labor kicked into full gear.
I’ll never forget Rob driving me north on the highway at midnight that night. We were headed to the hospital. Though we’d decided this would be our last child, this trip was kind of bittersweet. It would be our final visit to the labor and delivery room. “We can go as fast as we want,” he joked. “There’s nobody on the road!”
When we arrived at the hospital, we met our doula and midwife who’d agreed to facilitate the non-invasive birth I wanted. As labor became focused, the room grew quiet. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” I told my midwife nervously. “You know exactly what you’re doing,” she assured me. “You were made to do this.” Rob smiled. He loved her reply.
I think most husbands are in awe at the birth process. It’s sobering to see what women endure to bring life into the world. Rob always treated me like a childbirth hero. You’d think I’d won an Oscar for my performance each time. I remember how he proudly repeated those words to friends and family after I gave birth to our daughter. “You were made to do this.” He always believed in me, even when I didn’t.
Through four births, Rob was my faithful companion in the labor and delivery room. He was always a participant, not a bystander. We were a good team. Rob knew my needs well and intuited everything else. He advocated for me and cheered me across the finish line every time. “You did it, you did it!” he’d say to me over and over again with tears in his eyes as we held our new little one bundled close.
Rob made me both a mother and a widow, and enduring his death bears striking similarities to enduring childbirth. I feel the nervousness, the anticipation, the fear. My new life is being birthed from Rob’s death, and I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s a painful labor and delivery, this time devoid of joy. I want him beside me to do this hard thing, but I must endure this labor alone.
And yet, Hebrews 11 tells me that, in the groaning of this hard labor of death and rebirth, Rob still cheers me on, albeit from afar. For as many years as this labor lasts unto glory, in the midst of that great cloud of witnesses, Rob encourages me along. I can’t hear his voice coaching me, but I know he’s there.
I never asked for this birth; I never wanted it. This isn’t the labor I hoped for when I married Rob. It isn’t one he could have anticipated. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the day when he wraps me in his arms and joyfully celebrates with me: “You were made to endure. You did it, you did it!”