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Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for Ashes: A Birth Story

I had dreamt of an at home waterbirth for over a decade.  I had dreamt about the peace, the comfort, the beauty of it all.

And here I was, hours away from realizing such a dream, and peace, comfort, and beauty were nowhere to be found.

The news of his infidelity coupled with our already volatile, abusive relationship led to the destruction of our marriage just one month prior.  With that devastating news, I spent a tumultuous night laying on my cold, bathroom floor, cradling the life in my belly and crying out in despair. When I awoke the next morning, with no more tears to cry, I accepted the harsh reality that I would most likely be everything I vowed not to be—divorced, single, and alone.

So, here we were hours away from welcoming new life into the world and things weren’t at all like I had pictured them for us.  We weren’t speaking. We were in separate rooms. Literally and figuratively, we were worlds apart. We were angry. We were hurt.  We were at each other’s throats.

And here I was, in labor.  Here I was, about to bring a baby into such an unhealthy, chaotic environment.  I was crushed.

I was devastated by my current circumstances, by my glaring failures. I felt like I was living some cruel nightmare.

And like a slap in the face, it hit me. On an emotional level, I would ultimately be doing this alone—I would be birthing our child alone.  My husband had offered to let my mom take his place in the birthing process. He had offered to relinquish his position to someone he originally had objected to having at the birth. This broke my already shattered heart, as I knew this expressed the severity, the finality of it all. He didn’t want to be there to support me. He didn’t want to be there to welcome our baby.  I felt unwanted. I felt unworthy. And I carried that burden for the baby in my womb too, as it felt like he wanted nothing to do with it either. He despised me with such a passion that for the first time, I clearly saw how narrow the line could be between love and hate.

As the contractions intensified, all my hopes of a peaceful, comfortable, beautiful home waterbirth washed away with each silent tear that fell from my eyes.

Although he eventually came to my side as I labored, I couldn’t help but feel alone. The words he spoke to me felt empty, distant. The rubbing of my back felt impersonal, foreign. The consoling he offered felt cold, calculated.

But out of all this pain, out of all this adversity, something was stirring in the depths of my soul. A strength I never knew I had was taking root and was beginning to bloom.

It was me and this baby. We were in this together.  We needed each other.  Each other was all we had.  So, with each painful contraction I gripped the countertop, silently swaying left and right to quiet the pain.  With each painful contraction it felt like my bones were physically breaking, mirroring the pain and anguish of my simultaneously breaking heart.  

But once I stepped into the water, the warmness enveloped me. And like a rushing wind, she came fast and she came hard.

And when I held her to my chest in the warm waters, when I stared at her in complete awe, she began to fill in the spaces of my broken heart.  The strength that had begun to bloom from inside me was slowing beginning to open, to blossom.

No, the at home waterbirth I had dreamt of for over a decade didn’t happen the way I had planned it, it didn’t happen the way I had envisioned it.  It was preceded with devastation. It was filled with brokenness and heartache.  But it ended miraculously, it ended with a beautiful blossoming. Although it wasn’t what I would have chosen for us, looking back I wouldn’t change any of it. It’s our story. It’s our story of beauty coming from ashes. It’s our story that continues to unfold—our story of strength, of beauty that comes from adversity, our story that continues to blossom in each season of this life.

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” –Isaiah 61:3

Pieces of Jessika ©

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