I never experienced true moment by gruesome moment of uninterrupted childbirth until this moment exactly one year ago.
I had experienced 3 weeks of prodromal labor. You know, labor that literally knocks your socks off everyday of the week and you think each time "this is IT". But, it's not.
As week 41 quickly approached, I was completely worn to the bone after enduring weeks and weeks of daily intense regular contractions for hours.
She came in a whirlwind on a balmy August Saturday with just twenty minutes to spare after our arrival and entry into the birthing pool.
The time we were gone was four hours total and that included a two hour round trip from our home to the birthing center.
On this, her first birthday, my mind is flooded with memories of both the intensity of the pain and joy that day brought me. Intense is definitely the right word.
But, in the middle of another night of sleeplessness last night, as I trudged out of bed with my very weary, ill-ridden body to go to her for the seven thousandth time, I realized...the pain of childbirth is easily trumped. It's trumped by the pain of motherhood.
The pain accumulates and compounds itself each and every day, as it naturally does so each and every child.
The pain and joy that filled my heart when I was shown this by my almost nine year old son a couple of nights ago. It both warmed and broke my heart in two.
And the daily pains of correction, training, and redirection of poor choices made, a true picture of how even the littlest of us can do such horrifying, sinful things. That's painful.
That first realization that your child is bent on doing the opposite of what you will them to do. That toddler moment, soon after their first birthday, that both invites tantrum and tumult. It's painful to the uttermost. Where did my sweet, cuddly, innocent baby go?
The pains of natural childbirth don't compare to the pain of losing a child, having your child sick in a NICU, or watching them being held down to get stitches. All of those things are infinitely more painful than the labor pains we endure to get our children into our arms.
The pain I feel when I see my children cry because someone hurt them, lied to them, or let them down. It's overwhelming. We spend so much time making sure we drain ourselves in order to keep our children safe, healthy, and content. But then, they realize, and necessarily (and hopefully) so, that the only thing in this life that isn't disappointing is God Himself.
As I reflect on the past nine years of motherhood, and especially the past year I've been raising my "handful" of children, I am reminded, more than ever, just how extremely excruciating motherhood is.
I am so grateful to God for my five, but there are more days than not when I hate what motherhood has done and does to me. And then again, I would never give it back if I could. We all need to be stretched and pulled and broken in order to experience Gods best for us.
Hold your children loosely and allow God to be the balm that soothes your weary, pained soul. Because no matter how much we try to avoid it, motherhood is painful. As we are in childbirth, we are marked forever and completely ruined by the blessing that God holds highest: life.