It was the middle of the night and I heard ringing. I tried to ignore it. Maybe Eli would take care of whatever it was. Then I realized that it was the phone and I should answer it. I had been invited to attend a friend's delivery, but she wasn't due for a couple days and we all thought she would go about a week past that. When I saw Johanna's name on the cell phone screen, I was still confused. But then she said it. She was really in labor and it was really time to drive down and join her! It felt so strange leaving my family at four in the morning. But Eli had that day off and as I ran down the housekeeping tasks I realized that it really was as good a time as any to be gone.
I had been at two of my brothers' births, but it was completely different being there after giving birth myself. Johanna's mother, her mother-in-law, and I kept giving each other knowing glances. We were having to relax and breath right along with her during each contraction!
It was an honor to be there to watch my friend labor. I've known her since she was a little squirt with big glasses and long, tangled hair. We scampered around together on many an afternoon and now I was waiting with her for her tiny child to make the difficult journey into life. She would make it through each contraction and then lean back smiling sweetly, relieved. Her husband was there for each one, rubbing her back, keeping her focused, praising her, loving her. Towards the end she was dilated and ready, but that stubborn little baby's head was turned the wrong way. That's when she had to lay on the bed in the most uncomfortable position waiting through each contraction for the moment when the head would slide into place. It was her own valley of shadow, but she was surrounded by friends and family and midwives helping, hoping, praying, waiting. But oh, what a wait!
Then finally, all of a sudden, Johanna knew it was time. She turned over and before we knew it we could see a matted, hairy little head! The exhilaration! The joy! We exclaimed, sobbed, and rejoiced! It was only a few more pushes and a new person was born, changing colors and slimy.
"It's a girl!" John cried out and with a catch in his voice he announced, "Here is my daughter, Victoria Faith!"
We sobbed some more as this little girl took her first breaths. We were overjoyed as her lusty cries filled the room. The rest of the evening was spent cooing over tiny hands and listening to every little squeak and snuffle she made. She pooped all over the place, she nursed like she was born for it, and she was perfect in all the ways a brand new person should be.
Little Victoria Faith, your mother is a strong woman. She was not afraid of the task of bringing you into the world and she handled it like a warrior fighting the good fight. Your mother is a beautiful woman. Peace settled on her face as she rested between contractions and she continued to smile sweetly at us, even when she knew another was on the way. And her face just beamed with true inner joy when she was finally able to hold you in her arms. She loves you more than you will ever know until you grow up and have babies of your own. May God bless you and strengthen you and may He grow you up into just such a woman.