Hope: One Word for 2015,  Messy Faith,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings,  Pregnancy & Birth,  Redemption Stories

No Matter What, I Believe: On Broken Faith and Healing Birth

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This post is part of a blog series, 31 Days of Preparing for VBAC: my story of purposeful pregnancy, beautiful trial of labor after cesarean, and the healing repeat cesarean birth of my second child. To view all of the posts in this series, check out the landing page. To receive all posts in the series by email, subscribe here.

August 25, 2015 – 39 weeks, 6 days

I had originally planned to title this post “Strong enough? Finding the balance between female empowerment and dependence on God.”

And I’m going to talk about that, I promise.

But I realize, at 1 day shy of 40 weeks up at 5:30AM having contractions, that I can’t get there without sharing what I’ve gone through with God this pregnancy.

I was about one month along when I wrote the blog post entitled “Broken Faith.”

If you are a new follower who is unfamiliar with my faith-story, let me give you the short version:

I grew up in highly conservative fundamentalism. As I reached adulthood, I realized how much my life had been infused with legalism, guilt, shame, perfectionism, and at times – spiritual abuse. As I walked away from each of those things over the course of several years, I struggled to separate all of that from true faith in a loving God, without walking away from it all completely. Instead of finding healing and answers, the questions and doubts only got louder and more persistent.

I had been growing increasingly discontent at our church for at least six months prior to getting pregnant. I was constantly feeling triggered about my spiritual past and not finding the healing that I was craving. It didn’t feel like a safe place anymore and honestly, I just didn’t want to be there. But at the time, my husband wasn’t ready to make a church move. So we kept trying to make it work.

At the beginning of the year (and my pregnancy), someone very close to me had moved from a place of faith toward the direction of atheism. What was hardest about this was that his decision made entirely too much sense to me. His questions were mine. The things he couldn’t seem to reconcile about God and faith were the same things I had been too afraid to voice. There were times that we talked when I wondered if he was right about it all. And it scared me.

This pregnancy came at a time when I needed it the most. Because at one month pregnant I was sitting in my bathroom crying out to God that I didn’t know if I could believe in Him at all anymore.

My husband tried to help by encouraging me to focus on just. one. thing.

Not creation. Not the redemption story or the gospel. Not all of the good Christian answers to the big real-life questions I had. Not what my responsibilities were as a Christian. But simply this:

God loves me. 

So, that’s what I did. I shelved all the questions, all the doubts, all the not-making-sense issues and just honed in on that one thing.

{see also Love songs for the girl who needs to remember that God loves her}

It was at this time that I also began creating my VBAC playlist. Listening to these songs became my way – often my only way – of holding onto faith.

I had this miracle growing inside of me, which I could NOT deny was not only an act of God but also an answer to a direct prayer prayed by my son on November 15th, 2014.

I was taking it one day at a time.

Preparing for a VBAC made it all the more complicated. Because secular natural birth culture is all about believing and trusting…in yourself, in birth, in your baby, in your body. It’s about birthing without fear. Believing that your body is made to do this.

It didn’t make sense to me that 1 out of 3 women in this country have to be cut open to get their children out. I wanted to believe that God didn’t make “broken” bodies. He created me, He created this child…I wanted so badly to believe that my body wouldn’t grow a baby so big it couldn’t birth. I wanted to believe that I could do this.

Yet I didn’t know how to reconcile that with verses like, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Phil 4:13) and “for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Do I need to believe in myself? That I can do this? That I can trust my body and my baby to work together? 

Or do I need to believe that I can’t – that it’s only through depending on GOD’s power that this can happen?

What role does God play in all of this, and how do I balance that with my own physical and emotional preparation? What will happen if I focus too much on preparing myself and become over confident, forgetting God’s role in it? What if I don’t acknowledge Him (Proverbs 3:6), delight in Him (Psalm 37:4), commit this birth to Him (Psalm 37:5), or depend on His strength enough? Is believing in my own ability to give birth pride that He will punish? 

What if He won’t let me have a VBAC because my faith in Him is almost nonexistent?

I’m due tomorrow, and I still don’t have the nice pretty answers to these questions. But quietly, over the last nine months, God has walked this journey right alongside me and my baby.

It’s been messy. Really messy.

I fought discouragement and depression. I made some really bad choices that I was sure God would punish me for by saying no to VBAC or taking away my baby. And there were days when I couldn’t bring myself to think about God at all.

We left our church in the spring, and as we neared delivery we were completely without a church home. This was both liberating and terrifying for me. We started visiting a new church late in July. I sat in the pastor’s office our first Sunday there. I was 34 weeks pregnant, and he asked me how I felt about my faith. My only answer was, “Just holding on. I don’t read my Bible. Some times I can’t pray. But I’m still holding onto faith, because I’m just not to the point where I can walk away.”

I continued to reach out to God – to invite Him into my life and into this pregnancy. Every time I stuck in a CD in my car or stuck my headphones in my ears to listen to Overcomer or Strong Enough, I was reminded that He was a part of this too.

‘Cause when I’m finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that’s when I start looking up
And reaching out

Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
For the both of us

Try and do the best you can
Hold on and let Him hold your hand
And go on and fall into the arms of Jesus
God’s right there
Even when you just can’t feel Him
I promise you that He still cares

‘Cause if He started this work in your life
He will be faithful to complete it
If only you believe it
He knows how much it hurts
And I’m sure that He’s gonna help you get through this

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger

Somehow, by the end of the pregnancy, trusting in my own ability to birth and trusting in God didn’t seem so opposed to one another.

I had just come through seriously facing my fears about having a repeat cesarean and planning for that when I heard the song No Matter What on the radio.

Secretly? As ridiculous as it may seem–my deepest, darkest fear of this entire pregnancy was that my faith in God was dependent on the outcome of my VBAC. That if it happened, I could keep believing in God. If I had to have another cesarean, I was done. I would walk away.

This song just wrapped it all together for me – holding onto my broken faith, my fears, the balance of believing in myself and trusting in God.

I drove to prenatal yoga class one night with this song on repeat, tears streaming down my face. I pictured myself on the operating table – cut open, bleeding, having “failed” at one of the things I wanted most in my life. The music washed over me and I knew – I just knew – that somehow, even if it came to that, it would still be okay. I could still believe.

I’m runnin’ back to your promises one more time
Lord that’s all I can hold on to
I gotta say this has taken me by surprise
But nothing surprises You

Before a heartache can ever touch my life
It has to go through Your hands
And even though I keep asking why
I keep asking why

When I’m stuck in this nothingness by myself
I’m just sittin’ in silence
There’s no way I can make it without Your help
I won’t even try it

I know You have Your reasons for everything
So I will keep believing
Whatever I might be feeling, God, You are my hope
And You’ll be my strength,

Anything I don’t have, You can give it to me
But it’s okay if You don’t
I’m not here for those things
The touch of Your love is enough on its own
No matter what I still love You, and I’m gonna need You

No matter what, I’m gonna love you
No matter what, I’m gonna need you
I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, if not, I’ll trust You
No matter what, no matter what


There was a moment while I was laboring when I was overcome and started crying. I was surrounded by my husband, my doula, my chiropractor. I was laboring on my own – my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing. I was moving and vocalizing in ways that I had practiced in the months prior to birth, training through yoga and my own personal preparation.

I felt so loved and supported in that moment.

Why? I wondered as I let the tears fall freely. Why couldn’t I have had this with Ezra? Why couldn’t I have been this supported and prepared?

It was a mix of such grief and such gratefulness, all at the same time. I felt such a release. Letting go of the past experience…moving on…embracing the current experience fully. Healing.

Francesca Battistelli’s song Giants Fall says this:

Ask and believe
You’re gonna see
The hand of God in every little thing

When an experienced care provider broke my water accidentally, I felt it.
When my prenatal nurse drove my car to the hospital because she “just happened” to be going to a meeting there, I felt it.
With every nurse change, I felt it.
When the midwife I had seen the most came on shift, I felt it.
When, time and time again, they gave me more time to labor, I felt it.
When people from the OR staff, knowing we had had a difficult previous experience, introduced themselves to me “just in case,” I felt it…and when I saw their faces again in the OR, I felt it again.
When my chiropractor prayed over me, I felt it.
When I heard Little Brother’s first cries, I felt it.
And when they placed him on my chest, I felt it the most.

The hand of God in every little thing…

And the thing I thought I wanted most – “my VBAC” – suddenly didn’t seem so important after all.

I didn’t need a VBAC to have a healing birth.

I’ve watched the videos of my son’s first moments over and over, probably nearly a hundred times now. And nearly every time I have shed tears.

What a gift!

When I first listened to To The Dreamers, I visualized birthing my baby and pulling him up to my chest on my own. That was my dream.

But those moments, where I heard his cries, kissed his little nose, and rubbed his back while he rested on me in surgery – those are even more beautiful. Not what I visualized. But so perfect in their “imperfection.”

Those moments made me a believer again.

How could I not believe?

I was wondering and I was wandering
So down and out, I was lost not found
History said, oh someone said, that You could never exist
But then a whisper, the start of a kiss
Came to me in all of a sudden like a dream, a fantasy
That day didn’t feel quite real
You took a half dead soul and You made me believe
I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe

To the dreamers
Wide-eyed believers
Hanging onto hope by a thread
To the soulful
Heart open hopeful
Keep on charging ahead
‘Cause, when you feel it, once you see it, and you breathe it
It’s unforgettable
When you know it, once you know it, and you hold it
It’s unforgettable

Little Brother 2

God could have found a way to keep me from the pain of another cesarean birth. But He didn’t. And I’m so glad that He didn’t.

I walked away from Little Brother’s birth scarred once again in body, but whole in spirit.

healing birth 1

{I’m sharing Little Brother’s birth video again here. The song lyrics I’ve shared here – No Matter What and To the Dreamers – made such a big difference during my pregnancy. During my recovery process as I put together this video, these songs helped me heal emotionally and piece together what I was feeling about birth and faith. If you haven’t watched, I would love for you to. Starting at 13:24 you can watch it unfold.}

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