This pregnancy has tested my faith in so many ways. But my deepest fear has definitely tested it most of all.
At our doula training two weekends ago, we did an introspective exercise. We were all given a piece of paper and a marker. Then we took the marker into our non-dominant hand and drew or wrote something to represent our deepest fear about our actual or hypothetical upcoming birth. For me it was very actual... very real. It was a limp and lifeless baby with his arms and legs hanging down below him. A dead baby.
I have never needed to face that fear before. I never worried that my daughters or I would die in childbirth. I worried about other things... logistics... would the staff pressure me to have interventions I didn't want? Would I be able to handle the contractions? Would I tear? I never asked, "Will my baby die?" This is the first time I've asked myself that question. And what a heavy question!
Of course my daughters could have died... even in the hospital. Babies sometimes die. I suppose the difference now is that I don't have the other logistical worries to occupy my mind. I know there will be no unnecessary interventions. I know I will be surrounded by support. I know I can handle the contractions. But I also know that, if something bad happens, those who have questioned our home birth will shake their heads and point their fingers at ME. No one would ever think to point their finger at a mother whose baby died in the hospital... even if it was her own ignorance of the risks of interventions or poor choice in doctor that led to the death. It would be absolutely unheard-of to blame the mother. Home birth mothers don't get that kind of courtesy... even when their babies' deaths have nothing to do with their birth location and would have died in the hospital anyway.
So I do think about it. And I know I wouldn't be able to handle facing that deepest fear in real life... without my faith. When that fear starts wrapping itself around my heart, it is my faith (and my husband's even stronger faith) that slowly eases the panic.
As we did the fear-facing exercise at our doula training, we went on to contain our fears with the internal and external forces/influences that would be at our disposal. I contained that frightening image with my husband, my midwives, preparation, and God. I suppose you could say, I contained that fear with my faith in them.
I had a really reassuring chat with my midwives this morning at my appointment. It was reassuring that they can't even remember the last time they had to transport a woman who'd given birth before (to the hospital). And their confidence that they could get to my house in 20 minutes put my "what if the baby comes too quickly?" fears to rest. They've never lost a mother or baby. They have seen it all when it comes to birth... over and over again (Mary, for 30 years!). And they're not afraid. So why am I?
My husband, who was always afraid of home birth in the past, has no doubt in his mind that everything is going to be fine. He isn't the least bit worried. At all. No matter how many times I ask him, in my weakness, "Our baby's not going to die, right?" He always responds with the same steadfast assurance and peace, "No. Everything is going to be fine." He has total faith in our path. So why can't I?
More importantly... God has never let me down. I have no reason not to trust Him. He guided us to this particular path and urged us not to fear. So why do I?
I suppose it wouldn't be called a "test of faith" if it wasn't hard. :-)
Sometimes I like to imagine that moment when my son emerges and I take his slippery little body into my arms... you know, that moment that always makes me cry in birth videos... I like to imagine hearing him take his first breath and use his lungs and vocal chords for the first time. And I imagine the overwhelming relief that will wash over me with each breath, each sound, each vigorous movement of his arms and legs... he is alive! That imaginary instant may be just in my mind, but it feels so real every time it presents itself. So real, in fact, that I think I just might have enough faith to believe I'll see that moment happen.