This guest post is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.
When Place Matters
By Lani Axman
Our maternity care providers’ words and actions have the potential to impact us for the rest of our lives, and selecting the best provider available is crucial (Read more about this subject in our book—“Unity With Providers of Care,” page 433). There is no doubt that care providers, staff, and support people can positively or negatively affect a woman’s birth experience—regardless of where that experience takes place. Even so, sometimes location matters. Sometimes things need to happen in a particular place for reasons we may or may not ever understand.
In the classic memoir, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were imprisoned for hiding and assisting Jews. They were transferred, eventually, to a concentration camp in Germany. After being shown their sleeping quarters, they climbed into the crowded platform bunk together. Within seconds, they were attacked by fleas. The beds were completely swarming with them. Betsy’s response, in prayer to God: “Thank You for the fleas.” Corrie couldn’t believe her ears. She said, “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.” But, even so, they thanked God for the fleas. It wasn’t until later that they realized just what a blessing those fleas actually were.
For months and months, Corrie and Betsy held nightly Bible study devotionals for the women in their dormitory using a set of scriptures they had managed, through divine help, to sneak into the camp. Through their efforts, many women were brought to God and the atmosphere among the women in their quarters changed from quarreling and selfishness to a spirit of love and sisterhood. Corrie and her sister couldn’t understand why their spiritual study groups had never been interrupted or silenced by the camp guards. Then Betsy overheard a conversation that made it all clear. None of the guards would ever step foot inside that particular dormitory—because of the fleas. God knew where Corrie and Betsie needed to be.
Of course, Cherylyn (our blog hostess) knows this principle well. The surprise breech birth of her fifth baby is included in The Gift of Giving Life (p. 93). When she became pregnant with her fifth baby, Cherylyn had spent the previous several years studying and immersing herself in childbirth:
As I thought about my options, the idea of a water birth at home gave me great peace. The peace I felt surprised me, but I welcomed it. I prayed about planning to birth my baby at home, and that resounding peace filled my soul. That peace stayed with me throughout my entire pregnancy. I never felt fear about my choice to birth at home.
When it came time for Cherylyn to push out her baby, the midwife discovered that he was unexpectedly breech. Despite this unexpected surprise, he was born safely, calmly, and easily:
My husband and midwife described to me how the baby had kicked his legs in the water while I was pushing, and moved his body to help wiggle his way out. . . . It was good for me to be in the water and allow the baby to feel the weightlessness similar to the womb and be able to manipulate his own body in ways I never would have imagined possible. I was immediately grateful I was at home in the tub. . . . I don't fault anyone for not knowing he was breech. We didn't know, but God knew, and provided us with what we needed to handle it.
Because Cherylyn followed the promptings of the Spirit, she was able to have a peaceful, beautiful breech birth rather than a surprise cesarean—something she knows would have been very traumatic for her. Additionally, her breech birth account has since brought inspiration to countless other women via her blog (and will continue to bless more women through our book). God knew where Cherylyn needed to give birth.
I believe God sometimes prepares “lands of promise” where significant events in our lives are to occur. Sometimes we are guided to those places without our seeking direction, but I feel confident that God delights when we seek divine guidance. As The Book of Mormon teaches us:
Blessed art thou, . . . because of thy faith, for thou has sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands. (1 Nephi 2:19-20)
While it may not matter in every case, sometimes God has a specific place in mind for a child’s birth. That “land of promise” may be a particular hospital with the right staff and equipment to handle your baby’s unique health issue. It may be in a makeshift tent in the particular disaster relief camp where a skilled midwife happens to be present and available. It may be at a birth center, at home, or in a parking lot on the way to the hospital. I don’t know where your particular “land of promise” is located, but I am confident that God will guide you to it if you ask in faith.
Visit The Gift of Giving Life site to sign up for their newsletter and to receive a free Meditation MP3 as well as tips to help increase spirituality in your pregnancy and birth. For my readers I have a coupon code for 10% off a copy of The Gift of Giving Life. Click here and after you add the book to your cart use this coupon code. GWFWXR3F This code is good until Father’s Day 2012.
Lani Axman is one of the authors of The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Childbirth. She has been blogging at Birth Faith since 2007, became trained as a birth doula through DONA International in 2009 and in neonatal resuscitation in 2011, and looks forward to serving through birth work when her children are older. Lani now resides near Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and four children.