Aaron and I went out on a date Friday. We figured it would probably be the last before baby arrives and we ended up in Laguna Beach.
Laguna Beach is one of our favorite towns.
It's where Aaron proposed to me.
It was the first stop on our honeymoon road trip.
We have celebrated anniversaries, birthdays and romantic getaways there.
That little town holds a lot of our memories.
Now we have one more.
After dinner at the only Italian restaurant that was still open, we asked the waiter to take our picture.
"This could be the last picture of us before the baby is born," we joked.
We stood up and I started having contractions.
We walked along the beach and they became more painful and closer together.
Every 3 minutes.
I had been joking all day that planning for Lilly's birthday party the next day would put me into labor.
Maybe I was right.
All of my labors have been different.
James was 5 days late and I was facing imminent induction.
I was a first time mom and induction was most decidedly not a part of my all natural birthing plan.
So I took castor oil.
That night my water broke and my contractions started right away.
They were 2 minutes apart and they hurt.
But it still took 8 hours before I was ready to push.
And 2.5 hours of pushing before he was born.
With William, I never even experienced labor.
He was a breech baby who would not turn.
So at 39 weeks, I had a scheduled c-section and it was done.
Lilly was different still.
I was expecting another big baby, so my dr. and I were pretty determined to get the baby out early.
But without inducing since she was going to be a v-bac.
Dr. did his part to help and I took castor oil again.
The next day my water was leaking and I headed to the hospital.
I was hardly in labor and the contractions were so mild I talked and laughed through them for a long while.
But when that girl was ready to come, she came fast.
I was at 6, my water broke and she was born 15 minutes later.
Yow! That hurt.
So I've never really had a labor that starts with just contractions.
I wasn't sure if these were the real deal.
But when I felt like I couldn't walk anymore, we headed to the car.
"Should we go to the hospital? Should we call anyone?"
When sitting in the car for a half hour didn't change anything, we decided to go to the hospital and wait for a while there.
It was on our way home and it seemed silly to drive all the way home if we might be turning right around and coming back.
When we drove up to the hospital, I was unprepared for how it would affect me.
It was hard.
Tears came immediately.
The last time we pulled up there, I was miscarrying.
I was hemorrhaging and scared.
I was sad and hurting.
It was the start of many more months of sadness and hurting, for me, and for Aaron and I.
I didn't think it would all come back to me like that.
We got out of the car and Aaron held me and let me cry.
We prayed and went into the lobby.
I didn't want to go up to L and D until I was sure this was the real deal.
I'm still not a fan of induction and I didn't want any decisions to be made "just because I was already there."
So we just walked.
And nothing was really changing.
I wanted to try sitting again.
Aaron suggested we go into the chapel.
"There's probably a Bible in there and we can read for a while."
Oh how good our God is to us.
There was, indeed, a Bible sitting there, open to the book of Isaiah.
I admit, I am not usually a fan of, "I just open up the Bible and let God speak to me."
I have favorite passages I am drawn to and know and love.
Those are most often where I head.
But Aaron said, "I'm just going to read where it's at."
Isaiah 23: 1-2
"But now, this is what the Lord says--
He who created you, O Jacob,
He who formed you, O Israel:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you:
I have summoned you by name, you are Mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you:
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned,
the flames will not set you ablaze."
"Do not be afraid, for I am with you."
There were so many other comforting words in that chapter.
As Aaron read to me, tears streamed down my face.
Here I was, not really planning on going into labor that night and feeling that fear that comes when you are face to face with the knowledge of certain pain and uncertain of everything else.
Labor is not easy, and until that baby is in your arms, there is always the fear that something might be wrong, or could go wrong.
Having a baby is scary.
God's words brought comfort to my heart.
Even though I would walk through fire, (I call pushing out that baby the burning ring of fire!) He would be there.
And then Aaron read this verse.
Isaiah 43: 18-19
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up, Do you not percieve it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."
Now the tears fell faster.
From the moment we knew about this baby, it has been to us a sign of God's grace in our life.
Out of sadness and brokenness, He offered new life.
What a sweet, sweet reminder of that truth as we sat together, in a place that held memories of great sorrow, but also will hold much joy.
My contractions subsided.
We went home.
And, obviously, real labor has not started yet.
But those verses, and the pain of labor have been on my mind a lot.
During our walk on this earth, we experience a lot of labor pains.
There is hurt, and sorrow.
People hurt us, accidents, illness and pain are part of this life.
It is not easy.
But just as the pain of labor produces the most wonderful gift of all, so often does the pain of our life labor.
But only if we allow God to do that with the pain.
If we allow Jesus to walk with us through hurt and we let Him refine us and shape us through pain, we can come out on the other side, bruised, but better.
It doesn't mean that the pain is gone forever.
Because, as any parent knows, labor pain is just the beginning of the pain you experience as a parent.
There will be more to come--different pain maybe, but it will come again.
It is a matter of our perspective.
If we dwell on the pain of the past, we'll never move forward.
We'll never see the streams He's made in our wasteland.
We'll miss out on so much joy.
Because on the other side of that pain there is joy abounding.
Because I have lived it.
And I am still not looking forward to real labor pains.
But I am so looking forward to the joy that follows it.
Much love from,
PS. I am linking up over at Minivan Diva's God Things. Hop on over and take a look around.
Also, if you want to see what I did with the extra time I had on my hands by NOT having baby Friday night, check out my other blog to see the baby's corner. It turned out pretty cute, I think. Go here to see.