Everything I grew up learning about childbirth was shrouded in fear and confusion. I had seen it on television hundreds of times, and heard the horror stories of those who had gone before. As a young adult I thought that I would most certainly have a “safe” hospital birth, with an epidural and maybe even a c-section. God had a different plan for me. He had claimed my life in August of 2009, and I have passionately pursued His will ever since. I could give you a handful of reasons why I chose natural childbirth, but to be honest, it was a part of me I use to call my insanity. I would chose to do something that I most certainly did NOT want to do, simply because I knew I was suppose to do it. These days I refer to it as the Holy Spirit.

In my 8th month of pregnancy I read a book called Supernatural Childbirth, and it had revealed so much truth to me about childbirth and God. I believe He has a different birth experience for every woman, but they are all the same in that He created our bodies for this purpose and we do not have to go through it alone. This was natural and beautiful, not at all like how it is terrifyingly depicted in most movies and television shows.

My contractions started on a Sunday afternoon. They were mild, but consistent, so I knew it was time. By that evening, they had become so uncomfortable that I spent a few hours in my mothers bathtub. I remember my husband laying on the floor of my parents bathroom timing contractions until midnight. I realized things were not going to progress too quickly so I told Ty to go to bed and  I would spend the rest of the night timing contractions on the couch. I had strong contractions every five to three minutes all through the night, but it wasn’t until 5 in the morning that I realized I could not do it alone anymore. I was becoming exhausted, and I was anxiously waiting every contraction. I knew I was due for another one, so I paid attention. As soon as I felt my stomach start to tighten I held onto the armrests of my chair, relaxed my muscles as much as I could and I called out to God.

I wasn’t doing this alone. I had Jesus with me through this suffering, and He changed everything. I would pray, and talk to Him through my entire labor. “Jesus be with me” was what I remember asking a lot in the beginning. I trusted that this pain was for a reason and that my body was preparing to give birth, so I would command my muscles to contract and everything else to stretch in the name of Jesus Christ. I had authority because of my Lord. I was not going to fall victim to fear and become weary. I would face this labor head on, because I had confidence in my powerful and amazing God.

Time rolled on slowly at home. I did the best I could to relax and focus on the goal. I was going to work with my body, and not against it. I was paying attention to the contractions, and visualizing my cervix opening up and thinning out. I remember sitting out on the patio, while my husband read to me from the bible. I was so tired. I closed my eyes and tried to rest as it began to rain. What a blessing when you are uncomfortable and giving birth in August. I felt His presence.

My husband, Ty, drove us to the Birth Cottage around noon. I was not comfortable with the idea of riding around in a jostling car at this time. I probably went through two or three contractions before we got there. As you can imagine, it was a very uncomfortable time, so we turned on the radio to a Christian station, 90.9fm. There was a man preaching a sermon about suffering. He said because of the Holy Spirit, we have a hedge of protection. Any and all suffering we experience is because He allows it, and will be used for a purpose. His presence was so obvious.

I remember my midwife asking me to walk around for a bit. When the pain became too much to handle, I went into the birthing tub. I closed my eyes, and the rest of my labor was spent with Jesus. I was not unconscious because I could hear people talking, but when my eyes were shut I was somewhere else completely. These memories have faded slightly, like a dream, but the impact He left on me is undeniable.

Two days before, I was standing on top of a parking garage with Ty. We were watching a beautiful sunset over Southlake Town Square, and listening to some live music from some fancy restaurant balcony. I was silently at peace and soaking in God’s wonderful creation. Usually I am terrified of heights. But if I looked straight ahead toward the setting sun, I felt no fear. This is where my memory first took me during a difficult contraction. This is where Jesus met me.

He was standing about ten feet in front of me (over the ledge) and held out His hand for me to join him. I wanted so badly to be with Him, walking toward the sunset. I love Jesus, so I was drawn to Him like a child. I stepped up on the ledge and focused on Him and how wonderful he looked with the sunset behind Him. When I was walking toward Him, I did not even pay attention to how I was not falling, and I was at peace. Then I felt a contraction coming. I started to sink downward because of fear, but I looked up to Jesus. He grabbed my hand and kept me from falling. I tried my hardest to stay with Him during the pain, but my focus wavered between my spirit being with Jesus and my body laboring in a bathtub. I could hear the encouragement and prayers of Ann, my midwife, my husband, and the other women in the room. They told me to hum in a deep voice instead of screaming. So I began to sing the lowest note that I could reach. The vibrations were relaxing to my body and that helped me focus back in on where I was before.

Jesus told me to look at Him when things became too difficult. He picked me up, and held me. I have heard the story of Footprints in the Sand many times in my life, and I guess that is why we were on a beach now. He carried me as we walked toward a boardwalk. It had a ferris wheel on it, and He told me that when we got there it would be time to push. I remember playing with His robe and talking to Him in between contractions. He was everything that I had ever wanted. I remember those moments with Him were so intimate.  I felt loved and cared for. Jesus paid attention to what I was saying. He did not talk often but what he said was powerful. I knew that He was real. When He spoke, it was profound and filled me with peace. During contractions I would look into His face, and He would encourage me. “Keep looking at me… This will pass… Stay with me”. It was becoming easier and easier for me to stay with Him.

I could faintly hear the sounds of everyone in the birth room encouraging me and congratulating me on making it through another contraction. I am weak, so I would feel a swell of pride. I could feel that pride taking me away from Jesus immediately, so I began to give it up to Him. I was giving Him any pride, anger, fear, and pain in a little marble bag. I would give them to Him, and He would fill me up with the Holy Spirit. Anytime one of these would sneak their way back into me, I would give them to Jesus and they were gone. I could feel the weight lifted off of me and I would once again be completely with Him.

He continued walking closer and closer to the boardwalk. I would ask Him to take care of my child and make this labor go smoothly. I even asked Him to keep me from throwing up, because I have a fear of that. He would listen and nod every now and then. Once in a while He would say something beautiful that I had never thought of, but He really did most of the talking when I had a contraction. Everything He said was interesting and encouraging. I remember Him saying the same things to me, but they were exactly what I needed to hear and changed something in me every time. He was glorious.

We stopped under the dock, and He set me down. It was damp and a little dark, and I could see the waves splashing a few feet from us. There was a man who was all alone. You could tell he was homeless but it was not sad. I remember thinking to myself “There would be nothing better than to share Jesus with another person”, so I was excited to invite him along. We were all filled with joy as we walked up to the boardwalk together. I felt my pocket and I had some cash that I knew was not mine but given to me, and I was blessed to pay for our tickets. We all were just having a wonderful time being together. There were lights everywhere, smiling people and games. The next thing I remember is being on top of the ferris wheel with Jesus to my left, facing away from the setting sun. It was growing dark and He looked at me and said, “You are going to have to throw up and then it will be over”.

My midwife told me that I needed to leave the bathtub and go empty my bladder or else it would make pushing more difficult. We laugh now, because I know she really just wanted to get me moving so my cervix would open. I remember being on the toilet with Ty to my left and Ann to my right. Then another contraction started. I was not able to focus in on Jesus, so I was 100% there. The pain from that contraction caused me to throw up. I usually hate throwing up, but afterwords, it really isn’t so bad, especially when you are in labor. I felt so much better. After cleaning up, we all went back into the room. I chose to push on the bed and not in the water.

I spent most of this day with my eyes closed, so I remember every color was vivid and bright. Pushing with the contractions made them far less painful. To be honest, I remember thinking that it didn’t hurt at all. During those last contractions, all I could think about was getting my child out as soon as possible. My water broke and she was out in no time. As soon as she was there I could have cared less about what was going on down there. My daughters voice was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. I hear some woman say they are hit with a wave of emotion after they give birth, but I wasn’t. I lifted up the blanket she was under to see what she looked like. It was like I had a pen pall for 9 months. I already loved, and knew so much about her.

I told this story over and over again for the next few days. I wanted everyone to know that it was not me, who was strong. It was my Lord. He carried me through my labor, and comforted me when I was afraid. I have the most AMAZING GOD. I am thankful for my natural childbirth because it brought me to a place where I very obviously needed Jesus. He made Himself more real to me in that day than ever before in my life. I truley know that I have nothing to fear, ever. I have the Holy Spirit.

Israel Lindsay Richards was born at 7:14 pm August 30, 2010.