God’s will. My wife and I regularly pray for it to be done. Not that I consider it lip service, but I think most of the time His will and mine have been pretty close in proximity. It is when they diverge that life becomes difficult. The week before my daughter’s birth was difficult.
Sarah began laboring the evening of December 17th. It was a Saturday, and the contractions were about six to eight minutes apart and strong enough to keep her awake through the night. Unfortunately, they petered out in the morning but continued irregularly throughout the day. We made it to evening Mass, where Sarah had three hard contractions. They only got stronger and more regular from there. Again, they kept her up all night and petered out Monday morning. This continued everyday as the week progressed. Sarah was getting exhausted, and I was doing my best to stay positive and supportive, taking off work if need be.
Each night we prayed that the contractions were leading to active labor but added the caveat “but not our will. Your will be done.” That damn caveat. I forget which night it was exactly, but I clearly remember hesitating to speak the words. I did not want to pray them. But we did. It was especially difficult, since my wife was suffering so much, and I could not alleviate it.
Sarah finally went into active labor at 11:00 pm on Friday, December 23rd. We left for the hospital at 5:00 am Christmas Eve morning, hopeful that we would not have a Christmas baby. Even our nurses and midwife believed we would have the baby that day. Though again, “not our will. Your will be done.”
December 24th turned into December 25th. Utter exhaustion had set in both spiritually and physically. My legs were trembling as I struggled to stand. My wife pushed with every ounce of her strength. Never before in my life have I experience emptiness like I did in those final moments of labor. And then something happened. I saw my little girl for the first time and told my wife, “Sarah, meet Philomena.”
Grace flooded our hearts. Crazy joy invigorated us. It was in that moment, and the sacred time that followed, that I began to understand why we ask for God’s will to be done.
Though it was often hellish, my wife’s long labor bore much fruit. In marriage, two become one. Throughout this ordeal, I experienced unparalleled unity with my wife. We learned to communicate on a level deeper than words. I was with her through most of her contractions and helped her manage the pain. We were one. At the end of it all, we were given a sign of that unity, Philomena Rose. We love her so much. She delights us every day.
We have not forgotten the pain of labor, but we have a beautiful, squirmy reminder that God’s will may lead us into suffering, but His Way does lead to peace and joy.