It is shortly after midnight, and I’m sitting in a dim hospital room, listening to Tasha breathe, waiting for the miracle that will happen within the next 18 hours, according to the doctor.
Have you ever had so many emotions and thoughts and feelings, all at the same time, that you just are left…speechless?
That’s how I feel.
But I want so much to communicate– to document this beautiful thing. This life after death, hope fulfilled, redemption, resurrection, miracle story. And so here I am, typing away with pale words the wonder I feel.
If you are reading this post, you already know the story from Tasha’s point of view. You’ve read her words of struggle and pain, walking and trusting, and the last few months of surprising, astounding joy.
But I want to testify, too.
I’m Brianna. I’ve been Tasha’s friend since she was 14, and her sister-in-law since she was 18.
We’ve been through a lot together. We have slept on a rooftop in Haiti, and hiked in the hills of Alaska, and splashed along beaches in Florida, and picked potatoes in the rolling hills of New York.
She was by my bed with me when my twins were born, and I was standing in the barn with her when she pulled the pregnancy test out of her hoodie pocket and we giggled with excitement, a few nights before her miscarriage.
I’ve watched her walk through the ups and downs of adoption– anticipation, prayer, meeting children, visiting the NICU. Celebrating the children who came home and mourning the ones who didn’t.
I have been there as she and Amos have tried with everything they have to walk the walk as much as they talk the talk.
I want you to know that I have seen it.
I mean, everything she has written– I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen the pain, I’ve seen the disappointment. I’ve seen the confusion, the depression, the anger, even. I’ve seen the pressing on and the pressing in.
I’ve seen, as intimately as maybe anyone, the truth of what she has written.
The Christian life is not an inspirational romance.
It is much, much, better.
This life of pain and sorrow and suffering– where death and violence press at our doors, where children are needy and things don’t make sense– is also a life of hope and dawn and a rainbow bright as an emerald around God’s throne.
It is a life where nothing is tidy, but raw beauty audaciously pushes out in song.
I want to give my testimony to this.
My sister in law, my sister in love, set her heart towards the Lord at a young age, and has not wavered. I have known her twenty years, and in twenty years I have seen her diligently search the Scriptures, board multiple planes for the mission
field, love the needy, feed the hungry, tend the sick, and lift her hands towards heaven. I have seen her work and save when she didn’t prefer to, and give the entire saved sum away when she was called to.
I have seen her living out every word she has written, and more.
And I have seen the goodness of the Lord in return.
It is 1 am now, and it is darker.
She had false labor last week–contractions two minutes apart. So we packed up and made the drive to the hospital, only to see the contractions all but stop when we arrived.
She went home again, disappointed.
Disappointment. Isn’t it a funny thing? To have happy expectations–whether big or small, and to face the reality that they will never be.
But like “the watchmen wait for the dawn,” because it is a sure thing, they went home to rest for the real day. Trusting that “not yet” was not “no.”
For 4 days, I have been mulling around, visiting friends in the area and anxiously watching my texts. I didn’t want to bother her, but I needed this baby to make an entrance! I can’t stay in town too long, and I don’t want to spend all my time waiting!
But isn’t that just life?
Wait, wait, wait. A baby coming is proof of it more than anything, I guess.
It’s been a few hours. I slept, she slept.
The monitors went on and off, we listened a long while to the swish swish swish of the baby’s strong heart.
I love my sister so much.
Our relationship hasn’t always been easy. Or sweet. Or even close. We have spent time apart, where we seemed to grow closer in love, and time together where we squabbled like real sisters.
But here, watching her breath and focus during contractions, I think to myself how proud I am of her. How beautiful and strong she is. How blessed I have been to have her in my life.
I think of how fast we were friends in our youth, and had no idea how much trials and sorrow would grow us as mature women and closer friends. I think of how we have gone a long road together that wasn’t always fun, but the memories are sweet.
Things aren’t perfect, but they are beautiful.
It’s the next day.
We came to the hospital excited and eager because her water broke, but it has been a slow road. Though she could have asked for all kinds of interventions and accelerants, Amos and Tasha have wanted to trust her body as much as they can.
This is pretty expected. In the last twelve years that they’ve walked through infertility, it’s been the same way.
Were there more high-tech or innovate options? Maybe. Were there paths that would have instantly gratified their longings? Maybe.
But all through the journey, I watched as the two of them held hands and chose to take the high road. The harder road.
The one with more unknowns and less sureties. A lot of it came from trusting the Lord.
Trusting that the Lord does, actually, work all things for the good of them that love him.
Even when the results aren’t our first choice, our second choice, or what we would choose at all.
Even when going another way might be touted as “pain-free,” or an easy fix.
She’s doing it with labor, too.
She is halfway there.
The contractions are hard and often, but they seem to be delaying the job.
We pray for mercy. For productive contractions. For the Lord to move in her that the timing will be soon.
It’s hard to watch her suffer.
How many times have I watched my friend struggle and wished I could carry some of it for her?
Even now I see her legs shake and she moans through a contraction, and I want to just wrap my arms around her and relieve her of the pain.
We bear each others burdens, Galatians says, and so fulfill the law of Christ. But how do we bear someone else’s pain?
My mother-in-law, Cheri, bears her up. They are chest to chest, rocking and breathing and moaning together. Tasha’s arms are wrapped around her mother’s neck, and her eyes are squeezed tightly as she pushes out one ragged breath after another.
I watch Cheri. I wonder about motherhood, and how much pain it is to watch your child in pain. Will I be as graceful with my own daughters?
“You’re doing good, Tashie-girl,” Cheri says, over and over. We catch each others’ eyes over Tasha’s shoulders and sympathize.
Either of us would bear any of this pain for her. But for now, we can only bear up part of her weight. We hold her hand and massage her legs and pray without ceasing. Is that what Galatians means?
I think about the rest of the pain of life. Have I done the work of bearing her burden? When she was diagnosed with PCOS, when she was living out the years of no babies, no children, and no earthly hope. Was I doing the work for her?
It’s hard in real life. When there is an emergency, a baby, a wedding, a funeral– we manage to bring a meal or a gift or a hug. But what about those long struggles? This labor could last three days. Can I make it?
I swap in and out with Delite.
She is like me, watching and praying, willing to do anything. Taking note of details to bless Tasha with later, when we are through this tunnel and we can “debrief” with Tasha in a mentally clear place.
Friendship is bearing each others burdens, I think. Fulfilling the law of Christ. The law of love.
Twenty four hours now. We all wish she were further along. I think of Eve and the curse–in pain you will bring forth children. What a curse. The very thing we want the most will hurt the most.
There’s that thing about life again– pain and suffering hand in hand with beauty and life. Why does it have to be that way?
I think of the Lord, our Lord, suffering so that we would live. A sort of birth, at least for us.
Bearing the curse.
We bear burdens, but he bore the curse.
It’s all a confusing mess in my mind, like Tasha must feel now. She was crying after the last contraction, and I told her I knew, it was like a long confusing nightmare. I remember the feeling.
But I tell her– just keep breathing.
That’s your work. Just keep breathing, and the work will get done.
Isn’t that the truth for us? Keep breathing.
Live, because he died for you.
Live, so that others may live.
I think of so many things on this, the longest day. Women will be saved in childbearing. Mary singing “My soul magnifies the Lord.” Leah birthing a son called Judah, because she would praise the Lord.
I think of Ben-Oni, son of my sorrow, who became Ben-jamin, son of my right hand.
I think of Galatians 6:9, I believe, that says we should not give up, for in the proper time we will reap a harvest.
I think of perseverance doing its work, at the beginning of some other epistle.
So many weighty, mighty verses and truths run through my mind during this horrible, beautiful time. Things that seemed too much to understand suddenly make very clear sense when I watch this long labor of love.
It’s a girl! 2:30 am, she is blue and red and beautiful. Tasha pushed for well over two hours because something was slightly the wrong direction.
She wanted to give up, she kept saying, “It’s not working.” But a cloud of witnesses cheered her on, telling to her to press in, the finish line was upon her– a bloody, hard, suffering race that ends with the most beautiful loving embrace.
Her name is Mary Katherine and she is 6 pounds 10 oz, 19 inches long.