The room was bright and harsh for three in the morning.
I was shaking, hard, much as I had been for the past two days, even though the pain had mostly settled out.
There was blood smeared across my bare stomach and my hands had speckles of dried blood across them.
My doctor was still working at stopping the bleeding, and I kept trying to hold my legs still. It wasn’t working.
I could hear my husband out in the hallway. He had followed the other workers—the nurses and the man who specialized in respiratory issues, who had swept my brand-new baby out of the room after the cord was cut. “You can go in,” I heard him say.
I looked up to see one of my mom’s best friends step into the room. She came slowly, hesitating slightly.
It wasn’t pretty—this room full of afterbirth and a doctor still stitching and a new mama who was so exhausted she wasn’t even sure if there really had been a baby that was carried out of the room or not. Maybe that sounds silly, since I’d just given birth, but anyone who has experienced long-term infertility probably understands how loss makes you doubt.
Delite double checked with me, from the doorway, to see if I was okay with her coming in. I assured her it was fine because she’s more than just my mother’s friend. Her name has been in my cell phone as “Mama Delite” for as long as I’ve owned one—partly to differentiate her from her daughter who is also named Delite, but mostly because she’s family.
A nurse quickly warned her to watch the floor. There was still blood that hadn’t been mopped up.
Delite came to my side and her joy was so great, I figured there really must be a baby out there somewhere. And yet, she was gentle too—and I don’t remember what all she said, but I remember one thing very clearly. “Some miracles are harsher than we expect,” she told me as she patted my hand and gave my fingers a light squeeze.
I remembered then, hours earlier when I was overwhelmed and doubled over in pain and the doctor was explaining why the baby wasn’t coming and how we needed to find a position that would allow her to help—my mama had told me softly that people were praying. Praying that I could deliver this baby, that my exhausted body would find the energy it needed to do the hardest work even though I was at my weakest.
And she told me Delite was in the waiting room. She’d driven down to the hospital in the middle of the night, just so she could pray close by. Not that it mattered to God, but sometimes it matters to us.
Everyone had been waiting for news since Sunday night and when Tuesday morning rolled around, those who knew were praying the baby would come without more complications. That this miracle wouldn’t end in tragedy. I think they all knew the underlying fear that we carried–that somehow we’d leave that hospital without the baby we were so excited to bring home.
The end of my delivery is all a blur. I was falling into exhausted sleep between contractions, even when I was standing up, and then waking up in a flurry of pain when another one hit. I felt like I had nothing left. Not a single drop of energy. Nothing to battle the intensity of the pain. Breathing through contractions is one thing when you’re awake, it’s another thing entirely when you’re not sure what’s real or a dream.
I kept wondering why everyone was almost yelling at me during contractions and then later realized it was to keep me awake and focused. When my breathing disintegrated into gasps, my doctor would remind me firmly that the baby liked it when I took even breaths. She promised that if I took even breaths so the baby’s heartbeat stayed steady, she’d do what she needed to help me have the baby naturally.
She kept her word.
But man, those were excruciating hours.
And there was far more blood than there should be.
All birth is hard. And afterward I tried to shrug off the depth of how hard it was for me–but my mama, who has attended many births besides her own, shook her head and told me it was far more traumatic than most.
Having our daughter after almost 12 years of wondering if we’d ever have a biological child was a miracle.
But the way my body barely cooperated was a much harsher miracle than I expected.
For awhile I struggled to accept that I was sad over the difficulty of our daughter’s birth, but then I realized how silly that was. Longing for something desperately doesn’t mean you have to pretend it’s not hard. Praying for something for years doesn’t mean you have to act like the pain doesn’t matter.
And acknowledging the harshness of how a miracle arrives doesn’t mean you’re not thankful, with every fiber of your being, that you have that miracle.
I guess I’m just telling this story today to remind me and to remind you that watching God do impossible things in your life doesn’t mean the harshness of this world won’t scrape you raw at the same time. And also to remember that the harshness isn’t the end of the story.
There is such an entwining of miracles and sorrow in this life.
But oh, how I cling to the promise, to the goodness, to the excellence that God weaves into our stories. Sin rages in this fallen world, carrying death and leaving brokenness and sorrow in its wake, but the secret that Christ revealed on the cross changes everything: Death isn’t the end of the story.
So yes, the harshness remains, even within the miracles–but maybe the better way to look at it is through the lens of John 1:5:
The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it]. (AMP)
It’s dark here, in this world where infertility and loss and sorrow and pain exists, but despite the dark we have this hope. There is something darkness can’t understand and can’t overpower and can’t appropriate and can’t absorb. There is something wholly different that trumps darkness every single time.
Light. Miracles. Jesus.
So I can tell the story of my daughter’s birth, being completely real about the harshness, and it doesn’t diminish the miracle. Not even a little bit.
Don’t be afraid to tell your stories, to acknowledge all the hard along with the miraculous. To celebrate even while you mourn. This world is hard. The brokenness here is real. There is so much present that can leave your heart hurting.
So we journey and we cling to Jesus and we pray for miracles to break through. And in the process we learn the truth:
Sometimes miracles are harsher than we expect…but the glory, dear ones, is that the harshness can’t stop the miracles.