Pregnant with my third child, I began to fear going through childbirth again. I had my second child naturally and although it was a quick, beautiful birth and the memory of pain had faded, I knew, logically, that it was the worst pain I had ever experienced.
A friend gave me a book on pain-free childbirth (really?!!), but I thought, God can do that and surely He loves me enough to do that, so why not pray for it. But the fear continued.
Over the endless months to come, our sweet Lord used every song, sermon, meeting and bible passage to remind me that He is my Shepherd. That became the theme of my pregnancy as I meditated on just how much He would care for me. He lead me to one verse that gave me more comfort than any other:
He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11
I thought, "That's me! I'm with young! He will gently lead me!" My husband grew up taking care of cattle on his family ranch, so I knew that when a heifer was giving birth, a rancher left all the other cattle to take care of that one. They even had a special barn with heat lamps, a good wind break and clean, soft hay just for her. I pictured Jesus leaving all you other sheep ;) to put His full and total attention on me while I gave birth. I can't tell you how much comfort that gave me.
Fast forward to five days post due date and I realize that the miserable wait is over, it's time. We're in the car driving over one of Pittsburgh's striking steel bridges, every contraction takes my breath away with the intensity and pain. At the same time, I'm so flooded in peace, so awash in His love and so sure of His presence. Incredibly, I feel my body go through one intense contraction with absolutely no pain -- seriously, none! I don't even know how to describe the sensation. I knew instantly that it was a gift from my Shepherd.
The rest of the birth was not so different from the previous. It was quick and beautiful, but extremely painful. Less than 45 minutes after pulling up to the hospital, I screamed euphorically as I discovered that we had our first baby girl. Before the adrenaline wore off, I loudly proclaimed "Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus!"
Later as my husband and I snuggled our angel baby girl, we marveled at that one pain free contraction and laughed out loud after reading another translation of Isaiah 40:11 - "a shepherd... leading the ewes with care" - and discovered: I'm a ewe.