When the Holy Spirit is Our Midwife

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B-Fiona-750

I had just finished throwing up for the first time (not the last) into a handful of paper towels when the midwife walked in.

“I’m sorry. I threw up,” I said to her, although that would have been pretty obvious from the vomit covering my t-shirt and bed sheets (paper towels not being particularly appropriate for the task). She smiled and told me not to worry, they saw it all the time.

The truth was I was so entirely relieved to see her face that I would have thrown away even more of my dignity to ensure it. This was the midwife who’d led our prenatal classes, who’d been so kind when the tears came unbidden during one of them and my fear tumbled out in mixed up words. I’d come home that day and dared to pray what I so hoped forthat she might be on shift when my time came.

And then there she was, walking in to our delivery room minutes after we’d arrived, my contractions already strong and frequent. It felt like answered prayer. It felt like a whispered assurance from the Spirit that She was there, that She was in this with Rasmus and I and our unborn baby, that we’d be okay.

Our midwife stayed with us through the next six hours of labour and pushing.

Every time I opened my eyes between each painful contraction she was there, crouching next to the ball I was swaying on, leaning across the edge of the bath. She was present, she was focused and she was calm. The more vulnerable and overwhelmed I felt, the more I needed the sight of her, her words of reassurance and encouragement as I did the hardest work of my life.

Mine was not a calm labour, no silent intense focus as I had imagined it. Rather, I yelled and shouted my way through each contraction. I leaned and pushed against my husband, needing his strength. I felt hugely vulnerable and I worried I was doing this all wrongwasn’t natural birth meant to feel empowering and transcendent?

But then each pause between surges, there she was, close by and attentive, telling me how well I was doing, how well the birth was going.

Later, when the doctor needed to make a small intervention to help our baby be born, I turned to her: “I’m scared,” was the simple honest truth that spilled out. Her eyes filled with compassion as she told me with so much gentle confidence, “You don’t need to be scared. Your baby is nearly here!”

Moments later, she was lifting our daughter out of the water into my outstretched arms and we were gazing in dreamlike joy at this chubby vernix-covered child that we’d waited and prayed for. And she was there, wrapping us in warm blankets, her beaming smile reflecting our own surreal elation.

** 

“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs… We are enlarged in the waiting… Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.” -Romans 8, The Message.

I am convinced now that the Holy Spirit is a midwife.

She comes to us in simple raspberry-pink scrubs and crouches next to us through every hard and painful moment. She leans in and her eyes pour compassion, her calm words are strength and reassurance, her very presence is Hope.

And we are enlarged in the waiting; in every agonizing moment of waiting for the promise to be delivered, we are being expanded and transformed. And so we yell and fight through the pain because the Spirit in us, She’s also a warrior and She’s making us fierce, She’s making us brave.

She will help us birth the promise that is in us.

She’ll stand with us through it all until the moment we finally behold how beautiful and glorious it is. And then she’ll celebrate with us, her joy mingling with ours until our hearts are fit to burst.

________________

Image credit: Mayr

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Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona lives in London with her Danish husband and her two young children. She is determinedly seeking the sacred in the ordinary, learning to see that even the most mundane moments of her day can be spiritual if she wakes up to the Divine in those places. She is in training to become a Spiritual Director, and baking is her favourite spiritual practice. You can follow her through her blog at fionalynne.com.
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen

Latest posts by Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen (see all)

Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
  • The holy spirit as midwife. I like that. A lot. Wonderful, Fiona.

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you, Debby!

  • Monica

    The Holy Spirit as midwife…powerful, reassuring, carrying my load. “She will help us birth the promise that is in us.” I don’t have to do it alone. Praise God!

    • fiona lynne

      Amen!

  • Sandy Hay

    It’s been many years since I’ve been in labor, 39 exactly yet what you wrote here rings so true. Romans 8 in the Message puts into words this “feeling” this”pang” I haven’t been able to explain. I’m going to go read some more of this chapter. All you writers at sheloves have been stirring something up in me. Can’t wait to see exactly what it is 🙂

    • fiona lynne

      I love that something is stirring in you, Sandy. Come back and tell us what it is when you discover it! x

  • clbeyer

    Fiona, I am rooted in the raw truth of this. I birthed my third son also with a very patient and watchful midwife. When the intensity convinced me I couldn’t go on any longer, my sister as doula got right up in my face and said, “Carrie, you were MADE for this.”

    I love this part: “And so we yell and fight through the pain because the Spirit in us, She’s also a warrior and She’s making us fierce, She’s making us brave.” Oh, yes.

    • fiona lynne

      “You were made for this” – YES. How often we need to hear the truth of this in so many areas of our lives.

  • Liz

    Yes, Yes, Yes!! Just the other day, I was reflecting on how
    my life, right now, is like being in the last stages of labor–overwhelming,
    frightening, painful–but every moment that I am conscious I hear encouraging
    words from the spirit, words that seem to be in direct contrast to my
    circumstances. Such a contrast, that I find myself, like Sarah in the Old
    Testament, laughing in a mixture of hope and disbelief. The midwife (paraclete)
    has been very near and in my face, lately.

    • fiona lynne

      Oh Liz, I’m sorry that you’re in such a hard place right now, but how beautiful that you can even now see the Spirit with you, guiding you through. I love that connection you feel with Sarah. Praying that like her, you will see new life come soon.

      • Liz

        Thank you!

  • Nicole A. Joshua

    Oh wow, Fiona. This is a stunningly beautiful post. I love the parallels between your experience and Romans 8. These are words of life for my anxious restless heart, right now. I welcome the Midwife who will be with Francesco and I through our adoption birthing process. Bless you, precious friend.

    • fiona lynne

      Oh yes! I am so thrilled for this birthing experience you have just begun! May the Midwife give you hope in the hard moments and all the strength you need as you start this new journey xx

  • LOVE every bit of this dear Fiona. Just love it!! Of course it touches me deeply, because I get it. But also…all the words, the feelings, the sights and thoughts. Her presence in the room as we are enlarged in the waiting.
    And oh, how I love the Holy Spirit.

    • fiona lynne

      I know you get this, friend. Some day I’d love to sit down and hear all your experiences. I am so sure there is more wisdom, more of God to be found here still! x

  • Sarah Joslyn

    Oh glory, Fiona, this is STUNNING. Oh oh oh oh. I’ve missed your glorious words. This is perfect. xoxo

    • fiona lynne

      Oh Sarah, you know exactly how to encourage a girl!Thank you xx

  • And all of a sudden, I’m back in labor and delivery, remembering the intensity, the vulnerability, the hope, the pain, and the sweet, sweet comfort of the midwife I’d hoped would be on call by my side. And I’m crying, and your post is so beautiful, and so so right on: this is exactly how the Spirit is with us, interceding as we groan.

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you so much Bronwyn. It’s an experience shared by so many women, and I’m amazed at the way it’s revealed new aspects of God to me. Thanks for being here.

  • STUNNING!!!!! O, I love this so much, Fiona. Every. word.

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you, Idelette xx

  • Bev Murrill

    What a wonderful, powerful, sweet and strong observation. I can see it as you write it. I love this.

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you so much Bev! x

  • cjdeboer

    Beautiful, friend. Thank you for sharing your birth journey with us and being so vulnerable. xo

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you for airways inspiring me to be brave in my writing x

      • fiona lynne

        *always not airways!

  • jake bosch

    You have given us a tactile story of presence. The Holy Spirit is present. The groaning of creation into a new creation. This is not about “brains on a stick” trying to understand pain it is all about the birth pangs ( vomiting ) of transformation and how present the Spirit is in all our groaning. The sperm and the egg is not the ” birds and the bee’s ” it about conceiving new life from a million experiences – like the sperm to swim to the truth and fertilize one single egg – a new heaven and a new earth. What name did you give to this new baby?

    • fiona lynne

      Yes, it’s all about transformation. My daughter’s name is Kaya (meaning pure, rock, or dwelling) Grace.

  • Anne-Marie

    Fiona, late to see this, but oh what glory. Such good promise for all of us holding on to a promise, perhaps whispered to our hearts long ago. Thank you. Joy too as you grow with your sweet baby girl. And I love that you yelled!! 🙂

    • fiona lynne

      Yes, the promise of pregnancy is one that feels so slow coming some days! I love that you draw out that parallel with so much of what we long and wait for. (And thank you for the shouting encouragement – I needed that!)

  • Saskia Wishart

    Stunning post Fiona! Huge congratulations on the birth of your baby! This makes my heart so happy 🙂

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you sweet lady. You’re welcome to road trip south for some baby cuddles… 😉

  • Rob Stegmann

    What a beautiful piece. Thank You Fiona. I just love what you bring to our understanding of the Holy Spirit by employing such a strong, nurturing metaphor like this one. Thank you, too, for challenging male gender stereotypes as they are employed in our theological discourse. Your piece also brings back vivid memories of our midwife, Sandy, who was with us in this most vulnerable of moments with the birth of our daughter, now 4, and more recently, our son, now 9 months.

    • fiona lynne

      Thanks Rob! I do love the way that we find images of God every where we look, in the experiences that are common to many of us… like birth! My own experience of pregnancy and birth was a profound insight into the feminine character of God, I’m grateful for that.

  • This part. Yes. Thank you, Fiona … “And we are enlarged in the waiting; in every agonizing moment of waiting for the promise to be delivered, we are being expanded and transformed. And so we yell and fight through the pain because the Spirit in us, She’s also a warrior and She’s making us fierce, She’s making us brave.”

  • pastordt

    Oh, my, this is a beautiful and powerful image. Thank you so much, Fiona! And CONGRATULATIONS!!

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