When My Sister Annie Labored Through Nights and Days for Their Amyann Joy.
With a love rich and deep and wide her gaze is always forward. She wouldn't be the one to write it out herself, she knows that, and we smile, but although it's theirs in a way that it's only theirs, the story is also mine. Because I heard her prayers and I cried out myself and together we all saw His Faithfulness, I write the story of my sister, my best friend and her love, her rock, and the way they brought their daughter the fourth of their tribe of women strong and mighty into the world, into her story.
8:00 Wednesday, her due date, night had fallen, but the waves were beginning.
Though her body was broken, heavy and worn, she walked the last days of carrying her own within with radiant Grace. She had felt the whispers of contractions for days before, bent over, kneeling down she would stretch muscles pulled and weary, but now, this was a new fire and it warmed and settled and cooled again. And as women since time began know, there would be no turning back. This was hers, and hers alone. She had prayed for this, God's own timing for this birth.
Situations had called for a different story for her other three children, divine in their own way, but medical in induction for the first and surgery for her twins all to bring their precious lives into the world. We had all prayed for this to be different, not better, because there's no "better" in any bit of any story of any birth, just different.
So, turning down the lights that night she studied her body, reminding herself of truth. She would wait. Through the hours her mind approached rest a few times but would again wake for work. This calling, this was hers, for a promise, a treasure, a reward ahead.
4:30 in the navy sky morning she texted me. "Can you come be with me soon? And let mom know." It was my job, my joy.
7:00 and Thursday dawn broke and our mother and I were there, she for comfort and help and me documenting but also living and loving.
Tiny feet scurried, and tender soft fingers reached, wrapping around their mother's swollen belly. A mama's job is never done and her oldest, spirit and spunk busied along with her, preparing her two-for-ones, the surprise of a lifetime three years ago. Brushes were pulled through brunette and auburn and blond hairs, each so unique, each their own. Pink duffel bags were stuffed full of jammies and dollies, and their father, the man whose love for my sister gifted me a brother walked unwaveringly, his sureness a calm. One could breathe the anticipation, light for the soul. Thursday was long. We walked and cried and laughed and prayed. Contractions would come and then minutes would be an hour before another. And we would pray again. For a quick, smooth labor. For a short time within hospital walls before she held her girl. For the endurance to forgo medication and the grace to avoid stitching. But more than anything, that above and beyond choices and details, that our Faithful God, our loving, all-knowing Father, would be glorified. And though the rest faded away, and the story would take it's own turn, like we desired, He would be glorified.
The afternoon came and our mother and I went home to our own families, to tend to what needed be done. And for several hours my sister, my Ann, found refuge in quiet and solitude. "'For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,' says the Lord, who has mercy on you." Isaiah 54:10
As dark fell again, the intensity of work continued to increase.
Her love, her Doug, pressed strong and firm against her back, as she tried different positions, grounding two arms, two knees into the floor, eyes closing now for each wave. It was a new level, and it was time to join their midwife.
10:00 at night on Thursday they were admitted. 4 centimeter dilated, the work had been going on for 24 hours now yet her strength was unwavering. Once again her village gathered for her, for them, for the little girl we loved already.
For the joy set before her, she would endure.
'Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
It was Friday now, and she knew innately that she wasn't progressing, her body was working, she was giving all she could, but somehow it didn't seem to be moving forward.
3:00 of black morning, they broke her water and confirmed, barely perhaps 5 centimeters along and contractions were slowing nearly to an end. Medication was ordered, for relief and to regulate. She needed to rest, because more was ahead. It wasn't her plan, but His divine presence was there all along. "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace" Isaiah 55.
6:00 before sun broke Friday morning, February 19, 2016 and there had been no change for her body. She ate a purple grape popsicle, sugar for strength. Nurses changed shift and checked her progress. 7:00 came and there was again no progress. No change. And so, as minutes and then hours brought light into the room, we cried out to Jesus. She spoke truth, she believed truth. Beyond her will, beyond her wishes, she chose His will, His fulfillment.
8:30 of morning light. The monitor began beeping. Tension hovered as she was adjusted and oxygen filled her lungs. Our sweet babe's heart rate was dropping quickly. Her job now was to breathe, just breathe, fill her lungs and provide for her child as no one else could.
Checked again, and, by words of prayer and miracle alone, she was ready. With work that never registered on the monitor's rising and falling mountains and lines but by her Heavenly Father, her daughter was brought to the place she needed to be, and it was time to bring her life, her story, earthside.
Her best friend, father of their children, lover of her soul, faithful and strong and quiet and rock, he was by her side in each breath.
"In the day when I cried out, you answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul." Psalm 138:3
9:07am. Amyann Joy.
Let it never be lost on us, the passion, the desire, the wait and agony but now our hearts beat wild for joy. And we were, once again, humbled and laughing and, altogether, overflowing.
And when she was here, within her presence, was our good Father's presence.
And just as her father beamed over her, our own Creator sings over us. That same breath, warm and moist and rich, given to her by the Maker of the universe for the purpose that she may grow and thrive and live in abandon reflecting His beauty, He breathes into each of His children the same. He breathes into us unabated, no strings attached, no prerequisites, simply with hope and longing that we would look at him with the same wonder, all for the purpose of relationship, all so He could fulfill every dream, every desire, every step of the way.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully. Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights— He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 136.
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