Selah Turned Four

empty hospital bed

Both of my babies have emotional themes to their labor process.  In the hours before Selah came into the world, I felt so desperately alone.  During Re’uth’s labor, I felt more loved than ever.

Since this week is the four year mark of Selah’s birth, I have been remembering how I felt seven hours before her birth.  It was 3 am.  The Wendy’s Eating Husband was snoozing on the uncomfortable hospital bench beside my bed.  A beloved friend was sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag that lived in her trunk (she’s rugged like that).  It was just me, lying in the hospital bed, awake.

I planned to have Selah naturally, out of hospital, at a local birth center.  When there were no signs of labor sixteen days past Selah’s due date (yes, you read that right), my midwife transferred me to the hospital for an induction.  The short story is that I ended up calling for Lonnie, the anesthesiologist, to numb the artificially induced labor pains.  What his epidural could not numb? A fleshy, gnawing grief that plagued me on the moon’s watch with an overwhelming sense of lonely darkness.

anesthesiologist tools

I was about to birth a lifetime’s worth of joy, but I felt more alone than I could ever imagine.  My mom had been visiting me in Seattle before Selah was born.  The plan was for her to help with the new baby.  Well meaning plans turned into a disaster.  We stopped talking.  I made an ultimatum.

“Get rid of the Coors Light Drinker and then you can be in my life again.”

A girl wants her mom when she’s about to give birth to her first baby.  Tears streamed down my face as I heard Damien Rice’s 9 Crimes playing through the mini speakers that were plugged into our iPod.  My mom chose the Coors Light Drinker instead of me.

God gave the Wendy’s Eating Husband and I an intentional meaning for Selah’s first name: to sew redemption (Selah is not her first name).  We kept her entire name a secret until she was born, but during those mourning moonlit hours, her name was known in my heart.  It nurtured hope for a life that was immersed in love and acceptance.

When the Wendy’s Eating Husband announced Selah’s full name out loud, for the first time ever, he declared new life over me, over us, over her.  That it’s possible for life to be good.  That beauty is possible when all I’ve known is ugly.  That belly laughter is possible when I’ve lived a life without emotion.  But most of all, that healing can come in the form of a little breathing ball of love.

happy with baby just born

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7 Responses

  1. Cheryl

    I love you and think you are totally amazing! How about a syndicated column all over the country?


  2. Cheryl

    Hey, dear one. Can we talk soon? Just want to share something from your article that is on my heart, thanks.


  3. Erika

    Beautiful Archer.

    Annika had her first birthday a few weeks ago and I had an emotional day recalling her birth as well. Her birth was the most beautiful, incredible thing I have ever experienced. It was textbook natural birth in a gorgeous birth center complete with cherry blossoms outside the window.

    But after? I couldn’t think of her birth without thinking of the pain we went through 3.5 months after her birth. The “colic” that wasn’t colic, the hours listening to her scream in pain, the tears, and my depression. I was expecting to re-live the beauty of her birth on her birthday, instead I re-lived the darkness of the first third of her life.

    But just as God has sewn redemption in your life, so He has knit purpose in mine. I graduated knowing that I wanted to specialize in pediatrics, but it wasn’t until after my experience with Annika that I gained such a heart for Moms. Though it was SO hard, now looking back I am so glad that I went through it. I understand the terrifying feeling of having a child who is sick and you don’t know why. I really understand what it is like to have postpartum depression. And I am a much better doctor for it.


    Dr. Archer

    Thank you for sharing, Erika! Mothering changes us, eh? I loved reading your postpartum depression post.


  4. Kirsten

    Beautiful! Happy birthday little lady!


  5. Christine

    There is exquisite joy on your face holding your sweet Selah. Thank you so much for sharing!


    Dr. Archer

    Thank you for reading, Christine!


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