Travail, v.i. To labor with pain; to toil. To suffer the pangs of childbirth; to be in labor.
The word “travail” is used often in the Bible to describe childbirth. Other words in the Bible found in connection with travailing in childbirth include: “hard labour” (Gen. 35:16), “pains” (1 Sam. 4:19), “cry” (Is. 42:14), “anguish” (Jer. 4:31), and “sorrows” (Jer. 13:21). The pain, difficulty, and suffering of childbirth are the result of the fall of man (Gen. 3:16) and are the dread of many women the world over as their hour of delivery approaches.
Childbirth is an intense and beautiful experience in itself but I especially marveled at Sandy in her travail and the bravery she displayed given her past… She had an extremely difficult time in Isaiah’s birth. She was in active labor for 48 hours and it was complicated by the hospital staff. I won’t go into the details but I will say it was a traumatic experience and she nearly died. So not only was Sandy going into Pearl’s birth with the natural anxiety that many women experience as the time approaches but she also had to deal with the painful memories of her previous delivery that have haunted her for over six years.
Sandy had determined in her mind to have a natural birth with Pearl. She did not want an epidural for several reasons. Namely, she did not want to experience the complications with an epidural she had with Isaiah’s birth, she wanted her body to deal with the birth as God intended rather than be influenced by drugs, and she had read that a natural birth was healthier for both the baby and her. Pearl’s due date came and went and even though Sandy reminded herself that Pearl didn’t have a calendar and the due date given by the doctor was just an estimate, she grew a little anxious at the thought of being induced. On Tuesday afternoon, five days past the due date, Sandy in exasperation had a little talk with Pearl. She said, “Pearl neither you nor I am looking forward to this but it has to be done, and we’ll make it through to the other side together.” Two hours later at 7:00 p.m. she had what would be the first of consistent contractions. By 8:00 p.m. the contractions were coming at three minute intervals. We drove to the hospital.
We were met at the hospital by Sandy’s doula Amy. A doula is a support person that uses massage, positioning suggestions, etc., to help labor progress as well as possible. The emotional, physical, and informational support that Amy provided was invaluable. Sandy was exhausted as her labor extended into the morning of April 22nd. At 3:35 a.m. the Lord blessed us with the birth of our little Pearl.
Natural childbirth is the most agonizingly painful experience that I have ever personally witnessed firsthand. I would be at a complete loss of words to describe it if not for the Bible: hard, pain, anguish, sorrow, travail. As difficult as it was to watch the woman I love go through this valley, I have a greater respect and admiration for her as a woman and mother for having observed it along side her. She was so brave through it all. And when Pearl arrived, it was amazing to see the immediate transition from all the anguish and sorrow to overwhelming joy.
“A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.” John 16:21