Alison experienced a fear of childbirth that was almost physical. But she knew that she has a God who is stronger than any fear.
It was very early on in my pregnancy that I woke up in the middle of the night as a sudden wave of fear washed over me. This was the third night in a row that this had happened. Strangely enough, my fear was not for the health of the baby; no, this fear – so real that I could almost feel it like a physical pain – was for myself and the childbirth I would have to face.
This was not my first baby, and I knew it was quite normal to experience anxiety about labour and childbirth. However, I had never before experienced such a deep-rooted fear, so early in the pregnancy. My previous births had been long, and not altogether without complications. But they had been – by medical standards – relatively “normal”. I couldn’t even explain to myself why this almost irrational panic had taken hold of me as it had. As I lay there, one thing became clear: I could not carry on like this for the next 7 or 8 months – it had to stop!
I knew where to find help
Through the mist of fear and anxiety I reached out to the only place I knew to get the sort of help I needed: to Jesus who had said “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
“Dear Jesus,” I prayed. “Give me that rest. Take care of my baby and of me, but mostly help me to conquer this fear.” I thought of other promises from God in the Bible and recited these verses to myself to drive away the fear.
“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. (Also Philippians 4:6-7 and 2 Timothy 1:7)
As I spoke these verses to myself I felt peace and rest from God overcome the fear, and I was able to drift back to sleep.
Victory – winning the battle against fear
Over the next few weeks, I experienced this nighttime struggle on many more occasions. But each time, I prayed and recited verses to drive away the fear. “I will not give in to this fear,” I determined in my heart. “I will be strong and of good courage!” (Joshua 1:9)
As time passed, I sensed that fear – although still a temptation – was losing its grip. It came less frequently and was more easily banished. It no longer haunted me in the daytime, and I didn’t dread the nighttime as I had. I experienced that God really was with me, and that by trusting in Him and believing His Word, I was getting the help I needed, exactly as promised!
I also realized that my battle against fear was vital if I was to keep my faith and trust in God. To allow fear in would be to doubt God and doubt His promises.
When I was about five months pregnant one of our children suggested a name for the baby. When I looked up the meaning, it leapt off the page at me: ‘symbol of victory’. That was the name I wanted for my baby! There would be victory over this fear, right up to the moment this baby was born.
Full confidence in God brings rest
When the day came and my husband and I drove to hospital, I once more felt that old temptation to be anxious. “No,” I determined. “Whatever happens now, I will stay in rest. I have asked God to take care of us, and I know He will. I will not be afraid!”
And that was exactly what I experienced. Peace, as the hours of waiting slowly passed while the hospital made first one decision and then changed to another. Rest, when the labour finally started – and then seemed to go on for hours with little progress. Then, when the complications developed and the labour became, medically, the worst of any I had previously had, I was still able to remain in peace.
And when my baby finally lay in my arms, physically exhausted though I was, I felt only peace, rest and thankfulness. The fears that had tried to haunt me for nearly nine months now had to leave once and for all. How thankful I was that I had not given in, but had fought against them, even in the darkest times. I knew, with full conviction, that God had been with me and helped me, not only so the baby and I could come through well and healthy. The biggest triumph was that God had been with me in my stand against fear and I had won.
“Lauren Joy,” I thought, as I looked at my little girl, “her name will mean ‘Victory’ and ‘Joy’.”