“Was this the most unique birth experience that you’ve been to?”

I wanted to answer in the affirmative for the new father, but it wouldn’t have been true. Every birth that I attend (I am a doula) is a unique experience and truly a miracle, but this one more than others taught me a valuable lesson.

Sara came to me the night before. She was a day short ofShe had never been this late before completing week 42, and her doctor informed her that if she didn’t go into labor by the next day, she would be induced. It was her third birth, and she had never been this late before.

I gave her a massage and reflexology. She left feeling relaxed and calm, and I wasn’t surprised when she called me the next morning to tell me that her body kicked in naturally and that she was in labor.

By three o’clock in the afternoon, the contractions were strong and close together. We met at the hospital. She was already in active labor, and I figured that given that this was her third birth and that the previous two had been “fast and furious,” she would no doubt give birth within the next few hours. I was wrong! Sara labored for nine more hours, for a total of nineteen hours!

With each contraction, I knew that Sara made progress, but that progress was so slow. She labored beautifully, totally connected to the birth. She changed positions, and went in and out of the shower. We used the physiotherapy ball, herbs, massage, reflexology. The heartbeat, thank G‑d, never dropped. For me, it felt like a long time, so I’m sure it felt that way for her, but at least there was movement.

At last, it was time for the baby to be born. I whispered in her ear, “You can do this. Not too fast, not too hard, let G‑d take your baby out for you.” He did. The baby gently came out healthy and crying, even though his umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck.

What did I learn from these miracles? The birth in itselfWho in the world isn’t suffering? wasn’t the miracle—it was the slow and steady process. Maybe if the birth had been fast like her previous births, the cord would have pulled at the baby’s neck. Maybe the slow descent of the baby allowed him to come out healthy and breathing, even with the cord wrapped twice around its neck. The slow yet constant progression was the salvation itself.

We each are growing through our own difficult challenges. Really, who in the world isn’t suffering? But if only we could understand that the challenges themselves bring the salvation, that the slow process, the waiting, the longing, the laboring in itself is the redemption.