Jubilee Noelle Willcox
“Deliverance & Peace”
December 31, 2013
7 lbs, 4 ounces 19.5 inches
I remember the day I found out I was pregnant again. Stephen and I had just returned from an all-expense paid trip to Costa Rica to find our house had flooded while we were away. We were staying with Stephen’s parents down the street, and all week I had begun to suspect that I might be expecting. I don’t remember exactly what tipped me off, but I do know the constant drop in blood sugar on our trip, as well as a couple of random near-panic attacks had me guessing by the time our plane landed on American soil again.
As soon as I saw that positive line on the pregnancy test, the dual emotions began. At once elation, joy, gratitude. And at the same time fear, anxiety, dread. How could I be both so excited and so fearful at the same time? But the parallel emotions of both anticipation and anxiety plagued me throughout this pregnancy much as they had my last. Though I had seen God’s goodness over and over and over again, I still struggled to believe that He would be good to me yet again. Though He had always shown himself faithful, I wrestled with believing He would remain faithful. Doubt plagued me as I wondered if I was strong enough to care for three children when every day I felt like I was failing miserably with the two I already had. Fear assaulted me when I remembered the terrifying post-partum depression I had experienced with my first two. Anxiety encompassed me when I thought about childbirth and everything that could go wrong—especially since my first two births had been so amazing, I figured I had to be “due” for a really awful birth.
But a couple of months into my pregnancy, Stephen and I were reading the Bible one morning, and Stephen looked up.
“What do you think about the name ‘Jubilee’ if it’s a girl?”
I frowned, pondering. “Well, I like the meaning and significance of it, but I’m not sure if I’m sold on it as a name. It’s so…unusual. What makes you think of it?” When God delivered the Israelites from slavery and gave them his law, He instituted a year of Jubilee. Every 50th year, the slaves would be set free, debts would be forgiven, and the land would be given rest. It was to be a year of redemption and celebration, a foreshadowing of how Christ would set us free from our bondage to sin and give us eternal rest in Him.
“I just sense that God is calling us to rest in Him this next season of our life, whatever it is.”
As the months passed, I grew more and more certain that I was carrying our “Jubilee,” and that God was calling me to rest in Him and His goodness, something I have struggled to do for my entire life.
As the weeks ticked by and my due date grew closer, I became more and more anxious. I couldn’t escape the sense of foreboding that something terrible was going to happen this time around. Everything had fallen into place so beautifully for both Jeshuah’s and Eliana’s births, I simply could not expect that to happen a third time. Once again, I felt God gently prodding me to rest in Him.
From the time I was 35 weeks pregnant, Stephen and I were constantly on the alert. Shuah was born at 38 weeks and Eliana at 36 weeks, and we just couldn’t be certain when this one would choose to arrive. And since the first two had arrived quite speedily and we had been unable to find a homebirth midwife near enough, we were anxious about road conditions and getting ahold of someone to stay with the kids in time for us to get to the hospital. Christmas came and went, and we were all shocked that I had not had the baby yet. I was a little disappointed, too, since we had decided on Noelle as a middle name, and I thought it would be so fitting for her to be a Christmas baby and we would call her Noelle. But when Christmas passed without a baby, I doubted even more that God had uniquely planned this baby’s birth as He had the others.
Oh, ye, of little faith.
And then, I made it all the way to 39 weeks. After being “always ready” for the last 4 weeks, having tons of Braxton hicks and false labor, we had begun to think it was never really going to happen. And we had been really hoping to have this baby before the new year. Up until that point, I had Braxton hicks constantly, sometimes as often as every 2 minutes for hours, but they were never the real thing. The whole week after Christmas I didn’t even have Braxton hicks contractions. I felt like my body had just gone to sleep on the job and would never pop this baby out.
But that morning I visited my midwife, found that I was no more dilated than I had been 3 weeks ago, and she asked if I wanted to jump start things by stripping the membranes. I said “Sure, if you want to,” but didn’t believe her at all when she assured me I would go into labor in the next day or two. Still, I contacted my mother in law to let her know the midwife’s prediction and asked our middle-of-the-night couple if they would be “on call” in case I went into labor that night.
My brother, Alex, and his wife Jessica, were driving through town that evening on their way home from their Christmas trip and had been really hoping to see the baby. I told them I would eat Chipotle and hope the spices put me into labor before they arrived. Around noon, the Braxton hicks contractions started up again and I hoped that maybe they would turn into something real this time. By 5, my contractions had gotten pretty close together, but they were still painless and merely abdominal. Alex and Jess arrived with more Chipotle to spice things up a bit and we debated if they should stay the night. It had been snowing all afternoon and the roads were getting pretty slick. They still had an hour and a half drive back home, and I was really nervous that I would end up in labor in the middle of the night with no one to watch the kids back home.
But by 7, my contractions had slowed, and by 8, they had stopped altogether. I despondently told Alex and Jess they might as well head home if the roads were clear, since there wasn’t going to be anything happening tonight. Alex and Jess decided that was best, since they had their two dogs with them, but Alex remarked as they headed out the door, “Just watch, as soon as we leave you’ll go into labor and have had the baby by the time we get home. So I guess we’ll just leave, so you will have the baby, then we’ll just come back tomorrow to see it!” We laughed, but none of us knew how accurate his prediction would turn out to be.
They left around 9pm, and Stephen and I headed downstairs to watch an episode of Sherlock, and about halfway through, I began feeling contractions. And these ones were different. They reminded me vaguely of actual, real labor contractions, but I couldn’t be certain yet. A few minutes later I had another one. By the third contraction, I realized I was having trouble relaxing and breathing through the contractions. Warning bells went off in my head. It was entirely possible that this was the real thing! I looked at the clock. It was 10:15, and I figured my contractions had been about 5 minutes apart, beginning at 10pm. I told Stephen to pause the movie and that I was pretty sure I might actually be in labor and that we should at least call our night sitters before it got too much later.
Zack and Hannah were on their way in minutes, and Stephen threw everything into the car. He told me he wanted to head the hospital right away, but I still wasn’t convinced I was truly in labor. Seriously. When you experience contractions your entire pregnancy and they don’t mean anything, you really doubt even the real ones. We were also really jumpy because we knew how fast my labors were and we didn’t want to end up delivering a baby on the side of the road in a snowstorm.
But when Zack and Hannah arrived fifteen minutes later, I could barely walk up the stairs and was finally convinced that yes, I was truly in labor, and we needed to leave now.
I quickly ran over the kids’ instructions with Hannah, stopping to breathe through contractions every couple minutes, and Stephen and I headed to the car. It was 11 pm and no one was on the roads. A light snow was falling, and everything was quiet, peaceful. I remember thinking how different this trip to the hospital was from my last one, Stephen on the phone with 911 dodging in and out of traffic, me hollering and huffing and puffing and just trying desperately NOT to have the baby.
By the time we got to the hospital, I was pretty uncomfortable, but the contractions were still manageable if Stephen rubbed my back and pressed pressure points during each contraction. However, as soon as I got there, the nurse checked me, announced I was dilated to 5 cm, and wanted me to lie down in the bed so she could hook me up to all the monitors for thirty minutes. (At this point in the story, I will relay my thought process in italics, though none of it was spoken aloud, and when I told Stephen later all I was thinking he was shocked. “You were thinking all of that?? I had no idea. You seemed so calm!”)
As the nurse began strapping belts around my belly, I began my internal diatribe. Are you kidding me?? You want me to lie still in that bed for thirty minutes with belts and cords strapped all over me!? I was having a hard time staying still, let alone lying down in a bed. But until my midwife arrived to advocate for me, I could tell this nurse was not in the mood to cater to a laboring woman who desperately wished she was having a homebirth.
This labor felt very different from the other two, with a lot of pain in my back, and I wondered if baby was sunny side up, causing back labor, which I had never personally experienced. The delightful thing about it, though, was that Stephen could massage my lower back during contractions and ease 80% of the pain. So when I climbed into that bed and she strapped two belts on me—one to monitor me, one to monitor baby, and then wound the blood pressure monitor around my arm, Stephen couldn’t reach my back, and the contractions became quite uncomfortable indeed. I simply could not sit still.
I sat up in the bed and knelt, rocking back and forth to ease the pain and giving Stephen access to my back. When the blood pressure monitor automatically turned on, I knew fifteen minutes had passed and took hope in the fact that I only had to be strapped down for another 15 minutes before I could be free to move around. At that point, my nurse came back in and began working on getting the IV hooked into my left arm, since I was GBS positive and was required to be given antibiotics during labor to prevent passing an infection to the baby. I tried to ignore her as she wiped off the top of my hand and then inserted the needle as I rocked back and forth and vocalized through the contractions to help speed labor up. But I began to feel like it was taking her forever, that my hand was really beginning to hurt, and then, out of the corner of my eye, seeing blood begin pouring out of my hand as my skin began forming a huge, bruised balloon over my veins. I heard her mutter that she had blown out a vein and had to try again. But this time, she called in the professionals. I nearly told her to not even bother, since by the time she finally got the IV in I would have had the baby, but I didn’t want to get in trouble for denying the treatment, so I submitted to yet another person jabbing me with a needle.
About this time, I asked how much longer I needed to be hooked up to the monitors. Being confined was beginning to feel unbearable. My nurse informed me, quite unsympathetically, that since I had been moving around so much, the monitors had not been accurately monitoring me, so she would have to reposition them and then I would need to be hooked up for another 30 minutes and possibly more, depending on what the monitors told them. She then put a heartbeat monitor on my right hand and left the labs tech to finish with my IV.
I think I began thinking murderous thoughts around this time. Are you kidding me??! You know I want to get off the monitors and into the bath, and the monitors have not been working for the last 15 minutes and you just now come in to do something about it?? The last fifteen minutes had felt like an hour, as my contractions were so intense and close together, and my confined state made everything so much worse. I now had two belts around my stomach, a blood pressure monitor and an IV sticking out of my very tender, bruised, and swollen left arm, and a finger monitor on my right hand. At this point I was seriously wondering if hospitals simply devised ways to torture laboring women.
I realized I was not going to get unplugged from any of this any time soon with this nurse, so I asked for a birthing ball, knowing I would at least be more comfortable in a sitting position and could lean up against the bed. As I sat on the ball, rocking back and forth, and Stephen rubbed my back, I leaned my head onto the bed and whimpered softly, “I want my mama.” I wished she was there, as she had been in my first labor, to remind me to breathe, and think about peaceful waters, trees, and not to think about bears! Stephen reminded me to think about our baby and how I would get to meet him or her soon and find out who it was. I smiled at the thought, and drew strength from the knowledge.
In the next minute, I didn’t have time to think about wanting mama anymore. I couldn’t sit down through the next three contractions, barely seconds apart. I had to stand up and lean on Stephen, recognizing that it was nearly time to push.
Just then, my midwife Janelle walked in. She began rubbing my shoulders and asked how I was doing. I was standing, swaying back and forth, eyes closed in concentration, and I nodded to her that I was doing well. She had just mentioned that she was going to go look over my birth plan, when I felt the baby descending.
“Here comes the baby!” I said urgently, and the room went into a flurry of motion. Drawers were opened and shut, boxes and pads and lights and equipment thrown onto the bed and tables around me. As I felt the baby descending and my body react by instinctively bearing down, I was eager to climb onto the bed, as I was afraid this baby might just fall out as my last one had, and if I was standing over the hard floor, that would be horrible. But climbing onto the bed proved quite difficult, tangled up in all the cords as I was. Janelle whipped on a pair of gloves and calmly assured me that she was not going to make me lie down to give birth, but that I was free to kneel however I liked. As the urge to push increased, I tried to blow through the next contractions in hopes that this time I might not tear as the baby was born. But then, I didn’t care anymore, I just wanted this baby out!! I was on all fours on the bed when the head was born and my water broke and the rest of the baby followed. The baby plopped into the bed and Janelle encouraged me to reach down and pick up my baby. I remember looking down onto the bed, where my newborn baby lay, purple and red and covered in white vernix. The first thing I did was check to know the answer to the question of the last nine months—was it a girl or a boy?? It was a girl! I tried to reach down and pick her up, but by this point, my arms had gone numb and were so wrapped up in monitors and cords, I could barely move. I tried to pick her up, but my arms were too weak, and the cords too tangled, so I asked for help. Janelle lifted her long enough to let me settle onto my back, and then they placed her on my chest. While they began all the clean up work around me, Stephen and I stared down at our new baby. She still had not even cried yet, she just lay in my arms, still and peaceful, despite all the chaos that surrounded her. I quickly looked up at the clock. She had been born at 12:16am, New Year’s Eve.
I looked up at Stephen in amazement. “She is our Jubilee Noelle! And born on New Year’s Eve!” Through all the scenarios that had played out in my head, I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful story of God’s faithfulness. After all the doubt, anxiety, and fear that had encompassed me throughout the pregnancy, God’s sovereign care awed me once again. Months ago, God had given us the name “Jubilee Noelle” to signify new beginnings, celebration, freedom from bondage to sin, and the rest and peace that is ours through Christ.
And she has been just that. From the moment she was born, I have felt a freedom I have never felt before. Freedom from anxiety, from fear, from discontentment. My heart is at peace, resting in God’s goodness and his will for me. For the first time, I feel like my head and my heart have combined to give me rest in what God’s plan is for us.
Our Jubilee Noelle is the most peaceful, restful baby I have ever seen in my life. From the time she was born, she has been the picture of calm. She never even cried for the thirty minutes it took the nurse to try to draw her blood for the GSB labs (as it happened, the nurse never did get all the blood she needed and they had to come back and try again later!). She sleeps most of the time, but when she is awake, she simply gazes around in quiet wonder at the world, rarely fussing, and bringing such a restful presence to our home. It is more than just her serenity, but it is rather unexplainable, really. I find that when I try to put it into words, there simply are none to adequately describe it. She is a gift, that is all I can say. A gift of celebration, joy, freedom, and rest. And I cannot help but marvel at the perfection of her name, chosen for her by our Heavenly Father long before she was even born.
The Lord provided for a time
For the slaves to be set free
For the debts to all be canceled
So His chosen ones could see
His deep desire was for forgiveness
He longed to see their liberty
And His yearning was embodied
In the Year of Jubilee
At the Lord’s appointed time
His deep desire became a man
The heart of all true jubilation
And with joy we understand
In his voice we hear a trumpet sound
That tells us we are free
He is the incarnation
Of the year of Jubilee
To be so completely guilty
Given over to despair
To look into your judges face
And see a Savior there
Jesus is our Jubilee
Slaves set free
Jesus is our Jubilee