Unlike the title suggests, I’m not dieing. Well, then again I sort of am. As I learned from the article Motherhood is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank) we must die to ourselves in order to be mothers. So there is about to be a process of dieing to my own selfishness as a newborn takes over our life. But the last days I’m really talking about are these last days leading up to the delivery of Baby Claire.

The things that I prayed for before James was born were mostly petty, selfish things. I was naive about all the things that could go wrong with his delivery and during his infanthood. I was also very stubborn about how he would be born and on who’s terms. Three and a half years ago I had what I’ve since heard referred to as female machoism–that is, I genuinely believed that a baby born with less medical intervention was somehow superior (and their mother was therefore superior) to a baby (and mother) who had more medical intervention. Toby and Dr. Smith had to do a lot of convincing before I begrudgingly allowed them to induce my labor at 41 weeks.

Then, as John Piper would say, my plans were detoured and redirected, and I found out Who was really charting the course. After a traumatic delivery that produced much damage to my body and a child who would not respond well to the team of doctors and nurses that rushed into my hospital room for the next hour and a half, I learned the grace of a God who gave me a living, healthy baby. A year later, I would learn the sufficiency of a God who allowed a child to die in my womb.

Although statistically speaking, the overwhelming majority of babies and mamas are healthy and normal, it seems that over the past few years many women around me (in the online world and in real life) have suffered tragic losses or near misses. While I was pregnant with James, Molly Piper lost her daughter Felicity at 39 weeks and 4 days. Two women in my little corner of the globe have lost their babies in their third trimesters this past month. A cousin of my cousin gave birth to a baby girl a couple of weeks ago who developed an infection and is now brain damaged for the rest of her life. A friend from church is seeking prayer for her friend who has 1 month old twins because one of them has had a heart attack and is dieing. Strong, healthy young women (such as my own sister) have suffered blood clots or pneumonia after giving birth.

In the midst of all this, my prayer life is intensifying. My heart is broken for these families, and the most important things are coming into focus as to what priority they have. Here’s how I’m praying and ask that you pray these things too.

1. That Baby Claire will hear the Gospel and will someday love the Lord with all her heart. Jim Smith, our campus minister at U of I, has a tradition where he likes to get to the hospital quickly to be the first one to share the Gospel with brand new babies. Jim was out of town when James was born, so Toby got that honor instead. However, Jim got to be second, shortly after we arrived home from the hospital. I’ll never forget watching him walk up and down the hallway of our house, whispering scripture to Baby James. So precious. This time around I’m predicting that Toby will again be first, and then Phil Nelson will be the second to share the Gospel with Claire. Unless Jim & Phil want to race each other. That could be interesting.

2. For healthy baby and healthy mama. That is the goal of every delivery. We are still so thankful that God ordained Dr. Smith to deliver James. He did such an amazing job, despite how difficult the circumstances were. He and Toby communicated very well and in such a way that I was unaware of exactly how scary things were until after the delivery. We’re just as confident that Dr. Gates could handle a difficult delivery if that is the case this time, but we’d really like for him not to have to come to our rescue. Instead we’re praying for a normal, boring labor and delivery. We’re praying that my body will be less damaged and will heal better and quicker this time around.

3. That Toby and I would become the parents to Claire that we need to be. James was our challenging child. The one who never latched on right. The one who spent 6-8 hours per day crying. The one who wouldn’t sleep. The one who hated the feel of water, clothing, diapers and lotion on his skin. I don’t regret the decision to nurse on demand and cloth diaper him but wow, were we sleep deprived, zombie parents for the first year. We still strive to know our son and who he is, so we can be the best parents we can to him. Claire may be the same ballgame as James, or an entirely different one. No matter what she is like, please pray that we figure out how to be her parents very quickly. Pray that breastfeeding goes smoother, we don’t get buried under the loads of diapers to be washed, and we all get sufficient rest so we can function as a family.

4. For James to become a wonderful big brother. I can’t tell you how precious my own big brother and big sister are to me. It may be a challenge, but it will also be a tremendous honor to watch James grow into Claire’s big brother. This is a  whole new realm of parenting  for us and we’re excited to see it develop.

Thank you for your prayers, sweet friends. I cherish them all.