Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will give you rest. I love you and you are mine.
Our sweet God used these words, which I have sung so many times in Mass, to reassure me every step of our labor and delivery. When the nurse re-positioned me, hoping to progress labor, I heard "do not be afraid. I am with you." When I cried from pain, "I have called you each by name." When I became so sick from pushing, "I will give you rest." When I didn't think I had one more push in me, "I love you, and you are mine." And when she was here, safe and healthy, I wondered if I would continue to bond with her, if I would be plagued with the depression I remember from years ago, I could not even utter the fear. It was like God would not let me get the words out- would not let me give the words power, only "Do not be afraid, I am with you."
And He has been with me for 99 hours. It has been both the most difficult and most exhilirating 99 hours of my life, harder and more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Every day I have cried from frustration and pain, joy and awe. It is everything I have always heard it is, and many things I never fathomed. Mostly, these hours have been filled with a love that makes me get a tiny glimpse of the love God has for each of us. And like he reassured me over and over again, I now say to my precious girl,
Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you by name. I love you and you are mine.
Thank you, sweet girl, for the best 99 hours of my life.