This was not what I pictured the first moments with my son to be like.

There I was, savoring those first moments with him . . . squatting in the front seat of our parked car, en route to the hospital. In a grocery store parking lot, I waddled into the back of an ambulance with my fresh-from-God son for the remainder of the trip.

I was exposed and depleted, my body just ran a marathon of its own in childbirth. It was powerful—a pivotal moment in any woman’s life—yet vulnerable, my having to walk a few yards into an ambulance while EMTs held towels around me. Others took a break from their shopping to watch the spectacle, and police protected the scene.

It was an out-of-body experience. Something from the movies. Yet I was living it. How do I accept this as my reality—grieving the birth I wanted, while being thankful for the birth I was experiencing?

Ecclesiastes 3 shares how everything has a season, including mourning (grief) and dancing (thanks). But upon further reading, I discovered that seasons of grief and thanks can coexist.

While not easy, I accepted my position and chose to see God at work in it. I was thankful for a natural labor as I wanted, yet also grieving for the peaceful birth I wanted.

God is in the grief of unmet expectations.

It’s OK to grieve the loss of the expected while being thankful for your reality. It’s quite natural to be sad, angry, and confused in situations that don’t align with our desires or plans. It’s valid to feel everything under the sun during a season of infertility, miscarriage, or loss of a child. And unlike we tend to think, the mixture of emotions can coexist.

God is in the grief of unmet expectations. Yet we still give thanks for His sovereignty.

The brokenness that comes from the unexpected—when our plans go awry—can be debilitating. Broken pieces can become muddled in the grief of real life. Yet God is in the midst, He is in the outcome, and He will walk you through the grieving process. He knows your situation before you live it, and He is with you. Allow the pain, then release it to God as He mends your broken heart. 

God mends reality and bestows grace. 

Indeed, grief and thanks can coexist. 

All is grace.

I was completing a Bible study on identity the other day, and came across this passage:

Join the believing disciples in living from the power of the resurrection. The world didn’t fall apart when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus actually mended it in that moment. Bring your brokenness and broken heart to Him, knowing that because He conquered the grave once and for all, He can conquer any brokenness you will ever face.

We are just like the disciples, aren’t we?

We get so caught up in our story of grief that we forget that thanks can coexist. We fail to see God at work, or to feel His presence, instead choosing to sit in our own brokenness.

Let’s learn from the mistakes of the disciples; they were so overcome with sorrow at the cross that they could not remember Jesus’ promise of return. But we know what happened next. We read the gospels, shouting “It doesn’t end there! You can grieve what you experience, yet give thanks for the promise!” 

Your grief does not overshadow God’s unwavering promise. Your experience does not mean God has abandoned you. We can allow the pain, feel the depths of the human experience from an unexpected birth outcome, yet also give it God, allowing Him to work healing in your heart. 

Grieve the experience but give thanks for His sovereignty. 

You can be grateful for a healthy baby, and also feel the loss of the birth you wanted

God is in the grief of unmet expectations. Yet we still give thanks for His sovereignty.

Indeed, grief and thanks can coexist. All is grace.

All the preparation in the world for your ideal birth will neither prepare you for how you feel and what happens in birth, nor how your mind and body reflect on it in the days to come. Yet remember, God mends reality and bestows grace. He always has. All is grace.

If your birth plans went awry, know this: writing your story has power, counseling is a strength for your hard moments, and prayer is your anchor in the storm to keep you grounded in faith as you walk forward. God mends reality and bestows grace. He always has. All is grace.

Putting to pen the thoughts in your mind is eye-opening. It helps with clarity, to put words to what you are feeling. I akin this to David lamenting in the Psalms; it honors where you are, to process lost hopes compounded while being thankful for life and God’s sovereignty. Grief and thanks walk hand in hand. All is grace. 

Grief and thanks can coexist, especially in an unexpected birth story. This does not make you weak nor is it something to be ashamed of. This is hard, and help is OK. Birth is powerful and is a way for us to enter the narrative of Christ. 

Grief and thanks walk hand in hand. 

All is grace. 

You may also like:

I’m Allowed to be Disappointed in my Birth Story

To the Mom With the Traumatic Birth Experience

God Meets Us In the Mess

Katherine Newsom

Currently training with the Madriella Doula Network as a birth, postpartum, and bereavement doula, childbirth educator, placenta specialist, and breastfeeding educator, Katherine Newsom is surrounded with pregnancy and birth day in and out. She is starting a doula business and volunteering at a pregnancy resource center by teaching childbirth classes and coming alongside mothers in crisis in the gulf coast of Texas, where she lives with her two young sons. You can find her writing at www.simplenaturalmama.com, or on Facebook as "Simple Natural Mama" where she writes for the Christian mom who likes things simple and natural.