Wednesday, June 03, 2015
On May 13th 2015, at 8:52 pm, my sixth child was born. Hannah Minerva Clark. I have been privileged to attend all the births of my children. Each one has been an amazing experience, and I have been moved deeply each time by the sacredness of the process and moment of birth. However, this last and final birth for our family was perhaps the most profound and spiritual experience of them all. It was during Hannah's birth that I observed and learned a deeply important lesson about the priesthood and the role of women.
Hannah's birth was the first one we had outside of Utah and away from any family. We've usually had a member of our family (my mother, my sister, etc) come be with us during labor, supporting and assisting my wife. This time, we invited two people from our local Church ward (congregation) to assist.
One was our friend, Laurel Nielson. Laurel is not only a fabulous friend and person, but she is a nurse in the same place where we gave birth - and works in the NICU for infants, etc. So she could provide the medical expertise and familiarity of the other nurses and processes that we wanted. It was awesome having her there. She personally knew all the nurses and doctors, could talk us through any procedures, and has a ton of experience in this environment. Laurel is likewise, an amazing neighbor who is always helping out and serving others with a warmth that is comforting. She is also the mother of one of the young men that I teach and lead in the Young Men's organization at Church.
The other person we invited was Allyson Nielsen (different last name - not related). Allyson is the wife of my friend and workout partner, Ben. Allyson and Amy have become friends over the past year. She has a lot of knowledge about child-birthing from a natural perspective and recently had a child of her own (about 6 months ago - her second). Allyson referred us to some great materials to study as we went into this experience. Amy wanted to do this one natural as possible and she spent a lot of time reading and researching and practicing. I was even convinced to read a "Hypno-birthing" book. Allyson wants to get more into being a doula and assisting with child-birthing, so we invited her to come assist.
We felt the combination of those two women would be a perfect combo to help us do this birth naturally. And we were definitely right. They were indeed an awesome pair for us.
Amy's water broke at about 6:30 am and because she was Group B Strep positive, we made our way to the hospital by 10:30 am, even though no labor had begun. We waited patiently through the day, with Laurel spending a lot of it with us. During this time I was able to give Amy a priesthood blessing in the room. We continued to wait until about 4:30 pm without any real progress with labor. At that point we decided it would be ok to try a bit of pitocin. That worked. Within a short time, Amy began to go into labor. Allyson came over at about 7:30 pm joining us just after Amy was checked (she was a 4). At this time, Allyson and Laurel took control, supporting Amy through each contraction - helping her breath and change positions as needed, providing counter-pressure, encouragement, and comfort.
As the labor progressed and contractions got deeper and harder, Amy was able to lean on these two women and draw on them for mental and physical strength and relief. By 8:30 pm, Amy was ready to push and after a quick check it was confirmed she was indeed ready. The contractions by this time were at their worse and Amy was working through them with a lot of pain. As the doctor was brought in and preparations were made for the delivery, I stood back watching the scene with a pounding heart. As I watched this unfold, the Spirit of God came into the room and filled me. I was immediately full of gratitude and amazement for this woman I have the privilege to call my wife. I was struck with such a vision and awe concerning the birth of our child. It was truly a vision and opening of my mind and heart.
At this time, I looked at the scene before me and saw these two women, our friends, one on each side, holding Amy with their hands and leaning in to talk to and help Amy with each moment. Laurel was weeping as she spoke to my wife. The Spirit was so strong. Then my eyes were opened to what I truly beheld...
I have been a witness to, and have participated in many priesthood blessings and ordinances in my life. I have felt the power of God as I have placed my hands on the heads of others or watched and listened as I witnessed others do so. I know the depth and strength of power that is manifest in those times and the miracles it can produce. And here I was seeing in my eyes these two women with their hands literally on my wife, blessing her - not with "the priesthood", but with their love, their faith, and the power of the Spirit, which they felt and held as they administered to Amy.
I am witness to say that I have never, in my life, felt or witnessed any greater power than I did then. There was so much dignity in that love and caring that they showed. There was empathy and charity in the touch, the word, and a sharing that I don't understand. It was every much as powerful and meaningful as any blessing I have ever witnessed. There was a deep symbolism and real meaning in what I watched, and I learned as much about the Priesthood as I ever have in any previous moment.
If those who hold the Priesthood could administer with such selfless love and affection as those women showed Amy that night, there would truly be power beyond any we have known before. The dignity and intent and love shown in their actions were such beacons of power!
Amy was the resulting miracle. To have watched her was to witness something of strength that I have never known. It was truly inspiring. I have thought about it many many times in the days since.
I do not think I need to say much more or explain all that I felt and learned that night. Just that the question of the Priesthood, the role of Women, and my own responsibility as a Priesthood holder all became very clear to me. Men, these women are the best part of our Priesthood and perhaps similar to how the lesser Priesthood (Aaronic Priesthood) is to the greater Priesthood (Melchizedek Priesthood), what they posses may yet be a higher level than we know. After all, the law of Moses had its higher and fulfilling law. Perhaps when we operate the Priesthood on a level of pure love and faith, we will also experience the fulfilling of the Priesthood, truly, and the ascension to its true power and purpose. It is something to strive for.