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  • shawnmariespry

Exceedingly Abundantly

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

As our daylight dwindles here in the northern hemisphere, we soak in the fleeting days of summer. Bright hues of green are beginning to fade, hints of yellow appear. Kids are back to school and our routines are taking shape.

We have three sophomores now, one in high school and two in college. The other is a senior, eagerly anticipating college graduation next May. Our parenting days seem to be in the late summer phase too. We relish phone calls and visits from our adult children and revel in the time we have with the one still at home.

Isabella Marie, our "Bella Boo", Happy 15th Birthday!

She will be 15 tomorrow. All we parents say the same thing, because it’s so true. “I can’t believe it! Where has the time gone?” After you’ve had a few leave home, after the big job is done—parenting infancy through adolescence—you will understand.

Isabella came to us, as the others—as all children—a gift from God. My midwife said she had ice-cream shoulders. I can attest. Who doesn't like Häagen-Dazs? So I may have eaten a pint too many during my fourth pregnancy. Bella weighed 9 lb. 12 oz. She was very cherub-like, or to quote Margery Williams, author of one of my favorite children’s books, Velveteen Rabbit, Bella was “fat and bunchy, as a [baby] should be."

Hers was an absolute dream birth. After two surgical births and one natural birth at home that took four hours of pushing (stay tuned next month for that story), Isabella was my Ephesians 3:20 baby. Her existence and dramatic entrance was “exceedingly abundantly above all” that I asked of the Lord.

If you think I mean no pain, wrong. Jane Fonda capitalized on this truism, no pain no gain, in her feel-the-burn 80's aerobic workout videos. Of course Bella’s birth hurt, but only for a very brief time. All we ladies who have given birth know that having an object the size of a medium watermelon exit your body promises intense-albeit-temporary pain.

But Bella came so quickly, nobody but she and I were ready for her exit/entrance. It was amazing! A little over two hours from my first contraction, she was in my arms. I had prayed for a brief, problem-free labor. God answered with an exclamation point. Exceedingly and abundantly above all I asked or could even imagine.

Scott had already left for work that Thursday morning. I called him shortly after he arrived at his teaching job a half-hour away, told him, “You should pack up and head home.” I think there was little urgency in my voice. Similarly, my home birth midwife got the call, but her rush-hour commute would be more than an hour.

Our nine-year-old daughter and six- and three-year old sons awoke to find me in active labor. I assured them that Dad and the midwife were on the way. As I began pushing out the baby, the boys took turns running from our deck to the driveway, watching for Dad. Big sister, Bailey, quite alarmed, asked me to PLEASE stop pushing and wait for Dad.

I may have laughed in that moment, certainly I do now. “NO! You can wait in your room if you're afraid,” I gave her an out. “But if you’re staying, grab some towels to put under me.” Birth is messy. She stayed and got some towels.

When Aaron was born at home, almost four year earlier, Bailey had the privilege of being there and with the encouragement of the midwife touched her brother’s head as it slowly emerged. Two-year-old Jacob had fallen asleep so missed out. Not this time! He would not be outdone by his big sister, he patted his sibling’s head as it crowned.

I saw none of this, as I had assumed an all-fours position on the bed, one many laboring mothers—who aren’t directed by others—naturally find to be most advantageous for pushing.

When Bella’s face emerged, Bailey, by my side, asserted with a hint of disappointment, “Oh, another brother! He looks just like them.”

With the next big push, Bailey describes, “The baby just blooped out, into my hands.” Blooped. Definitely a lot of onomatopoeia going on there.

Bailey caught this baby! “It’s a girl!” she exclaimed.

I immediately turned over to receive this gift, still attached to me by a pulsing cord. Bailey and I, elated, cried tears of joy. Her brothers were there, beholding. Sweet, fat and bunchy. Angelic. Baby.

Sisters and Mother, Waterford, Michigan 9/9/2004

Isabella Marie was quickly bundled into a towel and brought to my breast. Bliss. Skin-on-skin, mother and babe, a feel and a scent that is truly without comparison.

When Scott arrived, shortly after, he thought the kids were teasing him when they met him at his car. But then he saw tears in Bailey’s eyes.

He rushed into the bedroom to find the amazing truth. Elation! Disappointment for missing it. Another beautiful arrow in his quiver. Thankful. A healthy momma and baby, praise God!

Daddy meets his new daughter

When the midwife finally arrived, the placenta had already been expelled and was in a pot next to us, still attached to baby. As she searched for scissors in her bag, little Aaron ran into the room, yes—having run with utility scissors he found in the kitchen, God bless him—exclaiming, “I have scissors!” So he helped Dad cut the cord, with the midwife’s sterile scissors.

Proud big brother Jacob Edward

Aaron Ray and Isabella Marie

September 9, 2004, was an amazing day at the Spry household. Exceedingly abundantly above. Good. Very good.

Spry Family Six ~ amazing photo credits to best friend Suzanne Martin

I had little time to ponder all these things that day, though of course, for days and weeks to come, I would do so. My mother-in-law was so excited about Bella’s birth and the unique circumstances surrounding it, that she notified the local newspaper and a journalist and photographer showed up before Bella was six-hours old. The next day, our family was featured prominently on the front page of The Oakland Press!

This began a domino effect with television and radio media, so that for a few days, we had videocameras, interviews and short features on local and national media. Bella’s dramatic arrival even resulted in a National Geographic Kids feature story a year later!

“Children are indeed a heritage from the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” Psalm 127:3

After choosing substandard care for my first two births, some friends and I started a consumer advocacy organization, birthNETWORK, with the goal of raising awareness of evidence-based maternity care. We hoped to help women have a healthy, satisfying pregnancy and childbirth. We endeavored to raise the standard for caregivers and connect women with those using best practices.

The excellent information, but moreover, love, friendship and encouragement I found within this group of incredible women empowered me to make confident and wise choices for my subsequent prenatal and birth care. Scott was ever the constant support.

I still feel very strongly about women receiving excellent evidence-based care in whichever setting they choose, but after the birth of Bella, a new season in my life began. birthNETWORK—which had begun with one chapter in Clawson, Michigan—went on without me, with many chapters nationwide and competent women leading.

My time and focus shifted, home schooling with four kids, house-wifing for my husband. Intense and wonderful, I had little time for much other than nursing a baby and nurturing children in life skills, Biblical principles and basic academics. Many days were a struggle, chaos eclipsing order. I’m so thankful for the family and friends who lent helping hands, prayed for and encouraged me.

After Bella was weaned, we began to leave home more often, engaging in home school co-ops and nursing home visits. Eventually, I was inspired to stand vigil in front of a local abortion clinic, to pray for moms to chose life. I did this briefly, on the way to/from activities and I gave the kids the option of joining me or staying in the car.

Having experienced the spectrum of birth experiences—hospital to home—I have now shifted my time and focus from birthing to choosing life. All pregnancies eventually end, some of their own accord, and tragically, others prematurely by force. All babies deserve life. It is a human right, beginning at conception.

This is not conjecture or opinion. It’s science. Bona fide. Regardless of terms used to describe the product of conception, words like embryo or fetus, the unborn is human. A person. He or she is genetically unique, dependent on his or her mother, and deserving of life.

Babies are an exceedingly and abundantly good gift. When we talk about women’s rights and bodily autonomy in regards to abortion, we fool only ourselves. It’s a straw-man. No one has the right to choose to kill another human being. Mothers have the awesome responsibility to protect their offspring, before and after birth.

Happy 15th birthday Bella Boo. We love you! Your existence has brought us great joy! The year you were born, 839,226 of your brothers and sisters in the U.S. didn’t see life because of abortion. That kind of loss and disregard for life takes an exceedingly large toll. Lord have mercy. May we repent and turn from our wicked ways so that we may be abundantly blessed.


“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”

a simple argument against abortion

"The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? . . . By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems...Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion." ~Mother Teresa of Calcutta Presidential Prayer Breakfast, Washington, DC, February 12, 1994



Is it any wonder that in addition to pursuing a degree in tropical plant and soil science from the University of Hawaii, our Bailey June, 24, is now training to be a postpartum doula! Her active presence at Aaron and Bella's births made a lasting impression. Doulas are wonderful! So proud of you Bailey!

Sisters hammocking, summer 2019

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