Letters to Phoebe: Birth

Dear Phoebe,

You had your own ideas about your birthday, didn’t you?  I feel like it’s unfair to you, but it’s difficult to not assume that you’re maybe just a little stubborn (you’d come by it honestly, at least), based only on when you were born. And even though I made jokes about it and I was tired and frustrated, and ready to hold you, I secretly cheered for you when you waited until the last second to decide on your birthday. That’s my girl!

September 15. That’s the date I came up with the day I got a positive pregnancy test. That’s the date my midwives told me waaaay back in February when I went to my first appointment. That wasn’t your birthday. And neither was the 16th. Or the next ten days after that. It got to the point that we started talking about trying to help you out.  I went to my midwife on Friday, and we set up the induction for Saturday. And I got home and I cried a little. Because I was hoping you’d come on your own. I was really looking forward to the experience of labor happening on its own this time around, and I was a little disappointed.  I felt silly for feeling like that, because I was also very, very excited to meet you. And very, very grateful that you were healthy. By the evening, after a lot of praying, and a lot of encouragement, I was only excited. Exhausted, but excited.  It was a funny feeling, after months of waiting and weeks of waking up wondering if it would be your birthday, to go to bed knowing that you would be born on Saturday.

I guess at this point, I’ll mention that I had been having contractions on and off throughout the day on Friday, but that was nothing new. It had happened a lot of other days only to stop and leave me a little bummed that we wouldn’t be meeting you yet after all.  I timed them while your daddy and I watched t.v. and they were about 10 minutes apart, but not really painful.  I made sure all our bags were packed and I went to sleep.

I woke up around 2am from painful contractions, but I honestly thought that I was imagining them. And I really wanted to be well-rested for labor, so I tried to keep sleeping. I dozed between contractions for the next two hours, until they got so painful that I had to wake your daddy up. “Sweetie, my contractions hurt really bad. I think…” He fell back asleep before I even finished the sentence. He woke up to me trying to make it through the next contraction on my own and failing. “I’m sorry, David, you have to wake up. We’re going to have the baby now.” They seemed to be coming about 8 minutes apart, so I decided to take a shower. Very quickly, the contractions got a lot closer together and stronger. We finished getting things together, called your Auntie Kelley to come stay with your sister, and left for the hospital.

I was so happy the entire drive to the hospital. You were finally on your way! I felt pretty sure that we’d be holding you by lunchtime. I was so excited to meet you and so grateful for the gift of a labor that began on its own. Over and over throughout this pregnancy, the Lord has continued to remind me to trust, to rest in his grace and his goodness. It was no different in labor.  I hope and pray, sweet daughter, that you will learn this lesson when you are younger than I am.

We got to the hospital at 5:15am, and met up with your Nana and our Midwife, Isabelle.  Part of the deal with the hospital was that I had to agree to monitoring for the first 30 minutes, so they hooked me up, and we started waiting. Isabelle started getting a room ready for us, and came back in towards the end to see how things were going.

7 centimeters. That’s how they were going. Apparently weeks of contractions and waiting had paid off. We headed down the hall to my room and I hopped right in that lovely tub. It was probably around 6am when we got to the room.  Contractions continued to pick up, and your daddy did such a wonderful job helping me through them.  The time between contractions was nice.  It was restful and for a while, we chatted about your arrival.  Itbecame clear that you would be born long before lunchtime. In fact, before we were even scheduled to be at the hospital for the induction, I was holding you in my arms.

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Isabelle helped me think about and work through my labor, and when I decided it was time to push, just about 2 hours after we got to the hospital, she helped your daddy catch you. You were born in water at 7:43am. September 27, 2014. 8 lbs. 10 oz. 20.5 inches. Our sweet Phoebe Evangeline.


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Dark hair, and big gray-blue eyes, just like I had imagined. Your daddy handed you to me right away, and I just looked at you, cuddled you, and kissed your sweet face.  It was so precious to have those two sweet hours to hold you and get to know you, to introduce you to your big sister.  She came right into that room, took one look at you and said “PHOEBE!” She climbed up next to me, kissed you, held you and played little piggy with your “toesies.” Like us, she had been waiting so expectantly for you. I pray that sisterhood will be a blessing for you both throughout your lives.

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Sweet Phoebe, we are so grateful for you. Our prayer for you is that you will be an example of and a glad witness to the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” We pray that you will radiate the light of the Lord our God–that you will love the light, walk in the light, and give light to others as a city upon a hill. We pray that the good news of Jesus Christ will shape everything about you and that you will choose to devote her life to the advance of his kingdom.  We love you, sweet girl, and we’re so happy to have you in our family.

Love,

Momma

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A Letter to Ellie: From Your Daddy.

Today, I am blessed to share a letter my husband wrote to Eliana in celebration of her birth.  While it’s not a traditional birth story, it is beautiful. Something I love about The Bradley Method is the emphasis it places on the role of Fathers in the delivery room and throughout the pregnancy.  When people ask me how I gave birth without an epidural, my answer is always the same: because of David. 

Dear Daughter,

So.  Let’s be forthright, shall we?  I love you.  I love you more than words can say.  I remember very fondly the morning you came into the world.  I stood at your mom’s side (her right-hand side, in case you’re interested in that sort of thing) with the nurse at her other side and the doctor at her feet.  I like to think my eyes saw you first: you came out on the final push curled up and on your left-hand side, facing me.  If you had opened your eyes at that moment, you would have seen me.  Who’s to say you didn’t?
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Before the nurses picked you up and carried you away to be wiped clean (or washed clean, in which case it could be called a sort of firstfruits of the baptism that you will, I pray, one day undergo in the Lord), you were set in your mother’s affectionate and protective arms.  I wish I could describe for you the look I saw at that moment on your mother’s face, but it transcends language.  It was joy mixed with gratitude mixed with exhaustion–and probably mixed with pride.  Pride in bearing you those nine months and giving you birth, gratitude to the Lord for his great kindness and care, joy at your life and at your entry into the world we inhabit only for a time, exhaustion and love suffusing it all.
I hope my face showed something similar.

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Since that day you have grown quite a lot; you now are probably between 13 and 14 lbs and 25-26 inches long (from 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 20.5 inches at birth).  You are, by the numbers, tall and thin–like your mother.  Today, at nearly 16 weeks of age, you can hold your own head steady, sit in a supportive chair, lift your head up off the ground if we set you on your stomach, notice and follow toys or other objects, smile in response to our own smiles, and more generally show recognition of certain faces.  We suspect you will start to roll over soon and not long after that begin to sit up and (too fast!) crawl.  What progress you’ve made!
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I feel a keen sorrow almost daily–whenever I think that I spend too little time with you.  I work full time at a job that doesn’t allow me to bring you with me.  Your mother, on the other hand, works as a nanny, and therefore gets to take you with her to work.  This arrangement has its upsides and downsides, of course, but it means at the very least that she spends more time with you than I do.  I know, I know–this is normal in families like ours.  But I wish to God that I had more time with you.  How it feels to have your head resting on my left shoulder while I hold you with my right arm and touch the back of your head with my left hand–it fills me with happiness that I never knew before I had a daughter.  You, Eliana, enrich my life and edify my heart.  And you give pause to my mind; you make me weigh, make me consider what’s important and what, among the various goods I possess, can be let go.  I remember in Gilead, my favorite book, Ames talks about grace as something that takes life down to the essentials.  In that sense you are grace personified for me.  That makes me think of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem, “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places,” in which Hopkins says that Christ is “lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not his.”  Yours are the limbs and eyes (and the smile!) through which Christ, right now, makes himself known to me.
Okay, that’s a good place to stop.  Child of my heart, hear my heart beat for you; know its affection for you, its desire that you grow up to be a woman who knows the Triune God and expends herself to the uttermost for His great glory.
Love,
David, your Father
*If we are successful, David will attend the training with me and will have the option to help teach classes as he is able. Click here to become a part of our journey. 

A New Adventure: And a Request.

Giving birth was a wonderful experience for both David and me.  We’re not sure what it was like for Eliana, but it seems like she’s glad to be here.  When I was pregnant, I spent hours researching everything from diaper bags to epidurals, and I was starting to get overwhelmed. I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of just throwing myself at the mercy of the doctors, but I also didn’t love the idea of hiring someone to come to my house and ordering an inflatable pool to have my baby in.

Enter Dr. Bradley and his book Husband Coached Childbirth.  I read most of this book on one of our typical dates to Barnes and Noble. I was surprised to find that, after reading, I was actually looking forward to childbirth.  Being the introspective person that I am, I asked myself why– why was I actually excited about something that is “marketed” to women as a horrible, awful, terrible experience that is only good because “you get a baby at the end”?  Here’s why I was excited:

The Bradley Method strongly advocates the role of the husband (or other support person) as necessary in the labor and delivery process.  I deeply wanted David to be an active part of the labor and delivery of our daughter.

The Bradley Method stems from the idea that birth is a natural process that our bodies were made for, but that we also need to train for.  Dr. Bradley referred to his patients as “obstetrical athletes.”  According to The Bradley Method, you train for birth like a runner trains for a marathon.

The Bradley Method isn’t unreasonable. It leaves room for medical intervention when necessary for the health of the mom or the baby.  For this reason, with the proper preparedness, it’s 100% doable in a hospital setting. Even one that isn’t natural birth friendly (like my hospital).

Because of our experience with the Bradley Method, I am eager to educate other women about childbirth and provide other couples with the information I received prior to giving birth to Eliana.  As a Christian, I only found myself agreeing more and more with what Dr. Bradley wrote because I believe that God made our bodies to have children. My birth experience was not only a rewarding experience athletically, but spiritually as well.  I would treasure the opportunity to share the Bradley Method with couples who are interested in making informed decisions regarding the birth of their child.  Birth doesn’t have to be something that women just suffer through.

I am asking you now, dear reader, if you are interested in helping me do this.  I can’t manage this alone. The Bradley Class for Childbirth Educators will prepare me not only to teach The Bradley Method, but also to assist couples in the delivery room.  I have just 7 days to reach  my $1600 goal, which will take care of the 4 day training conference in September and the rest of the 9-month academic program.  I will then be able to join the one other teacher in my city in providing Bradley Classes.  At this time, you would be making a pledge– if I do not meet my goal, your donation will not be collected.

I have been thinking of what work there might be for me to do after realizing that classroom teaching is not in the Lord’s will for me at this time.  I feel confident that this is something that he has given me both the passion and gifts to accomplish.  This will not only be a job that I will LOVE, but it will help us out financially while allowing me to care for Eliana full time.  I realize that a number of my friends are in a financial position similar to my own, so if you are able to share this, I would appreciate that as well!  You never know who might find it!  If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to share more with you!

A Letter to Ellie: Birth

Dear Eliana, 

I felt sad when I woke up on February 20th.  I had heard two due dates from my doctors– the 20th and the 21st, and after my doctor’s appointment earlier that week, I had begun to feel like you would never arrive!  I stayed in bed until noon, trying to sleep the day away.  Even though I felt nearly certain that you would be at least a week late, there was just something about those dates. I had been hoping for them for 9 months. Looking forward to the day that I would get to hold you in my arms for the very first time. And, to be honest, I was super excited about labor.  I had done a lot of reading and was confident that the Lord had made my body for this work and would sustain me, and I honestly couldn’t wait to experience it. Little did I know, I wouldn’t have to wait long.
 
It’s worth pointing out that your daddy was supposed to be in Kenosha at this time, but due to some work complications, he was stuck working from home.  I ate an orange, said “Wouldn’t it be funny if my water breaks on this walk?” kissed your daddy, and walked out the door. 
 
I started out on a walk that had become very familiar to me throughout my pregnancy: out our door, through the parking lot, around campus, back to our apartment. I had created a birthing playlist, and I would listen to it while I walked and I would pray for you, for me, and for a healthy delivery. When I went for this walk on February 20th, I didn’t even make it through the parking lot. My water broke before the first song ended. I was so excited, I think I giggled, quickly made my way back to the apartment, and told your daddy we were going to be meeting you soon! 
 
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It was more of a trickle than anything, but I was SURE that this was it!  Contractions didn’t start, so we took our time getting ready and packing up the last of our things.  We made some phone calls, and your grandparents and some of your aunts and uncles started making their way to the hospital.  That drive to the hospital was full of wonderful (and not wonderful) thoughts– 
 
 
 
 
 
This is really, really happening! 
 
I can’t wait to meet her!
 
Oh no! I haven’t eaten dinner! 
 
We got there, and they didn’t believe me– apparently it’s not common practice to change your clothes when your water breaks, and they were skeptical about whether this was labor or not.  I sat in this little holding room for what felt like hours, but was probably really less than one while a nurse told me all the reasons I probably was not in labor.  For the second time on February 20th, I felt sad. And silly!  I had some awful thoughts–
 
This isn’t happening!
 
Oh no! People are starting to arrive! 
 
I’m not going to meet her today! 
 
At least I’ll get to eat dinner. 
 
Just as I was telling your daddy to call my parents and tell them not to come, the nurse came back in and told me that I was, in fact, correct. And then, I said something I never say, 
 
“Shut UP!” 
In the style of Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries.  Not my proudest moment. 
 
Then, just in case I had any lingering doubt, my water REALLY broke. I mean, all of the sudden I knew why the nurse was skeptical of me, and I laughed. This, dear daughter, was one of those times that laughter starts deep inside of you and rolls through you and comes crashing out of you the way the waves do at high tide.  The joy I felt at that moment– it’s a memory I treasure. I relived the joyful thoughts I had in the car.  You really were coming! This really was it! 
 
I finally got into a room around 7, and still wasn’t having many contractions.  My doctor started me on Pitocin, because they like to speed these things up as much as possible. 
 
I communicated my desire for a natural birth, and my doctor said “No need to be a martyr, Lindsey,” and walked out the door. I laughed about that, too.
 
Stubbornness can be a gift, dear daughter, and the doctor’s comment, though it had nothing to do with my reasons for choosing what I did, motivated me all the more. Fortunately for me, I had an amazing nurse, Jessica, who understood exactly what I planned to do and promised that she would do everything she could to help me. 
 
IMG_3505The next several hours were a lot of walking around the hospital and talking with family and friends who had wanted to be there for your birth.  I actually spent most of this time in the waiting room. In labor. Hanging out with a bunch of people who were eating dinner. Remembering fondly that 3pm Orange.  
 
Around 2:30 am, the work started.  By this time, your daddy and I were in the room alone, and all the visitors were waiting patiently in the waiting room.  These were the contractions that required work, and your daddy and I did the work over and over again.  
 
 
 
This was when we started listening to the playlist I had so often listened to in anticipation of this day. I’m saving this playlist for you, sweet girl. Not one song on it was chosen carelessly.  It is full of music that I played for you while you grew, music that reminds us who cares for us, music that worships the God who made our bodies and who gives us life, music that speaks of his good gifts and of his faithfulness. 
 
Let me tell you about your daddy, Ellie Jo. He sat there with me, encouraging me, holding me, and praying with me through the whole thing.  Together, while we labored to bring you into this world, we worshipped.  As we joined God in his work of bringing new life, we thanked him for his goodness. And as I leaned my laboring body against your daddy’s chest, I leaned my soul on the one who made it. And he was there with us, Eliana. The one who granted us the grace to carry you carried us. In labor I learned something valuable for life, the leaning is the labor.
 
As the time of your arrival got closer and closer, I made my way to the bed.  The doctor came, and it was finally time to push. I am pretty sure it was time to push before the doctor came, but they like the doctor to be there for those things. I pushed for maybe 10 minutes, and I was surprised the entire time that it wasn’t worse.  After hearing all about how unbearable it can be, and after doing the hard work of labor for the previous 6 hours, I could hardly contain my excitement. I heard the doctor point out your head to daddy, and I couldn’t believe we were almost done.
 
“She has hair.” 
 
I laughed again. It was mind blowing to me that your daddy was seeing you, actually seeing you for the first time.  Just one or two more pushes and you were here. 
 
6:17am. 
7lbs. 10 oz. wispy reddish hair and perfect milky-pink skin.
Eliana Joanne.
The Lord’s answer.  
 
You were placed on my chest and time stopped.  
My heart felt so full, I was sure it would burst. I couldn’t stop looking at you. I couldn’t stop. I marveled at the fact that you, my sweet, darling daughter were actually in my arms. Your skin on my skin. I breathed you in, I kissed your head. your face. your hands. Your daddy leaned in close, and we sat. We cradled you. I fed you. I never wanted to let you go. 
 
But, inevitably, they took you to weigh you and measure you, and make sure you were healthy. Your daddy went with you. He stood by your side. He talked with you. The wonder and joy that I saw on your daddy’s face that day blesses my heart.  Your daddy doesn’t get excited about much, but now I see that look on his face every day, Eliana. That look of wonder that the Glorious God who made every human being would choose to entrust us with the care of your precious life.  Oh, how your daddy loves you. 
 
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Once things were all straightened out, I had the most delicious glass of orange juice I have ever had, and demanded to hold you again. And then, what a treasure it was to introduce you to the dear, sweet people who had loved you since they first heard you were coming, who all asked to be there while we labored. Nana & Grandpa Dan, Grandma Karen & Grandpa Greg, Auntie Kelley, Auntie Emily, Uncle Andrew, Uncle Scott.  After a long night of praying and waiting, one after another, they all joined us in that room, and your daddy introduced you. We shared your name for the first time, giving glory to the One who has given you to us. 
 
After all our faithful labor, like the Lord who has given you to us, we rested. For hours, I just held you and stared. Quietly and peacefully, we rested and thanked the Lord for his good gifts. 
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Love you, sweet girl.
 
Momma