Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Sometimes life feels like sunshine and rainbows. Something comes along to bring in the dozens of sun beams. Full throttle. That is what has happened around here. 

Her name is…. Genevieve.

She was born at 2 minutes to 11:00am on a Thursday. She is probably one of my favorite births to date. I think birthing her hurt the least….but that's all relative too. It's like I've always said, getting babies from the inside of your body to the outside of your body is hard, no matter the method.

She is LIFE. She brings even more laughter to our home. She makes me cry I am so relieved to hold her and kiss her sweet smelling face. She was a bit jaundice at birth, so her coloring made me think of a chocolate chip cookie. Warm and orange-ish/brown. The jaundice is gone, but she's still a warm, right out of the oven, cookie. More like a sugar cookie now. :)

She's my SIXTH pregnancy. Six babies. Our first went straight to heaven. Grace Katherine. (Click her name or here.) She would be 10 this February. Her special, brief and impactful life changed our family forever. I still fear death with each pregnancy, the whole time. 

So when Genevieve (and each of our other girls) emerge, our world stops spinning, until we hear these few and wonderful words from the doctor….. 'Ahhh. Jennie…. Brian look here….she's….PERFECT.'

I love the fact that God gives Momma's amnesia. That makes me belly laugh. He knows that if we remembered this time, we would literally all have one baby. It's too hard to have more. So, God gives us blissful amnesia and all we can remember is the moment the baby emerges and life is perfect, and baby is well. And the surge of hormones make us think that we in fact created birth and birthing babies and we are the first person to have ever done it…ever. 

Birth with drugs...
It's so big, I write it down. Type it. And I blog it. I want to encourage others. Most think I'm nuts. You may be one of those. Here's the deal. Women can do this. I am living proof. I want others to try it. Not because it feels good. Not because it is not the-hardest-thing-ever. But because it is a way to experience a connection with the Lord that is only found in PAIN. I have found this connection in my emotional pain too. 

I wanted to write about this awesome event my first night with my sweet Genevieve. It was just me and my precious baby. Brian was home with the other four. I tried to do it. But I was so tired. I had missed a full night of sleep + been in labor for 12 hours. Instead, I kissed the face of my newborn angel and fell sound asleep the second baby Genevieve did. 

1 day old pictures.

So now, here it is, on her 2 month anniversary and I am finally finishing it up. I sneak away from time to time to recollect that day. To write it down...And I'm finally done. 

The Story of Genevieve

The contractions came in the night.…just as I was laying my head down on the pillow.

But let me back up a little.

Carlisle and Evelyn had a late party in Columbia from 7:00-9:00pm. It was still summertime, and I am crazy enough to be in another city at 39 weeks pregnant. So I dropped them off at the pool party and went searching for a place to have a pedicure. I had really strong pain in my back for the last few months of my pregnancy. Tylenol had long ago stopped working to help me.

So, when I turned on the massage chair at the nail salon, and it started pummeling my back, I was so relieved. I don't know whether it actually massaged my pain, or it took my mind off of it because it was hitting me so hard on other parts of my back. But either way, the aggressive massage chair was awesome. The sweet guy gave me a hot pink pedicure. I laughed and apologized for my swollen ankles. One of the workers asked if this was my first baby. When I told her it was my 6th all of the other workers jumped in on the conversation. They asked when I was due and I said, '5 minutes ago'. Truthfully, I was 39 weeks. And had never naturally gone into labor on my own.

I think each of my babies have preferred the snug, quiet, dark, tightness of my womb as opposed to being birthed and joining girlville. Labor never comes. With each of my girls, I have had to have my water broken to jump start labor. One very patient pregnancy, with Eleanor Bliss, I waited until 41 1/2 weeks. And again, had to have the doctor break my water. Vivian was born at 40 weeks. 

The pedicure was good. The massage chair was great. I went back to get my girls from the party and we drove home. I think we got home around 10:30pm or so. Of course, the girls fell into bed. And so did I. I laid in the bed and Brian and I discussed names for our unborn baby. 

What would it be? How were we ever going to decide? 

We had a few favorites. Camille? Genevieve? Amelia? We discussed it for 30 minutes or so, and resolved to still not have made a decision.

During our discussion, I got kicked, or had a weird contraction or something painful. I jumped and grabbed my side. I was so loud that I alarmed Brian. He said, 'What was that? In all of the pregnancies I've never seen you do that?!?!' 

I wasn't sure what it was. The pain was gone as soon as it had started….maybe a hard kick from a big baby?

Minutes later, he brushed his teeth and crawled in bed beside me. It was almost midnight. I listened as his breath slowed and he quickly fell asleep. A few more minutes later, I had a whopper contraction. A doozy. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for months. Especially when I taught aerobics. This was NOT a Braxton Hicks contraction.

10 minutes later, I had another one.

10 minutes later, another.

I knew after these first few contractions that she was coming. I just wanted to get a little sleep. It was 12:30. I was tired. It'd been a long day. I couldn't figure out how in the world I was going to find the energy to labor and push a baby into the world with no sleep. So I did what any girl that has had 5 other babies does….I updated my Facebook status that I was in labor and fell asleep for 9 minutes. And so it went. Doozy contraction and fall back asleep…for 9 minutes.

Strangely, the way I knew this was the real deal was because I heard myself doing labor breathing through each contraction. I was breathing so loud, I couldn't believe I wasn't waking Brian up. He was laying 6 inches away.

3:30am - The contractions are closer and I wasn't falling asleep between them anymore. I was ready to go to the hospital.

So after hours of contractions, I woke Brian up and told him it was time to go.

His response; 'Take two Tylenol…and try to fall back asleep', said like only a sleep deprived Dad could say.

I assured him this wasn't a false alarm.

'Brian, the baby is coming…. this morning.'

That got his attention. I called my precious friend and babysitter Rachel. I told her to take her time, that I still needed to pack a bag, but if she could head our way in the next half hour or so.

She arrived quickly.

She walked in the bedroom just as I was having a contraction. I was laying on my side. Brian had just gone upstairs to get a few things for the hospital bag. She rubbed my back and listened to my breath as I fought through. She tells me later I was the first women she'd ever seen in labor and that watching a woman endure a contraction made her realize how powerful and strong I was. How powerful and strong women are.

Brian and I each got a bag together and strolled outside into the cool morning. It was in the 60's, a cool breeze blew through my hair. I could NOT get over how good it felt. It was such a dichotomy between the hard, strong, debilitating contractions and the sweetness of the breeze blowing over me cooling me and comforting me. I was full aware that the weather had to have been a gift from the Lord for me. To ease some of the toughness of labor. I prayed, thanking the Lord for the cool morning. It's August. Temperatures hover in the high 90's / triple digits during the day and in the 80's and 90's at night.

I was hesitant to get to the hospital because I knew they'd put me straight in an uncomfortable bed. My freedom would be gone and I would be at their mercy. But the strength of the contractions were only increasing. And while I had thought about home birth, it wasn't in the cards. I was a chicken. What if something went wrong?

I had a few contractions standing in the driveway and then had a super strong one. I knew it was time to go.

I sat down in the passengers seat and without a word, Brian slipped in the drivers seat beside me. He pulled out of the garage. We went over the big hump at the end of the driveway onto the street and it gave me another whopper contraction. Worst one yet. I was the exact opposite of how they depict women in labor. I asked Brian to please drive super slow. We rolled the window down and whispered, 'this is the last time we will be a family of 6.' 

We get to meet her today. Amazing. He was sweet. Quiet. And he drove slow.

I've never enjoyed a cool breeze more than this morning. We arrived at the hospital around 5:00. He asked me if I wanted him to drop me off. I said no. We parked and he asked if he get me a wheelchair, and of course, I said no. I thought 'I can do this.' 

It took me a while to walk to the front desk, and by the time I got there, I had changed my mind. The lady at the desk started asking me check-in questions and I couldn't answer because of the contractions. A result of my walk from the parking lot, I guess. So she turned her questions to Brian.

I was happy to have the wheelchair. We went up to the 4th floor. As he wheeled me around the corner, one of the nurses at the desk said, 'Jennie. We've been waiting on you. I saw your Facebook status 5 hours ago. I can't believe you're just now getting here.' I think I smiled weakly at her. 

She said all the nurses at the desk had wagers. But the consensus was that my cervix was a 6.

I get a room. It all feels soooo very very familiar. And it makes me NERVOUS. I have experienced so much physical PAIN in these delivery rooms over the past 8 years. I can't believe I am about to do it again.

They started an IV with fluids only and I got in the bed. My least favorite place to be when in labor….except this time.

I was SO comfortable. SO comfortable that I cold turkey stopped my labor. Somehow I found a spot to sit on that bed that was comfortable. Crazy.

They check me, the nurses were right. Cervix is a 6. 

The doctor on call was already on the floor taking care of another pregnant momma. I asked my nurse to have the Doc come in and break my water. He came in. He wanted to check my cervix also. But he wanted to do it with the bed flat and he did it during a contraction. I almost crawled up the walls. Insane pain.

6:35am - Doctor broke my water and he walked out. 

I didn't say anything at all…but I did... accidentally... flip him the bird as he left the room. 

His back was to me. 

Whoop-see daisy. 

The contraction passed and I had totally rational thought again. I told Brian and the nurse that I needed to pray. 

'God, I need your help. These contractions are crazy, they are hard, they are bigger than me, but I know you can help me. Help me birth this baby. Keep her healthy and safe. I pray that she is perfect without any problems. Give me super natural strength that comes only from you.

And Father….please forgive me….for flipping off the doctor. 


Brian and the nurse were in hysterics. I smiled quickly. Then was thrown into another contraction. 

After this, I found my very comfortable position on the bed again. I was sitting almost straight up, and if I stayed very very still, my contractions all but stopped. I was petrified to move because I knew that it would bring them on again. So, I was like a statue. 

Brian tells me he's going to go get coffee. I remember then that he too, is tired. When he comes back a few minutes later, he's standing about 12 feet away from me. The smell of his coffee is so strong I feel like he has shoved a coffee bean in each of my nostrils. 

I tell him I'm so sorry Bri, but I can't handle the smell. He smiles and puts his perfect, hot, yummy cup of coffee in the bathroom on the sink and closes the door. I apologize to him and immediately start having a just-smelled-hot-coffee-what-else-is-there-to-do-but-have-a-contraction…contraction. 


I'm scared out of my mind. I keep saying 'Brian, I am petrified. I don't know if I can do this. I don't know if I want to do this.'

He came over to stand beside me. His face is sincere. Serious. 

I looked at him and tell him 'BRIAN. This hurts too bad. There is no way. I think I should just get an epidural and call it a day. What if she gets stuck? What if she is really big? What if something goes wrong? What if she is not face down. I. AM. SOOOO. SCARED.'

Brian looks at me and says NOTHING that I expected him to say.  I knew he was going to tell me just get the epidural and lets have this baby. 

Not on your life. 

He said, 'Jennie. Look at me. You. Can. Do. This. You are strong. You are capable. You have had FIVE babies. This time is no different. You are a birthing pro.'

Two things crossed my mind as he was telling me this. 
Number 1... I was watching his face, studying it. Somehow what he is saying and what his face is conveying are totally different. 

He doesn't look convinced about his strong words. Does he really not believe in me? What is this all about? Why does he look nervous…..?

And Number 2… Does he realize how insane this is? Does he know how much this hurts? What makes him think that he knows what I am capable of? The bible talks about the worst pain being childbirth….has he read that verse? 

He said, 'Jennie, you don't like epidurals. Your blood pressure bottoms out, you pass out, you cry getting epidurals. You will never regret doing this your favorite way, with no drugs. Getting an epidural will set you back. An epidural could drag this out. You could be done in an hour or two without it. You KNOW how to do this.'

I just stared at him.

Black coffee purchasing guy. 

I trust this guy with every fiber of my being. 

He probably likes me more than I like me.

I love him. 

He's incredible.

He's very handsome. 

He's mind bogglingly wonderful.

He would never lead me astray. 

I trusted him with my life and love 14 years ago when we got married. 

Birthing pain is immense….rational thought is totally gone. I just flipped off a doctor. 

I know that Brian has rational thought. I know that he is the only one that can think rationally. I. Can. Not.

I have to listen to him. 

(All this is processing through my head as I stare at him. He looks handsome. Tired. Eager. Nervous. And in love.)

He knows me. He knows my weaknesses. He knows my strengths. He's been at the south end of my bed for every second of every day that I've birthed a baby.  February 10th, January 30th, September 12th, February 19th, April 10th and August 14th. All the top days of our lives. He and I have shared them. 

He loves birth. He doesn't want me in pain. 

I pray. And we forge forward. 

Once I make the decision to be brave, it's like whatever I had been holding back was done. Gone. And my body prepared to get the baby out. 

And… the contractions came on like Donkey Kong. 

8:45am - Contractions are 4 minutes apart. 

They went from being incredibly hard….to….couldn't get any harder. Mind blowing. I am sweating.

The comfortable spot on the bed turned into my zone. At this point, I don't know how I was sitting or laying. I was just surviving the waves of contractions. Sometimes Brian held my hand and often I held onto the bed for dear life. 

During this part of labor for me, I don't talk. I don't move. My eyes remain shut. It's strictly SURVIVAL. 

In-between seething pain, I said, 'Brian get the nurse.'

Sweet Brian whispers, 'Sure…ok….um….well….what do you want me to say when I get her?' :) 

I think I inadvertently growled, (I'm really sorry for growling Brian, I had no control of my vocal cords at that moment.) 'JUST GETTTTT HERRR.'

10:25am - When the nurse arrives, I ask her to check me. Just as I thought, my cervix is moving. I am 7.5 cm. She tells me this. 
No surprise. This baby is coming. She leaves again.

I had been focusing my thoughts on baby girl and her moving through my body. Weird. Sounds weird as I write it, and if you don't like stuff like this, stop reading now. But, for me it was necessary to think of exactly what is happening. In previous births, I endured the contractions and pulled away from them. I would lift off the bed I was pulling away so hard. But really, I wanted to grab my little overnight bag and hold my hospital gown closed in the back and dart down the hall. That was past births.

This time, was SO different for me. 

When the contraction hit, I would push down into them, not pull away. My job was to use my strong abdominal muscles and push with my body, with her and speed this thing along. The result, the prize, is her. Genius.  I wish I'd thought of this with all the other births. 

My thoughts are always on this sweet unborn and unnamed baby, not as much so on the pain. I was more fully engaged with my body than I had probably ever been in my life. 

And I prayed. 

I didn't pray chapter and verse, never once. My brain was definitely NOT working that well. I was in survival mode. It was simply the character of God that got me through. Knowing Him and asking Him for help. Asking Him to get me through the next 30 seconds or 60 seconds. And time and time and time again, HE DID.

When the contraction would hit and begin to build, I entered into the presence of the Lord. Like I'd walk right up to Him. We were face to face. I'd ask him to help me and He did….EVERY SINGLE TIME. This birth was very spiritual for me. God held my hand. He welcomed me into His presence and comforted me. 

I didn't cry. Or scream. Or talk. Or even open my eyes. 

I always ask others who birth babies without drugs how they possibly have the energy to scream. It seems like a waste of really good energy. I need that energy. It is so useful in pushing this 8 lb baby out. 

It is time. I feel it. I have an urgency to birth this baby RIGHT. NOW. I don't care if its just me and Brian. It's time. This baby has to come. The room is still dark and quiet. It's just me and Brian.

Its hard to breath and talk during a contraction. So I grit my teeth during a contraction and tell Brian 'It's time. Get the nurse.' 

By the time that contraction passes, I open my eyes again, and the room is full. A nurse walks in talking extremely loudly and I SHUSH her louder than I've ever shush'ed someone in my life. I spewed spit I was shushing so loudly. I couldn't help it. Noise is so exacerbated, it's deafening when I am in labor. 

The next contraction comes and it seems everyone is talking to me. I hear Brian's voice on one side of me and the nurse is on the other side. I hear them talking. But I have NO. IDEA. what they are saying to me. And whatever it is will have to wait, I am pushing. 

Its the strangest thing to push a baby out of your body. Because when I push, my eyes are squeezed shut, its a natural response for me. But it is a time that it would be helpful to be able to see what is happening. 

I am in the home stretch. 

The energy in the room is insane. I have a few moments to breathe, maybe 20 seconds… or 30?

I try to ask the nurse and Brian what they were trying to say to me, but BOOM, I am hit with another contraction. This is THE time. I get behind the pain and push. I know how to do this. 

And I fill my head with the most positive talk. 'Push Jennie. You can do this…You're about to meet your baby!' I'm sure that the people in the room were saying the same thing, but I couldn't hear them. It was just me, my breath and this little sweet girl. 

The best moment comes now…as I am pushing, she arrives. She comes sweetly into our lives at 10:58am and everything stands still. In an instant, I am not pregnant. I am done. The pain subsides immediately and I am meeting a little precious part of Brian and myself. I've been DELIVERED. She's delivered. As if I have just run a marathon. I am literally heaving catching my breath. I am trying to slow my breathing like I just crossed the finish line, which, I guess I just did. A 9 month marathon. I close my eyes, throw my head back on the pillow and just breathe. They ask me if I want to look at her. I look at them blankly. I am exhausted. I don't even know what they are saying to me. They ask me again, 'Look at her Jennie.' I lift my head off of the pillow and there she is. Screaming and crying. She's beautiful. She is WONDERFULLY made. Oh gosh. She's absolutely beautiful. I smile weakly. The nurse asks if I want them to lay her on my chest. I nod that I do and lay my head back on the pillow. And I breathe.

'When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.' 
Psalm 118:5

All that is going through my head is….She's so beautiful. She is here. She is finally here. The pain is gone. God in his love and kindness heard my cries for help, he DELIVERED ME. Praise God. 

And then over and over I repeat….'Thank you Jesus…Thank you Jesus…Thank you Jesus….'

'Come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my DELIVERER; LORD, do not delay.'
Psalm 70:5 

I hear the doctor ask Brian if he wants to cut the cord. Bri tells me later, he is always so surprised at how thick and sturdy the cord is. Makes me think of the Lord and how He makes things so well. 

They lay her on my chest. I bring her close and then I pray out loud. I hug her tightly. I almost don't have the energy to hold her. I lay my head back on the pillow and whisper…'Thank you Jesus….Thank you Jesus…Thank you Jesus.' 

The nurses and even the doctor wait. There was a moment of profoundness that happened as we all felt the goodness of the Lord.  They are all still staring at me. At my baby. It's silent. 

'He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.' 
Colossians 1:15-18

Brian gave me a super special gift for baby Genevieve. As he has for each of the girls, including Grace. Its a gift that I will have forever…and treasure. He, somehow, knows just what I like.
So, here we are. A family of seven. Six of us are girls. Life has changed. We don't get out much. I feel like I'll be home forever changing diapers with spit up on my shoulder. But somehow, one day I know, we will grow out of this. These little ones will grow up quicker than I'd ever want them too. Baby Genevieve, my sleepy girl, will soon wake up and I'll miss the days of a sleepy, snuggly, nursey girl. I know that this really are the 'good old days'. 

One day when they are teenagers, or in college, or married with their own families and spread out all over the city, or state, or world…I will long to come back to these days. Even these sleepless nights. The nights that I can walk upstairs and see them all tangled up in a heap of blond hair, pink blankets and jammies. They are breathing heavily and all is well. They are quiet and all safe and my world is quiet and perfect for now...

I sometimes wonder if, when I was a young, self-centered college girl dating Brian, if God had allowed me to just take a glimpse of what my life would look like now. Five children. Five daughters. 14 YEARS of marriage. What in the world would I have thought? I'm pretty sure there is a chance I would have run the opposite direction. Good thing God knew me. And my self-centered heart. 

I wouldn't want to miss out on this life for anything. 


Sandy Tracy said...

Love your story! Thank you for sharing it!

Crystal Graham said...

You have no idea how inspiring this is! I met you for the first time Jennie in a family exercise class with 2 of my kids Kaile and James. God bless you and your beautiful family!

beth said...

truly love reading your words and stories ~
xoxo to you and yours ~