I can't believe he is finally here, in our arms, in our home, looking into our eyes, snuggling us. What a long road this pregnancy was. But the light at the end of the tunnel has come. He is our gift from the Lord.
With only a few weeks to spare, we finally decided on a boy name. A girl name had been picked from the get-go, but coming up with a boy name proved to be quite the challenge for us.
We both knew we wanted a Biblical name, it was just a matter of which one. We discussed the matter to death before we both decided to take a break and ask the Lord to help us. SuperDan came back a few weeks later after we laid the matter to rest for a while and said after praying he felt led to the name Benjamin. I'll be honest, at first I wasn't impressed. I sighed and agreed to pray about it. I felt no inclination either way for a few days and felt the frustration growing. Naming a child is such an honor and I didn't want to take it lightly. So I took the next step, which I don't do very often, but when I do, God always comes through. I asked God for a sign. Almost immediately after praying that I would see the name Benjamin EVERYWHERE. I kid you not. I saw it on movie credits, in articles, and then I saw an advertisement for two lawyers working together at the same law firm and their names were Peter and Benjamin. So I decided to look the name Benjamin up online and figure out everything behind it's meaning. This is what I found:
"Benjamin, like Joseph, was one of the the most obedient of all the sons (and later tribes) of Israel (Jacob) and out of the tribe of Benjamin came perhaps the greatest Christian missionary ever, the Apostle Paul, who was "a Benjamite circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee" (Phil 3:5). Out of this same tribe of Judah (Judah, Levite, and Benjamin) came the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ."
Benjamin means "son of my right hand". In Biblical times the right hand was seen as the seat of one's power. Hence the many references to God's right hand. I love the word picture of Benjamin being a faithful servant to God and his family and carrying out God's powerful purposes for his life.
Mark is my father's name and I have always loved that name. I am so thankful that my father accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior right before I was born, so that our family was centered around Christ and plugged in to amazing churches that impacted my life forever. Because my dad came to know Jesus, I am able to know Jesus. I can't wait to tell Benjamin about his Papa when he is old enough to understand and explain that he is able to know Jesus because his Papa found Jesus many years ago!
Now for his birth story :)
I had been having irregular contractions for four days and it was exhausting me to the point that I felt like I was going crazy! I was nesting and cleaning like a mad woman while homeschooling and taking care of Sitora and Peter. It was like some crazy version of OCD took over my body and I couldn't stop organizing and scrubbing everything everywhere. SuperDan would constantly urge me to stop and rest, but I couldn't help it! Some weird switch in my brain was on psycho clean mode and I couldn't turn it off. I knew it was a good thing because it was keeping my mind off being so pregnant and preparing the house to be organized for when we brought baby home.
The night before I went into labor I scrubbed the floors and walls of the kitchen. Every 5-10 minutes for the past four days I had to stop and breathe through my contractions on my birthing ball. My kids understood to stop talking to mommy and do whatever it took to create a calm environment during contractions. Bless their sweet little hearts ;)
Sunday night my contractions were starting to become more intense and closer together. I started timing them on my contractions app I downloaded (don't laugh!) I tried to sleep that night but it wasn't happening. I watched a movie on the couch downstairs to keep my brain occupied, then after the movie I tried to rest. SuperDan asked if he should call my mom to tell her to start driving but I wanted to wait until I knew for sure it was labor. He made sure I was comfortable with food, water, tissues, my cell phone, then tucked me in on the couch and kissed me goodnight. He stopped, smiled, then looked down at me from the steps and said, "Pretty weird! We're gonna have three kids soon!" He was beaming :)
All of a sudden at 4am I felt my water break. Yay! Baby time! My doctor told me to call her when that happened and come in immediately because I was Group B Strep positive again and needed antibiotics in my system before the baby was born. I wish I could have labored at home for longer or tried to cure my Group B Strep naturally a few weeks before labor. But after much research and prayer for a few weeks I felt led to come in right away and get the antibiotics like my doctor ordered.
You are going to laugh.
Want to know the very first thing I did after my water broke and I changed my clothes?
I curled my hair.
Why? Well, because I know myself. I know that after giving birth I sit in my hospital gown and veg out for days without taking a shower or doing my hair. I am always way too exhausted and spacey. I knew that if I curled my hair now it would last a few days and save me from worrying about it later. I laughed at myself while excitement grew in my heart. I looked in the mirror while holding the curling iron and thought, "This is IT! Oh my goodness! I'm having a BABY!!"
I had packed my bags weeks beforehand so all I had to do was add some last minute items and check it all over. I tip-toed over to SuperDan sleeping and said while nudging him, "Honey, my water broke!" He jumped up and started getting ready while asking me a bunch of questions. It was so exciting I can hardly explain it in words!
We decided not to wake up the kids because they really thrive on getting enough sleep at night. And since they would be watched by other people for a few days we wanted to start it off on the right foot. It was 4:30am at that point and it would still be another three hours before they woke up, so SuperDan wrote them a sweet note explaining everything to them.
I called my doctor, SuperDan packed up the car while I laid on the birthing ball in the living room, and then he called our dear friend who rushed over to watch our kids. Then we called SuperDan's brother three hours away who's wife, our sister-in-law, was planning on bringing two of her children and coming to stay for a few days. We knew our kids would be thrilled to have their aunt and cousins there that morning! She would take care of the kids and house until my parents would arrive a few days later. Everything was set.
Our friend from church arrived and rubbed my back while SuperDan finished packing the car up. I stood up to walk to the door and I hunched over in pain during a contraction and leaned into the corner by the front door. This was real. My pain was getting stronger.
SuperDan helped me hobble to the car and off we drove into the darkness. Everything seemed so peaceful and serene on our drive with no other cars on the road.
We arrived at the hospital and I was so relieved to sit in a wheelchair while being taken to our room. The lady pushing me asked if this was my first baby. I smiled and SuperDan answered, "No, this is number three!" When we entered our room I was so excited to see who our nurse would be. I was so thankful to realize it was someone I'd met before and knew was a kind and caring nurse. She helped me out of the wheelchair and got me hooked up to monitor contractions and the baby's heartbeat.
From 6am-12pm I used the birthing ball, walked around, and held on to SuperDan through contractions. But to our dismay, I was not progressing past 2 centimeters. My doctor came in and asked if she could put me on a low dose of pitocin to see if it got things going a little faster. At first I was sad, but then I realized how tired I was after missing a whole night's sleep, and that I still had a long way to go. So we said yes.
For a while I was still able to smile, talk, and carry on a conversation with our nurse and my hubby in between contractions. But around 2pm I noticed the pitocin kicking in drastically. The pain began to increase and the contractions came even closer together. I clung to SuperDan for every minute and feeling his touch was (and is for all my births) the only way I feel comfort and relief during the pain. In between contractions he would rush to feed me mandarin oranges, my energy gels (that I used while training for my half marathon last year) and helped me drink water and juice. Everyone was very happy with my progress and kept encouraging me that the birth would be soon.
The reason I don't use epidurals for my births is not because I am trying to be tough or earn some fictional medal of honor. I've done a lot of research about the benefits of having a natural birth for mommy and baby and I have seen the positive results after having two babies this way. When the pain felt like too much to bear I would picture my baby and how it would all be worth it. SuperDan would speak encouraging words into my ear while praying for me, and our nurse and doctor kept telling me how well I was doing and how amazing my husband was. The encouragement can really make a difference in those fragile moments of pain and hard work.
Finally it was time for Benjamin to be born. I couldn't believe it was almost over. I was exhausted, shaking (a normal sign of transition), and desperate for guidance and encouragement.
In less than 15 minutes, I heard my husband say, "It's a BOY!" I breathed a sigh of relief knowing it was over. I had done it! All that hard work had paid off and now I could rest and enjoy our sweet little boy. He was born at 5:58pm and was 8 pounds 2 ounces and 22 inches long! Everyone giggled at how long his fingers and toes were.
My doctor informed me minutes after he was born that the cord had been wrapped around his neck with his hand in between the cord and his neck. She had to gently remove it before he was born and thankfully everything was just fine. She said the cord was unusually short. I immediately told her the story about how Peter was snuggling me a few weeks ago. He was hugging my pregnant belly and all of a sudden said, "The cord is wrapped around the baby." My heart stopped as I realized there was no way Peter would know to say that. He had never heard anything about a cord before. I said, "Well Peter, if that was Jesus telling you that, let's pray about it right now!" Together we prayed that if there was anything wrong with the cord wrapped around our baby that God would protect him/her. I actually forgot about that moment until the minute my doctor told me the cord was indeed wrapped around his neck. I started crying again when I told her all about what Peter said. She was astounded!
Also, about a month before his birth Sitora came down the steps one morning informing us she dreamed we were having a son. She had been hoping for a girl but would now refer to the baby as a "he" because of her dream. She said she was sure and was adamant about it after that.
It was amazing to see how God spoke to both of our children about their baby brother before his birth. I love how God uses children to accomplish His purposes and teach us as adults! I am so thankful the Lord spoke to my children and I love that they listened. So powerful.
When I looked into Benjamin's eyes and saw his sweet little body for the first time on my chest, I started bawling. The tears poured out of my eyes like water. I was happy. I was tired. I was in pain. I was thrilled. I was so full of love. I was still shaking. My emotions were all over the place. I couldn't speak. Only tears spoke my heart.
SuperDan ordered us food and we were left alone to bond with our baby. What was once a loud, busy room full of caring medical staff was quickly filled with quiet serenity.
We called our sister-in-law watching our kids and asked her to bring everyone to the hospital to meet the new baby. We didn't tell them if it was a boy or girl yet and wanted to get their first reaction on video. They arrived around 8:30pm and everyone held Benjamin for the first time while we talked and laughed. The adrenaline was still rushing through my body and I felt oddly well for have just given birth 2.5 hours beforehand.
The next few days are a blur to me. I had a difficult time recovering as quickly as my previous births. I'm not sure if it was because I missed a whole night's sleep before labor, or if it was this being my third baby, or my age. I had trouble coming back to reality and my brain was like scrambled eggs for quite some time. My parents arrived two days after Benjamin's birth and helped take care of us all for a week. I don't know what I would have done without all our family and friends helping us recover. I am so thankful for all the meals, the prayers, the encouragement, everything. It's been two weeks and I am starting to feel slightly normal again. This baby stuff is not for the faint of heart, let me tell ya ;)
Benjamin is an absolute angel. He sleeps wonderfully at night and only wakes up to feed a few times. During the day when he's awake he loves to watch us and look at the Christmas tree lights. He has such a calm, relaxed demeanor and loves being held by his family. He rarely cries! Sitora and Peter are in love with him and beg to hold him constantly. They are adjusting very well to the new addition :)
Thank you Lord for our new little blessing. Benjamin Mark is a gift to our family and we are so thankful to You for giving him to us. We pray You would equip us as parents to raise Him to love and serve You all the days of his life. Thank you for entrusting him to us and we will lean on Your guidance and wisdom as his earthly parents!