Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in spirit, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

Oh Lord,

Teach me to seek You and reveal yourself to me when I seek You.

For I cannot seek You unless You first teach me, nor find You unless You first reveal yourself to me.

Let me seek You in longing, and long for You in seeking.

Let me find You in love, and love You in finding.

~Saint Ambrose of Milan

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>

Name: Erin Yonke

Location: Aurora, IL

Info: I'm happily married to my husband and champion pro-life activist, Matt. I stay home with my three small boys; Ambrose (11/06), Peter (3/08), and Joseph (9/10).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

our birth story...

FYI: The following contains intricate details about birth. :-)

At 11:15 am on Wednesday, I met my second son, Peter Elias, in the solitude of my bedroom.

This second birth was very different from my first, of course, as each and every birth is unique. Odd as it may sound, there was something much more durable--sturdy and old-fashioned--about Peter's birth, about Peter himself, really, and about me that make him so different from his older brother.

The day before I went into labor was a day that a dear friend had predicted I'd have the baby (she was right to the day with Ambrose, and only off by 1 day this time, which I'd say is a pretty darn good track record). The day was hormone-laden, for lack of a better description, and I found myself in tears over the smallest things. I'd had a doctor's appointment at noon during which I'd asked the OB to do an exam to see if there was any sign of dilation or anything, in hopes that it would make me feel one step closer to delivery if he told me I was already 2 centimeters--or, at least make me feel like I didn't make the hour's drive to his office for nothing.

Nope. Not dilated at all, and "just starting to thin out". These are not words a woman wants to hear the day before her due date. Sure, I'd had secret hopes that he would tell me I was 8 centimeters dilated, ready to push any second. But I would have settled for 1 cm. Shoot, couldn't you just lie to me to make me feel better?

I cried most of the way home, convinced that I was going to be pregnant forever--weeks more, at least. I cried because I was so uncomfortable, because I was sick of gaining weight, sick of my puffy fingers, my aching back, my constant mood swings, and of generally feeling like I could not enjoy my life. And because of this big jerk that wouldn't let me into the lane I needed and made me take a 10 minute detour on the way home.

Around 1am on the morning of the 26th (our 3rd wedding anniversary, by the way) I realized that I was tossing and turning in my sleep with contractions. Around 1:30, I was pretty sure that these contractions were different, and would probably not be going away soon. As I'd sworn I'd do ever since Ambrose was born, I tried my best to rest between them, even sleep if I could, until they were strong enough that I had to get up and move around. At 3am, I woke Matt up and asked him to light up some candles and incense for me, and told him that in honor of our anniversary I was going to get him the rest of the week off of work. And, oh, a son.

At 5am, I got up and did a few things around the house and then took a bath to relieve some of the pain in my back. I kind of worried that a bath would bring things to a halt, as it had with my last labor (even after I'd been laboring for twelve hours with Ambrose, warm water weakened contractions and spaced them further and further apart. Not only did his labor take forever, but I felt like I had to poke and prod most of the time to keep it going.) Anyhow, things didn't slow down this time, and the water felt great. Shortly after this, Ambrose was awake, and delighted to find me in the bath, still half-dressed (well, in a t-shirt).
I guess it all probably seems pretty silly to a 16-month-old. He even offered me one of his water-squirting "bath-ketballs" and would periodically run by the bathroom door, stop, giggle and say, "Mama! Bath!"
It was really sweet to have him there with me in those early stages--fixing him breakfast, talking to him, getting sweet cuddles and kisses and reading books. As things progressed, I had to devote more attention to labor, so I left Matt on Ambrose duty. I still really loved having them there--being there, in our house. It made processing the idea of a new baby arriving in the next few hours feel so organic. There was nothing foreign, no dramatic departures or running around. It was just our family, exactly where we belonged.

Dr. White arrived around 9am, decked out with his old-school doctor box and dressed in a sweater vest. It was kind of funny, actually, how I suddenly felt like I'd been transported to a different century. I was 6cm.

In my "I'm going to be pregnant forever" moments the night before, I had reluctantly sent Matt to the store for the last of the things we needed for the birth, but hadn't bothered to organize it to any degree, since, of course, I was permanently pregnant, and totally irrational. I remember hearing the doctor and Matt gathering things together while I labored in the tub and feeling quite relieved that some sweet angel hadn't allowed me to put that off any longer. Around this time, Ambrose went down for a nap, and contractions were growing increasingly intense. By 10am, I was 8-9 centimeters. I spent most of my time in the water, sometimes crouching or kneeling with contractions. I was hoping to cross through transition and pushing before Ambrose woke up, but, alas, he both woke up early and I seemed to be stuck in transition for an eternity.

The hopelessness of being within moments of giving birth is like nothing else. I've been mulling those minutes over in my mind for days now--and that's the best word I can think of to describe them. Hopeless. They're dark, doubtful moments when you no longer trust yourself or anyone else, but are in complete submission to God and to the natural processes he built into mankind. Though somewhere, in the deep recesses of your mind, you know that soon, the pain will be gone. Soon, you'll meet your baby...soon, but not now. Now, you have just endured hours of painful, exhausting contractions. And the baby is still inside. There's no way out or around it, you just have to go through it--but suddenly you don't want to. At least, I didn't. I was ready to close up shop. I remember thinking, in the foggy moments between very intense contractions, "Why can't I just take a nap? Can't I finish this tomorrow?"

It was truly divine that, during these precise moments, our aforementioned friend, Renee, had stopped by to pick up Ambrose until after the birth. I'd had my doubts about laboring without any other womanly presence (my last birth was with a midwife), but figured I'd manage to find a way to get the baby out one way or another. As nice as it was to be with my sweet little family, there's something that starts to ring awfully hollow about the encouragement of your husband during an event so exclusively feminine as birthing. Crumpled against the edge of the bathtub, terrified of the next wave of pain that was about to overtake me, I was dead sure that I couldn't take another minute. I couldn't do it--not now, not ever--someone was just going to have to slice me open to get this baby out. I called for Matt, but Dr. White appeared in the doorway and informed me that he was outside getting Ambrose shipped off. "Would you like me to get him for you?," he asked.

No. I didn't want Matt, truthfully. I wanted someone to tell me that I was physically and emotionally capable of enduring whatever the next hours were going to bring, to accurately acknowledge the fierceness of labor, to tell me that I wasn't going to die from contractions...or to just slice me open and get the baby OUT already. I did not want to be patted on the shoulder and told that I was "doing a good job".

In all her kindness, Renee met me in my extremely vulnerable state there, shaking in my bathtub. She offered just a few moments of sweet, soothing words that only another mother could ever extend before she took Ambrose home with her for the next few hours. She really gave me a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel (and a new perspective on laboring, and the importance of women being with other women during birth...but that's a discussion for another day). A few moments after she left, I felt like standing up. A few moments after that, I felt ready to push, and a few moments after that, I gave birth to my son, in my bedroom, as sunshine poured through the windows from behind the curtains.

He weighed 8lbs, no ounces, and has the sweetest head of dark hair that reeks faintly of heaven. Like I said before, he's a bit sturdier than Ambrose was as a newborn. Also a bit rounder and louder and hungrier and perhaps more opinionated, but I'm pretty sure he'll need all those things to survive his first year of brotherhood to my sweet 16-month old.

If you made it through this entire post, you have my sincere thanks for reading. Peter and I both are doing fabulously. More pictures and updates to come.

Comments on "our birth story..."


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 29, 2008 6:08 PM) : 

You are amazing. This is beautiful.


Blogger Jennifer said ... (March 29, 2008 6:44 PM) : 

Congratulations! I've been checking here frequently, waiting to hear the big news. How wonderful for Ambrose to have a buddy to grow up with.


Blogger Felicia said ... (March 29, 2008 7:42 PM) : 

Erin, that was really beautiful, thanks so much for sharing it. What a wonderful and triumphant moment that final push must have been!

From your description of him, his name fits perfectly. Peter - from the Greek "Petros", the rock. I love it.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 29, 2008 9:07 PM) : 

How beautiful...I'm so happy for your growing family =)


Blogger Amanda said ... (March 30, 2008 5:26 AM) : 

Congratulations! What a beautiful birth story and precious new baby.


Blogger Kacy said ... (March 30, 2008 5:38 AM) : 

Congratulations, Peter is absolutely precious. I'll be needing to buy a mai tai (sp?) from you soon. I just found out that Scotty and I will be having our first little one soon. I'd like to do a home birth too. Any suggestions on how to find a midwife? What books should I read about how to have a baby? Don't I sound like an over-eager, anxious first-time mother.


Anonymous Rebecca said ... (March 30, 2008 8:12 AM) : 

Congratulations!!! I'm hoping for a homebirth if/when I get pregnant again, so your story is really inspiring, and so beautiful. Blessings to you and your growing family!



Blogger Regina said ... (March 30, 2008 10:07 AM) : 

What a beautiful story. So inspiring to me as I approach my homebirth. Thank you for sharing. :)



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 30, 2008 1:25 PM) : 

Congrats! My friend Regina sent me the link as Dr. White is coming to hour house in about a month to deliver our next baby. I hope to have a wonderful an experience- Megan


Blogger Mary Poppins NOT said ... (March 30, 2008 4:42 PM) : 


It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of such a powerful time in your life. You tell your birth story beautifully. Happy "babymoon"!


Blogger kris said ... (March 31, 2008 7:39 AM) : 

I have posted a part of this post over at my blog!!! This is fantastic and I'm so glad you shared it!! Congrats!! - Kris


Blogger Sarah Faith said ... (March 31, 2008 11:05 AM) : 

I love your birth story. The more I think about it the more I want the kids here too. Just in the house. If they start getting too distracting I might have to rethink that, but honestly, I can't imagine anything more cool than having them come in the room and meet the new baby right away. The most awesome would be if they went to bed, and woke up to find a new baby magically appeared in Mommy's room. LOL.
I have no idea what my due date was supposed to be, so, ya know, whatever. I hope it is soon though. :-) Congratulations, he is beautiful and you are just amazing. (PS Isn't it awesome not to have to go home from the hospital with a newborn?)


Blogger Matt said ... (March 31, 2008 12:46 PM) : 

Is my wife awesome or what??!!

I love you sweetie, and your courage and intensity in the face of the enormous challenges of childbirth and mothering impress me more and more all the time!

God is far too kind to me.

Yours always,



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (April 03, 2008 4:03 PM) : 

Hello I just entered before I have to leave to the airport, it's been very nice to meet you, if you want here is the site I told you about where I type some stuff and make good money (I work from home): here it is


Blogger Matthew N. Petersen said ... (April 06, 2008 3:02 PM) : 


May I ask a question about male/female comfort during childbirth?

Does it help being Catholic so you can look to the mother of God, and not just to the man Jesus Christ?


Blogger Lady of the Lakes said ... (April 09, 2008 9:01 AM) : 

What a beautiful birth story and a handsome little boy. Congratulations to you and your family!


Anonymous Dieta said ... (April 20, 2008 12:40 AM) : 

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Dieta, I hope you enjoy. The address is A hug.


Blogger Anne Marie said ... (May 18, 2008 4:26 PM) : 

Thank you for sharing such an amazing experience, and congrats on your new addition to the family.


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