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).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Birth, take three. Part one.

Well, as usual, it's been awhile. Let me introduce any followers who may have not already met the handsome young man pictured on the left. This sweet brown-eyed bundle is my third son, Joseph Sebastian Yonke, born September 11, 2010.

It's taken me awhile to write about Joseph's birth for a number of reasons. Aside from being the third baby in a few short years, there was alot of other chaos following his birth that left me in a place that wasn't--or hasn't been--conducive to writing the story the way it needs to be told. His birth and the weeks following were so complex--so long, with so many twists and turns, it took some real time and processing to sort it out in my own head, let alone for someone else to read.

I was blessed this time to have two very good friends with me for the birth, along with an absolutely fantastic midwife and nurse, and, of course, my beloved husband who catered to my every whim during the whole thing. It was difficult--the most painful of my three labors--but was made so much more pleasant because I had such pleasant, caring company.

There have been plenty of theories passed around about what we should have done differently, and how the birth could have been made better from both inside and outside sources--good, wise suggestions and discussions that I loved being able to share, but in a way, it left a residue of inadequacy--of feeling like his birth was flawed somehow, or that it wasn't a good birth. It's taken some time for me to make peace with the way his delivery was, the things I would do differently if I could, and, also, realizing that I can't.

After spending these months with my sweet, sweet Joseph, I have learned much about mothering, and what it is to be a good mother. Good mothers have babies who get sick. Good mothers have babies who cry. Yes, even breastfed babies. Even babies born at home. Yes. Even babies who co-sleep and baby-wear and cloth diaper, or any number of other things that we crunchy moms like to believe will make our children super-human. Good mothers sometimes find themselves in less-than-ideal situations, even when they've done everything "right", or made the very best decisions that they could. And that doesn't necessarily mean they did something wrong, or that they've failed at being good mothers. Good mothers have to make tough decisions and do hard, painful, unpleasant things. They have to trust their instincts--and they have to refine their instincts with knowledge. Good mothers trust deeply in their bodies and their hearts, but trust more deeply in the righteousness and goodness of their God. And sometimes that means not taking the advice of friends, or doctors, or other knowledgeable, good mothers. Sometimes it means enduring the scrutiny of other good mothers or friends or doctors who wouldn't have made the same decisions as they did.

And so I've been thinking and rethinking, what defines a good birth? A healthy baby? A healthy mother? A vaginal birth? An unmedicated birth? A home birth? Water birth? Fast birth? Perfectly medium-paced birth? I think it's important to separate our ideals from what is simply good and what is best for us--to recognize that a good birth is not necessarily our "ideal" birth, but it is dealing with the twists and turns in ways that are gentle to our bodies and our babies' bodies. It's allowing our minds and hearts to work with our bodies to do what they need to do without harsh critique. And that is why I want to tell the story of Joseph's labor and birth, the way it felt to me, without dissection or analysis, without rethinking what I should have done differently--and to recognize that his birth was, indeed, a very good birth.

And so, I present to you:

Labor: Part One.

When I went to bed on Wednesday evening, September 8th, I knew things were starting to happen. Not anything imminent to be sure, but there were rumblings of things to come and I knew that the baby would be born soon. I tossed and turned with light contractions through the early part of the night and found it hard to get comfortable enough to sleep well. I got up to use the bathroom (to be fair, it was one of the many, many times I got up to use the bathroom that night) at 2:00 and had a good, strong contraction. The baby felt really, really low. The contractions stayed strong for the rest of the night, and I didn't sleep much at all after that. By 5, I thought I'd be calling the midwife sometime that day, probably that evening, but continued to try to rest for another hour or so.

The boys were up by 7 and we all went about our usual morning routine. I had a distinct "I-think-I'm-in-early-labor" buzz, despite being really, really tired. The weather was cooler, and cloudy. Contractions had spread out a bit, but were still notable and coming regularly. I finished up some sewing projects and went for a walk with the boys. By the end of the walk, I was having frequent, short, irritable contractions--and was beginning to feel pretty irritable myself. I was tired and uncomfortable. The boys were being uncooperative and fighting naps and I was running out of patience.

At this point, contractions puttered out for a bit. My mom called and offered to take the boys for the rest of the afternoon and evening, and I could have bowed at her feet. Matt left his office a little early to run work errands and I tagged along with plans to go out for dinner afterward.

Through the car trip and walking through Office Max, contractions picked up speed again. These are good ones, I thought. They were growing increasingly uncomfortable, coming regularly 7 minutes apart. We tried to find a restaurant after that, and honestly, I was so famished and ill at ease with contractions that I probably would have settled for a happy meal.

We found, however, a really cute 50's-themed diner and were the only people there. I was starving. We chatted about work, and finally concluded that, if our baby was indeed a boy, his name would be Joseph. Joseph Sebastian. We talks about St. Sebastian and read his story on Matt's iphone--the saint who was martyred twice.

After eating, contractions were growing stronger still. Still 5-7 minutes apart. I remember distinctly discussing the possibility of some friends coming through town on Saturday evening, and Matt was pressing me to agree to have them for dinner. Feeling a bit bewildered, I paused for a contraction and then blurted, "Honey, we are going to have a BABY before Saturday evening."

We lingered a bit after dinner and then went home for a few minutes before heading out to pick up the boys from my folks' house. The car ride to DeKalb was bad. The contractions were powerful and uncomfortable and I was growing confident that things were moving steadily in the right direction.

My mom could tell almost immediately that I was feeling it, and semi-jokingly begged me to not have the baby in the next day, since she was going to be really busy.

The 30-minute ride home was also rough. "I think this may be our night," I told Matt, still uncertain. I remember feeling really hungry again. The contractions were coming with lots of pressure.

At home, we put the boys to bed. I took a bath and drank a glass of wine, hoping to relax enough to sleep. We watched some Hulu, I emailed my midwife to let her know that things seemed to be starting and that I would give her a call when they picked up.

I went to sleep at 10pm, and it was miserable. Perhaps it was less restful than hiking, or aerobic exercise. I really mean it--it was awful. My body and mind were exhausted, but my uterus wanted me to be up, moving with the contractions. I got up at midnight feeling like I'd just completed a really intense workout. Shaky, tired, and starving. I drank a bunch of water and ate a sandwich. It was here that my spirits really started to drop. Things were happening, but not nearly as quickly as I had hoped they would. I was totally exhausted and sleep continued to elude me. My hope of having a baby that night was fading.

Comments on "Birth, take three. Part one."


Blogger Sarah Faith said ... (January 21, 2011 3:42 PM) : 

Ahhh!! Cliffhanger!!!

Love your intro and can't wait to read the rest of the story.

Really well written,too.


Blogger Renata said ... (January 22, 2011 9:36 AM) : 

Erin you write so well...
I thought you had a good birth. A birth with some difficulty but still a good birth!


Blogger Mary Poppins NOT said ... (January 22, 2011 11:32 AM) : 

Asking what a "good birth" is, is like asking, "Is he a good baby?". Of course he is. All babies are good. And births, especially ones where they are allowed to run the natural course, are good. Yours was definitely an endurance test. I have had two hour labors that would seem "easy", but was like getting hit repeatedly by a train. It was good, but not easy.

My only purpose in ever going over Joesph's birth in my head was hoping somehow I could have made it better if I had responded differently in some way. But seriously, I hadn't ever seen anyone give birth before. It is a very different situation than doing it yourself, and I just kept getting blown away by the power of it all. I still am.

I think your birth was gorgeous. I was looking at some of the photos again, and tears sprung to my eyes (I have GOT to get those to you). Your courage and grace amazed me, the love and devotion that was so palpable between you and Matt, and the joy that your sacrifice brought into the world, simply astounding.

I can't wait to read the rest! You have such a lovely way of writing!


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