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).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Birth, take three. Part two.

Let me tell you a little something about birth preparation.

It's a bunch of hooey.

I'm kidding, sort of. But I will say this: while I was pregnant with Joseph, I ate really well. Loads of protein, tons of vegetables--my diet was pristine, with few rare exceptions. I was very active and walked easily several miles each day with the kids. I did prenatal yoga almost every day--5 times a week, minimum. I drank, quite literally, ONE GALLON of red raspberry leaf tea EVERY DAY through my second and third trimester. I was taking other birth herbs, too.

And so, as I stood in my kitchen during the wee hours of Friday morning, September 10th, having spent the last 24 hours in early labor with very little progress, I couldn't help but wonder why I hadn't done exactly what I wanted to do all these months: spent my days lying around, eating brownies and drinking cokes until the baby just, you know, popped out.

Matt, who was still awake, asked how things were going and I mumbled something about the baby never coming out and how I didn't think being sedated during labor would really be that bad. I did some laundry and then tried to sleep again. Still awful.

Somewhere between 1am and 2am contractions spread out pretty significantly and started growing more intense. They were longer. I'd say they were coming every 10-12 minutes, and lasting a whole minute. Now we're getting somewhere, I thought. Each wave got me out of bed, leaning against the door frame or pacing the hall. Needless to say, there wasn't much sleep to be had.

I rested in bed at 4:00, drifting off and waiting for the next contraction.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up at 4:30--hadn't I been having contractions? I shrugged it off and welcomed the sleep that, at long last, seemed to come easily.

I woke up at 6am, flustered. All I could think was, OH MY GOSH, WHY AM I NOT PUSHING THIS BABY OUT RIGHT NOW? The September sun was already peeking through my bedroom curtains. I wasn't even having contractions. Nothing. Flat nothing.

I wanted to cry, but I was too tired.

I got up to use the bathroom, then came back to bed.


I rolled over.


They were not "good ones".

I tried to sleep a little more, but gave up and got out of bed after a few minutes. I went for a walk.

The sky was beautiful and clear, but my mind was cloudy. The weather was cool--so cool, in fact, that I caught a glimpse of my anklebones for the first time in weeks. I thanked God for the merciful, sweet relief from the 95-degree days.

I felt horrible. I was so tired. It was a strange brand of exhaustion, too. My body knew it was doing something important, I'm sure. My mind, however, was growing skeptical. I couldn't fathom what the day held for me, or how I could possibly cope with being left with the boys all day. I ran over the night in my mind, over and over. I just couldn't stop thinking, Oh. my. gosh. Why am I still pregnant?

My anxiety died down a bit when I got home, and I dedicated myself to being as normal as possible. I had to welcome the rest, I told myself. I threw in another load of laundry and made coffee. By this time, the boys were waking up and we ate breakfast together. I was starving.

At some point in the night, Matt had hooked up the hose for the birth pool to the kitchen sink. Oh, the heartache. The baby was never coming out. I knew it now. I detached the hose. Matt got ready for work. I showered and dressed. I emailed my midwife to let her know that things had fizzled. The baby was, officially, never. coming. out.

Shortly following my concession to be pregnant forever, contractions started again. 7-10 minutes apart, lasting a little less than a minute. I was annoyed.

I decided, at this point, to jump into distraction mode with both feet. I had an appointment scheduled with my midwife that evening, and I was bound and determined to fill up my entire day until then. Matt left for work, and the boys and I played outside. We went for a walk and played in the sandbox. I baked brownies and watched episodes of Little Bear online. I was having contractions every 10 minutes all day, and they were hard.

I tried and failed to rest while the boys napped that afternoon. It was just so uncomfortable. Everything was so uncomfortable. When they got up, my friend Tessa and her two boys went to the park with us. "So," she said, "Did you have a false start last night?" I sighed. "Yeah...I don't know. I think I kind of am in labor." What I meant to say was: I think I am in labor, and I think I'm going to be in labor forever, because my baby is never coming out.

I wanted to hold my baby. I wanted to BE holding my baby.

They were the best diversion, though. The weather was so nice, the adult conversation was so refreshing, and the kids played and played--for hours. By the time we were walking back home, contractions were noticeably more intense. It was 5:30, and Matt was home from work, strumming his banjo in the living room. I left shortly after for my appointment.

I was starving.

At Christina's office, I waited in the waiting room with another woman who was 20 weeks along with her first baby. I felt like an elephant (an uncomfortable, tired, and grouchy elephant who was still having contractions....maybe every five minutes now), and I wanted to tell her not to believe the lies--babies don't really come out, they just live in your uterus forever and ever and swim around like a fish in a fishbowl. I didn't, though.

Karen, the nurse, was there too, and she was so nice. She took my blood pressure and we chatted about the day, the contractions, and the night before. Christina checked me. I was 4cm and almost completely effaced. Baby was at station zero. She swept membranes and sent me home with instructions to try to rest, and to call if things picked up within the hour.

Why did I drive myself to that appointment? The contractions immediately following the exam were biting--my body was kicking into active labor, and I almost immediately started to feel shaky and nauseated.

When I got home, I tried to relax, but my anxiety level was really high. The contractions were painful--much, much more painful than early active labor contractions with the others. Matt offered to take the boys to the store to stock up on some laboring drinks and a few other things, and off they went. I went about doing a few things around the house. Contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes, still lasting less than a minute. I called Christina to let her know that things were, indeed, picking up, though certainly not imminent or urgent.

Being alone was horrible. The contractions were horrible. I couldn't relax, I couldn't calm down, and I didn't understand why--I didn't expect to feel that way at all. I was afraid. I was absolutely terrified, and I didn't know how to deal with it.

I tried to console myself. Maybe I am dilating quickly, I thought. I pulled the box of birth supplies out of the spare room and swept the floors. I washed some dishes and waited for Matt to arrive home with the boys.

They got home shortly after 7:30. We got the kids ready for bed, and Peter was being especially difficult and requesting that *I* do everything for him. At this point, I was really feeling it. I had the shakes, really bad. My legs trembled uncontrollably. I was starving, still--but felt too nauseous to eat. The contractions were hard to deal with, sweeping over my body in that way that makes you feel like you're suffocating. What it felt like, honestly, was like I was about to hit transition.

I knew I needed to relax. Karen was on her way to our house, and I knew I had a long way to go before this baby was coming out.

Karen arrived with orders from Christina to check my progress. It was 8:30 or so, and I was, in my mind, hoping at least to be 5 or 6cm, though it felt more like 7 or 8.

I wasn't. I was still 4cm.

At this point, Karen went to bed in our spare room while my spirits plummeted. I was done. I didn't want to do this anymore, and as far as I could tell, things weren't even progressing--they were just getting more and more painful.

I started devising elaborate plans in my mind. How was I going to get out of this? I'll call my mom, I thought. She will understand. She will take me to the hospital and get me an epidural and a c-section and a nice glass of orange juice and then this whole ridiculous nightmare will be over. Okay. That's what I'll do. This thought was warm and fuzzy and brought me abundant comfort, even though I never even picked up the phone to call her.

The shaking was almost as bad as the contractions themselves. I had planned to wait much longer, but decided to fill the birth pool to help me relax and to soothe some of the tension in the wrong places. It was awesome. The warmth eased the trembling almost immediately. My unhinged, rampant anxiety and terror settled into more of a quiet despair. The swarm of I can'ts that muddled my thoughts became more concrete. I just couldn't do this, and that was that. Calmly, I said, "Matt, I think we should go to the hospital."

There have only been a few times in our marriage that I have seen Matt's face look that way--totally caught off-guard and unprepared for what I had just said. He always knows exactly what to say, exactly what I'm about to say, and how to respond. But just then he looked alarmed and confused and I could tell he was struggling to find some encouragement. "Oh--no--no, we shouldn't do that. Why would you say that?"
"I want drugs. I want a c-section, and I want to go to the hospital because I don't want to do this. I think we should just go."
"Um. No, sweetie, you're doing fine. You don't want--"
"Yeah. I do. I want it all."
"I'm just...I'm going to go call Renee," he said, pulling his phone out of his pocket and heading for the front porch.

Good, I thought, dejectedly. Maybe she'll take me to the hospital.

He made an excellent call.

She didn't take me to the hospital, though. I'm not sure what exactly he said to her on the phone, but she did come over shortly thereafter. I was sitting in the pool, still plotting about how I was going to get my epidural. She sat next to me, held my hand, soothed my nerves, and reminded me with so much sureness that I did not, in fact, want a c-section--what I wanted, truly, was for the whole experience to not hurt. And that was simply not an option. She. was. phenomenal.

It was probably 10:30 at this point, maybe 11. My friend Renata (who had planned to attend the birth) came over with Zoe, her (then) 6-month-old (my goddaughter!). As soon as she was there, the last shred of my epidural fantasy faded, because I knew Renata wouldn't stand for it. And I knew she was right.

And so, I labored on. I was in the pool, then out of the pool. It felt good to bear down just a little with the contractions. I leaned on a birth ball, swaying with each wave. We chatted and swapped birth stories and I was so thankful to not only not be alone, but to have such incredible company.

I don't remember when Christina got there. I remember her arriving, but don't remember the time. Midnight? 1am? I was a "stretchy 6cm". It hurt so much. So much. I was exhausted. I'd get in the water and contractions would slow, almost to a stop, leaving me with the agonizing choice between the sweet relief and forcing myself up and onward.

Matt baked a pizza for everyone at 2 o'clock. He was constantly checking the pool temperature and boiling water on the stove to keep it warm.

It was at 3am that I went outside for a walk. Not far, just back and forth on the sidewalk outside our house. Renata walked with me, and I bemoaned the fact that I wasn't holding my baby right then. I mentioned that I wanted Christina to break my water. She urged me to press on a little longer, and after a few trips back and forth with little improvement or progress, we went back inside.


I ate a bowl of cereal. It was at 4:30 that Christina suggested the breaking of the waters, and I heartily agreed. With the very next contraction, I knew I'd hit transition. It brought about a whole new wave of pain--above and beyond what I ever expected labor could possibly feel like. It brought a new level of "I can'ts", shakiness, nausea, fear. Karen encouraged me to rest, to try to sleep between contractions, and I did. I slept between them, but by the third wave I couldn't take it. I got back in the pool.

So. Much. Pain.

The next hour was a blur of pain and power. It felt like drowning, struggling to keep my head above the magnitude of the contractions, and then submitting. At 5:35, I started pushing. I remember, even at this point, I didn't fully expect the baby to actually ever come out.

I had hoped that pushing would bring some relief from the intensity, but it didn't. It hurt. It was hard. I was first semi-squatting, then squatting, and then finally on my hands and knees in the water. At some point during this, Ambrose woke up and cried out in his bed. Matt dealt sweetly with him and put him right back to sleep--and I was so, so thankful for his obedience.

By 5:45, the baby's head was out. With the next contraction, I expected the shoulders to come out, but they took at least two more pushes.

And then, THEN there was this:

At 5:54am, Saturday morning, September 11th, our third son was born. Joseph Sebastian Yonke, weighing in at 7lbs, 8oz. He was 20 inches long.

I have never been so happy to see anyone in my entire life. The moment was filled with all the exclamations you'd expect to hear: "Hi!" "I love you!" "I'm so happy you're here!" "I am SO happy you're here!" and, of course, "It's a boy!" I heard the 6:00 church bells chime. it was beginning to grow light outside.

He didn't cry right away and wasn't breathing well, but was receiving cord blood and eventually pinked up and cried one of the very sweetest cries I've ever heard.

Sweet victory. Sweet relief. Utter joy.

My toddlers were perfect angels. They waited long enough for me to get stitched up (only one stitch!), and robed and comfortable on the couch before getting out of bed. Renata took a trip to the store and returned with donuts and orange juice for everyone and a gorgeous bouquet. The baby nursed and nursed like a pro. And it was sweet. It was so. very. sweet.

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


Blogger Mary Poppins NOT said ... (January 28, 2011 2:08 PM) : 

Ah, that was lovely. Tears again. So lovely.


Blogger Lilac said ... (January 28, 2011 3:48 PM) : 

That was such a beautiful story. And I love that picture you posted. I almost cried when I saw it! So beautiful!

You're an amazing woman, Erin. :-)


Blogger Sarah Faith said ... (January 29, 2011 11:30 AM) : 

Best birth story I ever read!


Blogger Erin said ... (January 29, 2011 1:35 PM) : 

Thanks for your kind words, ladies. :)


Blogger Perpetua Amatia said ... (February 13, 2011 12:57 PM) : 

I laugh at what you wrote about me. Good to have friend who won't let you do something you'll regret. Congratulations on your sweet little boy again. You write beautifully.


post a comment

Links to "Birth, take three. Part two."

Create a Link