Elias’ birth story – and what he’s taught me…

It’s so hard for me to believe that this Saturday we’ll be throwing a party to celebrate ONE YEAR of life outside the womb for Elias! I can still remember some of the thoughts I was having going into Elias’ birth day: what is my relationship with Chris going to be like after this? How do you even be a mom? Will breastfeeding really be as weird as it seems? Etc. To celebrate this past year, I’d like to reflect on his birth story and share some of what I’ve learned from parenting in this first year on the job.

September 14, we showed up to the hospital at 10am, two hours before the scheduled c-section at noon {Elias is stubborn. He was breech and never turned despite all of our best efforts.} Mom and Dad were here too. All four of us rushed in; we were running a couple of minutes late, I believe. And I was worried that I wouldn’t be there in time to get hooked up to the iv. Anyhow, we had plenty of time. It turns out that Dr. Valone, who was performing my c-section, was late from a hospital downtown where he was finishing up another c-section. So I got hooked up to the iv (nearly fainted – hate that part), and then we waited. The nurses continued to monitor Elias’ heart rate; I remember wearing these ridiculously large bands around my belly with monitors attached. And his little body was moving around inside, making it difficult to maintain the heart rate. It wasn’t too long before the anesthesiologist entered the room. After a brief introduction and a few questions, he was gone. {I was not impressed with his quick intro, but he turned out to be a good friend in the operating room.}

Finally, at about 1pm, my parents were administered out of the room, and I was escorted with my fully suited-up sweetie, Chris, to the OR for the surgery. I think this was when I really began to feel the nerves growing. I can feel it now. I had no idea what was about to happen to me and had chosen NOT to watch a c-section video before going into my own {contrary to Chris, who thought it best to be mentally prepared for whatever he was about to see – good idea since I wanted him to tell me the gender}. Chris wasn’t allowed into the OR with me initially. It was just me on a cold operating table (which was surprisingly quite narrow), the nurse, and the anesthesiologist I had just met about 20 minutes ago and was now entrusting with my mobility. They sat me on a table facing the opposite direction of my anesthesiologist. He said that I’d feel a little pinch from the numbing needle, and then he completed the spinal to completely numb me from the middle of my body through the tips of my toes. I’ll never forget the odd experience it is to know what it feels like to no longer be able to tell your brain to move a toe. Scary.

They laid me back on the table, and Chris was brought into the room. He stood by my head as the docs and nurses who had recently joined the rest of us in the room busily attached various things to me and the bed in preparation for the c-section. I asked Chris to play some music for me, which in hindsight was kind of funny. I don’t think we made it through one Chris Tomlin song. My anesthesiologist stood by my head and talked to me for the next several minutes, as my husband, now rather taken by what he was seeing going on, had moved a little further away from my head. I began to feel quite nauseous at the smell of the cauterizing knife, and my sweet anesthesiologist was on it before I could get out the words. {So grateful for him!}

Dr. McKernan, my regular OB, had joined for the surgery, and he and Dr. Valone were working together to extract our sweet little one. It wasn’t long at all before Chris said that they were getting ready to fully remove our baby from the womb and that he would be able to tell me the gender. I remember being so, so excited to hear my sweet husband reveal what we’d waited 39 weeks and 1 day to know. … “It’s a…boy!”

Chris then told me that they were suctioning out Elias’ mouth and that we would soon hear him cry. I don’t remember doing a thing, but laying there on that table, when I could hear this sweet one who had been traveling along with me for all that time, moving and punching and kicking and hiccuping, when I could hear those first cries, I was overcome with emotion. The sobs came on – not sorrowful sobs, but just the happiest, most thankful cry that you could imagine. It was now 1:11pm. It’s amazing that 11 short minutes could contain all of the power and events of that moment – it seems it should have been designated a longer space of time for it’s value to me.

The nurses quickly cleaned Elias off and did a few things, like weighing, measuring, stamping his foot and hand print to some paperwork, and then they handed him to Chris who brought baby over to me. When they laid sweet Elias on my chest, I was aglow with excitement and relief.

In that moment, it was hard for me to remember that just two weeks before, I had been crying about being forced into a situation of needing to schedule a c-section. But now, I didn’t care. I was so, so thrilled to be holding this sweet little baby boy on my chest.

It wasn’t long after that we were taken back to our room, Elias getting to stay on my chest all the while. We nursed right after getting back, and it was as weird as I thought it would be…and continued to be for a while. But it turned into my favorite moments with my sweet boy with time and practice. Chris and I had about 30 minutes with our sweet little man before we allowed the nurses to bring Mom and Dad back into the room. While I was feeling a bit out of it from all of the medication, I’ll never forget the moment I got to introduce Elias Jeffery to my Dad, Jeffery. The look on his face and glimmer of tears in his eyes expressed a gratitude and pride that I will always treasure.

Those short 11 minutes in that delivery room have begun the sweetest of adventures for Chris and me.

So upon celebrating our little man’s first birthday soon, I thought it appropriate to think back on the day he entered our lives. I want to end with 12 lessons I’ve learned in the first year of parenting.

  1. The first month is hard, but it does come to end as quickly as it begins. Having family and friends around to support helps immensely.
  2. It’s not all about me. My lack of freedom, need to care for my child, breastfeeding challenges, and lack of sleep were combined in teaching me to stop being so “me” focused. That’s some freeing/really difficult stuff.
  3. Traveling with a newborn is a breeze compared to a nearly year old little man.
  4. It’s important to allow schedules to be thrown off for family time while visiting out of town relatives. Elias will readjust, and I can sacrifice my own ease by allowing him to miss a nap here and there while with family.
  5. We laugh a lot at our little man. Watching him discover things that seem so small and insignificant to us causes me to grow in wonder of the “lesser” things all the time.
  6. I can function and take care of Elias on my own if needed. When Chris has business travel, the Lord sustained me through every moment.
  7. My son is extremely compassionate and sympathetic. If I’m sad, he’s sad. If I’m happy, he’s happy. My love for him overwhelms me. And it teaches me to consider how my emotions affect others too.
  8. I’m going to make a lot more friends everywhere I go with Elias…partly because he relentlessly stares at people and partly because he smiles at nearly everyone after a few minutes of said staring.
  9. Some months are really busy, but we make it through them just the same, and Elias recovers. I needn’t be so hard on myself for not being able to be attentive to him at every moment during busy seasons.
  10. The Lord breaks down bridges through Elias. We end up having conversations with people that would otherwise not probably manifest, and that’s a unique way to build relationships with those who may not know the Lord as their Savior King.
  11. Adventure is good. From some past life experiences, I had allowed walls to build around me in an attempt to “create” safety. To put it bluntly, I was up tight. But I’m thankful to be reminded through Elias that there is still much to learn and much to explore in this world.
  12. The love of a parent is unlike any other love. I’ve grown immensely in my understanding of how my heavenly Father must view me. He is for me, as I am for Elias. But being FOR Elias doesn’t mean I am okay with all that he does. I try to direct Elias away from the natural sin tendencies that I already see arising within him, just as the Lord has done and will continue to do with me.

Parenting is a journey that I’m just beginning, but it’s worth every moment. As Scripture has so appropriately stated, children are indeed a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127).


Time of Confession

Can I just say this morning that I’ve been feeling a bit blue lately? It’s not because I don’t have the most abundant of blessings around me because I do. So what is it that causes us to feel down while all around us is truly good? I don’t entirely know or understand, but I think that the simplest answer I do know is that it’s sin in some version: either a direct result of the fall in that our hormones get out of whack and we feel like crazy people or that we aren’t confessing the sin issues in our heart or walking very closely with the Lord. I’d like to admit that the past few days I’ve been definitely guilty of the latter (and perhaps had some of the former going on as well).

I so admire my dad. I’ll explain. When I’m around my family members, it’s difficult for me to maintain the same routines that I run at home. When I’m home, I have my own schedule, and it oftentimes doesn’t include sitting down to have coffee with my mom and sisters. And while I LOVE that I’ve had that opportunity the past several days, I’ve found myself falling out of sync with my Jesus – putting off time with him so that I can have more time with my family. But this certainly isn’t a trait that I’ve learned from my dad. In the morning, you usually won’t see him for a little while – no matter whose house he’s at. He wakes up and commits himself to his time with the Lord every day, no matter what is on the agenda. And you know what? I think his time with family is always better spent and enjoyed for it.

I’m admitting all of this because it’s time for me to confess that I let other things, usually people that I love, get in the way of my time with Jesus. And then you know what my heart begins to hear? “Meghann, clearly these people are more valuable to you than Jesus. You live in such a way that you only reach out to him when you need him or when it’s convenient.” And then I despise that thought and find myself in a place of condemnation. If only I were as disciplined as my dad.

But while confession is necessary, I also am not to live in shame – conviction yes, but not shame. Conviction: does the way that I spend my time when my routine is affected communicate something to me about my priorities? Yes, I think it does. Shame: I turn introspective and obsess over my failures and faults. Scripture is clear that we are not to live in shame and condemnation. You know why? Because when we do, we’re more likely to be walking in willful sin. When we think less of ourselves because of our failures, we’re identifying with our failures rather than in what Christ thinks of us. And we’re ultimately being driven by a prideful spirit that believes it can fix itself if it just tries harder.

Romans 6:6 “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

Oh how I loathe my tendency to fall back into my sinful identity: the one that tells me that I’ll never be good enough, that I just need to try harder, that the Lord is displeased with me when I’m not 100% focused on him (which, sadly is always), that beats me up and kicks on me and makes me feel deeply wounded.

BUT – here’s the deal. Today is a new day. Mercies are new every morning. And you, and me, DO NOT HAVE TO live in the shame or fear of our past mistakes today. Instead, today we can confess our past failures to the Lord, ask for forgiveness, and trust that he has forgiven. {After all, he gave his son for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). None of this is contingent on us having it all together.} Then we can choose to agree Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” We can have confidence of heart and peace knowing that God’s love will hold us fast. He will not let us be consumed as we daily surrender our burdens and sins to him.

Lord, help us to believe that your mercies are new each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Help us to give over to you the voice of condemnation in our heads and to remember that you, our good good Father, you are FOR us (Romans 8:31). Can we even comprehend how amazing this is? You are not shaking your finger at us for the ways that we failed yesterday. You’re instead standing with outstretched arms, welcoming us to give to you our burdens in exchange for your peace and joy (Psalm 68:19-20). Thank you for allowing us to see our weaknesses to remember that – through Paul – you’ve told us that when we are weak, you are strong (2 Corinthians 12: 9-11). Help us to not allow pride to destroy our ability to surrender to you moment by moment, and forgive us when we do. Give us your joy and the ability to peacefully hand over to you all of our cares and concerns as we watch you write the story of our lives. Become greater in us (John 3:30). Help us to be still and rest in the knowledge of who you are: our creator and redeemer. Build our faith, and help us to choose peace in you. Thank you for sending Jesus our salvation. Do whatever refining work in us that you must so that we can look more like your son in this world. Fill us with your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.