Eleanor Grace: A Birth Story

2 weeks and 4 days ago my life changed. On Friday July 15, 2016 my husband and I welcomed our sweet Ellie girl into this world. 

My labor started on Thursday the 14th after my doctors appointment that morning. I had just gotten my membranes swept and I was feeling achey, crampy and just overall just exhausted and tired of being pregnant. I wasnt feeling well, but I wasn't giving into the notion that this could possibly be labor. Eleanor's due date was the day before and I was certain that I was going to be pregnant forever. I would spend days on the couch just imagining that moment when my contractions would be consistent or when my water would break. I longed for that moment for when I knew my little girl would be coming. 

That night we ate some dinner and just spent the evening relaxing on the couch. I grabbed my coloring book and just tried to cherish those last days of pregnancy and feeling my big belly, with Eleanor's tiny kicks coming through. It was around 9:30, when Aric and I decided to head to bed. We turned on one of our favorite shows, The Office, and I got ready for another restless night of tossing and turning. 

It was around 10:30, I realized my contractions were more annoying and I decided to shift my position and then all of a sudden I felt like I slightly peed my pants. I thought "Great, now I cant control my bladder! Pregnancy just keeps getting better and better." (sarcasm included) Then realization hit....could this be? could my water be breaking? I sat up in bed, slightly confused and wondering if when I stood up what would happen. My husband looked over at me with concern as I quickly walked to the bathroom. There in our bathroom I stood and my water broke. I stood there eyes wide as I looked at Aric....

THIS WAS THE MOMENT! Part of me kinda still thought....did I just pee my pants? Aric reassured me that was not the case. We both calmly grabbed our bags, and rushed out the door. As we drove to the hospital we called all the family letting them know, it was FINALLY time. We got to the hospital where I left a trail of water wherever we went. I was slightly embarrassed but part of me really didn't care, I kinda laughed at myself and knew I wasn't the only person for this to happen to.  We then were admitted right away since my water breaking was a sure sign baby was coming soon....or so we thought.

We arrived at the hospital at 11:10 on Thursday July 14, 2016. I was already 4cm dilated and my contractions were consistent.  Around 2 am the pain got to be too much, so I got my epidural. (I must say, ladies if you had a natural birth I applaud you! That is a great strength you have!) Things were moving along smoothly. Around 10am the next morning I got word I was 7cm dilated. I was moving along and was getting excited and a little nervous for the end to be here. A couple hours past and I realized I was not feeling well at all. The nurse took my temperature and I was developing a fever.

I had developed an infection. An infection that not only effected me, but it also effected Eleanor. Now, after Ellie would be born she would have to go straight to the NICU to get antibiotics. My heart broke. My baby was going to be taken away from me moments after she was born. I dreamed about the moments I would spend with her after birth. Just having her near and doing skin to skin. My expectations crumbled. However, I didn't let my mind stay in the disappointment. Around 2-3pm on that Friday they said I was 9cm. I was really getting excited because we were getting so close. However, hours past and I still was at 9cm. My body just would not go past this point. Around 6:30 on July 15, the doctor came in and checked me. I was still stuck at 9cm...Too much time has past for us to wait any longer for this little girl to make her appearance. I had to get a c- section.

Surgery?! Ugh, my heart sank once again. This is not what I had planned. However in those moments of disappointment and difficulty I felt the prayers of my family and friends. Never have I had such a peace and acceptance in a moment. No, this is not what I had planned, but God knew this was going to be what happened all along. He knew I would get an infection with a high fever, He knew I would go through 20+ hours of labor and He knew that Eleanor would be born by a c-section. I trusted in the fact that God had this all planned out and He loved my little girl more than I ever could. I knew He would be taking care of both of us. 

Eleanor Grace Burkert was born on July 15, 2016. She weighed 7.9lbs and was 20 inches long. While in those first moment of her life I only got to give my girl a sweet kiss on the cheek and she was taken away to NICU, I knew my life had been changed.

This little girl has shown me what it means to be selfless. To forget about my own needs and wholeheartedly serve someone else. She is beautiful and loved by her Dad and I and by her extended family. She is a picture of how beautiful our Creator is in His design. She is sweet and cuddly. She's my little girl and I'm so greatful the Lord chose me to be her mother. 



Her tiny kicks.


Thursday April 7, 2016 was my first real "up in the middle of the night in pain and discomfort" kinda night of pregnancy. For my entire second trimester I have had the worst acid reflux. The kinda reflux that burns like fire up your throat and makes your stomach turn because of the pain. I found myself scouring articles online, talking to my doctor and trying different remedies to soothe the pain so I could feel somewhat human again. A few would work for a couple of days and then I would be back to square one. I've never felt so defeated or discouraged.

On Thursday night I felt like I reached my limit. I sat up in bed almost in tears because of the pain of my hips, my back and mostly my acid reflux. I wondered, “Why did I have to go through this? Why did I have to have an aching back, sore feet, a swelling knee, a tiresome job, and on top of it this horrid acid reflux? Why do some women have such easy pregnancies? Why can't I enjoy this? Why do I have to be far from my family during the time where I needed that extra bit of encouragement?”

My parents.

My parents.

 When I couldn't take the pain anymore I went out to the kitchen to grab a glass of water and to find some medicine. I sat back down on our couch at 1:30 in the morning with my husband (who sweetly came to sit with me), with my selfish thoughts and with my self pity. Then my sweet little girl tapped away at my stomach. Her little feet and hands moving around getting cozy and comfy. In that moment the Lord, even now, was using my daughter to minister to me. 

Through her tiny kicks I was reminded that:

  • Aric and I are greatly blessed. In Psalm 127:3 it clearly states: "Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him." Christ has chosen to bless us with a child. She is made in His image. She is being formed by our Creator. She is our daughter to raise and guide in the way of the Lord.
  • God is giving Eleanor the strength to grow and move. He is the one making her bigger each day. He is the one who everyday is giving her life.
  • God is full of grace. I am now 26 weeks pregnant. The past 26 weeks I have been carrying our sweet girl. The Lord has enabled my body to carry a child. What a privilege. 
  • Although I may be suffering with different pregnancy woes, I know many have had it worse. Through her tiny kicks I was reminded of the good days Ive had in pregnancy. The days where I had little to no discomfort. Some women have no relief for 9 straight months. 

Through Eleanor's little kicks the Lord kinda kicked me in the pants. That night I realized how selfish and prideful I had been. I am so greatly blessed to be pregnant. Sure, it may not be easy, may not be what I have expected, but it has been one of the most faith turning moments in my life. Christ is still faithful, He is still good and He is still sovereign during those times when it feels like there is no more strength. I am thankful to serve a God that continues to humble and show grace to me. I am thankful through her tiny kicks the Lord used Eleanor to bring me back to reality and show me how to continue to lay my own problems down and seek the goodness of the Lord in all situations in life.


Your baby isn't manipulating you.


I'm gonna say this as loving and encouraging as possible, although frustration may inevitably come thru as I am very passionate about what I'm about to say. 

I'm not a parenting expert. Just because I have more than the average number of children, doesn't make me a parenting guru. I do, however, consider myself pretty comfortable and knowledgable about babies.

This post is for all of the brand new moms and moms-to-be out there. Your baby will not/is not manipulating you. 

I've recently personally heard of two instances where brand new mothers were beyond frustrated (and shocked) at their baby's behavior. One instance in particular, the mother considered her newborn child a "spawn of satan" simply because the baby didn't want to go all night long without eating [even though the mother fed every two hrs during the day]. As if this is some magic formula that will guarantee a new mother a good nights sleep. 

Simply put, the baby is hungry. The baby cannot feed him/herself and her cries are the communicator to get you to feed her. Easy solution. But some parents are insistent that this new little thing won't barge into our lives and suck all of the sleep out of us. And that's the desperate attitude that some parents have. Then that hole of desperation to find a solution is filled with contempt and annoyance towards their child. Your answer is not in a book, a blog, or a doctors office. Your answer is to meet that child's need.  

Then I heard another new mom refer to her new baby as a "spoiled brat" because the child would cry almost every time the mother put him down. In addition, she was further frustrated that he actually seemed to want to suck on something most of the day too whether it was to nurse or use a binky. 

First, with very rare exceptions, babies are mostly all the same and predictable in their behaviors. The three things you MUST understand are:

1)Babies LOVE their mamas. They love your touch, your heartbeat, your warmth, your voice, your smell...babies just LOVE mommy and that's TYPICAL!! No, we can't possibly hold our babies every waking moment. We have to do other things that would require us to put our babies down, such as  shower, use the toilet, or just to give our arms and back a tiny little break. But, if you are a first time mom, especially in those first few weeks, hold and snuggle your baby as much as you can. Get a carrier. Wear your baby when you do dishes and laundry. Do whatever you can to keep your baby close. YOU WILL NOT SPOIL her!!! 

2)Babies LOVE to suck. If you're nursing, baby will probably want to be attached almost constantly at first. Why not, right? It's pure bliss to a baby to feed and be comforted by their mother.

Isaiah 49:15 ESV 

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?"

For whatever reason, some mothers can't nurse their children, and some mothers simply chose not to even start. That's not even something I want to debate. The important take away here for both nursing and non-nursing mamas is this: your baby finds comfort in sucking. It's their favorite thing to do. This world is wild and big to them, and sucking helps them cope. It also is the only way they can receive nourishment. So allow them to nurse as often as they want. Give them that bottle when they protest your other attempts at comfort. Give them that will NOT spoil them!! 

3) Finally, understand mama, that babies are NOT aware of your busyness, your schedule, your desire to get this or that checked off your "to-do" list today. They are completely, and understandably so, self-centered creatures. They won't fall in line easily with your attempts at putting them on a schedule or adding a wrench into what they are actually trying to communicate with you. 

The exception I've personally found myself immersed in was when I had a NICU preemie. Babies in the NICU aren't allowed to have their way constantly. They are put on a rather strict feeding schedule to fall in line with their peers and to help the nurses to best care for the multiple babies in their pod. But you'd better believe that after that month of my daughter living in the NICU, I brought her home and completely threw out that rigid timetable they had her following. Some of you would probably have thought I'd gone mad. My baby was on a schedule afterall. I let her run the roost (when she got home) and I wouldn't have had it any other way. I even had two other small children at the time as well and just let that little princess get her way everytime she needed anything. Why? Because I wanted her to trust me completely. I wanted her to know that she would be cared for promptly and thoroughly and wouldn't have to wait anymore as she did in the NICU days.  

That's the key, mamas. Trust. That's the goal here. Your baby has been nurtured constantly in the warmth of your womb and it's all they've ever known. Birth brings some scary detachments; a first feeling of cold, and sounds that are unmuted. Even a baby's own cry can startle them. Your job as a new mother is to nurture, provide, and help your baby transition to life outside of the womb. 

Don't live in a bubble of frustration and keep your head stuck in a stack of books about how to have a "happier" baby.  

Don't be afraid to be your baby's answer to whatever is frustrating her. Learn together how to navigate this new life. 

Personally, my fifth baby is going to be five months old next week. She eats whenever she wants during the day, her longest stretch of sleep at night is 5-6 hrs (yes, she wakes in the middle of the night because she's hungry!!), she'd rather snuggle more than play. Did I teach her to be that way? No. But she rarely cries, she's a happy little thing, and I know it's because she trusts me. She trusts that I will come to her as quickly as possible to meet her needs. That's not the easiest thing to do with four other little ones, but just doing my best is what matters here.

Most of us actually do have the best of intentions with our new babies. This is not a post to debate our methods. We all mother just a bit differently from one another. Out situations vary like the colors in a prism. The goal is to understand our babies better. The goal is to not see our babies as the ultimate manipulators and time-suckers. Your baby may do one thing for two days and then completely start another routine on a whim. If there's one thing I've confidently learned about raising babies is expect change. A lot of change. They certainly keep you on your toes! 

 Make sure you're doing all you can to make baby as comfortable as possible in the first weeks and months. Don't fight against baby's needs, but amidst the foggy haze of new parenthood, rise up to serve your little one to the best of your ability. We're all learning. We won't have all of the answers all of the time. New motherhood is exhilarating, exhausting, and exasperating. I encourage you to not complicate things by pushing your own agenda on your baby. It will only lead to deeper frustration and likely, an unhappy baby. And you're too tired to have an unhappy baby, anyway. <3


What advice/encouragement would you give to new mothers? Share below!