And there you are, darling. I’ve been looking for you all along.
So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain, they they whispered the sound of your wonderful name. It sailed through the farmland high on the breeze, over the ocean and through the trees, until everyone heard it and everyone knew, of the one and only ever you.
Elliott Joy. Ellie. Ellijoy. EJ.
For never before in story or rhyme (not even once Upon a Time) has the world ever known a you, my friend, and it never will, not ever again…
Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born. – Nancy Tillman
I am writing this for me, just as much as I am writing it for you to have one day. I don’t think I could forget the details of your birthday, but just in case, I want to capture them here and marvel at them all over again. When I read this, I want to remember the moment I first saw you. I want to recall how intoxicating your birth scent was and how it overwhelmed my entire spirit when you were placed on my chest. How warm and whole you were, finally of this world; of my world, of ours. I want to recall the color of your big eyes as they stared directly at me. I can only start to understand now God’s promise of new colors in Heaven, because your eyes were a color I had never seen before. You consumed all of my senses in an instant, and I am unsure if I will ever have a more visceral experience the rest of my life.
Chapter 1: Labor
We waited as long as we could wait for you to come on your own, but on Sunday night, May 27th, we packed up the car and headed toward the hospital so that we could start to coax you out; we arrived at 8pm. In the true spirit of my pregnancy milestones, it was storming outside and I thought it felt totally right that you would soon be born with the smell of rain heavy in the air. On the drive there, after a particularly large bolt of lightening cascaded across the sky, Rob casually said “The angels are announcing her arrival”. Heaven was indeed blowing their trumpets.
After a check in, a change into a svelte birthing outfit, and the start of some meds, we hunkered down and began our wait. I was told that by some miracle, I was the only L&D patient in the hospital, so we were set up to be the center of attention. Pretty wild to have the place to ourselves. We brought our favorite movie to watch in the room (Christmas Vacation!) and watched a pass of that before turning the lights out around midnight. Your Dad fell asleep, hard, and stayed that way essentially until 6:30 am. I, however, entered into active labor around 1am and battled through strong contractions the entire night that were 3-4 minutes apart. I was holding off on an epidural because I was fascinated by the process my body was going through and truly wanted to experience it as much as I could handle it. As I labored in the darkness of our room, I reflected on how incredible the maternal body is and also how incredible it was that Rob could sleep so soundly on a hospital couch, 4 feet from me, and not hear my suffering breaths and wake up to comfort me. I digress…
By 9 am, I was around 3-4 centimeters dilated and having a tough time managing the contractions against the pitocin. I knew things would only grow stronger, especially when my Doctor would break my water, so I opted to receive my epidural around 9:30 am. It was relatively quick, not super scary and within a few minutes I was wholly comfortable and numb from the waist down (“Clark, Audrey’s frozen from the waist down!” “It’s all part of the experience, Honey”). I marveled at modern medical intervention! And then I was able to doze and comfortably eat a jello while Rob, bright eyed and bushy tailed, at Chic-Fil-A. I digress again…
My obstetrician arrived around 10:30-11 to check my progress and break my water. This really helped speed up my progression and by noon or so I was at 7 centimeters. She estimated we would have you by dinner time, but the next hour, my body moved efficiently to 10 centimeters and the word labor took on a whole new meaning.
The last hour of labor was difficult. At that point, the character of the contractions changed and the epidural was no match; these contracts were transforming. It was one of the most intense sensations I’ve ever experienced. I knew you were on your way.
Chapter 2: Delivery
By 2pm, the instinct to push shined bright. I called my nurse Hillary in who was followed shortly after by my doctor and when everyone took their mark, I started pushing. It was a pretty surreal moment- to finally be at that point. There was a whole host of people in there (again, I was the only show playing that afternoon) and even in the pain and excitement of the unknown ahead, I tried to be in the moment. I have to pause and also mention, that God’s design of the woman form is truly inspiring. I’ve never appreciated the intricacy of creation in the way I do now, having experienced growing and then delivering a human into the world. But, can one ever appreciate the real beauty of a flower if they haven’t gazed upon every single one of its petals? The hundreds (thousands?) of eggs at its colorful center? The stem, and how so much energy and effort springs forth from the ground to open and bloom into a new and powerful shape? I have never known until now, and I stand in awe of God and all of the women who have sacrificially transformed for the sake of another.
I also want to take time out to lift up the incredible labor and delivery nurses who were by my side. Their calling deserves so much accolade and praise; I was in awe of how selfless their work is and how skillful they are. My doctor was incredible, and I felt so comforted to have her there. But my nurse was outstanding in every way, and I know she was placed there purposefully for me that day. The main superwoman who was at my side was Hillary. I could sing songs of her goodness all day! She was a rock, and coached me, made me laugh, helped put my body back together essentially, and made me feel like a guest in her home. Her level of intimacy with her patients is truly a gift from the Lord, and I will forever be in her debt. She even came by my recovery room the next day between patients to check in and see Elliott. I felt sad when her time with me was up, but am hopeful that we stay in each other’s lives to some degree. Hillary, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for your kindness, wisdom, and beauty in the best moment of my life.
Chapter 3: The Finale
The moments, hours, and days following your arrival were (still are!) a whirlwind of chaos and newness on a level I was not familiar with. I was (and still am) so deeply grateful that our ordeal yielded you in great health and delivered me safely as well. We were blessed to have our family and close friends nearby to come show their love for you, and we were treated like royalty at the hospital. Your Dad, my incredible husband, has grown tall in his new role. I watch him move effortlessly through our new normal, being your Dad and being the most amazing and doting partner I’ve ever known him to be. I am humbled by his goodness and mercy.
Coming home felt familiar and new all at the same time, and the next week provided us learning moments at every turn. But you are worth all of the bends and turns we are taking on our journey now. You are worth all of the hours of sleep that have slipped through my hands in the darkness of the late night and early mornings. You are worth everything I have to give my sweet Ellie.
A dear friend sent me a text message a few days ago, and it so touched my heart that I wanted to share it. These words should live and give life to others. I want to read this over and over so that they never leave the sacred spaces of time, and I’ll always be reminded to count it all Joy.
Hey sweetie! Picturing you home from the hospital, basking in the overwhelming love that comes from returning home and embracing a new normal that delights the senses! It was 10 years ago next week, I did the same thing.
It’s like everything goes on pause while you navigate this new territory. Life slows, and all that matters is this new being that you stare at in wonderment! The hours are slow and rightfully so, because you look back and wish they were slower. Savor it all. They good and the bad. I know you are.
Take every minute and look at those toes and feet and little butter pat heels that have never touched soil. And look into those eyes that start to see and recognize her Mom and her Dad and respond to your voices with delightful sound. Hold and hug. Sit and don’t give a care about anything beyond loving that child. Nothing else matters. Forget piled up laundry and half finished projects, there will be time for that. Frog that baby up on your chest and smell and breathe that delicious baby’s sweetness. Let life creep by. Because you will look back and think it flew.
Allow yourself to not be perfect because there is no perfect. There is what works for you! Besides, perfect is no fun anyway. My heart is with you guys. There is nothing better than seeing people you love start a family. Blessings and love to your family of three! – Fleming
Cheers to you Elliott!
All my love,