Jeshua Praise's Birth Story

I relish that pause when only I and the Triune know a life has begun to grow in my body. When double lines confirm the buzzing intuition and I hum the secret song of joy. 

I learned of my boy on an overnight getaway with Zade and surprised him the next afternoon on the dunes of Lake Michigan using the same symbolism as with Lilias: an arrow. Psalm 127:4,5 "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;" From its hiding spot within a satchel it poked me the long walk to the waterside (why'd I buy the extra long arrows?!). The secret pulled out and shared now unfolding into harmony. 

Yet, within the excitement was also an undertone of fear. In ways my labor and delivery with my daughter Lilias had felt traumatic and, as I considered another birth, I returned to the memory of floating in the birthing tub, enclosed in darkness, going in and out of consciousness. I knew I would need to address this fear before my time came. But, muffling the discordance would suffice for now. 

At around 33 weeks my husband and I took a babymoon trip to California. Strolling El Prado in Balboa Park you could envision us as salmon swimming upstream avoiding the paws of hungry advocates. We had just escaped signing a petition when Zade's eyes met a kindly man with a Scottish accent whom asked if we would appreciate prayer. I attempted to politely decline but Zade asked a few questions about the group with which this man was involved (a church we learned) and agreed. While Zade received prayer for a family member I stood in wait with a few church ladies. They offered to pray for me as well but I responded that I couldn't think of anything (I was feeling hot, uncomfortable, and a bit grumpy to be real, real honest). Then, one woman suggested praying over my labor and delivery. Immediately my throat constricted as I fought back tears. The fear I'd attempted to mute welled unexpectedly. I thanked her and agreed. During the prayer I was especially struck by the woman's request that my labor be "quick and painless." This seemed unimaginable. But, why not ask God for this wild request? God tells us to pray boldly. So, over the next seven weeks I prayed, reviewed natural childbirthing resources, and focused on trusting God. I felt God speak to my heart that my labor and delivery would be quick but not painless. And I held onto this hope. 

And I waited. 

And waited. 

And then my mother arrived. And we waited.

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At four days overdue my parents gifted us with a zoo membership and we spent the morning meeting the animals. Braxton Hicks had me feeling like a hippo and waddling like a penguin; these contractions lifted and fell throughout the day. Around 9 at night I snuggled in with Zade to watch a show which I bailed on minutes later to sleep instead. My mom asked if I wanted my contractions timed but I declined. I had labored 10 hours with Lilias before leaving for the hospital where I labored another 19 hours. So, I figured I would try to sleep out this stage as long as possible. About ten minutes later I was singing a different tune! Contractions timed in at every five minutes for at least a minute. I was shocked: that's when I was told to go in! How could I be at this point already?! 

In a matter of 15 minutes I was doubled over roaring into pillows. We quickly packed the car and set forth to the hospital. By the time we arrived my contractions were so intense I could barely open my eyes. The kindest off-duty worker took pity and raced me to labor and delivery in a wheelchair. We walked into triage and the lady doing intake asked my name. Without a word I fell to all fours and bellowed as my water broke aaaaalll over the floor. I was promptly assigned a cubicle where they checked my vitals and tried to ask Zade questions he didn't know the answers to. I irritably chimed in amidst my braying. I then announced that I was going to throw up a split second right before I did aaaaalll over the bed. I'm a whirlwind of fluids ya'll. Bless those nurses. 


After being wheeled to my room I jumped into the shower and then the tub. I focused on calming my body and releasing tension. The pain...excuse me pressure is so great I wonder if I will be able to hang on to my birth plan. I cannot imagine this unmedicated intensity for hours on end. I pray for strength. Suddenly, a shriek tears through my lips. I feel my body take over. I am pushing. I am heaving. This is the crescendo. He is coming. The midwife, startled by my cry, comes running and encourages me to "push!" Zade, having flashbacks of my first labor, cautions the midwife "now this is what happened the last time....(when I started pushing too soon)." I scream "No! Zade! Don't say anything!!! He's coming!" I wanted no discouragement. I knew it was time. The next contraction came and Zade again cautioned the midwife to which I interrupted "NO!! He's coming ouuuuuutaaaaaaah!" And with that contraction my boy's head started to peek. I relaxed a moment and with the next contraction pushed my sweet babe through the water and into my arms. I cried shocked and amazed without tears. My labor and delivery was just shy of four hours. Not painless but quick indeed. 

We name him Jeshua Praise. 


Jeshua: meaning "God is my deliverer." For God delivered this baby out of me and delivered me out of my fear. 


Praise: for we speak over our son that he will be a worshipper of God. A man of song. 

Today he turned a year old and we worship God for this boy's life. 

Lilias' Labor and Delivery Story

We welcomed our little wildflower into the world almost two months ago! Here's the tale...

When carrying Lilias in the womb I asked God to speak a verse to my heart that we could be praying over her life. I believe I was given John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, ‘out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”


Water brings refreshment…cleansing…life.

Upon reflection I recognize how water rippled significantly throughout Lilias’ labor and delivery story.

Labor began with water...trickling and gushing just as I was settling in late on a Wednesday night. Though I’d known it was possible I could go into labor two weeks early, I’d truly not expected or prepared for this and had only packed our suitcase that evening. I’d just read that if you go into labor at night it is wise to try to sleep and wait to wake your spouse as to allow yourselves rest for the long hours ahead. So, I followed this advice. At least, I didn’t wake Zade


No sleep for me. My water continued to trickle in phases over the next five hours. At 4:30am I noticed some bloody discharge (probably just my mucous plug) and nervously phoned the on-call nurse. Incredulously she exclaimed, “Your water broke five hours ago? Come in now!” We had decided beforehand that we wanted to labor as long as possible at home. But, after speaking with the nurse my resolve was waffling so I decided this might be a good time to wake Zade. Groggily he expressed his amazement. We really hadn’t imagined she’d arrive early! Zade (who up to this point would not be pinned to declaring our daughter’s name though we had never even discussed another and 


we’d long ago decided on Lilias) finally granted “her name will be Lilias.” He reminded me of my original intent to stay home as long as possible and we agreed to “go back to bed” and re-evaluate around 8. My contractions grew in intensity around 7 and I officially started to prepare for departure. Around 9 I was groaning. At 10 we threw the car seat (which we had no idea of how to use) into the car and headed to the hospital. I thought “my contractions seem close…this baby could come at any moment.” Ha.

The pain in a contraction pulls you in like a wave’s undertow. You can do nothing but surrender until it releases its hold. For me this ebb and flow lasted for hours upon hours. A new nurse would arrive for her shift and I would think “I will have the baby with her.” Then, seven hours later she would leave and still no Lilias. I resolved to only exist in my current contraction. I couldn’t think of what had passed before or what was ahead. To stay strong and fend off discouragement I would only focus on my current wave.

Because I was having an unmedicated birth, I’d prepared music, massagers, a birthing ball, and Bible verses to set the tone and aid in pain management. I’d imagined we’d post a “we’re having our baby” picture on social media. But that all went out the window. During labor I wanted nothing…nothing but Zade by my side and water. Everything else seemed too overwhelming.

I labored a few hours in the shower allowing the hot water to dim the pain in my abdomen and back. We heard a knock on the door and a whispered exchange. Then my nurse explained calmly to me that she was going to put some sheets and towels on the floor because the water was leaking….through the bathroom floor…into the office below!

Not too long after that they suggested I move into the birthing tub. Zade held the spigot to my back and stomach and a straw to my mouth so I could sip cold water throughout contractions. Hours passed and I got lost in the waves….

During labor I kept repeating “pure joy” because I thought we might name our Lilias (which means purity) Lilias Joy. I was reminded of how Christ “…for the joy that was set before him endured the cross….” (Hebrews 12:2). I’ve never experienced true, raw, all-consuming pain like labor. Enduring this for the joy of Lilias may be the closest I will come to resonating with this verse.

Thursday passed into Friday and Lilias was close. But I was in the dark deep. The nurse would speak my name “Bethany” and it would pull me mentally to the surface momentarily. But, I was becoming delirious due to exhaustion. The nurse kept instructing me to not groan when I pushed as this was focusing my energy away from my pushing. I would agree and then again and again do exactly what she’s said not to do. Zade asked me to repeat what the nurse had asked and I did. Then, I again groaned with the next contraction. He came to the realization that though I was repeating what the nurse was telling me I couldn’t understand what she meant. Once Zade illumined this I realized he was right. I could repeat the words but what it meant to follow them were lost in a muddle in my mind.

All the while they checked Lilias and confirmed her heart rate was normal and that she was “happy.” They brought a mirror so I could see the tip of her head and when a contraction came I’d push with all that was in me. But, with all my strength I was getting nowhere. After hours of this the midwife related “Bethany…baby is doing fine but it has been a long time now and we are concerned that baby has not come out yet…what do you think about having the doctor assist with a vacuum?” With that I mustered all the strength in my being and gave it one more PUSH.

Still no baby.

I collapsed again. I realized that I was growing more and more delirious and my body was becoming less and less capable of continuing on without assistance. I agreed to receive the vacuum.

I moved from the tub to the bed and found myself surrounded by women. I don’t even know who they all were. The doctor showed me the little vacuum which wasn’t nearly as scary looking as it sounded. Ladies in the room were commenting, “she’s so calm.” Amazingly, God had given me peace throughout the entire labor. The doctor placed the vacuum on Lilias' head and I PUSHED in the next contraction and heard a loud POP! I asked “Is she out?!” But, it was just the vacuum popping off her head! It was placed again and on the next contraction I PUUUSHED as the ladies surrounding me cheered and encouraged me through the “ring of fire.” A second later Lilias was in my arms. Amazement, joy, gratitude, and relief flooded my being. Twenty eight hours led up to this moment. Lilias laid upon my chest eyes wide and lips pursed, smacking. The nurses were inquiring “she’s not crying….why isn’t she crying?” But, she never cried her first hours of life. She came into the world in peace. Zade stood beside me enthralled by our little one. He had never left my side once.

Our prayer for her is that John 7:38 would prove true – that she would believe in Christ, the fountain of living water. That He would be her pure joy as she is His.

Postpartum Postscript:

I went into birth with no fear. I was confident that my body was strong and designed to give life naturally. During labor and delivery I felt at peace and was overwhelmed by the encouragement, care, and kindness of our nurses and midwives. Indianapolis is more beloved in my heart due to Methodist Maternity Hospital. I was on a high the first few days of Lilias' life. But, after getting home I experienced some hormone induced acute stress regarding my labor and Lilias’ wellbeing. Nothing had prepared me for the rawness of labor…the enormity of pain. Looking back I kept seeing myself helpless and delirious in the water, unable to push Lilias out and becoming weaker and weaker each passing hour.

I realized that if I were in a different time in history or with a different set of resources or less capable staff Lilias and I could have died. We never came close to that. But, the realization of my complete weakness flooded my heart with fear. When Lilias was almost a week old we discovered that she had a feeding issue and was transferring very little breastmilk. This was causing her to lose weight rapidly. All emotional energy was channeled toward helping her work through the challenges that were keeping her from eating and I felt incapable of taking care of “me.” I was incredibly vulnerable due to the postpartum hormonal imbalance. I felt nauseous and had to force myself to eat, was bleeding profusely, and experienced my first panic attack. Thanks be to God Who surrounded me with family who helped me talk through and recognize my anxiety during those rough two weeks following postpartum. I share this postscript not to create fear for those who have not yet birthed, but to help normalize the postpartum challenges we women can face. All women react in vastly different ways to labor, delivery, and postpartum. My advice is to recognize that this

acute stress will pass and to have people around you who can care for you without reservation. It is true what they say, it takes some time but you forget the pain due to the greater joy of your little one. I am back to my old, even keel self and we continue to seek professional help for Lilias' breastfeeding challenges. Last week she had a tongue and lip tie surgery and we are hopeful for improvement!