It was about a month after our second son was born. We now had two boys under 2 and my husband looked at me and said, "Let's have a third. They're just so cute. We should have another one." I looked at him with a dirty look, and I might have said something along the lines of, "You have got to be kidding me. Absolutely not." and then walked away.
The scene changed, but the conversation remained the same for the next 18 months. I was in over my head. I was a new stay at home mom. My first winter home I went into a big weird depression hoping that the swiss cake rolls I was eating would cure me and I would find the purpose of my life in my pajamas while I changed the 15th diaper of that day and didn't interact with another grown up for the third day in a row.
And he wanted another one.
When it comes to pregnancy, physically there are no problems what so ever. However, I become completely and utterly emotionally disconnected. I'm serious. It's bad. It's really hard being married to me when I am pregnant and then for about a year after the baby has arrived as my hormones adjust back to normal. We just spent three years in this emotional hell and I couldn't believe he wanted to go back there. Then one day he said,
"When you look around our table five years down the road, is someone missing?"
And in my gut I knew, yes, our family was not complete. UGH! Him and his wisdom. I was so ticked. We would be looking at another hard two years. Again. Two more years of not caring and knowing I should.
It took a few months, but then we were on the same page and for the first time in our marriage, we tried to have a baby. We got pregnant that first month, and then five weeks later, we miscarried.
This was our second miscarriage. The first was before our oldest. Two miscarriages and yet the experiences were so different. The first required a DNC and was one of the most painful experiences of my life, (both physically and emotionally) and I have had three natural childbirths.
The second one was not a cut to the heart like the first, but a strong dull ache, and no procedure was necessary.
Two months later we were pregnant again. It's funny, we actually knew before we took a test. I was sitting on Paul's lap and he was sharing a really tough moment that happen to him. He was hurting and frustrated and sharing his heart with me. My response, after I forced myself to listen, was something like "How long are you going to carry this? When are you going to get over it?" And then I realized I said it out loud and it didn't stay in my head.
His hand slipped my from hip and he looked at me with sad eyes as he said, "You're pregnant. See you in two years." And I realized he was right. I really could care less about his problem, (I meant it when I said pregnancy makes me emotionally non existent.) It makes marriage and all other relationships really hard, let me tell you.
We knew we were pregnant right from the get go.
A couple months later we went to Manhattan to celebrate our anniversary. One afternoon we ate greasy NY pizza and loved it. Later that afternoon we were headed to the art museum and I went straight to the bathroom. I stayed there in total and absolute agony for almost an hour. At first I thought it was the pizza, but the pain was so severe and I found myself laying down and putting my cheek to the cold public bathroom floor. After awhile, Paul came and got me after visiting the museum medical team, Paul and I took a cab to the emergency room. The pain was so bad my eyes were rolling to the back of my head and I couldn't sit still.
I don't know how many hours we were at the hospital, but I was laying there on a bed in the hallway with my husband crying on my stomach, holding my hand and everything in me was breaking. After the coldest and most distant Russian nurse technician did an ultrasound and we waited another hour, assuming at this point we were loosing the baby at 15 weeks, the doctor surprised us by telling us the baby was fine. I can't believe I am actually saying this publicly since I promised Paul never to tell anyone, but it turns out, it was gas.
Yup, you read that right. Worse than childbirth, gas. Worse than my physical pain of our first miscarriage, gas. Paul looked at me and said, "Its a girl. I know it. She is already a picky eater and fickle and breaking my heart."
A few weeks later it was confirmed. We were having a girl. (And to this day she is still an incredibly picky eater.)
A few weeks after the appointment I was scheduled to lead a team to Haiti. After I dropped my boys off with my parents, I was in Chicago with the team and co-leader and fellow board member of the Haiti Mission Project. We were all packed and were going to have an easy night since we flew out at 6am the next morning. That night at 5pm, the Earthquake hit Haiti and everything changed. In a matter of a week, the board of the HMP threw together our largest fundraiser to date. It was incredible seeing what God did through our little team of people and the amount of money raised. People were craving to give funds to an organization that is on the ground doing the work. It broke my heart not to be with our friends and family in Haiti. Being seven months pregnant, there was no way I was going, even after she was born. It is incredibly hard not being with the people you love in their time of need. And so I stayed back doing what I could. This pregnancy was the only one that didn't make it to Haiti.
Back in our first appointment was when found out that we were due a month earlier than I anticipated. Technically we were due the weekend I was speaking at large youth conference that Paul's band was playing at.
So on the same weekend, both parents were booked at a gig and the baby is due.
What to do?
Up until this point, I had been having multiple conversations with a friend and fellow speaker of mine, Henry Graf. We had been throwing around the idea of not co-presenting, but delivering a conversation style presentation from stage. So I called him up, and he was in. We were going to able to test run our new ministry because of my little math mishap and poor scheduling of when to have a baby. So I called the promoter and organization that hired me. I believe the conversation went something like this.
"So... It turns out I am due the day the conference is ending. Few people actually give birth on their due date, so I have a few options to make sure you have a quality program. One is Henry and I get to launch our new ministry and you get to be the first to see it. If I go into labor, he can take over, if I don't, then we finish out the weekend. If I have the baby early, I bring baby along, if not, you have one very pregnant lady speaking from stage. Either way, I am coming to WI because Paul will be there and he requires to be there for the birth. This time."
And this is the story of how Henry and I launched our career. Because as my husband put it, I am really terrible at math and planning.
We had a plan. We knew where the hospital was. My parents were there to help. My husband started a poll and lost I think $10 because I didn't have the baby that weekend. I disappointed 800 people that weekend. They were all watching and waiting to see when it would happen. It's a lot a pressure to pay attention to every little detail of your body when everyone is weighing in and hoping that it would be that day. Trust me, no one wanted that baby out more than me.
With no baby though, my mothers work gifted her the time off to come home with me and help till baby came.
She was days late, and we were already walking miles upon miles a day to get this baby out. It felt like the longest pregnancy ever. (Especially have a very short pregnancy with our middle) Then on the afternoon of April 27, "things started happening" and I knew it was time. We called Paul and got dinner, had my friend come over to watch the boys so my mother could come with us. We checked in just before 8. Everything was progressing normally.
Then around 1130pm, I ready to push. The doctor looked at me and said, "I am going to sit right down here at the end of the bed, and when you want to have the baby, scoot down here and push. I'll be here if you need anything."
"What? Are you supposed to get her out?!" I think I shouted.
"Nah. Cabbies can do what I do. I'm just here in case anything goes wrong. Your body can do this. I'll be here to help if you need it."
I don't know if you have had babies, but in that moment where there are no coherent thoughts, you want, no you need, more support than that.
So I scooted down and got down to having a baby. Then right on the money, 00:00:000 our daughter was born. The doctor looked at me and said, "Well look at that. Born right when the clock started over. Do you want her birthday to be on the 27th or the 28th? You get to pick." That was the crazy thing and really the cool thing.
We picked the 28th so there would be one more extra day separating her birthday from her brothers which is three years and five days earlier. I also think its really cool to be able to toast her at the stroke of midnight on her birthday.
And so our midnight baby was born.
She came out with a pout on her face and its still there to this day. She is a helper and all around amazing little kid, but she could win a prize with that pout face, future spouse be warned. We didn't set out to have a girl, we actually wanted a boy since we had all the stuff, but our little family wouldn't be the same without her. She balances us out. She takes care of me which is kind of awesome. She has the BEST giggle, but she also changes her mind every day about what she likes to eat and what she doesn't. She loves animals and not dolls. She considers herself one of the boys while she loves being a girl. Her brothers take care of her and she takes care of them. She is a hard worker and LOVES music.
For days we didn't know what to name her. Baby girl is just who she was.
Then we knew.
Eleanor Anna Louise Tietjen
A seriously big name for a big heart and big spirited girl.
She has a lot of names and a lot of ideas and a lot of emotions.
She is my daughter.
We call her Lu (from Ellie Lu to Lu Lu to Lu)
It was a long two years for Paul and I, but she was worth it. God has something incredible he is going to do in her and I am so honored to have a front row seat.
My girl. I love you. Happy Birthday. We are complete with you. We needed you. We celebrate you.