I haven’t blogged in a while. I have had so many things stirring in my heart, but I can’t seem to find how to organize my thoughts! Hopefully I’ll be able to write something soon. I have to be in a certain “zone” to blog. :)
I have been pondering a lot the love of a mother. The moment I knew I was pregnant with Trevor I began to willingly sacrifice all that I am for him. I gave my body during pregnancy (and my fountain diet coke). :) As my children continue to grow outside my body, my whole heart aches for them to know the Lord, love Him with all of their hearts and bring Him glory. I resolve to give them my time, talents, energy- I know I would give my physical life for them if needed! (I know all you moms can relate and are nodding your heads right now. Or probably even crying thinking about it- that is what I’d be doing…)
Anyway, it dawned on me- man, if I’m this crazy about my sons- my mom must feel the same way about her daughters! It made me in awe of God, yet again. How perfectly He designs not only creation, but life in general. Mothers pour their lives into their children from generation to generation in a beautiful cycle. And what a reflection of the perfect Father’s love for us! Oh! My heart is full and continues to stir. :)
So all in all I asked my mom to write my birth story for me. I want to have a better insight into her love for me from before the time I could even understand that love. I have such deep love for her, especially from the perspective of now being a mom myself. She has such wisdom to share with me, I want to soak up as much as I can!
My birth story….
Dearest Jennifer Joy,
April 8, 1984. How little any of us ever realize what one day really holds…how God uses one small event in an ordinary day to open eternity and change life forever.
I was married to a wonderful man. My soulmate. The love of my life. Extraordinary joy. Strength. Fulfillment. We were so excited to welcome this new life into our lives and become a real family. I looked at Bob’s sleeping face, so peaceful. I felt sleepy myself, but 33 weeks of baby was pressing on my full bladder. My feet looked so swollen. 55 lbs and much water weight gain had taken its toll on my then small-framed body. My face seemed puffy, even more than recent weeks. The doctor had put me on strict bed rest. I had gained 10 lbs in the last week, all water, and my blood pressure was rising. It’s hard to imagine the kind of information we have flooding into our lives and brains on a daily basis now. 28 years ago this wasn’t the case. A little oblivion relieved Bob and me of much stress. This being our first baby, we had no idea that most pregnancies don’t go like this.
But then I saw it. Blood. Oh no. Lots of blood. This I knew, not normal.
“Bob. I’m bleeding. Something’s wrong with our baby.” I felt frightened, and confused. He cleared my mind, called our parents and rushed me into the car. He drove at rapid speeds hoping to attract a police escort. 15-20 minutes to the hospital flew by. The rest a blur. Wheelchair. Doctors. Bright lights. Emergency room. Sonogram (“please don’t tell us, girl or boy”). Heartbeat. Good. Our four parents, frightened, worried, “we love you Julie, everything will be ok!” Toxemia. Pre-eclampsia.
Dr. Uma Ramakrishna. A wonderful doctor. Intelligent. Skilled. Kind. Compassionate. Courageous. A gift from God.
“Julie, you are in labor. Your baby is going to be born soon, unless we can slow it down. I hope to stop it completely.” Bob and I were in shock. What? We were just looking forward to baby showers! Lamaze classes begin this week! Our nursery isn’t ready! Our baby’s not ready. We’re not ready. Bob and I hold hands and don’t let go.
“Please save our baby, Dr. Please don’t let anything happen to our baby.”
I didn’t know God then. I knew of God. But I did not know that knowing God personally was even possible. A little background…I am grateful to God for choosing the parents and family He chose for me. I am grateful my parents took us to church, and helped us learn about God as they did the same. We heard about God, we sang songs about God, but we never really learned much about His Word, the Bible. It all seemed very distant and impersonal to me. Bob grew up in a different church. He knew so much about the Bible, he loved Bible stories. As a boy, he hoped to become a pastor. But through college years, he began to question God and searched out various religions. We went to church together and seemed to think God and church were important. I believed God had sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for the world. I felt sorry for Jesus, as if He was a victim, and did not realize Jesus is God, and He willingly chose to die for me personally. I look back and realize specific times God was drawing Bob’s heart back to himself and softening my heart to draw me close to Him also. This was one of those times!
We began to cry out to God. I told God I knew I did not deserve His kindness nor forgiveness (I grew up learning/thinking we somehow must earn forgiveness and salvation, that if we prayed enough prayers and the right kind of prayers or if a priest interceded for us, all would be well; I had no idea that Jesus Christ is our Sympathetic High Priest, the perfect and only Mediator acceptable to God and that simply believing Jesus died for me personally and rose again to give me new life was the only way, God’s chosen way to be forgiven and enter into personal intimate relationship with the Lord). I knew I was steeped in sin, but I begged God to save our baby. I knew deep in my heart, that if there was a God, He was the only power that could rescue our baby. I begged God, I pleaded with God to mercifully save this life. I bargained with God. He could take my life, but I begged Him to please spare the life of this baby.
And then the roller coaster. The medicine worked! No contractions. No bleeding. But hospital. Nurses every 2 hours. Blood pressure. Blood work. Endless. I learned to get used to needles really fast once pregnant. That escalated and became my new normal. Our parents were frightened. My visits and phone calls were strictly limited. Complete rest, the doctor said. Bob went to work early in the morning, and returned about dinnertime every day. He looked so tired. I missed him. Loneliness set in. Pediatric specialist recommended they move me to a Chicago hospital. I begged my doctor not to move me. I needed Bob. I needed my family. Loneliness and fear mounted. Then it happened. Tuesday night my water broke. Labor returned. Dr. Ramakrishna stayed with me all night, sure the baby would come. Medication kicked back in. We kept praying. The doctor asked us if we would trust her to do something risky…but she hoped it would buy the baby some time so her lungs could mature. Dr. R kept me on antibiotic to prevent infection to baby and me and ordered my blood to be drawn every two hours for the remaining days to monitor that closely. She also did something Bob and I could only imagine being done in the jungles somewhere…siphoning out amniotic fluid to test it daily. Bob was a trooper, driving that amnio fluid back and forth to a specialized lab daily. The baby’s lung development was the highest priority. Next, the doctors wanted her to weigh at least five pounds.
Saturday, April 14. My mood changed. From lighthearted, hopeful laughter, I grew lonely and depressed. Sad. Fearful. Alone. God have you forgotten us? I missed Bob. I missed seeing our families. I felt afraid for our baby. Dr. Ramakrishna called, “the baby’s lungs have matured!!! Your baby can survive, he or she will be healthy!” I felt overwhelmed with gratefulness to a God I did not yet know. He had changed this course. He was rescuing our baby! I could not stop thanking Him. A few precious friends and family came to visit me that evening, they snuck in all kinds of yummy treats. I remember pizza and Fannie Mae pixies. Oh oh, unwise mix. I began to feel sick. Dr. Ramakrishna came dressed in full Indian style, radiant from an evening out with her husband. She confirmed at 8 pm, labor had started. Again. Intense immediately. I remember thinking, “if this is the early stages of labor, and contractions are this fast, this hard, this intense, I am never going to make it!” We were in this lovely labor and delivery room, soft lights, soft music, but we didn’t stay there long. About 10:15 pm, I had to push. They told me, no Julie, it’s too early to push, don’t push. Seconds, minutes seemed like forever. Dr. Ramakrishna returned, I was dilated to 10, none could believe it.
But something went wrong. Dr. suspected something. Whisked me into surgical delivery room. Bright lights. Sterile. More IV’s. Wires, cords, attached to me everywhere. Dr. Bob. Me. Two nurses running in and out. Nothing peaceful. Medical professionals working profusely to save our baby, and save me. I began to feel drugged. Confused. 10:57 pm. “It’s a girl!!! Julie, you have a baby girl!!” Bob kissing my face and thanking God. I just kept saying, “A girl. We have a baby girl!!!!!” I only saw her, touched her for a moment. But my life was changed forever. God. Goodness. Gratefulness. Five pounds and one ounce. Breathing on her own. Immeasurable grace. Mercy. God became real.
The nurses whisked Bob and baby away to the nursery for warming. I knew he would be a wonderful father! Dr. Ramakrishna became anxious. She worked tenaciously. I heard “I don’t want to lose this uterus!” ” She’s losing too much blood!” And I began to understand the seriousness of the situation. The drugs that had been used to miraculously delay our baby’s birth were now preventing my uterus from contracting back down, and hemorrhage was occurring. I became more and more drugged and delirious. But God had a plan. A plan that included two more sisters for this beautiful girl, to be born from this same mama. He intervened again that night. He used Dr. Ramakrishna to stop the bleeding and save my life.
Two days came and went before we named Jenni. Jennifer. Or Bethany. Everytime I held her, I could not let her go. She was our gift from heaven. God creates every life. Every life is a gift from heaven. But He worked miracles to save her and allowed us to know just how actively involved He was in this precious daughter’s life. She was beautiful to us in every way. We never knew a love like this until we gazed into the eyes of our child. If we had known then what we came to understand later…Jenni’s middle name would have been Grace. But Joy fits her beautifully. She brought us joy that we never knew possible. A radiant joy that flows from her heart. A true reflection of her Lord Jesus Christ.
Jennifer Joy Birkeneder Zielke. April 14, 1984. 10:57 pm. God sent you as a light, joy, an ambassador of peace to link us to Jesus to link us to Him. He is good! He is God! He saved my life, through yours. God revealed Himself through you.
Everytime I see you, hear you or think of you, my heart is filled with joy. I thank my God because of you!! I will never stop thanking Him for you. Nor will dad. We love you, Jennifer Joy!
I love you forever.
Humble and grateful to be,