I wrote this letter to our daughter Eleanor after she was born so that she knew everything that went into her coming into the world. In case I forget any detail someday (or have moved onto Heaven), I wanted her to be able to read back on this and know the answer to the question, “Did you know you’re the answer to thousands of prayers, Ellie girl?”
To be completely up front, I didn’t think this should be read by anyone but Ellie and Stephen, let alone thousands of people. But when I started to write her birth recap to share with you all, it didn’t do it justice. If you guys have been around for a bit, you know that Ellie Joy’s arrival has been years in the making. She is the answer to thousands of our AND YOUR prayers. I guess the reason I’m sharing this as written is because I feel as though you deserve to know the entire story, unedited, poop and all… Here it is.
One last thing- thank you. Thank you for your messages. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your support. We don’t take any of it for granted. For those of you on your own baby journey, we’re praying fervently for you. Always. I hope that reading this letter to our Ellie is another glimpse of hope for you and proof that God’s timing is greater than we could ever imagine with our own finite, human mind. He deserves all the glory!
My precious Eleanor Joy,
When your Dad and I got married it wasn’t long before we knew we wanted to start a family. A year into that journey and we still hadn’t conceived so we started to see specialists to determine if something was wrong. After a lot of testing, your Dad and I were both deemed “exceptionally healthy”. They didn’t know what could be preventing us from getting pregnant. We remained hopeful though and kept trying. In March of 2019 we found out that we were pregnant. At an appointment ten weeks later, we found out that that baby was no longer with us. We know that someday we’ll meet your brother or sister in Heaven! Even with the loss, we remained hopeful. We prayed constantly and had thousands of people joining us in prayer too. We walked around a field in a park in South Carolina that we call “the womb” and half a dozen women prayed over my womb. We knew that our miracle baby would come some day. I received two prophetic messages during that time. One from my mentor and dear friend, Kelly Ellison, saying that November would be a special month for us and another from Sarah Phulps. She messaged me one day in November saying, “I don’t know if this is okay to say this to you but I pray all day long and today I couldn’t stop thinking about you and the Lord told me that you were going to have a girl in 2020…” Of course it was more than okay with me to be told such a thing!
That miracle did happen when I found out in December of that same year that we were again pregnant. It was right near the due date of your sibling that I found out you were inside of me. I went to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy and the nurse said to me, “You are pregnant! The due date is August 12!! My birthday!!!” I said, “That’s my birthday too!!!” I believe she was an angel I needed that day to help calm my nerves. I knew in that moment my birthday as your due date was absolutely no coincidence (I don’t believe in coincidence anyway). I desperately prayed to God that you would continue to thrive and remain strong so I could meet you and watch you grow here with us on Earth. I was so scared that we would lose you. I leaned on God and your father to give me strength. I couldn’t have gotten through the first trimester without them.
By the grace of God you continued to grow and thrive. Your Dad and I decided that we wouldn’t find out the gender so that it was a surprise. I think it’s the most genuine surprise one could ever experience in their life! I don’t regret that decision one bit.
In February of 2020 I was asked to speak on a panel of women at a conference called “Fight”. The topic of discussion was around how we fight our battles and the tools we use to do that. I shared a little bit about our baby journey and the growth I had experienced through it all. At the end, I announced that I was pregnant (you were 16 weeks at that time). Kelly came on the stage and announced that she had a gift for me that she was led to give from the Holy Spirit. The gift contained a bunch of elephant things. One of them was a stuffed animal that she handed to me and explained the story of the elephant about (the full story is in the journal) and said, “So I decided to name this little stuffed Elephant, Ellie!” My jaw dropped and I said, “Well, I wasn’t going to announce this but if this is a girl, we are going to name her Ellie.” We had known that would be your name since college! The entire congregation went wild. Your Lolli didn’t even know your name was Ellie! We had kept it a secret from everyone. That was when we found out I was carrying you, Ellie girl.
Overall I loved being pregnant with you. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I had to take blood thinner shots daily and I also tested positive for Strep B but overall, pregnancy treated me really well. Oh and I forgot to mention that I carried you during a worldwide pandemic! The best part about that though is that your Dad was home more than ever. We loved spending that time together so much. One thing we loved to do together during that time was go for walks/hikes and workout. We went to a new place to hike almost every weekend in March and April and probably walked around 100 miles in the neighborhoods around our house. I also did CrossFit with you inside of me the entire second and third trimester. You loved to sleep while I moved. At night when I laid down, you’d be wide awake and ready to party. I really enjoyed feeling you kick though. I was grateful for every one of them. As weird as it was sometimes… I’d always say to your Dad, feel this!!!
It wasn’t until week 38 that I started to experience a lot of pain in my tailbone area which made it really difficult for me to walk. Around that time the doctors really wanted me to pick an induction date but I didn’t want to be induced if I didn’t have to be. They were worried that you were going to be too big. On August 11 at my 40 week check up though, the doctor said to me, “pick your date!” And I was in so much pain with my tailbone (it was hard for me to sit up, roll over, or lift my feet to walk) that I said, “Well…. ASAP if we can!” They scheduled me to be induced at 5:30 AM on August 12, 2020, my 28th birthday. We continued to pray that day and night that my water would break and you would come on your own but that didn’t happen. That’s okay though, it was the most beautiful birth and happened just the way it was meant to anyway.
That evening your Dad and I got Italian for dinner. I had heard that eggplant Parmesan put people into labor so I had that (it was delicious) but it didn’t seem to do the trick. Going to sleep that night felt like trying to sleep on Christmas Eve but once I fell asleep, I got a really good nights rest. We woke up at 3 am the next morning and headed to the hospital.
Once we were admitted and I was hooked up to the monitors, the nurses informed me I was actually experiencing contractions. I had no idea! I started receiving Pitocin at 6:30 am and went over our birth plan with the nurses. We were pretty picky about some things and they were so nice about all of it. At 8:00 AM, one of my favorite doctors came in and broke my water. It just felt like a gush of warm liquid! Within 10 minutes of that happening, I started feeling contractions. They got pretty bad pretty quickly. Your Dad made sure that I kept moving around and changing positions, even if I didn’t want to. He knew from our birthing course though that it was important I did that. Speaking of your Dad – he was the greatest partner and doula I could’ve ever had in that room with me. I had prayed over if we should have a doula or not and the Lord told me a very clearly, “No. It needs to just be the two of you. Trust me.” He was as always, so right. Your Dad was my rock through the years waiting for you and so it was no surprise that he was also my rock come game time.
At 10:30, 2.5 hours into laboring, while on all fours I said to him, “I want the epidural.” He asked me if I was sure and I said yes. I was trying not to get really upset with myself but I had just experienced a contraction that was nearly 4 minutes long and I felt like I wasn’t get any break in between them. The pain was getting to be too much and it was hard to see the end in sight. 45 minutes later, the anesthesiologist came into the room and I said to the nurse Lexi, “Can you check me? I feel like I could poop!” She checked me and said, “Oh no honey, that’s your baby.” I was 7 cm at that point and knew that not only would it take 10-15 minuets for the epidural to be put in, but it would then take 20 minutes before it started working. Along with that, the epidural could slow things down! The nurse reminded me, “You did want to do it unmedicated originally…” I just wanted to meet you at that point so I said, “No thank you. I’m going to just do without!” The anesthesiologist actually said, “Why wouldn’t you get it?!” I said, “No thank you! I’m sorry!” and he left. I kept saying Philippians 4:13 over and over again… “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
At that point, I felt like I wanted to push. Lexi had me get into the bed (even though I really didn’t want to) and had me lay on my side with a peanut ball in between my legs. She pushed on my back with every contraction to try to get your head to turn. At one point I was pushing and could feel myself… going number two… and was yelling, “NOOOO!!!! IT’S SO GROSS!!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!!” She reassured me that I was pushing correctly and we were all laughing. As gross as it was, I was thankful that it made us laugh. It was what I needed! At 11:45 the doctor on call that day came in and started prepping me to deliver you. At the point I was on my back and started really pushing. I was still in so much pain that I could barely open my eyes. Your Dad kept saying to me in the most gentle voice, “Hey, can you just look at me?” NOPE! Pain aside though, I felt like I was at mile 25 of the marathon and felt really focused. I just wanted to push (no pun intended) to the finish and meet you.
Looking back on it, it feels like it went by really fast but during it I think they could see your hair for like 5 rounds of pushing and that felt like forever at the time, your Dad said it was maybe 10-15 minutes. He also said that at one point he felt like he was going to pass out because he would hold his breath every time I pushed and was also wearing a mask (because of COVID rules). He’s THAT supportive. Luckily he didn’t and with tear filled eyes was able to choke out the words, “IT’S AN ELLIE!!!!” When you made your way into the world (we were very specific that his voice saying your name to reveal your gender was the first thing you heard when you entered the world!).
They put you on my chest and we had you latch within those first few minutes. You were a whole 7 pounds 7.8 ounces (your Dad’s squadron was the 77th at the time so he loved this) and 20 inches long. I was in shock and still to this day feel a bit shocked. I can’t believe that God chose us to be your parents. It’s an honor.
It was quite the journey to finally meet you, Eleanor Joy. We wouldn’t trade the heartbreak, negative tests, or months of disappointment for anything though because the end result was you. We love you so deeply. I’ll never stop asking you, “Did you know that you’re the answer to thousands of prayers?” You’re the most beautiful answer we could’ve ever received.