Welcome Teresa Scarlet Benecke!
Born on Saturday, September 26th 2015 at 12:51pm, 7lb 2oz, 21 inches long, head 13 inches, by VBAC at Penrose St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs.
Named after Jason’s paternal grandmother Theresa Viola Benecke, and after Mother Teresa, whose biography “Come Be My Light” has meant a lot to Jason. The book highlights how Mother Teresa spent most of her years of selfless ministry in a spiritual state called “the dark night of the soul”, in which God feels distant and the Christian has a sense of spiritual darkness. In spite of this, she devoted her life to serving the “least of these” in a place no one else was willing to go, and only felt this period of spiritual darkness end towards the end of her own life. This kind of perseverance in the face of great testing was very inspiring to Jason during a difficult season of his life. Now I just have to actually read the book myself. 🙂
The story here is that I was taking a walk with my friend Wooree (who also happened to tell me I was pregnant before I knew myself!) and we were talking about names, and the name Scarlett came up. It jumped out at me for some reason and I started thinking about some of the Biblical imagery, especially Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (ESV). I also thought of the story of Rahab and the scarlet cord in Joshua. I love how Rahab, a non-Israelite prostitute, is an ancestor of Jesus because of her faith, and how she demonstrated that God’s mercy was available to anyone who would turn to him, regardless of who they were, even in the Old Testament. Scarlet cloth was used repeatedly in the instructions for constructing the Tabernacle, and Jesus was mockingly dressed in a scarlet robe before his crucifixion. And I love the imagery that we have to be washed in blood to be clean (Rev 7:14), that our salvation is free only because it was bought as so great a cost. And Jason insisted we spell it with only one T to differentiate from a certain popular actress.
So part of why this little girl has such a heavy name is because she really put us through a lot in order to come into the world! I had never heard of “prodromal labor” (not to be confused with false labor or Braxton Hicks – and don’t ever ask a woman going through it if it’s just “false contrations”!). With Daisy, I woke up in the middle of the night with strong contractions that were about 20 minutes apart. They gradually got closer together until they were about 3 minutes apart, at which point we went to the hospital and they went ahead and did her c-section since she was still breech. So when I woke up at 1am this time with contractions that were forming a pattern of one big one every hour and several small ones in between, I thought I knew what was happening. That was on September 2nd. My doctor had measured me at my last appointment and said it seemed likely the baby would come in the next couple of weeks. At that point I was 37 weeks + 1 day, exactly when Daisy had been born. The contractions got closer together throughout the day until they were about 5 minutes apart, then we decided to just try to get some sleep before going to the hospital. We slept all night and the next day the contractions were completely gone.
I took the next two days off work, confused, frustrated, exhausted, trying to figure out what in the world was going on with my body. Nothing happened Thursday or Friday, then Saturday and Sunday the contractions started up again. I thought for sure this was it! I had read online that prodromal labor can take a few days to build up. Sunday night the contractions were 4 minutes apart and very painful, so we went to the hospital. They monitored me for several hours, determined it was “latent labor”, and sent me home. That Monday was Labor Day so I ended up with a 6 day weekend, which I probably needed. Tuesday I had to go back to work and I was miserable. The contractions would come and go randomly, sometimes with a lot of pain, aggravating my sciatica, making it impossible to get comfortable, much less concentrate on working. At some point that week, my boss graciously gave me permission to work from home so I could manage the pain better. I was in and out of the doctor’s office, making very slow progress in terms of dilation and effacement. Baby girl had dropped all the way down which was also adding to my discomfort.
By the week of the 21st (my due date), I was completely miserable. Sitting hurt, standing hurt worse, lying down hurt worst of all. The contractions were getting more regular and more painful but I still wasn’t making much progress. At my appointment that day my CNM Jana went ahead and scheduled me to be induced on October 1st. It seemed like an eternity away, but I knew she wanted to give the baby plenty of time to come on her own, especially since inducing reduces your chances of successful VBAC. That week I kept having to sign out of work early. Even working from home was too painful and too hard to concentrate. I was burning through my precious maternity leave sick time and getting frustrated to the point of tears multiple times a day. I was sick of everyone asking me when the baby was coming, even though I appreciated that so many people were praying for me and rooting for me.
Every day that week, from Sunday the 20th on, I had contractions that would start in the afternoon, get to about 5 minutes apart, then stop at some point in the night. I started timing them again on Tuesday, something I had given up doing since the last hospital visit, when “come in when they’re 4-6 minutes apart” had been upgraded to “come in when you can’t talk through them.” By Wednesday night I was in extreme pain and had some that were so sharp I would double over. Thursday I could barely focus enough to work. That night we once again went to the hospital, even though I suspected they would send me home again. Sure enough, days of building intensity had led to no progress since my Monday appointment. They sent me home with Ambien, which did nothing to help me sleep. The contractions stayed consistently about 10 minutes apart all night and into the next morning. I broke down and called my CNM and asked if it would be possible to move up my induction. She agreed to move it up to the 28th, but when I told her the Ambien hadn’t helped me sleep, her tone changed and she said I should come in at 2pm so she could check me, and maybe even induce me that day if everything looked ok. I called Jason and told him he should probably come home, made a couple of backup arrangements for Daisy since the family that had agreed to watch her weeks ago had come down with strep, and tried to ride out the pain until 2pm.
We got to my doctor’s office at 2 only to find out that Jana was at the hospital delivering another baby. They were going to have another doctor check me, but that meant the wait would be longer since she had to squeeze me in between her other appointments. We waited for maybe a half hour but it felt like forever. The doctor who came in actually remembered me from when she had tried to flip Daisy! When she checked me, I was finally 4-5cm dilated, and she said I should go ahead and check into the birth center. I wouldn’t have to be induced at all, this was finally the real thing! She recommended getting an epidural so I could rest for a while, since I hadn’t had any significant sleep in two days, then breaking my water and seeing what happened. That sounded good to me, but by the time I checked into the hospital, got all hooked up to monitors and IV’s, and Jana was finally able to see me, I was already at 7cm dilated. Jason had gone to drop off Daisy, so I sent him a text that I thought sounded calm but he read as “get here ASAP.” Jana said we probably wouldn’t need to break my water, and since I was progressing pretty quickly without too much pain, we tried Fentanyl instead of the epidural.
The Fentanyl worked great for a while, but then I started having some serious back labor. I was feeling every contraction in my back, hips and legs, and I wasn’t dilating more even though they were getting much more painful. Jana suggested an epidural after all and I did not object. By the time the anesthesiologist came, I was hyperventilating and shaking. They got the epidural in (very carefully) and I finally got an hour or so of rest. They came back to check me and said I was almost 10 cm, but I wasn’t feeling the urge to push yet. The baby’s heart rate started to go down a little, not to the point where they were too worried, but enough that they decided I should start trying to push. The epidural was the kind where I could still move my legs and feel some of the pushing sensation. I could tell when I was about to have a contraction even though I wasn’t feeling the contraction itself, so between that and the monitors we knew when I should push.
WARNING: skip this next paragraph if you don’t want the gory details.
It started ok, and I thought “this isn’t too bad.” Fast forward through three very intense hours, and I was exhausted, panicky, and feeling like there was no way I could keep going. They kept telling me I was “getting close!” and although I wasn’t trying to keep track of the time, I was “very close” for at least 45 minutes of that last stretch. I had nothing left to give and my brain kept searching for another option, but I knew at this point there were none left. Despite the epidural I was feeling all kinds of pain. Finally Jana, knowing I was just about at a breaking point, said calmly, “Barbara, do you want to feel your daughter’s head?” I reached down and there it was and that was the motivation I needed to keep going. I remember saying something like, “what’s the rest of her waiting for?” and that the nurses laughed. But there wasn’t much laughing for the next few minutes. Every push I would think “that has to be the last one” but it wasn’t. I got to the point where the contractions didn’t really stop and I felt like I couldn’t control the pushing, it was just happening whether I liked it or not. Everyone was very excited that the baby had a head full of blond hair and kept commenting on it, but I just wanted it to be over already. Finally there was an actual last push, and I heard a little baby cry. The nurses clocked the birth at 12:51am, so the whole process from checking into the hospital to when she was born was about 9 hours, 3 of which was pushing. The pain was mostly gone, although I was surprised how much was left even with the epidural. Jana told me I had torn a little (I won’t say where but not perineum, which I was grateful for) and that it wasn’t that bad but I would need a few stitches. At some point they handed me the baby and I got to snuggle her a little before they cleaned her and cut the cord.
I really don’t know what order things happened in after that. I remember one of the nurses saying something about a girl and then saying, “Wait, did anyone actually check to make sure?” then someone checked and said, “Yep, it’s a girl” and everyone laughed. At some point Jana told me with a very sympathetic face that if I had more kids it wouldn’t be that bad the next time, which was oddly enough something I really needed to hear (even though at this point we have no plans one way or the other on that). They finished doing whatever they needed to do, took out the epidural and most of whatever else I was hooked up to, and got ready to move us all to our Moms & Babies room. The nurses had been fantastic and said they were sad to see us go. I guess it makes sense but it’s funny how you can really bond with people in a very short amount of time when you all go through something like that together!
I don’t remember much of what happened next. At some point we must have slept. I think I probably fed her a little. It was strange how completely foreign it felt to hold a newborn again. I didn’t know what to do with her! Daisy had been so different, too, because she was so small, so early, and had hip dysplasia. They weren’t worried about anything this time. There were no strict instructions about feeding her every 2 hours, no extra monitoring, no formula supplementation or pumping, no specialists coming to check her hips, no special brace that covered most of her body. Just a healthy normal baby that I could hold right away without it hurting, that I could do skin-to-skin bonding with, that I could let sleep without worrying about her blood sugar dropping too low. I was very grateful, and happy I hadn’t had to do another c-section. My pain levels were very manageable with Motrin and ice packs. By the second day, I could easily walk around on my own. We had to stay at the hospital 48 hours because I was GBS positive (I won’t explain it all here, but it’s just a routine thing they do to make sure the baby is ok), so we’d be there until Monday morning since she was born just after midnight on Saturday.
We had tons of visitors this time, which I loved, even though I probably wasn’t napping as much as I should have. Nights were a little rough since she was right on schedule with cluster feeding. Our first night home was bad, too. She wanted to eat every 45-60 minutes, which pretty much meant none of us slept for a couple of nights. At some point on Saturday afternoon we decided on the name. We had been pretty set on either Teresa Scarlet or Scarlet Teresa for a few weeks, but wanted to meet her first. We still haven’t decided exactly what we’ll end up calling her. We both love Teresa, but it seems like such an adult name for a tiny baby. I told Jason that Daisy will probably have the opposite problem so it’s an interesting contrast. Both girls are named for grandmas but also for a spiritual meaning that is personal to us as a couple.
Since coming home, we have already been blessed with lots of help, visitors, and food. Jason’s mom Kathy was able to come help out again, which has been especially great for Daisy, and since Jason is still working. She also brought her two dogs, which Daisy is loving even if the cats aren’t too thrilled. Daisy is adjusting pretty well. She isn’t always as gentle as we’d like but it doesn’t seem to be intentional. She mostly finds Teresa fascinating and likes to just smile at her when she sleeps and say “night night!” She’s also very concerned that Teresa doesn’t sleep with a pacifier and tries to give her a paci all the time. She can say “sissy”, “baby”, and will say “Seeya” if you ask her to say Teresa.
I will be on maternity leave for at least another 5 weeks. My dad and stepmom are coming out for Daisy’s 2nd birthday on the 27th, which will be fun. Jason will probably keep working until his off season, whenever that ends up being. Daisy’s “second family” are going to watch Teresa too, which we are very grateful for since they have been so fantastic with Daisy.
If you want any more details or want to come visit, just let me know!
And here are some pictures for you, in no particular order:
Let’s just call her “Fairy Godmother Wooree”
Meeting baby sister for the first time
Day before baby came
At Target, first time out of the house
With Nana and Grandpa
Daisy wanted to work from home, too