Our newest addition is officially 6 months old, and I’m finally getting around to writing her birth story. If you’re a fellow mom, you likely understand the phrase “mommy memory” and know that #thestruggleisreal when it comes to remembering what you ate for lunch, let alone the process of your child’s labor and birth (even just a week after it happened.) And here I am six months later … Mom of the Year Award, right?
It’s amazing how lazy we become at capturing important dates and milestones as we have more children. I recently saw this meme on Facebook, which for me, just about sums it up:
The other day, we received a “happy birthday” text message for our son, Kale, from nana and papa and realized that we had completely forgotten what day it was. And our last anniversary almost went uncelebrated because neither of us had remembered it. I guess it’s a good thing that we’ve never really been big on those types of “holidays” (if you can call them that?) It lessens the hurt feelings if one of us forgets. And in a way, it protects our children from growing up with a sense of entitlement and expecting the world to remember and celebrate the day they were born (though we do give thanks every day of our lives for these amazing blessings that Yah has given us, and we did make a point to celebrate Kale with some chocolate cake once we had remembered.) It certainly doesn’t mean we care any less about them … we’re just so busy trying to keep them all alive that we forget to make time to actually capture their lives. Perhaps I need my own personal photographer and videographer to follow me around all day…
(Hmm… maybe I should market that idea.)
Anyway, back to Hadarah’s birth.
Her full name is Hadarah Brielle Lukoskie. Hadarah means “adorned with beauty”, and Brielle means “God’s bravest woman,” or “strength of God.” Her gender was a surprise, so we had names picked out for a boy and a girl before she was born. But around the 8-month mark, something inside me (Holy Spirit?) said it was a girl and that her name was Hadarah. I had been participating in a women’s Bible study on a passage of Scripture known as “the Shema” — Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
Shema (Hear), O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
We had taken a deep dive into this passage, looking at each verse one-by-one, and using its context and other parts of Scripture to really define what it looks like when you are loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and strength. A big part of my journey over the last year has been the concept of holiness, and looking at what it means to be a set apart people. It can be hard to grasp, especially when you’re among the scattered tribes of Israel, living in America in 2019.
One night, I was looking at 1 Peter 3. (We had already chosen names at this point, and “Hadarah Brielle” was on the list, but I still wasn’t sure if we were having a boy or a girl.) I came across this passage:
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” 1 Peter 3:1-6
In that moment, I heard the Lord whisper, “this is Hadarah.” She was purposefully knitted in my womb, and would be birthed at a time in my life when He was showing me what true beauty is.
Beauty, in the eyes of God, is not merely external. He looks at the heart.
I often struggle with this. We all do. Social media is one giant comparison game. We are constantly being tempted to look at all the people around us and the pretty glimpses of their lives that they’ve managed to capture and post on Instagram. I find myself looking at other moms and thinking that their lives look so easy:
- “Her house is so beautiful and spotless … at least it appears to be from that photo she just posted. I still haven’t decorated our walls, and we’ve been here 7 months.”
- “I bet their kids sleep through the night all the time … how did she manage to make that happen? Our toddlers woke up 3 times before 3 a.m. last night.”
- “Gosh, her children are so well-behaved. Mine threw a screaming fit over the color of a spoon this morning.”
- “She’s on her third kid and has managed to capture every monthly milestone picture since birth. Meanwhile, I have just one 4-month photo and still haven’t written down my daughter’s birth story.”
Thoughts like these run through my head all the time. And then I look at my daughter and remember the truth that God whispered to me just a month and a half before she was born:
“I see you, child. I see your heart. And it is beautiful.”
And then, the last part of the passage caught my eye:
“…just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.“
There is no fear in love. This sums up the reason why we are obedient to the Lord, and the reason why we pursue His Torah, or His instructions. It’s because He laid down His life for us. It’s because he loved us, first.
I have had a hard time articulating this to people who may question our motives behind the things we do. To a world that has managed to spiritualize just about every commandment in the Bible, the following might look silly:
- Choosing to observe a literal Saturday Sabbath by studying his Word, attending a fellowship, resting, and enjoying the blessings of our family together, instead of going out to eat, shopping, running errands, or doing anything that causes others to work. All the while, abandoning my workaholic tendencies and trusting that this day is much-needed gift from my loving, Heavenly Father who will provide for me during the other six days when I will resume working.
- Celebrating His feast days over other holidays like Christmas, Easter (or even our own birthdays and anniversaries).
- Wearing tzitzit.
- Abstaining from pork, shellfish, and other unclean foods (as well as vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and other substances made with unclean ingredients.)
- Allowing God to have full reign of my womb without interference (even if it means we end up with 7 children by the time I’m 50.)
- And even the “weightier” commandments, like choosing choose to forgive, pray for, and love our enemies instead of seeking vengeance.
We don’t do these things because we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t. Quite the contrary: we do them because we are no longer motivated by fear. We’re no longer slaves to fear, because we are His children (a product of love.) Because we trust and believe Him when He says that He loves us and wants what’s best for us, and that His ways are for our good (even when we don’t understand them.)
Hadarah Brielle is a daily reminder of what it means to be beautiful and brave. And my labor and birth captured that in ways I can’t even describe. But, I’m going to do my best!
Thankfully, my midwife kept a line-by-line notes page of important moments as they happened from the time I first texted her all the way through the delivery of the placenta. Here’s the play-by-play, as best I can remember it 6 months later:
September 12, 2018
2:00 a.m. I sent my midwife a text message to let her know I thought I might be in labor. She instructed me to eat something if I was hungry and to try and get some sleep, so I did. Due to off-and-on contractions, I was in and out of sleep until around 9 a.m. when I texted her again to let her know that my contractions had slowed down, but that they were still pretty strong when they came.
12:30 p.m. My contractions were more steady, about 8-15 minutes apart, but they were still a bit sporadic in terms of pain and difficulty. I was frustrated. I wanted it to be over, and I could tell that fear was holding me back from allowing things to progress forward. (Funny how, after having done this twice already, I become more of a scaredy-cat each time. I think it’s because I know what to expect and how painful it can be. And ironically, fear intensifies the pain even more.)
2:30 p.m. My midwife arrived. She advised me to get into a few different positions to help the baby move down. One of them was excruciatingly painful.
3:00 p.m. She took the baby’s heart rate. 160. Everything was looking good so far … She decided to go back to her home in Rock Hill and advised me to get out of the house. “This might sound weird, but I think you should go to Target or somewhere, and just walk around. Walking will help that baby move down and get into an optimal position for birth,” she said. Despite not wanting to do anything other than lay down and go to sleep (which had become impossible by this time), I took her advice.
4:00 p.m. Jereme and I visited our chiropractor who adjusted me. I had a very painful contraction while laying on her table, and a few more pretty painful ones in the car on the way back home.
6:30 p.m. I texted my midwife to let her know she might want to head back over. By this time, my contractions were consistently about 5 minutes apart and very intense.
7:14 p.m. My midwife’s assistant arrived and took the fetal heart rate. Again, 160. (She’s pretty consistent, like her mama!) I had a few more sporadic contractions and began to doubt. “Of course, she’d get here and my labor would stall…” I thought to myself. Not too long after that, my midwife arrived. She and her assistant stayed downstairs so that Jereme and I could be alone together. Jereme prayed over me as my fear intensified. We diffused essential oils and played some worship music, and the contractions returned. They were more steady and much stronger now, but I was a lot calmer. #prayerworks! 🙏🏼
9:00 p.m. “Take a walk,” my mom advised. (At some point during the day, she and my mother-in-law had both arrived and were still here.) Jereme helped me downstairs and out the front door. We made it less than a block before I said, “we need to go back home now. This baby is coming soon.”
9:15 p.m. I walked inside and straight up the stairs into our bathroom, where I experienced a few more extremely intense contractions while sitting on the toilet My midwife and her assistant filled up the bathtub. Fetal heart rate was in the 150s.
9:20 p.m. Time to get in the tub — finally some pain relief! A few more intense contractions … my mom was putting the kids to bed by this time. (She later said that Indie had heard me scream while I was pushing the baby out and asked what “that noise” was. She told her it was our dog, Oskar. 😂)
9:30 p.m. Fetal heart rate was in the 140s. Still good so far…
9:31 p.m. 1 push… 2 pushes…
9:32 p.m. Baby OUT … it’s a girl!
9:34 p.m. Hadarah’s heart rate was taken. 160s. (Again, consistent, like her mama.)
9:45 p.m. Jereme cut the umbilical cord.
9:47 p.m. Placenta out. I got out of the tub and onto my bed where all of the baby’s measurements and stats were taken. I experienced a bit of lightheadedness (likely from very little sleep and dehydration). Thankfully, a protein shake and a few coconut waters later, and I was good to go.
10:00 p.m. Hadarah latched on and our beautiful breastfeeding relationship commenced. I’m still amazed at the Father’s creation and how He has enabled my body to grow and sustain another human being!
Hadarah Brielle Lukoskie. Adorned with the beauty and strength of Yahweh. (We call her #HaddieLuke for short.) I’m so thankful you were born and excited to see how He’s going to use you to refine us both into the image of his son, Yeshua (Jesus).