I decided to write an entirely separate blog about the birth of Benaiah because I know that it won’t be relevant to many but will be extraordinary to others.
Benaiah (Ben-eye-uh) Jude Cameron, was born on December 11th at 1:29 pm. He weighed 8lbs. 1oz at birth and was 20.5 inches long. He was born 3 hours after our arrival at the hospital. His name comes from 2 Samuel 23:20. Benaiah was a valiant warrior, the head of David’s body guards and was known for his courageous deeds.
December is a busy month for my family. My (Andi) birthday is the 14th, the birthday of my father-in-law is the 7th, the birth of my eldest brother is the 12th, my nephews birthday is the 17th, my grandmother-in-law has a Christmas eve birthday and our anniversary is on the same day as my younger brothers birthday, the 29th. When we learned the birth month of Benaiah we were eager to see if he would arrive on one of the few days between already claimed birthdays.
The night of Sunday the 7th, Bart, the kids and I decided to venture out into “la Fête des Lumières”, A Lyonnais light festival that brings the daily population of Lyon from 1.1 million to more than 3 million. We decided that the once in a lifetime opportunity of attending the 3rd biggest light festival in Europe was worth the craze of the people. With Ziplocs full of popcorn we buttoned up our coats, donned our scarves and left, and when we returned home nearly 3 hours later my contractions started. I knew immediately that they were real contractions, and not Braxton-hicks because of the pain and the way they knocked the wind out of me. I was so excited! We called our friend to come and stay with the kids, and waited for the contractions to really pick up. They had been regular but not strong enough for more than an hour. We figured that because it was the middle of the night it would be better to have someone at the house and ready for when they got stronger and we had to leave. The next morning arrived, contractions continuing, but still not strong and we continued about our schedule, sending our friend home. We continued on like this until Tuesday morning, when we went ahead to the hospital, just to see if I (as every pregnant woman dreads) was completely crazy, or if I really was having contractions. They said that I was about 2 fingers dilated (We took this to mean 4 cm), but that the contractions weren’t strong enough or regular enough to admit me. So I went home and did what any normal woman would do. I walked the stairs. I took the stairs from our 5th floor (4th French floor) to the ground floor, and walked all 7 floors. I then, called the elevator and went to the bottom floor where I repeated this 4 times. Finally, after no progress, I went home and cried. It seems a little ridiculous, but I was so tired. I knew that these contractions were real. I knew that we had to plan a trip to acquire Benaiah’s passport which could take 4 weeks to arrive. I also knew that we had already purchased our tickets to America which we couldn’t use without Benaiah’s passport and that at some point we had to pack a house. I wasn’t worried about accomplishing the packing, because I am a bullheaded woman with a strong and equally as bullheaded husband. I wasn’t worried about the passport arriving in time because God has literally blown us away with His timing and providence. I was more just completely ready to meet this boy! I hadn’t rushed the pregnancy or wished away the weeks, so somehow I felt entitled that when these contractions started, I should somehow get a baby on MY timeline. Again, I was humbled. Wednesday night, after several days of contractions, I woke up with hard contractions. I wasn’t going to the hospital too early; not this time! Like I said, I am a little bullheaded. I didn’t want to be stuck in a hospital or away from my family any longer than I had to be. I wanted to meet this child, but I knew it would break my heart to be sent home early again. That morning I slept in, and at 10:30 I awoke to a contraction that made me cry out…which isn’t how I respond to pain so I knew this was big! I sat up, my water broke, and the race was on. We called our friend back, she arrived, and we departed and rushed to the parking garage of Hospital Natecia. We immediately recognized the woman who came to the waiting room door to accept our dossier (again). She smiled and said she would be right with us, and a few minutes later a lovely, young, curly haired brunette came to bring me to a checking room. They said I was 6 cm dilated and that they were going to monitor me before moving me to a birthing room. Of course, all of this is said in French.
I should pause here. There are some things you should know to catch you up to speed.
Bart and I have spent the last 6 months jumping through about 150 legal hoops attempting to get financial aid from France. France has the world’s best healthcare, and at the suggestion of several friends, if we could receive this certain type of aid, our lives would be significantly easier. We didn’t realize the extensive paperwork, signatures, and such that would be required. Also, you should know that the monthly appointments we had were easily 3x less expensive than a doctor’s appointment in the States. This is also my first pregnancy that was completed with a doctor from start to finish. Lucas was born at a hospital with midwives after completing the beginning of the pregnancy in Mexico with an OB-Gyn. He was “supposed” to be born at a birthing center, but wouldn’t budge and so 41 hours after my water broke he was born at a compliant hospital. Hosanna was born at home in a birthing tub after a midwife led pregnancy. This entire pregnancy was, true to the pun, foreign to me. The price of the entire hospital birth in France was equal to that of about three hundred Euros more expensive than our monthly rent here, but only if we were on the French Aid system. If we weren’t on the system the birth would have been roughly five thousand Euros. Also, about a month before my due date we found out via “the fine print” on a form we were signing that we were supposed to have reserved a room in the hospital by the middle of the pregnancy. We had NO idea how to do this, and in the process of discovering how to do this, also discovered that somehow Bart had been accepted into the Financial Aid system, and the rest of us were stuck as “pending”. Could you possibly imagine the stress? Up to this point I had remained relatively calm, but I do believe I lost it at this point.
I was literally a week from giving birth and completely unsure about how much we were being charged, if I would be allowed to give birth at the private hospital, with the doctor I had come to know, or if I would even have a room. On Tuesday we were given the code to give to the hospital that showed that we had French aid, and that we would be charged the lower amount. We were assured that, no matter what, I would have a room at the hospital because my doctor was through the hospital.
Back to the story….
My water broke at 10:30 that morning, almost on the nose. Upon arrival in the birthing room I was given so much freedom. They had given me an IV line when I was told I was 6 cm, and that they would be admitting me, but nothing was ever hooked up to the line and so I was free to move about. I was allowed to walk around, they came to check on me every once in a while. At one point they came in and suggested that I decide how I want to birth my baby. My contractions were very regular and they said it could be anytime! They had a neat birthing swing, but with how quickly things were progressing I didn’t give it much thought, I climbed up into the bed. My music was playing and that gave me the peace of mind that I needed. Bart was by my side the entire time. I will say, going through an entire labor in French was a little confusing. I do believe that at one point I said “Do they want me to push? I want to push! Can I push??” and Bart, who was rushing from feet to head was translating and encouraging me every step of the way. When Bart caught Benaiah, he laid his beautiful little body on me, and then cut the cord. I held him and smiled. People think that I am crazy for not having pain meds (I did with Lucas), but to me, there is a glorious power and joy that comes with being entirely aware of every push, and entirely alert the first time I see my babies. The pain was still real when I looked in Benaiah Jude’s eyes and saw him staring back. Bart immediately came up to the head of the bed after cutting the cord and prayed for the new life in our family. When the big lights came back on in the room (They had turned them off to turn on the…ahem…spotlight) I looked into Benaiah’s eyes and new that his name wasn’t Benaiah Daniel, but Benaiah Jude (Son from God, and Praise). From the moment he was born, he was calm and at peace. 3 hours and 3 pushes for each baby that has joined our family. Benaiah also cried when he was born, which neither Lucas, nor Hosanna did. He immediately opened his eyes and looked into mine and I was in love.
After a couple of hours, a room opened up and we were taken to the part of the hospital I would stay at. I was given a delicious meal, and for the next 3 days I was given the ability to rest, and get to know my new little boy. The normal in France is to stay on for 4 days, but I was determined to head home and get adjusted to our new life. Bart stayed home with the kids and brought them to visit each day. They had the first night at a friends’ home but from then on were at home with Bart. A favored memory of the labor was after things had settled down in the delivery room. The doctor had chuckled when I first told him I wanted to have a natural birth “You’re going to cry” he said. My first inclination was to hit him in the head with my dossier, but after rethinking I just smiled and said “Ok”. This was a continued reaction. People, upon looking at my paperwork would be baffled and question me as to why I would have a natural birth. After Benaiah’s birth, I was telling the midwives “thank you”, because they truly were just incredibly sweet and encouraging throughout the entire thing. One of the midwives was chattering about me not having an epidural and said “Comment un chef!” or “Like a boss”. I think I will always remember that. She said that Benaiah and I were amazing.
Benaiah celebrated his 2 week Birthday on Christmas and his 3 week Birthday on New Years. He is loved tremendously, and even though we are all processing a million emotions, we are holding together really well. Lucas and Hosanna have been awesome. They have processed Christmas in a foreign country, gained a brother, endured repeated “transition discussions” about all of the upcoming changes, Lucas is preparing to go back to school and Hosanna is continuing to be an awesome big/little sister. Bart has been pulling super dad duty and allowing me to rest by spending gobs of time with Lucas and Hosanna as well as continuing to keep our house stocked with food and livable.
We thank you all for your prayers as we continue to figure out being a family of 5. We feel God’s presence with us always, especially in the hard moments when we are falling apart.