June 17, 2021
“We did it!” I said in tears to my church family this last Sunday morning after a beautiful outdoor service under our Stavanger Lutheran Church steeple. It wasn’t a kind of “we made it work” sort of triumph. Rather, it was the same kind of overwhelming acknowledgment I confessed to Caleb when we rested next to each other one night having just put Brendyn in his bassinet. Our relieved sighs and happy tears and soaring spirits came from this truth:
“Caleb, I feel like we’ve finally come to the end of a very long, hard road.”
And we have.
This is Brendyn’s birth story.
Brendyn Royal Larson, born June 4, 2021
Brendyn, how do I even begin? You are number 11 in our hearts and number 4 in our home. I anticipated your birth day more than any other day in all my life. Yes, even more than the day I married your daddy! Not because I don’t love Daddy more than anyone in this world. It was because I didn’t have the scars and grief and years of healing attached to me like I did on the day you were born.
I’m a different person than I was 13 years ago when I said “I do.” I never knew on that precious wedding day how much your dad and I would have to go through to see all of yours and your sibling’s faces.
We were scheduled to arrive at the hospital on June 4 at 9:30 a.m. The C-section was scheduled for noon. I couldn’t help but think, “How am I going to wait THAT LONG in the hospital room to see this baby??” I’m actually quite grateful we didn’t have an early morning surgery. It gave me the time to snuggle your siblings. Kaylen, your sweet introverted sister, was concerned mostly for me. She’d been scared for me before. Rhys, on the other hand, was more scared for YOU. A week or so before your birth he said to me, “Everything will probably be ok. But he could still die.” They both were so worried about losing another brother.
I was scared, too. All of your promising kicks and punches and our happy doctor visits couldn’t eliminate all of our worry. God invites us to trust Him, to cast all of our cares upon Him, but it’s so hard to live in this world and not feel the effects of our experiences. I’m so glad He understands this and that His love does not rest on our faithfulness!
I truly believe it’s a lot easier for little ones like your sister Elyana to forget fear. She was so distracted by the excitement. That sweet girl couldn’t wait to meet you! She had little to no memory of losing Alexander, and she couldn’t wait to hold you in her arms and to see you face to face.
So, at about 9:00 that June 4 morning, your uncle Josh came to stay with your brother and sisters at the house. I said my somewhat tearful yet EXCITED goodbyes, and we set out to make the 2-block trip to Lake Region Hospital (after a detour to Perks Coffee, of course). The sun was SO bright. It was going to be one hot day! The sky was VERY blue, too! What a perfect day to have a baby.
And then the preparations began! It was so strange not to be hooked up to Pitocin or to be having contractions or to be in a birthing room. The nurses were amazing, as usual. One of them, a nurse who’d been there for over 30 years, was hilarious. She reminded me so much of my own mom, and I told her that it brought me great comfort. The other nurses and the anesthesiologist were so cheerful and informative. They, along with Doctor Norgard who gives the best, most reassuring hugs, made me feel like their only patient.
I KNOW we were all relieved to get to this point!! We were so excited to go down to surgery and to see your little face! Later that night (and all weekend), my good friend Allie would be my night nurse. She, of all people, knew how important these few days would mean to me and she ROCKED her job! She was absolutely created to serve and love people in this way.
At about 11:30 that morning, the nurse finally wheeled me down to the operating room. I’m familiar with spinals and epidurals, so the procedure didn’t scare me. But, what I DID notice was the looming anxiety waiting for me at the door. Just before they wheeled me into the operating room, I could tell that something was welling up inside me and it was competing with my enthusiasm. I wasn’t surprised in the least. In fact, I suspected that this would happen.
But, I found it so ODD to have so little control over it. My grief and emotions were subtly sitting in my chest, waiting to decide whether or not to appear as happy tears or traumatized sobs. I could feel the memories of September 4, 2019. I didn’t just recall them, I could FEEL them sitting under my skin. The lights were familiar. Operating paraphernalia looked and smelled the same. It was as if I was sitting outside of my body just waiting to see how I would react.
The spinal went very well, and the nurse talked me through it. I knew she could sense that I was struggling internally. Mentally. Emotionally. And yet, how strange it was to feel so much anticipation and JOY about where I was! What a weird combo!
I have to say: most people don’t like surgery, but I do. Surgery is the ONLY time in my life when my entire body (and I mean my ENTIRE body – physically, mentally, emotionally) is able to surrender to the care of others. When the nurses laid me down on the table, I welcomed the warm feeling that rushed through me as the spinal began to work. It’s so relaxing, and I was so relieved to have gotten to this point. I felt so taken care of and safe.
And then, even though I couldn’t really see her while on my back, my kids’ pediatrician walked into the room. I could hear her voice.
Amazingly, her voice plucked me out of this strange little pit of anxiety and gently set me upright in the middle of one of the most exciting experiences of my life. I later told her, “Dr. Folstad. As soon as I heard your voice, I knew that everything was going to be ok. It calmed me. Why? Because my heart associates you with healthy children. I needed that.”
Because TODAY wouldn’t end like September 4. Today, June 4, would end differently: we’d have a healthy baby. YOU!
From that point on, it was all chatter and laughter and anxious grins. I got to pick the music on the Alexa, and everyone was a little surprised that I chose 1940s music (if anybody knows me well, this is no surprise at all). Dr. Norgard used to play in a jazz band, and I don’t think anybody in that room had heard this kind of music in a long time!! This music did for me what I knew it would do – what it always does. It brought me to a simple, promising and hopeful place.
Finally, after all of the prep, after some funny ribs here and there about how my nurse was “too short” to reach the important stuff, after Dr. Norgard announced “I can see your uterus!” and “There’s his face!” and “He’s sucking on my finger!” – after minutes of waiting with Caleb on the other side of the blue sheet…
…we heard your little cry. It was SO strong and healthy and long and loud!
“It’s a boy!”
I’ll never forget that.
Tears. Falling, dripping, unashamed, needed, cleansing, healing, redeeming.
Brendyn, God redeemed a moment in my heart at that point. It was a moment I often doubted He would. The most painful part about losing Alexander in the moment of his birth was the silence. But on June 4, 2021, on your birthday, there was music and laughing and crying and so many tears of joy because there was noise. SO much noise! The lovely trill of the big band music, the calm and controlled and confident conversation between the doctor and his talented team, and the crying baby in the warmer who kicked and waved: YOU, sweet boy, are a gift to more than just me.
I remember so much after that: Daddy holding you and me trying to see over the edge of the blanket from my place on the table, Dr. Norgard saying “All done!” and the funny, rolling switch that happens when they move me from the operating table to the gurney. That ride to recovery was SO different than my last, and I couldn’t wait to have you in my arms!
When I arrived in recovery, they put you on my chest the way I had requested. I said, “Oh, THAT’S what you look like!” and I cried again. I hadn’t really seen your face, and I was thrilled to note that you looked like Daddy, Rhys and Alexander all in one.
And yet – you looked different. You looked like YOU, whatever your name would be. And I remembered why it’s so precious to me every year to hear Mary’s words at Christmastime, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”
I get it.
Did you know that nothing can be added to the Lord God? His mercy and beauty and love can only be magnified. I pray that all of us, even you sweet Brendyn, will reflect and magnify His stunning image all of our days.
After recovery, I remember sitting in my hospital bed in my room and looking at your daddy. I said to him, “This truly had been the best day ever.”
We feel completely honored, humbled, and undeserving to be called your parents. From experience, we know that we have little to do with the creation of life. We are helpless when it comes to the growing and knitting together of children in the womb. The intricate art of creation is not something we have a lot of power over. We also know that God gives and takes away.
Sometimes, He gives again.
I didn’t always believe that He would, but I always knew that He could.