Happy Valentine’s Day

To my beloved, Catherine.

Happy Valentine’s Day. We met only four weeks shy of 5 years ago. We married just over 4 years ago.

You are an amazing friend, fantastic mother and beautiful bride.

I love you!

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Caleb Benjamin Lencke

To all family and friends (and passers-by to The Prodigal Thought):

We wanted to officially announce the birth of our son, Caleb Benjamin Lencke. He was born on 21 June 2009 at 2.07pm (14.07), weighing 3.24 kgs (7.14 lbs) and 49 cm (19.3 in) in length.

Though the Belgian Father’s Day was on 14 June, the American and British Father’s Day was on 21 June. Thus, here was quite a Father’s Day gift for me (and Cat and I’s fathers). The whole process was quite a quick one when it was all said and done.I will share the story below.

Around 3.00am this past Sunday morning, Cat awoke to the realisation that she was having contractions, or at least she thought she was. The reason there was hesitation is that they were not very painful. Cat was aware that they were no longer the Braxton Hicks contractions of having the uterus tighten. These were much more distinct. They were coming every 10 minutes and lasting about 40 seconds each time. Yet, as I mentioned, she was a bit confused as to whether they were ‘real’ contractions since they were not very painful. There was only just some amount of discomfort.

At 7.00am, Cat climbed back in bed, though it was just about time for me to awake. As I was stirring, she turned to me and said something to the effect of, ‘I just want you to know that I am having slight contractions, so today could be the day.’

I don’t even remember what I thought. I guess I was still in a sleepy stupor. But I am sure I gave some lovely encouragement. Ah, yes, I did encourage her to just wait and see how things progress that morning. But we did decide she would stay home and I would go on to be with the church. Still, all the while, I was considering a Plan B in the back of my mind, just in case. And I did let her know that she was more than welcome to text me anytime during the morning and that I would be willing to walk out and come get her at any point.

Well, famous last words I guess…

Once we began our Sunday gathering at 11.30am, I did let the church know that, ‘All signs pointed to me becoming a dad on either that day or the next.’ But I definitely thought I would make it through to 1.00pm when our gathering officially ended. Yet, it was not to be.

We had just finished our corporate time of worship in song and I began to review what we had looked at last week from the Word. I then had someone read the main Scripture text for that day’s message (Matthew 5:13-16). After it was read, I immediately felt a vibration in my pocket. I announced to all, ‘This could be my wife. I told her she could text me at any point this morning.’

When I pulled out my phone and looked at it, I saw that there were two messages. I thought that was a bit odd. But I also know that if a message is too lengthy, it will come as two text messages. So I thought maybe it was a longer text. But then I knew Cat wouldn’t be sending long love letters via mobile phone. Thus, I was a little perplexed.

I opened the first text, it said: ‘You might need to come back.’

I opened the second text, it said: ‘Come back.’

The first text had come five minutes earlier, but I had only felt the vibration on the second text, which was the one that really mattered. Praise God I felt the second text. [Scott begins to hide from all other women and close his ears to any harsh words that would be sent my way…]. He was in control.

I, thus, realised I needed to go. But I kind of stood there like a deer in headlights. I froze. I knew I needed to go, but I was also trying to think if there was anything I needed to grab before I left. Is there anything important in this building that I desperately needed to bring with me, I though to myself?

In that minute of ‘hesitation’, a few people started to say, ‘Scott, you should go.’ And I even think my friend, Pieter Bester, stood up and was about to offer to go get Cat for me. I will ask Pieter later. Again, I knew I needed to head out, but I was just slightly overwhelmed.

As I began to make my exit one of the ladies in our congregation said, ‘You might want to call Cat and let her know you are on the way.’ I was going to do so, but I still kept going through my mind about things I needed to get from the church building before heading out.

Thus, after grabbing all that I could possibly remember, I headed out the door and phoned Cat to say I would be there in 5 minutes. Thankfully the church building is not far from our home. When I arrived, I headed up the stairs to our third floor apartment. As I entered through the door, Cat was in the midst of one of the painful labour contractions.

Now to recap what had happened before I returned home:

As I said, Cat felt she would probably give birth on that day, Sunday. So she began to do a little more ‘nesting’ around the house, which consisted of hanging some pictures in the nursery room and getting a few final things together. [Again, Scott ducks any harsh comments coming his way…]. Hey, it wasn’t my fault she was hanging pictures. Anyways, moving on…

One of the things we learned in our birthing classes is that, if the woman thinks that contractions are starting, she should take a warm bath. If they are pseudo-contractions, they will most likely slow down or stop. But if they are the real thing, then it will only speed up the process. Therefore, at 11.00am, Cat decided to take a bath. She said she could have stayed in the bath forever.

After a long soothing bath, Cat stepped out of the bath and that is when the heavy labour contractions began to come with full force. They went from mild discomfort every 10 minutes to painful contractions every 6 minutes. This is when the two text messages came to my mobile phone. And now we have have returned from the flashback…

Thus, as I headed upstairs and entered our apartment, Cat was in the midst of one of the really painful contractions. So, of course I knew we needed to head to the hospital immediately.

I began to pack the car with about three trips up and down the stairs grabbing our bag, the baby’s bag, the car seat, pillows, dressing gown (bath robe), portable fan (no air conditioning in Europe), couches, beds, refrigerator, etc. Ok, maybe not the couches, beds and refrigerator. But everything else.

In the midst of my trips up and down the stairs I would also stop every few minutes to help Cat through the contractions. For dads to be, one of the more valuable things we learned in the birthing classes is that it is very helpful to massage the lower back of your wife during contractions. That is where most of the pain comes, or at least for Cat it was. We were also encouraged to describe pictures for our wives to imagine. For example, this would be like imagining that she was blowing the seeds off a dandelion with each deep breath in and out, or climbing the rung of a ladder, or taking a swimming stroke. This would help distract them during the 45-60 seconds per contraction. If you just deal with the pain, the 45-60 seconds can feel like an eternity. So, it was very useful in describing these pictures to help them through each painful contraction.

By the time we got in the car it was just before 1.00pm. I knew the drive would be the hard part because, 1) we did not live very close to the hospital and 2) though I was in the car with Cat, I knew I could not massage her lower back during contractions. But the grace of God was ever-present with during those 6 or 7 contractions in the car. Cat was amazing through the whole car ride.

Remember those pictures I was talking about. Well one of those pictures was of a ladder. Once I told her to imagine that every time she took a step up a ladder rung, she was inching ever close to entering Narnia. Thus, with each step upwards she could see Peter, Edmund, Susan, Lucy, Aslan, Mr & Mrs Beaver, etc. Cat’s desire was that I read through one of the books from The Chronicles of Narnia during labour, all in an attempt to keep her mind off the whole labour process. But because the labour was so quick, we didn’t get to read anything (and I had chosen The Magician’s Nephew). So this was a small supplement.

We finally arrived at the hospital at 1.20pm. I pulled into that nice, close handicapped parking space and we slowly crawled out of the car and entered the building. We, then, made our way up to the delivery ward. By the time we entered into one of the rooms, Cat was already 8cm dilated (for those who don’t know, 10cm dilation is the goal). So they decided to immediately wheel her over to a delivery room.

Within minutes her water had broken and she was ready to push. Incredibly, she only had to push through about three contractions and, then, Caleb Benjamin Lencke was born to the world at 2.07pm on Sunday, 21 June 2009. I suppose it wasn’t the shortest labour that anyone has ever gone through, but I can assure you it was so short we didn’t even have much time to think. And I think most others will agree it was a short labour. We only saw the doctor in the delivery room for 15 minutes, and the two midwives were not really even having to coach Cat along. It was all just happening as it should and very quickly.

That pretty much sums up the delivery day for Cat and I. Wow, to experience the birth of your first child is one of the absolute great moments of your life. Each differing woman has a different experience with each birth, and even different experiences amongst differing children. But, in all, we are very grateful for the overall healthy pregnancy and birthing process from the past nine months. We have known God’s presence through it all.

Cat and Caleb are doing very well now. They both are very healthy and, though most people stay about 5 days in the hospital, we expect to head home tomorrow after only 3 days. But we shall see. There is no rush. But we are so thankful for good health for the mommy and baby boy. Oh, and the dad isn’t doing too bad either.

It has been amazing just getting to know our little one the past few days. He is really ours. We don’t have to give him back this time. I know some will remind us that we will want to give him back at times, and I am sure that is true. But I know we are enjoying this little one more and more. And I want this love to grow deeper and deeper. As I would suppose all dads and moms would testify to, this has been an incredible experience that has been imprinted upon our hearts for the rest of our lives.

He has been with us!

Love to you all,
Scott & Cat

A Father To Be

Well, it is official. In exactly two weeks our son is scheduled to be born. He will be our first child. Yep, first one. Of course we cannot begin to fully fathom what this all entails. Nevertheless, Cat and I are immensely excited to share in this journey together with our new son.

Overall, the pregnancy has been a very good and healthy one. A few days of morning sickness in the first trimester, a few days of extra tiredness throughout, but that is really the only difficulties we have had throughout the pregnancy. Now at 38 weeks, it’s really just preparing the last few things before he comes.

We have joked about the fact that if our son is anything like his dad, he will be born early. But if he is anything like his mom (or mum), he will come late. I’m punctual and Cat isn’t so much. But she is way over me in just about every other area of life. So we are thinking, or hoping, it might all even out with him being born on his actual due date, 1 July. I know it really doesn’t work like that, but it is funny to consider such.

The nickname my mother-in-law has given our son has been ‘Brussel Sprout’. This all comes from the fact that we live in Brussels, hence the name, Brussel Sprout. It’s been kind of a joke, and my dad now loves the name, but someone actually did buy us a baby outfit with those words on the front. I guess babies are made to wear cute little things like that. Maybe I should find a matching shirt for the father – Brussel Pop.

As for a real name, we finally decided on this a couple of months back. Oddly enough, we always had a girl’s name in mind. But when we found out we were having a boy, we had to do some serious soul searching. Not really. It wasn’t much stress. But I was surprised that we could so easily come up with a girl’s name but not a boy’s. Nevertheless, we have settled on a name, but it shall only be revealed after he is born. And this has not been fun for the grandparents, or at least on my side of the family. [Insert big smile!]

The baby furniture has now been constructed, albeit one chair for rocking and feeding. But that should take 30-45 minutes, as it is from IKEA. My wife has slowly been putting away the loads of clothes, diapers (nappies) and other various assorted baby items. Actually, I think we have enough diapers and wipes to last through four children! Or maybe I could start a side business. Yeah, I know, I will need them all in just the first few weeks. Anyways…

As for visits from family, Cat’s mum and sister arrive 6 days after the due date. Her sister will only be able to stay a week, but her mum will be able to stay for approximately four weeks. Then, my parents shall be arriving on 15 July, though flying out from the US on the 14th. Flying through seven time zones will make time kind of disappear. As with Cat’s sister, my dad can only stay for one week, but my mum will be able to stay for about three and a half weeks. Thus, by the combined powers of the mum’s (or grandmothers), we shall have two lovely people here to bless us and support us while we try and catch up on sleep here and there. (I can hear the jokes about sleep right now.)

Of course, if my son is anything like his father, he will have no problems sleeping. Come on, son. I know it’s your destiny!

So, I am sure we shall post pictures soon after the birth. So keep your eye on this space.

Much love to all of our friends and family.