With a joyful heart and full of gratitude, the Heerfamily starts into the year 2018. We are extremely happy and also still a bit exhausted from giving birth to our beautiful and perfect daughter Hadassah.

Happy new year to all of you!

I (Suse) had so much longed to have my second delivery be natural (vbac) after Philemon was a caesarean baby with a rather difficult start into life. So we have been hoping and praying since Christmas that our sweet baby girl would decide to come a little early, before New Year’s Eve, but that was not the case. The OB/Gyn who cared for me in this pregnancy here in the US was generally open for a vbac (vaginal birth after a c-section), but he also told me that he would not take the risk that my first surgical scar tears open, which is why he would only wait until the expected due date. So January 2, 2018 was the date that we dreaded cause it was the date of the planned repeat c-section appointment. I was nervous and very emotional. Christmas came and went, New Year’s Eve came and went, New Year came and went and on the night of January 1st to January 2nd at 4am I got up, took my bag and drove to the hospital to get all the necessary medical preparations done on time for the Operation to start at 7:15am. I had very mixed feelings. The prep room was cold and sterile, and the nurse did all her routine hand jobs with medical accuracy. The spinal anesthesia worked, the OB/Gyn checked if I still felt something on my tummy and then came the cut, Philippus, who was now also in the operating room turned very pale and then everything went very quickly and the baby was there. I cried for so many reasons at the same time. After the wound has been stitched up I got to have some precious skin to skin time with my daughter for 2 hours, she immediately latched on to the source of milk and everything was just fine. We now cuddle a lot and she is very calm and content as long as she hears Mom’s heart beat. A healthy beautiful girl makes us a family of 4.

Choosing the name for this tiny little miracle, was no easy task. It was clear from the beginning that we would wait until we saw her before choosing her name. That’s how we did it with Philemon and it was the right thing to do. However, we already had a few names picked as possible candidates on a list of favorites, yet, we could not really decide, even after she was finally here. Nothing fit in any way. We wanted to find a name with a beautiful meaning that sounds good and fits our family. But either the meaning was shallow or something else felt off.

The woman who’s in charge of the birth certificates at the hospital was already a bit tense because we still had no name, so we sat on the bed, looked at each other and then I remembered that for a long time I had a name in my heart that had not made its way on to the list because Philippus did not really like it: Hadassah. I said the name and suddenly Philippus‘ face started to glow and he enthusiastically said YES!! That’s it!

The name is from the Bible and it can be found in the book of Esther. Xerxes I was king of Persia, he ruled his kingdom from the citadel in Susa and he sought a new queen. From all over the kingdom, the most beautiful young women were brought to his palace and spent a whole year preparing for their encounter with the king, with a healthy diet and a permanent spa pampering. Esther 2:7 says: „In Susa lived a Jew who had been abducted, Mordecai was his name. He had a cousin called Hadassah, also called Esther. Her parents did not live anymore and so Mordechai had adopted her as a foster daughter. SHE WAS VERY BEAUTIFUL AND HER LIKENESS WAS PARTICULARLY GRACEFUL.“ So Hadassah was one of the girls who was being prepared as potential new queen in the palace, and in the end she is actually chosen by Xerxes. She hides her Jewish origins and now lives in the palace as Queen with the name Esther of Susa. Among the many beautiful Persian girls, the king selects the most beautiful one: Hadassah.

If you read the story further, you realize that Esther was a very courageous woman. She risks her own life to save her people from an evil plotted genocide. The name derives from the Hebrew word „Hadas“, a myrtle bush with a wonderful fragrant scent. Esther, or Hadassah, was a woman who brought justice for her people, was compassionate and was exceptionally beautiful.

All this is already some nice meaning to the name. But it goes on and gets to a personal level for us: When I was a teenager, my distant relative Renate gave me a novel called Esther. It was exactly the story of Queen Esther and I remember how Renate said to me: „If I think of Esther’s story then I have to think of you“. I have always had issues with seeing myself as beautiful and this gift, this book meant a lot to me. I also wanted to accomplish something great, like Esther, like save an entire people and risk my own life while doing so. So far, I have not done that yet, but who knows maybe I was just supposed to have a little girl named Hadassah who will do it then. (no pressure)

But it does not stop there: Philippus is currently studying the Bible here in Texas and over the Christmas holidays he had the homework to study a book in more depth. From a list of books of the Bible he was assigned the book of Esther. At first he was not so enthusiastic because it seemed like the story is read quickly and there is supposedly not so much exciting to discover in it. But the longer he researched and studied, the more excited he became. Each night he went to bed beaming because he had learned something interesting again. It was fun to watch him. This eventually led to him suddenly liking the name Hadassah. And one more perfect little detail is to say that a dear friend from the school has looked after Philemon while mom and dad were in the operating room „picking up the baby“, and guess what this friend’s name is! Exactly! Esther. We really like the name Hadassah and we think it´s beautiful no matter how unpopular or unusual it might be, for us it has a very special and personal meaning. Just like the name of our son Philemon, but that’s another story.

Thank you all for your prayers, your kind words, your good wishes and your gifts that have reached us in many different ways. We are also very grateful for enough milk, for a great support here at the YWAM Base with meals, clothes, car seats, a newly borrowed car (also an incredible and amazing story!!), diapers, and much more. We are very happy together as a family of 4. Philemon gently strokes his sister Hadassah lovingly and when she cries, he brings her a pacifier, he is a great big brother and Philippus is the best dad in the world.

Many greetings from our little family to you.