On Aug. 31, Caroline Greb ’21 and Julia Salloum ’21 both welcomed their firstborn children into the world.
“We had joked so often about giving birth on the same day,” Salloum said. “It was both hilarious but unsurprising when it actually happened.”
Greb gave birth at 2:56 a.m., and Salloum gave birth at 9:01 p.m.
Greb and her husband, Ethan, named their daughter Thea Caroline Greb. Thea comes from the names Dorothea, literally translated to “gift of God,” and Alethea, which means “truth.”
“Thea’s life is a testament to these names,” Caroline said.
Early on in her pregnancy, Caroline had two emergency surgeries at only 12 weeks, the first removing a twisted ovary and the second untwisting the other ovary. When it was time to have the baby, Caroline had a Caesarean section to deliver Thea. Regardless of these trials, the Grebs say they see their journey as a complete gift.
“We pray she will always be guided by the truth of Christ,” Caroline said.
Though Caroline described childbirth as a marathon of pain, she was still in awe of the beauty of the presence of Christ in birth.
“It is wild how your body just instinctively knows what to do,” Caroline said.
Ethan reminisced on how giving birth is much different than in the movies.
“It was kind of a hilarious first meeting with our daughter,” Ethan said. “Hollywood does a very bad job of showing what babies look like when they’re born. They’re purple, bruised, and their heads are funny shapes. But when I saw her, I was able to put a face to all the kicks and movements we felt the past nine months.”
Both Caroline and Ethan have been learning every step of the way, and have even been surprised by what they’ve learned as a mother and father.
“I think I expected to feel like my whole self would change with a new identity,” Caroline said. “But instead it is more like my self has grown and a whole other human just became an extension of me. It’s surprised me how simultaneously normal and abnormal it feels to have a little infant laying around the house.”
The pair has loved stepping into their new role as parents and have both learned so much in a matter of weeks, they said.
“It’s hard to explain, but I just love looking at my daughter and working as a team with my wife to take care of her,” Ethan said.
Salloum named her daughter Penelope Jane Salloum-Smith.
“I’ve always loved the name Penelope because of its versatility, and Jane felt like a smooth accompaniment to that,” Salloum said. “While only time will tell what fits her best, she could go by Penelope, Penny, Poppy, or even PJ.”
Salloum said that giving birth took an immense amount of focus and determination, but when she saw Penelope for the first time, she experienced a rollercoaster of emotions.
“There’s this indescribable feeling of joy and disbelief,” Salloum said. “In a matter of moments, I went from the most intense pain and screaming of my life to sobbing with joy once Penelope was put on my chest. It was unbelievable to actually see this little person who spent the past nine-plus months living and growing inside of me.”
Since having Penelope, Salloum has not experienced a single full night of sleep, but said she wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“Motherhood is truly the exemplification of dying to oneself, and it’s a process,” Salloum said.
Both Salloum and Greb agreed that the hardest part about having a baby is completely flipping their schedules around to meet the immediate needs of their daughters. Both constantly work to change their babies’ diapers, feed them, and change their diapers again.
“Every aspect of my life is dictated by her needs,” Salloum said. “It’s incredibly beautiful, but it is genuinely hard.”
Although they have been taking care of a whole other person, they also have been battling the feelings of unproductivity in this new lifestyle.
“At the end of some days now, I find myself thinking, ‘I didn’t do anything today,’ when in reality I have cared for, nurtured, and fed another human being with a soul,” Greb said. “Your normal is going to look a whole lot different now.”
The Grebs and Salloum both felt that they aren’t prepared to give advice to new families since they just had their first children, but all three of them constantly drew back to the Lord during their journeys.
“Nothing in the world can prepare you for the birth of a child,” Ethan said. “But one thing you can cling to is the faithfulness of the Lord. Constantly cover your children and spouse in prayer. Trust in the Lord with all your might and lean not on your own understanding.”