Aliza’s Story {Now We Are Four…}

* 6 days old

::: A photo slideshow of Aliza’s entrance into the world is found at the end of this post.  It doesn’t “show” much, but (in the wise words of Lola…) “if you will be yucked out by the sight of my heavily pregnant body in a the equivalent of a small bikini, then don’t watch” :::

This is the unabridged/NON-condensed version of Aliza’s story.  I wrote it for me and for her… but I also gladly share it with you.  It’s also not exactly G-rated… so read at your own risk.

::: Monday evening, July 12, at 10:16pm, Aliza Emmanuelle was born into the world during a 2-day July thunderstorm that included tornado warnings and a next-day temp low of 7 degrees celsius.  This is how it went down…

PART ONE :: “The eviction notice”

On Sunday afternoon, I started getting some crampy braxton-hicks. They were annoying, but I didn’t think anything of them, since I’d been getting them quite often, as well as false labor that started and stopped several times in the preceding weeks. That evening we went to the tea house here in town for supper to celebrate my dad’s birthday.  Although I continued getting mild random contractions, they didn’t get regular or increase in strength, and I was able to fall asleep that night for my last night of intense heartburn, rolling over pain, and all-too-frequent bathroom trips.

We woke up Monday morning at 6am to head to the hospital to give Aliza a little “encouragement” in making her entrance to the world. She was 8 days overdue at that point, and although I really wanted to avoid induction, I decided that with the timing of my parents’ visit (having to be home at a certain point), and with my doctor planning to be away as of Thursday, I would agree to try the cervidil (prostaglandin) to get labor kick-started. (I also believed that she was pretty much ready, since I was still having mild contractions when I woke up that morning. Before they gave me the cervidil, the monitor showed that they were about 8-10 minutes apart. I was hardly noticing them, so there was a ways to go yet!).  If the Cervidil didn’t work, I was planning to go home and wait, and try the cervidil again in a few days. I was/am dead set against pitocin (there are so many risks with it), and thankfully I didn’t have to worry about convincing my doctor of that, because the cervidil worked…

I had to stick around for a few hours so they could monitor the baby after giving me the cervidil. The contractions were increasing a bit, but I still wasn’t in active labor (yet). They said I could go home or stay at the hospital. I was glad to go home where I was more comfortable and could labor in our tub.

PART TWO :: “This time it’s for real”

An hour or two after getting home, the contractions were getting more intense, and I began to suspect this was indeed the real thing (I sure hoped so!). I told Chris that I thought it was time to call Lola (my friend and doula) to come and support us. She came over around 1pm. I was craving vegetables, so I was eating some mixed veggies and a whole bunch of steamed spinach when she arrived. She mentioned later that a calcium supplement is helpful during labor (I forget why), and the steamed spinach was perfect for that. My body knew what it needed (and I listened), which I find pretty awesome.

In the first couple of hours that Lola was there, the contractions were getting more painful and intense. It was becoming obvious that this was indeed real labour, although it was still in the beginning stages, as I could still talk through them, and was coping quite well. At this point they were “inconvenient”, not overwhelming. Chris and Lola massaged my back a bit as contractions came, and when they slowed a bit, Lola encouraged me to squat down low to bring them on stronger (squatting opens your pelvis, and allows the baby to move down lower, bringing on stronger contractions), which definitely worked for me.  In between contractions we sat around and chatted, and even played a round of Wii bowling (between Chris and I), which, for the record, I won :), getting several strikes during contractions.

After a bit I decided that I wanted to get into the jacuzzi to help relieve some of the pain.  Chris brought in his ipod player, dimmed the lights, and lit candles.  It was an amazingly relaxing time, and probably my favorite part of my labour.  It was still painful, but the peace and calm of the environment allowed me to focus on each contraction as one step closer to meeting my baby. I was able to mentally prepare for the harder work ahead of me, and to “psych” myself up for it. I was battling fear and anxiety at the idea of going the entire labour and delivery without any drugs, since I had never done it before.  The worst part for me was that there were so many unknowns – how much it would hurt, how long it would last, whether there would be any complications, how I would handle the pain, IF I could handle the pain… etc. So I soaked in the warm water, listened to Jack Johnson’s mellow vibe, and closed my eyes. Lola reminded me to breathe through the contractions (oxygen-starved muscles hurt more), and Chris stayed nearby.  He was a calming, attentive, and loving presence, which was exactly what I needed him to be. Isaac came and went, splashed in the water with me, and I loved watching him, knowing that I was about to be blessed with another beautiful child to call me mama.  His precious little face grew slightly worried and unsure when I would have a contraction, and be visibly in pain. In between I reassured him that I was ok, which seemed to be taken well.  He is such a sensitive and perceptive little guy.

When the contractions started coming a bit stronger, I began to realize that it was actually progressing, and that I would in fact meet my baby soon. At this, I began to feel a bit emotional – the imminency of it all began to push those fears to the forefront, and I began to tear up.  Lola decided that this would be a good time to go to the hospital (we were trying to wait as long as we could without knowing exactly how quickly things would go, since home was much more comfortable than the hospital).

PART THREE :: “I feel like swearing”

It was about 6pm, and the contractions were only 1-2 minutes apart by this point.  When we arrived at the nursing station, the nurse looked at us, waiting for us to say why we were there.  For some reason my mind went blank, and I didn’t know what to say.  Lola said “Beth’s in labor” (uh yeah, what she said)… at which point I doubled over moaning through another contraction. At that, the nurse jumped into action.  I was shown to a room, where I would labor until I was ready to deliver.  The nurse checked my dilation then, and I was only 2 cm.  I don’t remember that bothering me, but writing it now sounds crazily discouraging.  I guess I knew that I would dilate quite quickly at the end, so it was ok.

At that point I used a birthing ball (basically a big exercise ball) to sit on, and lean into my pillows on the bed.  My back was massaged (I think by Chris, and also by Lola and my mom at times) through each contraction, and as they grew more and more intense, I grew more and more inward-focused.  I no longer could talk in between them, but laid my head down with my eyes closed to rest for a few moments before another one began.  I was aware of what was happening in the room around me, but I felt very far away – in a different world.  At some point I decided I wanted to get into the shower (only a shower stall in this hospital, not a tub, unfortunately).  So they brought the birthing ball in to the shower, and I sat on that with hot water pounding onto my back.  It felt amazing, but the contractions were really intense by this point.  I was starting to feel overwhelmed and out of control. I needed constant reminders from Lola to keep taking breaths and making low-toned noises/moanings.  Apparently when you keep your tone low, you stay more in control, and when you allow your voice to become high-pitched, it becomes easier to panic and lose control of your breathing… which was totally true for me (I never would have known this without Lola, which is reason #574 for why I *loved* having a doula… Lola = awesome).

My memory of timing, etc. gets a little fuzzy here, since I was so focused, but I think at this point it was about 8:30pm or so. The nurse checked me and I was at 6cm!  Just as I had predicted, I began to dilate quickly.  The nurse decided to move me to the delivery room.  They wheeled me down in a wheelchair (and it was only about a 20 second ride), the nurse practically jogging, trying to make it between contractions, but I still managed to have a major contraction just as we entered the delivery room. I would say that it was kinda sucky to have had to switch rooms like that, but really the pain was ridiculous, no matter what, so it didn’t really matter to me.  Once in the delivery room, I sat on a birth ball again, leaning into a stack of pillows on the bed, while being massaged.  The birth ball was really helpful for swaying my hips back and forth through each contraction. I found that helpful in getting through each one. At some point they called my doctor, who came in to the hospital just for my delivery (her holidays had started that day).  Another important part of this story is that my labor & delivery nurse (there’s one nurse for the baby, and one for the mom) happened to be my friend Jaclyn (her husband is also in the aviation program at PSMA).  When they called her (I think the L&D nurses are on call and come in when someone is in labor), she had actually just returned from her vacation just hours before.  She said that she wouldn’t have come if I hadn’t been the one in labor.  It was such a cool thing to have a friend there as my nurse, taking care of me.  I felt quite lucky to have her – she is an awesome nurse!

PART FOUR :: “Like Being Shot From a Cannon”

I was sitting on the birthing ball when I decided I had to go pee.  I immediately had a contraction as I was getting up, another on my way to the bathroom, another on the toilet, and another on my way back to the bed.  I got back onto the bed, and for a few minutes the contractions were coming a little slower.  I didn’t realize it (I was still totally internally focused), but the position I was in was allowing me a bit of a rest between contractions.  The doctor also checked me at this point (or around this time, I can’t remember exactly), and I was at 8cm.  After “resting” for a few minutes, Lola said it was probably time to change positions and get things going strong again.  I wasn’t particularly fond of this idea, until Jaclyn mentioned that staying there would only make labor last longer.  So, I moved forward on the bed, and hung on to Chris’s neck.  I had one or two more major contractions, and then a giant one… but this time it was different.  (According to my Mom, it seemed 10x more intense than any of the others, based on how I reacted to it).  At this point the nurses and doctor came over (they were on the other side of the room).  At the same time, Lola said that I needed to sit back on the bed because the baby was coming now.  So somehow I got moved back on the bed, and they saw that the head was already crowning! (Again, I dilate quickly!).

By this point, everything was happening all at once – the nurses were scrambling, the doctor was telling me to stop pushing, and they were trying to get the bed to come apart (the end of the bed comes off for delivering the baby).  Her head was out by the time they got the bed apart.  Because Aliza was coming out still in her bag of waters (being born “in caul”, which is extremely rare) I was told to stop pushing (I wasn’t even trying to push!), and Lola said “blow a balloon!”, which made a lot more sense in my head… so I blew my cheeks up, which just barely stopped my body from pushing just long enough for the doctor to break the bag of waters. Just seconds later and she was completely out.  It happened so quickly, it was a little crazy for a couple of minutes.  On top of that – she was pretty blue when she came out, for about a minute or two.  She failed her 1-minute apgar test for color.  Dr. Calhoun and the nurses were all scrambling, doing different things to try and get her to take a deep breath in order to “pink up”.  They were rubbing her back vigorously and flicking her heels, until she gave a good strong cry and started turning nicely pink, at which point everything slowed down just a little and everyone took a breath from the chaotic couple of minutes that had just occurred.  The funny thing is I hadn’t even noticed that she was blue until I heard them saying “we’ve got to get her to take a breath!”.  Then I clued in.  I was totally in another world though, not able to take my eyes off her face.  I somehow knew she was ok, and didn’t feel concerned at all.  I was just in awe of the little face that I had waited 9+ looooong months to see.  She was and is beautiful and perfect in every way.

Part of my birth plan was to have her come immediately onto my chest after birth, and stay there for a good hour or so, so that we could get properly acquainted before being separated for the first time.  Even though that’s not the traditional way it’s done in this hospital, my doctor and nurses didn’t say a word about it!  They acted as though it was totally normal, and as things settled down, the doctor even left and said she’d be back later to check Aliza, whenever we were ready.  In that time she stayed on my chest, and after a few minutes she seemed ready to nurse, so she latched on like a pro, and nursed contentedly for about 45 minutes.  The minutes turned into hours, and the hours soon turned into days, and here I sit 2 weeks later.  Time never flies as quickly as when there is a newborn baby in the house.  Her raisin (belly button cord) fell off a couple nights ago, and like the silly nostalgic that I am, it made me just a little bit sad.

As I write this (or at least, at one point in writing… since I’ve been working on this for about a week now!), I’m nursing my little babe.  The little moans and squeaks and rooting sounds as she snuggles in to me, latches on and drinks are pure music to my ears. Suck, suck, swallow, gulp… I hear the milk gurgle its way into her tiny tummy.  My mama heart is happy knowing that I alone can provide for her needs in exactly the way that God designed, and that I am giving her the best possible start in her life.  She is comforted by my smell, by simply being near me.  When she is fussing and hungry, she stops crying as soon as I am holding her, because she knows who I am, and what’s about to come. I love that I am her comfort in this world.  I am honored to be her mama.

So, I did it.  I gave birth naturally, with no drugs to get into my babe’s little body, and none to make me loopy as I met my daughter for the first time.  I experienced labor and birth, and while it was indeed the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced, it somehow transcended that.  It was otherworldly.  It was beautiful and intense and worth every single second.  Those postpartum bonding hormones are strong indeed, because I already feel like I could do it all over again for another little one.

{{ Dearest Ally,

Thanks for being you. Beautiful, lovely, you. You haven’t yet done much in your short little life (other than being born, which you were exceptionally good at), but I look forward to being your mama and watching you grow up.  Your big brother, your daddy, and I are all so glad to have you in our family.  You are so loved!




About redandhoney

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This entry was posted in Emotional Jabbering, One Heck of a Proud Mama, Rounder and Wider and Weirder... (Pregnancy). Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Aliza’s Story {Now We Are Four…}

  1. Lola says:

    I love it! so beautiful and I love the slideshow. What an awesome day!

  2. kimberley says:

    bawling. so beautiful!! good job, beth!!! and lola!! and chris!! and isaac!! and aliza!!! so amazing.

    sucks that i have to wait to see the pictures until i’m back in canada – the states have blocked it for some reason. sigh.

    can’t wait to meet her!

  3. Kmarie says:

    We met at Kristas. I love this story- I cried. Lola IS amazing= I would never have been able to do my 2 natural birth with sanity intact without her. She has an amazing gift and I am so wowed by how you pulled through too. I am always amazed by women when they birth. Each story is incredible! Congrats!

  4. Dad/Nonno says:

    This is truly amazing and incredibly well done. The Lord has blessed you with many wonderful gifts!

    Much love.

    • redandhoney says:

      thanks for commenting. it’s always nice to hear people’s thoughts in response to what I write, rather than feeling like I’m talking to no one 🙂

  5. Katrina says:

    Ok, so even I’m tearing up watching the slideshow & we know how rare crying is for me…but in my defense I am in a heightened emotional state 🙂

    I’m so proud of you! Of all of you!

    Love you all!

    • redandhoney says:

      thanks k. your defense is definitely valid 🙂 i’ve watched it like 6 times now, and have teared up each and every time so far at a certain point. postpartum hormones 🙂

  6. Dea' says:

    Hi! You don’t know me but I’m a friend of Lola’s and a former long-time resident of Three Hills and staff at Prairie. I just had to mention that I also has Jaclyn as my delivery nurse and she was SO rad! (about 2 years ago, birth of my son Jeremiah). She was about to leave on a date night or something with her husband and stayed WAY past her shift and stuck it all out with me. Very cool.
    Congrats! So awesome! I’m looking forward to posting a new birth story myself in about 10 weeks 🙂

  7. Mel says:

    Great to hear your story Beth…..awesome pics!

  8. Krista says:

    Oh Beth, you have me in tears. 🙂 What a beautiful labour story and amazing pictures. God has truly blessed you.
    And what you wrote about nursing Aliza, that’s exactly how I feel about nursing Caleb, just wasn’t quite sure how to put it in words. 🙂


  9. Krista says:

    Love it… thanks for sharing Beth. She is beautiful.

  10. Diane Trail says:

    Hi Beth,

    Great slideshow! Beautiful baby! Glad things went well and are going well. And I can’t believe you are going camping with a newborn.

    Blessings, Diane

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