Eliza’s Birth Story

Eliza Rose Tietz
Born 11:17 AM on Tuesday, December 10, 2019
8 lbs 12 oz, 20 inches

15 DAYS BEFORE

I will always remember Eliza’s birth story not just for the day, but for the two weeks leading up to the day. God used these two weeks of an emotional, spiritual, and physical roller coaster to break me down and bring me to complete and utter dependence on His power and will and not my own strength. Praise and glory be to God!

Eliza’s birth story started on Monday, November 25 shortly after my 38-week doctor’s appointment when I thought I was in labor. I had always expected to make it to Thanksgiving. Work and volunteer projects were wrapping up before then and I was looking forward to spending the holiday with family. With a due date of December 13, I always just assumed we would make it at least to December.

So when I was dilated at over a 5cm at my appointment, and my doctor asserted that she wasn’t sure how it was possible that I wasn’t in labor yet based on my dilation and enfacement, she encouraged me that as soon as I felt contractions of any kind to head into the hospital. So naturally, when about one hour later, I started counting regular contractions (the third time in the previous four days), I assumed I was in labor and started wondering how soon to head to the hospital. I sent panic texts to my boss, my mom, and my sister. My sister stopped by my house while running errands and talked me down, giving me the hard-but-needed truth that I probably wasn’t actually in labor. A few hours later as contractions came to a halt, I figured it was still only a matter of days before Eliza was ready to come. At least, that’s what my doctor told me, that’s what everyone was telling me.

14 DAYS BEFORE

I woke up the next morning about an hour before Kevin and Lydia and immediately went to sit with the Lord. My head was spinning. I was tired. I asked the Lord, where do I go from here? I prayed for God’s perfect timing and for His perfect peace. Throughout the false labor over the previous few days, instead of feeling peace, I’d felt extreme anxiety. During one round that was late at night, in the middle of a contraction behind a closed bathroom door, I begged God pleading that I wasn’t actually in labor. Then immediately after I broke down as shame filled me. Am I not ready to meet my daughter? Shouldn’t I only feel excitement and joy over the idea of being in labor? Through the false labor, my heart was exposed to so many fears I’d buried and so many things I was holding on to. I acknowledged that morning that God alone is the author of Eliza’s birth story. He alone is in control. But the work that God was doing in my heart had only just begun.

10 DAYS BEFORE

I spent a long Thanksgiving weekend actually resting, physically. After several days in a row of false labor and losing my mucus plug, any physical movement toward labor had completely halted. In wondering how I suddenly felt like I could carry my baby another several weeks, I realized that this was an answered prayer. After the confusing contractions I’d been having, I asked sisters in my community to pray for clarity. I thought the answer to this prayer would be my water breaking. Instead, the Lord answered this prayer by making it clear that this week was not His perfect timing. I spent a few days actually enjoying pregnancy as I finished up a devotional, Labor in Hope by Gloria Furman, and reflected on the way that labor and childbirth so beautifully displays the gospel and mirrors the suffering and new life of Jesus on the Cross. The word “grace” was laid on my heart to meditate on as I prepared for labor and delivery. In the midst of anticipated pain and unknowns, it was grace that I would labor with the hope of meeting my daughter! I felt as if the Lord has given me spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical preparation and rest.

6 DAYS BEFORE

With every day that passed, I was wrapping up work and Young Life activities, house projects, and Christmas shopping and decorating. I went into my 39-week appointment curious and slightly anxious — especially since it was my 39-week appointment with Lydia that I showed up at the hospital and didn’t leave until five days later, due to a medical induction! (Click here for Lydia’s Birth Story.)

Yet just as I suspected, nothing had physically changed since my previous appointment. Although I saw a different doctor, I got the same “I don’t know how you’re not in labor” and “you better hurry to the hospital as soon as contractions start.” However, the doctor offered something I didn’t expect. She offered to schedule an induction for the following week on Tuesday, December 10, the day our doctor was on call. All of her disclaimers, outside of my body being ready, were “you can cancel at any point” and “you probably won’t make it to Tuesday anyways.” Kevin and I took her advice and scheduled the induction. As we walked out to our cars in the parking lot and before rushing to get back to work, we processed briefly the option. Are we taking control into our own hands by choosing to induce before our due date? If we follow through with this, will I ever have the “experience” of going into labor naturally?

That night after putting Lydia to sleep, we sat down for the first time all day. The living room was dark except for a single strand of Christmas lights on our small Christmas tree. As we talked and prayed through the induction and dug beneath the surface of timing and logistics, I realized the truth of my hesitation around an induction and what had been holding me back from experiencing peace this entire time. As much as I “knew” how amazing it would be to meet Eliza and become a family of four, what I also saw in front of me was this season of being a family of three coming to an end. This season of having just Lydia as my only child – sweet Lydia, filled with so much laughter and joy – giving her my full attention – was now six or less days away from ending. Somehow putting an actual date on the calendar made me stop and actually process not just the transition that was coming, but the season that was ending.

I needed to grieve the current season coming to an end in the midst of the joy and anticipation of the next. I wasn’t ready to let go of this season. I was afraid of change. As Kevin picked up one of Lydia’s stuffed bears from the coffee table, we reflected on what an amazing 19 months it had been becoming parents and getting to know our girl. We both wept. Ready or not, this season, the sweetest season we’ve known on this side of heaven, was ending in a matter of days.

At this point I was already praising God for the gift of scheduling an induction. If it wasn’t for putting a date on the calendar, I’m not sure if my busy-and-achieving self would have actually stopped to process and grieve the season we were leaving behind. That night by the Christmas tree was a gift. I needed to embrace the coming change in the midst of unknowns. And those tears were oh, so needed.

5 DAYS BEFORE

Determined to soak up every last second of giving Lydia my full attention, yet another turn of events happened the next day. I had been dealing with hemorrhoids for the better half of my pregnancy, but on this Thursday, the pain started to become unbearable. I couldn’t walk or really even sit, let alone pick up my toddler or play with her without wincing in pain. I questioned God and wondered, hasn’t the emotional and spiritual roller coaster been enough? I quickly realized that God was pealing back yet another layer of my calloused heart – the physical. I had prided myself on doing a natural childbirth with Lydia. As I hoped and prepared for a natural birth with Eliza, a whole new level of fear had overcome me. How am I supposed to endure the pain of labor when I feel so weak already? During my pregnancy with Lydia, I had been able to maintain regular workouts, and I felt fit and healthy. During my pregnancy with Eliza, I could barely get through a day of chasing a toddler around and was lucky to get in a walk around the block in a week. And now this constant, piercing hemorrhoid pain had me laying on the couch for a moment of relief. What will I do if the pain level, my starting point, is already here? How will I get through this? The next layer of fear and doubt was exposed.

4 DAYS BEFORE

We made it to Friday, the end of the week, and I started to have more peace about the induction on Tuesday simply by the way this pregnancy had taken a toll on my body. Eliza was low and, labor or not, my body was ready. Yes, I was afraid of change. I was afraid of the unknown. I was afraid of the pain. I was afraid of how weak I felt. And yet, as I meditated on God’s promises, I rejoiced in truth: I am no longer a slave to fear because I am a child of God! Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t control – my ability to hold onto seasons or how I felt physically – I set my mind on God’s graciousness to me to expose my own natural tendency to rely on myself and my own strength.

I meditated on the truth of Psalm 62:11, which says “power belongs to God.” I wrote these words in my journal: In childbirth and labor, in parenting, I MUST have FAITH in God’s strength alone… in HIS power that is at work within me.

Yes, I am weak. Yes, my flesh will fail. But God’s Holy Spirit is strong in me.

I spent the next several days resting. My hemorrhoid pain slowly became manageable and I was able to soak in special moments with Lydia and Kevin. I experienced peace and joy as we moved closer to Tuesday, the day we would finally meet our daughter Eliza.

 

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10

6:20 AM

I sat down with a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal to pray. I wrote in my journal: Happy Birthday, Eliza Rose. At this point I had let go of expectations and was ready to set my heart on the Lord. I praised God for the way He had used the last two weeks to call out all the ways I doubted myself and doubted Him, and to increase my dependence on God as the source of my power and strength. The last two weeks were truly a gift. I had prayed for peace and excitement in His perfect timing, and I felt every bit of that on Tuesday morning. I meditated on Eliza Rose’s name, which means “joyful promise.” I prayed that when the doubts creep back in, whether during labor or in the weeks to come, that I would only think or look at Eliza and be redirected to remember God’s joy-filled promises!

7 AM

We dropped off Lydia at my parents’ house on the way to the hospital wearing her “Big Sister” shirt. We got to talk with her about what a special day it was because she was finally going to meet her baby sister! We hugged and kissed her goodbye and told her that we would see her later that day. Minutes later, Kevin and I walked through the doors of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, hand in hand, for our 7:30 AM induction.

8:15 AM

After meeting our nurse and getting settled in, my doctor came in to check my dilation and see if Eliza was in the proper position to break my water or if we would need to start Pitocin. My doctor shared with a smile that not only was Eliza in position, but that I was already dilated to 7cm! Immediately I started praising God again. Not simply for the head start in labor and the likelihood of not needing Pitocin, but for His provision. Had I gone into labor naturally and tried to labor at home for even 30 minutes, we might not have made it to the hospital in time. The Lord intended every step of the way and it was His will for us to plan an induction and start labor at the hospital!

My doctor broke what she called a “firm bag of water” and we agreed to wait and see how my body would naturally respond from here. Our nurse put on Eliza’s heart and contraction monitors, and Kevin and I started walking the hallways of the labor and delivery wing.

My sister Rosie arrived shortly after and we caught up on the week, laughed and made jokes, and looked at the homemade hats that they offer for every new baby. We sent text messages and marco polos to friends and family and time passed quickly.

8:55 AM

I paused mid conversation due to a contraction that was strong enough that I couldn’t walk through it. After a few more laps and higher intensity contractions, it was time to return to our hospital room. Active labor was coming soon!

9:25 AM

We continued to converse between contractions as I sat and labored on a ball. Contractions started to pick up intensity as I focused on breathing through them, swaying side-to-side. Excitement and peace rose up in me as I realized that I had naturally progressed to active labor. I mentioned to the nurse between contractions that I felt like I needed to use the restroom, but she told me that at this point any urge I felt was the urge to push, so I would need to fight through the pressure until I was fully dilated. As I commented on the pressure I was beginning to feel almost instantly in my lower back, she recommended that I switch labor positions. This confirmed a suspicion that my placenta was located in front and Eliza was low and back (no surprise given the hemorrhoids, early dilation, and other pregnancy-related aches and pains).

10:10 AM

I laid on my side with a peanut ball between my legs and immediately I felt Eliza start to move. I continued to feel intense pressure on my back, so the nurse started pushing on my lower back, and showed Rosie how to do the same. Any time a contraction came on from there, I had Kevin at my side talking me through breathing and helping me focus on the Lord and on Eliza, and Rosie pushing pressure on my back. I was able to close my eyes and relax as I could physically feel Eliza getting lower.

10:23 AM

The nurse checked me, and I had progressed to an 8-9cm and Eliza was rotating into position! While we tried to switch sides for dilation, we quickly saw that Eliza’s heart rate had decreased, so I rolled back onto my right side with the ball between my legs. I hit the highest level of pain at this point, but I remained relaxed and in control, and we started playing worship music through our Bluetooth speaker.

I meditated on the words of the songs with every contraction. Different than my previous labor that focused on attacking and embracing pain, I didn’t want to think about the pain this time around. I told Kevin to repeat the lyrics of the song to me. I mouthed the words too, when I was able. I knew that I was going to meet my daughter soon after only being in active labor for an hour. All I wanted to do at this point was worship God!

I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God…
You are constant through the trial and the change…
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble… Jesus, Jesus You silence fear…
The storm surrounding me, let it break, at Your Name…
How He loves us, oh, how He loves us…
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You never fail, and You won’t start now…
Sing like never before, O my soul, I worship Your holy Name…

10:57 AM

Despite how quickly things were progressing, I was certain now that I was feeling the urge to push. After being checked by the nurse and hearing that I was almost to 10cm, I moved positions once more and my nurse called the doctor in.

11:08 AM

My doctor, who also was with me to deliver Lydia, didn’t even check me when she walked in. She knew me as her patient and trusted me. She immediately started gowning up after hearing the report from the nurse and instructing her team that it was time to push. Within a few minutes, I moved to my back and into position to push.

11:17 AM

After only seven minutes of pushing through three contractions, Eliza Rose Tietz was born into the world and placed on my chest. I saw her and immediately started repeating “that’s my daughter, that’s my daughter, that’s my daughter…” Kevin cried at my side. I held her close as the doctor delivered the placenta and stitched a few abrasions, letting me know that I didn’t tear or need an episiotomy, like I did with Lydia. Again, I praised God. We studied our daughter over head to toe. She was beautiful. She was perfect.

12:25 PM

It wasn’t until an hour later that my tears came. Kevin left the room to greet Lydia in the hallway and carry her back inside to meet her sister. As soon as I saw Lydia, immediately the reality set in. This moment made it real. For the first time we were together as a family of four.

 

9 DAYS LATER

12.19.19

Today is my birthday. I am holding my daughter Eliza on my chest as I write this. This day marks another day I’ve been dreaming of – hopeful that by this day – my birthday – six days after her due date – that we would spend the day in our Christmas-decorated home – but most of all – with our healthy baby girl.

We are here.

Tears of joy come as I look at her and tell her that she’s everything I’ve dreamed of, and more. The nine long months of pregnancy really are done. Labor is in the past. We are on the other side, a family of four.

This is our new normal.
This is my life.
It’s simple, but it’s beautiful.

I’ve been reflecting this day on my 29 years of life. The trials that I faced in adolescence brought me on my knees before God. Ultimately this led me to a Christian community where I met my husband, the most God-fearing and loyal man I know. And through our union God orchestrated and created LIFE in Lydia Evelyn and Eliza Rose. And together, Kevin and I have the privilege of stewarding these little lives. Of raising them and teaching them and loving them. There are truly no words for the gratitude I feel. I am fighting hard to not take a day – or night – for granted. I know this may be impossible but still I will try, striving to daily surrender expectations to the Lord and open my hands in a posture of thanksgiving. 

As we reflect on the celebration of the birth of Jesus this advent season, I’m still in awe that my waiting for Eliza is over. When I stop long enough to really, truly look at her, I feel fullness of joy. In the joy of this birth, I am reminded of the ultimate joy at hand as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, into the world. God became human to dwell among us, to die for us, and to rise for us. And as it is written on the sign above Eliza’s crib, “blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her” (Luke 1:45).

any day now.

This is the first time since entering my third trimester that I’ve had the chance to sit down and write. Yet here I am, 37 weeks, 4 days. Dilated at a “5cm+.” Increased Braxton Hicks and practice labor three of the last four days. Hospital bags packed. I’m sitting in Eliza’s almost-finished nursery while Lydia sleeps. I’m sitting in here trying to process the reality that we’ve finally hit the any day now stage of pregnancy. Kevin, Lydia and my world is about to change… any day now.

It’s been a challenging last few months. This pregnancy, by far, has been worse on my body than my first. Braxton Hicks and piercing abdomen cramps wake me up at night. One night, I felt paralyzed laying on my back and couldn’t move for several minutes, panicking to tears and waking up my husband who proceeded to lift me to an upright position through piercing pain and coach me through breathing until the cramping went away. Daily I’ve been pushing through hemorrhoids, heartburn, pelvic pressure, fatigue, and not to mention seasonal colds and a teething toddler.

I’m ashamed to admit that there’ve been moments where I’ve longed for the days of not being pregnant more than the day that I will meet this precious little girl growing inside of me. It’s hard to bring attention to a child inside of me that I can’t see, and much easier to bring my attention to the discomfort I’m feeling. I remember confessing this to God one day as I clung to the words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

“We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

There have been days where I physically feel like my body is wasting away and breaking down. On the harder days, I praise God for practical truth that reminds me to

bring my attention
not to the physical
to what is seen
what is temporary,
but to the spiritual
what is unseen
what is eternal.

He promises us that our light and momentary afflictions are actually preparing us for eternal glory beyond all comparison. We may feel, emotionally or physically, the brokenness of sin in our world, but He has promised to renew our Spirit within us, every day, as we cling to Him.

And He is a God who is faithful to fulfill His good promises.

 

J O Y F U L . P R O M I S E .

Does this sub-title look familiar? If you read my post Naming Eliza Rose, you’ll recall that Eliza’s name means “joyful promise.” This has been a season of choosing joy as I cling to His promises.

About a month ago, we had the privilege of taking a family vacation to the beach for a long weekend of rest, to slow down, and treasure our last few weeks as a family of three before Eliza makes her arrival. With family help and an automatic-reply email set up for work, I fully unplugged and spent much needed quality time with the Lord through the weekend. One day while overlooking the ocean waves, I found myself in 1 Kings 8 when King Solomon dedicates the temple after the process of building it was finally complete. In a lengthy sermon, Solomon again and again echoes praises to God for fulfilling His promises. God had promised to David that his son, Solomon, would be king, and that Solomon would see the temple completed during his reign. Solomon is full of joy as he meditates on how God fulfilled this promise!

I paused from my reading and thought of my Eliza, being reminded in this story of the meaning behind her name. I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray for her, that she would have the gift of wisdom like Solomon and have eyes to see the way that God fulfills His promises. I prayed that she would know and trust fully in the joy of His promises.

I’m not one to ask for a sign much, but I felt the urge to open-handedly pray, “God, if this is from you, would Eliza move right now?”

Immediately after praying that prayer, I felt her move in my womb.

Overcome with peace and comfort, I continued to pray for her and also praise God that He felt so real in that moment. As I sat to finish 1 Kings 8, I came to verse 56:

“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. Not one word has failed of all His good promise…”

As if to just lavish me with His love, unbeknownst to me, I stumbled upon a mirror image verse of Joshua 23:14…

The verse I read the morning after we found out we were having a girl.
The verse I read while contemplating the name Eliza Rose, which means joyful promise.
The verse I wrote about in my post 3 months before this moment.
The verse that sealed her name.

“You know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.”

I sat in awe.

In an incredibly busy third trimester that included three weeks of travel, work events and deadlines, and a sprint to the end—a third trimester that has taken a beating on my body—it’s been these quiet moments of overwhelming peace, hope, and joy that have gotten me through.

 

S H E . W H O . B E L I E V E S .

As Kevin and I place the finishing touches on Eliza’s nursery, we picked out the verse that will hang above her crib. We hope that Eliza will keep this piece of art with her when she moves out of our house one day—yet even more—we hope and pray that this verse will be on her heart for all of eternity. It’s the second verse I mentioned in my previous post as we were in the process of naming Eliza. It echoes the words of Elizabeth as she greets her sister Mary, pregnant with Jesus, our Savior and Messiah, in Luke 1:45:

“Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”

The word believed will be emphasized as an encouragement that we must choose to believe, to trust, to have faith, even when the promise is yet unseen. We must choose hope and choose truth in any season of waiting. And blessed will we be on the day when we get to look back and say not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord my God promised! All have come to pass, not one of them has failed.

So here I sit.
Waiting.
Praising.
Hopeful.
Joyful.
The wait is almost over, any day now.

I am choosing to trust God’s timing, not my own, not my doctor’s, not what other people say based on my dilation or contractions or due date. God alone is the author of her birth story. In His perfect time, in His perfect will, Eliza Rose, we are ready to meet you.

Lydia’s Birth Story

9 AM MONDAY

Monday, May 14 started out just like any other day. I had a cup of coffee and sat down for my morning quiet time with the Lord. Yet instead of sitting down on our porch or in my usual spot in the living room, I told my husband Kevin I was going to go spend time in our nursery praying for Lydia. At 39 weeks pregnant, I picked up a journal that was gifted to us to record prayers and thoughts for Lydia throughout her life. This is what I wrote:

Lydia – I am 39 weeks pregnant today. I am sitting and praying for you in our finished nursery. There is a verse above your crib that reads “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.” These are words that your Daddy and I believe have been spoken by God over your life. You belong to the Lord…

Jesus – I pray for our baby girl, that labor and delivery would not be delayed but come soon! We are ready to meet our little one! I am ready to bring her home and show her the place that we’ve prepared for her! Father God – bring her safely into this world and into my arms. Thank you God for the beautiful life that she is!

When we sit and pray and spend time with God, He conforms our heart according to His will. My heart was led to pray for the first time that morning that God would no longer delay her arrival. And that, indeed, was His will.

12 PM MONDAY

After some reading, cleaning, and a workout, my husband and I were off to our 39 week doctor’s appointment chatting briefly about the week’s activities and making plans for the rest of our afternoon. Everything about our appointment was normal. We got the news that I was dilated at over 4 cm, 90% effaced, and we laughed with our doctor about wanting her to come soon!

The final thing to do was to listen to Lydia’s heart rate. We waited for the familiar sound of her heart beating through the Doppler monitor, and while we heart her heart beat, my doctor’s face changed from a smile to a look of concern. Lydia’s heart rate was low. She instructed us that she wanted us to stay for further monitoring. After about 45 minutes of monitoring Lydia’s heart rate, we found the pattern. Each time she would move, her heart rate would go up as normal but then dip down suddenly below baseline. After getting a sonogram to check a few other things, our doctor sent us over to the labor and delivery unit for further monitoring to make sure that this drop wasn’t spontaneous activity.

2 PM MONDAY

We walked into a delivery room and my stomach was strapped with two monitors – one for Lydia’s heart rate, and one to measure contractions. The nurse left us alone and Kevin and I started to pray. Kevin’s prayer, similar to my own that morning, changed suddenly according to God’s will.

Lord, let us meet our daughter today.

An hour or so later, our doctor came back in. The pattern in Lydia’s heart rate had persisted, and she didn’t feel right sending us home. She informed me that she was admitting me into the hospital for an induction. We talked through our options and our attitude changed to excitement. This is the day we had been waiting for. We were finally going to meet our daughter!

4 PM MONDAY

They immediately started me with an IV of penicillin because of my group B strep while Kevin went home to grab our pre-packed hospital bags and a few last-minute items. As soon as Kevin came back, my doctor broke my water, and labor began.

5:30 PM MONDAY

We spent the next two hours being monitored, getting and IV, texting friends and family, walking the hallways, and processing what was happening. We prayed for Lydia’s heart rate and her health. We praised God for this day. With each increasing contraction, so was the reality of labor. My sister Rosie arrived for extra support and stayed in the room throughout labor, leaving just before delivery. We came up with a code word for every time I would start to feel a contraction. After laughing at all the possible words, we established a simple one. Now. Every time Kevin would hear the word now he would put out his hand, I would grab his hand, and we would together endure the pain.

7:30 PM MONDAY

After only progressing to a 4.5 cm, we made the decision with our doctor to start Pitocin (given through an IV) to induce labor. Within 30 minutes, my contractions increased to every 2-3 minutes. Lydia’s head was lowering, my dilation started increasing, and so did the pain.

For the past 8 months, Kevin and I have had a lot of conversations about our birth plan. I am so thankful that we stayed open-minded and that we could confidently accept the induction without being disappointed. The goal was healthy Lydia, whatever it takes. Yet one important preference was to not have pain medication or an epidural. We read a book together, took a class together, and spent time preparing for what the pain of childbirth would be and how we would approach the reality of that pain. For both medical and personal reasons, we stood firm in this decision. Throughout the next five hours, the pain increased with every contraction to undoubtedly the worst continuous physical pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. Yet we never lost control and God never left our side. There were four stages of the pain from my experience, which I will process below as I continue documenting the timeline of Lydia’s birth story.

8:30 PM MONDAY

After learning I was 5 cm dilated, I decided to do a labor position on the ball. Lydia was so low that the nurse couldn’t keep the heart rate monitor on outside of my stomach. One nurse had to actually hold it on to my stomach while I was laboring. I even tried the wireless monitor so I could get in the tub, but we quickly learned that made it even more difficult for the monitor to stay on. I got the chills and was shivering head to toe and started feeling nauseous. Whatever liquids I drank since being admitted I instantly threw up. The doctor decided to insert a heart monitor from the inside that would stick on the top of Lydia’s head. This allowed the nurses to completely leave the room and monitor from outside the room. Finally we were left alone – myself, Kevin and Rosie. We turned on worship music and the rest became a dream. I wish I could remember every detail but it was so surreal. This is around the time I hit stage one:

 

D I S T R A C T I N G . T H E . P A I N .

Back to laboring on the ball, what I remember from this stage was that Kevin would tell me to “dream Lydia dreams.” I thought about meeting my daughter. I thought about taking her on walks or taking her to the pool this summer. We tried to distract my mind from the pain. This didn’t last too long, and I quickly transitioned to stage two:

 

F I G H T I N G . O F F. T H E . P A I N .

We learned in this stage that I needed to actively fight the pain mentally so that I could relax and breathe through the pain. I found myself repeating phrases that Kevin would say throughout the climax of the contraction.

The pain is temporary.
It will pass.

10:15 PM MONDAY

After being checked again, I learned that I was dilated at 6.5 cm and 100% effaced. However, Lydia had turned slightly and she needed to be face down, so my doctor suggested that I change positions. With the front of the hospital bed raised, I was on my knees, arms over the top of the bed, rhythmically swaying my hips and breathing through each contraction. After a few moments of weakness, doubting to myself and Kevin, wondering if I could do this, wondering if it was too late for the epidural, I realized that I needed to change my mindset. This brings on stage 3:

 

A T T A C K I N G . T H E . P A I N .

Perhaps it was the former athlete, competitive side of me taking over, but all of a sudden I realized that I didn’t want the pain to win. I knew that I could be in control mentally over the pain with a mind-over-body approach. I simply needed to get my mind in a place to attack the pain. I needed to not think about the many hours and contractions to come, but take it one contraction, once at a time. Our repeating phrases changed:

It’s worth it.
Joy on the other side.

Over and over, we repeated these phrases, breathing through each contraction. Kevin was my rock and didn’t leave my side from this point forward. I would say now, reach for his hand, and he would coach me through the pain, reminding me of our phrases, reminding me that it’s worth it and that there’s joy on the other side. We found our rhythm and Kevin constantly reminded me that every contraction with an increase in pain meant I was one minute closer to meeting our daughter.

11:20 PM MONDAY

All of a sudden, I started feeling the urge to push. I asked Rosie to call in the nurse, I needed to be checked. I had figured out how to attack the pain, but resisting the urge to push was an entirely new experience. After being checked again, I learned that in just the last hour, I was dilated to a 9.5 cm. (I only needed to be at a 10 cm before I could push!) I needed to endure the pain just a little bit longer while Lydia got a little bit lower. Yet at this point not only was the pain a 10/10 on the pain scale, but I was also having to resist my entire body convulsing to want to push her out of me. It’s at this point that I transitioned to stage four:

 

E M B R A C I N G . T H E . P A I N .

As we got back into our labor position, Rosie came over to read scripture. This is what she read:

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16:20-22)

I was reminded in that moment about the Cross. I was reminded about the pain that Jesus suffered on the Cross because He loved me. I wondered in that moment how Jesus was able to find joy in His pain, because He knew that there would be joy – salvation for His beloved – on the other side of the Cross. I thought about how He was empowered by love to endure the pain and suffering on our behalf – because He loves us.

Kevin had been reminding me of the gospel and the presence of God was obvious throughout labor, but in this moment I looked at Kevin. I felt completely empowered by my love for him and my love for Lydia. We had one of the most intimate moments of our marriage. I told him that I was enduring this all with joy because of my love for him and my love for Lydia. He thanked me, spoke sweetly to me, and we held each other’s gaze for several moments before the next contraction came.

These overwhelming feelings of love allowed me to embrace the pain. My final phrase became:

Joy in the pain.

12 AM TUESDAY

The doctor came in for a check, and I was 10 cm dilated. Finally, it was time to push! Kevin remembers this scene much more than I do, as I was now on my back, continually enduring contractions and resisting the urge to push until my doctor and the delivery team was suited up and ready to go. The doctor gave me the instructions on how to position my body and how to orchestrate my breathing.

Each time I would feel a contraction coming on, now, I would take a deep breath in and out. Then one deep breath in, hold, and push as hard as I possibly could for 10 seconds. Pause, repeat three times until the contraction ended.

This stage was easier because I could finally use the pain towards something, but the amount of pressure that I felt as Lydia’s head started to come out was a whole new kind of painful sensation. Not very long after, Kevin and I could both look down and see the top of our sweet Lydia’s head coming out and we could see her dark brown hair.

While worship music had been playing throughout all of labor as background music, a song came on our bluetooth speaker about halfway through pushing. Hillsong United’s Lead Me to the Cross… The song that I walked down the aisle to on our wedding day. This was the sweetest gift from the Lord and a reminder to us in that moment of His presence.

The Lord was near. I prayed more actively in this stage during breaks between contractions. I needed God’s help to show me how to relax the right muscles, hold my breath, and push the right way so I could meet my daughter sooner. Finally my doctor informed me that she could make a 1 cm incision and then I’d meet my baby. Without a doubt, I said yes.

12:39 AM TUESDAY

I don’t remember even feeling the incision because of all the pressure. All I knew was that I was determined to meet my daughter. On the very next push, my doctor had to yell at me to stop pushing because my daughter was arriving! The next thing I knew I heard Lydia’s cry and she was immediately placed on my chest. I started repeating a different phrase in that moment, over and over:

My baby, my baby, my baby…

Kevin started crying as he came close. Whatever else followed – delivering the placenta, getting stitched from the incision, the emptying of fluids – nothing else mattered because I was holding my daughter. She stopped crying when she felt the warmth of my chest. I saw her eyes and I studied her from head to toe.

2 AM TUESDAY

After our family bonding time, they weighed her, measured her, and my sister and parents came into the room to meet Lydia. Then I was able to get up, use the bathroom on my own, and walk myself to the room down the hall next to my husband who was pushing our daughter in her hospital bassinet. I enjoyed the benefits of the quick recovery of natural childbirth, and we received compliments from doctors and nurses commenting on Lydia’s liveliness, their shock that I never once screamed or lost control, and commenting on Kevin’s steady and attentive presence.

.

Yes, the pain was worth it.
Immediately the pain of childbirth was forgotten.
Love, joy and relief washed over me.
Our daughter was here.

Lydia Evelyn Tietz
Born 12:39 AM on Tuesday, May 15, 2018
8 lbs 7 oz, 21 inches