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
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!
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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
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).