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