Aria, this is your birth story.
Aria! Everything about you has changed my life. Your birth story is another miracle that will always point to God’s never- ending -never going to run out- love for us.
You’re due date….
Your Daddy and I were so excited when March rolled around because we knew it marked the countdown to you finally being in our arms. We could not wait! Your due date was assumed to be around March 8th. Some of our friends had told us throughout my pregnancy with you; first babies seldom come around the due date and are usually late. So for Mommy, I knew that this day was a marker and that there were no more than two weeks before I got to see your sweet face. I was willing to wait for you to be born when you were ready, and wasn’t concerned with a late birth because I had read so many amazing stories of women who birthed healthy beautiful babies who were late. I exercised more and stayed as calm as possible. I went on walks with Daddy, friends & even alone to help encourage the process of your birth to come. My favorite place to walk was down the boardwalk of Mission Beach – being near the ocean reminded me to trust God with you and with your birth.
One week past….
At my 41 week doctor’s appointment, my midwife said that she would need to schedule me for an induction if labor did not start by week 42. Your heart was strong and 100% healthy from all of the testing that they did. She still voiced concern & she scheduled an induction for the following Monday night at 10 pm. I went home feeling a little discouraged, and feeling like we needed to do everything we could to get you on your way. Our sweet friends Brent & Lizbeth helped us by performing acupuncture on me twice that week and also encouraging me to go unplugged for the rest of the week. So I turned over my phone to Daddy and spent time doing things that made me feel relaxed. I spent time soaking in the sweet moments that I could feel you hiccup and move inside my belly. But I still couldn’t shake the stress.
God really spoke to Mommy during that week – I was reminded of the story of Jesus & the storm. The story is about how Jesus and his disciples were on a boat crossing the sea & all of a sudden there is a chaotic storm. The disciples were so afraid they thought they were going to be overtaken by the storm, so they ran to find Jesus. When they found him he was sleeping serenely in the boat as the storm raged on. As they woke him in their panic he didn’t become frustrated or shocked by their fear. He simply got up and called out to the storm “Be Still”. And suddenly the waves calmed. I felt like all of the waiting and everyone’s loving but weighty opinions and concerns were sweeping me up into a storm of anxiety and unrest. What I really needed was for Jesus to come and calm the storm in my heart and around me. I needed him now more than ever. As I focused all that week on the truth that he was able to calm any storm I face. Stress started to fade away.
On Sunday, Daddy and I headed to the beach to walk and I was so happy as we did. The worry and stress that I had felt wasn’t even present and I enjoyed some alone time with Daddy. We knew that you would be born this week no matter what. And we were so excited. I was exactly 42 weeks when your labor started – it was Monday March 21st at 12:03 am.
When we timed the contractions and realized that they were the real thing-I got so excited! I knew that I should try and sleep so I did. I woke up each time a contraction would come and Daddy, who’s a light sleeper, would wake up with me, rub my back and then we’d fall back asleep.
It was morning time when Daddy text Kashema, Gramma and Auntie Jacque. Kashema came over and helped Daddy & me as I labored all day at home. We played the play lists I had made for your birth and as the songs played, I danced and sang in between (and sometimes through) contractions. Kashema helped me sway and move my body so that your labor would go as smoothly as possible. She showed Daddy the best technique to help encourage the contractions to come.
That night Brent and Lizbeth came over to help move things along with some more acupuncture—I could feel the contractions intensifying. During one of my contractions, Lizbeth held my hand and spoke words of peace over me. She told me to embrace the contraction—and to breathe through it, to be aware of my body trying to tense and instead relax. I tried my best and as I did instead of the electric shock I felt pulsing through my body it felt instead like a warm wave rushing over me. As night came I tried my hardest to sleep and ended up falling asleep on my big birthing ball in between contractions. I felt the most relief when I was cradled over the ball or pillows.
The next day….
Tuesday March 22nd came so we called the hospital because it had been 24 hours of labor and we wanted to know how you were doing. They told us to come on in so Daddy loaded up everything we needed into our car and drove us up the street to the hospital. He was very careful and drove very considerately, holding my hand through contractions on the way there. When we got to the hospital, a nice woman offered to push me upstairs in a wheelchair. I was happy to receive the help, but had to stand up each time a contraction would come. We finally made it upstairs and Daddy met me where the check-in was. Once we were situated in our room, we got to hear your heartbeat and you were doing just perfectly. The midwife came in to tell us about your heartbeat and to check my cervix to see how far along we were in dilation. As she checked, I felt a swoosh come out like I had just pee’d myself. That meant that my water broke.
The nurse looked up in surprise – we all were a little surprised she said that it was a “spontaneous rupture that sometimes happens when they check.” We kind of knew that it was something she did to try and induce me and speed your labor along. Nonetheless, we were all hopeful and excited that we would get to meet you soon. I looked at the clock it was around 6 pm, and told you (inside my mind) that we could do this. I was certain that you would be in my arms by the next morning.
In the hospital.….
Once my water broke, they required that we be admitted to the hospital. Daddy and I were very thankful that we prepared everything we needed in the event that we needed to stay. We packed so much stuff! Haha, but in the end we were thankful that we had so much with us.
Kashema and Daddy went to work making the hospital room feel more like home—(see Mommy doesn’t like hospitals and I knew that it would be hard for me to relax while we were there.) By the time Kashema and Daddy were done, music was playing, it was dim, the atmosphere was calm and I started to relax and let myself fall into the rhythm of labor.
I could feel you moving down more on my pelvis as the contractions were growing more and more intense. Daddy and Kashema helped me move my body in good motions to keep me relaxed ride the waves of the contractions. Most of the time it felt really good for me to drop my body into low squat position when I would feel the rush coming on so they tied a rebozo scarf in a knot and closed the bathroom door so that I could hold on and drop all my weight into a squat when I got swept up in the contractions.
After a while, I got a little stir crazy being in the same room so we decided to go for a walk. We walked the hall of the labor and delivery while and would stop to sway or move through the contractions. While we walked Grandpa Tim & Grandma Shirley ran into us as they checked in – I couldn’t really talk to them and vaguely remember saying something to them. At one point as we were walking I heard another mama asking for pain medication really loudly. I tried to tune her out as best as I could – reminding myself that even though I wasn’t in control of the process of labor –I could rest assured in the one who was & like Jesus on the boat that rocked to and fro, could be so unafraid that I could REST in the middle of it.
As time went on I began to zone out and I loved having the music play non-stop, though I had finally reached the point of not being able to really sing a long. I have such beautiful vivid memories of Kashema and Daddy singing along to the worship songs that played over me. When I think back – this was my favorite part of laboring. I remember swaying and leaning my weight on Kashema's shoulders through contractions and hearing the song "No longer slaves" play. A line in the song grabbed me as I heard it playing "From my mother's womb, you have chosen me - Love has called my name." These words resonated so deeply within me as I labored and I felt like I could just soak in the contractions knowing that it meant that my body knew it was destined to birth you. God's presence was so evident to me, I smiled coming through the contraction and was filled with so much joy.
Time seemed to be frozen (but I knew it was passing quickly.) It was now night time and everyone was so exhausted. Daddy and Kash tried sleeping when they could; they had been up with me for going on three days. In the middle of the night I tried sleeping though the contractions and would be woken up by them so quickly that it seemed like I wasn’t able to sleep at all. Daddy and Kashema took turns holding my hand and reassuring me. I definitely felt the weakest at this point. I remember crying to them to not leave me alone—and Kash gently telling me “Sophia, I need only 10 minutes of sleep, I promise I’m right here – you are not alone.”
The midwife came in and wanted to check on my status. Since being checked into the hospital there already had been a shift change in midwives. Both checked my cervix and I had asked for them to disclose how far dilated I was to Daddy and Kash. The one who was with me during the night was at first very supportive and as time kept on (as her shift was about to end) she said that she thought that we needed to try adding pitocin to the equation to help my labor along. I had read so many things about pitocin – (a drug that mimics oxytocin, the hormone naturally released through contractions during labor.) I knew already that I didn’t want it but in the middle of the night I did not have the strength or patience to tell her “No.” I remember lying in bed on my side after she had checked me, drowsily moving through contractions as I was holding her hand, falling asleep between them, being face to face with her when I woke up and her asking me if they could give me pitocin. When I didn’t respond she didn’t go away like I had hoped she would, instead she kept asking me and at one point I saw clear frustration on her face. It felt like she was being so impatient and I just couldn’t understand why. My baby’s heartbeat was strong. She was in no distress. I was moving through my contractions and I had only been stalled in my dilation for a few hours at this point. Still she stressed that I needed to decide and that she wouldn’t be able to help me soon because her shift was ending. Kash kicked Daddy who was asleep at the foot of the bed so that he could move the nurse out from being in the front of my face. When she finally left Kashema told me that if I didn’t want pitocin I needed to say no firmly, or they’ll just keep asking me.
The next day…
Through the morning and afternoon I felt refreshed and ready to continue on in labor. I was confident that God was taking care of us. Auntie Jacque was in and out of the room and Gramma came in for a few to speak encouragement over me. She also brought Daddy & Kashema some food. Through the contractions I was almost completely zoned out or in “labor land”. One of the things that helped me not tense up or fight the flow of the contractions was to imagine that I was surfing. When I felt a rush coming on I would paddle out past the waves and to a buoy where you were, place you on my board and paddle hard to ride the waves back in to shore. During one of the rushes I was sitting on the toilet in the bathroom with Daddy and as he held me up I closed my eyes and paddled my arms like I was surfing.
At this point in labor it was getting hard for me to sit back on my butt. My favorite positions to be in were the birth ball and lying over the bed as it was fully inclined up. I fell asleep on the birthing ball with my face buried on pillows at the foot of the bed as Kash sat in front of me and Daddy rubbed my lower back. The midwife who was on shift for that day was one that I was hoping I wouldn’t have during my labor with you. I remember going home in tears after my 40 week appointment with her trying to understand why she was trying to push an induction on me when I still had time before there was any reason for concern. She had said that she thought you were going to be a “really big baby” and that I shouldn’t feel bad if I was done being pregnant and just wanted you to be born. I DID want you to be born – but I wanted more than anything to wait for you. When I found out she was going to be with us I looked at Kash and Daddy and they reassured me it was going to be alright. When she came in to check me, I asked her to not disclose how far along I was in dilation. She didn’t give me a number but looked up at me with concern and said that there were things that we could do for me to make me more relaxed & to encourage labor when it was stalled. Pitocin was suggested – but we were given a few hours to decide. Kashema asked her if she thought that the lack of progression was due to your position. She responded that there was no way for her to tell.
We used those few hours to do everything we could to help you naturally. When she came back in we decided to give pitocin a shot but to make sure that it was the lowest dose possible and that we could allow my body to dictate whether we would keep me on it. Once the pitocin doses kicked in things intensified but I was able to ride the waves that were coming without anything else. Daddy suggested we get in the water. So we tried to shower in the small shower attached to the room we were in. Daddy spent most of the time in pitch black dark with me – the water hitting my back sitting on a chair that took up the whole space –and holding me from halfway in halfway out of the shower freezing but holding me and reassuring me as I was moving through the rushes. He decided to bathe me while we were in there and that was the first time in our marriage where either of us took care of each other to that extent. (He washed my butt) –it meant the world to me, because this is how I saw my Mommy and Daddy love and serve each other when I was growing up; (taking care of each other when they were at their most vulnerable and weakest). I cried to him in the shower. I let him know how discouraged I was. When we walked out of the shower and into the hospital room – Daddy heard a song playing “I could be safe here in your arms and never leave home and never let these walls down… but you have called me higher, you have called me deeper and I’ll go where you will lead me Lord.” He sang the words over me and spoke them out loud into that moment reminding me of how appropriate a reminder it was. God was calling us in deeper.
I sat back on the birthing ball and Kash sat in front of me again. She read scripture over me and showed me photos from her birth – empowering me to know that my body was made for this. I rode the waves. Auntie Jacque took her spot when she needed to step out and Daddy took some time to sleep a little. I held Auntie Jacque’s hands as things intensified. Still I rode the waves. Then things started to intensify too quickly – before I could get a good grip on where I was I could see the pitocin dose rising. I tried my best to breathe through them but it was escalating too fast and I became afraid of the rushes instead of excited for them. I looked at Auntie Jacque and told her adamantly I didn’t have it. She looked back at me and told me how strong I was and that I could do it. I woke Daddy up and he said the same thing. A slow panic started to arise inside me. I didn’t have it. I couldn’t do it. These were what rang in my mind. Soon Kash came back and I looked at her – she watched the clock to see how fast my contractions were coming and she was my voice to tell the nurse to stop increasing the pitocin. After that, they needed to re-hydrate my body so I was put on an IV. My contractions had sometimes lasted for almost five minutes – it felt like I was making progress.
Night came and the midwife checked me an hour before her shift was going to end my cervix hadn’t dilated anymore. I had been stuck at 6.5 centimeters for almost 24 hours.
I was so discouraged.
I looked at Kash. I looked at Daddy.
I saw no way for me to continue to labor.
I was exhausted and I didn’t understand why things were not progressing.
Again Kashema asked if it was your position. We were given more options to aide in pain relief and it was heavily suggested that THAT was the reason why I wasn’t progressing—so we were given time to decide if we wanted to pursue an epidural and see if the pitocin on a higher dose would help. Daddy and I were given the opportunity to go to a better bigger shower from a kind nurse who was attending us. Kashema encouraged me to lay it all out there with Daddy and hold nothing back.
We went in shower and I wept on Daddy’s chest. I told him everything that I was feeling. How discouraged I felt. All the pressure I felt from the nurses and midwives. How I didn’t understand and was so frustrated with God. What was he doing? Why wasn’t this working? I just wanted the very best for my baby girl and weren’t we pursuing that? I told him how I felt like if I opted for the epidural I would have failed—and that I didn’t want you to have ANY drugs in your system when you were born because of my own birth story. I was born in that very hospital—and my Mom was on the streets before having me, and I was always told that I was born a drug baby who ended up in the NICU for the first month of my life separated from her. As I cried on Daddy’s chest I realized that I had been holding onto that fear and released it. I was ok with getting the epidural and hoped that if anything it would help me sleep for a while so that I could finish labor with you strong.
The Home Stretch….
When we got back to the room we let the team know that we would go ahead and proceed with the epidural & pitocin plan. They seemed happy and got someone to come in right away. Kash came back and we were prepared to continue labor once the epidural kicked in. Once it was set –only about 30 minutes went by before the midwife came in to introduce the next midwife on shift. She introduced herself and then told us that she was going to have to bring in the Labor and Delivery team who were going to tell me that they would need to perform a C-section.
My heart fell to the floor.
I began to weep.
Daddy held onto my hand tightly as I wept and cried out angrily to God. The midwife in front of me tried to console me and Kash held onto my legs. Daddy got on the bed and hovered over me so that he could see my face. He told me that it was going to be alright—and that if this is the way that he gets to keep both me and his baby girl then this is the way we are going to do it. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it.
Your heartbeat was so strong.
You showed no signs of distress.
I had a healthy pregnancy with you.
Why this way?
This is the one way that I did not even prepare for because it just wasn’t going to happen to me.
I felt like I had failed.
I felt like my body was broken.
The midwife explained that because my water had been broken now for 24 hours that they were concerned for your well-being and told me that you were at risk for infection. When the OBGYN came in I recognized her. Daddy and I had met her on a trip to the ER during pregnancy for swelling in my right leg. She wasn’t even who we were supposed to see that night but took care of us because the midwife on duty was attending a birth. I felt very reassured by God that he was still working things for my good.
She explained that they didn’t want to risk anything at this point and that I had done an amazing job. She reassured me that we would find out what was wrong.
I was a nervous wreck. A million thoughts were running through my head. I had never had major surgery before let alone something this intense. I thought that I was going to die. Daddy felt very similarly to me, but held his head high and was my rock –reminding me that no matter what I had nothing to fear. Grandpa Pickles came in just before this to say goodbye to me and kissed me on the forehead. I felt strong knowing that I had family around me. They came in to prep us for surgery and Kashema hugged me and left, telling me that the next time she saw me I would be holding my sweet girl in my arms. They had to take me into the OR first and Daddy was sent to a waiting room alone. This is where he started to feel weak, but God gave him strength.
In the OR I had to press into not being afraid. Tears were falling from my face but I was anticipating meeting you for the first time. I imagined what you would look like and how your little hands would feel in mine. The nurses and entire medical team reassured me as they set everything up. The anesthesiologist was the one person I saw consistently as he stood over me while everyone else prepped everything. He had kind eyes and when my body started shaking from the medication that they had given me, he held my arms. Once everyone set everything up, the surgeon came in and I was so scared because Daddy wasn’t in the room yet. I didn’t want you to be born without Daddy. As soon as I could blink Daddy was standing over me and nestled his cheek up against mine. I looked in his eyes and with tears pouring down I told him how much I loved him and how incredible it was being his wife. Tears welled up in his eyes and he reassured me and told me how much he loved me. The midwife who came in to tell me about the c-section was with us and used Daddy’s camera to take pictures of everything.
Daddy held my hand.
It was time for you to be born.
When they made the incision I could feel them moving things around inside me. They reached in to pull you out, and I could feel that they needed to tug and maneuver to pull you up from the birth canal. The OBGYN who came in was assisting the surgeon and shouted out “There is nothing wrong with your body Mama!” Later on she would come to the recovery room to follow-up and share the reasons why she believed labor had stalled. You were in what they call "sunny-side up position", your tummy was facing my tummy and your back was up against my back. You were a big baby, but she reassured me that my body was built to accomodate birthing a baby of your size. She also spoke words of healing over me saying that I could go into my next pregnancy and plan to successfully delivery vaginally (VBAC).
Soon your little head was pulled up and out of the opening and as you came out you POOPED all over their operating table, while letting out the sweetest most beautiful first cry!
When I heard you my heart melted.
Daddy saw you come through the opening but I couldn’t see you.
All I wanted was to see you.
They took you over to the bassinet to clean you up and I SAW YOU! I cried tears of joy and could barely cry out that’s my baby girl. You were crying so I called out to you to reassure you and you heard my voice. As you heard me talking to you, you turned your little head in my direction and my heart exploded into a million pieces and I started crying all over again because you knew me. They wrapped you up in a little blanket and Daddy got to hold you first. He brought you over to me and nestled your cheek to mine. I kissed your sweet face and told you how much I loved you.
Daddy kept holding you because the medication that I had been given made me pass out while they were sewing me back up. Daddy took this opportunity to take a selfie with you. I woke up shortly after and it was time for us to be wheeled over to recovery. The OBGYN who had been with us the whole time, told me to pull down my hospital gown and placed you on my chest, skin to skin. Daddy, who had left to give our placenta to a friend, was so happy to find us together in the recovery room snuggling. He left thinking that he was going to come back to a very different scene. When he went out to give the placenta, he saw that our family had stayed in the waiting room while you were born!
Everyone couldn’t wait to meet you, so we let each of them come in and see you. Daddy and I just couldn’t stop staring at you. I had never felt such deep and beautiful love until you were placed in my arms.
Daddy and I looked at each other with more love in our hearts than we ever dreamed possible.
We were together.
We were a family.
Our little family.
You were born on March 23rd 2016 at 10:21 pm via c-section. You weighed 9 lbs 8 oz and measured 19.68 inches long.
Aria, I know that your birth story isn’t as serene and easy as some other beautiful birth stories.
In my desire to give you the best of everything I wanted so badly for your birth to not be chaotic.
But it was.
It was filled with wave after wave of what seemed to be obstacles.
It was overwhelming and did not look like anything I imagined it would.
But it was beautiful and wild.
Much like the ocean raging during a storm.
I found peace and moments of calm in the storm.
Your birth points to the master of the waves. He gets the glory. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy Birthday my darling.
I love you with all my heart.
Thank you to everyone who stayed up with us, prayed for us and were determined to meet our little girl as much as we were. We couldn't have done it without you--- (Especially you Kashema).