Aliya’s Birth Story

Prologue:

It would help if you read Gianna’s birth story (now updated to include her newborn pics), but if you don’t have time (or plain aren’t interested), here are the main details: scheduled c-section birth for placenta previa, some arguments with hospital staff, emotional delivery, and healthy and beautiful baby girl.

If I had to describe my mentality during this pregnancy, it would be that of David versus Goliath.  I was a little, waddling warrior who knew exactly what she did not want to happen (a repeat cesarean) unless of course our baby was in danger.  I took on this role with gusto.  Read on to see how it panned out.

Pregnancy:

Gianna was just shy of 9 months old when we found out we were pregnant again.  (Here’s where everyone can laugh at the lazy Natural Family not-so-Planning couple.  It’s okay, I can take it.)  Two weeks prior, I had known I was in the fertile zone, but because of my previous miscarriage and subsequent months trying to get pregnant with G, we figured it would take awhile before anything (by anything, I mean any baby) happened.

Wrong.

Gianna's 1st Birthday 19

There’s more than cake in that belly.

So we were expecting again, with me still working full time, and an {ahem} very high needs baby.  Added to that stress, I was very much hoping for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)  with this baby and I knew that doctors really prefer more space between pregnancies if you plan to do that.   What’s an information-ophile to do but begin her research, good and early.

So I read, and I researched, and I read and I researched some more.  Much to my delight, I came to discover that research shows that in many cases, VBACs are safer than repeat cesareans.  I found a  doctor who supported my choice* and we were on our way.

I also began a hard-sell campaign to get a doula for this birth.  I knew that doulas were beneficial in most births, and especially in VBACs, but originally, Kevin and I had worried that a doula would somehow come between us in the delivery room.  The more I talked to people, the more I understood this not to be true.  I happened to ask at one of my Holistic Moms Network meetings, and lo and behold, the leader was a doula.  After meeting her, Kevin got on board quickly.  She is just that awesome.  (Cindy has since become one of my dearest friends.  I attended one of her births, and she attended both Aliya and Ezekiel’s births.  She also did my mountain of dishes after Gabriel was born.  But that’s a story for another week.)

*An important doctor note:  my OB practice contained two OBs.  Dr. M., an older guy with a ton of experience and a laid back attitude, was nonchalant about our choice for a VBAC.  Dr. F, on the other hand, was young and significantly more uptight.  She claimed to be supportive but at every visit she made her caveats known.  IF I didn’t gain too much weight and IF the baby didn’t go overdue and IF the stars and the moons were aligned with Jupiter, etc, I would be able to attempt a VBAC.  In labor, you get whichever doctor is on call.  Can you guess which one I was hoping for?

Birth:

I stopped work one week before my due date in March 2007.  The following Thursday afternoon I started having contractions but wasn’t sure anything was “really” happening.  (Remember, while this was my second baby, it was my first labor.  I was clueless.)  I called Kevin at work and told him he should swing by Target and pick up a new watch.  He did, and when he got home he found Gianna and I in the front yard.  One of us was giddy with anticipation and the other was covered in mud.  Can you guess who was who?  Around 6 p.m. the contractions came regularly about 6 minutes apart and 1 minute long, but still weren’t very intense.  I called my parents at about 8 p.m. and they prepared to make the 4 hour drive down to our house.  My in-laws (who live just a few miles away) were put on notice.

I thought the contractions might subside at night, but no such luck!  They didn’t get closer together but they got a LOT stronger around 2 a.m. (about the time my parents got to our house).  We all tried to sleep, but I didn’t have very much luck.  I took a couple showers to relieve the pain, but otherwise it was sleep-contraction-sleep.  I’d have a contraction, wake up and get on all fours, and then immediately lay down and fall asleep again when it went away.  It really was the oddest thing, to go from asleep to wide awake to asleep again in just seconds.

At 6 a.m. my water broke.  It took me a minute to figure out what that was, and in the interim I had a flash of panic that I was bleeding.  After I realized what it was, and saw that the amniotic fluid was clear, the whole mood in the house shifted.  My mom, who has given birth 11 times, was anxious for us to head to the hospital.  Meanwhile, my contractions slowed down a bit and I was smiling non-stop.  I knew we were well on our way to a VBAC and that thrilled me to no end.  My in-laws arrived a few minutes later and took over care of Gianna.  The rest of us decided to make our way to the hospital.  I called my doula Cindy and she said she would meet us there.

Enter the Hiccups, 1 and 2:  1) We found out on the way to the hospital that Dr. F. was on call.  Bummer.  Big bummer.  I had an inkling that she had an itchy c-section trigger and worried about what that would mean for the VBAC.  2) In the car, I had sat on a hospital pad.  When I got out I noticed that the amniotic fluid was no longer clear and I knew that meant meconium.  Cue the foreboding music: dun dun DUN

When I arrive at the L&D wing, the nurse directed me to a room to prep me for a c-section (because they saw on my chart that I had a previous one).  I was in the throes of a contraction and laid a death grip on Kevin’s arm.  Kevin, my knight in a shining sweatshirt, calmly said, “Um, no thank you.  We’re planning a VBAC.”  In that moment we became “those” patients: the troublemakers yet again.  (I was kind of getting used to the title.)  The nurses eyed us warily from behind the desk as we made our way down the hall to our room.  I knew they were calculating the amount of fuss I would put up in the labor room.  At that point though (7:30 a.m.) I was deep in the birth forest of Don’t Care What You Think.  Fortunately our nurse was an angel of sweetness and light.  There weren’t many babies being born on the floor so she was in our room almost the whole time, yet gave us plenty of space to labor.

Kevin called Dr. F to let her know about the meconium but she didn’t seem worried.  Score!  I ended up being monitored the whole time so they could watch the baby’s heart rate, but I could get up and move around the room, so that was fine.  Cindy is such a pro that anytime the nurse got freaked out by the heart rate dropping, she just stepped in and adjusted the monitor, reminded me to breathe, etc.  She constantly assured me that the baby was doing fine so I was able to focus on my contractions.

I want to take a moment and talk about Kevin in the delivery room.  At that point in our marriage we had never been more intimately connected than those moments when his face was inches from mine, encouraging me, supporting me, loving me.  He believed in me more than I believed in myself.  I was a sweaty ball of whining and curses, and yet he never stopped telling me how beautiful I was.  With Gianna’s birth, we missed out on that intimacy.  I am blessed beyond measure to have had him there.  Cindy said he was a “perfectly texbook Bradley dad!” She has since mentioned that if ever there was such a thing as a male doula, Kevin would be a perfect candidate.

Back to the details. When I got there at 7:30ish a.m. I was dilated 5-6 cm., by 9:15 I was 8 cm.  20 minutes later, Cindy asked me between contractions if I had begun pushing.  I don’t remember my exact words, but I believe it was something along the lines of, “Ummmm, I don’t really knoooooooow?”  Cindy called a reluctant nurse over to check me again.  Boy was that nurse surprised when I measured at 10 cm.  The nurse firmly ordered me not to push though, because the doctor was finishing up surgery upstairs.  I looked at Cindy with what I’m sure was a panicked look.  Not push?  Is that even a thing?  How, pray tell, does one override that primal instinct?  I’ll never forget the serene smile on Cindy’s face as she said, “Micaela, someone will catch the baby.  You go ahead and push if you feel like it.”  God bless her.

Did I mention that  my mom and dad, Kevin’s mom and dad, Cindy, Kevin, plus my nurse and a NICU team (because of the meconium staining) were all in the room?   The grandpas kept a respectful distance over my shoulders and everyone was really quiet.  While I had planned to only have Kevin, Cindy, and my mom in the room, at that point, I didn’t care.  Cindy asked me quietly if I would prefer it if everyone left.  I answered, “They know what they’re getting into.  If they want to leave, they’re welcome to, but I couldn’t care less.”  So everyone stayed.  After all, ain’t no party like a Darr Birth Party and a Darr Birth Party don’t stop.

I started “officially” pushing at 10:12 (tried several different positions) and our baby was born at 10:32.  Aliya Elizabeth weighed 9 lbs, 0.3 oz and measured 21.5 inches long.  I looked at my mom and croaked, “I did it.”

 Aliya's First Day 006

Not that there weren’t any complications, though. I sustained a fairly unusual tear during birth called a sulcus tear.  Hoo-wee doggies, did that throw me for a loop.  As a result of it, I lost a lot of blood and Dr. F (who did, after all, breeze in at the last minute and catch the baby)  had to do some serious stitching.  My blood pressure dropped (53/20) and I became dizzy and weak.  They gave me a saline IV and made me drink drink drink…  Meanwhile they were suctioning Aliya’s stomach and lungs… all in all a little nerve-wracking.  I didn’t get up for 2 hours, and when I did get up, I almost passed out, so they made me lie down for another 2 hours.  One of the sweetest memories of that foggy time was waking up to see Kevin curled up on the delivery room couch, all 6’2″ of him lovingly cradling our newborn miracle.  It wasn’t until 4 hours after the birth that I was able to be moved to the recovery room.

The Name:

As with Gianna’s birth, we entered the hospital agreeing on a middle name but totally at odds on the first.  I wanted Amelia, and Kevin wanted Aliya.  I was smug, though.  Confident that after he had witnessed the miracle of my power and strength during labor, he would succumb and let me have my way.  Again.  As you’ve no doubt surmised.  I was wrong.  Kevin was adamant and I was adamant and between our combined stubbornness and my out-of-it-ness, it took us several hours to agree.  It wasn’t long until I realized it suited her just fine.  Aliya means “ascent” in Hebrew. Her middle name, Elizabeth, is for my paternal grandmother.  She asked recently if there was a Saint Aliya.  I answered, “Not yet,” and wonder filled her eyes.
Aliya's First Day 019

The Recovery:

My recovery with Gianna wasn’t terrible, for a c-section.  But a c-section is major surgery, so “not terrible” is relative.  While my recovery from Aliya’s birth was better, it was still painful due to the tearing.  To be completely honest, it was worse than I expected.  But because it didn’t negatively affect my future births the way a repeat cesarean would have, I counted it all as joy.

This little David conquered Goliath with a mighty stone of faith.  Not without injury and not without fear, but with my army of loving protectors and a whole lot of grace, it happened.  In most things, I wouldn’t call myself a warrior.  In birth, I do.

Comments

  1. I am so happy the VBAC worked! A devoted husband is the best at a birth for success, so blessed!
    I had a tear like that with my first, thankful never again on the others.

  2. Aww…that’s a really beautiful birth story (and baby!). I think you should have gone with Amelia though. LOL Just kidding. Aliya is a beautiful name!
    Amelia @ One Catholic Mama recently posted…Bentrup BabblingsMy Profile

  3. How AWESOME. Such a great birth story, thank you for sharing. 9 pounds and 21.5 inches long!?! You just birthed my child at 2 months old!! You are a birth warrior!
    Martha recently posted…What’s Worth Waiting For?My Profile

    • Ha! Your comment made me laugh! My 4th was a 10 pounder and I remember thinking that he was the size of a couple of my others at their 1 month mark.

  4. Crocodile tears falling from these eyes this morning. You tell a good tale, Miss Micaela!!! I’m so glad you started writing. I love everything you write, but I love the birth stories best of all.

    • I think birth stories are among my favorite things to write. What will I do when they’re all done? Have another baby I suppose. Every writer needs good material. 😉

  5. Best part: when you looked at your mom and said “I did it!”

    Most surprising part: Kevin is 6’2″!!!!!!!!

    Most endearing part: Kevin is such a doll!
    Rebekah Es recently posted…Three Things I Love About AdventMy Profile

  6. Ah, tears flowing here! This is so beautiful! You are such a strong woman to go up against the Goliath of the medical industry. It is HARD and you did it. Thank you for sharing this. I have no doubt it will help other mothers!
    Mary @ Better Than Eden recently posted…Five Favorites – Advent and Christmas Music…with a GIVEAWAY!My Profile

    • I hope it does help someone, Mary. Reading successful VBAC stories was one o the greatest gifts I received during my pregnancy. I hope I pass along the favor!

  7. I love a good birth story, and this is a great one! She was so big for your first vaginal birth, no wonder you tore, poor momma!
    Colleen Martin recently posted…3 Wise Men and 1 Wise LadyMy Profile

  8. Beautiful birth story, and congratulations on the successful vbac! And isn’t that ridiculous, telling a woman not to push based on the doctor’s convenience?? Your doula sounds like she’s worth her weight in gold!

  9. Whew! I’m exhausted just reading about it. What a triumph.

    As an aside, it is a MIRACLE that I have never punched a labor and delivery nurse.
    Kendra recently posted…Three Reasons I Love AdventMy Profile

    • Ditto. I’ve had 3 hospital births and attended about a dozen as a doula. I don’t generally think of myself as having very good self-control, but in hindsight, I’ve managed to avoid punching every single L&D nurse. That must count for something!

  10. Micaela- can you even STAND how cute she is two seconds after being born????? She is so cute!!!!! Gah! Cuteness. Overload.

    And of course, you are an absolute warrior. But that baby…distracting…me….
    Dwija Borobia (@HouseUnseen) recently posted…Git in Mah Belleh! And other things you’ll say when you read this bookMy Profile

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