Connie wanted to share Aliya’s birth story, so I told her she could write it on this blog :) Enjoy!
I love a good story, so thought I would write out the story of how our daughter arrived. I heard SO many women’s birth stories while I was pregnant and was always amazed at how each one was different, and how not one of the births went as expected!
Backing up a little bit to my feelings approaching the birth – well, they were not always positive. Of course we were excited to be parents, but I often felt like I wasn’t ready. When people asked if I just couldn’t wait to be done with pregnancy and to meet our little girl, I would often reply with ‘no, she can take her time! I’m not ready!‘
I loved looking at baby girl clothes and was excited about becoming a mom, but was also nervous about the delivery and overall had a feeling that the pregnancy was going so fast and I didn’t have enough time to do everything before our daughter arrived. I was happy with our current life and couldn’t wrap my head around the huge change that was about to take place!
In the weeks approaching our due date, Ben and I became very wary about when we might go into labor. I suspected that I might be overdue just because that seems to be the case with most first babies, but I got told nearly every day by co-workers and strangers alike that they didn’t think I would make it to my due date, so that was in my head as well.
The Monday (6 days) before my due date, I remember feeling… weird.
I texted Ben at the end of my workday saying that I was having constant Braxton Hicks contractions. I knew it wasn’t real labor, but my stomach was repeatedly tightening way more than usual.
I went grocery shopping after work, and bought a ton of food (each of my last few trips had been big because I never knew when my last trip before baby was going to be!!) and being overall distracted because I felt weird and wasn’t sure if I was in the beginning stages of labor. That whole evening I felt different, but couldn’t really pinpoint what it was. Then around 10 PM, I felt my first contraction in the shower, but thought it was just a fluke. I felt another contraction in bed at 10:30 and asked Ben to check the time. He promptly fell asleep, but I stayed awake as my contractions continued to show up about every half an hour.
It was somewhat surreal, and I can’t even completely remember what was going through my mind. I think I was trying to mentally review everything we had learned in birthing class, and trying to do the techniques I had learned to relax during contractions. Ben woke up around two or three, and took some time to process when I told him that I was pretty sure I was in labor. At that point, I was thinking I would probably be in labor for a long time and had read many stories about labor that started and stopped, so I told Ben I planned on walking our dog Molly and vacuuming the floor in the morning to keep labor progressing. (Spoiler alert: that didn’t end up happening.) :)
From that point on, Ben stayed awake and helped me through contractions, and we tried to get rest in between. Throughout the night, I remember the contractions being uncomfortable, but manageable. Right around 6AM, the contractions got really bad. They came more frequently, dropping from every 7 or 9 minutes to being less than 5 minutes apart, but weren’t consistent. I was trying to text my boss and my family, and it took me more than an hour to send the texts due to all the starting and stopping with the contractions coming on so fast!
I called the doctor to ask what I should do. I said my contractions weren’t a minute long, but were coming really fast and seemed inconsistent and difficult to time. The on-call doctor said they really like the contractions to be a minute long, and asked if I’d like to head into the office to have my progress checked. I remember being confused- I thought I was in active labor and felt way too uncomfortable for a visit to the doctor’s office, but now I was doubting myself!
Ben was supposed to coach his soccer team’s district game that day, so had to run some soccer equipment over to the school so the team would have it. I remember the contractions getting even worse, so it was difficult for me to move forward with brushing my teeth and getting dressed. I got a call from the regular medical staff I was working with asking if I’d like to come in to the office and get checked. I remember panting into the phone something like ‘heck no, we’ll see you at the hospital!‘
Even though we determined around 7 or 8 that we NEEDED to get to the hospital, we didn’t get there until 9- it was just so hard for me to do anything! My hospital bag wasn’t packed, so I remember Ben asking what he should put in it and me having trouble focusing on making any sort of decision. (Lesson learned for next time- I’ll have a bag packed far in advance!) ;)
We had taken a series of birthing classes called The Bradley Method to help prepare us for the labor & delivery process, and to prepare me to do the birth without any pain medication. Ben attended these classes too and was trained to be my ‘coach’ and help me through contractions. I remember telling Ben at home that I didn’t think I could do this, and that if I got to the hospital and was only 2 or 3 centimeters dilated, I’d have to get something for the pain. However, we got to Holland Hospital (finally) and found out I was 8 centimeters dilated! I was relieved to know the majority of it was already over and that I could deliver naturally as planned. It only seemed to be a few more contractions before I was ready to push. Our doctor broke my water and then the pushing began!
I pushed for 40 or so minutes, and then Aliya Joy Marshall was born at 10:20am, less than an hour and a half after getting to the hospital. She was 8 lbs, 6 oz, and 21 inches long!
The whole process seemed to go by so fast. I remember telling Ben during labor that we’re adopting the rest of our kids ;) but it’s true what they say- you really do forget about the pain after it’s over!
Already I’ve learned so much as a parent. First of all, thankfully, all my feelings of unreadiness and not wanting the pregnancy to end disappeared when Aliya arrived. All my fears about sleepless nights, baby blues, and not being ready became irrelevant when I met the little girl that had been inside me for the last 9 months! I also quickly learned that I could no longer control the image I put forth to other people– when Aliya came, my house wasn’t guest-ready, my hospital bag wasn’t packed so I left the hospital in an old t-shirt and sweatpants (not the cutesy homecoming I had pictured), and I couldn’t control if Aliya was peacefully sleeping or crying her head off when guests came.
I’ve learned I have to be okay with my house being imperfect and slightly messy, as now I choose to spend my time snuggling Aliya rather than making my house as clean as I’d like it.
I’ve even gained a new perspective on God’s perfect and steady love for us, as I aim to love my daughter the same amount whether she’s smiling at me in the daytime or won’t stop fussing in the middle of the night.
So, that’s our birth story! More than anything, Ben and I are thankful that our baby is healthy and happy. Now we’re looking forward to all the fun and challenges that await us in parenthood!