alea; the big island; a birth story + motherhood

by Tania Zimmer in

alea and i met almost ten years ago, in oahu. we dated brothers, and that is how our paths crossed. i have always loved her energy for life, her positivity and her carefree outlook. she has bravely shared her birth story, and how motherhood has changed her. all happening on the big island. aloha. 



I started having contractions on a tuesday night around 9:30 p.m., they were far apart so I tried to go to sleep.  I couldn't sleep well, as there were getting closer together, so I got up & started charting them.  They were about 8 minutes apart at 2 a.m. wednesday morning.  I called our midwife Nina and she said she could come check on me later that day.  When she came, she said I was about 80% effaced-my cervix was stretched, getting ready to dilate, so it was just pre-labor.  It sure didn't feel like pre-labor to me.  The contractions were irregular, but about 7 minutes apart on that morning. 

I couldn't sleep from Tuesday night on till Ke'ohi was born!

on Friday, my friend bree took me to my appointment at the Waimea Women's Center around 12:30. Nina had left Thursday morning for her vacation & the backup midwife Dan was in Hawi, so she wouldn't be able to see me till I reached "active labor", about 5 cm dilated.  Dani recommended I go to WWC & get checked since I already had an appointment.  Bree brought Madeline, her chihuahua & had to take her back home because only service animals were allowed. We were 1 hour early & they were telling us that we shouldn't be there because it looked like I was about to give birth right there.  I told them that I wasn't even dilated yet & that I had an an appointment.  They called the birthing center and there was no room anyway.  So, I saw the doctor after chatting with the receptionist & another patient about their birth experiences.  Bridget told me that I was about 1 cm dilated, which was better than none, but disappointing after so much pain and sleepless nights.  Bree & I drove back to Honoka'a & got dark chocolate & some red wine, which Dani had recommended to get some sleep.   We had also picked up some lobelia to try and "reset" my uterus.  I had also drank hau bark tea on Wednesday & Thursday to try to help speed things/ease the pain.  Bree helped chart my contractions again once we were ome & I had gobbled up the chocolate & had a small 4 oz. glass of wine along with the lobelia & some valerian root.  The contractions were so erratic & got way stronger at first, then mellowed out by the end of the hour & I tried to sleep.  I woke up to a contraction around 5 p.m. & tried to have the rest of Bree's wine, I fel even worse & decided it wasn't the right thing.  I continued to take the lobelia and valerian, although I couldn't really sleep, just rest.  I called Dani to ask if it would be ok to take a sleeping pill, seroquil, I had from last summer when I had insomnia.  She said it would be ok to take 1 pill.  So I took it & was knocked out within a half hour.  Unfortunately, I kept waking up every 15 minutes or so from a deep sleep, even dreams, by contractions which seemed stronger and stronger.  Kaleo couldn't sleep next to me, so he went over to the other barn to sleep.  

 Alea + Kaleo

Alea + Kaleo

at dawn, I madekaleo some coffee & went to go get him.  Our cat Mana followed me & was very concerned as I had each contraction, now about 5-10 minutes apart & very strong.  I kept screaming/moaning/grunting to deal with the pain until I just couldn't anymore.  I was too tired & just surrendered & breathed as best I could.  I lay outside on the futon mattress, next to the pond & listened to the waterfall & tried to rest. kaleo put blankets on me & when it started to rain I came in & brought the futon in.  I laid on our futon couch after & tried to sleep as kaleo slept on the couch.  A couple of hours went by and at 1:45 p.m. my water broke!


"Finally!", I thought, as I called Dani to tell her to come.  I tried to get in the tub, but I could barely handle the contractions at that point & had to get out & squat/kneel on the futon I had brought in earlier.  Dani had said she wouldn't rush, considering how long it had taken me to get to this point & it might be a while longer till Ke'ohi was born.  It takes 1 1/2 hours to drive from Hawi to our house.  She called from Waimea to check in & let us know she was about a 1/2 hour away.  Kaleo was charting my contractions & told her I had felt like bearing down already.  I was pushing & I felt Ke'ohi's head crowning.  It was so exciting to know that he was almost here! Kaleo told me to lie down so he could catch Ke'ohi.  I really wanted you out & the pain to be over , so I pushed really hard & it felt like I was being torn in half! He popped out with a gush of fluid & blood as Kaleo caught him.  I was so relieved!  I told Kaleo,"give him to me, give him to me", as he wrapped Ke'ohi up in a blanket. He laid Ke'ohi on my chest and it was the best feeling in the world to see my baby and feel him.  

We sucked the mucus and fluid from Ke'ohi's nose and mouth as he drew his first breaths.  Ke'ohi cried, it was raining.  We were so incredibly happy for Ke'ohi to be here.  I sang to him "beautiful boy" by John Lennon.  Dani & Ashton came 20-30 minutes later.  You were born at 3:55 p.m.  They helped me deliver the placenta & cut the cord & stitched me up.  They cleaned up & Kaleo made a fire.  Ashton made dinner, salad & beets, potatoes & carrots, yum!  Dani weighed Ke'ohi, 8lbs, 1 oz. He was much bigger than we anticipated. I just loved holding on to him & nursing him.   I felt so high!  I felt amazing & couldn't believe he was finally here.  Such a miracle!  I have never felt so tired/exhausted and so much love all at once in my life.  He was worth all of it!  I can't imagine my world without him in it now.  He is the most important person in the world to me now.  I will never stop loving him. My world will never be the same.  

I’ve found it fascinating how little women trust themselves and their own bodies. I’m not saying that every woman should go ahead and have her baby on her own without medical or midwife help, but it’s definitely possible. I don’t often think about myself as a confident or brave person generally, but somehow my son’s birth has helped change that. I don’t know very many women in the U.S. or other developed countries who would have chosen to have their baby the way I did & I am proud of having done it.
 Alea + Ke'ohi

Alea + Ke'ohi

It has been an incredible journey parenting my first son, Ke’ohi. Most of all it is joyful and satisfying beyond any relationship I have had in this life. I find because I live on a different island than my parents and brother & Kaleo & his parents work full time, I am Ke’ohi’s main caregiver. This has been extremely challenging at times, mostly due to lack of sleep, especially in the first 6 months. I don’t think many people talked to me about that part of becoming a parent. I didn’t know I could even be as grumpy as I got from the lack of sleep. It felt like I was just trying to survive for a while, making sure that we got enough to eat and that the house was clean. This lifestyle became depressing and I felt pretty alone for number of months. Luckily, we have many friends with children, older than Ke’ohi. We started going out to the beach with other mama’s & babies which helped tremendously. Once I got a routine established & started having a babysitter available so I could go to yoga class once a week, I felt much better. My mom would come visit every few months as well, but we have not had an easy time together, so it was not much help, but rather a disruption in our routines. Now that Ke’ohi is over a year old, he goes to daycare 1-2 days a week for the day while I work & spends time with “Auntie” Gail almost every week too so I can go to yoga or trapeze class. I feel much more balanced in our lifestyle and am happy to have the support that I do.
...kaleo and I are not very religious people, but we were both brought up with, in my opinion, pretty spiritually minded mothers. We both grew up vegetarian/vegan, but no longer are strict about it. I think in some ways this similarity in background helps us in raising Ke’ohi because we see pretty eye to eye on many important underlying values and beliefs. because we live on a farm, we all contribute to the farm in some way, whether it is through picking and processing the coffee, or bagging & labeling it & selling it. This is an interesting way to live, as I lived in the suburbs and city on O’ahu, and didn’t have any idea how living on a farm would be. Now that I have lived both ways, I prefer living on the farm, even though it is a lot of work & we all work other jobs too! I find that peace of mind has been much easier to find there for me and that is much more precious to me than many other things.
we go to the beach together every once in a while, which is very fun! We love to garden/farm, as we live on a small family coffee farm. Ke’ohi’s new fascination is with bikes. Every day he wants to go for a bike ride around the farm. Kaleo & I both give him rides on the handlebars. His favorite “bike” though is the quad/four wheeler. I try to show him yoga & he really loves dancing with Kaleo & I to the power mix at 6, on a local radio station.

all photos courtesy of alea and kauakea winston.