It has taken me quite a while to write this story. Nothing went as I planned (even though I was open-minded), and I think I have been feeling slightly guilty and embarrassed since I gave birth. Lucca arrived perfectly, and all is well now. But I am still not content in how it all happened, at least involving my decisions. I keep reminding myself, he is here, safe, and healthy, but for some reason I remain a little inadequate. Like I failed.
Anyway, here goes!
Easter morning, April 1st, John and I went to church. I thought we had a few more days as a twosome and even told a few women at church that. Our 40 week appointment was a few days prior and our doctor said we’d plan an induction for the Friday after Easter, April 6th, if nothing happened during the week. I assumed nothing would progress until at least Wednesday. She was going to be on call that next weekend and knew of my birthing plan. Our plan was to have her, Dr. Frederick, there to deliver the baby.
After church, we picked up Lizzie and headed to John’s parents’ house for lunch. I started to feel a little more pressure, but I kept writing it off all afternoon. I was not going to have the baby until later in the week. But I guess I was feeling the “lightning.” John needed to mow the yard, and I told him we had time, not to worry about it today, but I napped while he mowed the yard. And good thing.
By that evening I was having contractions. Very irregular, but they were coming. I took a shower, washed my hair, and rolled out my mat for some yoga. Little did I know this would be my last pregnant practice.
We turned on The Office, I told John I was fine, and he fell asleep on the couch. My contractions started coming more regularly, 10 minutes apart, so I took a bath to breathe through them. I did not sleep that night. Duh. As soon as I would drift off a bit, another contraction would happen. I called the doctor’s office and told them about the intensity of the contractions, length, and time apart. Honestly I think this is when I began to doubt myself.
On the way to the hospital, it was still dark. I looked out the window and watched the moon. I breathed long deep breaths and told myself I was going to manage this delivery like I planned. In the CD player was my kirtan CD, and John actually did not complain when I turned it up. I sang and hummed in between contractions (that were now 5 minutes apart). Laura was the only person I texted to say I was on the way to the hospital. There would be time to text, call everyone else, and proceed with my wishes.
Once we got into the hospital, I checked in around 6:00am. Thank God no one was there but us. And thank God they immediately brought me a wheelchair to sit in. John waited there while they wheeled me to the first room to answer questions.
Answering questions while contracting was so hard, I thought. My definition of “difficult” changed. Once the questioning ended, John entered to remain by my side. We also ended up staying in this processing room for several hours, and it was here that my plans for a medication free delivery fell apart. The nurses were unsure if I would be placed in a delivery room because of my lack of progression. My contractions were 5 minutes apart, then down to 4, then down to three minutes. They kept a monitor on me and one on the baby, so I was unable to move freely as I wished. My cervix was thinning, but I only dilated 1.5 centimeters. Our favorite nurse, Charity, mentioned getting a pain medication and go home while still contracting. My thought was, I am in the hospital, I am not leaving here without my baby.
The doctor, Dr. Smith, was very calm and collected, as if we were there for a routine visit. It was comforting to have him since my doctor could not make it. He recommended we could break my water to hurry things along. I was not ready to be that invasive yet, I wanted it to happen naturally. The small pain medication I took helped me dilate to 3 centimeters, however it did nothing for the intensity of the contractions. Not only did my plans begin to fall apart, I began to unravel.
I told John I wanted an epidural. I don’t even recall signing the sheet saying it was what I wanted. I continued without any help (aside from that first medication) until around 2:00pm. We were rolled into a delivery room by then. The epidural itself did not hurt nearly as much as the contractions. The anesthesiologist was awesome. He knew I wanted to go natural and continued to honestly remind me how “natural” an epidural is, meaning it does not have preservatives. John left the room to get lunch his mom brought him. It took about 45 minutes for him to insert it, and it was nice for John to get a mini break.
When my husband came back into the room, he said I was much more relaxed. And I think him seeing me like that allowed him to be more at ease. My parents were driving, and would be there by 3:00. I was dilated 5 centimeters, and estimated I would deliver my baby by 8:00 or 9:00 that night. In my birth plan, I only wanted John in the delivery room. My dad was allowed, but no one else. I don’t recall if anyone asked, but my mom came in too. Of course, I love her, but she stresses me out. She was texting on her phone, telling her friends when I got another drop of IV fluids and how the epidural went. THAT was not at all what I wanted. I was discouraged enough for getting an epidural and any pain management, I did not want anyone knowing until I was ready to share that information.
My parents and mother-in-law left when the nurses would come to check my dilation and when the doctor broke my water to hurry things along. It was like I didn’t care what was in my plan, I just wanted to have my baby. Looking back, I feel like I rushed him. I was hooked up the entire time, unable to walk around, sit up and meditate, or breathe deeply while moving. Nothing was going as I wished, so I let go of everything.
In my hospital bag I packed an essential oil diffuser, oils to diffuse and roll on, a copy of my birthing plan (one was also in my hospital file), photos of Florence, Italy, Sarah Belle, and John to help me focus, my fairy cards, Mala bead, and there was a playlist on my phone. Everything stayed in my bag. Except my lavender roll-on essential oil and mala beads. My idea of this calling oasis seemed like too much effort.
My parents left to eat dinner, and John and I turned on The Office (our comfort food) so we could rest. We both tried to nap a little. The nurses would come in to check the monitors and my progress. I was so exhausted, I don’t really recall much. I was in and out of sleep once I hit 8 centimeters. I would hear John talk to the nurses; baby’s heart rate was speeding up then dropping. At one point I woke up to see John standing in front of the baby’s monitor staring.
My IV was not in at a good angle and anytime I moved my right hand in a certain direction, the beeping would go off. We would call the nurse back in to press a button and make it stop. That was quite annoying. A few times I threw up in a bag, I was so nauseous. I also remember using one of those breathing masks at one point. I was glad it was close to the end, delivery.
I heard the nurses say I reached 9 centimeters, and the next time they came back it would be time for me to wake up and push. I woke up around 7:00 after almost 2 hours of “rest.” Everyone around me was rushing, saying I was 10 centimeters, fully effaced, and thinned. Just then, a nurse said, “Your birth plan?” They had no idea of my plans even though they were on file and copies were in my bags. I was too tired to care at that point.
I began crying, big sobs. The women asked if it was from fear or excitement. I was so ready, happy, and relieved I was about to meet my baby. I asked for a mirror so I could watch his head crowning. All the nurses were insanely kind and supportive, and my husband kept kissing my head. The doctor came in: push time.
Pushing was only 16 minutes, they told me afterwards. When the baby finally came out, John told me we had a BOY, and I grabbed him from the doctor. At 7:40pm on Monday, April 2, we had a beautiful baby boy in our lives. I pulled him to my chest and had never seen a more perfect thing in the world. John cut the umbilical cord while I held our newborn. We played around with a few names and would wait and see what name fit him/her, but I think I knew all along it was Lucca. Within the hour, I nursed him without any issue! He wanted to eat immediately; I was beyond relieved.
John took him over to take pictures while he was weighed, a perfect 7 pounds 11 ounces. The baby was 20.5 inches long, had his first bath, and got his hair washed all while his Papa watched him. John was instantly a proud father. The nurses cleaned me up, and once they left the room, it was just us three. Our precious little family. We then thought, “Lucca Bennett” is his name, no question. Our first photos of Lucca are him breastfeeding. John held him, but never took him away from me. I never wanted to let our baby go. His eyes, little fingers and toes, his lips, everything about him was absolutely angelic.
After about 2 hours, the crazy grandparents entered. Three of them walked in like paparazzi, and my dad just smiled at us with tears in his eyes. They only stayed for a few minutes then left. John took a nap in the chair, and I held Lucca.
In the middle of the night, 2:00 or 3:00 am, we were moved to a bigger room. There was a couch for John to sleep on too. We got comfortable and Lucca slept on my chest a lot. They would come in to take him to the nursery for tests and bring him back. The only sleep I got was when the baby was with the nurses. On Tuesday afternoon, he held his head up… FOR 30 SECONDS. A genius baby 16 hours after birth! He picked his head up and just stared at me. It melted my heart into a puddle. His eyes mesmerized me; I had never seen a more beautiful set of blue eyes.
He was circumcised on Wednesday and healed brilliantly.
At one point my mom, mother-in-law, and nieces were visiting while John went home to shower. A nurse came in to take his blood, and I began bawling. Hearing my baby in pain broke my heart, and as soon as she finished, I took him back in my arms. No one else held him for a while. *I miss those days; no one tried to take my baby away!
Over the next few days, we opted to have him tested. He swallowed meconium while in my belly and was grunting when he breathed. They wanted to make sure that was all it was and nothing more serious. I knew he was okay, but wanted to be extra safe. This meant another day in the hospital, not ideal. And he was perfectly fine.
By Thursday we were ready to go home! I’d barely slept in the hospital, but I was excited to see our pets and show Lucca his house. He cried in his carseat, but fell asleep by the time we made it to the elevator.
Looking back, sometimes I feel like I could have done better, I should have fought harder. Next time I will know to have a doula who knows me and my wishes. I feel like I rushed little man, but I also feel he was ready to come. Maybe he just needed a little help and encouragement.
April 2, 2018 might not have been how I planned but it produced a gorgeous, healthy baby boy, two proud new parents, and so much love!
*Lucca is an Italian city about an hour from Florence. I went eight years ago and liked the name. Lucca means “light.”
*Bennett is John’s middle name and his dad’s first name. Bennett means “blessed one.”
DISCLAIMER: This is my story. I do not judge anyone who chooses medicated, unmedicated, or cesarean childbirth. It is incredibly difficult no matter the route, and I applaud all women for bringing life into the world!