Hello! Long time no chat 🙂 I have spent the last four months soaking in all the baby snuggles! I took time away from my blog and career to learn my baby boy and how to be a mom. While it’s bittersweet that maternity leave has come to a close, I’m so very excited to blend my career, blog and motherhood together!
With having him home the past sixteen weeks, I have so many things to share about this journey in motherhood! I first want to start with our birth story.. the absolute best day of my life.
I’ll also share some back story of the unexpected extra weeks leading up to his arrival since so many of you were checking in on us. If you’re expecting, I suggest taking notes about the labor process in your phone because it all becomes a blur after you have that sweet baby on your chest!
So to start…
Our sweet baby boy, Luca, arrived on September 10 at 3:40PM weighing in at 8 pound 3 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches <3 He was born with a head full of dark hair and quite literally a copy and paste of his daddy. It was truly love at first sight!
I’m not yet sure how I want to share his identity online so I’m keeping the photos of him here to a minimum.
Our Birth Story
Once August hit, S and I were on baby watch! Although we were due August 30th, we’d heard so many stories of little ones arriving at 36 weeks, 37 week, etc. Due to this, we made sure to put the finishing touches on our hospital bags that first week.
I had worked really hard all year at work to make sure that once baby month hit, I’d be able to shut off and my boss, direct reports and agency would all be sufficient without me. Each day someone would say – “You’re still here?!” – and you’ll see soon that this question went on for much longer.
We spent a part of each day that month doing anything we could to prepare for or start labor which included a daily two mile HOT and humid walk, curb walking, bouncing on a birthing ball and anything else listed online – even if it was as unrealistic as eating spicy food.
Through this experience, I learned that, unless your body is already on the fine line cusp of going into labor, no superstition or birthing ball bounce will push you into labor. I hadn’t had any cervical exams so we had no idea if I was on the cusp or not, but we approached each day as if I was in hopes to start spontaneous labor. I really didn’t want to be induced!
Every week I’d tell S that it could be our last date night pre-parents, but each weekend came and went. Each night I’d go to sleep and wondered whether it’d be the night my water finally would break!
Baby’s due date of August 30th came and went 😛 My stomach was so huge at this point that it didn’t even look real 😛 On our walks S said that guys in vehicles would do a triple take at my stomach haha.
At my 40 week OB appointment, my OB and I decided that we would induce at 41 weeks if he didn’t arrive on his own. In the US you can go until 42 weeks and, although I didn’t want to have an induction and really wanted a spontaneous start to labor, I knew that 41 weeks was my max I could take being pregnant at this point and, most importantly, felt it was safest for Baby. I know someone that experienced a stillbirth which made my anxiety at this point very high. I know many babies are delivered safe at 42 weeks, but as the days pass in an overdue pregnancy, amniotic fluid gets lower and the placenta becomes less efficient which can lead to a stillbirth.
From 40 weeks until I ultimately delivered, we did non stress tests and growth ultrasound scans every couple days to check on Baby to make sure he was healthy. I had heightened anxiety that was debilitating at this point about stillbirth and the thought of induction didn’t matter to me anymore. I just wanted my baby healthy and in my arms.
At 41 weeks 1 day, the game plan was for me to call the hospital to tell them I have a medically necessary induction in order to obtain a bed. We had no idea how hard it’d be to have the hospital take in a pregnant person that is healthy and has a healthy baby. We were declined for two days. While two days sounds like nothing, when you are on the edge of being 42 weeks pregnant and this overdue, you are at wits end. It felt like we had to wait until our baby was in distress before they’d finally take us in.
Three days later on September 8th, we headed into my OB’s office for another growth ultrasound scan to check on Baby. They said he was measuring 8 pounds 14 ounces and it could sway a pound each way.. so I was nervous this guy was close to 10 pounds lol. The tech said some things that were concerning and heightened my anxiety about the amniotic fluid levels and whether my placenta was holding on to supply Baby what he needed. Usually ultrasound techs no say a word and let the doctor deliver any news, but I think we got a disgruntled employee. She was very vocal about this and it was inappropriate.
At this point I felt like the medical system was going to keep stringing us along. I can’t explain how helpless we felt, but after that ultrasound as we were in the waiting room waiting to see my OB, we both agreed that we were not leaving the office until they get us into the hospital.
Luckily my OB walked in and immediately said she was going to get us a hospital bed. What a relief S and I both felt! This is why I love my OB. I feel like she always knows where I am at before we even talk. After making some calls, she secured us a bed at our labor and delivery hospital. S and I headed there immediately so that it didn’t get scooped up. We didn’t even bring our bags to this appointment (which in hindsight is so silly) because we never thought we would get into a hospital.
On the ride over to the hospital I felt so many feelings! Mainly a sense of excitement and disbelief. After the last few weeks, it felt like this day was never going to come! Growing up I always thought I’d be scared at this point approaching labor, but I felt 100% ready after conquering a high risk pregnancy and extra long third trimester. I wanted to meet my sweet little baby! I spent the ride from the doctor’s office to the hospital saying “OMG!!!!” approximately 75 times and S had on his game face because we needed to get there before our room got taken!
We settled into our room and after I was comfortable, S headed back home to settle in Muenster, get the house ready for my Dad who was on his way and grab our hospital bags. Luckily they were packed for the past seven+ weeks lol. I had heard that many women regretted not eating before labor and since I was getting induced, I had time to eat so S grabbed us ChikFilA!
At 11:30AM the doctor checked my progress and discovered that I was only one centimeter dilated and a -2 station. This is how dilated I was over two weeks ago when my OBGYN checked. I can’t remember how effaced I was at this point. We needed to finish the effacement, further the dilation and get baby to a +3 station which is when they are within the birth canal. To do that, we kicked off being induced!
To induce, the medical team suggested starting with Cervidil. This is a medicine inserted into the birth canal that gives off prostaglandin which helps jumpstart labor by softening the cervix and preparing it for birth. This was decided on because if baby does not take to the medicine well, they can easily pull the meds out via a string. If taken orally, there was no going back.
We started the Cervidil at 1:20PM and I asked to monitor baby cord free with the bluetooth monitoring system so that I could move around freely. A few hours in, I started to feel contractions.
Around midnight the medical team decided, despite hours of painful contractions, this medicine was not working for my body. My cervix had not progressed at all. After all the stress of intense contractions, the doctor ordered me morphine in order to calm myself and baby overnight. This medicine makes you relaxed and sleepy so we planned for us to get some sleep and start back up with a new plan come morning.
Come the next morning, it was our wedding anniversary!! September 9th 🙂 Our friends and family texted us wondering if we’d have a little anniversary baby! I could not have imagined four years ago on our wedding day that we’d be here in labor! The best gift of all!
At 7AM we started in on oral medicine in order to progress my labor. I was checked every four hours and while effacement progressed, dilation didn’t. I was given this three times over a 12 hours. This day was very intense because I had the most pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. The contractions were SO strong and grew closer and closer together. It didn’t help that I had been in labor with contractions for over 24 hours and growing exhausted. I stopped eating come the afternoon in case I grew to be dilated enough to get the epidural, and in all honesty, being in that much pain definitely curbs an appetite.
Come 6PM (30+ hours of labor) I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even lightly speak when a contraction hit. Thank God for being able to be cord-free and walk around the room. When the doctor checked me at this point, I was still only two centimeters dilated… I felt really defeated because I needed to at least 4cm to get the epidural. This far into labor and I only progressed one centimeter..
Getting the epidural was what kept me hanging on through every contraction. I was very desperate for relief so I got into the shower where S sprayed me with hot water. I can’t even describe how uncomfortable I was. The nurse really pushed me to do this because, in order to dilate, you need to be calm and relaxed. Well.. easier said than done because contractions are not relaxing.
An hour later, my amazing nurse’s shift was coming to an end and although I wasn’t 4cm yet, she approved an epidural. She had seen me progress from a pain point immensely since that morning. S and I were both SO relieved! At this point I was exhausted from labor and in so much pain that hearing I could finally get the epidural was what I needed to hang on and get through this process. My OBGYN was on duty that day also ending her shift so she stopped by to also celebrate getting an epidural. Although she wouldn’t be the one delivering my Baby, we were both so happy that I was at this point of labor!
At this point, things got dicey.
The medical team changed over… A huge issue with a long labor is that your medical staff rotates every twelve hours. What we learned is that the new doctor does not care what the previous shift’s medical staff reported. This means that you have a cervical exam with the medical team that is ending their shift and another cervical exam with the team that is starting there shift.. so two exams in a span of ten minutes. If you have never given birth, cervical exams are more painful than birth. Plus I had already communicated I wanted them only when medically necessary (AKA not every 10 minutes). Next pregnancy, I will decline ALL cervical checks for the medical team that is ending their shift because right when the new one starts, they want to do their own. When you’re in pain from contractions, the last thing you want is an excessive amount of exams..
Anyways, this new team said no epidural until the new doctor examines me. Mind you, I’m in the heat of labor and the most pain I’ve ever been in butt naked keeled over in the shower and had just gotten out to get checked. Now I have to do this AGAIN when I just spent 12 hours proving I needed the epidural? Uh, NO.
I was at wits end and in so much pain, I couldn’t even fight the fight (which is unlike me.. I always stand up for what I believe is right). I was keeled over just gasping for air to get through the next contraction. I couldn’t speak. All I could do was cry.
My husband was at his wits end and took the medical team outside the room and advocated for me. He communicated my birth preferences AGAIN (limited cervical checks…) and how that was NOT being considered and the medical team said 10 minutes ago I was getting my epidural and already order it.. Now they are stripping that away? Even though having this issue occur was the lowest point of my labor, it was also one of the best because it was yet another example of how much of an amazing partner S is. He always has my back and we are always one team. He knew my birth preferences inside and out and wasn’t going to back down.
While all this was happening, the anesthesiologist arrived in my room to administer the epidural. In the midst of S’ conversation, the nurse misspoke and told S that this man was here to do a cervical exam and well… that didn’t go well with my husband. As you can probably see, it was complete chaos. Anesthesiologists obviously don’t do exams and it was just a mess of a situation. I was in the room with the anesthesiologist who was a very sweet, calm, funny man and he said “Your man is out there advocating for you”. Lol.
After my husband went to bat for 20 minutes, the medical team eventually said “this was a miscommunication on their part with the shift change” and that I did NOT need to have another cervical check and was going to FINALLY get my epidural! Best husband EVER.
**If you are expecting, I suggest making sure your partner or support person know your birth preferences in and out because there will likely be a time when you can’t advocate for yourself. While “birth plans” can go out the window, the medical team should know your birth PREFERENCES. Mine did not due rotating shifts five times through my labor. This is so important because your partner or support person can be the voice when you can’t be.
After over 50+ hours of labor, I finally got my epidural at 8PM on September 9th! My girlfriends have asked me if this part hurt and it really didn’t! I was just nervous of staying still because you’re managing the anesthesiologist administering this while you’re managing contractions and you must be still. Getting the epidural allowed me to actually calm down, relax and allow labor to progress. Oh and the best part – you don’t feel the cervical exams once you have this!!! It was 100% the right decision for me and Baby! S watched the Pats game and ordered a pizza while I finally rested. I woke up here and there pretty uncomfortable from the catheter so I got “topped off” with the epidural a couple times.
At 2AM on September 10th I woke up and wiggled around in my bed to see if S was sleeping.. and my water broke! Finally!!
A few minutes after the OB did an exam and found that Baby and my cervix were both sightly tilted to the left. If this did not straighten out, I’d need a c-section. Although I strongly did not was a c-section due to it being a major surgery, I didn’t let this worry me. I needed to focus on the possibility of him shifting. We had come this far together! The nurse gave me a peanut ball and had me lay on my side for hours in order to encourage Baby to straighten.
By 7AM, they did an exam and over the past five hours, Baby had straightened! PHEW! The doctor also discovered that I still had a pocket left of amniotic fluid so they broke the remaining part of my water. From this point on the pressure pain, even with the epidural, went up HUGE.
At this point I had been in labor for three days straight so I tried to get some rest. I was able to nap most of the morning and afternoon in hopes that my dilation and Baby’s station could both progress.
On September 10 at 3PM, the nurse checked my progress and exclaimed that she could feel Baby’s head! S was holding my hand and was so excited. All of a sudden my body was ready. We went from 3 centimeters to 10 SUPER fast.
I felt like I needed to push! It’s a really hard thing to explain because the lower body is pretty numb from the epidural, but I could still feel the pressure and urge to push. The nurse got so excited and got “Well, let’s push!”. She instructed S on his job, told me what to do and we started. I thought pushing would hurt, but it was actually a huge sense of relief.
The delivery doctor arrived at about 15 minutes in. About four or five other people roll in with her her and I remember asking S “Who are these people!?”. They were nurses lol! I don’t know why that caught me by surprise, but know that the OB rolls in with a crew and don’t be alarmed. They are there to help you!
While pushing, the doctor and nurses were the biggest hype crew. Them, along with S, encouraged me by telling me how amazing I was doing and cheering me on. They were seriously the biggest hype crew!! The thing that encouraged me most was when the room would say “Go go go go!! You’re almost there”. It reminded me of when I’m almost at the end of a half marathon and the crowd cheers you on for the last mile. That is when I am amped and try my hardest!
The delivering doctor asked what our baby’s name was and we learned that her four year old son’s name is also Luca! It was truly meant to be for her to deliver my Luca into the world!
The nurses were shocked at how fast we were going! At one point they said the biggest hurdle is ahead – the ring of fire – where the baby needs to get over the pubic bone. This stalls many people and can push you into having an emergency C-section and/or make pushing go on for hours. It’s known to be the hardest part. Well, I breezed right passed that and the nurses and OB were cheering!
All in all – I pushed for 30 minutes with S holding my hand and then our sweet little baby was here. My high risk pregnancy and long labor had a lot of challenges so Baby S decided to keep birth short and sweet 🙂
The moment Luca was placed on my chest was the best moment of my life. He had big old cheeks, button nose and the most adorable little eyes. All the stress of a high risk pregnancy and the past few weeks melted away. He was safe. He was healthy. He was in our arms. Any stress or pain that comes with pregnancy and labor fade away so quickly, but the relief in the moment your baby is laid on your chest never will.
Now that we are almost four months into our journey together, I really have to say that they just grow so fast. Everyone tells you this. Everyone. So I am here also telling you this again, but it’s just so true. Take ALL the videos and pictures. I cannot believe sixteen weeks ago we had a sleepy little newborn on our chest and now we have the silliest, giggliest, wiggliest, chunkiest, talkative hambone that is almost rolling! It all happens so fast and I just wish time would slow down to soak in every stage! Since that can’t happen, I’m living in the moment, documenting as much as I can and just thanking God I get the greatest gift of all – to be his momma. Xo Mindy