Happy Birthday, Luca!
Luca is my fourth son, so I have some experience when it comes to labor and delivery. I've learned to trust my body and lean into the evolution that has ensured a woman's body is perfected to bring forth life.
Can there be complications? Absolutely. This pregnancy was full of them. However, there is something visceral connecting women who have endured the right of passage that is motherhood, and I've learned to listen to the whispers of those who have gone before me.
In prior deliveries, I didn't know what I didn't know. I trusted medical professionals to inform me of best practices and how to navigate the trauma of birth. For as much as I loved my original OB, I was woefully unprepared for labor and delivery. After the absolute nightmare of Nico's delivery, I vowed to do things my way henceforward, and I'm so glad I did.
I changed practices from a traditional OB-GYN to a midwifery group, and I was immediately treated to tools and methods that had never been mentioned by my prior practice. I was interviewed and listened to, and my midwives really got to know me, my preferences, and my hopes for a calm and safe delivery.
When it came time to finally birth Luca, midwife Kamil was on-call, and I'm so glad she was. She and I had bonded over our sons (both special needs) and I'm pretty sure I saw her more than I'd seen anyone else during my pregnancy. She held me through a particularly rough contraction and I said, "I'm so glad you were on-call tonight." She whispered "Thank you for choosing me to be here tonight, Luca."
My heart just melted... even with the contractions.
Anyway, I'm most comfortable riding contractions on my knees with my hands propping me up almost at a 90 degree angle on the bed. Rather than crying out or talking myself through the pain, I'd focus on "breathing Luca out." I'd simply take several deep breaths and "push" on each exhale, feeling him move through my body. It was incredible, as I'd never gotten to experience that with my others.
I was calm, composed, and totally in control the entire time.
That said, there was a moment I was a bit panicked because of the two surgeries I'd had just a couple days prior to delivery. Both surgeons said that in order to give birth naturally, I *MUST* have an epidural. Given the circumstances, I agreed even though I had really wanted to go without an epidural as I'd done with Nico. The problem is, the first nurse in the room didn't want to do an epidural right away because procedure calls for two IV bags to drain before attempting one. This is to help prevent the new mom's heartrate from dropping. I explained to her what the surgeons had both said and why I wasn't a textbook delivery; exceptions can always be made. She was frustrated by my pushback which set Chris off his rocker.
Normally a very patient, even-tempered man, he demanded a doctor. He said he wasn't going to allow "procedures" to hold up pain management given the severity of my prior surgeries and the fact that my deliveries tended to be too short to wait for those "procedures." If I said I was going to be delivering Luca within the hour, then they'd better get ready to catch him within the hour because I know my body better than they do so get the damned doctor in.
I'm paraphrasing, but that's pretty much the gist of it.
She was annoyed, but sure enough, she went out and called for the anesthesiologist who came in and tried to explain why the two bags were standard. Again, Chris pushed back and advocated while I labored through several more contractions. As a result, the anesthesiologist relented and said, "Ok, we can put a pump on the IV to get at least one bag into her. That should take about 15 minutes and then we'll do the epidural." That was acceptable to both of us.
At this point, my midwife, Kamil, had returned (having just delivered another baby) and simply sat back and let me do my thing. She didn't try to coach me or anything because she knew I trusted myself to do what was best. So between contractions, which were coming every 3-5 minutes, we'd enjoy some ridiculous conversation between her, myself and Chris. The original nurse left (I'm pretty sure because she felt slighted by Chris whom she called "too spicy") and was replaced by a nurse named Michelle who was the sweetest thing ever. Just like Kamil, Michelle let me labor exactly how I wanted to and didn't try to intervene or shift my methods.
Chris stayed by my side the whole time, cheering me on and rubbing my back through each contraction.
Soon, anesthesiology came back in and set me up with an epidural. They laid me back so that the meds would have a chance to move into place before pushing. Alas, just as I had anticipated, it was too late.
I felt Luca move into "push position." I turned to Kamil and I said, "I'm pretty sure it's time to push." She laughed and said, "I thought we'd have another hour or so!" She checked me, though, because she trusted that I knew what I was talking about. Sure enough, it was time to push. Not only was I fully dilated, he was less than a knuckle away from crowning.
With Michelle to the left of me and Chris to the right, Kamil got ready to catch as she said, "Alright, on the next contraction, let's push!"
And so I did, and I immediately felt him crown. I pushed again and I heard Kamil quietly say to Michelle "There's meconium." Chris didn't understand what that meant, but I did and I immediately felt the fires of motivation churn to a fever pitch as I pushed again. Luca had to get out, and he had to get out NOW, so with one final push, Luca (weighing in at 9lbs even!) slipped into Kamil's waiting arms and was taken straight away to the waiting NICU team. They had already been on hand due to the surgeries I'd had prior to delivery, but the focus was more on clearing his airway of meconium than checking for anything else.
Chris was still not sure why I was suddenly panicked, so I briefly explained what meconium was and why it's dangerous at delivery. Sure enough, Luca had breathed in enough to send him up to the NICU for treatment and observation.
However, God is good and both Chris and I were able to hold him before that happened. Luca, yet another miracle from God... this one more than 10 years in the making. I still can't believe it which is probably why I keep marveling at it. God truly is faithful and so unfathomably generous.
Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet Luca. Rest up and get better soon so we can finally introduce you to your big brothers!
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