A few of my good friends are getting close to their delivery dates, which has me reminiscing about my labor with little miss Lucia. I know it’s been almost ten months since the date, but I feel like sharing now because, well…who doesn’t like a good birth story?
We found out we were pregnant really early. Lucia was only two weeks old when I had the feeling that something different was going on with my body. (Thanks Natural Family Planning, for teaching me to read every sign!)
From the beginning, my pregnancy with our second baby was a lot more difficult than it was with Elijah. My morning sickness the second time around was immensely worse than before, which was probably mostly due to lack of rest and having to change many dirty diapers. I was nauseous all the time, and almost all smells (whether pleasant or not) would make me double over in disgust. We also found out we were pregnant right as I was in the middle of writing my thesis. Chasing around a toddler made me incredibly sleepy, but napping was not an option because any extra minute I had was spent researching, studying, and writing. The only way that I could get through most days was by sitting down to work for a while, then setting an alarm so I could take a 10-15 minute refresher nap with my head down on my desk. I was exhausted, and grouchy. Not to mention the food aversions were killing my appetite and also my ability to cook a proper meal for my family. (Poor Joe—it was frozen foods for months there for a while.) The second trimester was a bit better because I got my energy back, but then the third kicked right back in and I was right back to where I began. Lucia moved a lot. A lot, a lot. I swore this little girl was practicing for the Olympic tryouts because it was summersault city all day, and especially all night. I could hardly sleep, and I when I did it was only with five-ten pillows, and on three quarters of the bed. I was still six weeks out when the contractions began and they stayed regular all the way up until her birth. They were so regular that they sent me to the hospital twice with false labor pains before the real deal came around. I was fed up with being pregnant, so much so that the day before she arrived, with a week still to go, I scheduled myself an acupuncture appointment!
Luckily, that day never came because the night before I made the appointment I felt the pangs of true contractions. The contractions began around 11pm, right when I went to bed, but because I had so many false labor signs before I decided to ignore them and try my best to sleep. The contractions woke me up around 12:45am, and I was still unsure what to do, so I did what any rational laboring mom would do: laundry. I started folding clothes that were left in the dryer, and when the pains became more and more intense I decided I should wake Joe so he could call his dad to come stay with Eli. Joe sleepily asked me if I was sure, not wanting to wake his dad up in the middle of the night for the third time. I didn’t need to reply because when I doubled over in pain the next minute, his eyes awakened and I could tell he knew this was no joke.
Joe’s dad showed up and we all laughed because it was obvious that this was not a drill—the baby was coming so we shared a huge sense of excitement. Joe and I decided around my 19th week of pregnancy that we weren’t going to find out the gender of the baby, which was a big motivator to get through the pain of labor. The element of fear that comes with having your first baby and bringing them home wasn’t there this time. We were just focused on getting through the next few hours, and were excited to meet our baby girl or boy.
I labored intensely on the way to the hospital, which I had always dreaded. I pictured the bumps and stops in the car to be absolutely miserable, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I sat up in the back of the car, facing the rear window while clutching the headrest and all I remember were the lights passing by as I opened my eyes between contractions.
As we made our way to the third floor of the hospital I was still a little fearful that the nurses would send me home. I figured I was most likely in labor, but because I had been sent home twice before I wasn’t completely convinced they were going to admit me. It wasn’t until the nurse checked my cervix and told me that I was dilated at a 5 that I started to believe I was staying. Am I going home? I asked her. She just laughed at me and told me, “No honey, you’re in labor.” It didn’t take me long to fall madly in love with my nurse. When she walked in, all short and confident, she won my heart as she immediately helped me through one of my contractions. As I struggled in pain, she grabbed me, placed my hands on her shoulders, and swayed with me. It was such a comfort and right then I almost screamed out “I LOVE YOU!” She was a huge help in easing my nerves about laboring naturally. When I voiced that I wanted to shoot for an un-medicated birth but was extremely nervous about it, she reassured me that I absolutely could do it. With my husband and this wonderful nurse by my side, I felt like I could conquer anything.
The pains were unreal, but there was something so different about this labor than my first. I felt so at ease and so in control. I applied all the tips and tricks I had learned for managing pain through the night, and Joe helped relieve my pain by placing pressure on my lower back, and lovingly coaching me through it.
Before my first labor with Eli I read about the significance of incorporating prayer into the process, but because labor with Eli was such whirlwind, I wasn’t able to do it. I just didn’t have any room to pray as I screamed and shook my way, eyes closed, through my first labor.
It was so different the second time around though. I had my husband download my favorite Christian artist, Matt Maher, and I found so much comfort having this song playing in the background:
The words helped me focus on the Lord and remember that even in times of trial, God is right there with us.
I also brought the Anima Christi prayer with me, and I asked Joe to pray it over and over again during my contractions when the labor reached it’s most intense point. I can’t explain the difference to you, other than to explain that even in the midst of all the pain I was at extreme peace. I never thought I would say that about labor, but even in all the pain, I was completely at peace. The words helped me unite my pain with Christ:
The phrases Blood of Christ, inebriate me…permit me not to be separated from you were especially comforting to me. I could visualize Jesus there with me as I shared his yoke and he shared mine. There’s something so incredibly profound about uniting suffering to Jesus. I don’t think I have ever felt closer to him than in that moment, and that made Lucia’s birth especially sweet for me.
I went strong until it was time to push. Things started getting tough, and the nurse tried distracting me asking me what I thought the baby was going to be. I told her I didn’t have a guess, because I didn’t want to be wrong, but a strong intuition told me it was a girl. I wanted so badly to meet her. As I continued to push I couldn’t take the pain any longer, and screamed out I can’t do it!! But my nurse looked me straight in my eyes and said, YES YOU CAN! Sweet relief came as I took a breath, pushed, and heard the first sounds of my baby. At 5:35am, our beautiful baby girl came into the world.
When we got to the hospital we still hadn’t decided what we were going to name her. We had a couple of names in mind, but it wasn’t until they handed her to me that I knew. I looked at her and said Lucia, then I looked at Joe, and he smiled.
She was our Lucia.
Nine months later:
Our beautiful little blue eyed (blue?? Where did those come from?!) baby girl.