My little Luca flew into this world in the same amount of time it takes to watch Titanic. I knew his labor would be faster than Amalia’s, but I was not expecting this! I had my first contraction around 9:30 am and he was born at 1:10 pm. Because I had a pretty great experience with the actual labor part of Amalia’s birth, I went into it without any fear about that. But I had a lot of anxiety about what I would feel like after he was born. I’m happy to report that the labor and the moments and days postpartum have been a truly beautiful experience.
I never could have imagined feeling so happy with a newborn. I didn’t think it was possible for me. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or without its challenges. But despite the exhaustion and sore boobs, I feel really really good emotionally. I’m getting used to our new normal physically but it feels manageable because I’m in a good headspace. I’ll write more about that when I can form better thoughts, but in the meantime, here is Luca’s birth story.
Please note that I’m writing this on very little sleep so forgive any typos or sentences that make zero sense 🙂 And here is Amalia’s birth story if you want to read that too.
Monday, April 12th
The week before he was born, I was having prodromal contractions regularly. I started timing them on Monday night because they were less than 5 minutes apart for more than an hour. We even went so far as to pack Anel’s bag and get ready for the hospital on Monday night. But then the contractions stopped.
That whole week Anel and I kept saying that he would ideally come during the day over the weekend. I guess he listened!
Friday, April 16th
I went in for my 39-week check-up and learned that I was already 4cm dilated and 50% effaced. Those prodromal contractions had really been working. I was shocked to learn that I was already so far along though. My doctor said she would put money on him being born in the next two days and that it was going to be a fast and furious labor process. She wasn’t wrong.
Saturday, April 17th
8:30 am– Since it was a Saturday, Anel was home and let me sleep in. I woke up feeling tired and crampy and took a shower to feel better. I got dressed and did my hair and make-up because we were supposed to have brunch with my family who were in town for a visit.
9 am– I came downstairs and had breakfast with Amalia. I had some light contractions but nothing different than in the days prior. She asked if she could go play with her best friend next door so I sent her off for a playdate and cleaned the kitchen with mild contractions, still thinking nothing of it.
9:30 am– My sister called and while we were chatting I would have to take breaks to breathe through contractions and she was like, “I think you’re in labor???” but I still didn’t quite believe it. We hung up and Anel sat with me on our bed as the contractions got more and more intense.
10 am– Within 30 minutes they were 50 seconds long every 2-3 minutes. The labor basically went from 0 to 60 in that very fast time frame. Anel packed his bag and packed the car as I called the doctor and our doula. They both said that because it was my second pregnancy, I should go to the hospital as soon as I could. I didn’t really believe it because I had labored at home for hours with Amalia but took their advice and am so glad that I did!
I was leaning forward on my exercise ball in Luca’s room and Boots wouldn’t leave my side. Here was my view at that moment as Anel packed the car:
10:45 am– We left for the hospital and my contractions in the car were coming every 1-2 minutes and had gotten extremely intense. Far more intense than any that I had felt with Amalia before my epidural. I started to get really nervous that I was going to miss my epidural window and panicked a little. Anel calmed me down as we pulled into the parking lot.
11 am– We arrived at the hospital and had to get our temperature taken and IDs scanned. During that time I felt like my body might explode but kept breathing through each contraction with Anel’s hand on my forehead, calming me down.
11:10 am– I was admitted within a few minutes, got a COVID test, and suddenly it was rip-roaring labor with minute-long contractions every minute. I started throwing up and only felt some comfort when I stood up bending over the bed. My doula arrived a few minutes later and was a godsend. She would push down on my hips with every contraction and speak the most soothing words. Her help made a world of difference.
Everyone in the room wore a mask (and was fully vaccinated) but mine quickly came off since I was puking. The nurses told me since I tested negative I could keep it off. This was one of my biggest worries going into labor, so that was a big relief.
At this point, we also remembered the tens unit and Anel put it on my back. With each contraction, he would turn it up so I could focus on the electric pulse as much as possible. I can’t stress enough how much the tens machine changes things. I used one for both labors and can tell you that besides the epidural (obviously), it was the single most helpful thing for pain management. If you want to learn more, read about tens units and labor.
Between each contraction, I kept asking when the anesthesiologist would arrive. They had to wait for my bloodwork to come back before I could get an epidural and that felt like an eternity. In reality, it was only 50 minutes.
12 pm– I got my epidural between contractions and honestly didn’t even feel it. Anel said the needle was huge and couldn’t believe that I didn’t notice it
12:10 pm– Within 10 minutes I felt relief from the pain, and finally was able to relax, smile, and joke around with Anel, our doula, and the nurses. I was shaky from the hormones and the drugs but felt good besides that. I closed my eyes and tried to do some meditations before the doctor came back.
12:30 pm- My doctor came to check me and said I was 9cm! She broke my water and said I’d be ready to push within a few minutes. I guess I got a look of fright on my face because she told me she would go stand outside the door, give me a minute with Anel, and come back in when I was ready.
I looked at Anel with tears in my eyes, terrified about what would happen when Luca came out. My postpartum experience with Amalia was so full of fear and anxiety, the thought of that happening again felt like too much to bear. He told me to take it one minute at a time and that it would be different this time. He said all kinds of encouraging words that I can’t remember anymore but I know that I felt lifted up, strong, and ready to meet our little guy. Pictured here:
1 pm- I called the doctor back in and felt ready to push. With each contraction, they had me push three times to the count of 10. He started coming out on the second contraction and on the third, his heart rate dropped really low. At that point, apparently, I started hyperventilating and they had to give me oxygen. I don’t really remember a lot about this part but I remember my doula repeating in my ear “breathe deep for your baby” and that got me to breathe again.
1:10 pm– Luca was born with my next push! His cord was wrapped around his neck and then around his body twice and Anel said he looked like he was being strangled by a python…. I’m very glad I didn’t see that.
They put him on my chest and I felt the biggest physical and mental relief of my life. Unlike Amalia’s birth, I felt connected to him immediately. It was as if when I looked at him for the first time, I had known him forever (that moment is pictured above and I’ll be forever grateful to our doula for snapping the photo).
1:20 pm– It was the most beautiful feeling but it only lasted for a minute because he started shaking and the pediatrician had to come check him out. It turned out that he had a very low blood sugar count so I fed him immediately and they had to supplement with formula right after that. Supplementing on day one was not in our plan but we were willing to do anything to get his shaky, jittery body to calm down. It was very scary in the moment.
I also want to mention that this time around I didn’t get an episiotomy (yay!) and only had very minor tearing so recovery down there has been pretty fast and easy.
That afternoon/night– We continued to supplement with formula after each feed but his blood sugar didn’t come up until the next morning. If it hadn’t, they were going to admit him to the NICU for a sugar drip so it was a big relief when his numbers were back up where the ped wanted them.
Sunday, April 18th
We were cleared for discharge the next night with a promise that we would continue to supplement his feeds and see our pediatrician the next morning. He was still shaking pretty hard whenever he wasn’t swaddled up, but we felt good knowing that they were sending us home.
That night, we came home and introduced Luca to his very proud big sister who wants to just kiss and love on him 24/7. She has been such a good little helper and everytime he cries, she says, “It’s ok Luca, your big sister is right here.” She’s like a little mommy and is fitting into her big sister shoes better than we could have ever imagined so far.
She also looks huge next to him! I cannot believe these two little cuties are my children. I can’t believe I have a son! This week has been so emotional and chaotic and really just wonderful.