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The Birth of Mia

by Jessica Grace Lagomarcino
Originally published on JGrace.net

I can’t jump in to our labor story without backing up a bit first. The night we found out we were pregnant, it was a total shock. Five minutes before, I’d not even been thinking about the possibility that we were pregnant, and then bam, there it was, right there on the pee stick. We were shocked– so much so that after a minute of staring at each other I remember saying to Lee, “um, I think you should hug me or something!!” The very next night I suggested that we go to Barnes and Noble for the first of many looks at the pregnancy and parenting book section.

It was then that my overwhelmed feeling set in. There was SO much to learn about! So much I’d never even heard of before regarding pregnancy and labor. I got panicked. I thought something like “Why isn’t there a big old standard manual overnight mailed to every girl once she finds out she is pregnant?” Once knowing how much info was really out there, I couldn’t believe that some people just coast through pregnancy and don’t really care about their ignorance. I wish I could feel a bit more like that, but now I’m just stressed and overwhelmed at the burden of educating myself.

Thankfully, during this quest we found some birth classes taught by the wonderful Angela Garvin. They were Lamaze-based and helped equip us for our journey into natural childbirth! We talked about all sorts of things over the 7 weeks. One of the most helpful experiences for me, however, was an exercise that simulated labor. A contraction timer mimicked the length and closeness of contractions, during which the mom had to squeeze an ice cube in her hand (to provide discomfort/pain) and we worked together with the dad’s to practice various comfort measures and labor positions. I sat on a birth ball, he applied counterpressure, I ate chocolate and smelled aromatherapy. We dimmed the lights in the class and basically, just practiced for labor. It was awesome. It gave me the confidence that we could do it. We worked beautifully together, and my awesome husband was so great at serving and helping me.

So– fast forward several weeks. I’m 39 weeks pregnant, but expecting to go late, simply because I’d heard that the average gestation for first time moms is 41 weeks 1 day. It’s a Friday night and after dinner, we decided to go walk in the parks along the river. It was a beautiful night and we walked for a good while. On Facebook that night I joked about how we’d walked in three different parks and that I was going to “walk this baby out,” even though we hadn’t gone walking with that intention, necessarily.

We went to bed and around 1am I woke up feeling wet. I went to the bathroom to discover my water had broken. I woke up Lee and we looked at each other with shock and thought “What do we do now?? Think back to our birth classes!” After a few minutes, we called our doula, Lorie and let her know what had happened, and eventually convinced us that since it was the middle of the night, and I wasn’t contracting, we should go back to bed and get some rest. (Easy for her to say!) I remember Lee getting out his computer to email some people– he had to cancel an appointment in the morning, I had to cancel and engagement photoshoot, and Lee had to Paypal over some money to the lady who was going to do placenta encapsulation for us!

We finally settled into a few hours of sleep and woke up around 6:45 am. I’d had some contractions after my water broke, but nothing too substantial or regular. We got up and finished getting together all of our things for the hospital, got the house all clean (I just HAD to have my house perfectly clean and put together!) and I spent some time doing the Miles Circuit. Lee took our dog to the kennel and brought back Chick-fil-A breakfast, which I consumed while doing hula motions sitting on the birth ball. Quite a sight to see!

Around noon we decided to take a nap so we would be nice and rested for what promised to be a long night ahead. Around 2 or so I talked with our doula again and told her that I thought I should go ahead and go to the hospital. This conversation was sort of an emotional mess for me, because I had just learned the past week that the doctor practice I was using would ban me to the bed once I got to the hospital if my water had broken. Not only was I going to have to do this, but I knew I’d probably have to start pitocin at some point since I was not in active labor but my water had broken. If your water breaks, there is potentially the risk for cord prolapse, which is indeed an emergency, but the risk of this if the baby is down and engaged in the pelvis is next to impossible. I was emotionally frustrated that this blanket policy would be applied to everybody, since I really wanted to be able to get out of bed and labor. I also knew that I would no longer be able to labor in the tub like I had desired. However, I figured since I knew pitocin was in my future since I was not contracting at all at this point, I figured I’d go in while we were rested and hopefully get things moving at a slower pace.

We get to the hospital around 3pm on Saturday May 12th. I get admitted, but I have high blood pressure, which they are concerned about. Since I’d not had any blood pressure issues throughout pregnancy, I know the issue is just coming from the stress and emotion I’m feeling about the hospital. So, for several hours, whenever the blood pressure cuff would go off, I would ask Lee to tell me what it said, hoping for lower numbers. They eventually did go down, and I was able to hold off the nurses just long enough so that I didn’t have to get a catheter to check for protein in my urine (apparently I couldn’t just give a sample because of my water breaking.

We kept doing the Miles Circuit, and Lee was doing some accupressure on a spot around my ankle which sometimes can help labor to begin. After no successful attempts, we decide to begin pitocin around 7pm. We started it out slowly, and about 30 minutes later I start experiencing some contractions. The pitocin keeps getting dialed up (though they never mentioned to me that they were doing this) and the contractions keep increasing. I remember them keep having to come in and adjust the monitors on me because we would “lose” the baby, from one of us moving. I also remember complaining to our nurse, Mary, that I was having some painful contractions that weren’t showing up on the monitor, and I wanted “credit” for what I was feeling!

Since I’d been told I couldn’t leave the bed, plus I had monitors and an IV of pitocin hooked up to me, I couldn’t even get up to use the bathroom. This was a big deal to me. I had to use the bedpan for the first time, which was a much more terrible experience than I’d expected. I felt less human by being forced to go to the bathroom in this way. So, I made up my mind, like only a pregnant woman can, that I did not want to do this any more. I asked to see the doctor, and then I basically begged her. I asked her to check the position of the baby, and if she was down and engaged, to please at least let me get up to use the bathroom. She reluctantly agreed, after I stared her in the eyes and begged, and I was given my freedom! She also mentioned that I could sit on the birth ball– so yay! Two points of freedom!

Just about then, the nurses changed shifts, and our wonderful nurse, Mary left, and we were joined by another wonderful nurse, Tracy, who said something to the effect of “Oh, that’s great you were cleared by the doc to get up and walk around and labor how you want!” I thought to myself, “well that’s not EXACTLY what she said, but OK!” I was really free now! Besides not being able to labor in the tub, and having the pitocin, I was getting to have the birth I’d wanted!

Around 10pm my parents arrived from Florida and joined us in the hospital room. It was great to see them, and have some new faces to talk and laugh with, especially since Lee and I had already been there for about 7 hours without anything major happening. I sat on the labor ball and talked with them, and before too long, was having contractions that I couldn’t talk through anymore. I closed my eyes and groaned a bit with the pain. Lee sat behind me on the bed, and I remember pressing down on his knees and lifting myself off the ball as I contracted. Things kept picking up, and before I knew it, I was throwing up, right there facing my parents, barfing into a sack. Well, hadn’t expected THAT to happen. I keep apologizing to my parents, which they thought was silly.

Things kept picking up, and my parents soon excuse themselves from the room. My awesome doula Lorie arrives (for the second time) and finds Lee and I in full-on labor mode. Lee has dimmed the lights, put on music, turned on some electric candles and is catering to whatever I needed during each contraction. For awhile I would sit on the side of the bed and then stand up and “slow dance” with Lee rhythmically during the contraction. I laid on my side in the bed and had Lee hold one leg up in the air. (I remember thinking, “I’m sure that is getting heavy, I should tell him he can put it down, but I don’t want to!”) I also a season where I had to have his left hand and spin his wedding ring during the contraction (it is funny the things our bodies come up with to do to help us cope!) I also leaned over the ball in a couple different positions on the bed. I threw up probably 5 more times (too bad I ate all those red popsicles and ice chips!) and kept trudging through. My contractions were coming every 2 minutes or so and were pretty intense, but we were making it through.

Around 2am I decided that I really wanted to be checked to know how much I’d progressed. I hadn’t been checked since being admitted to the hospital when I was only a 1 or 2. I was hoping she was going to say I was about 7 cm, but she tells me I’m a 5. Right before the check, I heard somebody mention that once you get to 4 or 5 cm, the average is an hour per centimeter after that. So, of course I think “5 more hours! I can’t do that!” Our doula quickly reminds us that we can’t think like that, and that there is “no math in labor!” Little did she know how right she was going to be!

From about 2am til 3am things really heat up. I’ve got lots of bloody show goin on, and a handful of contractions that are just really unbearable. It was generally whenever I switched positions that things became unbearable for a couple contractions. Obviously the alternating positions were really causing my body to dilate, thus causing the pain. There was a couple times during the course of labor where I told Lee and Lorie that I wanted an epidural. They knew that I really wanted to go natural, and that I was saying this merely because I didn’t know how else to cope with the pain. So, the first time I mentioned it, they told me later, that they pretty much just ignored me. The second time they were able to distract me long enough until they checked my cervix. They could see that as my pain was escalating, perhaps I was in transition.

Then, a few minutes later, it hit me. I had to push. I remember saying “I have to push! I have to poop! I don’t know!! I just want to poop this baby out!” (hahaha). I could feel her head really low and applying pressure, and my body just started pushing. The nurse warned me to try and hold back a bit on my pushing, because they’d checked me just an hour before and I was only a 5! If I weren’t fully dilated, pushing could cause cervical swelling, which then complicates the delivery. So, I tried to hold back a bit, but there really is no stopping a pregnant woman who knows she has to push!

I was so confused at this point– I was pushing, but I didn’t know if I was supposed to be, or what even was going on. I’d never done this before, and all of these sensations were new. And so, after a couple of minutes, the nurse checks me, and to her astonishment, declares that I’m fully dilated and that it was time!

All of a sudden, there are a bunch of people in the room and they are pulling a big light down out of some hidden ceiling panel (so the crowd of people forming at my feet can get a better look at all my business down there. I remember looking up and saying something like “Where did all these people come from?”

Lee texted my mom and told her to hurry– the baby was about to come. She and my dad were out sitting in their car (the waiting room was too cold for my mom) and they had expected to be waiting several more hours. Mom rushes in and gets there just in time.

I remember feeling so relieved to be pushing. It was a totally different sensation, and I was so glad to not be dealing with the pain of contractions anymore. In fact, I don’t even remember the pushing hurting at all! I pushed maybe once, and the doctor told me to reach down and touch her head! I remember my mom making all kinds of “ohhh!” sounds, like she was excited and tearing up all at once, and I can remember them telling me “You’re doing it, Jess!” I pushed a couple more times, and there she was! (I did always say I have “birthing hips”… I guess I was right!) 2:49am on Sunday, May 13th. Mothers Day. Mia Grace Lagomarcino was here.

They put Mia on my chest, daddy cut the cord, and we all lived happily ever after.The doc began to deliver the placenta, but I guess it wasn’t coming. She started pulling on the cord, but apparently the cord was pretty thin, and so she wrapped the cord around a pair of scissors and started easing it out. They showed us the placenta– the side that was attached to me (kinda gross) and the side that fed the baby (kinda cool) and the sac that held the baby. It is pretty amazing that our body creates all of that and sustains another human life.

I was so excited that it was all over and that she was here! I did it without any pain medication, and even while on pitocin! The doctor told me that on a scale of 1-10 of women she’d seen in natural childbirth, I was a 10! My doula was also amazed and how it went! From a 5 to a baby in just an hour! I, of course, had nothing to compare the experience to, but it made me feel good to hear such glowing reviews. We did it! Labor was over, and I could not have done it without my super supportive, amazing husband, and our awesome doula. So blessed that God brought us to this place and gave us a healthy baby girl without any complications!