Angela and I went to college together and I had the pleasure of seeing her and meeting her beautiful baby boy for the first time this summer at a friend's wedding up in Illinois. Angela shared Luca's story in honor of his first birthday in July on Facebook, and is graciously allowing me to share it with you all here today.
"Because we were already 2 days past our official due date, Dom and I thought we’d take a lovely stroll around the neighborhood to see if we could get this baby moving. It was a wonderfully comfortable evening for a walk in the Midwest in late July, and we enjoyed about an hour of walking and talking about baby names, excitement, and expectations about our nearing adventure. Three weeks prior to this night, I had experienced several hours of contractions 4-6min apart after picking blueberries (and as far as we knew, 1-2cm dilated and 25% effaced), so we were a little surprised that this baby hadn’t tried to come out to play already. After our walk, we guzzled water, had some ice cream, and played Scrabble (Dom won…this alone should have been a sure sign that something was going on inside me that my brain was paying more attention to than the game).
I went to bed about 10:45pm with a sore lower back and a slight headache. When I awoke at 12:40am, I knew it was a contraction that woke me. The feeling was sharp and strong, lasting about 15 seconds. The contractions continued about every 6 minutes or so, the intensity forcing me out of bed after one hour. I went downstairs and started drinking water and alternating between walking and bouncing on my dearly beloved exercise ball (where I had spent good amount of time while pregnant). After another hour of laboring alone, I went and woke up a reluctant husband and had him come downstairs with me. I walked and drank and breathed through contractions and made trips to the bathroom about every 10 minutes.
With the contraction intensity increasing, we called the Dr on call about 3:50am, and he agreed with our assessment that we should go ahead and head to the hospital. Because I had no desire to be at the hospital for a long day of labor, we (aka Dom) took our time gathering our things…my momma’s bag, the baby clothes, the exercise ball, the iPod speakers, the tennis balls/massage oil, hard candy, snacks, pillows, journal, laptop, cameras…you know, all the necessities. Meanwhile, I took a wonderful shower, and dressed smelling like coconut.
Now, we knew that the labor had gotten to that next level when I didn’t want to eat anything before we left. I think I finally had some sips of lemonade, but food did not interest me at all at that point. I tried to take a bite of granola bar in the car, but I didn’t like it. We did use our 4.5-minute drive to St Luke’s to decide on our girl’s name (which had been narrowed down to 2 names previously). Our boy pick having been decided with a little more ease weeks ago.
We arrived easily, walked up to the second floor, and I was checked at 4cm and 80% effacement. I was in labor. Yes. But about 20 minutes later when I got up to walk to our labor room, my water broke, and then I was in real labor. It was 5:25am. The contractions were powerful, all encompassing, and much closer together. The fluid had what we nurses call “thin-meconium” in it, a fairly common occurrence resulting in the ICN nurses attending the delivery and sometimes extra interventions needed for the baby (deep suctioning, not staying with mommy, oxygen, etc.) but many times resulting in nothing extra needed. As a mother/baby nurse, I know this. As a momma in labor with her very first little baby, I know very little. I know my hopes, my dreams, and my desires for as little medical intervention as possible and to not be separated from my newborn. All these thoughts and the “worst-case” scenario flash through my mind after my meconium water has broken. And for the first time in labor, I am a little nervous. I cry. I hug my husband. And the next contraction hits, hard, bringing all my wandering thoughts back to the mission at hand. Breathe, breathe, breathe. It’s baby time.
For the next three hours, I labored with my amazing husband by my side. None of the positions we had practiced felt comfortable. Some rocking, some standing and leaning, but a lot of side to side in the bed…the last place I thought I’d want to be. Our labor nurse Jeanie was fabulous, anticipating my needs, encouraging us, and skillfully progressing the labor. Just before 8:30am, we were told I was at 9.5 cm, and we were very close to pushing. Well, the strength with which the contractions came, I feel took over my body. I couldn’t hold back. My body was telling me to push. I was given the green light to push after another check (apparently I was 10cm during a contraction). I pushed with every contraction, trying to get 3 pushes with each one. I felt immense pressure, amazingly strong contractions, but I did not feel the baby moving/progressing at all. I pushed like this for almost an hour, side to side on the bed, not wanting to get up because I was too uncomfortable. Then, I moved to the toilet. The wonderful, magical toilet. The idea was that maybe a full bladder was keeping the baby from progressing. Turns out the toilet squat was all we needed. I pushed for two rounds of contractions on the toilet and felt the baby move with almost each push. It was such a needed relief to feel that my exhausted pushing was doing something.
When I returned to the bed, I felt as though I had only seconds between contractions. At one point I told Dom that I didn’t feel in control, and he just kept telling me how great I was doing, and he (and Jeanie) helped get my breathing back in focus and started getting me a wash cloth soaked in cold water. I loved that washcloth. For the last 30 minutes of pushing, I covered my face completely with it. I would hold it out to Dom so he could give it a cold refilled and then immediately put it back in place. Somehow, with the washcloth covering me, I could concentrate so much better on each push. The pain was incredible. But at that point, the pain was what was bringing me this precious gift. Each contraction was necessary, each contraction an opportunity to continue on. I pushed through a contraction, squeezed Dom’s hand, and though the contraction was over, kept pushing.
Luca Suppasan was born on July 22, 2008 at 9:55am. Screaming a healthy, beautiful cry. My first words, “it’s a boy!?!” Active and bright red with wide-open eyes, breathing wonderfully, perfectly. He went immediately on my chest where he stayed for one hour. Not needed, the ICN nurses left. Our flawless boy was here. We were in tears, glowing. We experienced the natural birth we hoped for. And Luca didn’t have to leave us once. He started breastfeeding in about 30 minutes. My cheeks hurt from an hour-long smile that I had been saving just for this occasion.
He weighed in at 7 pounds 4 ounces, 20 inches long. His head was 13 ¼ inches in diameter. Luca was awake and alert for almost 4 hours straight. Lovely, attentive eyes, big hands, and huge feet. We were proud, we were overflowing, we were in love."