Let there be Lucy ✨
Lucy’s Birth Story
Pregnancy. What an experience!
I am thankful to say that I had a very uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy. We didn’t always know that this was going to be the case. From years of walking the road of infertility, to a surprising and scary mid-pregnancy diagnosis of a short cervix, we definitely had our anxieties during my pregnancy with Lucia. That being said, all in all, my pregnancy was a smooth and pleasant ride. I didn’t experience one single bout of nausea, I didn’t have any crazy cravings, and I was able to stay mobile and working until the very end. On the flip side, I developed crazy carpal tunnel syndrome (who knew that was a pregnancy symptom??) and my hands hurt like the dickens. I could barely write (so sad for bullet journaling!) and had to discontinue playing my guitar by the middle of my second trimester.
Towards the end of my pregnancy my doctor captured some higher blood pressure levels during appointments that they were monitoring. She told me about the risks of preeclampsia and how serious they took those risks. So, I knew that coming in to my 39 week appointment there was a chance that my doctor could send me over to Labor & Delivery for an induction. Still, I was absolutely certain that there was no chance that Lucy was ready for her debut yet because I was positive that I had not yet ever felt a contraction. I expected to attend my 39 week appointment, get sent home, and Lucy would probably arrive late and past her due date.
Well, I think you know where this is going.
My blood pressure at the 39 week appointment registered higher. Not high per se, but higher for me. I think I was just nervous, but I am so glad that my doctor took every precaution. During the appointment she also checked my cervix and discovered that I was already 4cm dilated. I was floored. Shouldn’t I have know if I was dilated? Wouldn’t I have felt this happen?? My doctor laughed, said every body and pregnancy is different, wished us luck, and sent us off to Labor & Delivery.
It was a really good thing that we went to L&D at that time because apparently it was full moon and the most popular time to be having a baby. Kaiser Oakland’s L&D ward was full to bursting and we were one of the last families to be admitted before they had to start redirecting patients to other Kaiser hospitals.
Once we were admitted, there still wasn’t a place to put us. All of the L&D rooms and triage rooms were full, so they created temporary spaces in the C-section recovery area. The nurses and staff were wonderful. They started me on a round of pitocin to induce labor due to my elevated blood pressure. They slowly ramped up the pitocin level every half hour or so. I could see the from the monitor that I was having contractions, but I wasn’t in any pain or discomfort. I am superwoman. I don’t know what other ladies complain about, this is nothing. Contractions conshmactions.
I forgot to mention the timeline so far. My 39 week appointment was on a Wednesday afternoon. By the time we got admitted to L&D and started the pitocin it was about 6:30pm on Wednesday. We finally got moved to our own L&D room about 11:30pm Wednesday night. By that time they had maxed out my pitocin level and I still wasn’t in any pain, maybe some light discomfort. I was still able to walk and hang out as normal, and I hadn’t progressed passed the 4cm. We all decided to wash out the pitocin from my system and start a new round on Thursday morning.
The nurses and doctors let me know that the second round of pitocin would probably be more intense. They started round two on Thursday morning. It was definitely more intense and I was uncomfortable, but I still really wasn’t in pain. We pretty much hung out all day Thursday with my parents and sister, just chatting and walking and napping and passing the time. The doctors checked me throughout the day. One resident doctor thought I had progressed to 6cm, but upon a further check I really hadn’t and was still hovering around the 4cm mark. By Thursday evening they had nearly maxed me out on the pitocin again and I was pretty uncomfortable and also trying to focus on watching a Warriors game. Still superwoman. Laboring is a cakewalk.
Enter pain medication.
We decided to start with the nitrous oxide (laughing gas). I had heard mixed reviews about the nitrous and wanted to give it a try mostly out of curiosity. Well, we tried it and I hated it. It really did nothing for my discomfort and the machine was. So. Loud. I think my senses were all super heightened and the loudness of the machine was overwhelming. So we stopped that. I wanted to also try the hospital’s TENS unit (electrotherapy) but they were out of some of the needed parts for me to try it.
By nighttime we had sent my parents home to get some sleep as nothing was really happening. At 10pm a resident doctor came in, checked me, and I was still at around 4cm. She talked to John and I about the possibility of breaking my water. Oh yeah, I didn’t tell you? My water hadn’t broken yet. The doctor was confident that there was little to no risk of infection and that if they broke my water my body would take over, kick into high gear, and get this baby out of me.
Now, I should have said, “Doc, that’s a great idea. But it’s 10pm. Let’s sleep for the night and you can break my water in the early morning.”
What I actually said: “Does breaking water hurt? No? OK, go for it.”
10pm: Doctor breaks Ferial’s water.
10:01pm: REAL, powerful contractions start and happen every other minute.
10:01pm: Ferial no longer feels like superwoman.
10:03pm: Ferial thinks she’s going to die.
10:05pm: Ferial repeatedly tells John she feels like she’s going to die.
10:20pm: Ferial begs for the epidural.
10:25pm: Ferial is told that the anesthesiologist has just gone into an emergency C-section and that it’s going to be 2 hours before she can get her epidural.
Those two hours of real, active labor before I got my epidural were excruciating. My contractions were super powerful. I tried my best to focus on my breathing and John was an incredible partner through it all. Lucy was posterior (sunny side up) through the whole thing, so my back labor was intense. By 11:30 I didn’t think I could take anymore. John and I had previously decided that we would not go for the fentanyl, but I had changed my mind by this point and just wanted anything to help take the edge off of the intense pain I was experiencing. Our L&D nurse, Doug (who was INCREDIBLE, seriously, we want to buy this man a car), administered my fentanyl, but I’m not sure that it did much, because the anesthesiologist arrived shortly after to give me my epidural. John is pretty sure that the fentanyl helped me stay calm and still for the epidural, for which I’m grateful.
I got my epidural around midnight, now Friday morning. I cannot describe to you the relief! It was the most amazing feeling. There’s a small part of me that believes that had I chosen to wait until the morning to have my water broken and been sufficiently rested prior to going into active labor, I may not have needed the pain medication. That being said, I am not ashamed nor do I regret my decisions to opt for both medications. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain of labor. Sure, the medication didn’t go exactly as how we laid out in our birth plan, but as one of the L&D nurses joked with us, “Remember, your baby has not read your birth plan.”. That was such a good reminder to hold our plan with open hands and try and make the best decisions as we could. I am grateful for the medicine that was able to help me cope with the pain of labor and, in the end, our goal was healthy baby and healthy mom, and that (thank God) is what we got.
Now that I had my epidural, John and I were able to sleep a bit. We slept from about 12:30am - 2:30am before the next resident doctor came in to check my progress. The way that John remembers it, he awoke at 2:30am to Dr. Aereno saying “let’s have this baby!” I was fully dilated and ready to go. Those powerful contractions had done the trick and I had gone from 4cm to the full 10cm in less than 4 hours.
Nurse Doug started to get everything ready. “Now, Kaiser gives you 4 hours to push this baby out of you,” he told us. “But we’re going to do in 90 minutes.” Nurse Doug gave us the full game plan which started with sitting me in a butterfly position for 45 minutes to get Lucy nice and low. During that sitting time, John and I alerted my parents to make their way back to the hospital, prayed together, and tried to prepare ourselves for the fact that we were about to meet our daughter.
After the 45 minute sitting time, it was pushing time. Nurse Doug and John each helped me with one of my legs and my mom stayed up by head, encouraging and coaching me through each push. I want to say here and now that it was so wonderful to have my mom in the delivery room with us. She was so amazing! I love you, Mom.
Because of the epidural, I didn’t feel much pain during the pushing. In fact, in the beginning of the pushing, I couldn’t even really feel any pressure so I didn’t know when the right time to push was. Nurse Doug watched the monitors and would let me know when to push. Within about 30 minutes of pushing I started feeling the pressure and knew when to push. Very nearly true to Nurse Doug’s timeline, I pushed for about 100 minutes, just over an hour and half, and out Lucy came (I told Nurse Doug that he was right by Price is Right rules) at 5:10am on Friday, February 22, 2019.
I don’t remember a lot of the details toward the end of the pushing time. I was so in the zone and focused on my breathing and pushing, and I remember having my eyes closed. I opened my eyes as they placed Lucy on my chest. She was sticky (covered in vernix) and round and a bit blue in the face (turns out she had had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck—John had been pretty anxious about it, but the doctor performed a quick “rodeo move” and got the cord taken care of quickly as Lucy came out) and she was so, so beautiful. Lucy opened her big, bright eyes and looked up at me. John was standing over us, crying. My mom was smiling wide and taking pictures. It was all pure joy—Lucy had finally arrived!
I will never forget this day, the day we met our Lucy-girl. Her full name is Lucia Evangeline, which means “light of the gospel”, and our prayer is that she would always live into that name: to bring light and the good news wherever she goes.
May God, the Father of all, bless our child, Lucia, and us who
have given to her our family name, that we may live together
in love and affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.