June 25, 2014
Gianluca Salvatore Fasi. 4 lbs, 14 oz. 19 inches long. Born 5:23pm at Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend. Eugene, OR.
We weren't expecting our little guy until July but hey when it's time, it's time. Let me tell you, I was already itching with anticipation for his arrival especially after the bed rest and long labor I went through! Every mom has a vision of what they're expecting their labor day to be. After watching The Business of Being Born I knew I wanted to go 'au naturel', meaning no drugs for the birth of my son. My mom did it for all four of us and she was very encouraging when I told her about my plan including hiring a doula to coach me through my labor. Mila Kunis recently talked about using a doula for the birth of her daughter! I was mentally preparing myself for what was to come but let's just say it didn't go exactly as planned.
My labor journey
Monday, June 23. It was a routine test at the OBGYN's office. They call it a Fetal Non-Stress test (NST) which is non-invasive and monitors the baby's heart rate and movements during natural contractions. There are a few reasons why mommy's have NST's. In my case, the placenta wasn't functioning properly and my amniotic fluids were a little low. My doc noticed that Luca's heart rate was having a few dips after my contractions so she suggested that we get some further testing done at the hospital. It was nothing new for us since we've done it a few times before. Well after being admitted into the hospital and seeing those same dips during the extended test I was told that the kiddo was ready to come out. My face was calm when I got the news but inside my head I was thinking "Wait...WHAT?! I was going to deliver TODAY! Shit do I need to calm Sal down because I know he's freaking out right now." The doc explained to us that in my situation, the baby was more likely to thrive outside of the womb versus inside me because my placenta was showing signs of distress. It was a lot of information to take in but thankfully my doctor was preparing me for this moment ahead of time. Things were about to get real. I was nervous, anxious, excited and a little stressed mainly because my mom, who was visiting for a few days, had just left that morning to go back to Hawaii and I wanted her with me during my delivery. I hadn't even finished packing my hospital bag! On top of that my doc suggested that we do a C-section to get him out safely. "C-section? NOOOO!" However she knew that was my very last option and considering the facts at that time, it was still ok for me to try a vaginal delivery. I had to be realistic though for the sake of my child's safety and health. After hearing the "C-word", Sal and I had to start preparing ourselves mentally for that, if the time came. So what was next? Well we started the induction process that night to get my body ready for labor.
Meanwhile I was updating my dad with the details of our recent developments. Upon my mom's arrival in Hawaii, she frantically tried to find a flight back to Oregon to make it back on time for the birth. Thankfully she was able to jump on a plane and get to us by Tuesday evening. My girlfriend Candace and her husband were so sweet in dropping off a full snack bar while Sal rushed home to get all of our things ready for our hospital stay. I also called my doula, Laura, that night and updated her with the latest on our situation and told her to come the next day to help us with the labor process.
Tuesday, June 24. Tuesday morning and all through the day we waited and waited. Still nothing, I hadn't dilated at all. Laura stopped by and we all just hung around. She prepared me for what I was going to start feeling and asked what I wanted pre-labor for myself and post-labor for the baby. Pre-labor, my requests included using heat to soothe, massage tools to ease the pressure and for everyone to turn their phones on silent so that I could concentrate on being present in the moment. Post-labor we talked about what kind of care Sal and I wanted for our son. These are the kinds of things they don't really tell you about before your delivery. This included things like if we wanted him to get erythromycin eye ointments to prevent eye infection, and giving him a vitamin K shot in the hospital or wait for the pediatricians appointment. We decided on having it all done with in the first few hours of his life. Sal and I also decided to bank our baby's cord blood so Laura made sure that we got all of those details taken care of before and during labor. I'll talk more about cord blood banking in an upcoming blog.
My contractions had already started kicking in but it wasn't anything that I wasn't able to handle. Laura noticed my breathing was changing but I was still talking and smiling so you could say I was in Phase 1 of labor.
By Tuesday evening I was given the option to have a C-section OR try another method to help dilate me further. I chose the later and by the end of the night we both decided that we should give my body a break and try again the next day. My contractions were getting a little more intense and I knew this night was the calm before the storm.
My mom finally came in that night and I immediately felt a wave of relief knowing that she would be here for the birth of her first grand baby. That really helped me relax a lot.
Wednesday, June 25. This was it, Wednesday morning was the big day. I still hadn't progressed much so the doctor broke my water to speed up the labor process. And boy did it. Yoga breathing came in handy BIG TIME. The IV was running with an increased dose of pitocin, and the stronger contractions started coming. I quickly went from Phase 2 to Phase 3 but I wasn't dilating like they wanted me to. An epidural was offered but I opted not to take the extra drugs. My woman warrior mask was on and I was ready to face one of the hardest moments of my life.
I labored in bed and in the tub which helped a lot with the presure. The nurses and my doula had some awesome advice while I was going through those intense pressure waves. I had an endless supply of ice pops, water and coconut water to keep me hydrated after every contraction and anytime one came along, they would pour warm water over my belly to help distract me from the pain.
Another great tip was how to 'ride those contraction waves'. Laura and the nurse explained how breathing through that first incline of pain was where I should exert my energy. After reaching that crest, just let it go and relax. That rhythm really helped me.
Poor Sal, I know he meant well but there were times when I just wanted to scream at him....or just punch him. Why? Well for one he was wearing a winter sweater which irked the hell out of me. Who wears a WINTER sweater during the summer!!! Another, he was trying to comfort me during my water labor by moving me in the tub, instead that just set off some intense contractions and I wanted to hurt him just as hard. In those moments he did everything wrong. My hormones got the best of me.
Remember that 'cell phone on silent' rule I had? Of course my mom didn't listen and I'm pretty sure I kicked her out of the bathroom when I was laboring in the tub. But she did snap these photos which she sent to our family, and for that I'm thankful mom :)
Like I said, my contractions were so close together and incredibly strong but I hadn't dilated enough. Transition phase was in full effect. I was howling through the pain. I broke down in tears from exhaustion and just feeling defeated. The nurse offered me a temporary drug to ease the pain, but after checking with our doctor it was no longer an option. Sal replied "That's ok, we don't need that." I responded, "Oh WE don't need it? Really?!" I was a little short with him but he knew that was going to happen. My mom tried so hard to not LOL after that comment especially because she knew I needed to concentrate as much as possible on my breathing.
After laboring for two and a half days and seeing red flags on the baby's heart rate monitor the doctor finally dealt the C-section card. My doc was incredibly supportive, knowing that was my last option, but I told her lets do it. For the safety of the baby I didn't want to risk my perfect birth plan for his health. I was given some meds to prep for surgery and Sal put on the operating gear. I remember the first thing I said to Sal after the anesthesiologist hooked me up, "you have something in your teeth." I think that was the last thing that annoyed me. After that I was feeling good. Only one person is allowed in the OR so of course I requested my husband. Before they started surgery, my doctor asked me where my bikini line started so my little scar would be hidden. How sweet is that?!
FUN FACT: The time from incision to delivery generally takes 5 minutes. The rest of the surgery takes about 30-45 minute, including repair.
Just like that, I met my little Luca. I was so exhausted and drugged from the entire experience but when I heard him cry, my heart just burst with joy and the adrenaline kicked in. Sal cut the cord and was by his side the entire time. He was a tiny little guy but he had an incredible set of lungs and weighed just enough to avoid the NICU. As soon as they put him on my chest he stopped crying. That skin-to-skin contact is just incredible for both mommy and baby bonding. They let him stay there until they finished sewing me up. That's one of the reasons why I adore this hospital. They are so progressive when it comes to mama-baby care. Luca never left our sight. They even let Sal carry him off of my chest and into our room.
While I was being sewn back up, my doctor asked me if I wanted to see my placenta. Initially I said nah, however after thinking about it I decided that I should especially after being told that the reason why we delivered early was due to my poor placenta. So after my doc delivered my placenta, she examined it and then showed it to me. Overall my placenta looked healthy but sure enough there was some discoloration within it. We don't know exactly what caused them but at least we can say, YES it was a factor in Luca's early delivery.
Overall I have to say that I had a very positive birthing experience. I have to credit everyone who helped in the process: My handsome and incredible husband Sal, my inspiration aka Mama Dar aka 'Lola', my wonderful doula Laura Finnegan, all the nurses, lactation consultants and specialists at the hospital and of course my doctor, Dr. Julie Haugen, and nurse Tracy, who took such great care of me. The entire staff at the hospital were so kind and accommodating. Sal even tried to bribe the nurses to come back home with us to help. I have to say that after a week and a half, he's doing an amazing job as a daddy :)
My advice for mommy's-to-be is to make sure you go into this incredible experience with an open mind. You never know what to expect. My ideal birthing dreams didn't go as planned but knowing that I had prepared myself and Sal mentally for whatever outcome was to come, it helped us in the long run. This was our journey. We finally got to leave the hospital after 6 days and it felt so great to go home with the new addition to our family.