As Luca's birth reached 8 weeks ago last weekend, I realized I had better put his birth story into words before memory of it began to fade. I feel as though it happened only yesterday, or maybe a week ago. The days leading up to his birth and his delivery day are still so fresh and beautiful in my mind. But just as I'm slowly putting his newborn clothes away because he is growing so quickly, so is the time passing since his birth. It's all incredibly bitter sweet.
Luca Louis was born on Saturday, June 29th at around 12:30 in the afternoon. I was supposed to be at a Blessingway for a dear friend of mine that afternoon but instead was empowered for my own birth, by the beautiful strong women gathering together to celebrate the magic of birth, from afar. Luca's birth was at home, in a birthing pool, just as I had planned. It was comforting to be at home and be in charge of his birth...an experience I wish for all birthing moms. And was I ever "in charge" of it! His birth, or our birth story, is one I'll be telling forever. It was crazy, beautiful, and totally how I envisioned it in my mind and in my heart. The power of the mind should NEVER be underestimated...especially for a birthing mom.
During the last trimester of my pregnancy, I was sure I was going to deliver Luca earlier than his due date. I measured 3-4 weeks further along, I felt Braxton Hicks like they were going out of style and I felt near deliver 4 weeks before my real due date. In fact, I was so sure I would deliver early that I had my sister fly out to be with us for our home birth two weeks before my due date! But delivering early would not be the case. Luca arrived a week past my due date.
Three weeks prior to my delivery date, I wanted to induce my labor naturally. My midwife whipped up a concoction of herbs (to drink) that would start contractions and if I was ready to have my baby, if HE was ready to be born, my own labor contractions would take over. The herbs worked within 15 minutes, and contractions came on strong. So strong that I was worried I would have a rapid birth I wasn't ready for. My amazing doula came over to the house and began her beautiful work. My sister cared for us and tended my other boys while my husband got the house ready for a baby. We kept my midwife in the loop so she'd know when she was needed to come over to the house. But that would never happen. After 8 long hours of what I thought was true labor, my contractions subsided. Or at least I decided in my mind that I was exhausted and scared and not ready to have my baby. We all settled in for the night, went to bed and awoke the next morning to nothing...no more contractions and no baby. I was surprised...I couldn't believe my labor had really stopped. It was surreal.
The next appointment with my midwife was 5 days later. I had her check me and I was dilated 5 cm but only about 50% effaced. She left it up to me whether I wanted to try to induce labor naturally again. I felt SO ready, I really wanted to have my baby and wanted my sister to be a part of it, so I had her strip my membranes and I drank another one of her oh so delicious (no, not really...they are terrible) concoctions of herbs. I began to contract within an hour and spent another day of 8 hours of self induced labor. And then, once again, at 9 pm at night, my labor began to subside. I was again surprised and a bit let down that I hadn't given birth to my little Luca. I felt incredibly ready, but together we ultimately were not. And so I kept my morale high and tried to relax about the situation. Each day that went by was another day my tummy grew. It was enormous, the biggest my belly had ever gotten during a pregnancy (even though I gained the least amount of weight). I knew Luca would be my largest baby, and I have to admit the thought of pushing him out began to frighten me. I had lucked out in the past and not torn terrible nor had I ever needed an episiotomy. I really didn't want the horrid experience I've heard of mamas tearing...all the way, down "there". So I tried to keep busy and do things to keep my mind off of D-day.
The two weeks my beautiful sister spent with me and my family came and went. I took her to the airport teary eyed and said my apologies for not having Luca while she was here and we hugged out saddened good-byes. I was a little frustrated and terribly uncomfortable but still remained positive, dodging all calls but my family's because talking about it was too stressful. That day was my third and final appointment with my midwife. Since I had reached my due date, she wanted to do special tests to ensure baby was safe and happy in my melon of a belly. And he was. VERY happy. She offered to strip my membranes again and I accepted.
And then again...this would be the third day of 8 hours of labor contractions with no baby finale. I felt defeated. I was 80% effaced by this day and dilated 6 cm but not finishing with the grand, gold medal prize of my baby. After this day, I decided to leave it alone. I wasn't going to try to induce anything since it had proven not once, not twice, but THREE times to do nothing but break my spirit up a bit. I guess I shouldn't say "nothing" because it did do "something". I was progressing, doing the work necessary to safely deliver my sweet child when we were ready to do so. And so I waited. And more days went by. And when I FINALLY felt that I would never have my baby, when I FINALLY felt like moving on from the whole idea (literally, that's how I felt), I went into true labor.
It was 2:30 in the morning and I awoke to a painful contraction. I realized after a few more of them that the contractions were different than I had felt on any I had previously. I knew this was our time. I laid around for the next 4 hours, I didn't want to disturb anyone and since my contractions were quite far apart, I felt safe relaxing. I woke up my husband at 6:30 am just to let him know I was in labor and we went about our usual morning. The boys woke up, we fed them, clothed them, cared for the doggies, cleaned our house, played, picked up the yard...
I spoke to my midwife at around 7:30 that morning and she asked if she had time to shower with which I told her, "absolutely". A few hours went by and my doula, my sister in law and my midwife all arrived around 11 am. My contractions were still about 15 minutes apart, and I was feeling good, making lunch for my boys and doing some backyard work. My midwife suggested she check me to see where I was at and I agreed. So she did...and to our surprise (not mine, really), I was fully effaced and dilated to 8+. She felt a bulging bag of water and suggested we fill the tub because if my water broke, that baby was coming! Or so we thought...
We filled the tub and I got in. I asked to have my water broken because I thought it was the only thing keeping me from delivering Luca and I really wanted to get it (pain) over with. She did, and I expected, we ALL expected things to turn fast, but they remained the same. It was seriously crazy. We (myself, my doula, my midwife and my husband) all sat and chatted while I intermittently had quite tolerable contractions. I remember talking about cats...the most random of topics. And about an hour after getting into the water, my loving midwife asked what was keeping me from having my baby. Think about it: after 3 days of hard prelabor, the last 10 hours of real labor, I was fully dilated, fully effaced and my water was broken, and STILL, I wasn't pushing him out. I wasn't even rolling in agony. I was quite comfortable. At that very moment, I realized that I knew exactly what was keeping me from delivering Luca. It was ME.
I was scared, I knew what pain I was about to endure and I was frightened of it and exhausted of my pregnancy. At that very moment, it crossed my mind how nice it would be to go to the hospital and have the epidural. But then I realized it was too late. I had done ALL the work and it was time. And so my midwife suggested one last thing to me: to surrender. As soon as I was ready to surrender to the pain, surrender to my body and my baby's will...then and at that very moment when I made that decision to do so, he was born. I literally said, "okay", got into position, and surrendered to our birth. It was fast, hurt like hell, and was over in a minute. And then I felt what so many before me felt, power. I felt the spirit of motherhood and met my little Luca face to face for the first time. He was beautiful and BIG. 9 lbs. 14 oz. to be exact. I didn't tear, I remained "intact", and aside from being a little woozy, I physically felt pretty great. I did it! It was so awesome! My oldest son, Park, heard Luca cry for the first time and came running up the stairs with Jude and their auntie, Andrea. The boys were thrilled to see their new brother, minutes old, in my arms and still connected to me. They weren't afraid of anything they saw, just enamored of their new baby brother. That's a memory I'll forever cherish.
Birthing in the water is seriously the way to go. I longed for that with my second son's birth, although squatting (which I did with his birth) is quite efficient. But birthing in the water makes it much more comfortable. And, as I've said before, birthing with a midwife's assistance is key to having an empowered birth experience. My doula was also such a support and comfort to me. Her levelled energy made me feel with every contraction that I was in control of my own birth. And my birth story proves just how much control that really was. And my dear husband, he knew just how much I wanted this birth to be a healing birth for us as a unit. His constant support and encouragement was undeniably part of the reason I allowed for my birth to happen the way it did. I fell in love with him all over again...and our little Luca is a testimony to that love in many more ways than one.
It's now been 8 weeks since our birth. Luca is a smiley, sweet, gentle mannered baby in a big, strong body. I chose his name from a list I created 15 years ago and kept stored in our filing cabinet. When we found out we were having a boy, I remembered the list, found it and saw his name written down first under "boys". I fell in love with the name "Luca" all over again. And "Louis" is a very old, very traditional family name from my father's side of the family. It dates back to the 1600's from France and I thought it was strong yet sweet. I actually debated it as his first name but didn't want the confusion of how to say it correctly (in French).
Luca looks a lot like his oldest brother, Park, but definitely his own little self. We got off to a rough start with tongue-tie issues but got that (mostly) fixed. He is a healthy little man, he sleeps quite well and is quite predictable. We all LOVE him dearly. We haven't experienced any jealousy issues and everyone adjusted quickly to their new positions in the house. Park is incredibly sweet with his "best friend baby Luca", always kissing him and wanting to help take care of him. And I can't complain, I've got three sweet little boys who are stuck with me for life!
I am blessed.