Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Vincenza's Birth Story

Our sweet baby girl is currently bathing in the sunlight flooding into our living room so that the last traces of her jaundice disappear sleeping in her swing. Since I cannot climb the stairs too often (doctor's orders), I find myself trapped on the upper level of our house. I might as well try to write her birth story until she needs to eat again. (I am on day three of working on this post, so who knows where we'll be when I finally finish it.)

Vincenza was due on August 27, 2015. So many people kept telling me, "Oh, I went two weeks late. Oh, women usually go late with their first child." I had a hard time believing all of these people. I just knew she would not wait until her due date to meet us, and I guess my mother's intuition started early because my water broke at 9:30pm on August 13th.

As Jeff dozed off on the couch, I heard and felt this popping sound that I confused with a gas bubble. After all, I had eaten a bit too much salsa earlier that day. Then I thought I peed myself (dignity be gone), so I hurried to the bathroom where I just started repeating, "uh oh. UH OH." Jeff rushed over to the bathroom, and I said, "It's like I'm peeing, but I'm not peeing. I think my water is breaking!" You see, we both hoped my water would break because it would be a surefire sign to both of us that it was go time. However, we learned in the birthing class that only 10% of women's water breaks, so we figured our chances were slim. Leave it to me to be a part of the 10%. We both maintain that my water broke because we made fun of the terminology from the birthing class. They continued to refer to it as a "bag of waters," which we found hysterical. I think I understand why they call it waters. It's not just a little water that makes its way out. It just keeps going and going and going until you actually have the baby. Water water everywhere.

Anyway, we called the midwives. The midwife on call said she wanted us in the hospital no later than midnight because water breaking requires almost immediate action to avoid any bacteria from harming the baby. By 11:30, we arrived at the hospital. First, we had to part the sea of sickies in the emergency waiting room. One man who may have escaped the mental ward kept inching closer and closer to me as he waved enthusiastically at the pregnant lady in labor. We scurried as quickly through the door as possible, took the elevator to the second floor, and checked into Labor & Delivery. When the midwife first checked me, I was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. Definitely labor. Definitely not fake this time around.

I tried to labor for as long as possible without an epidural, but my body just wasn't having it. I swayed, I rocked on a ball, I breathed through it. Jeff was a champion, my champion. He helped me go to the bathroom, he helped me breathe through contractions, he continued to get me water as I needed it, and he rubbed my back to ease the pressure. The contractions were on top of each other at one-two minutes apart, so I didn't really have a reprieve like the movies and even the birthing class suggested. Of course, I had to be hooked up to an IV and receive an entire bag of fluids before they could administer the epidural. Every time a contraction slammed me, I scowled at the IV bag and cursed it for not moving quicker.  Finally, the anesthesiologist came to administer the epidural; it felt like a kick to the back, but pain was relative at this point in the game. The epidural quelled my pain, but it brought with it an almost-as-annoying symptom: the shakes. I shivered and shook for hours on end. (This symptom really worried my mom because it gave her flashbacks to an illness I suffered in high school. I shook so violently that three football players couldn't hold me down.) When Jeff wasn't tending to me, my mom was scratching my head or trying to soothe me. I am glad they stayed with me for the duration.

The midwife checked me again. 5cm and 100% effaced. Good, progress.

Almost three hours later, I was still only 5cm dilated. Not good. Not progress. I continued to focus on Vincenza's heartbeat, which wasn't sounding as promising as it had before. Worry and anxiety washed over my already-shivering body. The midwife had me get on my hands and knees, a very difficult feat when an epidural has almost completely numbed your lower half, so that I could wiggle Vincenza into the proper position and help her drop. Still no progress after thirty minutes of this effort.

When the midwife delivered the "I suggest a c-section" news, she felt so awful about it. Honestly, like I said in the very beginning of this journey, keep the kid healthy and I can deal with the rest. When Vincenza's heartrate dropped to 90bpm at one point, all I wanted was for someone to get her out safely. The midwife said that Vincenza wasn't a big baby, but my pelvis was not accommodating her, especially since the circumference of her head was larger because she had it turned to the side. She said I could keep laboring, but she felt that I was not "anatomically designed" to birth Vincenza naturally. I felt no sadness, only relief. Relief that someone was getting my baby out and into my arms. I wanted her out healthy far more than I wanted to avoid another surgery.

Somewhere around 8 in the morning on August 14th, they had me in the OR, prepping me for surgery. One of our neighbors from our previous neighborhood actually works in Labor and Delivery at our hospital, and she was in the OR with us for Vincenza's birth. It was so comforting to see a familiar face; she even took a lot of pictures with my mom's camera since my mom couldn't come into the OR with us. My favorite picture is this one:

C-sections are weird. I was awake. Both of my arms were extended at my sides (as if I were trying to fly). I could not feel the pain of surgery, but I could feel the doctors pulling and pushing all of my organs around. Jeff felt a little freaked out by seeing me flop around on the table as the doctors all but put their feet up on the table to rearrange my insides. I, on the other hand, will never forget the initial smell. Aloud, I said, "Ummm...that smells terrible." Within thirty seconds, I internally realized that I smelled terrible. That smell was the smell of burning flesh. My burning flesh. They were cauterizing my wound, and I smelled awful. Jeff maintains that I smelled like steak. I worry about his diving into cannibalism during an apocalypse now that he knows my burning flesh smells like steak. I still think it smells like stink.

After they pulled out Vincenza, I worriedly asked, "Is it normal to feel like someone smashed me in the shoulder with a baseball bat? It really hurts." Apparently, this pain is called referred pain. Since my uterus could not feel the pain it was obviously experiencing, the pain shot into my shoulder. At first, I refused pain meds. Five minutes later? I had to accept them. I wanted to enjoy my daughter, not focus on the searing shoulder pain. (Unfortunately, those pain meds made me dizzy and queasy for the rest of the day.)

Now, aside from Vincenza's health, I wanted one more thing. I wanted to be the first to hold her. My dad was the first to hold me (I was also born via c-section), but I wanted to hold Vincenza before Jeff did. Originally, they planned to place her on my chest for five minutes. She ended up doing so well that they left her on my chest for about thirty minutes, thirty glorious minutes. Before Vincenza was born, people continued to tell me how much love I would feel, but no one could have truly prepared me for the moment I first saw her and heard her lungs burst with healthy, loud cries. At that moment, Jeff was holding my hand and sitting next to me. We both saw her and sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed. She was finally here. Our tiny, sweet human was finally on the outside, and she was all ours. I wish I could bottle those intense emotions for all eternity because they would surely heal all wounds.

We are eleven days out, and I am on the mend thanks to my little healer. She is eating and farting like a grown man. I am showering at least every two or three days. My mom is spending the next week with me since Jeff cannot take off at his new job. We have entertained several visitors who do not mind my unsightly appearance because who can focus on anything other than this adorable baby?

I still can't drive for another week, and I have a lot of other restrictions for a month after that. However, I have a tiny, adorable, lovable daughter. I feel nothing more than gratitude. Even better? I now share my birthday with Vincenza. We were born within an hour of each other on the same day (not of the same year, of course).  

I probably forgot a lot. Blame mom brain. 


  1. Thanks for sharing your story! Vincenza is so sweet. So happy for you and your family. Also that last picture with Jeff's shirt is hilarious :)

  2. Oh, I just knew you were having the baby!!! I've been watching for this post for months! :-) I'm so very, very happy for all of you and so glad she's healthy and you're healing! Overload your cameras with pictures, because I promise you will not regret taking them. Thank you so much for sharing pictures of your beautiful, adorable, sweet baby girl with all of us. This just made my day!

  3. Oh, I hoped you would share your birth story with us! I know you had a rough go of the pregnancy so it doesn't surprise me that the birth was rough on you too. I'm so glad to hear that both you and Vincenza are doing well and healing well. These pictures are so beautiful Danielle. Congratulations on such a beautiful baby girl. You did it! She's here! Yay!!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story! I'll be 38 weeks pregnant tomorrow and have been nervous about the things you said happened to you. I want to do a natural birth, but I know that I may not get to and that I may even need a C-section. It's nice to know that you were at peace with it even though it wasn't really part of your birth plan.

    Best wishes for your and your family--Vincenza is beautiful! :)

  5. Oh gosh, my eyes are leaking now!!! I feel like all statistics about births are made up because I know a lot of people who had their water break. Too many other thoughts, but yeah the epidural shakes are freaky (never once did anyone warn me about that!) and the love, oh I never knew love could make my heart hurt so much. I'm so happy for you and Jeff!

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your story, I seriously got goosebumps! I am so happy for your family. Love the photos too =)

  7. I couldn't be more excited for you and your little family! What a lovely story! Leave it to you to tell it in such a touching yet humorous way :) I can't wait to see pictures as Vincenza continues to grow and develop!

  8. I love getting to read your story and I'm so glad everything worked out! She is precious and I'm sure you are a wonderful mom!

  9. OK, I found out from Whitney that you had the baby and she also showed me her adorable pictures. She is one gorgeous little lady with a full head of dark gorgeous hair. How cool that you both share the same birthday, also.

    Loved reading her story. I love birth stories. I am glad you are both doing well now. Enjoy her because each minute is so precious. Before you know it they will be a toddler. She will want to see, touch, play with and want everything, walk, climb, jump and run everywhere.

    Take care, Ada. =)


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