She is here! Our hearts are exploding. Our precious Zanaiah Luna!
It took us forever to decide on a name! Yesterday was actually her due date. Just like her sister (Zoelle), she decided to grace us with her presence early!
But, like I said, It did not come without its challenges…
I know so many people reached out wanting to hear updates, so we’re excited to finally share!
But AGAIN I can’t stress enough how grateful and loved we felt by all of you with your messages and prayers. Without you knowing what happened, I so deeply in my heart believe all your prayers helped get us through this experience in a way that seems to be our not so little miracle. God truly brought us through, and surrounded us with everything and everyone we needed. OH and I can’t even begin to put into words the love and sincerest appreciation I have for my doula @socalwithgrace, and the teams of professionals at Kaiser West LA that were a part of it all.
You have no idea. After my first birth (which wasn’t a great experience because of how they treated me… I was determined to keep that from happening again.
I did so much research and concluded that Kaiser West LA was the one I wanted. They had the highest vbac rate, lowest c-section rate, and nearly non-existent episiotomy rate. Those things matter when it comes to what you want, which I had to learn after my first c-section baby. This time, I had been assigned my guardian angel top level OB, and even though it was quite the trek for us to drive there, it is worth every single stinking mile. Everything we did to have a successful vbac this 2nd time around really did wonders, and made the whole process smooth and so different than the last.
I never quite shared Zoelle’s (my first born) birth story, but it’s pretty relevant to starting off this little storytelling journey of ours. Wide eyed and hopeful, equipped with what I thought was a well researched idea of giving birth (hah!), I soon learned it was not quite so simple for me. With Zoelle, I had what’s called prodromal labor… for SIX days. Yes..that long. It progressed finally into full blown back labor by the time we headed to the hospital, which is pretty much the most unbearable pain I’ve ever experienced in my life… and still is. But, how was I supposed to know or have anything to compare it to on my first delivery?
By the time I got to the hospital, I was already exhausted and felt done. For six days my contractions were strong, but I endured. My water broke with a trickle at the most prayed for moment. When I got my epidural, I was in bliss. But, from the very beginning, Zoelle was in distress and couldn’t handle my overlapping intense contractions. Her heart rate was just too unstable. So even when I finally got to 10 cm and started pushing, she was not quite in the perfect position and had been unstable too long. We were strongly urged to do the c-section. I cried, but gave in to their advice. As they prepped me for surgery, I had this sudden feeling that they really needed to get her out immediately. Something was wrong with her. I felt it in my core. Once in the delivery room, I asked Omar to please keep me awake… I was so tired that I couldn’t even fight it. Which, if you know me… that’s a big deal. I can push the limit of tiredness and sleep better than anyone, especially when I’m determined. But all the labor had put a toll on me.
Finally, we heard, “She’s out”…followed by utter silence. The sound was deafening. The next moment, I just heard shuffling of doctors and nurses, loud blaring alarms going off at different beats. Still the most important sound was not coming through my ears…no baby crying. I just kept asking Omar to tell me what was happening since he could see more than I could. Like the steady rock that he is, all he said in his calm tone was, “They’re helping her out”. What he shared with me later was that he sat there staring as the doctors and nurses hovered over my daughter’s limp blue body doing their best to save her. In what felt like FOREVER… like time stood still and just wouldn’t move… I began to feel what I now know was a panic attack. My heart felt like it was going to stop. Omar sat their declaring triumph, praising God, praying incessantly into my ear. He is the most amazing man with his calm and steady voice. He sang to me… he held me.
With the most soft tone and weak sound… we finally heard a faint whimper…and the words, “She’s ok!” She had been in distress so long that she had swallowed so much meconium and later the doctor told us that it took a while to resuscitate her. The moment I heard those words, I let my body go… I allowed it to pass out and rest. I didn’t wake until much later… and the first image I remember is seeing Omar holding our first born daughter, with a small wet circle on his shirt where she had been attempting to nurse. Once I saw them, Omar said I suddenly snapped myself out of it… and perked up just so I could hold her. She was ok. We rejoiced. We thanked God.
So now you know why this 2nd time around… I read, I studied, I researched yet again… just so I could help this next birth go in a better direction. I learned what it means to have back labor and how position of baby is really a huge deal. Back labor and certain pain means your body is trying to nudge and work the baby into a better spot so that they can come out just right. If baby is sitting in the wrong spot… the pain can be crazy. I knew I wanted to at least try for a vbac, but of course if c-section was necessary it was fine. What mattered to me was trying. And so… as some of you may have seen… I shared the journey to all the things… and shared what I learned.
We hired a doula, which omg I wish we had done that the first time, because we could’ve avoided a lot of what happened I think. Going to the chiropractor, all the crazy positions you could do on Spinning Babies… and meeting with our doula… it all contributed to this time being so great. My body felt different this time… the baby felt different. I learned that I had to wear a brace to keep my belly snug because baby actually had too much room to move… she kept going into transverse… breech… head down…and repeating the cycle. In the final weeks, when we got her to go head down… we held her down there. It made the world of difference to monitor what position she was in. This isn’t the case for all women of course. But for me and my petite stature, it certainly worked for my body, especially after getting diastisis recti (a condition that is quite common after birth).
We anticipated baby #2 coming early same as the 1st. And we were right. This time… ZERO prodromal labor. Hurray. As soon as my body started contracting… it never stopped, and the contractions were never longer than 4 min apart. My body got right to business. At 3:30 am I woke up to what felt like a real contraction… still not that bad though (when I compare to back labor). Easy peasy. They were coming at 3 min apart average…sometimes 1 minute apart. This went on until the next morning until we called our doula to join us.
OH MAN, I could totally handle the contractions just fine. My memory of back labor helped me put into perspective how bearable these new ones felt. They were nothing compared to what I felt with my first. I labored at home until I got to 6 cm. Then we all agreed it was time to get to the hospital because of rush hour and at minimum it would take 45 minutes to get there! I didnt want to go through transition of more serious contractions while in the car… but guess what happened? The moment I sat in the car, a familiar sensation swept over my body… it felt like back labor. My body had kicked it up a notch… and they also started to overlap. Horrible contractions… and no break as it went quickly into the next contraction. Omar says I was quiet the whole drive. It was because I was in so much pain and I was doing my best to focus to get through it. We rolled up to the hospital and I was so determined to just get there that I walked through the contractions as best as I could. There was this amazing man who happened to be nearby with a wheel chair… and he rolled right up to us with a concerned yet jolly demeanor, big smile and cheered me on as he escorted us. It felt wonderful. He was delightful and really felt so encouraging and heart warming to have such helpfulness and compassion at such a time.
I had wanted to go as long as I could without an epidural so that I could limit any break in progression of labor but I was not against it! We had a code word… and I said it at least once in the car. We agreed I would need to say it 3 times before it meant I was serious about wanting it. I gave Omar a heads up… no way was I wanting to feel this back labor once again… GIVE ME THAT EPIDURAL. I was admitted and they told me I was already 8 cm dilated. Everyone around me was like, “Well youre so close, it may not be timely or necessary to get the epidural”. I was like OH MY GOODNESSSSSSS. I had to labor for another 2 hours waiting for my blood results to come back to get my epidural. When they checked me again, I was still at 8 cm… so I was able to get the epidural. Oh how lovely it was too. We asked for a light epidural so that I could still feel my pushing. The anesthesiologist did a great job too, because I had no pain in my stomach at all, but I could still move my legs and feet.
Night shift gave me a new nurse midwife… and oh how I was blessed to have her. The most boss lady, lovely, calm, and collected woman. In her home country, she had birthed 9 children with no pain meds… and walked herself to the village each time during labor. Her total career experience was 37 years. I asked her so many questions about herself because I was in awe. She amazed me… so much respect and admiration for her. She stood by my side as we waited for me to be fully dilated and baby to drop as low as we could get. Eventually it was time… and I started to push. I felt much more encouraged this time because I had asked for the lighter epidural. I could feel the pushing and pressure so I could do a better job at it. The first time I had no feeling whatsoever from my stomach down, so it was so hard to push or even get a signal that I was pushing. The pressure got more intense, but without pain… until… I had the sharpest abdomen pain that didn’t seem to go away the way a contraction should. I had an epidural… so that didn’t make sense. I shouldn’t have felt pain. I thought it might have been a strained muscle, but I just kept going.
We pushed for an hour and got some progress, my doula could see the head! That baby was full on in my pelvis on its way out, maybe another hour max of pushing was needed. I was excited but still not sure if it would happen because pushing was so exhausting. I wasn’t sure I had it in me to keep pushing. Then I spoke up again and said… “hey this really hurts”. The same spot that kept hurting, and so my midwife said the doctor should assess me. Doc came in and immediately said she didn’t like it… and then quickly reiterated that she REALLY didnt like it.. that she felt a pocket that felt like a bubble where I said it hurt. Also, it wasn’t a good sign that the pain wasn’t subsiding. So, once again, I was faced with having to choose a c-section. This time, I felt at peace and knew… yeah I need to get this c-section and had no sadness about it. This time, my baby had zero distress the entire time. She took every step and every contraction like a champ. I had done everything to ensure she was in a good position so that she didn’t go through what Zoelle did, and I’m happy with that. This time, it was me. It was my body that seemed to be in distress. So I said, lets do it. As I waited for surgery, I felt it again… a sudden urgency that they needed to get to work on me quick. Something was wrong. All prepped for surgery, they got to work, and it wasn’t long until I felt the familiar pressure, tugging… but this time… I heard my baby cry as she entered the world. Only wonderful positive affirmations that she was A-OK. My heart was fluttered. It’s almost as if that’s all that mattered to me in that moment. I didn’t take a second thought about myself.
What followed next seemed to be quite the trauma. After lifting out the baby, the doctors were faced with the damage that my pain had indicated. Only 1-1.5% chance… and I was now part of that statistic. My uterus had ruptured. The doctors said there’s no way to tell who it would happen to. It just something that happens and they don’t know why. Not only did my uterus rupture, but it had ruptured into other parts of my insides. Omar and I could hear every piece of dialogue. And, honestly none of it sounded great. Things like, “I can’t find this… or that… I can’t see this… we need more hands…we can’t wait much longer…”
Omar began praying, declaring triumph once again, praising God, singing constantly into my ear while he held my hand steadily. This time he was able to cut the umbilical cord himself, take photos of our lovely baby and hold her right next to me. I tried to look over through all my shivering to get a glance of my baby. But honestly it was pretty difficult. The doctors had trouble piecing together everything that had ruptured, and they needed a specialist for a particular part of the surgery… it required someone on call. The surgeon took a while to get to me since it was 3 am… so they kept my body open much longer than expected. In my head, I knew…thats not good. Leaving me open for so long comes with risks. Omar knew that too. After talking to him, he said he thought I was going to lose my uterus. He thought it was that serious. There were so many amazing doctors (and my midwife) in that OR with me, working steadily to save me. My OB happened to have been on call that night miraculously too, and so he also scrubbed into my surgery. The specialist surgeon showed up and apparently that’s when things began looking up. He did his handiwork and eventually Omar said someone came over to him and said that the worst was behind us. A doctor peered over the veil separating me and the surgery and began explaining what happened. I got wheeled into recovery eventually and got to properly meet our baby girl. As things were revealed to us, it became very clear that we had dodged a lot of stuff. I lost a lot of blood apparently and a lactation consultant had a hospital grade pump shipped to my house while I was still in the hospital (like wow… she said, “It’ll be there in 4 hours”). Every physician and nurse looking after me was the most amazing, caring person. We had real conversations about not just me and my condition but of who they were and their own life experiences. I love chatting with people and asking them questions. I love hearing who they are and in this moment of chaos, I appreciated their stories. Everyone with caring demeanors and kindness, and consideration. I was really so incredibly in awe.
My midwife dropped in unexpectedly to visit me one evening when I was alone… just to see me. She held my baby girl and we chatted… I thanked her… told her how amazing I thought she was and how grateful I was. Doctor after doctor, nurse after nurse, pediatrician after pediatrician, lactation consultant after lactation consultant, my surgeon who repaired me… each one checking up on me. I still had some testing done to see how my healing was going. My CT scan came back looking good. My blood work and blood pressure were slowly improving… and my uterus had already decreased to the size of a golf ball. The body is crazy. I don’t know how it does it. There are still a couple complications we’ll have to monitor, but my heart is bursting with gratitude. I asked one of the last nurses I had for a list of all the names of people who were a part of my hospital stay and as I sat looking at the list… just me and the baby in the chair waiting to be discharged I just sobbed. Sobbed tears of thankfulness, joy, and a realization that we were spared and probably so unaware of how close we had gotten to possible loss and how covered and protected we were. That is favor I can never quite understand.
Because we had already gone through a traumatic experience with my first born, I felt like this 2nd time was a breeze. Which sounds…strange I know. It was all familiar, as if the same thing was happening again, but with different variables.
There were lots of things that weren’t exactly going in our favor in the days leading up to awaiting labor. I recently shared with Omar that one evening about a week before my little Zanaiah was born, I was thinking of it all and an overwhelming sense of peace came over me. It was strange, because I can be quite the worrier, always wanting to anticipate something that could go wrong. This time… I felt only peace. Specifically a feeling that everything may not go exactly as I expected or wanted, but that there was nothing to worry about… everything would be ok. So I held onto that and never waivered from it. Even as I lay open during the surgery, listening to all the doctors… I had surrendered my body, some due to exhaustion, but also with that same peace that was carrying me through as I accepted that nothing was in my hands. It was in Gods hands. What better place for all that anxiety, anticipation, worry, doubt… and how in awe I was that I felt none of that at all. That was really the most meaningful part of this story to me.
Baby Naiah (our nickname for her), is doing amazing. She’s already sleeping stretches of 5 hrs… so we’ll see how long that lasts! We can’t wait for her to experience all the fun and giggles with everyone and especially her big sister Zellie (our nickname for Zoelle). Thanks again to all of you for coming along with us for this journey!