It was Sunday, June 14, 2020 and I was feeling some light cramping throughout the morning. I had lost my mucus plug just a day or two prior so I knew my baby would be here any day now. We were on the third month of the COVID-19 pandemic and my stress and anxiety were through the roof. We had just opened our "bubble" up to people outside of the household (only our immediate families). To me, it felt like just one wrong move and we would all catch COVID. It sounds a little ridiculous now (two years later) but I bet if you were expecting your rainbow baby at the very beginning of a pandemic, you would probably have a bit of anxiety too! It was about 3:00 pm and I kept feeling the cramping and alerted my husband that it may be time to pay more attention, so we started timing them and called my parents to put them on standby. We timed the contractions and they were a bit inconsistent so we thought it was just a false alarm. Less than 5 minutes later, we decided to go for a walk to see if we could make things progress, so out the door we went. Before we could reach the end of the block, I started to get some serious contractions and couldn't walk through them. We called my parents and told them to come over. They rushed over quick and we were on our way to the hospital. At that point, the contractions were about five minutes apart.
We arrived at Miller Children's & Women's Hospital in Long Beach and my husband wanted to drop me off at the door but I didn't want him to leave me alone at all so we walked through a building to get from the parking lot to the labor and delivery ward. We stopped every time I had a contraction and then kept going. It was completely lonely and felt quite eerie, there was nobody in the halls and there were only nurses and security officers at the entrance of each building. We got to the security check-in area and they sent me up the elevator and held my husband there. I was checked-in by a labor and delivery nurse and they sent me to disrobe. They checked my vitals and performed a Covid antigen test (rapid test) before I was cleared and then I was sent to the delivery room. This is where I was reunited with my husband and I was so glad that he was finally there. They asked me if I wanted the epidural, but I have a fairly high pain tolerance, so I declined. I did it once before, so I was sure I could do it again. Let me get one thing straight, I don't think I'm stronger or better than anyone for declining the epidural. The fact is, I was always much more scared of the epidural because of the big needle and possible back problems resulting from it. Myth or not, I wanted no part of that!
The contractions got intense and things got real VERY quick. I remembered what I learned from my first delivery and started to breathe through every contraction to allow my body to do what it was meant to do. I also kept thinking, "By this time tomorrow I'll be holding my baby. By this time tomorrow... By this time tomorrow..." Lastly, I never wasted a breath on screaming through the pain so that I could save my strength for the pushing. There was quite a bit of moaning and grunting though. I changed positions often and tried my hardest to relax my body. You naturally want to do the exact opposite of that while you're going through a contraction. You feel your body tense up and it makes you cringe and tighten but you've just got to fight the feeling. It gets progressively harder to do. The nurses were so helpful with helping me be aware of when I'd tense up instead of breathe and relax. While I was on my side, I asked my husband to keep my knees apart as I tried to breathe through the contractions. I found this very helpful for my body to loosen up. At this point, I could feel that my body was opening up and and my baby was travelling down. I knew things were happening much quicker than my first delivery. The pain intensified and I felt the urge to push. This is where I wished I had said yes to the epidural! It's extremely painful, there is a lot of pressure down there and it takes a lot of energy out of you. In case you didn't know, you might just shit yourself as you push your baby out. I sure did! I took a full dump during both deliveries and didn't even notice! My husband told me after the fact. Don't worry if you do, these nurses have seen it all and won't even mention it. I started to feel defeated and weak and cried out, "I can't do it!" like I had a choice at that point. The nurse on my left screamed, "YES, YOU CAN!!!" in a commanding voice. Something about her response scared the shit out of me but motivated me at the same time, so I gave that final push. If I remember correctly, it was approximately three to five big pushes that brought our baby into the world. By the way, that "ring of fire" is no joke and you will know it when you feel it. Finally, I felt this warm blob come out of me and it was all over. All the pain went away and I had this beautiful, yet goopy, tiny human on my chest. I almost didn't feel them stitch up my second degree tear. Yes, they get right to work on that IMMEDIATELY after.
It was almost like we re-lived the first delivery, but this time I wasn't as shocked and dumbfounded; I was more present. I was in the moment and my husband looked just like he did the first time around. Tears of love and joy in his eyes and exclaiming, "We have a baby! Oh my God! She's here, we have a baby!" I still get choked up thinking about that moment. It's such a personal victory moment. Finally, after all the stress and anxiety, I had successfully delivered my healthy rainbow baby into this crazy world. I had decided to have my placenta encapsulated this time around so my husband had Birth Doula Danellia Arechiga on standby (more on her in a future blog post). The nurse came over to show it to me and said it was one of the longest umbilical chords she had seen. "Look how pretty that is mama!" she seemed so excited. It was actually pretty cool, it kinda looked like an oversized pearl necklace. Once they took the placenta, all of my worries were gone for a moment. I felt peace and tranquility knowing that I did that to help take care of myself in the postpartum period.
For a moment, time seemed to stand still. It felt like we were in that delivery room alone for quite a while before we were moved to a room. Speaking of before being moved to a room... You must prove to a nurse that you can pee before they let you leave the room. If you can't, they will need to place a catheter. I was able to pee so I was off the hook. (I was traumatized by catheters when I was 17 years old working as a student assistant at the Intensive Care Unit at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. I saw multiple patients there who had a catheter put in and complained so much about it. The pain that they seemed to experience is something I never want to experience. Yes, I am aware that I have given birth to a human twice now and that's probably more painful but that still haunts me!) Anyway, back to the story, it was lonely but peaceful. On the one hand, I was sad that we couldn't share the happiness of our daughter's birth with our families. On the other hand, I didn't want ANYONE coming close to her for the foreseeable future. The nurses in the maternity ward are a special type of people. No, not people, but straight up angels. They took such good care of us and seriously went above and beyond. The bad thing is that it's hard to rest because, aside from the crying baby, you have people coming in and out all day. We got visits from doctors, nurses, lactation specialists, blood and hearing tests for the baby, the person who handles the birth certificate, and more that I can't remember. We were there for a day or two and were discharged right before noon just like we were checking out of a hotel. We got home where my mom and daughter were waiting eagerly. Then the moment I had waited for the entire pregnancy... My daughters met and I watched the tender moment with tears in my eyes. I think that moment will live in my heart for the rest of my life.