Some of you may know that becoming pregnant was a miracle for me. As a brief background for those who don’t know, I have struggled with an aggressive autoimmune condition for the last five years. I started Sweet Laurel in 2015 after changing my diet and lifestyle completely to accommodate my body’s healing process. Many of my symptoms subsided after making these changes, but the one that remained was secondary amenorrhea (lack of a menstrual period). After not having a period for four years, I suddenly became pregnant last May. My husband and I were overjoyed and viewed this as the final step in my body’s healing process. Our baby is a gift, and I’m excited to share my birth story with you all!
My husband, Nick, and I had our baby boy on February 27. We are overjoyed to be parents and are deeply in love with our baby Nico.
Nico Lawrence Gallucci was born at 3:39 PM on 2\27\17 at Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Both my dad and sister work there, and I’ve always wanted to have my babies in close proximity to them, which is one of the reasons why we chose this hospital. Nick and I were also both born there!
The story begins around 9 p.m. on February 26th. Nick and I had just come home from a nice long walk (4 miles!) and I sat down to do some emails. In the back of my head, I knew labor would begin any day now and I had some last minute business items for Sweet Laurel that I wanted to tie up. I was bouncing on my yoga ball and typing when I felt a little pop in my belly. I stood up I felt some water come out of my underside. Could it be my water breaking, I thought? I went to the bathroom and saw some clear fluid come out, and thought for sure it was amniotic fluid. I was glad that it was clear because we learned in my birthing class if the fluid was colored it could mean there was a risk of an infection inside the amniotic sac. I still wasn’t 100% sure it was my water that had broken, so I went and changed my pants and got back on my computer. I mentioned this all to my husband and he got really excited. After about 5 minutes, I felt more liquid come out as I stood up. I realized I needed to change my pants again, and I was confident it was my water that had broken.
My contractions started shortly after this, and from the beginning, they were very intense. For me, each contraction started in my low back. It felt like someone was jamming a shotput into my spine. At the same time, I got a nauseous feeling then and a sharp pain moved from the top of my belly down. They lasted about minute and were 3-4 minutes apart my entire labor.
I went to my bedroom to deal with the contractions while my husband packed everything up. I happened to prepare a bunch of food to take to the hospital earlier that day (including lactation cookies, recipe coming soon!) because I knew the hospital would not have very many gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar-free options. We called my doctor and told him that my water broke and the contractions were really close together. He suggested we wait an hour or two before coming in, and I tried to, but my contractions got really intense really fast so we decided to head to the hospital about an hour after the phone call. Because my contractions were so close together for about two hours at this point, I really thought the baby could come soon and I definitely wanted to be at the hospital for the birth.
We arrived at the hospital around 2 a.m. and got admitted. I met my labor and delivery nurse, who was a godsend. She helped me deal with the contractions, massaged my back, and helped me get in comfortable positions. We told her that I wanted to have a natural birth as much as possible, and she accommodated our request in every way. However, my contractions were so intense that I could not talk or walk during them. The only position that felt somewhat good was being bent over the bed. The contractions were very difficult to deal with, but I was grateful to have this nurse and my husband with me to help me through each one.
I labored all night, and my doctor came to see me at 6 a.m. the following morning. He told me he thought the baby would be born by noon that day. I was dilated to 6 centimeters and had 4 more to go. Although I was very happy to hear this, I was also slightly defeated because I could not fathom dealing with the painful contractions until noon. Every contraction rocked me, which left me feeling exhausted after being up all night.
I decided to get an epidural at this point. It was a real struggle for me to make this decision, but it literally changed my life. The concept of not feeling contractions but dilating at the same time was so incredible. I had been fearful that an epidural would slow down my labor, but it didn’t! By 10 a.m., I was fully dilated and rested (thanks to the epidural), ready to push the baby out! My husband, who had been up all night with me, was able to fall asleep for about three hours. He really needed this rest because he was going to be very helpful during the pushing phase of my labor. At this point, the doctor took me off the epidural so I could feel my legs during the pushing. Around noon, we started pushing.
I did not expect pushing to be so intense. It was very physical and was literally a workout! To push, you have to do a special breathing technique, followed by the actual pushing, which includes a crunch type of sit up. Since I hadn’t been necessarily working out my abs while pregnant, this was difficult. Also, the painful contractions were now back full throttle because I was off the epidural for some time. My husband coached me through each push and did such a great job.
I pushed until 3 p.m. For me, this was a long time and was super exhausting. I was frustrated because we could see the baby’s head via a mirror, and it hadn’t really moved since we began pushing. He was about three inches from the vaginal opening the entire time we were pushing. The doctor came in and I literally asked him if he could just grab the baby and take him out. He told that was pretty much what he was going to do, and I got really excited because we would finally meet our baby!
All of a sudden, there were about 15 people in the room. This was different because up until this point, it was just Nick, myself, and our nurse. Our doctor was occasionally in there too. Each of these people had a job to do once the baby was born, and I am grateful for each of them!
The doctor hooked up our baby’s head to a vacuum, and while I was contracting, he had me push while he pulled on the vacuum device. After about 10 pushes, our son was born! Yes, it was a very painful moment, but it was so incredible to finally have my baby. Within two seconds, Nico was on my chest. He did so well and received an Apgar score of 9!
We are so grateful for this precious baby. He has a very sweet disposition and is so incredibly cute. Basically, he looks and acts a lot like my husband Nick, his namesake. His middle name is Lawrence, after my dad, who also has a sweet and gentle disposition. I am loving life with this precious gift, and so grateful my body has healed enough to grant me the gift of motherhood.
All of these beautiful photos are shot and edited by the amazing Elsie Dardon.