The Birth Story of Carmine Michael

Born October 24, 2016
  So, you want to know what this birth was like? Just watch!        The whole month of October, it seemed as though everyone who saw me said, "Wow, this is going to be the one baby of yours that will arrive early, or at least on time! You're carrying SO low!" Naturally, I had a good laugh at their expense, because as I've said many times, my body thinks it's absolutely hilarious to torment me and draw out my pregnancies as long as possible. I had zero (and I mean ZERO) hopes of my last baby arriving anywhere near my due date, which was October 25th. Nonetheless, I secretly hoped that everyone was right. I was in an unbearable amount of pain, due to a herniated disc and degenerative disc disease. Throughout my pregnancy, I had gone to physical therapy twice a week, and had to rely on pain medication to even get out of bed in the morning. It was awful, I felt horribly guilty for taking a narcotic, and I was absolutely terrified for our baby's health. I spent a lot of time in prayer, voiced my fears overandoverandover again to Will and my midwives, and tried to avoid that article that everyone was passing around on Facebook about taking acetaminophen while pregnant.  On Saturday, October 22nd, our good friend Thomas (who was staying with us for awhile) insisted Will and I go out for a date. We didn't fight him too hard on that, since it had been over a year and a half since our last night out, and we didn't even get to spend our 10-year anniversary together. Thomas stayed with Tony, Alessandra and Gianna while Will and I had a delicious dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse in Denver. At one point during dinner, I stood up to go to the restroom, and a particularly strong contraction had me doubling over at the table. Will came around to help me, and graciously pointed out that I was "making every single man in the restaurant incredibly nervous." Thanks, babe! On the drive home, my back started spasming. I don't know why, or what happened, but I was trying not to cry, trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable in the passenger seat, and wishing I could just go into labor already, since we had to pass the hospital on our way back to the house. Clearly, that wasn't in the cards, but the back pain had only grown stronger by Sunday morning. I was unable to sleep all night, since even changing positions in our bed was excruciating. Will was becoming increasingly concerned, so he called the on-call number for my midwives, and spoke to Tara. She told Will to bring me in to the hospital to get monitored, in case the pain was pregnancy related. Will brought me in, baby and I were monitored, and Tara came in to speak to me. She said that fortunately, baby was doing just fine, but my back had reached the critical point, and she didn't really see the benefit of me remaining pregnant any longer than necessary. She asked me how I felt about being induced the following day...and to my surprise, I agreed.      I had been induced once before, during my first pregnancy with Tony. It was an extremely long, unpleasant experience, and I swore I would never put myself through that again unless it was absolutely necessary. However, both Tara and Megan assured me that since this was my fourth pregnancy, my body would respond much differently to an induction, they would use Cytotec instead of Pitocin, I would be free to labor in any position I wanted with a hep lock, rather than an IV, etc. I wasn't 100% crazy about the idea, but I had to admit that going through another week or two of pregnancy wouldn't be good for me. Tara stripped my membranes (both of us were hoping that a membrane strip alone would spur me into labor, like it did with Alessandra and Gianna), and sent me home with instructions to return at 6:30 the following morning. Will brought me home, I packed my hospital bag with last-minute essentials, gave my doula a heads-up, and went to bed on the early side.      The next morning, I ate a light breakfast, and Will took me to the hospital. I sent him back home so he could get Tony off to school, and brief Thomas on the girls' morning routine, and he promised to come back as soon as possible. I got myself checked in, got settled in the labor and delivery room, and cursed my miserable, crappy disappearing veins, as it took the nurses FOUR TRIES to get an IV in. Megan was on-call that day, and she came into the room to place the Cytotec, and rub an awesome essential oil mixture on my lower back to help with the pain. She told me I would need to be on the IV and fetal monitor for an hour while the Cytotec kicked in, but then I was free to get in the tub, use the birth ball, birth stool, whatever I wanted. That first hour was completely chill; I texted family members, went on Facebook and Instagram, and played Candy Crush (don't judge me). However, after about 30 minutes, I could feel some pretty intense contractions. I called Will and Madison (my doula) and told them things were picking up pretty quickly, and the sooner they could get there, the better.      At 9am, I paged a nurse and asked if I could have the monitor and the IV removed. It had been an hour, and I desperately felt like I needed to get off the bed and MOVE, so she agreed. Sweet, sweet relief. The contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart, and 30 seconds long, and I suspected it wouldn't be too long before I was in transition. I just walked around the room, moaning and breathing my way through the contractions, and doing the belly dance moves I learned in our Hypnobirthing class, way back when I was pregnant with Tony. Will ran into the room about 20 minutes later, and I was already starting to feel like I was in "the zone." I was sitting on the birth ball, rocking back and forth, not really paying attention to anything around me. Will started doing the light touch massage on my neck, shoulders and back, and it was so calming and relaxing. Madi came in a few minutes later, and at that point I said I wanted to get in the tub. Will got the tub ready for me, and Madi got me settled. I was really hoping that the water would provide a lot of pain relief for me (I knew I couldn't have another water birth, like I did with Alessandra, but I was desperately hoping for the "aquadural" effect). Will adjusted the water temp for me, while Madi poured cups of warm water over my belly, but I just couldn't get comfortable. The contractions were getting stronger and stronger, and coming closer together, and I was starting to get upset. Madi suggested I get on my hands and knees in the tub, and I did while she applied counter pressure to my back. That didn't help me too much, either, and I said, "I just need to get out, I need to get out of this tub! I need Megan!" Madi helped me out of the tub while Will called for the nurse, and asked if Megan could come to the room. She arrived a few minutes later, to find me moaning and swaying once again on the birth ball. She asked if I wanted to try the injections of sterile water in my back to deaden the nerves and help with the pain, and I said yes (she's one of the few midwives who is trained in this practice, and even though I wasn't experiencing back labor this time, my back pain was once again giving me trouble). Megan told me it was going to hurt, and I should brace myself against Will...holy cow. She wasn't kidding. Had I known how MUCH those injections were going to hurt, I probably wouldn't have asked for them. I actually started screaming when she injected the needle into my back, and when she was done, I started to cry and said, "I can't do this anymore! I can't do this!"      Megan, Will and Madi immediately recognized that I was in transition (or as I call it, the laboring mama's battle cry), and Megan asked me to get on the bed so she could check me. She said I was almost at 8cm, and it wouldn't be much longer. I no longer felt like I had control over my body, and I kept saying, "I can't do this anymore, I can't, I need help." Madi reminded me that I WAS doing it, and women all over the world had been giving birth like this since the beginning of time, and if they could do it, so could I. By then, I had reached the point in my labor that every woman faces; it hurts too much to push, but not pushing and dealing with the one-on-top-of-the-other contractions hurts just as much. I couldn't talk anymore, all I could do was focus on the pain, squeeze Will's hand, and bear down. I have a vague memory of Will shooting a frantic glance at the nurse, and saying, "that's the sound she makes when she's pushing..." (apparently after three children, I've developed somewhat of a predictable pattern), and then I felt this unbearable pressure. I pushed as hard as I could, and literally felt an explosion. Will and Madi looked at each other in complete shock (that explosion? It was my bag of waters, bursting all over the bed and the floor), and once again, I felt the need to bear down. I pushed as hard as I could, saw Megan lunge towards me on the bed, heard Will say "Oh my God!!!"...and then this precious gift was placed in my arms. 
I don't even care that I look like I've been run over by a Mack truck
    Since Will and I choose not to find out the sex of our babies during my pregnancies, it's always the most exciting thing in the world when Will makes the announcement after birth. When he said, "It's a boy!!" I just burst into tears. And laughter, because-brace yourselves, everyone-I was wrong again. Only this time, Will was wrong with me. Both of us were convinced I was having a girl, and I almost didn't pack boy going home clothes in my hospital bag, because I was so sure I didn't need them. But we were so, so happy...two boys and two girls. Tony was so excited at the thought of having a baby brother, and Will and I couldn't have been more thrilled to have two of each. I just held him in my arms, trying to catch my breath after what was surely the fastest labor ever, and he laid there quietly, sucking his fist and basking in those beautiful skin-to-skin moments after birth. I was just in awe of our perfect baby boy, our little Carmine Michael (named after my great-great nonno and my father), kissing him over and over. 
Tiniest baby yet; 7lbs, 15oz, 20 inches
Alessandra and Gianna meeting their baby brother
Shocker-another hairy baby!
    I'm still kind of reeling from the whole experience, and so humbled and grateful that God has blessed us with yet another healthy, beautiful baby (not to mention the easiest labor in the world!). I broke down in tears when the hospital's lactation consultant came to see Carmine and I, and she spoke to me (in a completely non-judgmental way) about the meds I had to take during pregnancy. All the stress, all the anxiety, and all the guilt I had felt for the last nine months just came pouring out of me, and I sat on the hospital bed and sobbed. She hugged me, told me to put all of that behind me, and she commented on the medallion I always wear, the one of Our Lady of Guadalupe that my parents gave me on my 31st birthday. She told me that she's a Catholic as well, and she asked if she could pray with me. I said of course, and after praying together, talking about the meds I was on, how breastfeeding was going so far, I felt like this huge weight had been lifted off of me. Carmine wasn't experiencing any kind of withdrawal, he had an excellent latch, and my milk came in later that evening. We ended up staying in the hospital for an extra day so he could be monitored, and I was more than ready to go home by the third day. Tony and Alessandra were absolutely enamored with baby Carmine, and Gianna was suspicious at first-not to mention very unhappy with me!-but she slowly but surely got used to having a baby around the house, and now she gives Carmine pets and kisses whenever she sees him.      Being a mother of four has definitely had its challenges so far, but every time I hold Carmine close, kiss his face, snuggle with him after a feeding...I can't get over the wonder of it all. Even though he was unexpected and unplanned, we know without a doubt this sweet little boy was meant to be here, and we couldn't be more honored to be his parents. We love you with all our hearts, Carmine Michael. Welcome to the world. 


  1. Gosh, you are a rockstar my dearest girl. (Although I really want to make a joke about judging you for playing Candy Crush. You are so silly.) Of all people, I understand the guilt associated with medications during pregnancy. But no one... literally NO ONE could have braved the stormy parts of this experience with more grace and grit. I do not exaggerate when I say that I am tearing up at how incredibly PROUD I am of you. I am here for you always... never forget that.


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