I’ve had a lot of requests to share my birth story, so I finally took some time to write it all down and share with all of you the story of how little Lucy was born.
Lucy Toyoko Zvanut was born on October 13, 2016 at 4:43am at San Francisco General Hospital. She weighed in at 6.2oz and was 19 1/4 inches long. She was born a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Here’s the story of how we got there…
When I was in labor, my husband kept telling me to remember the breathing exercises we learned during our labor class. But all I could think was “SCREW YOUR BREATHING TECHNIQUES!!!!” I couldn’t concentrate on anything, let alone breathing properly.
I know it must have been frustrating for him, spending so much money on all those labor and newborn care classes, just to be told to screw off when trying to use them. He was being so sweet and helpful, but I couldn’t help but be annoyed at everything he said. He has no idea the pain I was in, I kept thinking to myself. Trying to not scream and stay calm and collective was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t care that people all the way down the hallway could hear me screaming the F word. I was in so much pain and I just wanted it to stop!
I was trying to hold off on pain meds as long as possible, but as soon as I decided to lay down, I couldn’t handle the pain anymore! (I don’t know how woman do it naturally, you are a beast!) I was having contractions since early that morning, it was now 7pm, and had been able to control myself until then. But laying down just activated the horrible back labor pains. The pain, my God. Once that epidural kicked in, it was smooth sailing. But now I’m just getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.
It was about 6:30am on October 13th. I lay in bed sleeping, only to gradually wake up to intense cramping pain. (My due date was October 18th.) I had been to the doctor the day before for a routine checkup and wasn’t dilated at all, so I didn’t really consider the fact that I was going into labor. Instead, I just continued to lay there trying to sleep, tossing and turning every time my cramps started back up. I was in and out of sleep for a couple hours when the pain was becoming worse. That’s when it finally dawned on me that this could be contractions. I started paying more attention to the pain and starting timing them. At this point, it was almost 9am and my contractions were about 15 minutes apart. So I texted a few important people (my husband, my parents, a few close friends) and got out of bed to take a bath and wait. My husband quickly responded and wanted to rush home right away, but I told him not to because they weren’t that bad or close enough together to do anything about yet. I really didn’t want to be that mom who walked into the hospital way too early, just to be told to go back home and wait. So I waited.
I finished packing my hospital bag, ate a snack and tried to tidy up the house a bit. By now it was almost 10:30am and my contractions were still about 13-14 minutes apart and still not very intense. I tried to do stuff around the house to distract myself and wait it out. Around 2pm is when my contractions started to pick up. They started getting more intense and were now about 10-12 minutes apart. Still not close enough to make a move. So I continued to wait. Meanwhile, my husband is texting me nonstop asking me a hundred questions and wondering if he should come home yet, but I kept insisting no. Around 4pm he finally told me he was packing up for the day and catching the bus home. At this point, my contractions were still about 10 minutes apart and still only mild. I started to make some dinner for us, bracing myself on the kitchen counter during every contraction. About 30 minutes later, I called my husband to check to see where he was. He said he was just waiting for the second bus (his work is in an odd location so he unfortunately has to take two buses, poor guy.) That’s when I told him to screw the bus and get in an Uber, shit was getting really real over here.
I could no longer concentrate on cooking, so I left half cooked food on the stove top and was trying to wait patiently for my husband to arrive. One he did, I was still bracing myself on the kitchen counter waiting for a contraction to pass. The funny thing about contractions, you feel SO awful during them, but pretty normal in between them. So needless to say, after the contraction ended, I felt like I was okay to keep waiting. My contractions were still 6-8 minutes apart and only 30 seconds long. I kept thinking about the 5-1-1 rule and really didn’t want to arrive to the hospital too early. So around 5:30 or so, I finally decided that it was time, and we packed up the car to head to the hospital. While we were driving, I kept going in and out of contractions, debating if I was really ready or going in too early because my contractions were still only 20-30 seconds long. By now, they were coming every 5 minutes or so, but I was so stuck on the stupid 5-1-1 rule, that I kept second guessing myself. My husband was being so patient but insisted that we continue on to the hospital anyway. And thank God we did.
Once we arrived at the hospital, we walked into the maternity ward and was checked in. The first question they asked, “Is this your first baby?” It was, and the nurses all just assumed I was overreacting and not quite far enough along. But they weren’t super busy, so they got us a room so they could check me out. I was only dilated 2cm but my contractions were coming every 1-2 minutes now and were lasting anywhere from 30-60 seconds. It was intense, to say the least. I kept walking around the room until I couldn’t handle it anymore, and that’s when I decided to get into bed. As soon as I did (literally minutes after) I started getting more intense contractions and back labor pains. That’s when my water broke. We had only been at the hospital for maybe 20 minutes, so I’m glad we got there when we did! At that point, they admitted me. I tried to wait for pain meds as long as I could, but the pain was too intense and I had to give in. (I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but apparently not when it comes to labor pains! Holy hell!)
I was that woman in the hospital screaming bloody murder and yelling at the nurses to give me more meds. At first I tried fentanyl, but it didn’t even touch the pain. It did however help me stay still long enough to get the epidural. Once the epidural kicked in, things got much easier. Unfortunately, I ended up getting super itchy and nauseous from the pain meds, so they had to give me stuff for both. Thankfully I am not too much of a modest person, because I ended up ripping all my clothes off in a fit trying to not itch through my skin and sweat. My contractions were coming almost every minute but I still wasn’t dilated much. So around 8pm they set the drugs and monitors and said they’d be back to check on me around 2am. So we watched some TV, ate some food, then actually took a nap for a few hours. I have to admit, it wasn’t all that bad!
When 2am came around, in came all the nurses. I still wasn’t dilated enough, so they decided to try Pitocin. Everything started to pick up pretty quickly then. I’m not even entirely sure how much later on it was, but I was finally dilated enough to start pushing. All the doctors and doula came rushing in, and quite honestly, I was not ready for it yet! I had just been napping not that long ago, and now It was finally show time. It all came so quickly! My heart start racing but I had to pull up my big girl panties and listen to the doctors. It was go time and there was no turning back.
The doula came to my side and started instructing me to breath and start pushing. She was the best, with her cold wash clothes that she kept putting on my forehead and her words of engorgement. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her there. If you don’t plan on having a doula in the delivery room with you, you should really reconsider. SF General provided one for free and she was amazing. Check with the hospital or birthing center you’re planning to deliver at and see what options you may have regarding a doula. I highly recommend one!
My husband was on one leg, a male nurse on the other. I joke with my husband about how the male nurse’s touch was so much more comforting than his. Probably because he’s helped deliver many babies and knew exactly what to do, but my husband’s convinced it’s because he was gay. Whatever it was, I liked him and could care less. So the doctor continued to tell Aaron what to do to help and I continued to push. I pushed a few times and was doing a pretty good job, but it wasn’t progressing as fast as she would have hoped. We tried the birthing bar and pulling on a sheet for leverage, but it wasn’t really helping. She instructed for me to push harder, but it was hard to even tell how much I was pushing with the epidural.
That’s when they started wheeling in carts of medical procedure supplies and I started to freak out. I frantically told the doula to not them use any of the scary contraptions on me and my baby. She calmly told me that I need to concentrate on pushing and get the baby out quickly and I wouldn’t have to worry about any of that. So needless to say, I put all my effort into pushing. I did not want to have to use a vacuum or anything crazy. Little did I know that after just several pushes, it had already been over 2 hours! It’s crazy how fast time went by that night.
I continued to push a couple more times and Lucy’s head started to show. The doctor asked if I wanted to see it in a mirror or touch her head (which already had tons of hair on it!). I had no interest in any of that, no thank you. Although, looking back, I kind of wish I would have looked in the mirror quickly, but we’ll save that for next time! She told me to keep pushing, then I put so much effort into pushing that she had to tell me to calm down for a second so she could prepare for the final push. Our doctor was a tiny woman (less than 5 ft) and when the time came, she just got right in between my legs and prepared for the final push. She yelled at me to push hard and within seconds I had a tiny baby girl on my chest. The beautiful moment was so lovely, right up until she pooped ALL over me. It was lovely. Welcome baby Lucy.
Afterwards, I nursed her and had skin to skin contact. They took her back and cleaned her up a little bit then handed her off to Aaron for some daddy skin to skin. All of a sudden this giant light, that looked like a space ship, came down from the ceiling panel and the brightest light ever beamed down, right between my legs. Again, it’s a good thing I am not a modest person. I feel bad for the women who are. Labor must be terrible with everyone all up in your business. And to even think about wearing clothes the entire labor, forget that. Thankfully, I had brought my own pillow and super soft blanket (I am a sucker for a soft blanket) to comfort me. I went to Ross a couple weeks earlier and got a cheap pillow and blanket to bring along, just in case things got messy, I didn’t want to bring my own that I use at home. It was so comforting having those few items. I even brought a long night shirt that said “Busy Doing Nothing”, which I thought was a clever shirt to be wearing during labor. Of course, that didn’t last very long, but oh well.
Honestly, I found most the things I brought with me in my hospital bag went unused. I am one to always be prepared for any situation, so I had a lot of extra stuff with me. But I was so caught up in everything that I didn’t have a chance to use much of it. I was most thankful for my pillow and blanket, as I mentioned before, and my slippers. I also brought along my own towel (since the hospital towels are tiny) and my own toiletries. It was nice to have some familiar stuff in such a hectic time. Using my own shampoo and face wash was very pleasant and made recovery much easier for me.
So after checking me out down there, the doctor let’s me know they were finished. And let me tell you, the best words you will ever hear in your entire life: “You’re fully in-tacked!” Woot!! No tearing or stitches for this lady!! I was so incredibly happy to hear those words. I was most scared of bad tearing and stitches. Not only do you have to deal with the pain of the stitches, but stitches start to itch once they’re healing, and that just does not sound like any fun.
Lucy was so little (at just 6.2 oz) and felt so fragile. I was still kind of high off medication and just super exhausted and fatigued, that I honestly wasn’t 100% comfortable holding her yet. After all, Lucy was the first baby I have ever really held, at least in my adult years. I was so new to all of this and I was so nervous and scared. I didn’t want to break her!
So it was finally over and things have settled down. Most the nurses and doctors had left and was just us, our new little family. I think we were both still in shock some and just kept staring at our beautiful baby girl. We had both waited so long for this moment, it was hard to believe it was actually here. Together at last!
I nursed her right away, but the entire time I kept nodding off and was having a hard time concentrating and being present. I was so exhausted and the drugs were still effecting me, and I couldn’t stop worrying about dropping her or hurting her fragile little neck. As soon as I got done nursing, I asked for them to take her so I could rest for a little bit. The entire time I could tell the nurses were judging me slightly for not wanting to hold my baby. I am so thankful for my husband being there and understanding and helping me get my rest before pressuring me to hold her. It’s not that I didn’t want to hold her or that I wasn’t totally in love with her like the nurse thought, I just wanted to be more clear headed and physically stable before holding such a tiny baby. Luckily my husband totally understood and helped me explain that.
After I took a nap, ate some food (the first thing I wanted after giving birth was a delicious turkey deli sandwich! I had been craving one for literally 9 months) and took a shower, I was ready to hold my baby! At this point I felt so much better and comfortable and couldn’t get enough of our baby. Although I was still quite awkward holding her and especially trying to nurse her, but I got the hang of it quickly. We visited with Aaron’s parents and had a couple friends stop by in the hospital. It’s funny how quickly time passes when you’re in a hospital (or for me at least). Those first two days went by so quickly. Maybe it was sleep deprivation or just excitement, but whatever it was, time flew by. I was ready to go home right away, so as soon as they gave me the go ahead, we were out of there.
My delivery was really easy and my recovery even easier. I actually feel some what bad when I tell some of my mom friends my story, knowing that they had a difficult labor and recovery. I was up walking around the hospital (we would walk up and down the hallways of the hospital pushing Lucy in her bassinet because it’s the furthest they would let us go) because I couldn’t just sit in our room and do nothing. I was ready to go, ready to get moving. They kept telling me to take it easy, but I have never been one to take it easy. I honestly never really felt like I had a baby. The most of the pain was in my arms and back from straining so much during contractions. The rest, it just felt like we had a lot of crazy sex, but I never really did feel like I pushed a baby out! (Sorry if that’s too much information, but it’s the truth!) Of course I was a little sore, but that was about it. I was really lucky. (I guess it’s true what they say about having a bad pregnancy or a bad labor, not usually both. My pregnancy was tough, so it only seems fair my delivery was easier!) All the nurses kept calling me Super Woman and telling me I should have more babies, because clearly I was just meant to have babies. I think we’ll wait a while before that though!
A couple days later we finally got to go home. Putting Lucy in the car seat for the first time was so exciting. Seeing her itty bitty body in the car seat was too much. We couldn’t wait to get her home. We drove so slowly and carefully home that afternoon and I just couldn’t take my eyes off her.
Having Lucy was one of the most beautiful, crazy, and intense experiences of my life, but I wouldn’t change anything about it. I love looking back at the photos of Lucy when she was a newborn and reminiscing about that night. Pregnancy and labor is truly a magical thing and I’m so happy I got to experience it and I look forward to the next time, whenever that might be. (No rush!)