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Andrew Joseph Vernaci // Birth Story

Oh boy… where do we even start? Becoming a mom was something I always felt like I was destined to be. Whenever someone asked… what do you want to be when you grow up? I always wanted to answer with “be a mom.” Although I knew that motherhood would be so fun, I was always SO nervous about the giving birth part. You hear stories and see how its projected in the movies and it created quite an anxiety within me. Will it hurt? How badly? Can I survive that pain? They say it will all be worth it… so many things ran through my mind.

When I decided to document my pregnancy I felt it was important to always be transparent and hold nothing back. I wanted soon-to-be moms to get ALL the information. I’m here to give you all the details about AJ’s birth – holding nothing back… the good, the bad, the ugly.

In case you missed it. You can check out my first trimester recap, second trimester recap and third trimester recap.

June 2, 2020 // 37 Weeks & 4 Days

With this being my first pregnancy, I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of contractions and when labor would begin. I had a very healthy pregnancy so there was no indication that the baby would come early. The doctors said everything looked like it was on track but baby AJ had other plans.

Mucus Plug

The mucus plug is a thick clump of cervical mucus that forms during pregnancy, helping block the cervix. Typically, as your cervix opens and gets ready for delivery you may “lose” the plug. This usually means labor is coming soon but could still be a few weeks away. On Sunday, May 31st I was almost 99% sure I lost my plug. I googled what they look like and could almost confirm this was what had just happened.

It’s Happening!

At about 7pm the night before I went into labor I just wasn’t feeling myself. I made dinner for TJ and I and didn’t have a single bite. I ended up getting in bed at about 8pm because my stomach was hurting. I assumed this was just par for the course of being pregnant because I had upset stomachs often. I woke up at about 2:50am to a really crampy upset stomach. I thought I just needed to go to the bathroom. After about an hour of back and forth to the bathroom, I started to feel what felt like period cramps. It would come in waves. As I laid in bed, I just kept thinking… is this was Braxton Hicks feel like? I had heard of them but hadn’t experienced them yet so I just brushed it off and kept trying to sleep. I woke TJ up to tell him I wasn’t feeling well and we decided that maybe we should start tracking them in case it was the real thing. I knew Braxton Hicks contractions aren’t regular so I wanted to check and see if mine were to rule it out. I downloaded an app called Contractions (app store // google play) which helped us time them. The other cool thing about the app is that it will alert you after you have logged a few and let you know if it thinks you should go to the hospital. The contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart at this point and when I was in the bathroom I would yell to TJ to start and stop the timed. While I was in there, an alert popped up that said you should consider going to the hospital. TJ quickly threw his bag together just incase.

We decided to call the on call doctor and explain what was going on. I was scheduled to have an appointment later that day at 11am for my cervix to be checked. The doctor said he couldn’t be sure but that since I hadn’t had my cervix checked yet, that we should come into the hospital and have it checked just to be safe. We both decided to shower before we left just incase we ended up in the hospital for a few days. By the time we were heading out the door it was about 5am and the contractions were getting more intense. I told TJ on the drive to the hospital, this better be the real thing because I don’t think I’ll survive if it gets worse than this. I wish I could explain to you what the contractions felt like. Imagine your worst period cramps x10. Because the baby had come early we didn’t have a chance to map the route to the hospital yet so it took us a bit to find the correct entrance. I started to panic because the contractions were starting to hurt so badly.

Arriving at the Hospital

I’m not sure if it was the nerves or the contractions but I had TJ drop me off at the door so I could run to the bathroom while he parked. After entering the building I had to go through a quick screening process for COVID and was allowed to enter but had to wear our masks. TJ met me in the lobby and we headed up to the 3rd floor. Our temperatures were checked again upon arriving at the triage area. I was really struggling at this point and just wanted to get things moving. Thankfully, I had purchased a small battery operated fan that TJ was able to hold on the back of my neck. This truly saved me during the whole process. Being able to keep myself cool helped so much! They took me back to what looked sort of like an ER triage area and TJ wasn’t allowed to join me yet. Having to wear a mask during all of this was HORRIBLE. Breathing hot air on my face while trying to work through contractions was not fun. The nurse came back and asked me a few questions, hooked me up to the monitors and then TJ was allowed to come back. The midwife came in and checked my cervix and I’ll never forget the words she said. “Girlfriend you are 4 centimeters dilated and I can feel his head. You’re having a baby today” … excuse me what!? TJ and I looked at each other and couldn’t believe it. We were so excited and I was so nervous for everything that was about to happen.

COVID Test

Because I was an admitted patient I had to be tested for COVID which was not fun AT ALL! While all this was going on, the last thing I wanted to do was have a stick shoved up my nose. It wasn’t even so much that it hurt but it was so uncomfortably far up my nose and she had to swirl it around for 10-15 seconds. I was told I would be moved to the delivery room and I had to keep my mask on until my test came back.

Delivery

I was pleasantly surprised by the delivery room set up. It was not what I was expecting at all. The lights were dim and it almost felt cozy. I was picturing big bright lights, cold, etc. By the time I got to the delivery room my contractions were almost unbearable. As soon as one would start, I would feel myself panic. It was a desperate feeling of OMG SOMEONE MAKE IT STOP HELP ME. But after a minute or two it would fade away. They checked me again when we got to the room and I was already at 6cm dilated. Thankfully I was able to get my epidural right away. Our nurse was awesome and she was able to get me hooked up to the monitors and get my fluids going very quickly. I had never had an IV in my forearm before but that part was not fun. It hurt more than a regular IV. Shortly after getting into the delivery room, my COVID test came back negative and I was able to remove my mask – thank god!

Epidural

I truly wouldn’t have been able to do it without having an epidural. It was LIFE CHANGING. I was absolutely terrified to have it done but it was worth getting some relief. The doctor came in and started explaining to me what was about to happen next. She informed me how serious this was and that I needed to be very still while getting it. She told me that it could take her 5-10 min and that I would probably have contractions during it. She told me to let her know if I felt one coming so she could stop but I wasn’t able to move once she started. It freaked me out quite a bit but TJ assured me it would be ok and that he was right there. I can’t stress how important it is to have a support person with you that you trust. I had to sit Indian style on the bed and arch forward to round my spine so she could get proper placement. I had 2 contractions while she was working back there and that was so hard to have to sit like that and sit still. She numbed the area first and then inserted the epidural. To be honest, the IV hurt worse than this. If you are afraid of an epidural, don’t be… it really wasn’t bad and I’m a wimp.

I got almost instant relief. She told me that following the epidural I would have about 95% blockage and by the time I push it would be at about 65%. She encouraged us to rest and take a nap if we could for about an hour before we started pushing. All the nurses left the room and TJ went down and got everything from the car. We rested for about an hour. The doctor came back in to check and I was 10cm dilated and ready to push. I couldn’t believe how quickly things were progressing.

Pushing

I was shocked by this a bit. I totally pictured big bright lights, feet in the stirrups, screaming in pain kind of thing like you see in the movies. In reality – for how things are done at Beaumont Royal Oak at least – the doctor kept the lights dim and just shined an overhead light so she could see and she sat on the edge of the bed. We began pushing. I honestly couldn’t feel much. I had an extreme pressure feeling during the contractions which told my body to push but because of how well the epidural took, I didn’t feel any pain. Pushing is exhausting and it’s hard work. I pushed for an hour and a half. When he was getting close to being fully delivered, they broke down the end of the bed, a few more nurses came in and I put my feet in the stirrups. One more push and baby boy made his arrival at 11:57am. They immediately put him in my chest and I couldn’t believe it was all over. I actually had to ask TJ if he was fully out because I couldn’t feel it. They then took the baby to clean him up which they repaired any damage that I had and delivered the placenta. I had a small internal tear that they repaired with a few dissolvable stitches. I still couldn’t feel anything at this point from the epidural. AJ was 6lbs 2oz and 20 inches long. The cool thing is that he was born on 6/2/20 and his measurements were 6, 2, 20!

Recovery

From when things started at home to when AJ was born was a total of about 8.5 hours. We had to wait in the delivery room for about 2 hours for the epidural to wear off. We then were taken up to our room where we would be staying. One thing I didn’t really mentally prepare for was my own recovery. I had been so worried about delivery and the baby that I never considered what recovery would be like for myself. When I got to the room, they asked if I could try and use the bathroom. This was TERRIFYING. I had just pushed a baby out and they wanted to make sure everything was working properly. From having the urinary catheter and the stitches it burned horribly when I peed. Instead of wiping they had me use a squirt bottle filled with lukewarm water to clean the area. I also didn’t anticipate the amount of blood I would be shedding. They give you disposable underwear and a pad. Getting around by myself was challenging. It was very sore so TJ had to help me sit and get back into bed. Thankfully the nurses gave me ice packs to sit on and meds for the pain which provided a ton of relief. I highly recommend getting the frida moms ice packs (linked below) for when you go home. They are FAR better than several others that I tried. I also recommend taking as much as you can from the hospital. I took the package of disposable underwear and the squirt bottle. They also provided me a can of dermaplast which helps numbs and provide relief. I feel like the recovery isn’t something people talk about often but it’s a VERY real part of the delivery process. Be prepared to bleed for a few weeks following delivery. I promise it gets better each day. Make sure you stay on top of your pain meds to stay ahead of the pain and wear your ice packs. I promise it’ll be better soon! Your baby is SOO worth it.

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