birth story: pier francis

Our sweet Pier Francis entered the world on Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 10:15 p.m. in a beautiful, unmedicated natural childbirth. Just warning you, this is extremely detailed because I wanted to remember it all for my own recollection, so read or skim as you wish.  

the big day

The morning of June 25th I woke up feeling exceptionally tired.  Usually I am up before the sun rises but for some reason that day I remember sleeping until 9 a.m.  It was raining and all I wanted to do was stay in my PJs and read and sleep and take advantage of being 9 months pregnant.  At around 11:00 I decided to try and make the day productive (if only I knew what was in store!) and made some oatmeal banana pancakes to freeze for future post-baby breakfasts.

At around noon I sat down to pray the Pier Giorgio novena, which started that day.  I remember praying that I would go into labor soon, that my doula would be able to make the birth (she was going out of town that weekend) and that my labor would be peaceful and prayerful.  The minute I got up from praying I felt water dripping down my leg…. Now sweet people who are reading this, you are smart and probably thinking, “Oh her water broke! She’s in labor now!”  I am not as smart as you and my first thought was “Oh I just totally peed on myself”.  Guess which way of thinking was correct?  I remember texting Brad and saying, “There’s water coming down my leg and it won’t stop, but I don’t think my water broke??” Oh, Emily.

Anyway, I was indeed in labor and Brad came home from work to pick me up to go see my doctor.  I found that being married to a doctor has its perks and I was allowed to go into the family medicine clinic to get checked before being admitted into the hospital.  My rockstar doctor Dr. Meneghini confirmed that my water had broken.  I was 4 cm dilated and apparently I was having contractions 3-5 minutes apart.  I say apparently because I didn’t know I was having contractions! To me they felt like very mild menstrual cramps and I didn’t think anything of it. I was still in complete denial that I would be having a baby that day….

the labor

At 2:00 I left the clinic and went back to my house to pick up my hospital bag and eat something.  I ate Greek yogurt, some fruit, some nuts, and a protein shake incase anyone was wondering.  I really wanted Chic-fil-A but Brad convinced me that that wouldn’t be a good idea…thanks for saving me on that one, Dr. Brad.

I had hoped to labor at home for as long as possible, but since my water broke so early I wasn’t able to.  I was a little rebellious and stayed at my house for an hour or so before being admitted into the hospital, just because I really really hate hospitals. By 4:00 I was admitted, signed all the ridiculous paperwork amid contractions, and hooked up to an I.V. (which I must say was probably my least favorite part of the entire experience….I hated that I.V.)

An hour passed and labor started progressing.  My doula, Mrs. Julie, just arrived in the parking lot when Brad texted her, “I think we could use you now!” I was doing well with the contractions, still talking a little, walking around, and trying to smile, but definitely entering labor land.  I held tight to my rosary as things got to be a little more intense and I started feeling really sick.  A sweet nurse got me lavender essential oils to relax me and it was just what I needed. 

Then Mrs. Julie agreed that it was time for me to get in the tub.  As they were setting it up, I threw up what felt like weeks worth of food (sorry guys) and then the pain started getting even more intense.  By 6:20 I was 8cm, 100% effaced, and baby was at +1 station. Thank you Jesus for that tub! It didn’t relieve the pain but it definitely slowed the contractions down enough for me to gain some energy back.

Laboring in the tub was the most memorable experience for me.  It was when the pain was at a peak (those transition contractions were not messing around) but I was at my calmest.  Reflecting on the most painful part, I realized that it was also the most peaceful.  I remember Brad praying over me and feeling the Holy Spirit filling my heart, quietly reminding me to have courage and to remember the purpose in this suffering.  I never allowed any thoughts of “But I can’t do this” enter into my mind. I just simply took it one contraction at a time. I knew I could do it, I knew that this was what I was made for, and I knew that the Lord was using this suffering for His greater glory.  I remember quietly offering up the pain for the intentions I had prayed for in my prayer journal, and I thanked the Lord for these contractions because it was moving me closer and closer to that resurrection moment of meeting my son.  

This may sound strange, but never had I experienced a suffering so sweet.  Brad told me that he couldn’t even tell when I was having contractions, and I entered into such a spiritual state that all I could focus on uniting this terrible pain with Jesus.  The great mystery of willingly giving of yourself so completely so that another can live transcended any amount of agony I experienced during that time.  It was during those moments of transition labor that I felt closest to Christ and I had a newfound understanding and appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice He gave for me on the cross.

the birth

By 8:00 the baby was at +2 station and I was ready to push…At this point I’m thinking, “Great! The baby will be here in 15 minutes, 30 minutes tops!”

HA! If only….

I ended up pushing for 2 ½ hours.  Yep. My doula joked afterward that I now know why childbirth is called labor ;) I felt like I was running a marathon, drenched in sweat, gasping for breath ever few minutes.  Brad was holding my left hand and Julie was holding my right and I just got to work trying to bring this baby into the world.  There was no looking back now!

Surprisingly though, when I pushed with each contraction I didn’t feel any pain.  I actually was making jokes and apologizing to my support team that it was taking so long!  Then as the hours passed by I started to get really frustrated.  It was taking a lot of time for the baby to mold and move down, but by 9:45 we were seeing his head every time I pushed.  There came a point that all I could think was get - this - baby - out- NOW. Somewhere in the last 30 minutes of pushing, sweet lil Emily left the building and amazon woman Emily took over (I didn’t know that Emily even existed ha!).  I ended up pushing so hard that my IV popped out and there was blood, covering my arm, gushing everywhere.  How does that even happen?!

Dr. Meneghini, angel cheerleader that she is, started shouting things like “THAT’S IT! GET MAD, GET MAD!!!” Brad started being Brad and yelled “FOURTH QUARTER BAYBAY LET’S DO THIS!” And that type of ridiculous motivation was exactly what I needed to get the job done.  I kept waiting for the “ring of fire” to hit, but for me, it wasn’t painful when the baby crowned.  I was just ready to meet my son!  A few acrobatic moves later, Pier Francis entered the world at 10:15 p.m. 

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed to us”- Romans 8:18

They laid him on my chest and I couldn’t believe what I had just done.  He was perfect.  All that work, all that love, all that suffering did not go without meaning.  He was here, he was healthy, and he was mine to cherish as the Lord wills.  As sentimental as I am, there were no tears streaming down my face as I held him…pure joy took over and my mouth actually hurt from smiling so much.  I will never forget the look of raw happiness in my husband’s eyes, or the moment of relief and thanksgiving I felt holding Pier Francis for the first time.

When reflecting on Pier’s birth, I can’t help but hearing the echo of the words of his namesake:

"You ask me whether I am in good spirits. How could I not be, so long as my trust in God gives me strength. We must always be cheerful. Sadness should be banished from all Christian souls. For suffering is a far different thing from sadness, which is the worst disease of all. It is almost always caused by lack of Faith. But the purpose for which we have been created shows us the path along which we should go, perhaps strewn with many thorns, but not a sad path. Even in the midst of intense suffering it is one of joy." – Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Whether it is emotional or physical, we cannot escape suffering in this life. By embracing the pain instead of fighting it, I was graced with an inner strength that I didn’t even think was possible to experience.  Instead of feeling abandoned, I felt empowered.  Christ never left my side, and it continues to serve as a reminder to me that He never leaves me during moments of desolation. I could not have done it without Him, without my support team, and without your prayers.  Believe me, I felt your prayers and all of heaven’s with me as I brought my son into the world.  To those who prayed for me, gave me advice, or offered support to us during my pregnancy I offer you my sincerest thank you.  God bless you all! And gold star for you if you actually read this whole thing ;)