I would like to finally share this story for the first time.

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I finally got permission to walk around.  I had been on 100% bed rest for the last three months of my pregnancy, which would have been fine IF the pipes in our second washroom hadn’t leaked, flooding the apartment below us.

 

In Italy the apartments are not made with wood and dry wall, but with POURED concrete.  So in order to fix the pipes they had to get to them, which meant using a hammer to smash the concrete.  They broke the walls in our washroom, hallway, kitchen and the floors and then put them all back together.

36 weeks with our Zeno

So there I was, in my last trimester, with fine dust particles everywhere, lying in bed on my left side 24 hours a day while 4 construction workers broke down walls, smoked IN my house and cook their own lunches in my kitchen.  It was the dead of winter, so I stayed under the covers with the windows of the bedroom open.

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Finally the work was done, the pipes were fixed and my last month of pregnancy was ending so my doctor gave me permission to stand three days before my due date!!

 

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to climb 15 flights of stairs after 3 months of immobility.

 

BAD IDEA

The next day I couldn’t walk.

 

Thankfully that night I didn’t go into labour or I would have never survived.  My legs quivered so much I could hardly stand.

The next night my man and I went out around 9 p.m. for an evening stroll.  We ran into some friends having an aperitivo and chatted.  It was nice to see them since it had been months since I had seen anyone.

 

Walking home I felt my first contraction.  And then my second. And then my third.

 

We used an app we had downloaded to keep track of the timing.

 

IT WAS HAPPENING. I was going to give birth.

 

Giving birth was the thing that scared me the most about pregnancy.  It was fine that this baby was growing inside of me, taking over my body and crowding my lungs to the point where I fainted frequently.

 

BUT BIRTH??!

 

Birth is another story.  You grow this being, and then it must come out, and that was horrifying.  I watched live birth videos (bad idea), did perineal massages (good idea), and practiced  proper pushing techniques
(another good idea).

 

I was ready and also NOT ready for this moment.  But it was happening.  I was prepared, the room was decorated, everything was washed and then covered with sheets so no dust could build up, my bag was packed and we headed to the hospital around 11 pm after taking these pictures.

 

I needed this pregnancy.  I wanted it more than I had ever wanted anything, and now it was happening… my baby was coming.

 

My contractions were in full swing, and in the car ride on the way to the Sassuolo hospital I found a CD my husband had made for himself many years ago.  It had Metallica’s St. Anger on it, and I listened to this on repeat at FULL volume all the way to the hospital.

 

It felt so fitting to have contractions while listening to Metal music (even though technically I’m not really a metal fan, but I do love this song).

 

We have a hospital 5 minutes away from our house but I decided to give birth in another town.  Sassuolo is about 25 minutes away from Modena and their philosophy about childbirth is right up my alley.

 

According to their website they have a birthing pool, encourage women to listen to music, encourage natural births, have a lactation specialist on-site and all of the obstetricians are mothers.

 

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When I arrived I was so happy to be there that they almost sent me home because there was no way I could be living through contractions when I seemed so happy.  They gave me a quick exam and confirmed that I had started dilating but still had a ways to go.

 

We arrived at the hospital around 11:30 pm on March 23rd.  I remember the first few hours of my labor clearly.  I brought my small portable radio, a case filled with all kinds of music, snacks, water, a TENS Machine
and had hypnobirth statements recorded on my phone.

 

 

Contractions came and I breathed and bounced on a bouncy ball, then bigger contractions came and I asked for my TENS Machine.

 

Ever heard of a TENS machine?  Its like a small electrical shock machine with these pads that you put on an area that is bothering you, then you turn a dial and a small electric shock continues to pulse wherever you put the pads.  I had 6 of these pads on my hips and lower back and had this little TENS Machine on FULL electrifying capacity until the batteries died.  I don’t remember how long they lasted because time seemed to have no meaning.

 

There were no minutes and no hours, there was only periods of pain and periods of less pain.

 

I was being crippled, no crushed by the excruciating pressure that was my hips separating from the rest of my body.

 

If I had to describe MY birth pain, I would say it was like swallowing one of Jack’s magic beans and then having the beanstalk rip my body apart while it grew.

 

I opted for a natural birth and had prepared by doing breathing exercises, abdominal exercises for proper pushing and even stretching.

 

When the TENS batteries ran out I sent my husband on the hunt to find more batteries and cursed myself for remembering things like disposable diapers, breast pads, and 10 ziplock bags each containing one pijama, one undershirt, a little pair of socks, booties and a mini sweater for the baby  AND NOT EXTRA BATTERIES.

 

He came back empty handed….it was 4 or 5 am and the hospital store was still closed for the night.

 

I laid there and slowly died, until Cristiana, one of my obstetricians, touch me with her magic hands.  She is not a small woman and used all of her force to give me the deepest and most pain relieving massage I have ever had in my life.  She massaged until she was exhausted and then my husband took over.  I told him to massage me harder and harder, and later he told me that he had never used that much force on another person.  I had bruises on my back and hips for WEEKS after I gave birth.

 

Which leads me to believe that during birth women lose the ability to make rational decisions!

 

Then there was Gaia, the other obstetrician, beautiful and petite with big brown eyes.  I asked her if there was a shower and she led me to the private washroom in my birthing room.  I turned on the shower and got underneath fully clothed.

 

I don’t know how many hours I spent under the boiling hot water.  I have only bits and pieces and fragments of the hours that passed.  All I remember is everywhere being flooded in the washroom AND out of the washroom in the birthing room.  No one was wearing shoes or socks and they had to continually mop so that no one would slip.

 

The water was boiling hot and I wanted it hotter.

 

I remember hearing an animal, maybe it was a wild beast that was just slain, it moaned a loud, deep and constant howl that echoed throughout the whole hospital.  When my husband heard it he was terrified and shocked, and doctors and nurses from all around came to see which animal had made that horrific sound….and then I realized IT WAS ME.

 

I didn’t YELL so much as howl throughout the whole ordeal.  My thighs turned bright red from the boiling water in the shower. I played every music CD I had brought and then demanded silence. I went from being fully clothed to being naked……. I went from being a human to being an animal.

 

And finally poo came out.

 

In the shower I looked down at my feet, “what is that?” I asked Gaia.  “Did I go poo?”

 

“No”, she answered “but the baby did, we have to move you to the bed, we’re going to attach a heart monitor to you to see how he’s doing, maybe he’s a little stressed.  Listen very carefully, we’re going to give you some oxytocin in your I.V. to help move along the contractions.  If he’s not born within 15 minutes we have to help him”

 

Help him.  That means cut me open.  He’s dying, he’s pooed and is breathing his own poo, he’s suffering.

 

 

So they moved me to the bed.

 

I asked to use the birthing pool for a water delivery and they told me it was “broken”.  I think that’s what they say to women who don’t qualify for a water birth due to complications.

 

O.K., I said, I can do this.

 

I laid on the bed and arched my back into one of those backward gymnastic crawls that young girls do in elementary school.

 

I wanted to give birth LIKE THIS.  The only position I felt comfortable in was in a backwards arch,  up on the tips of my toes, holding up all of my body weight and balancing myself on the narrow bed.  I looked something like this, but with a big belly, naked and on a birthing table.

 

Image from WikiHow

Image from WikiHow

 

I breathed, I paused and I pushed, then breathed then paused then pushed.

 

And slowly doctors and surgeons came in and they all gathered around waiting for something to happen…. Or not to happen.  I realized later that these were the emergency C-section doctors who were waiting to slice me open if I took too long to give birth, but thankfully it happened.

 

He came out.

 

Like a big, purple, still fish.

 

He didn’t cry and he didn’t move, and they whisked him away.

 

I grabbed my husband and told him to take his picture, I was worried they would change him for another baby.  Boy, those post-birth hormones do start acting up quickly.

 

My son was born with meconium inhalation and couldn’t breath so they had to resuscitate him and vacuum his lungs and pump his heart.  And they saved his life.

 

One more minute, one more second and maybe it wouldn’t have gone so well.

 

I never held him in my arms.  I just laid there calm and hungry.  I sent my husband to the bar to get me two Panini and two cappuccinos and a chocolate.

 

It was 10:04 am and I had been in active labor for 12 hours.

 

At some point I slept and when I awoke I was in my room and my husband was there, he led me down the hall (I could hardly walk) to where they have the incubators and there he was.

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So adorable.

 

A kitty cat.

 

Everyone loved him, he was so small and perfect and cute.

 

He has red hair and the light fuzz that covered his body looked like gold thread and when I held him he seemed covered in gold.

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2012-03-28 17.35.31 - Bob,Ink,Grunge

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He spent the first ten days of his life in the hospital, taking an antibiotic for his meconium inhalation to ensure no infection would ensue.

 

I don’t even want to get into the difficulty faced when you have a newborn that has to live attached to a respiratory machine, heart monitor and I.V., I just thank God that it only lasted ten days.  10 VERY long sleepless days.

 

I never closed my eyes, not once, the whole time he was in the hospital.  Everyone told me to relax, that this was the last chance I had for a “break” because in the hospital the nurses were here to help me and once I got home I would have to do it all.

 

They don’t know me very well.

 

I love doing it all, and I hated having him away from me.

 

After 240 hours of being nervously awake I was ready to bring him home and start our life together.

 

 

My mom and sisters don’t live in Italy, no friends came to help, and my husband went back to work after a few days.  Since he was born I’ve only left him a few times in two years and I am fine.

 

He is the person with whom I have the most fun, the person that makes me laugh the most, the person who has taught me the most about life, and living and love.

 

On March 24th, two years ago I gave birth to Zeno, he is my sunshine.

 

2012-03-25 19.28.39 - James,Sand

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  • I loved reading your birth story! We are 25 weeks with our first baby. I am glad you were able to have your baby in an environment you wanted to. I am also glad to see your baby is doing well now. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  • That is so very sweet. How different thing sin Italy are to American obstetric care! I am sorry your son had some issue with meconium, but I am thankful he is alright.

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    • Shary I would love to hear about the differences between American and Italian obstetric care!! Please fill me in!

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  • Wow! Amazing story. I am so glad it had a happy ending! That finale was scary. My husband knows someone that had an emergency c-section where they just cut the baby out. They could not wait to numb her. That is terrifying to. I am so glad Zeno is okay. What a beautiful baby. And I love his name.

    Jenni

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    • OMG no numbing, ugh I just fainted a little! Thank you for your very nice comment Jenni, sorry I’m so behind on commenting back and reading your blog, I miss you and will head over right now!

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  • Thanks for sharing you birth story. Its really refreshing to hear a mummy say : “Since he was born I’ve only left him a few times in two years and I am fine.He is the person with whom I have the most fun, the person that makes me laugh the most, the person who has taught me the most about life, and living and love.On March 24th, two years ago I gave birth to Zeno, he is my sunshine.”
    I aimed for a natural birth, did natal hypnotherapy & used a tens machine…but after 50 odd hours of labour had to have an emergency section. I don’t dwell on how he arrived, but that he did. & he is my world & my sunshine. My everything. & i’ve also only left him a few times-it drives me nuts when ‘friends’ preach about leaving him for some ‘alone/ adult time’! I’ll do that, as & when i want!
    A beautiful post & an adorable baby boy! xx

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    • Katrina I loved your comment, thank you for sharing. When I was pregnant I thought I would be the first person to leave my son with whoever as soon as possible to get back to having a “real life”, but that just isn’t me anymore! It is fine that your “friends” are comfortable with their time away from their children if that is right for them, but I just think that today’s society values being away from kids more than being WITH THEM.

      Often people ask me how I don’t go nuts spending 12+ hours with my son, but I think “would you ever ask a daycare worker what it is TEHY do all day, or how they don’t go nuts? No. Only because you pay them!

      I think of raising my son as a real job, and even though I work part time in the mornings, nights and when he naps I never use my computer or phone when I’m with him. I try to make our time together count because I’m already aware of the fact that it is FLYING by. Besides, I’ve never figured out why adults think “adult conversation” is so interesting anyway….if you want to have a really interesting conversation try asking a child what they think of the world….the answer usually makes me think more than any conversation about politics or the petty problems that most adults dwell on.

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  • What a beautifully written birth story (and I’ve read a lot!), I felt like I was in the room with you. Gorgeous and what a lucky little boy Zeno is to have you as a mummy. I loved reading it, thank you for sharing xxx

    #allaboutyou

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    • Wow thank you for your very nice words, I was so nervous about putting this out there, I feel like I’ve kept all of this inside for the longest time, having not really shared it with anyone. It is liberating, every now and then to tell a story, even if it’s not a pretty one!

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  • Oh Angie, this had me taking deep breaths and reliving the experience, although what a shock and stressful time those 10 days must have been before you could take your Zeno home. This is a beautifully told birth story, thank you thank you for linking this up to #AllAboutYou

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    • Zaz I love having #AllABoutYou as an outlet for these types of stories! Those 10 days were awful but they taught me some very good lessons in being grateful!

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  • I’m so glad it all worked out for you in the end, I can not imagine how difficult 3 months of bed rest would have been, I think I would have gone insane!

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    • Honestly without Amazon I would have gone nuts, but I did all of my pre-baby shopping online (and spent WAY too much!) and had a few good friends online to keep me company (thank god!). It made me really appreciate my mobility afterwards and I think has made me a pretty active mom.

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  • Thanks for sharing this intimate birth story. I was biting my lip, clenching my fists and felt like I was sat right alongside you! It is such a powerful thing to share authentic birth stories, very moving and informing for others, I love the idea of other women learning from our shared stories. Loved reading your #AllAboutYou post.

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  • For so many of us birthing our babies doesn’t quite go how we planned. I didn’t get to hold M when she was born, she was barely breathing and whisked from me to a neo natal crash team, so I totally empathise with you. 6 days in intensive care / trans care for us, so empathy there too. But hey, we have our beautiful children, it’s not the way we planned it but we have our children! Thanks so much for linking up to #AllAboutYou and sharing such a personal story xx

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    • Luci, thank you so much for sharing your story and comment. And I TOTALLY agree at least we have our babies, as cliche as it sounds, if I had to do it all again I would, in a heartbeat!

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  • What a touching birthing story. By the middle of the story I was so choked up!

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  • Oh wow – this is the first time I’ve seen this post! How scary that must have been for you. I’m so grateful for good medical care, I had complications with my birth and ended up with an emergency c-section after nearly 30 hours of labour. Thankfully the staff were so professional and my recovery was ridiculously quick. Every birth story is beautiful in its own way, even when things don’t go quite as planned!

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