Our Christmas cherub!
Here she is, miss Lola Ivy Banuelos
Born Christmas Day, at 4:22am weighing 7lbs 8oz, measuring 20 inches long.
She is such a sweet, observant little girl.
She has such big, dark brown eyes - with an intense gaze, that seems to steep into your soul.
Lola's Birth Story
Lola was officially due on December 17th, so with each passing day - I was keyed into every symptom, thinking "Is this labor?" . . You'd think after experiencing it once already, I'd be able to decipher the difference between gas - and a contraction, but they actually feel quite similar! Lol.
Anyways, I wasn't experiencing ANY symptoms that would suggest labor was impending (no contractions, no loss of mucus plus, no water breaking, nothing!) . . and was becoming anxious, thinking my Dr would have to induce me if labor didn't naturally start soon.
First off, I have to explain that my Dr is special, and kind of like a local celebrity around North County San Diego . . He's the medium between natural home birth's, and hospital births (check him out here). Doula's, Midwives, and most importantly - expectant Mama's, love and revere him! He is a supporter of natural birth - and let's women's body's do their thing, and does not like to interfere with the process. . That being said, I had never been checked by him - and I had no idea at this time, if I was even dilated.
So I was, very much - in the dark, and only Lola knew - when Lola was coming!
Also, side note; I happened to come down with a nasty cold - which caused lot's of mucus, and coughing . . I heard a rumor that you don't labor while sick, and I was still battling this pesky cold well past her due date, and was thinking Lola was waiting until I fought it off to come . .
Flash to; Christmas Eve - Eve . .
I was up watching The Office on Netflix (it's like comfort tv) - and I felt the urge to pee, so I got up. Yet on my way to the toilet, I felt a small gush of liquid . . Just a tiny amount, but I knew I didn't pee myself (trust me, coughing + sneezing while 40+ weeks pregnant will require you to become very acquainted with loss of bladder control . . and FYI "Peezing" is real, and it's the WORST! ) , so I contacted my Doula and let her know I "think" my water maybe broke? My water broke right before pushing with Stella, and the only reason I knew - was because the midwife told me so . . So I didn't know what the sensation felt like. . My doula Konnie (who is also amazing, and was with me for Stella's birth as well) said it very well could have been my water, and to hydrate and get some rest . .
Of course, rest sounded optimal - but at this stage of pregnancy, I was getting probably 3-4 hours of sleep each night, because - well, I was the size of a whale, and had the bladder of a mouse. .
Yet despite the above, I somehow managed to fall asleep - and actually slept peacefully and soundly. . . I didn't experience any contractions, and thought once my water broke things were supposed to get moving, leading me to believe maybe it wasn't my water(s)?
Christmas Eve day came, we took it easy - and hung out around the house watching Christmas movies, and snacking on Christmas goodies. . It was about 1 in the afternoon, and I was walking back from the bathroom when I felt that familiar involuntarily 'gush" of liquid, so I went back to the bathroom thinking "okay, maybe I'm loosing my mind and am actually just peeing myself" . . I came back from the bathroom , and the gush happened AGAIN - in the exact same spot! This happened twice more, until I announced jokingly to James . . "Okay, I think my water OFFICIALLY just broke! "
I text Konnie again, to where she reminds me to rest & hydrate - and to monitor my contractions . .
The rule of thumb, is that most doctors would like you to labor within 12 hours of your water breaking, to reduce the risk of infection. . Yet, because my water broke, didn't mean I had to rush to the hospital - we were sticking to the plan of laboring at home as long as we could (just like we did with Stella).
The day turns into early evening, and still no contractions. .
I must have had some sort of 6th sense kicking in, because I told everyone to sit by the tree and have a mini Christmas "just in case" . . So we let Stella open a few presents, eat some Christmas cookies - and listened to Christmas music, it was perfect!
Since I still wasn't contracting, and the clock was ticking on how long since my water broke - I thought we needed to get out of the house, and walk this baby out! Stella loved looking at the lights in our neighborhood - so the plan was to bundle up, and go for our last walk as a family of 3.
I went upstairs to grab some warm clothes for Stella, and for myself - and was just about to go back downstairs when I thought, "I should probably go pee first" (things that get ingrained into your mind when pregnant, lol) . . That's when things got interesting.
Just as I sat on the toilet, I looked in my underwear and saw brown discharge - and immediately my heart sunk, because I knew exactly what it was . . Meconium (we have a history). Right than, I started gushing more brown liquid . . I yell downstairs to James "Umm, me might have a problem" - to which I tried to not alarm him, but needed him to swiftly come upstairs. . Of course, he was trying not to freak out - but once he saw , he too immediately knew what it was, and because of what happened with Stella's birth - he grew concerned (I still have to write Stella's birth story, but she was also overdue - and passed meconium as she was exiting the birth canal, and inhaled some - causing her to have a chest X-ray, breathing tubes, heart monitors, and being transferred to a different NICU entirely where she stayed for 7 days)
You see, within the 12 hour rule of your water breaking - you usually can labor at home despite some exceptions, and having water that isn't clear is one of them.
I contacted Konnie again, to where she calmly called me - and let me know that it was common, and to not freak out - but to head to hospital. . I contacted Dr. Cap as well, I sent a text to his emergency pager explaining what happened to which he calmly replied "okay" .
Honestly, the hardest part was what came next - and even writing about it stirs the feelings again. it was leaving Stella.
Last she saw me, we had just finished opening presents - and we were about to go for a walk, now I had to sneak past her, and head to the hospital - having major anxiety about leaving her and not saying bye, and also having major anxiety about the health of Lola and what would ensue at the hospital. .
I seriously didn't know what to do - I wanted so badly to kiss, and hug Stella goodbye. . But she was happily playing with her Grandma, and the new toys she'd just opened . . I didn't want to cause her any anxiety, but I also didn't want her to feel abandoned . It was seriously the worst feeling ever!!
I bawled my eyes out the minute we quietly escaped out the front door - I kept thinking of the possibility of something happening to me (worst case scenario), and never getting to say goodbye to her (I purposely never let a loved one leave before saying "I Love You" because of this fear) . . .
Than, the minute we were in the truck, my focus shifted - I knew I had to focus on Lola, and getting to the hospital to make sure she was okay. . Thankfully we live a quick 5 minute-ish drive away, but of course hit every single red light on the way there! My nerves were blasting! I was still gushing periodically, and didn't know what was coming next. . When we finally got to hospital, I was SO relieved! I basically left Jame's to park, and waddled my butt as fast as I could to L&D where they so comedically asked me "Hi, what can I help you with?" - to which I casually responded, "Hi, just having a baby!" Har har har - labor humor. . .
We arrive at the hospital around 7pm, we fill out paper work - I'm dancing around the admitting desk feeling like I have to majorally pee. . They ask if my water broke, I explain to them the situation - and they tell me Cap has already called and let them know I was coming in . . Perf!
As we head to the room, a sense of relief washed over me!
Before Stella, I dispised hospitals - and the thought of being in one made me tremble with anxiety! They represented everything icky, and morbid - and I didn't want to be at one if I could avoid it . . Yet since pregnancy - it's been my "I can finally relax, and let them take care of me and baby" place. So I was all smiles when we were in that old school hospital room - which we think may have been the same one Stella was delivered in.
Konnie arrives - we hand the nurse my Birth Plan, she checks me - I'm only a 2 (still not experiencing timetable contractions, so not shocking), and she hooks me up to the monitors to check on Lola. . She doesn't like how "flatlined" Lola's heart is looking, so she has me lay down for a bit - and hooks me up to an IV to see if that changes anything. Thankfully, it does the trick!
It's now about 9pm and I'm given the okay to get up and move around! I was feeling super positive, and excited to finally meet Lola! The contractions started coming on regularly and I was doing everything I could to try and speed up labor . . I was using all of the techniques I learnt from the "hypno birthing" book I read for Stella's labor. . I was breathing through the contractions and allowing them to wash over me, versus fight against them. I was squatting, sitting on the toilet, and at one point even sprinting down the halls of the L&D unit . . No, seriously! Konnie claims she got a lot of steps in that night because I was doing marathon laps!
Contractions now are setting into full gear, and are stopping me in my tracks. . With Stella I had painful back labor, and these contractions felt all in my front - so I become comforted at the thought of this being less painful than with Stella. . Meanwhile, because of the length and duration of the contractions Konnie suggests the Nurse checks me again. I become excited, thinking that Konnie must think I'm close! I happily hop up on the bed, fighting through the contractions coming on ever 3 minutes . The nurse checks me, and with disappointment in her voice - reports that I am still only a two . . . . That was honestly, so devastating!!! I hadn't progressed at ALL! All of this work, for the past few hours - and all of these contractions, did nothing!
Just as I received the devastating news, the contractions were becoming unbearable! They were now being felt all over my body - in an indescribable, wave of pain that washed over every inch of me.
I was trying to do my breathing, and work through them - but it wasn't happening. Every 3 minutes I was met with the most painful force, that made me cling to the side of the bed - and cry for help. . My goal was to deliver drug free as I did with Stella, but this felt way more intense and debilitating than it did with her . . and I was only a two. I remember thinking I couldn't muscle through anymore with Stella's labor, but I was at least a 6 at that point - not a measly 2!
After the next contraction, where James & Konnie reminded me to "breath" through it - I told them that I could not do it anymore, and I wanted an epidural! I looked to Konnie, my women of reason - the same one who talked me out of it during Stella's birth . . Yet this time, she said I looked as though I was "white knuckling" through the contractions, and perhaps an epidural would help me relax . . That was all I needed to hear! Sign me up!
For the next 20 minutes I obsessively asked the nurse where the "epidural guy" was at! He was paged and on his way, but every 3 minutes that past - was another gut wrenchingly painful contraction.
Finally, at about 12am he entered the room. . It was as if the sea had parted, and he was my glimmer of hope! All of my fears about complications due to epidurals had faded, and I was embracing my decision to go for the pain meds! Merry Christmas to me! It was slightly nerve racking at first, as despite being in excruciating pain - I had to remain very still and aware of my spine while he placed the catheter.
Minutes pass, I'm told to sit up in the bed and let gravity do its job disbursing the medicine. . My next contractions felt slightly less painful, but still very uncomfortable - so the anesthesiologist upped my dose. . About 15 minutes after he placed the catheter, I was feeling amazing! I didn't feel my contractions anymore, and was more entertained by the feeling of the tingly numbess in my legs. . Best decision ever! I went from excruciating pain, to being able to joke and relax in my bed . . Even better, just after 30 minutes of having the epidural - I progressed to a 6!!!!! Insane!
I spent the next 2.5 hours relaxing in an almost meditative (drugged?) state in my bed. I felt so at peace, and relaxed! I was joking with the Nurse, Konnie, and even told the anesthisiolist that he was a "magical unicorn" when he came in to check on me . . lol
At about 3:30 I started feeling contractions again. They weren't painful like before, but I felt the sensation of pressure. . The nurse checked me, and I was a 10!!! I had no idea! The next thing I knew, they were wheeling in all of the supplies for delivery - and paging Dr Cap. . It was SO exciting! They told me I could start pushing, and it was almost comical because it seemed to have happen so quickly - and out of no where. . ! Since I had an epidural, there was one person holding up each of my legs - and I was crunching my stomach in and using the force of my inhaled breath to bear down and push. . At one point they hooked me up to an oxygen mask, because they didn't like the way Lola's heart was looking - the room wasn't frantic, so I assumed it wasn't an emergency situation, yet I was 100% focused on getting her out .
It was nearly 30 minutes of power pushing when I could sense the room get excited from the appearance of her head - she was crowning! I remembered how important these next pushes were, and used every ounce of my strength to get her out. Mid push, Cap calmly told me to stop pushing . . I had no idea why, but I both respect & trust him, and did as he asked. Less than a few second later, Lola was out & being placed on my chest. I found out after the fact, that her cord was wrapped both around her neck, and her body . . which was probably why her heart rate was "flat lining" in both the beginning and towards the end.
The first thing I said when I saw her, "OMG SHE LOOKS JUST LIKE STELLA" - and Dr Cap agreed.
She looked up at me, with her sweet eyes - and was all warm and squishy against my chest. . In that moment I forgot all about the meconium, and what had happened immedietly after her sister Stella was born (a frantic room of staff suctioning her, and a trachea being placed ) - and thankfully, after the nurses doing a brief check, Lola passed her APGAR with flying colors. . a huge sigh of relief!
We spent the next few hours staring at her in amazement that we created yet another perfect little human. . I had never experienced having my baby with me in the recovery room, and spending those immediate hours together. . It was so sweet having that time alone, just her and I. I truly felt like we connected immediately, and formed a unique bond because of it.
& well, as they say - the rest is history!
She is here, and apart of our little tribe forever! We love her so much, and are so blessed to have such a precious Christmas gift.
Meeting Big Sister For the First Time
The moment of truth . .
I was holding Lola in my arms - the baby I'd been talking about extensively with Stella for the past few months, and here she finally was, In the flesh - outside of mommies tummy.
To be honest, Stella's reaction was very much like following;
"Oh, there's that baby you've been talking about . .Cool - now let me play with some new toys, Oh - but first can you move that baby out of my way, she's kinda sitting where I normally sit . . K thanks"
Obviously Stella didn't say those exact words, but it amazing what you'd pick up from the body language of a two year old with limited vocabulary . . Lol
So, in short - Stella's immediate reaction was "meh"
Which looking back, could have very well been her inability to fully process all of the emotions she'd experienced in those first 24 hours.
Yet I have a feeling, these two will not only learn to tolerate & like each other - but love, and depend on one another!