NAME: Lucy Grey Burdullis
DATE + TIME: Thursday, January 25 at 10:28am
SIZE: 6 lbs 11oz, 18 in long
It’s surreal for me to think that just over a week ago we were welcoming baby Lucy to the world! The entire birthing experience feels like a whirlwind, with some parts super vivid and others blending together, all at once. Like other life updates, I wanted to document and share Lucy’s birth story here. I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s birth stories (they often make me cry!) so taking time to reflect and write out our own little (but very long) story feels important and special to me. ? So here we go!
While the second trimester and beginning of the third trimester seemed to go by super quickly, the last few weeks of my pregnancy (pretty much the entire month of January) went by very slowly. I had wrapped a large portion of my work, so had a lot more free time and was anxiously and eagerly waiting for baby’s arrival! It was really strange, because we knew this big and exciting thing was happening, but had no idea or control over when or how. Our due date was Wednesday, January 24th, but throughout my pregnancy, I tried to not get too tied down to that date. Instead I tried to view the entire month as “baby month”; she would arrive when the time was right, not on our schedule. We had heard that first time moms often go past their due date, so I was sort of expecting that January 24th would come and go. I had a doctor’s appointment on January 25th where I could get a membrane sweep, which apparently would likely help get baby moving down there and kickstart the labor process. Little did I know that appointment wouldn’t be necessary!
I wouldn’t say I was necessarily scared of labor or having a baby, but definitely felt a little uneasy about all of the unknowns. How would I know when labor was starting? Would it happen while I was at home or out of the apartment? What would contractions feel like? How would I know the contractions were the real deal and not Braxton Hicks?
Starting in mid-January, I began trying out different natural labor-inducing techniques. I don’t think any of these are backed by science, but had heard different things worked for different people – eating pineapple, dates, and spicy foods, drinking third trimester tea, weekly acupuncture, taking long walks, bouncing on the yoga ball, etc. I took long, uphill walks with Jack and had acupuncture appointments both on Monday and Tuesday, but still felt the same – very pregnant – when we went to bed on Tuesday night.
Early Wednesday morning at 2:45am, I woke up to go to the bathroom (for probably the fifth time) and felt different. My lower abdomen felt sore and cramp-y, but I wasn’t in pain or anything, so I went back to sleep. When I woke up at 6am, I knew something was different. I felt the same stomach pressure and cramping and realized, oh hey! I think these are contractions! I talked on the phone with my mom who said we should start timing them, just in case. The contractions started off really sporadic and random – not in an obvious pattern and coming and going at different times. E stayed home from work and we ate breakfast and just lounged and kept timing them. We joke now that he was like a track coach; I would say “Time!” when a contraction started and he would begin tracking on a contraction timer app. Late morning, we went on a walk around the neighborhood with Jack while contractions continued. They were sharp and surprising at this point, but not intensely painful. We ordered Chinese takeout for lunch and tried to just rest as much as possible.
I had written out affirmation cards for myself during labor and would read them or recite them in my head. These were a mix of quotes, Bible verses, mindfulness tips, encouraging reminders and affirmations like “My body is strong and resilient. My body can do this.” and “On the other side of this pain, I get to meet my baby.” I am a total affirmations person, so having these reminders was really encouraging and helpful for me. Eric also wrote out affirmation notecards “from Jack” which were hilarious and definitely lightened my overall mood when reading them. ?
By late afternoon (around 3-4pm), things started getting really intense. The contractions were a lot more painful and regular. The extra hard part was that I was having back labor, so had really terrible lower back pain throughout each contraction. When the contraction ended, the lower back pain still continued during the “rest period.” The doctor and doula said this was likely from the baby’s positioning. Looking back, the ongoing, deep back pain was the most challenging part of labor. I just wanted that part to stop! I rotated from the bed to the yoga ball to the bathtub throughout the afternoon. By later in the evening (6-7pm), it was getting to a point where I could barely talk during contractions and wanted to cry during each one. And I was SO tired. I could barely keep my eyes open and felt physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. Throughout the entire day, we were updating my mom and also our doula Julia, both who were super helpful and encouraging. E was amazing and the entire time, he would encourage me, massage my back and feet, put pressure on my back to alleviate contractions, try to get me to eat and drink, etc. He was truly the best birthing partner ever and I’m so grateful for him (among millions of other reasons). Julia came over to our apartment around 8pm and we continued laboring at home. The pain and exhaustion level both continued to increase and by 9pm, I knew it was time for me to go into hospital. At this point, we had been doing this whole labor thing for about 13 hours!
Eric dropped Julia and I off at the hospital and parked the car. At this point, the contractions were so painful that every time they hit, I couldn’t stand up and would have to squat down during that minute. E met us in the triage room, where they measured me at 5cm dilated. Woo hoo, halfway there! In our birthing plan, I had wanted to labor as much at home as possible and wait until I reached 5cm to get an epidural. I didn’t actually think I would make it to 5cm without pain meds, because I have a fairly low pain tolerance, so was thrilled I had made it this far — getting closer to meeting baby! ?? I asked for the epidural and thankfully, they were able to administer fairly quickly around 10:30pm. I IMMEDIATELY felt better. Like amazingly better. All of my back pain went away and while I could still feel the pressure of contractions, I didn’t feel pain itself. It was incredible. If you haven’t read Jessi Klein’s brilliant essay Get the Epidural, stop reading this post and immediately read her article. Everything about it is ??????. I was so happy, in fact, that I was like gushing to the nurses, Eric and Julia how grateful I was for everyone and how happy I was that they were on our birthing team. ?
We tried to sleep, but it was hard because the nurses were constantly coming in to check on blood pressure, heart rate, baby’s movements, etc. and also because I was so excited – baby was coming soon(ish)! At 4am, I was still at 5cm dilated ? and the doctor broke my water. It wasn’t the gushing water experience you think of from movies (or that epic Charlotte and Mr. Big scene in SATC) but instead like a slow trickle. I honestly didn’t even notice because of that blessed epidural. ??We continued to intermittently nap and chat/ask questions to Julia. The overall mood in the room was pretty relaxed, which I’m really grateful for. We kept the lights off so the room was dim with twinkly lights and Julia had positioned tons of pillows to make me really comfortable. When they checked me again at 6am, I was at 9cm and I was also really happy knowing my mom was on a flight out to SF and would arrive at 10:15am. A little after 8am, I was at 10cm so it was time to push!
My OBGYN wasn’t on call in the hospital that day, but came over anyway, since we had that other 40 week appointment scheduled. She was able to do the early phases of pushing with me, which was really awesome, because she’s been so awesome and supportive throughout my entire pregnancy (and before). After an hour or so pushing, the doctor and her supervisor warned me that the baby’s heart rate was dropping after contractions so they wanted to keep closely monitoring that and said we might need to use vacuum extraction to get the baby out. This was yet another moment where I was super grateful we hired Julia as our doula, because she was able to advocate for us and ask questions – what was this process exactly? What were the potential risks? Was this necessary to do right at this moment? Could we continue to trying pushing like we’d been doing until it was completely necessary to move on to Option B? Could we try other positions for pushing? After two hours of pushing, the doctor and her supervisor said they really wanted us to do the vacuum extraction because they were concerned about the baby being in distress and wanted to avoid C-section. The primary way the baby would come out would be from pushing, of course, but the vacuum (which really is a terrible word for it – it looked more like a little suction cup that sticks to the baby’s head) would help ensure she would come out quickly and safely. The room was PACKED — the three of us, 2-3 nurses, the doctor and her supervisor, and three pediatricians, all in a small little room. The doctor cued me to push and began counting as I held my breath pushing and the next thing I knew, someone set the baby on my chest.
SHE WAS HERE!!!
It sounds so cliché, but right when she arrived, it’s like I forgot about everything that had previously happened. The 28ish (!!) hours of labor, including 2 hours and 15 minutes (!!) of pushing — it all just faded away from my memory. The feeling was indescribable. It was overwhelming and beautiful and exciting and terrifying! She was so small and pink and cute and fluttered her eyes open at me like “WHAT IS GOING ON?” and we just kept saying to each other how perfect she was. Those first few moments holding her were so special and unforgettable. It was magical to watch Eric hold her for the first time and see her open her eyes to look at him, in so much peace. It was truly one of the sweetest moments and a something I won’t ever forget.
I am really amazed at the female body and what it’s capable of. It’s surreal to think that my body housed, protected and nourished this baby for nine months, brought her into the world and is now learning how to take care of her and feed her, all on its own. Throughout different periods of my life, I’ve been unhappy with my body for not looking the way I wanted or doing what I wanted. I would compare my body with others, critique my body for not being “good enough” and measure my body and self-worth against an unrealistic expectation I set for myself. The process of being pregnant and having a baby has already taught me a whole new level of self-love, respect, and admiration for myself and my body, and I’m now reminded daily of the importance of being kind to myself. We are all incredible beings, “perfectly and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and bringing this baby into the world reminded me not only of the baby’s perfection, but that my body is *just right* too.
We named our daughter Lucy, a name that means “of light.” She’s already brightened our lives in her week or so of life. The world and life itself is full of hard stuff – pain, difficulties, darkness – but it’s also filled with so, so, so much goodness, love and light. And I truly believe that light always overpowers all darkness. It’s our dream and prayer that she recognizes how much light and love shines within her and all around her. We’re grateful for our little bundle of joy and light, Lucy. ✨
Thank you for reading and again, for all of your kind words and encouraging messages! I am so grateful by all of the love, encouragement and support our little family has received throughout my pregnancy and especially since Lucy arrived.
All photos by our amazing doula Julia Lorraine