At my 37 week ultrasound, the tech kept commenting how chunky and cute my baby looked. From the estimates the baby was measuring about 7lbs 15oz. Which in my mind was pretty significant for a baby. Like, that’s a full sized baby. I saw my doctor right after and she said everything was looking good, that I was dilated to 2 and that she’s strip my membranes in a week to get things moving. I was pumped! I was so done being pregnant and so convinced this baby was coming early. The next appointment was my birthday and I was fully confident that after that visit I would be in the hospital. She did the sweep and sent us on our way. And that night…nothing. I felt nothing. For the next few days I walked curbs, bounced on the yoga ball, ate pineapple everything, drank my weight in raspberry leaf tea, and was constantly googling “how to go into labor naturally”. I had even taken off work!  Well there I was at my next appointment. Feeling all sorts of frustrated, and almost embarrassed that I hadn’t gone into labor yet. My doctor stripped my membranes again–this time more vigorously. That night I even woke up with a few contractions! But in the morning…nothing. So I did all the things, but this time ten fold. I was going nuts. One day I even attempted to walk to my parents house which is miles away. My doctor said I could get induced at 39 or 40 weeks, but I just didn’t want to believe that would be necessary.

My due date came and went. It was February 3rd, a year to the date that our little Mara was born and I was so sure baby boy was just waiting so he could share her birthday. I’d hoped they’d gotten together and coordinated all that because it would be cool, right? Well I guess they had other plans. So the next morning I called my doctor’s office and asked to be induced. I’d had it and would do anything to not be pregnant anymore. I just wanted to meet my baby! They said the soonest they could get me in was Thursday, but that I should come in that day for an appointment. I hung up the phone and sobbed. Thursday was 4 entire days away. I couldn’t wait another second. I cried all the way to my appointment. When my doctor came in she brought another doctor with her. One who was notorious for putting people into labor with her membrane sweeps. But just before she did it she paused and made a funny face. “I’m sorry I don’t think I should. You’re dilated to a 7 and should probably just head to the hospital.” Everyone laughed. A 7?! How?! I had truly felt nothing. But I was sooooooooo relieved and couldn’t wait to call Juan and tell him the news. I basically ran out of the office. And in a matter of an hour I went from this……to this.

We were laughing the whole way to the hospital because earlier that morning Juan and I had basically stopped talking to each other because we were both so frustrated that the baby wasn’t here yet haha! And now we were FINALLY on our way. We got checked in put in a room. They stuck in my IV and I was ready for them to break my water and get things started. Butttttttt it turns out I was Strep B positive so I had to be on antibiotics for 4 hours. Lame. But I’d waited this long, I could wait another 4 hours. Our moms came down to the hospital to wait with us. Even though I wasn’t feeling much, the monitor said I was still having contractions semi regularly so they wanted to see if I could progress on my own at first. So we waited. They wouldn’t let me eat anything and I got to watch my dear family eat In N Out in front of me. Thanks guys.
Well they checked me again and I was still at a 7. The baby had dropped a little bit, but still not much was happening. We went on walks around the hospital and I bounced on the ball. Around 2:45 AM they decided to give me some pitocin. I started to feel the contractions a little bit after this, but nothing really painful. Juan and I tried to get a little bit of sleep, but it was basically impossible. At 6 AM the nurses changed shifts and I was so sad because I had loved our night nurse. After the change the doctor on call finally came in and checked me. Still at a dang 7. She said since I wasn’t progressing they would break my water. Freaking finally! Since I thought they were going to do that 12 hours before…
You’d have thought I was storing part of the Pacific Ocean inside of me with all the fluid that came gushing out 😳 And kept coming for what seemed like hours. No wonder the lil’ guy had so much room to move around. But now my contractions were coming closer and closer and more intense. I’d decided I would get the epidural sooner rather than later and around 7:30 the anesthesiologist popped in. He eased all my fears about epidurals and talked me through everything, since the last one had freaked me out so much. I hardly felt a thing and he got it in so so quick. After this, the nurse had me lay down with the peanut ball for awhile to try and get the baby to drop more. I was suppose to be napping during this time, but I was too anxious to meet this baby! Soon enough, around 10:30 they checked me and I was finally at a 9 or 10. The nurse left the room and came back with the cart of baby delivering supplies. We called our moms and let Lexie, our photographer in. It was happening! The nurse gave me a quick run down of how to push correctly, had me do a few practices and then it was go time. I started to push with each contraction and at first it was just Juan and the nurse in the room. Pushing as hard as I could for an hour got pretty tiring. I hadn’t slept all night and I was starving. Every time I pushed, they said they could see his little hair start poking out, but then he’d go right back. Knowing he was so close motivated me to keep going, even thought I was exhausted.
After hour 2 of pushing, I had them go get my mom from the waiting room. I needed a cheerleader. Someone to pump me up a little bit. The nurse just wasn’t giving off those “you got this girl” vibes, if you know what I mean. I was getting super discouraged and again, I was so so exhausted. My mom and Juan, and even Lexie taking pictures,  were so good about keeping things positive–which is what I needed! It was during this hour that as I was pushing and the nurse was checking the baby’s progress that her watch beeped and she paused mid check and read the message that popped up and in a monotone voice goes, “Aw my family cat just died.” We all didn’t know whether to laugh or say sorry, but the timing was hilarious and just so so awkward ha!
During hour 3 of pushing (yes hour 3) my epidural started wearing off. Every time I had a contraction it would feel like my legs were going to detach from my hips. I had to have my mom and Juan on either side digging into my hips each time a contraction came. I felt like laying down wasn’t doing any favors so I tried pushing on my side with no luck. I asked the nurse if I could stand up and push. She said I wouldn’t be able to because of the epidural. But soon the pain got to be too much so I just stood up on the bed anyways, because I definitely wasn’t numb anymore. But as hard as I tried nothing seemed to be working.

I was so frustrated and starting to feel sick. We agreed to take a break while we waiting for the anesthesiologist to come in and bump up the epidural. Then they FINALLY sent the doctor on call in. FINALLY. She checked me and told us that the baby was coming face up which was making it hard for him to crown. She tried to go in and turn him, but he would just flip right back. Not the most pleasant of experiences. As she was trying to turn him she noted that she was pretty sure the baby was giant. She said I could try pushing for another hour, but that an emergency C-section would probably be the best case scenario. I was devastated and started crying. For 3 hours I had pushed, prayed, and pumped myself up to deliver this baby, so a C-section felt like a failure. Which now looking back, I know that I did everything I could and that no matter how a baby gets here is still incredible. It was pretty obvious this baby wasn’t budging and even though a C-section was my worst fear, all I wanted in that moment was for them to numb my whole body and get me my baby safely.

Within minutes of deciding, I was prepped for surgery. The gave me a fancy hair net and Juan got all suited so he could be in the room. The next 6 hours or so are pretty blurry. I don’t know if it was from the exhaustion or the drugs, most likely a combo, but it felt like a dream/movie. I remember being wheeled into the OR and 5 or so doctors hoisting me on to the table. The room was so bright and there was so many doctors in that one room. I remember them hooking me up to monitors and laying my hands to the side and putting heavy warm blankets over them. The anesthesiologist was behind me explaining everything and thankfully I was all numbed up again, which at this point caused me to drift in and out.  I think I almost had convinced myself to try and fall asleep so that I wouldn’t have to be so nervous. Juan had come in the room and was sitting by my head, looking over the sheet. The doctors behind me walked me through everything and explained everything that was going on and within minutes the doctor performing the C-section said “Dad, do you have your camera ready?”. It was all so fast. I remember all the sudden feeling lots of tugging and pulling, no pain, but it was a lot more rough than I’d anticipated. I heard the doctor say, ” I can see his lips!” More tugging. “Oh my gosh, he’s 10 lbs. — I’m not even kidding!” I heard everyone in the room laughing amidst the baby’s cries and Juan was looking over at me “Babe, he’s huge!” And just like that, on February 5, 2019 at 2:56 PM our baby boy was born. ❤  I was fading in and out, but soon they peeked him around the sheet an I saw my enormous baby for the first time. He was indeed huge.
There was a lot of hustling and bustling and Juan had gone over to be with the baby. I heard them weigh him. “10 pounds, 9 ounces!” I’d never heard of a baby that big. How was that inside me? I didn’t feel so bad now for not being able to get him out haha! Meanwhile, they were stitching me up and the doctors behind me were still walking me through everything. But I was outttttt of it. Finally, they laid my baby on my chest. I distinctly remember thinking, he looks like me! That’s my baby! That instant recognition was such a blessing since I didn’t get to hold him right away. I kept touching his face and saying, “Oh my gosh he’s so cute, he’s so cute!” I loved him so much. Even in my loopy state, I couldn’t believe I was looking at OUR baby. And then they took him away.

I have very little memories of the next few hours. I was wiped and the doctor for sure put something heavy in my IV.  I somehow ended up in a recovery area for awhile. Our moms were coming in and out. The anesthesiologists were topping off my pain meds. I even got to do skin to skin with the baby for a little bit. But it all feels like an incredibly fuzzy dream. Soon they took the baby again and I heard them talking about the NICU. And then not the NICU? All I know is Juan left to go be with the baby because of a few concerns and tests that needed to be done. The baby’s blood sugar was really low and he had started sweating, so they took him to the nursery to keep and eye on him. This was gut wrenching for me. Even though I was delusional, I just wanted to be with my baby. After all those long hours of labor and anticipation, I just wanted to hold him! But it was bearable knowing Juan was right by his side. I still can’t think or talk about it without crying. Juan’s love for our son was immediate and he already was doing everything he could for him, even in the first hours of his life.

While I was moved to our recovery room, Juan and the other nurse fed the baby and his levels all went right back up. It was such a relief. Juan would send me pictures and videos since my bed wouldn’t fit through the nursery door. After a few hours the nurse told me it was time to try and walk. I’m sorry…walk? I just got sliced open and my insides are going to fall out. But sure enough, they had me get up and try and walk to the nursery. I made it about 10 feet before I started dry heaving, so they got me a wheelchair. Just get me to my baby! Holding him after those long hours was one of the most incredible and special moments in my life.  He was so alert just staring up at me. The meds were wearing off so I could finally start trying to grasp that we had made this perfect little human and he’d made it. After everything we’d been through, he was finally here. I just cried and cried. So overwhelmed with everything, but mostly with love for this baby boy. For our son. He was also the squeakiest and loudest baby I’d ever heard. The nurses all commented on it and said it was just some fluid in his lungs that would eventually go away in the next few days.

Finally around midnight that night, the baby was cleared to leave the nursery and Juan and I got to be alone with him for the first time, just the 3 of us. It was absolutely magical. After the craziness of the past 24 hours, it was so nice to be alone and to soak up this time as a family of three. We took turns doing skin to skin and just staring at him. Now that we were alone we could finally solidify a name. Diego Andrew Zazueta. Diego was a name we’d always agreed on, but were waiting to make sure it fit before deciding. It seemed to fit him perfectly. And Andrew after my dad. We later learned that Diego meant “he who replaces”. And not that he could ever replace Mara, but it seemed all too fitting that he replaced our heartbreak and loss with the most overwhelming feeling of love and happiness.

The next few days seemed like a lifetime. Since I had a C-section I had to stay a few more days in the hospital. I feel like I barely slept over the course of the next 4 days and when I did finally fall asleep I would be woken up by a nurse coming to give me new meds or to check my vitals. I hated having to eat liquids for the first little bit since I was STARVING from giving birth. Just give me a dang burger!  I was in a lot of pain and truly did not believe I would ever walk upright again. I thought all my inside were going to fall out or that any little movement would pop my incision open. Showering was uncomfortable. I had to wear compression wraps on my legs to help with circulation and my feet got SO swollen. When I would fall asleep I would wake up DRENCHED in sweat and have to change my clothes. Trying to breastfeed the baby was hard since I could lay him against my incision. They showed me how to stack up pillows so I could feed him in the football hold, but even that was painful. Thankfully he was a good eater and took to it like a champ. Breastfeeding him in the hospital is one of my favorite memories from that time. It gave me some time alone with Diego and was a quiet bonding moment that I so desperately needed. I even ended up needing a blood transfusion because my iron levels were shockingly low. Apparently I looked reaaaally yellow/pale, so I had to be given 2 bags of blood. At this point I was so ready to be back in my own bed and not be hooked up to anymore IV’s.

But it wasn’t all terrible at the hospital. We had so many visitors who came to love on us and Diego. He already has the best support system, even within the first few days of life. We had some nurses who we really loved who took good care of us and answered all our new parent questions. I loved being able to watch Juan do dad things for the first time. Like when he first changed Diego’s diaper and pee went flying straight in the air and into the baby’s face. Or When he’d feed him and swaddle him. He just was SO happy with Diego. Like, the happiest I’d ever seen him and it was almost too much for my new mom heart to handle. When we didn’t have visitors, we would just stare into the bassinet and talk about how dang crazy it all was and how much we already loved this tiny human.

Another thing we noticed about Diego were his giant turned in feet. In my 30 week ultrasound they guessed that he may have bilateral clubfoot, but they weren’t sure if his feet were just squished because he was running out of room. Sure enough, when he came out they were pretty turned in, so much that he would even link his toes together like he was holding hands. It was pretty much the most adorable thing I’d ever seen. And thankfully it was something that we’d be able to correct overtime!
One of my other favorite memories was a morning that Juan had school so it was my first time I’d ever been alone with the baby. I was somewhat terrified since I could hardly move, and it was when I was all alone that the nurse told me I needed the blood transfusion. I was feeling so frustrated that I felt so crappy and recovery seemed so daunting. It was all a little overwhelming and I started bawling right as the nurse came in. Shortly after she sent in the postpartum mental health nurse…she must have been worried about me ha! But after all the crazy died down, I grabbed Diego and set him on my bed and just cuddled and stared at him for hours. Counted all his fingers and toes, smelled his hair, kissed his little baby lips. It was healing in all sorts of ways and I was overwhelmed with the realization that I actually this baby’s mom — my literal dream come true! And even though it had been a whirlwind to get him here, I now knew why people said they’d do it all over again. Even though it’d only been a few days, I was willing to do quite literally anything for him.

On Friday morning we were given the all clear to go home. As terrifying as that sounded, I was SO ready to be in my own space and in my own bed. The nurse Cyndi who took care of and discharged us that morning was awesome and pumped us up so we didn’t feel so helpless going home with a 3 day old baby. She helped us know how to properly put Diego in his seat, helped us carry everything down, and gave us the biggest hug as we got in our car.
^ We all couldn’t stop laughing at how big Diego looked in his seat! And those hands! ^

On the car ride home, I sat in the back with Diego. As Juan began driving he looked at me through the rearview mirror and we both started laughing/crying. It had been an emotional few days and it was a surreal moment of pure joy, sitting in our car, driving to our house, with our SON. I cried the whole way home. Mostly overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness for this incredible blessing we’d been given, and partially for being able to see daylight in almost a week! After everything we’d been through the past year, it was so odd to be actually experiencing the moment that seemed like it would never come. But we’re so thankful, and so tired, and so so so happy ❤ Let the adventures begin!

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