Our little Maria is here and I am so thankful to God for the gift of her life! Even with all my faults and weaknesses God has given me two beautiful souls to raise as their mother. I am often humbled by the fact that God entrusts these children to me even though I am not worthy of such a gift.
Experiencing pregnancy and childbirth again truly reminded me that every person is completely unrepeatable even within the womb. I thought my pregnancy and childbirth with Maria would be similar to Gianna’s, but they weren’t. For me, pregnancy is a time of getting to know someone I cannot see (…yet). During this time God communicates to me bits and pieces about this precious baby whom He has known even before being formed in my womb. Two different stories are unraveling before my eyes as I witness my daughters grow.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” Jeremiah 1:5.
I am left in awe and wonder at how intricately each one of us are knit within our mother’s womb. All of us are created in God’s image and likeness for a particular moment in history, with a purpose, willed into existence through His infinite love. God knew Maria since the beginning of time. He also knew that Adam and I would be the parents of Gianna and Maria. How He must have created Adam and I with our children in mind!
Needless to say giving birth a second time still had a profound effect on me. I really do forget all the sacrifices and crosses of pregnancy and childbirth when I am finally holding my baby on my chest. Suffering is given a whole new meaning after having a baby. I have learned that the suffering to bring forth life deepens the joy and love for that child. For my second labor I was expecting it to be about 12 hours long. I was told that second time moms could anticipate giving birth in half the amount of time they did for their first (Gianna’s labor was about 23 hours long). I was certainly surprised when I was laboring at home and my contractions felt intense in a short amount a time. Little did I expect to give birth to Maria after only six hours of labor! I am still amazed by how God planned everything perfectly for both of my labors.
Before I begin my birth story I want to talk a bit about the week leading up to Maria’s birth. All throughout my pregnancy with Maria, the Lord revealed to me the theme of light. When I was pregnant with her I called her my “little light.” I really felt that God was showing me that my baby would be a light within this world. I told my mom the Monday before Maria was born that I had a feeling she would be born a few days later on a Thursday. Thursday is the day that the Catholic church prays the luminous mysteries or the mysteries of light. Maria was born exactly when God wanted her to be, on a Thursday!
As I thought about this I realized something special about the day Gianna was born too. Gianna was born on a Saturday, which is the day of the week commemorating Mary. Saturday is also the day when the Catholic church prays the joyful mysteries. I had been specifically meditating on the joyful mysteries during Gianna’s pregnancy. The only Rosary recording I added to my birth playlist was the joyful mysteries. Mary’s intercession through the Rosary never ceases to amaze me!
There was also another special occurrence that happened before Maria was born. The day before she was born I received a special package in the mail that wasn’t expected to arrive until the next day. This package was special because I wanted to bring what was in it to the birth center. It was a Mother’s Kiss cameo from Every Sacred Sunday that arrived in perfect timing. During my pregnancy with Gianna one of my dear friends sent me a beautiful Rosary box with this image on the front. Somehow it got misplaced and I could not find it in time for Maria’s birth. This Mother’s Kiss image was one of those images that deeply touched my heart. I couldn’t believe that Every Sacred Sunday was selling the same image just as a desk stand, that it arrived the day before Maria was born, and that I purchased one before they quickly sold out! My feeling that Maria would be born the next day on a Thursday was solidified even more.
The day before Maria was born I also had an appointment scheduled to monitor her to make sure everything was going well. Thankfully everything looked good and they told me my baby was really low, which is a good sign that labor was imminent. As I was leaving the birth center I scheduled one more appointment for Friday. The midwife I was going to see for that appointment said, “I don’t think I will see you because you will probably have your baby by then.” She was right! That evening my dad made one of my favorite dishes, enchiladas. We were joking throughout the week that one of the meals would induce labor. I guess enchiladas did the trick! After dinner my parents left and I put Gianna down to sleep. As soon as she was asleep and I was about to leave the room I felt my first contraction. I waited a little bit longer and felt another contraction. I knew that this was it!
When I left the room at about 8pm to find Adam he was asleep on the couch. I woke him up to tell him I think this is the real thing! Thankfully he was able to get a bit of sleep because we were going to be up late that night. Right away I grabbed Adam and I’s marriage crucifix and the Mother’s Kiss cameo so that I could look at them during my labor. I sat on my birth ball, walked around, and leaned over surfaces as I was having contractions. I remembered to pray Hail Marys as soon as a contraction would start and yet again this was so helpful during labor. Adam called both our doula and the midwife on call at our birth center. I was amazed at which midwife answered the phone when Adam called!
Ever since the beginning of my pregnancy I wanted to have a specific midwife at Maria’s birth. This midwife was so excited to hear that Adam and I were expecting our second baby and I just felt like she should be the midwife to deliver Maria. I started praying that I would have her as my midwife. I did the same thing for Gianna’s birth and got the midwife I wanted then too. God is in the details! I was excited and thankful when I heard her voice on the phone. She advised Adam to have me get in the shower or bath.
Even before Adam made calls to our doula and midwife he was timing my contractions on an app called “Full Term.” They were about 30 seconds long every 3-5 minutes. As Adam filled up the tub for me it felt as if my water broke. The sensation felt as if I wet myself, but I didn’t have to go to the bathroom. I continued to feel that sensation a few other times. My water seemed like it broke slowly this time instead of all at once. I then got in the tub and tried to relax as Adam called my parents to let them know that I was going into labor. They were staying at a hotel nearby so that they could help watch Gianna when I went into labor. Gianna woke up a few times and Adam had to go help her fall back asleep. This was not typical for her so she must have known something was happening. Thankfully my mom told me that after we left she slept well the rest of the night.
After I got out of the tub I wanted to wear something of Adam’s so I ended up wearing one of his shirts. It made me feel safe and protected to wear something of his. My parents arrived to our home soon after at about 10:30pm, which made me feel at ease knowing Gianna would be well taken care of. Adam and I tried to lay down before things progressed, but I could not stay in that position for a long period of time. With my two labors I have found that I do not like laying down at all! I got up and leaned over the couch and table during the next few contractions. Adam said that we should probably go to the birth center now instead of waiting it out. I felt like it may be too soon, but my contractions were certainly getting more and more intense. Adam called our midwife and we decided to go to the birth center. Adam then called our doula to let her know we were heading in.
As we walked outside the weather was surprisingly cooler than normal for May. The whole week it was windy and in the 70’s. Once we got situated in the car I made sure to relax as much as possible and meditate on a few images like I did in the car ride during Gianna’s labor. The contractions were a lot stronger during this drive than they were when I was in labor with Gianna. We arrived to the birth center before the midwives did, but not before our doula. She greeted us and I noticed she was wearing an amazing shirt! Her shirt had the names of the patron saints of maternity and motherhood (yes, our doula is Catholic). Her shirt read, “Gerard & Philomena & Gianna & Ann & Elizabeth & Zelie & Margaret & Guadalupe.” It made me so happy to see Gianna’s name on her shirt. It made me feel comforted as if she was there with us. I walked on the sidewalk in the beautiful weather as we waited for our midwife to arrive. When I had a contraction I leaned over our car and our doula did the hip squeeze, which really helped. Our midwife arrived only a few minutes after we got there.
When we first got inside our midwife checked my tummy and then said we could go into the birth room. I decided to give birth in the same room that I gave birth to Gianna in. It was really special to be in that room again. Adam put my Mother’s Kiss cameo and our marriage crucifix in front of me to use during labor. He also set up my phone to play the songs from my birth playlist. Our midwife checked me right away and said that I was definitely dilated. Almost immediately after she checked me I felt like I was ready to push. Our midwife was just starting to fill up the bathtub, which I never did end up using. With both pregnancies I wanted to give birth on all fours. I had heard great things about this birthing position and wanted to try it out. I went on all fours and I had a few pretty intense contractions and pushes. I then decided to try the birth stool instead because of how quickly Gianna came when I used the birth stool. Once I got on the birth stool I continued to push there for about half an hour.
Adam was in front of me the entire time I was on the birth stool. He was encouraging me and just being a rockstar of a husband and birth coach! Adam always seems to know exactly what to do to help me while I am in labor. My midwife and doula were to the left of me and the assistant midwife arrived while I was pushing on the birth stool. She was to the right of me. While I was on the birth stool the song Restless by Audrey Assad came on. At one point during the song I looked over to the assistant midwife and noticed that she was mouthing the words of the song as she was adding some data of mine to their records. I could not believe it! How special! It gave me so much joy and strength to see her singing along to one of my all time favorite songs.
Everyone continued to give me encouragement and I was able to remain peaceful. When a contraction would start I would say something like, “Ok here we go,” and would start breathing into my contractions. I tried very hard to work with my body. I knew that the contractions were to help me meet my baby so I did not want to fight them. Adam was so helpful as he continued to say loving words to me. I felt as if things were not progressing much while on the birth stool and my contractions didn’t seem as strong as they were when I was on all fours. I decided to switch to all fours again. As soon as I was in that birthing position my contractions seemed a lot stronger. I tried not to fight my body even with the intensity of my contractions and the powerful urge to push with all my might. I was so thankful for the short breaks in between my contractions. I would take a moment to remember prayer intentions that people recently mentioned to me and would ask for the grace to continue. I also thought about all the things I learned about Maria while I was pregnant with her. I could not wait to meet this little one!
While I was pushing Maria there was an extreme amount of pressure, much more than I remember with Gianna. This was probably because Gianna came so quickly during the pushing phase. The next contraction I pushed with all my might and they said that her head was crowning. As I continued to push Adam started breathing with me as I breathed baby down. This was so helpful and made me feel so loved. I knew that Maria would be here in just a couple more pushes. I prayed and prepared to push with all my might again at the next contraction. When the next contraction came I did just that. Her head came out first, which relieved a lot of pressure and made me think she was completely out. The pressure was not leaving though and I realized I needed to push one last time because she wasn’t fully out yet. I pushed and out she came right into Adam’s arms. He was so thankful that he was able to catch Maria.
I laid down in the bed and held Maria on my chest almost in tears of joy. Adam was right next to me as we celebrated the birth of our little girl. After about half an hour of me holding Maria Adam asked if he could hold her. It is recommended that mothers hold their babies for at least an hour after baby is born so our midwife and doula had him wait just a bit longer. I thought it was so sweet that he wanted to hold her right away though. He is such an amazing husband and father. After giving birth I could not fall asleep even though it was past 2am. I stayed up talking with Adam, my doula, my midwife, and the assistant midwife.
It turns out that Maria was born in the posterior position which means he back was to my back and her limbs were to my tummy. This position can make for a more difficult labor and often takes a longer pushing period. I found out that Maria was in the posterior position a few weeks before she was born. As soon as I found out I tried my hardest to do the Miles Circuit as often as possible. I prayed that no matter what Maria would be born without any complications or in danger. I prayed this knowing that even if she is born safely in this position I would take the more difficult labor. I am so thankful to God that she was born safely!
As all of us continue talking I was amazed as the birth assistant said that she was praying she would get to assist at a birth today because she hadn’t been to a birth in the past few weeks while on call. She went on to say that she was so happy she got to be at Maria’s birth. She said that she had only seen one other woman give birth so calmly like I did. She explained that the other woman would say, “Hold on, I am having a contraction.” I only say this because birth can be done peacefully with the grace of God! How thankful I am for my birth experiences, God’s grace, and Mary’s intercession! There is no way that I could have done this otherwise.
My doula asked me if I knew what song was playing when Maria was born, but I did not know. She told me Maria was born when Holy Holy Holy by Audrey Assad was playing. What a great song to be born to! I then told my midwife that I had a feeling she might be our midwife for Maria’s birth. She said she felt that way too! She even told us that she had a dream that she was at my birth and Adam caught our baby. Again, God is in the details! I still cannot believe how beautifully everything happened for Maria’s birth. I am so thankful to God for her birth, for all those who assisted during my labor, and for my amazing husband Adam!
“In the designs of Providence there are no mere coincidences” St. John Paul II.
If you would like to read Gianna’s birth story I have linked it below!