Jacqueline’s Journey

Visualizing that my delivery could go beautifully, that it could even be the best day of my life, helped me have a wonderful, profound experience. Prayer and Scripture also played important roles during my son’s birth.

My husband, Andrés, and I welcomed our son, Lucas Andrés, on September 20, 2021, at Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

Andrés is from Ecuador, and his family moved to Lafayette when he was in high school. We have lots of family living here, and we’re raising Lucas in a bilingual home. We chose Lucas’ name because it’s pronounced similarly in English and Spanish. We also love the meaning of Lucas, which is light.

A Normal Pregnancy in a Very Unusual Time

I was pregnant during the Delta wave of COVID-19, so I was super isolated and didn’t really get out ever. I did get vaccinated at the end of my pregnancy, which was a big decision. Luckily I didn’t have any weird symptoms or anything from the vaccine. And I was able to pass on some protection to Lucas when he was born and through breastfeeding.

I missed out on a lot of community aspects of being pregnant. I didn’t have a real baby shower, but a drive-thru shower at my house and everyone had to wear masks. It was not what I wanted, but I also knew it was worth being extra cautious. I was thinking about and protecting Lucas by staying home, so I did that all of the time.

For me pregnancy was a spiritual connection and I felt utterly connected to my son. That was probably the most positive part of pregnancy for me—being connected to someone so deeply and having that connection to him, that life inside me. I remember being at a coffee shop and being super aware that I wasn’t alone while sitting by myself. It was a weird, beautiful thing.

Realizing and Sharing the Happy News

My husband and I had just started trying to get pregnant, and we were on a trip to Austin. When we watch TV and a woman character throws up we always joke: “PREGNANT” because that’s such a cliché. When I threw up on the trip, we looked at each other like “OH!”

I bought an early pregnancy test and saw a super faint line. A few days later I took another test and the line was darker.

My mom had struggled with infertility for seven years before having me, so I assumed I would have trouble too. We definitely were not expecting it to work out so quickly and feel very, very lucky.

Because of COVID, I told my family about the pregnancy on Facetime. No one was expecting it, and my mom was super reactive, while my dad kept his hand on his mouth in disbelief.

We found out Lucas was a boy at our 20-week ultrasound appointment, but we didn’t have a gender reveal or anything. I had little note cards and wrote on the envelope “Hello, My Name is” and when you opened the card it read “Lucas.” I gave them to my parents, in-laws and a few other special people. We wanted something sweet and exciting to share the news.

Managing Symptoms

I was so tired during my pregnancy, and I’d thought I’d be able to do many more things than I did. I aimed for walking 30 minutes each day, which was about as much as I was able to do. I did give up coffee, which I probably didn’t need to do. We’re big coffee people, so trying to avoid caffeine was challenging.

The gestational diabetes screening was not really a big thing for me, and I didn’t think the drink tasted gross. Andrés is a Type 1 diabetic, so we eat a very low glycemic index diet at home, so I’m sure it would have been easy to manage. But I was glad I didn’t have gestational diabetes.

I intended to continue my normal diet, lots of salads and salmon, but eventually my diet became a little less healthy. I remember being frustrated about that because I really wanted to be healthy, but my lack of energy led to a lot of Earl’s Plate lunches that sustained me and the baby during this pregnancy!

In my third trimester I was really uncomfortable and swollen, and I had a lot of pain in my wrists almost like carpal tunnel syndrome. My hands would go numb at night, which was difficult. I gained a lot of weight especially later in pregnancy, probably about 50 pounds by the end. A lot was water weight, although I did enjoy the third trimester more because I wasn’t nauseous.

When I got pregnant I was working as an English as a Second Language specialist working with students remotely and in-person, but I ended up switching to remote work only during pregnancy. I was able to stop working about six weeks before my due date to prepare for delivery.

Preparing Online

Pregnancy during the pandemic is a part of my story. I did what I could to prepare even while isolating, and I was grateful for the spiritual aspect of my care at the hospital.

Because in-person classes weren’t being offered, I was able to take online courses from Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital. I did the breastfeeding class and baby basics. I even did a class with my mom about grandparents. That was the main preparation I did before birth, although I made sure to read a lot of online positive birth stories.

The hospital’s pregnancy navigator was a big help as well. I had a lot of fear because of the pandemic, and with so many unknowns in the world I just felt comfortable talking to her. I remember being nervous but she was supportive and helpful. Being able to tour the space in advance helped me visualize it, talking with her helped me understand my feelings.

I didn’t write up any sort of birth plan because I had other people who had told me how utterly disappointed they felt with their experience when it didn’t go according to plan. I didn’t want a mindset that this needs to happen, and I decided to leave it to the professionals. I knew I probably wanted an epidural, but otherwise I was open to what would be.

A Beautiful Induction

I ended up having to be induced, and Lucas was born 10 days after his estimated due date. We went in on a Monday, and I had been hearing from so many people “I hope you don’t have to get induced” and “We’re going to pray you don’t have to do that.”

I really tried to have an open mindset about it, realizing I could not control what was going to happen. I ended up having an amazing experience, and in the end I’m glad I was induced since I knew exactly the time and place. I even gave birth in the exact room I’d seen on my hospital tour.

During the birth I felt so in the moment the entire time, and the nurses were super nice too. I was very fortunate to be able to have visitors at all, and both my husband and my mom were able to be with me. A big fear during my pregnancy was that I would give birth without them being present because of COVID-19 restrictions. I prayed a lot beforehand and was in the right headspace. I felt no fear the whole time, and I was really so happy I was able to be fully present.

Everyone experiences birth differently. I kept waiting, wondering if the pain would get a lot worse. I did get an epidural. It was just as I was starting to feel like “OK, this is intense and if it were twice as bad it would be pretty unbearable.” But almost right after I got it, I was able to start pushing and had a vaginal delivery. It was not traumatic at all.

While I was pushing my husband started playing my favorite composer, Vivaldi. My mom was in the background just praying over me, and she was reading Bible verses on peace the whole time I was having intense contractions. I had my eyes closed the entire time. My husband knew he wasn’t to coach me but remind me of his love and tell me I was doing a good job, so that’s what he did.

I was surrounded by women, all the nurses were telling me “You’re doing so great, just a little more.” It was a beautiful, girl-power moment. When my doctor, Michelle Stutes, MD, came into the room for delivery she said “The vibe in here is amazing. The energy in here is so good.” I almost feel bad because it was so beautiful and I had such a positive, peaceful experience.
I remember Lucas actually coming out of my body. That was just an amazing feeling. It happened so fast and I felt his whole body literally leaving me, and I remember crying from relief. I had been pushing for two and a half hours and didn’t realize it had been that long. I was just really focused the whole time, and his birth was absolutely the most profound experience of my life. Before Lucas was born one of the nurses noticed he might have meconium, so NICU was called ahead of time just in case. He was born covered in it, but he was totally fine and everything was done in the room. He didn’t have to be taken away.
They handed him to me, and I was able to start breastfeeding right away. He had no trouble latching, and it really was just a special moment.

Breastfeeding Journey

One of my best friends breastfed her baby for more than two years, and she would talk to me and encourage me while I was pregnant. So even before I had kids I always knew I wanted to breastfeed.

Taking the breastfeeding class and learning what I could helped me realize how much of breastfeeding is instinctual and that I should trust my body. Our bodies know what to do. I had a good support system, and the class helped me know the potential issues and what to do mechanically.

Lucas hadn’t peed within the first 24 hours of life, so they almost put a catheter in to make sure he wasn’t dehydrated. That might have led him to needing formula.

Before he was born I tried to approach breastfeeding as “if it works out that’s great, but if it doesn’t that’s OK too.” But once he was here I realized how I was very upset about the idea of breastfeeding not working out. Luckily, he was not dehydrated and just before they were going to put the catheter in he started peeing. So we knew he was nursing properly and getting hydration and nutrition.

Learn From My Car Seat Mistake

My husband installed our car seat, and I hadn’t even looked at it until we were ready to bring Lucas home from the hospital. Literally that day, as my hormones were flying, we realized it was not adjusted to fit a newborn. We had to call my brother who was able to explain and walk us through it on the phone. My advice: make sure your car seat is installed properly before you need to go to the hospital for birth.

Postpartum Recovery

My birth experience was so incredible, but at home things were much harder than I thought they were going to be. I was in pain and didn’t realize it at first. I had back pain and some pelvic floor issues. I went to a physical therapist to figure out what to do.

I think I had some anxiety, but I was also so in love and happy with Lucas. My anxiety wasn’t because of him but more about worrying something bad would happen to him and about my house being clean in a way I’d never felt before. Slowly I came out of it, and now I feel like myself again.

At first I didn’t realize how much help I’d need from my husband. He’d been working outside the home more than me, so I’d been the one to do more around the house. It took some time but now we’ve got a good flow going. I realize that I need to take time for myself, and I need to do it before things get really crazy and before I feel at my breaking point.

Motherhood to Me

Motherhood is unconditional love, the absolute giving of myself to another person. Motherhood has taught me to value my intuition. At first I was focused on trying to do everything right, but now I’ve realized that deep down, I know what’s best for Lucas.

I never really understood how strong women are, how much motherhood entails and how much you need to completely surrender control of the situation. I have a totally different relationship with my body now. I completely see it as this amazing thing that brought me the love of my life. It is just incredible.

Jacqueline’s Favorite Posts

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Through All Maternity celebrates moms and babies who experienced birth at one of our hospitals across our Louisiana health system. We are grateful for the families who shared their lives with us, and our OB-GYNs and other team members who provide such exceptional care.

We would be honored to become part of your family’s birth journey. You can feel confident that we will be with you every step of your pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care.

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