Bill, Michelle & Luke Zanoni

“It was beautiful. I feel so lucky. And it happened so fast, I wish I could do it again in slow motion… Mikelann was by my side the whole time… I couldn’t have done it
without her.”

The birth of Luke William Zanoni, August 30th, 2011

We had the hardest time distinguishing real contractions from Braxton-Hicks. We went to bed the night before Luke was born and I was fairly certain that I was
having “real” contractions. But, I didn’t feel like we needed to rush.

I woke up at 1am and realized that I probably wouldn’t be able to fall back to sleep. We called the birth center to tell them that we would be coming in the next morning, and Mikelann said we should just come on in right then. It’s a good thing we did because Luke came fast.

We drove from Livingston to Bozeman and arrived to the Birth Center at about 2am. Both of our moms were in town and so we told them to head over in the morning. I thought we were really just going to be sleeping at the Birth Center to get ready. We still hadn’t timed a contraction, and I was feeling fine. We got into bed at the Birth Center and were visited regularly by a nurse.

Mikelann was delivering a baby in the other room. My husband Bill slept most of the night, waking up in jerky jumps worried that he had fallen asleep. But, I didn’t need him at that point, I was just relaxing and
feeling my body change. When he was awake we talked and laughed.

At about 6am things started to change. The contractions got serious quite suddenly. Bill was just waking up for the day and I was no longer talking. I was quietly tapping my foot to some sort of rhythm and dealing with the contractions. I really couldn’t communicate with anyone. I think that was challenging for Bill. Mikelann came in at about 7am and just watched me. She had such a calming presence. By 8am I was only dilated to about a one. Mikelann asked me if I wanted to take a warm bath, and I said yes. I was very eager to get in the tub. It was just what I needed. As soon as I hit the water my water broke.

There was a bit of Meconium in my water, which was a sign that Luke might be in distress, but no one seemed too concerned. Mikelann gave me a little acupuncture treatment in my lower back to help my back relax. Soon thereafter I had dilated to a three.

Mikelann and the nurse assisting her detected some variables in Luke’s heart rate. Which as I understand, means that when I was having contractions his heart rate was dropping. This was the second sign that Luke might be in distress. At about 830 or 9am Mikelann decided we needed to go to the hospital for fetal monitoring. She wanted to have a constant monitor on his heart rate.

I really really didn’t want to leave. Mostly because I didn’t want to get out of the tub. Also, I think I was just going through transition. I felt my body changing quickly and I thought that I could have the baby in that tub right there if they would let me. I asked Mikelann to check me one more time hoping that if I had progressed she would let me stay. Sure enough I had gone from a 3 to a 7 pretty quickly. Instead of convincing anyone that I could stay in the tub, this just made our move to the hospital a bit more urgent. I felt completely calm through this whole time. I was not worried about me or the baby. I completely trusted Mikelann, and Bill.

We drove to the hospital (about 5 minutes) and I remember the way the wind felt through the window in the van. I was wrapped in a blanket and just cozy. We pulled up to the emergency room door and I told Bill I was ready to push. Mikelann had called ahead and they knew to expect us. She had gone in to get a wheelchair and talk to the nurses. We checked into the hospital at 9:29am, Luke was born by 11:04am. They wheeled me up to a room and I met a lot of nurses.

The whole time at the hospital I was pushing. It felt very good to push. It didn’t really hurt anymore. I just knew that I was close to meeting my baby. Mikelann, our doula Mariah, and Bill were by my side the whole time. Once we got plugged into a heart rate monitor Luke’s heart seemed to be fine. Turns out his chord was around his neck. When I labored on my hands and knees (which I did for most of the time) his heart rate was fine, but when I was on my back it must have put pressure on the chord and his heart rate started to drop.

I was really unaware that anything could go wrong and I felt very calm about the entire situation. Our moms arrived and sat on a little sofa in the corner of the room quietly watching, and praying. At some point near Luke’s birth the doctor came in and told me that Luke was in trouble so I had to get him out. She was a beautiful young doctor with bright blue eyes.

No one at the hospital ever offered me any drugs, and it wasn’t anything I ever even thought about. I did have an oxygen mask which was helping deliver oxygen to my baby. Dr. Haugan told me I had three options: the suction, the forceps or a c-section. I don’t remember having time to even think, and I am sure that Mikelann and Billy made the decision for the suction.

I had to get on my back and the doctor used the suction to pull on Luke’s head. I think I got a lateral episiotomy at some point too, but I felt nothing and was not concerned about that. I was so focused on pushing my baby out. The suction helped, but it popped off Luke’s head a few times. The Dr. got right between my legs and sternly told me that I had to PUSH Luke out.

For these few moments our birth was sort of like a Hollywood birth. The doctor was yelling and serious and I was doing everything in my power to push him out. I didn’t stop pushing when the contractions stopped. After three big pushes Luke arrived. All I remember is the nurses putting him on my chest.

Bill was the first one to check, and he said “it’s a boy!” He was perfectly healthy and happy. He lay on my chest and was surrounded by love. Everything was just calm and right. He nursed right away. The hospital staff that worked with us were so wonderful. I feel so grateful that they welcomed us with open arms. I give Mikelann so much credit for that, I know that she has a good relationship with the staff at the hospital, and that means so much for a family like ours that needs to transfer to the hospital
for help.

“Mikelann was by my side the whole time, holding back my legs, and talking me through the pushes. I couldn’t have done it without her. I do think that our birth easily could have resulted in a c-section had things unfolded differently. We’re so grateful that we were able to have a natural vaginal birth, and that Luke
was perfect.”

Written by Michelle Uberuaga