Introducing our baby GIRL + Birth Story.

September 20, 2019

On Monday, September 16th 2019, at 4:05pm our baby girl made her way into our arms! I don’t think I could accurately put into words the experience of her birth, but this is an attempted summary…. and her name and meaning at the end!

I thought Max would always take the cake of difficult births for me, but this one stole the crown. Despite the difficulty,  it was still one the most powerful experiences of my life. I think many moments made way for this one, and I have come to realize….I would have never been able to receive it as the gift that it was without the storms I walked through first. 

From our first hospital visit with false labor!

Preparing for the birth
After going through the loss of our last baby, this pregnancy was already different for me. I had a different perspective, and greater level of gratitude. Even though I had two very good epidural experiences with Rocco and Azelie, I knew in my gut this birth was going to be different. I had prepared more than the 9 months for this day.  I sought emotional healing from our loss, spiritual and physical renewal, and mental strength and care. I fought hard for them, and as a result I felt really ready for this baby. I ached to hold her, and was willing to go through the ends of the earth and back to have her in my arms. 

Since I had some lingering fears about loss, I wanted to fully know what was going on with my body and my baby during this birth. I had a greater fear of the unknown that the numbness of medication brings than the actual pain of an unmedicated birth. My sister Angela, a doula, had given me so much courage and confidence that this experience could be different than the somewhat blindsiding previous experiences. I knew her calm encouragement and knowledge would help me every step of the way. So I dove into birth stories, hypno-birthing practice, and gathering all of the helpful tools to bring into the delivery room. I was expecting it to be a fast labor since that was my experience with my other unmedicated births. However things never quite go according to the way you expect, and she decided to come in her own unique way….

Marriage vows come to life in these moments.

The labor
The doctor had told me last Friday that I was 3cm dilated, and the baby had dropped (most likely from the false labor a few days before followed by the baby mama dance;)). I was showing pre-labor signs and she said to expect a baby by the end of the weekend. Sure enough, my water started leaking Sunday evening and throughout the night so I asked my mom to stay over. However, no contractions?! I was hoping and praying they would start on their own so that there wasn’t increased risk for infection. Thankfully, at 4am the first contraction hit. I was told that since my water had already broke to hurry to the hospital when contractions started. So I woke up Gabe right away, called my sister, and we headed over. Contractions were intense but sporadic, and there was back pain….something I hadn’t had in my past labors.

Had I known she was posterior I probably would have waved the white flag from the start. Perhaps the hours of prodromal false labor the week before should have been a big enough clue. Nevertheless we got a sense pretty soon that the back pain that started during labor meant she was sunny side up. I had to decide all over again if this was a marathon I was willing to run. I had my sister reminding me with each contraction that I was capable, all while relieving the back pressure with her own two hands. I had Gabe by my side holding my hand, and cheering me on with every step…. even when it felt like I was running in place with no progress. Without them it wouldn’t have been possible. My mental strength would have given way with my physical strength. I have never felt such deeper gratitude for my husband than in these moments. He never took a break or left my side…all 12 hours.

I spent the first portion in the tub which helped immensely with the pain. We dimmed all the lights, created a very calm atmosphere which helped me get my mind in a focused place. With every contraction I knew I was one step closer to holding our baby. We had the most incredible nurse who also had experience with posterior births and gave us so much support throughout the labor. When I hit 7 cm, and the back pain was starting to be excruciatingly painful, contractions started to become less frequent. I felt close to giving up. I seemed to be going nowhere. We switched to the labor ball and peanut ball (both help with stalled labor), and sure enough I felt something shift. The transition period was by far the most difficult test of endurance I’ve ever been through, but Angela knew how to diffuse my doubts. The bond of sisters, right?! I put into to practice the acceptance of pain versus fighting it in order to allow my body to stay relaxed and open. I will spare you the details, but something important to note is that when you go through an unmedicated birth you know exactly when it is time to push that baby out. I knew this baby was about to fly out and there were no nurses or midwife in sight. They had stepped out of the room thinking I was going to be a bit longer.

The delivery and catch
I managed to yell out “she’s coming!” which sent Gabe running through the hallways to find someone to help, and Angela pretty much had to get in catch and receive mode. (You should here her tell the story – ha!) Thankfully, our hero of a nurse ran in just in time, as our baby was born three pushes later. She was immediately placed on my chest, and Gabe and I both couldn’t stop the tears of joy. The peace and powerful awareness that overtook me in that moment was all I needed to know that this birth was just as it should have been! This baby felt like a kiss from our creator straight into our undeserving hands. 

newborn baby photography
First weigh in. Captured by my sister.
Forever grateful to Angela. My saving grace during this birth experience. If only every woman could have a doula by their side during birth!
Our wonderful nurses who caught the baby at birth!
My parents got to come and meet her that night!

 

Gabe and I decided to name her Chiara Maris (Key – are – uh). Chiara meaning “light” burst open my heart all over again, and renewed so much of my soul in that moment. It feels surreal to hold her tiny body in my arms at last. Chiara is also after this soon to be saint, and ‘Maris’ after the mother of God. 

Many of you have walked with us through so many ups and downs over the years, and we wanted to share this joy with you. Thank you for being here! 

Leave a Comment

  • Wow, what a birth story!! Congrats, Anna & Gabe- love her beautiful name!

  • Anne-Laure (from France)

    I never let any comment but I am very emotional reading your wonderful birth experience. I am actually 8 months pregnant of my baby number 4 and hope have this kind of memory in a few days too… congratulations and a wonderful life for lovely baby Chiara !!!

  • Congratulations!!!!!!

    • Congratulations! I just have to share that we have 3 girls: Chiara, Cecilia, and Azelie. You have great taste with names 🙂

  • Congratulations! Our baby’s middle name is Maris as well. It’s nice to feel like she’s that much closer to our Lady. So happy for your family!

  • Anna she is beautiful and happily lying in your arms. Your story brought back so many memories and tears. I had my first baby (following two miscarriages) after 42 hours of laboring in the same sunny side up position until she decided to twist in the birthing canal. I had pitocin and epidural and it definitely was one of the hardest experiences of my life. Your were strong and determined to do it without medication! So so much gratitude, right? Beautiful name. Wishing her a long and healthy life with her big family by her side.

  • Wow God is good. Beautiful baby n wonderful parents. Blessings to all.

  • Nicole McKee

    Oh my word! I am so, so happy for you. Through your own beautiful birth story, you’ve given me great encouragement. I’m expecting my first at the end of November, and if all goes well will be doing a home birth. Through your story and the encouragement of so many others, I feel that much more empowered to be able to do it! Thank you for sharing and Chiara is in the hands of an incredible family!

  • Christina Yep

    Utterly bawling my eyes out over here… Having had 2 unmedicated births, it brings it back…and also the whole experience you described…and her NAME. I love it so much. Our Clare was going to be a Chiara, but due to some outside pressure (never share a name lol), we simplified…but we literally call her “Chiara” or “Chiarita” or “Chiarina” all the time! And you already know I love Maris! Love you guys and thank you for sharing your stories, SO SOON after you give birth! Hope you’re healing and feeling well! She WILL be a light.

  • Elizabeth Cathles

    Amazing story!!! You guys went quiet this weekend just when I went into labor with my third baby, and I thought about you so often. So much of what you said resonated with me, having had three unmedicated births that all were very different from each other. My baby son was born only ~30 minutes before Chiara came out – amazing!! It’s incredible to think about other women who are going through similar situations at the same time. You guys are such an inspiration, and have been so much fun to follow in the last year and a half. Thank you for sharing!

    • Elizabeth, wow! Congratulations to you!! Motherhood is such a universal and powerful bond among women, and I so appreciate you cheering me on. Enjoy your sweet baby boy. Cheers to the tired and blissful weeks ahead;)

  • Congratulations! Reading your birth experience brought both of my unmedicated births to mind. My first was so similar, I love hearing yours while remembering mine. Blessings mama.

  • Justine Leshikar

    Thank you so much for sharing this extremely personal and sacred experience. She is absolutely perfect and her name brought tears to my eyes! So many blessings and prayers being said for you as you transition into this new beautiful season as a family of eight!

  • Anna and Gabe, my heart leaps for joy for you and your sweet Chiara Maris! Your birth story and the pictures you caught are absolutely beautiful…there is nothing more incredible to ponder than the gift of co-creating souls and life with our Lord. We are saying prayers for all of you during this transitional and joyful time! Much love, Leanna and William

  • Wow!! You brought back so many memories of my 6th birth! I also had a miscarriage before my 6th and it was my hardest and longest birth because she was posterior as well… I don’t think I would have done natural either if I had known how long and intense my labor would have been…kept thinking of the verse weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. We named her Ahava ( hebrew for love) Joy. Thank you for sharing your story. We wouldn’t experience the highest joys without going through the toughest valleys! You are amazing! Enjoy your sweet babe!!!

  • Congratulations!! She’s so beautiful! Sitting here with my 4 month old in my arms and making me want to do it all over again (pain and all), like now!

  • Dear Anna, many, many congratulations! I have been following your blog for years but I’ve probably only commented a time or two. Back labor is no joke! (Had it with my first and ultimately ended up with a c section). You are a hero.
    I hope this isn’t creepy (ha!) but after you posted on instagram, I immediately thought of Chiara as a name. Is that weird?!? Read about Chiara Corbello on Aleteia a few months back and her story is incredible. Have been praying a lot to her lately.
    Lots of love and prayers from a reader in NYC!

    • Dana thank you so much for following along all of these years! How crazy that you thought of that name! Yes, Azelie was almost Chiara actually but it turns out it was meant for this little sweet pea:)

  • Huge congratulations, she is just beautiful! Back contractions are just awful – it’s the only way I’ve ever laboured and it’s such a painful struggle to get to that beautiful finish line!

  • Oh Anna, she’s just a little angel!!! And guess what? My sweet little Violet just turned 4 on the 16th 💜

  • Maria Ricciardi

    Congratulations!!! Thank you for your testimony of love!

  • Celeste Wertz

    I found you via your Dad re-posting your dancing video. I had the honor of working with him at Tulane University. We bonded over our Catholic Faith. He is so proud of his family and I admired him for his willingness to express his love for all of you and his love of God. I just wanted to Congratulate you on your beautiful family & your precious Chiara (absolutely beautiful name).

  • That back labor is NO joke! Only had it with one but it sticks with me! Congrats to you – she’s scrumptious!

  • What a beautiful story! She’s just precious and her name is perfect!
    Also, my oldest was unmedicated posterior so each of my subsequent births have been a cinch compared to his so there’s the good news for your future births! 😉
    So happy for you all!

  • Congratulations on little Chiara! I love her name, and this birth story is incredible. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and for sharing those gorgeous photos-what a beautiful testament to the sacrament of marriage. I hope that postpartum goes smoothly for you!

  • Katie (Guy) Maione

    Congratulations, Anna and Gabe! I haven’t checked in for quite some time, and was so happy to read the post announcing Chiara! I’m so happy for you all!

  • Nancy Palmer

    I had never taken the time to actually sit and absorb every word and feeling in this post. I can’t tell you what a gift it is to me that you are vulnerable enough to share so intimately with us. When you’re old, there are other joys in life but that one is gone forever. It is wonderful to relive your joy with you. Congratulations dear friend. God bless you and Gabe and all the child flowers that surround you.

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