before I share the story of little miss roma lea cerda’s entrance into this world, I want to say thank you so much for all of your thoughtful messages. I’ve been reading them as they come in and while I may not respond, please know that they warm my heart and make me feel so loved and blessed during this special time. I wasn’t sure if it would feel as magical the second time around, as it did the first time when Luca was born, but it is JUST as magical (maybe even more, because I don’t have the first time mom jitters and it’s all just pure joy!)
with Luca, my water broke randomly at noon on a sunday and within 15 minutes, I was in labor. with Roma, it was completely different. on Wednesday, June 12th, I went in for my 39 week prenatal appointment and my OBGYN checked for dilation. I was only 2cm dilated, which isn’t much at all, so I went home, feeling anxious – when was she going to arrive?!
that whole day, after the exam, I was seriously crampy. it felt like the onset of a really bad period. I couldn’t really get off the couch. I knew something was up, but I wasn’t having contractions, so I just figured I was a little sore from the exam. the next morning, I woke up with some slight cramping, and I went to the bathroom to find that I was losing my mucous plug. I was so excited – something was definitely happening!
as soon as my mucous plug starting coming out (and it came out for the next 48 hours), I started having contractions. that whole day I spent in the bed or on the couch. thankfully, my mother was with me (she had come the week before, in anticipation of baby girl’s arrival), so she helped with Luca at nighttime before Lu got home from work and kept me company. that night (Thursday), I had such bad contractions, I had to breath through them. however, they weren’t consistent enough to head to the hospital, they were 7-9 minutes apart and only lasted 20-30 seconds. I had them from 5:30pm until about 11pm and then they dissipated and from 11pm-7am, they were about an hour apart. needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night.
active labor & time for the hospital
then, starting at 7am on Saturday, my contractions ramped up again. this time, they quickly intensified. they were 6 minutes apart, lasting 60 seconds each. by 9:30am, it was time for Luca’s music class and so I told Lu to go and if the contractions were closer to 5 minutes apart, I’d call him and he’d just have to leave early to get back to the apartment and drive me to the hospital. sure enough, the contractions became closer and intensified (at this point, I couldn’t talk through them and had to practice my breathing), so I called my doctor and he told me it was time to come in!
Lu got home just in time and we grabbed the hospital bag and said goodbye to Luca, which was surreal and hard to do – the last time I’d be leaving my apartment as a mother of just one! we drove to the hospital in lower Manhattan, luckily didn’t hit any traffic, and were there shortly before 12:30pm.
labor and delivery
Lu dropped me off in front of the hospital and once I was with someone to escort me to triage, he went and parked the car. in triage, the nurse did a pelvic exam and I was already almost 5cm dilated, so they admitted me and got me right into a labor and delivery room. the one thing I will say about NY Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital (the hospital we delivered at with Luca as well) is that the L&D rooms are massive and very comfortable.
once we were there, I asked for the epidural and by 2:30pm, I had an epidural administered and then, I started to enjoy the birthing process! for me, the epidural allows all of my fear and pain anxiety wash away into the sunset, and my body does all the work it needs to do while I can crack jokes with my husband, rest, and get excited to push!
they checked in on me an hour after the epidural, and I was already almost at 7cm dilated, so they went in and broke my water. almost immediately, I felt that baby moving down!
time to push and the birth
then, by 5pm, I was starting to get that classic feeling of having to make a bowel movement, which typically means it’s time to push. the doctors weren’t due to check in on me yet, so I paged them, because I knew something was happening (baby girl wanted to meet us!) the nurse arrived, checked my dilation and said, “oh ya, you’re at 10cm, it’s time to push!” so the doctor came in (the same doctor that delivered Luca ended up being on call and delivered Roma!) and within 3 pushes, she was born! I couldn’t believe how quickly she arrived, I didn’t really have time to process it!
the second the doctors lifted her up high and I saw her purple little screaming body, I was filled with so much immediate love. she was absolutely perfect, and I had them put her directly on my chest right away. I turned to Lu and he had the most wondrous look on his face, like, “oh my gosh, that’s our daughter, she’s really here”! it was a really sweet moment. we kissed, everyone asked for her name and we said, “roma lea!” it felt so good to say it aloud, finally!
she was born 20 inches long, 8 pounds and 7 ounces of pure perfection.
one major difference in the experience between Luca and Roma’s birth is the recovery. it’s like night and day. everything was less overwhelming and not as severe. the nursing staff at this hospital was amazing, from triage to the moment I left the hospital, they were happy, supportive, understanding, and thorough.
while we requested a private room, we ended up not going one – it’s a small hospital and it was a busy time. I was prepared for this and my mother kept telling me, “trust me Ali, it won’t be that big of a deal the second time around – you won’t be as overwhelmed, you’ll know what to do, and you’ll be out of there in a couple of days.” and she couldn’t have been more right! while we didn’t get a private room, no one checked into our room, so it essentially was a big private room! Lu went home around 11pm and the night was easy, because I knew how to soothe, feed, change, and swaddle the baby. also, for whatever reason, my postpartum bleeding wasn’t nearly as bad as last time, and I was able to get up and move around much more easily. and like I said, the nursing staff was amazing.
in the morning, Lu came over with the most giant egg, cheese, and cream cheese bagel sandwich and we ate, taking turns holding our beautiful baby girl with her sweet face and jet black soft hair. it was an absolutely blissful morning, and I felt so filled with love in that simple moment. later that day, my sister and her husband came and visited us, as my parents were home with Luca and we decided it was best if Luca didn’t come to the hospital, it would be easier to introduce him at home, especially because we weren’t sure if we’d have someone joining the shared room and wanted to be respectful (I’d be nervous as a first time mom in a shared room with a crazy toddler running around!) plus, I needed my rest and recovery time.
after the first night, I woke up feeling strong and asked the doctor for an early discharge. the earliest they discharge patients is 24 hours, so I asked if it would be possible to have that early discharge. my OBGYN came in and said I was definitely ready, it all depends on the little girl and of course, I wouldn’t want to go home until I knew she was healthy and ready. so, at 24 hours, they did all the newborn testing, she passed with flying colors, and within a couple hours, around 8:30pm, I was being wheelchaired out of the hospital! Lu and I drove home, luckily hit no traffic, and my parents were home with Luca to greet us. love and snuggles all around!
roma lea’s name
so let’s talk her name! I give Lu all the credit! we love calling her Roma Lea (pronounced “lee-uh”), she seems like a Roma already! so, about 2 months into our pregnancy, we were struggling to agree on a name for baby girl. we couldn’t find a name that felt special, until one night, we were in bed reading and Lu was flipping through a New York Times magazine and saw a headline with “Roma” and he turned to me and said, “Is this it?” The moment I saw the name, I knew that was it! it was an immediate feeling of, “That’s our baby girl’s name!”
we loved that Roma was another Italian city (Luca was named after Lucca, Italy) and, Roma spelt backwards is “amor,” which is love in Spanish, my husband’s first language. Then, when we were trying to figure out the middle name, Lu had the idea to connect our kids again, so we chose to take “Leo” (Luca’s middle name) and use “Lea” for Roma. the name felt perfect and complete!
I hope you enjoyed Roma Lea’s birth story! if you want more glimpses into life with a newborn, tune into Instagram!