Joaquín’s Birth Story

January 21, 2015

I instinctively knew around my 31st week of pregnancy that something was wrong. My feet, face, and hands swelled up so much that I cried myself to sleep each night after work from the pain. I was gaining weight at an alarming rate, even though I hardly ate much due to my severe nausea and acid reflux. My blood pressure was extremely elevated, every single bone in my body was exhausted, and it was becoming more and more difficult to urinate.

This is an example of how badly my feet would swell.

However, it would take until my 33rd week to be officially diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, which required immediate hospitalization. Pre-eclampsia is an incredibly serious disorder of pregnancy that can lead to horrifying consequences. My doctor said I would remain in the hospital until I was induced, which he thought would be the following week, except I was bound and determined to keep my son, Joaquín, inside of me as long as I possibly could. No one could believe the recovery I made in just a few short days after a series of steroid injections. Where there is a will there is a way, especially when you are a mother. I was released on strict bed rest and while I was hospitalized two more times, I was able to make it until 36 weeks before my emergency c-section. The three weeks I was on bed rest were amongst the hardest weeks of my life, although during that time period my son gained almost two pounds and he was able to bypass having to spend anytime in the NICU once he was born.

I received this fortune a week before Joaquín was born.

On 1-5-15, exactly 36 weeks pregnant, my blood pressure spiked to 180/120. My doctor had previously informed me that if it went above 160/110 I would be induced immediately. Due to the extreme exhaustion of pre-eclampsia and my scary blood pressure, it was decided that a c-section was the best way for me to deliver. I was told in five hours I would be meeting my son. My husband, Lucas, and I were both scared to death and excited beyond belief. This was definitely not how I had envisioned Joaquín’s birth story.

I am choosing to omit the details of my c-section, as they are very graphic. I am so grateful to Lucas, who sat by my head and when the tears streamed down my face from nerves he wiped them away with kisses and made me feel safe and loved. Within minutes of the initial incision, I was told to take a deep breath and as I exhaled I heard Joaquín’s cries. The surgeon told my husband to stand up and for as long as I live I will never forget the look on his face as he locked eyes with our son for the first time. It was truly the most unforgettable moment of my life! Sadly, with a c-section the mother is unable to see her child for a while, although Lucas described to me what he looked like and what was happening until they were able to bring him to me. After the fifteen longest minutes, they let me kiss my gorgeous baby’s face and then gave him to my husband to hold.

Joaquín’s first picture taken. He was 6.11 pounds and 20.5 inches.

Due to my high blood pressure, I was administered a magnesium drip for 24 hours. I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy. I knew it was going to be bad, I just never imagined it would be as bad as it was. I wanted to die. In fact, I begged to die. I was so elated when it was time to finally come off of it, but then the horrific pain kicked in. Since it had been a day, it was time for me to stand up for the first time. It is a cruel thing to ask of a woman who has just been cut in half, however it is medical necessity to prevent blood clots. Unfortunately, because my pain was so intense, every time I would try to stand up I would either throw up or pass out. It was not until I was given another round of morphine that I was able to to control the pain and finally walk.

The next four days in the hospital felt like a miserable eternity. All I wanted to do was take care of my son, but I had a lot of healing to do beforehand. Lucas and my Mom were my guardian angels. They never left my side once and took such amazing care of Joaquín and I. Nothing will make you fall in love with your husband more than seeing him utterly obsessed with your child.

Daddy’s first cuddle with Joaquín.

Despite the nightmare I experienced, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I cannot imagine my life now without my son. The amount of happiness he has brought to my husband and I is immeasurable — the best comparison I can make would be the happiness I experienced on every single trip I have ever taken all combined together. Pictures do not do Joaquín justice. You simply have to meet him in person. His personality is infectious. All he wants to do is cuddle and be cuddled and hardly ever cries. He radiates love, peace, and joy. We are so blessed!

Mommy’s first cuddle with Joaquín.

This is by far the most beautiful adventure I have ever experienced and the best part about it is that there is no end to it in sight. I do not have to pack up my bags and return home. My journey with this little guy is forever!

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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60 thoughts on “Joaquín’s Birth Story

  1. Rhianne

    Oh gosh, what an experience for you – I cant even imagine! I’m so glad that he’s here though and healthy and happy! Good luck with your beautiful baby adventure 🙂 x

  2. jen

    Some things never goes as planned, and you handled everything with beauty and grace! Congratulations to you and your beautiful family!

    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      Agree re: plans changing! I’m finally making peace with all of the changes. Thank you for saying that I handled everything with beauty and grace. That brought tears to my eyes. And thank you for the congrats!!!

  3. Erin

    Oh, Andi! This brings tears to my eyes, both of joy and of sympathy just imagining what you’ve gone through. I’m so grateful that you and Joaquín are doing well now, and look forward to reading more about your joyful adventures in motherhood. Felicidades!

  4. Colleen Brynn

    Oh my god, I can’t believe the swelling!
    Stories like this are why I’m terrified about having babies, but as you say and describe it’s all worth it in the end, and I know it’s not something I would/will ever understand until I go through it for myself.
    I’m so happy you’ve come out the other side ok. Sending you some positive healing powers. x

    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      Wasn’t it just beyond awful? I didn’t want to include the photo of my foot, because I know it looks awful, but I wanted to show people just how bad pre-eclampsia can be. Stories like mine scared me to death as well before I got pregnant, however every person who had a bad story also told me that it was worth it in the end, and it’s just the simple truth. I would do everything again every week for the rest of my life to be Joaquín’s Mom. I hope one day you can become a Mom. Thank you for the healing powers, I definitely need them!!!

  5. Heather

    Andi, I teared up when you mentioned the expression on Lucas’s face when he first saw Joaquín!

    I’m so sorry you went through such a challenging pregnancy and delivery. I hope your heading process is speedy and manageable!

  6. Gillian

    I’m so glad that you, and Joaquin, are well after all that trauma. I can’t even imagine!! Congratulations to your new family and I wish you a speedy recovery!!

  7. Jenna

    Someday when we meet in person, we can exchange horror stories. 🙂 My second pregnancy was an absolute nightmare. Fortunately, as you said, the joy of being a parent makes those experiences totally worth it. Your son is gorgeous. All the best to you and Lucas. I look forward to seeing Joaquin on your adventures in the future.

    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      I can’t wait to meet you!!! I have a feeling we will talk for hours and hours. Thank you so much for calling my son gorgeous, your sons are so gorgeous too! All the best to you and your family as well!!!

  8. Terra

    Awww, this post brought tears to my eyes. I miss you tons. I’m so happy you are starting to feel better. Seriously, Joaquin is precious. I adore both the photos of your first snuggle moments, so sweet. I hope to see you very soon. Sending love, Terra

  9. Carla Marrone

    Felicidades!!!! He is absolutely gorgeous! I had 2 c sections & know how u feel, but i would do it again in a heartbeat! The end result is the best gift in the world! Enjoy this new adventure w Lucas & Joaquin. There will be many ups & downs but it will be the best adventure ever. Much love, happiness, & health to you! Xoxo

  10. Karla

    So sorry to read that you went through a rough pregnancy! However I am sure that seeing your little angel’s face for the first time filled you up with even more love and made you forget the pain!

    He is very lucky to have you and Lucas as parents, what a blessing.

    Hope you have recovered and healed!

    Dale besos de mi parte xo

    TQM y te extrano…more news later 🙂

    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      Yes, exactly, that’s why I call him my angel — he made me forget about everything that went wrong!!! 🙂 No pain no gain, right? Thank you so very much darling for your kind words. I can’t tell you how much they mean to me. TQM y tambien te extraño.

  11. Emily in Chile

    You are a trooper, and it’s amazing that your body was able to hang in there so Joaquín could grow that extra bit and come out looking so cute! I’m glad that your rough pregnancy is finally over, with the best possible reward for the hard months, and now you get to just cuddle 🙂

  12. Linda Todd

    congratulations on the birth of your son! glad everyone is doing well. I had two C-sections and like lucas, the babies come out beautiful. God bless all of you.

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  14. Carmel

    I’m totally tearing up just reading your story. He is so beautiful and you are so strong for enduring it all. You’re right – mamas have a special extra amount of strength and will. Congratulations. I love the picture of your son and husband snuggling. Just warms my heart.

    1. Andi Perullo de Ledesma Post author

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful and lovely message. It warmed my heart too! I was so sick when I took that picture of Lucas and Joaquín, but that view from my hospital bed was like medicine for my soul. I just cried and cried when I saw them snuggling from happiness. Such a beautiful sight!!!

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