When I found out we were pregnant I looked at your father who was fast asleep on the couch. I resisted the urge to wake him and when he woke up, he looked at me and just like that he knew. We started laughing and crying tears of joy.
As a biologist I was intrigued by your development within me. For your fetus state, we named you Gizmo just like the Mogwai in Gremlins, because we didn’t know if you were male or female. We were waiting to be surprised at your arrival because we would love you either way and the excitement would help me through a drug free labor. We took pictures of my growing body every month. We made it to every doctor appointment and they said it was boring and I made it look easy. Your dad talked and sang to you everyday. You would kick around when he would sing, “bananas”.
You were estimated to arrive on the 8th of April but I had a feeling you weren’t coming until the 14th of April. I didn’t notice any signs of you arriving until 10 hours before I birthed you. When I started to labor with you your dad was out of town coaching lacrosse for the day. I figured if he stayed home you wouldn’t come. After a nice dinner I couldn’t really talk while having contractions. I took a shower and could have stayed in there forever, but I didn’t want to keep wasting water. I wasn’t ready to fill the tub yet so I wandered around the house. Your Auntie made brownies for the nurses and your dad slept while he could. I called your Nana and Papa to tell them you would be here in the next 12-24 hours. They live too far away and Papa needed to be at his hospital around that same time. They had planned on being here for your birth but life threw them a curve ball. Papa found out he needed to get his heart fixed so he could spend many more years watching you grow.
You made it very clear at midnight thirty that you were ready to meet us. I decided it was time to go to the hospital. We planned your birth to be drug free and I didn’t want to be at a stage in labor that was too difficult and unable to get there. So this was it; I woke up your sleepy dad this time to tell him we were having a baby.
We got to the hospital and gave a copy of our birth plan to the nurses. They were great. They checked to make sure you and I were ok with their fancy equipment. A tight armband to check my low blood pressure, a couple of goofy belts, there was one for you and one for me. I always loved to hear your heartbeat at every appointment. To hear it at this moment, knowing that soon I would only hear it by holding my ear to your chest, made me slightly sad. After the belts were removed, and the nurses said everything was fine, I got into the bathtub. Amazing! I’m sure you and I both made a sigh of relief.
We were just so relaxed in there that things happened much easier. Your dad stayed by my side the whole time. I know he was so tired but he knew I needed him. Every hour he got me out of the tub to monitor your hear rate, then he would fill the tub with warm water and help me back in. As the night went on I realized just how much your dad loves me. With every contraction I would quietly moan and his hand would come up over the side of the tub for me to hold. He was lying on towels on the hospital’s bathroom floor making sure I knew he was right there with me.
At 4am the nurse was concerned about a dip in your hear rate. She explained that it is normally seen farther along with labor and baby is feeling the squeeze to come out. Upon checking me, to see where your head was, she was surprised to find that we were already at that point in labor. We had only three more centimeters until you could come out! You and I took a break from laboring to take a nap around 5am. Once that was over, it was back to the bath. A little after 6am you told my body to start pushing you out. This whole time laboring with you had been amazingly beautiful. It was so much calmer than I was expecting. It still puts you at ease when I make a low hum in your ear and hold you close.
Our hospital doesn’t allow for water births so when the nurse saw me grunting and pushing with your dad and auntie by my side, she had to do some serious convincing to get me out of that tub. We finally made it out of the tub and this is where things got crazy fast. I had been avoiding the bed and instead listened to my body on which positions to help you come out. The contractions were so painful without the body of water surrounding us. I looked into your father’s eyes and didn’t let go of his hands. This is where I want to say everything went as perfectly as laboring, but I can’t. We had the on-call doctor who was very impatient, grumpy and aggressive. He did a lot of things to me that I asked him not to. After such a calm labor he rushed me to have you the way he wanted and then left. I’ll explain more when you’re older if you want. The process of giving birth is such a vulnerable time and I am so proud to have such a strong son.
As you emerged quickly from my body I saw your little bottom and balls. I screamed, “It’s a boy!” to your Auntie and then again to your dad. The doctor passed you to me. You looked up at me with squinty eyes as I held you close. Perfection. Your dad rubbed your perfect little head and you wrapped your tiny hand around his finger. Then I took you to my breast where you latched but did not suckle. I thought I was doing something wrong. Your breathing changed and seemed to be getting harder for you. The nurse checked your breathing and realized there was something wrong. You were taken from me to an area that they could get you more oxygen. Your dad stayed by your side. He was so sunburned on his arms, but there was no way he was going to take his hands off of you. We were informed that you needed equipment that our hospital does not have. You were to be transported two hours away. For all the times I hold you too tight, too close for too long , it’s because of this moment. I saw you wheeled away sedated with a machine to breath for you, and to think just a few hours before you were tucked away nice and safe.
Since I didn’t have any medications or drugs I was able to leave the hospital so that both of us could go be with you. When we were able to see you at the children’s hospital they told us you were going to be fine. You had breathed my blood; it didn’t get suctioned out properly, and caused your lungs to stop working. When you were getting help, they told me to keep talking to you. I didn’t know what to say. I just kept singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.” (To this day I still sing it to you.) When you woke up a couple of days later your dad finally got to hold you for the first time. We gave you the same initials as your paternal grandpa, who sadly you will never meet. You giggle at his picture everyday. Once you were stable, I took you to my breast once again and everything was as it should be.
You are more than I dreamt for. You fill this hole that I have had. I never had a birth story because your Nana and Papa adopted me when I was little. Birthing you was all so new to me. It’s been a challenge overcoming some of the things that happened, it’s taken me a year to be able to write this for you. I want you to know that it was not ok for the way they treated us, but I have done my best to protect mothers in the future by sharing our story. I want you to know that having you has been by far the best thing I have ever done. As I sit here at 3am watching you sleep, I want to thank you for choosing me to be your mom and I am so excited for all of the adventures we have yet to experience.