Gabriel’s Birth Story

The anniversary of the best (yet scariest) days of my life is coming up soon – July 21st. That is the day that I found out I was pregnant with our sweet Gabriel. Two years prior to this, we were told more children were very unlikely for us as I would ‘never be healthy enough to carry’. That positive pregnancy test was not only a blessing but a realization that I was getting better. As awesome as it was, we were terrified that something would happen. In fact, my poor husband was in shock for about 2 weeks and barely said a word to anyone.

Surprisingly, this was the easiest pregnancy of the three and yet the most stressful for obvious reasons. We limped along – carefully watching my weight, my diet and my overall health. Since 2010, I have suffered greatly with health issues – all relating to my damaged GI tract. Since then I’ve relied on many supplements and medications to help me every day. When I became pregnant, I had to stop taking 90% of those. Oddly enough, I felt better throughout the whole pregnancy than I had in years. The worst part – besides the swollen feet, stretch marks and heartburn – was my weak immune system making me susceptible to every bug going around. Unfortunately, I ended up visiting Urgent Care and getting antibiotics more in those 9 months than I have in 3 years.

The first 3 months were rough…. This might have been the worst case of ‘Morning Sickness’ than I had with the other two BUT I was fairly well-prepared. I live with an ‘upset stomach’ daily so I was used to some of that. One thing that bothered me most was pure exhaustion. I was tired ALL the time. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep every night at 6:30 on the couch. The middle 3 months were amazing – except trying to fit into my clothes in the winter. I’ve decided that being pregnant in the summer is better. The last 3 months weren’t bad either – except my feet turned into something that resembled Shrek – without the green.

By the grace of God, we welcomed our sweet angel baby into this world on March 21, 2018 at 8:35 am. I had a scheduled C-section as my first son was breech (and huge – thanks to Little Debbie and her snack cakes) and was warned that I had a weak abdominal wall. To prevent any sort of rupturing, we elected for repeat C-sections. Since this was my third, I was fairly well-prepared for the surgery. It was the other little details that got me.

My mom kept the older kids the night before because we had to leave early for the hospital. Surprisingly, my husband and I both slept fairly well – despite our anticipation. We left for the hospital around 5 am and said our usual rosary in the car on the way. As he always does, he gently held my hand and let my mind wander. I’m a pessimist – always have been but I prefer the term ‘positive pessimist’. I like to be prepared in all situations. I prepare for the worst or try to. I always try to keep my emotions in check and therefore I try to ‘brace myself’ for the bad situations. It’s not something I like necessarily but it is me. On the drive, I played out many situations in my mind which made me very nervous. We got to the hospital and went straight to the OB dept. Their computer system was down so things were slow – old school procedures! I didn’t even get a fancy printed bracelet – it had to be handwritten! It’s amazing how we learn to function on computers and when they don’t work – everything is crazy.

I’d say the worst part of the whole thing was the IV – and I was prepared for it. Remember that terrible health phase I went through? Well it included weekly IV infusions for several months. My veins are terrible anyway and weekly IVs weren’t helping. I ended up with a chest port but had it removed about a year before Gabe’s big day. I hadn’t had an IV in several months so I thought it might be rough. Well, I had 4 nurses and 8 sticks before we found a winner! I had more bandages on BEFORE the surgery than after! God bless those nurses though – I know I’m a hard stick so I try not to be a bigger pain for them plus their system was down so everyone was already frazzled – not the best way to start the day! Since the IV took so long, delivery got delayed an hour since I had to get fluids first. That did give us a chance to see our family before going to surgery. My mother-in-law and father-in-law both came early that morning to be with us and I’m so glad they did. My wonderful OB doc finally came in and we were able to get things going. Anesthesia and the nurses came and got me and gave my husband his fancy garb to wear.

I made my way sheepishly back to the cold operating room with my team. You know what I hate – those hospital gowns. Seriously. I’m a small person and those things are like a tent on me. I know all those hospital people have seen butts before but I like to keep my privates…private and that’s hard when I’m hooked to an IV pole and trying to hold a tent closed on me. ANYWAY, I sit on the table and they tell me how to prepare for the spinal tap. I get the spinal and situate myself on the operating table. As I’m laying down, I realize that this was the first childbirth experience that I could see my surroundings. During my other two deliveries, I wasn’t allowed to wear contacts or glasses and I have HORRIBLE eyesight. Thankfully, I was able to wear my glasses the whole time.

As I laid down, I felt alone and the tears quickly began to flow. I wasn’t alone – in fact there were a half dozen people running around me prepping everything – the multiple nurses, the anesthesia team and my doc – everyone but my best friend, who was anxiously awaiting his turn to come back to me. I wasn’t scared – I was incredibly grateful. Up until that very moment that my head hit the operating table I hadn’t really let myself process what was happening. All of those people in that room were going about their daily business. It was something they did all the time and something they would likely do again that day. That’s their job. They casually talked about their family, plans, joked around while I laid on the table silently crying. Occasionally one of them would come over to make sure I was okay and starting to go numb. The anesthesia nurse came over and said “Honey, are you ok? You are crying. Do you need something?” I was fine…. Perfectly fine and I didn’t need anything at all…except my husband and my baby of course. What was a typical day for that medical team was quite possibly greatest moment of my life. A day that they expected was a day I never dreamed would happen. While they were casually talking, I was getting ready for an unexpected and unlikely miracle to arrive. They had no idea what the last 6 years consisted of for our family. They didn’t know our heartache, my pain, our suffering, our challenges. They didn’t know that this baby that was about to be born was our God given miracle. The light at the end of our dark, dark tunnel. The answer to our prayers for healing.

Of course, I didn’t tell the sweet nurse all that. I just said “No, I’m fine.” They finally brought my husband to me and as soon I saw him, the tears flowed a little more. He didn’t have to say a word to me… he knows me better than anyone else. He gently wiped my tears and held my hand, never looking away from my eyes. The doctor announced she was getting ready to start. At this point I was pretty much sobbing- as quiet as I could. All those pessimistic thoughts from the early drive were coming back and I wouldn’t feel better until I heard his first cry. I felt a lot of tugging and heard the nurses and doctors talking. I had a lot of built up scar tissue around the incision sight and they were having a hard time cutting through. They also found that my uterine wall was extremely thin and we were lucky to not have any problems with rupturing during the pregnancy.

Then I knew it was about time. I looked at Caleb and said “He’s almost here.” I felt those final tugs and heard the sweetest cry of my life. Caleb and I cried the biggest tears of joy. He was here. He made it. I made it. We made it together. They reassured us that he was in fact a boy and moved quickly to get him ready for us. He wailed and wailed – louder and longer than the other two combined. He had some lungs on him for sure! It was the best sound and one I won’t soon forget. My husband did get to cut the cord for the first time with this one and then they weighed him. He was 7lbs, 9.6oz and 20 inches long. They wrapped him up and let my husband bring him to me. He was absolute perfection – just as his brother and sister were. The emotions in those moments are so hard to describe. It’s relief, joy, excitement, anxiety and everything in between. Caleb went with the baby while they finished up my surgery. Then they wheeled me to the recovery room. We decided that we wanted some time alone with Gabe before our visitors got to see us. I typically do not handle anesthesia well and in the past haven’t been able to hold the babies right after delivery – too shaky and nauseous. With the other two, our families all got a chance to hold the babies before me and I wanted some quiet time with just my husband, baby and I. It was a wonderful 30 minutes of tears, kisses and praising God. Sitting on that bed with the love of my life and the baby we were never supposed to have was the best. Caleb has sat on hospital beds with me at my best and at my worst. He has held my hand when I cried tears of pain, frustration and when I was ready to give up. He has taken me to way too many appointments than any one should have to go to. He has literally been my support – when I was at rock bottom. And that day, he got to share the best tears of joy with me.

Our parents, Lane and Harper joined us and everyone was so happy. Gabe has two of the best siblings around. Our sweet, quiet Lane had the biggest smile on his face when he saw Gabe. He did start crying after seeing me with all my hospital stuff – IVs, tubes, dressings, etc. He hates that stuff but gently held my hand and let me reassure him that I was fine – unlike some of the other times he’s seen me like that. That kid has also seen me at my worst. He cried as I had to miss his baseball games or when I couldn’t play with him because I was too sick. He’s had to deal with more than any young boy should have to. I’m so proud of him and his strength. Harper couldn’t hardly contain herself. She has been praying for a sister for as long as she can remember. We told her she wasn’t getting a baby at all – and she wasn’t too keen on the idea of a brother when we first found out. It was so nice to see the joy on her face – even if that baby was a brother… not a sister. She immediately starting being a little ‘mother’ to him and couldn’t keep her hands off him. I’m not even sure she knew I was in the room.

After lots of tears, hugs and baby snuggles, Gabriel had to go get checked out. They wheeled me back to my room and we started to get settled. I have to give a huge shout-out to the nurses we had. I made it very clear about my dietary restrictions from the start. My biggest fear of delivery was getting ‘poisoned’ at the hospital. Not that they don’t know what they are doing BUT I have gotten sick too many times from cross-contact and the last thing I wanted was to be recovering from a c-section AND have a flare-up. I had prepared enough meals for Caleb and I for several days at the hospital and just planned on finding  someone to bring us meals. However, we told the nurses we had all our meals and they surprised us with a mini-fridge. They had one at the nurses station that hadn’t been used in a weeks and they hooked us up with it! I was SO thankful. We were able to have all our meals with us and didn’t have to worry about getting sick.

Gabriel gave us a little scare at first. He was extremely noisy from the start – remember all that wailing I talked about? He grunted all the time too– while he slept, laid in our arms, ate, etc. The nurses were concerned that his lungs were having trouble – they thought the grunting was wheezing. They took him for about 6 hours after he was born to get chest xrays and for monitoring. We couldn’t see him at all – well Caleb could. He went to the nursery every 30 minutes. Finally, they brought him back to us. He was doing great – xrays were fine…. He’s just noisy! We spent the next couple of days in awe and in love. We had our closest family and friends visit but Caleb and I just enjoyed our time together with Gabe. We only turned the TV on when the kids were with us – mainly to watch baseball. Otherwise, we just talked, loved on Gabe and tried to get me moving.

If you’ve had a c-section, you know how it feels. Every movement is a challenge and heaven forbid you have to laugh, cough or sneeze. There’s a reason everyone knows childbirth is awful… because it is, no matter how it happens. Again, third section so I was prepared for all that. I knew that I needed to be up and walking as soon as possible. Recovery went surprisingly well this time – again, thanks to my MUCH healthier lifestyle I’m sure. We were able to go home on day 3 and we couldn’t wait to get into our new routine.

Walking that sweet baby into the house was a great moment. Okay – Caleb walked him in. I slowly, cautiously tried to get up the porch steps. The kids couldn’t wait to come home to us. They were at my in-laws next door and came home as soon as we got home. They even decided against going out for dinner with my in-laws so they could snuggle their new baby brother. They started fighting for who got to hold him first as soon as they walked in the door. It was perfect. Everything was perfect…

It’s amazing how much life can change – and how fast. Three years ago I was ready to give up. I couldn’t imagine waking up and dealing with my health problems another day. Thank God for His saving grace. Thank God (and my family) for pushing me and staying with me. Thank God for this amazing day. Thank God for this beautiful miracle baby. Thank God for giving me the strength to move on so I could have it. Thank God.

Having a newborn isn’t “new” to us. Sure, we had to start over. We had to buy everything since we had gotten rid of all our baby stuff. Sure, we are a little busier with the older two and get tired a little faster. We know about the sleepless nights, the crying and the dirty diapers. Thank God for all of that. We might have looked like zombies for most of this year since Gabe doesn’t sleep well at all BUT I’d have sleepless nights the rest of my life, change a dozen dirty diapers a day, listen to his cries all the time.

Gabriel has taught us so much. While his birth and life are so special, the other two are equally special just in their own ways. If anything, I wish I could go back in time and be more grateful for the experiences with them – but let’s face it, when you have your first baby at 20, you aren’t exactly prepared or as mature as when you are 30. He has taught us to pay attention to the little things, always finding the good in situations, he has turned me into an optimist. He’s also taught us to keep the bathroom doors closed, make sure things aren’t plugged in, keep trashcans out of reach, make sure the cabinet locks are secure, etc.  

They always say that the “days are long but the years are short.” It is so true. The last year has gone by much faster than I even anticipated. I often look at Gabe and see his brother, Lane (and even his sister some too!). It hits me so hard that what seems like just yesterday holding our first born was really 10 years ago. As hard as it may be sometimes, we are so looking forward to enjoying these long days with all three of our babies.

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