Life · Motherhood

Gabriel’s Birth Story

I found this post in my drafts because life caught up quite dramatically with me after our third little one joined the family and apparently I lost the ability to get anything done for a year. Ha! So I’ve dusted it off and finished it, here’s the story of our sweet Gabriel’s entrance into the world!

If you follow me on social media then you’re probably thinking “duh, you had your baby two months ago” and you would be right! But I’m catching up here on the blog and I like being able to write up a little bit of a birth story too – for posterity’s sake, if blogs still exist by then… (I really need to get this blog converted to a book someday!)

I had a feeling Gabriel would make us wait to meet him, and of course I was right! Virtually the entire pregnancy I was dreading the thought of having to be induced again (I was induced with Jonas) and yet at the same time feeling pretty sure that’s what would happen… and I was right.

Hey, at least we got to have a fun baby shower first! Throughout most of the pregnancy, I was actually feeling great and had managed to continue exercising and eating well — I had built up some momentum after Jonas’ birth and I’d say it was my healthiest pregnancy.

But as summer dragged on and I got bigger, it was really getting harder. And it was getting harder mentally, to be honest. I was stressed about handling three kids, and our life in a new place that didn’t feel like home, and just a general feeling of slowly losing control of things.

At my 40 week checkup there was still no sign of labor, and we had a few options. We could wait another week and see, which in theory I am all about — I hate having to rush my body and that baby that clearly isn’t quite ready, it just makes things go better when they go the way they’re supposed to. However, my in-laws were going to come stay with the kids and help out a bit after the birth, and they had a trip booked halfway across the world very shortly after. If we waited to go into labor naturally, we could easily have been stuck without any help at all and having to find acquaintances to watch the kids for a quick overnighter.

Andrew didn’t get any family leave this time around either (don’t get me started), so it was either get things going fast or be completely on our own with Andrew working full time. I know some people might think it was a silly reason to induce, but the thought of coming home to be entirely alone was too much.

Not to mention Jonas had been nearly two weeks overdue — I could have waited for weeks and still have had to induce! So we reluctantly made the appointment with the hospital. I was really discouraged — especially since the one doctor I didn’t like from my OBGYN practice was on shift. (they rotate you through the doctors in their practice since they all take different shifts, and most of them were great but this guy was kind of full of himself and not the best listener…)

It’s hard enough going through pregnancy and labor and delivery and feeling so completely out of control and losing your body and your ability to move, etc. so to have a doctor who can’t be bothered is just too much. I was pretty miserable by this point. AND to add insult to injury our hospital schedules inductions at FOUR A.M. You read that right! So I wasn’t going to be getting any sleep the night before either.

I ended up asking my husband for a blessing but, to be honest, it was precious little comfort since the message was basically “this is one of those things in life you just have to get through.” Cool. So no spontaneous labor. I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for a few months but no real change otherwise.

Andrew’s parents arrived the day before the scheduled induction and we enjoyed one last meal (OK this is sounding a little dramatic, à la “last wishes of a condemned inmate” ha ha. Apparently my pregnant self is a little dramatic. But in fairness, childbirth IS the stick by which we measure pain!)

The next morning we arrived at the hospital, as promised, at oh-dark-thirty. They checked me (still no labor), hooked me up to the pitocin, and we got things started. I decided to try and get some sleep. Contractions started coming on but Gabriel’s heart rate would slow with every one of them, unless I was on my left side — then it was ok. Anytime I tried a different position to get more comfortable, his heart rate would get iffy again.

Most likely the last smiles until that baby was delivered!

Note: This is where I had left off the story in my postpartum haze. Reading all of that back, I had a little bit of low-key rage and anxiety going on… phew! It was a rough end of pregnancy and birth! Thankfully, Andrew took notes during labor, so I have a basic timeline! He’s the best. Here we go:

By around 10AM, an on-call OB came in and we decided to break my water (all this water breaking unexpectedly in movies has never been my reality, ha! With all three of my kids, we had to break my water to try and help labor along.) — I had been coming along about halfway in terms of dilation/effacement but she was worried about variability in contractions, and my hemoglobin levels. (I have an inherited blood condition called Thalassemia minor. The major variant is serious, you need blood transfusions throughout your life, but the minor form just makes me somewhat anemic all the time. Doctors always think I need iron supplements until they realize the condition means my blood cells aren’t good at carrying the iron efficiently. It also puts me slightly at risk of hemorrhage, but I’ve never needed a blood transfusion during childbirth, thankfully.)

Lucky me: once again, the epidural only worked on one side! The same thing had happened at Jonas’ birth and I thought at the time the anesthesiologist just wasn’t very good, but I must have a tricky spine to work with! (Go figure, the same thing happened to my cousin just recently, so maybe it’s a family thing!)

Thankfully, it would trickle a bit more to the other side if I laid on the non-working side, letting gravity help. What it also meant was I had to seriously boost the dosage for anything to get to the lighter side, so my right leg was absolutely dead to me for hours after birth! I wasn’t able to walk on my own until the next morning (I even collapsed on a nurse poor thing, she was helping me to the bathroom and I overestimated my ability to hold weight on that leg…), it was the strangest sensation.

It felt like it took forever, but of course deliverance eventually came. Near the end, as the contractions got harder, the epidural just wasn’t doing the trick on the left side, and it was strange to feel half-pain. My ribs had also felt extra-stretched throughout the pregnancy, and by the time pushing time came — about 8PM — I felt a terrible stabbing pain in my back. I was in tears, and pushing made me feel like my ribs would crack. The nurse didn’t seem concerned about it and it was really frustrating because I kept asking for something to help support my ribs — an elastic band, some sort of wrapping or something — but I think she just assumed I was incoherent because it was just time to get the baby out.

So get the baby out we did, and he was born shortly before 9PM! I was obviously so relieved, it’s amazing how the pain just fades away and you can finally hold your sweet baby and REST.

Of course, I found him beautiful and perfect in every way. So different from Jonas in body type — Gabriel was long and sinewy, Jonas had a barrel chest and chubby cheeks — but also so very similar. I was so glad he was finally with us and all was well.

It was a bit of a haze after that — the cramping was terrible when I breastfed him for the first day or two, and I was very grateful for painkillers. He slept OK, not great (and it was all downhill once we left the hospital). I remember being shocked at how gigantic Jonas felt when Andrew’s parents brought the kids to meet the baby at the hospital — they came in with their noise and questions and energy and I felt completely overwhelmed.

I won’t lie, Gabriel wasn’t an easy baby. Very fussy for the first two months, I found it incredibly difficult to care for him AND our other two — the transition from two to three felt very difficult for me, compounded with having moved to a new place without friends or family, feeling isolated, and then as soon as the newborn period was over COVID hit and it was a whole new level of hard. I had the presence of mind and enough energy in the first two weeks or so to get a few photo shoots in, and I’m so glad I did because the following year was just… hard, and I didn’t get many “real” photos.

He was Coombs positive and had jaundice, so there were lots of doctors visits at a time when I barely had the energy to get out of bed and feed our children, but finally he had a clean bill of health we were left alone and able to recover and bond as a family a bit more peacefully.

But for two days, I just felt peaceful joy in the presence of this sweet child, and I’m grateful for those moments of calm before the storm that would come, just me and Andrew and Gabriel.

Andrew even caught a BYU football game while we were at the hospital, which is kind of awesome because we don’t have cable so he couldn’t have watched it otherwise — ha! It was a good father-son bonding moment 😉

Gabriel is such a precious gift, and I have no doubt his bright, willful spirit will serve him well in life. Adelina was immediately enamored with him.

Jonas was curious and gentle — although now that Gabriel is a big toddler, they wrestle, bite and punch wantonly!

We love our sweet Gabriel, and he is the child our family needed ❤

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