Exhale.

I’ve been holding my breath this entire pregnancy.  For two reasons:  1) It was my way of protecting my own emotions for the possibility of coming home from the hospital empty handed.  We’ve waited soooo long for this little one.  It may seem harsh to think that something might happen that prevents your child from living but it’s your mind’s way of coping and protecting itself from another devastating blow. You prepare yourself for all the possible “what ifs”.  It’s in these moments where I begin to understand Zach, Chris, and Justin better as they heavily guard their emotions…especially from me.  I’m the one who could potentially hurt them the worst if, in their mind, I ever walked away from them.  2) Les was able to be with me during labor/delivery and not on a trip for work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I decided many months ago that I would not have any medication when I went into labor with Gabriel. Let me clarify something since I think this was misunderstood by some.  This had nothing to do with trying to show off that I could go through natural childbirth.  This had nothing to do with trying to prove I have super strength.  I am also not trying to set the standard by which I think everyone else should follow.  I don’t have an issue with taking medicine when you’re in extreme pain.  This had EVERYTHING to do with wanting to remember the moments following my child’s birth. It had everything to do with wanting to remember the very moment he was born and in my arms.  Our babies grow fast. I know…I have an 18 year old.  I blinked somewhere with Niki.

I did not have an epidural with either Niki or Gabriel.  I have no basis to know what it would even offer me but I now know I don’t need it.  With Niki, I had pain medication and I felt nothing less than drugged while in labor.  After she was born, I was so out of it that I was afraid she would just roll out of my arms and onto the floor because I did not have any control over my muscles or mind thus I didn’t hold her until several hours later.  I regret it to this day.  I didn’t want any of that with Gabriel.  I wanted to remember Gabriel’s birth vividly.

My labor lasted much longer this time around than with Niki.  Niki = 4 hours (God’s blessing!!!)  Gabriel = 12 hours.  I’m still glad I didn’t have any medication during labor even with it lasting all day.  I was able to chat and joke with Les in between contractions even up to the end.  (Minus the joking the last hour)  The hardest part was not knowing when it was all going to be done.  I even told Les and my midwife several times during labor that I was glad I was going natural.

Thankfully in the moments I was struggling the most, it was the last minutes of labor for me.  My midwife, who I absolutely adore, broke my water at 9.5 cm.  I had told the nurse who was assigned to me that Niki was born quickly after my water broke.  She told me in a joking manner, “I’m too old for that” and had the delivery cart set up in my room 4 hours before Gabriel was born.  It was a wise move on her part since they would not have had time to prep the room beforehand if they had waited.  After my midwife broke my water, Gabriel was on my belly 2 contractions (minutes) later.  Les told me there was a moment of realization in my midwife’s eyes that she had to move immediately to prep herself by slipping on gloves to catch our baby.  She told Les that there was no doubt in her mind that had my water broke at home, he would have had to deliver our son.

The first words out of my mouth after my midwife laid Gabriel on my chest were, “He’s real” followed by holding, kissing, and intently staring at my beautiful baby.

I ignored all the stuff happening to me after Gabriel’s birth and intently watched Gabriel and Les.  I watched as Les cut the umbilical cord.  I watched the nurse assess Gabriel on the other side of the room.  I watched Les’ eyes and smile glow with love as he followed our son around the room.  I watched as Les took pictures of Gabriel.  I watched.  I remembered.

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I couldn’t take my eyes off of Gabriel.  For hours upon hours.

After holding him for a little over an hour, we called and let my mom know she could bring the rest of our kids up to the hospital to meet their newest brother.  They came up, in their mismatched pajamas and all, close to 11pm on Friday.  I expected all of them to be excited and a little awed by their brother.  None of us were expecting Niki’s reaction though.  I don’t think she expected her own reaction either.  She cried tears of absolute, uncontrollable joy and couldn’t stop crying.  I promised her I wouldn’t post any of the most embarrassing photos of her but she gave me permission to post the tamest ones.  I think a lot of us had buried emotions about Gabriel’s arrival….protecting ourselves.  She would see his fingers and start crying all over again saying, “He even has the cutest fingers!”

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Overall, I feel blessed and profoundly appreciative at how well everything turned out in the hospital.  My midwife was AMAZING!!!  She had one other girl in labor at the same time as me so she would bounce back and forth between us but she would come sit with us and chat.  She was encouraging, patient, and supportive.

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We decided to take a token photo of him in his crib since the only time he laid in it was to change his diapers or when the nurse requested it to check him out.  Les and I took turns holding him while we were in the hospital.  There was never an opportunity for sleep for us while we were there with no less than 20 people (seriously) coming and going at ALL hours from our room.  That is my only complaint about the whole thing.  Really, you have to give him a bath at 3 am the first night?  Really, you have to weigh him by completely undressing him after I just fed him at 2 am the next night?

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I have a sincere respect for anyone who has a home birth.  I gave serious consideration to going that route myself.  In the end, I just couldn’t handle the “what ifs” and wanted to be in a hospital in case something went wrong.  I found a middle ground – midwife at the hospital – and I LOVED it!

Out of all of it – Les was the most amazing.  Words fail me.

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Meet Gabriel Joachim:

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