I have written this story over and over in my head. While I sleep. While I stare in amazement into very quiet beautiful eyes. I have so much to say, but so little words. I want to thank everyone who has been checking in on me for the past few weeks and all of you who have sent us such beautiful words. I have taken them all and kept them in my heart as I spend these new miraculous moments and days with our little Matthew. Learning all the curves of his face, exhaling deeply and lovingly whenever I think of him. I am in love!
Matthew Gerard Gaitan was born into his Poppas arms on September 11th at 5:33 PM. It seems like just a second ago and yet here I am a week later writing down his story to remember for ever and to share with all of you.
My parents always come to stay for about 2 weeks and try to time their stay so that they can help me in the final week of my pregnancies and take care of me in the first week postpartum. Since Alex was having her bridal shower on the 6th, they decided to come and stay for two weeks hoping to be here for the birth. As their final days were approaching and still no baby I became upset for them and decided to try and help things along. I normally would not do this, I prefer for my babies to come on their own time and not mine but it seemed to me that I should at least try by some natural means to see if labor would start before they had to leave.
On Monday the 10th I decided that I only had two days left before they were leaving and I did not want to have the baby on 9/11. My midwife was coming for a visit and she had already told me the week before that I was at 4 centimeters so if I was further along I would ask her to strip my membranes. I spent the day finishing up last minute baby projects and made a nice big batch of labor aid. An hour before my birthing team showed up I even took on a new baby project to keep my hands busy. I was very worried that my oldest daughter Alex would not be around to take pictures so I was trying to time it while she was not at work.
When my midwife and her team arrived I was checked and I was at 5 and since Alex would soon be home from work and Poppa was also home, she did the stripping of the membranes and they decided to stay thinking that everything would happen fast. Since we live out in the country they would not want to chance leaving and not getting back in time. We all sat down to eat what I thought would be my last dinner while pregnant. I did not eat much because of the anticipation.
We spent the next few hours talking, laughing and even had a knitting and crocheting class in the living room. I was loving this. I kept thinking how relaxed this was compared to being in a hospital. We prepared the birthing pool in my room, got supplies ready and then nothing. No contractions. Once in a while I would get what I felt were the same Braxton Hicks contractions I had been feeling for the past few weeks but every time I was checked I was further along. I listened to all my favorite songs and sang out loud (my midwives probably thought I was nuts but I didn’t care, I love singing out loud). Lots of Regina Spektor, Natalie Merchant, Nil Lara and salsa music. With every hour that passed I realized that my chance of having this baby on the 11th increased. I really did not want to have my little baby on such a sad day but around 11:45 just gave my worries to God and decided to let it go. The Lord made this child and had already decided when he or she would be born.
I walked up and down the stairs repeating my mantra of “I hate these stairs” every time I came up to the top where the midwives were all sitting in the hallway reading or working on their new crochet or knitting skills, eating fritters my parents made and encouraging me to go another round up and down the stairs to get the baby to continue descending. I could feel it working, I could feel things opening and preparing for a birth but still no regular contractions, just a few renegade waves of tightening here and there. I was now tired.
At about 4 in the morning my midwives put me to bed and they went to sleep on the couches downstairs. I welcomed one more night of sleep or at least a few more hours before the big moment. Poppa says I woke him up many times with a very rhythmic low moaning but I must have been very asleep through all of it. I opened my eyes to the morning sun the next day and the sounds of my parents busy making breakfast downstairs. I found my birthing team all still in the places they had slept, talking to my little ones and having coffee.
After breakfast, I put on my shoes and Poppa and I went on a nice long walk followed by another walk later on that morning with Jen, one of the midwives. I couldn’t help but notice that our driveway was so full of cars that it looked as if we were having a party. I guess we were, we were having a waiting on baby party. I enjoyed the fresh morning air, the sounds of the birds in the trees and the company of Poppa and these women who had become part of our family for the day. I reminded myself of how different this was than the birth experience most women have and I felt very blessed. These wonderful women were here for me and my baby and really all of my family. They were here for the long haul and no one was hurrying or rushing us.
My daughter Alex had gone to work and I had decided upon an alternative photographer since I knew at this point that she would most probably not be out of work by the time I gave birth. As the day went on I did have more constant contractions but they were not very uncomfortable and I kept myself upbeat by remembering that I was progressing though I had not yet felt “the pain” I associate with birth. The pains I was having were all in my lower back and that scared me because I have heard that back labor is very painful. My midwife did some positioning and pressing on parts of my lower back which I think might have taken care of it because I didn’t remember about the back pain until after it was all over.
I got all the way to 10 centimeters still wondering if I could truly be in labor. We decided to start filling the birthing pool now to be ready, when someone mentioned that Alex would be getting home from work soon. My heart skipped a beat and I hoped and prayed that she would be there in time. My midwife told me that she was sure my body was waiting for my daughter to come home so that I could have this baby.
As soon as Alex came in through the door I started to feel more like I was in labor. We got me in the pool while she got her camera ready. The waves that were hitting my body were definitely labor now and though I could talk and smile in between them, they were getting very strong. The warm water felt good on my skin as I rocked back and forth in the pool. A few more waves and my midwife told me to push whenever I felt the urge. I sat in the warm water thinking how I did not feel like I was that close to having my baby and all of a sudden it was there, the urge to push. It was now that the pain hit me like a ton of bricks and I could feel myself losing my wits a bit and wanting to feel sorry for myself. I know that this is were the heroine is triumphant and strong and takes charge but I wanted to feel sorry for myself and give into this pain. I am human and I felt small and weak and scared. Then all of a sudden I felt Poppa’s strong hands on my shoulders and his legs supporting me from behind. He wiped the sweat from my forehead and told me that I was strong. I heard the voices of those women who were there to support me telling me that I was doing it, that I was doing great.
With one long push I felt the head of my little one, I could not believe I was really almost there and before I knew it I was being told to pull my baby out of the water. I couldn’t do it and asked Poppa to grab the baby. This is the moment I had dreamt of all these months, the moment when I would draw my baby up out of the water into this world and here I was not able to move an inch.
When he was placed in my arms I felt a tidal flood of love hit me and all I could do was hold onto my little precious one…a boy! I couldn’t believe I was holding him. I realized I had not really let myself fall in love during the pregnancy because I have suffered miscarriages in the past. I also spent the past few months saying that I did not think I was going to be able to love another baby like I loved Olivia and everyone else but here I was sooo in love with a little one I just met. Our eyes and hearts locked together and at that moment I could no longer imagine my life without my little baby boy.
Sitting in my bed that evening, where my midwife had tucked me in surrounded by all my babies, husband and parents I quietly thanked God for being so good to us. For giving us another little one to love, so perfect, so healthy. We are all in awe. We have spent the past week (with Momma in bed) getting used to the new normal of a newborn in the house and getting everyone the time they want holding him and being next to him. This week there has been little talk of all the commotion of the wedding in just 3 weeks. There has been little talk of things needing to be done around the house or interference from the outside world. For now we are alone in the world in our little love cocoon. Soon enough there will be time to do the rest.
“Cleaning and dusting can wait ‘til tomorrow
For babies grow up, we learn to our sorrow
So cobwebs be quiet, and dust go to sleep
I’m rocking my baby, cause babies don’t keep!”
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