Continuing Gianna's birth story...
Click here to read Part 1.
Reed and I walked the halls. I grasped firmly to his hand and the strategically placed, sturdy railing along the walls. I found myself grateful that our hospital had just opened up a new labor and delivery wing last fall just for me. Well, not really, but it made walking around and around that section much more interesting since it was new territory for me to labor in. It kept my mind off of the increasing contractions and their strength. I'm not sure how long we walked. I think maybe an hour or so.
Arriving back in my room to get blood pressure checked, etc. I decided that the back labor had increased in intensity and walking wasn't what I wanted to be doing any longer. The huge tub was not appealing either and I opted for laying in bed. I knew I had time to go yet, but also knew I was fairly far along too. Back labor tends to be my worst enemy during labor and delivery. It's strength is usually far surpassing the rest of what is going on at that time. Reed knows that when I'm laboring I will ask for what I need from him and I knew that the low back rubbing wasn't going to cut it.
Contractions became closer and intense and I remember getting almost to the edge of feeling like it's just too overwhelming. I pull myself back and take relaxing breaths, it's all a part of bringing this precious little one into the world. I can do this. At some point I begin silently praying in my mind. I try a Hail Mary with each contraction as I am breathing thru it, but even the Hail Mary is too long and my focus isn't there. Instead, I tried another prayer. 'For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world' from the Divine Mercy chaplet. It worked. Its length and the focus were just about right and helped me remain in control throughout the contraction. I'm not sure how many chaplets I prayed over the next two hours, but it was a helpful and meaningful distraction for me and got me through.
At some point the nausea overtook me and I finally threw up. While I've had nausea with each of my children's births, I've done all I could to keep things down. I just couldn't do it this time. It was disgusting to go through the remainder of my labor with that nasty taste, no matter how much water I drank. Yuck.
Time went on and I think Dr. K checked me again more than once. I was near 10cm dilated, but not fully thinned out yet and that's what we were waiting for. Periodically baby's heart rate was monitored and everything sounded fine. Dr. K and the nurse kept vigil and waited. The nurse asked if I felt like pushing, but I knew I didn't. Not yet. The urgency wasn't there. With the passing of time and the intense pain, I began to wonder what on earth possessed us to want to go through this again? But with each of those thoughts, the excitement of seeing this baby's face would soon overcome it all. For this child we prayed, we hoped, we had waited and in mere minutes I would hold this child. The baby blessing long awaited.
I continued to try and keep focused through the labor. My eyes were closed, my breathing regular. All was ready and I told the nurse I'd give pushing a try. I had forgotten how the feeling of pushing felt and it hurt. I wasn't really sure I wanted to do all this work any more. But then I would hear the little ones heartbeat through the monitor and I was reminded of the reward. Some contractions were good and strong and others were only meager and hardly worth the effort of pushing. I would occasionally open my eyes and see my doctor patiently waiting. He knew I could do this and I'd let him know when I needed him most. But still, I noticed how he was still far away. Standing over there and not over here by the bed. Not good. It meant that I'd be pushing for a while longer.
I eventually started to feel more urgency in the pushing and contractions were closer together. I was doing a good job pushing, Reed, Dr. K and the nurse told me so and I could feel more pressure as birth was imminent. I saw another nurse enter the room and begin to make ready the area for baby. Dr. K was gowned and moved closer to my bed. It was near now. Every sign in my room said so. What eager anticipation filled me and yet fear of just making it through this. I knew I could because I'd done it before.
At some point during pushing, the nurse began giving me oxygen in between contractions since the baby's heartbeat was dropping during contractions. I remember her saying that she was going to hold the oxygen mask on me to help baby. It didn't scare me, thankfully. I'm not sure how many more pushes it took. I stayed focused with my eyes closed and worked through each contraction. Finally, baby arrived. I'm not even sure if just the head was out or the entire body, but I remember hearing my doctor counting '1...2...3...' I wasn't sure what he was counting and didn't look. At some point Reed said 'It's a girl' and I looked at my baby. Our precious baby. She was placed in my arms momentarily and I was overcome with emotion and such great love for this new life as I felt the watchful eyes of my doctor and the nurse close to us.
I then watched as my girl was taken to the other side of the room to be checked over and Reed followed. I knew he would since we had discussed it prior to birth. He had felt awful with the past births when our little ones were whisked away to the other side of the room with faces and voices that were not their parents. I wanted him to be with baby. I was being taken care of. I noticed that Dr. K was tending to me, but also looking over toward the baby. He was talking with the nurse and she was letting him know vitals. Baby was crying and had wonderful color. I don't know when I was told, but at some point in the midst of all of that I found out that what he had been counting earlier was the cord wrapped around my little girl's neck. Three times.
At the time I could see and hear that everything was fine. It was later that day that we began to think about that moment more and wonder how awful things could have become. Upon asking Dr. K later, he admitted that it could have turned out very differently. He had never delivered a baby with the cord around their neck three times, nor had delivered one with such a long cord in general. He said that it was at least 3 ft. long and baby must have been skipping rope in my belly!!
In yet another moment of grace and thankfulness, I praised God for our doctor. IF something had gone any differently or changed even in the slightest during labor and delivery, he was who I would want there by our sides caring for us. Reed and I have agreed on this numerous times.
Within minutes, my baby girl was back in my arms all snuggled up in her blanket. I cannot explain how surreal things felt in that moment. It was as if an unexplained infertility diagnosis had never happened. As if our family was always a family of five. As if my heart had never ached, had never had to hold on to hope more than my very breath. All of my fears were erased. God had seen us through four long years of waiting and nine months of preparing for this moment. My fears diminished as I beheld her in her perfection.
After our scare at sixteen weeks and the month of bedrest, everything had pretty much been 'textbook' throughout the rest of the pregnancy and all the way through delivery. There had been so many prayers prayed and in that moment I felt each of them and knew they had been answered.
We treasured those first moments with our baby perhaps more than we even had before. We still debated on the name, since we had come to the hospital with two names for each gender. It became clear though that this little girl had been watched over and protected for so long by a very special woman. It was because of our encounter with this woman almost two years ago that she was even here at all. Yes, this girl was OUR Gianna, our miracle. We also could not deny the numerous times that roses were sent in various ways through the intercession of St. Therese throughout this pregnancy. Rose.
Gianna Rose, born at 5:49am on February 17, 2011.
Our child. Our Baby Blessing.