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!”
My birth story..
Midwives,Chromosomes & Magic..Oh my.
I knew someday I wanted a homebirth . When I called the midwife I had been stalking via Internet watching her business grow I expected alot of no's and to be turned away.Still I was hopeful she'd take me on as a client. I knew Homebirth was the only way I could do this.This was my fourth pregnancy and to say the last two were rough is an understatement.I wasn't ready to do this so soon,I just had a baby 10 months prior.As I dialed the phone I prayed,please help me thru this. I got her voice mail and left my message,my hope dwindled.She called me right back and I started to rattle off my issues..I'm old,so what she said..I have a history of gestational diabetes with both previous pregnancies,so what she said in the kindest voice.We made an appointment.
When I walked into her office with my mental list of questions to grill her with,it all went out the window.We just started chatting,she put me me at ease.i liked her from the start,we laughed.There was a great vibe swirling about.I was on such a high when I left,excitement abounded.I couldn't wait to tell my husband how great she was.I never wanted anything more than to have this Homebirth.Was I scared,yes but I knew if she helped me I could do it.Do you is what I said to her,I'll do the rest.And with that she was my midwife.
I had walked in there broken,my last pregnancies were so hard.I still had a touch of post partum depression.I had felt like such a failure.My last OB's were fine,just not easy to deal with.They left me doubting myself and with no confidence as a woman to birth a child naturally or even have an easy 9 months of growing this baby.
With each visit Sizzly became my friend,she listened to my fears,she cried with me.At one point I thought are you supposed to like her this much,yes..yes you are.She became to my friend,my biggest cheerleader,she helped me gain my confidence back as a woman.I needed that most.I know women birth babies everyday with no medical intervention or pain meds..I had 3 previous hospital births with all the bells and whistles.I liked the whistles,but did I really need them?I wasn't sure,I had relied on pain medication.I quite liked it.But it didn't make the birth an easier or less painful.I just knew I could do this,I didn't want to go in and laydown on a bed and have my birth happen TO me.I wanted to feel empowered,present and peaceful.This was my only thought and goal for 9 months, I psyched myself up..Got my head in the game.Many people I encountered would look at me like I was nuts,even family.But I brushed it off and never wavered in my plan.
I grew more confident and ready each time I spoke with Sizzly,all of our visits were filled with laughter and positivity.I needed this.To say she was a kind soul wouldn't do her justice,she was amazing.Which in turn made my pregnancy wonderful.When we first met I told her I did t need hand holding,I wanted a very hands off type of care.In reality she held my hand the whole way,watching over me carefully.I had the most easy,natural,amazing pregnancy.It was crazy to not gain 50 pounds,not have gestational diabetes,to feel so great.I took tons of pictures,which I never do.I was on top of world.We built a bond of trust and friendship which I think is so important. I never for a second let fear creep in.I knew I could do this,I knew she'd be by my side.
On Sunday I was 39 weeks pregnant and over it.Sizzly had been over days before and swept my membranes in hopes it would help me progress.Nothing.I was ready tho.So I did what everyone says not too,I took the castor oil.I did text Sizzly to ask if she had plans for that day, thought I'd at least be polite about it.She gave me the ok and at noon I took 2 ozs and waited..
Nothing spectacular happened so 2 hours later I laid down for a nap.When I woke up still nothing.I was worried because I had never really felt contractions,would I know when it's happening?
I cooked dinner around 5 pm texting a friend that castor oil was worthless and I was leaving the rest in the bottle becuase nothing was happening.Right after that I was cleaning the kitchen walking thru the dining room when a contraction stopped me dead in my tracks.I tried to call out for someone but had to breath through..YES this is it!Wanting to be sure I finished cleaning and told everyone in the house this could be it..Clean up the house we may have company lol As they scattered frantically cleaning asking me a million times "is this it?" I took to the bathroom to flat iron my hair and timing contractions,I stood there doing my hair swaying through the contractions.Wasn't bad at all,I kept telling myself your gonna be fine.. I started to feel calm and excitement wash over me,I was almost giddy.But I surely was not going to give birth looking a hot mess lol
They were getting closer together picking up a rhythm and getting more intense.I called Sizzly to update her and she instinctively knew by my breathy answer that it was time " I'm on my way" she told me.I had everything prepared for weeks and gathered everything,swaying and laughing with nervous family while I waited.I expected this was going to take forever,that was not the case.
By the time Sizzly got her like a flash of lightening I was definitely in the thick of labor,but it wasn't like I expected at all.It was more a rush of sensation flooding over me every few minutes. For some reason I thought it would be cramping,screaming pain.notably amazing knowing with each rush my baby was getting closer to arriving.
She checked me right away, my water had broken!This made me clap with joy,I hadn't even known and was at a good 6cm. Dialated.
We carried on with our usual jokes stopping every so often to breathe & sway through the contractions.This was really easy I thought,there's got to be more pain right?
About this time Doula the other midwife swept in like a breath of fresh air.We had only met briefly once before but here she was in my home.She jumped right in putting much welcomed pressure on my hips as each contraction grew and I found a comfortable place to work thru them.As I swayed Sizzly readied everything,Doula never left me but seemed to fade into each contraction with me.We swayed together and chatted jokingly in between.Thats when transition started sending me to my knees,that hurt.But I knew as they got stronger it wouldn't be much longer,I was in the zone.Things got fuzzy,I don't remember time frames or who was where. I just knew it was time to move to the tub.
Dan was nervously taping,herding small children and trying to be supportive.He hates seeing me in pain wanting to help but his job was to be a cheerleader and not miss a shot.I wanted to document this birth so badly.My last birth video was hard for me to watch to this day,but I have it.I wanted to capture magic this time..To say we did is an uderstatement.
As I got into my magnificent huge tub I felt the pain ease away.I had a ring tube I stole from my kids to hug as I sat waiting for something to happen. We chatted while I found a comfortable spot,which quickly changed to me on my hands & knees slip sliding around.Note to self:don't let your kids take a bubble bath before giving birth in the tub,it makes for bad traction.I requested a towel to kneel on.Sizzly jumped in the tub with me encouraging me to do as I felt,if I needed to push go for it.Doula started helping me breath and reminding me to keep my eyes open. I couldn't really focus on anything around me but I knew my 5 year old was close by.I wanted to stay calm for her sake so she didn't get scared.Dad hovered in the doorway with the video camera.
I kept thinking I'm pushing but the baby seems so far away,I can't do this.I stopped for a second sat up and asked for the room to be cleared,meaning get the kids out. I felt like I needed to get out of the tub,like I was going to run from the pain.Where was I going? I have no clue lol but within seconds I knew I wasn't moving an inch.
My daughter was right there hovering over me telling me how great I was doing,this child would not be moved away from me.Not scared of a thing going on anxiously waiting to be the first to hold that baby.No matter how much we tried she was there to stay.This is why I love her..
As I held her hand squeezing it I could hear Doula in my ear telling me to open my eyes as I pushed.Sizzly was telling me I was right there,one more push..just as I lost my breath and Doula told me to breath I could feel the baby starting to crown,this was it I'm almost done!I remembered reading something that said as soon as you reach the point you can't take anymore,take a breath because your done birth is right around the corner and it was so true.As I let out that scream Sizzly told me to catch my baby.I was so tired,my extremities were like jelly "where where" is all I could get out.And there he was,my boy in my arms.I did it,we did it.I started to cry & kiss him.I thanked everyone in the room,even Doula for letting me bite her arm lol The whole process took 3 hours.
I cuddled him but could tell something was different,his texture was different.He felt almost floppy,I found his chubby little face and looking deeply at him I just knew.I didn't panic because I knew I was being taped and my 5 year old was still glued to the edge of the tub clapping excitedly asking to hold him.I reached for Sizzly pulling her close to me whispering "I think he has Down Syndrome, look at his face" Beyond the biggest chubby cheeks I had ever seen,there it was Down Syndrome.Sweet almond shaped eyes looking at me.He was beautiful and perfect,my son.My husband pushed past the 5 year old still begging to hold the perfect pink baby to cut the cord.
We moved to the toilet briefly as my placenta came right out.This made had my midwives giggle with excitement as they explored it's beauty.I didn't get it but they said it was awesome and huge lol We had plans for it to be made into a tincture,which I loved the thought of.
As we talked about how amazing it was that I just gave birth in my tub,my thoughts never left the beautiful surprise that I just gave birth too.Nobody else knew but Sizzly & I.We moved to the bed ushering everyone out of my bedroom,Sizzly went to work massaging me reassuring me everything was ok.I was flooded with emotions of joy and excitement but was worried for his health.Was he ok?Sizzly started looking over this peaceful being so quiet and the cheeks,I couldn't get over how huge they were.He was so gorgeous.She inspected him intently listening to his heart,she said no murmur which set my mind at ease.We then weighed him,he was huge 9 pounds 6 ozs. My biggest baby!
As Sizzly and Doula went to work cleaning up I started babbling,not sure of it was the flood of chemicals that take over after you give birth but it hit me like a ton of bricks and I started to put it all together,the tears came but it was peaceful I wasn't afraid. It's just Down Syndrome,it's ok.What's an extra chromosome?
I knew immediately everything would be ok.I gave him a perfect pregnancy, an amazing magical birth at home surrounded by love & family.No whisking away by doctors,no scary words,not separated from me.There he was this magical being laying on my bare chest hearing my heart,feeling the love I had for him.Everyone's first question is did I know before I had him,no I did not.We previously had a false positive with my older son and was very much against testing again with this pregnancy.It was one of the first things Sizzly and I spoke about,she was very much on my side.My thoughts were so what,it wouldn't change a thing.I'm thankful I didn't test,I didn't have months of worry or stress putting all of that into my child.It happened this way for a reason,it was fate.At some point in time the Universe heard me say outloud it was ok in earnest and picked me to be his Mother.I had no expectations of the soul sent to me,so there was no disappointment or grief as I never planned a trip to Holland or Italy.I planned to be a Mother..I only knew I loved this child more than anything in the world,he was mine..My sweet Nico.
I told Sizzly this as we talked and we cried,I told her everything was ok. I thanked her for taking such good care of me,that she made all this possible.I was able to do this my way with her help and love.I was overjoyed at the miracle that just took place I wouldn't change it for the world.I mean I just gave birth in my tub!How amazing is that!
When Dan came in he laid across the bed to kiss me and our beautiful baby boy,I got to tell him about Nico.I saw the worry and confusion wash over him I reassured him he was ok,everything would be ok.With that I knew we could get through anything,he's my rock & the love of my life.Theres nothing we can't do together.
As we passed the baby around I searched for away to tell my other children,but couldn't find the words and for now that was ok.The ladies cleaned me up and we toasted champagne to his wonderful birth.
After everyone left I laid down with my son looking into his perfect face..Don't be afraid we can do this I whispered to him.I love you and will always fight for you,I'm right here I whispered to him.As we fell asleep I continued to whisper all the dreams I had for him telling him how much I loved him.I let the tears come but I knew in my heart everything would be ok.Everyone tells me how lucky he is to have me as his Mother,but I think they are wrong..I'm lucky to have him as my son..my dearest Nico,a child has never been held so closely to my heart or loved more than you my son.
To my husband thankyou for always being right by my side..You make all things possible and I couldn't be more grateful to have you as the Father of my beautiful children.
To Sizzly you are an angel sent to give me strength & love,I can never thankyou enough for all that you do.You will always be held so closely to my heart,I wish you much success in all that you do.You truly are a blessing to mothers and will someday know how special you are.
To Doula I wish you all the love in the world and thankyou for letting me bite you.you were so wonderful to me.More women should support & uplift each other as you do did for me at my birth.
To my son Nico you are perfect the way you are,I will always be by your side my love.I look forward to this journey through life together.
Love Mama ♥