Simeon Osman Gutierrez is here! He was born Monday night around 9:15, weighing 7 lbs and is 19 inches long. His little cheeks are exactly like Jeremiah and Gabriella and bears a strong family resemblance.
Simeon didn’t come into this world the way we were expecting, but it was no surprise to God how he got here. When I look back on seeing that pregnancy test light up with a plus sign, I remember that even though I had no idea how hard his delivery would be, God had it all worked out, and had so since the dawn of time.
So, here’s the story. And because it’s a birth story, well, it’s about birth. Also, my feelings are mixed in there with the story, so…it’s long.
Just to be clear, we have a wonderful doctor and have been so happy with him during the pregnancy. He is cautious and sensitive but also confident. Aside from struggling to find the Rhogam shot for our blood types, the only complication I had during the pregnancy was that a few weeks ago it looked like I was beginning to go into labor too early so he put me on bed rest and had me get some steroid shots to amp up his lungs. I was taken off bed rest by week 37 and resumed normal activity.
We had gotten everything registered for a normal delivery, but one thing left to do was to deal with my rings. I hadn’t been able to take them off my chubby little hand since I was pregnant with Jeremiah, almost 4 years ago. I’d even lost weight before getting pregnant this time, but my finger had grown around them and they were stuck. The doctor explained that in the “unlikely event of a c-section” all jewelry has to be taken off because they use electricity in the OR and any metal could be dangerous. That was enough reason for us to find a jeweler who came over a week ago, cut my rings off and took them to be re sized.
All last week I had been feeling kind of quiet and just a little introverted. I kind of read that as a sign that maybe my body was preparing for birth, so when I went in on Monday, at almost 39 weeks and the doctor checked me, he was surprised to see I had progressed a lot from the last appointment (going from a 1 cm to a 3), but I wasn’t. He told me he predicted I’d be in that afternoon to have the baby. I walked and walked and finished some chores around the house and tried to calmly wait for those painful, hard to talk through contractions, but mostly just felt a lot of the intense pressure ones. Around 5:00, the doctor called to check how I was, and I told him I felt a lot of contractions, but nothing painful. He asked me to come in to his office in a few hours and he’d check me and then I’d probably be ready to be admitted to the hospital at that point.
I was really hesitant about going in to be checked. I just wanted my water to break on its own, or to just go in when the contractions were strong and consistent. But, on the other hand, what if I was in labor, and who wants to go through bad contractions while navigating Bogota rush hour traffic, and then we didn’t want the kids to see us panicking as we raced out the door, and it just seemed like a good decision to go in and have him check me, fully prepared to be admitted to the hospital, and possibly to have him break my water.
On the way to the office, I was starting to have painful contractions, almost 2 minutes apart, so when he checked me and saw that I was at 5 cm, my doctor sent me to the hospital. I had been nervous that one of the private rooms wouldn’t be available when I finally needed to go in and I’d be laboring next to screaming women, so when one was ready and waiting for me, and so was the doctor, I was so relieved. This was going to be a great birth!
They got me admitted and checked in, and the doctor proceed to break my water. There was a huge gush, and then his face changed. And then the baby’s heart rate started to go down, and then his hand was all the way up inside me and it was the most pain I had ever felt. in. my. life. I quickly realized something was wrong, especially as he was calling the nurses to give me oxygen, and asking who was available to come help. I wondered how long he needed to be up in there, and at times wondered if the baby had actually come out. At one point, he explained that the umbilical cord had fallen out, or prolapsed, when my water broke and the baby’s head was crushing it, restricting the oxygen and blood flow to the baby. I was not surprised when he said I was going to need a c-section, and in that moment was relieved, and shocked at how quickly this delivery was going to be over.
As soon as someone else was in there to take over for him, he raced out to prepare for surgery, and they started wheeling me in the elevator. I realized that my body was barely covered at this point, but I didn’t care. Nathaniel said good-bye and told me it was all going to be find, and at least I didn’t have to push now, and to stay strong for the baby and our kids and him. When they got me to the OR, the anesthesiologist was waiting and started to give me an epidural. Between him poking around in my spine repeatedly, a random woman with her hand up me holding the baby’s head, and the fear of everything going on, and realizing I was now completely uncovered in a room full of 20 or so people, that moment is an extremely painful blur. I saw someone standing by my bed, and looked up to see those amazing blue eyes I love and felt an instant sense of calm that Nathaniel was there with me. Finally, the anesthesiologist gave up trying to give me an epidural, and even though I had just eaten a half hour before, they started to prepare me for surgery. I said, “are they putting me under general?” and the anesthesiologist in a thick accent said, “yes. General.” and waved his hand at me and said, “chao.” I must have looked scared because a sweet girl with soft eyes came over and started stroking my hair and in Spanish telling me that everything was going to be fine and that they do this all of the time. I barely remember closing my eyes.
I woke up and first thing said, “como esta el bebe?” (“How is the baby?”) I was then surprised that not only did I remember what had happened, but that I knew to ask in Spanish, and that I remembered what words to say to ask. They told me he was “bien!” (g00d) and I drifted back to sleep.
I was expecting after waiting for 9 months to find out what gender the baby was, to have this amazing moment in the delivery room where after laboring and pushing and finally producing a baby, the doctor could shout, “It’s a….!” and we’d all rejoice together. Instead, through half consciousness, as they wheeled me into recovery, the doctor leaned over and gently said, “It’s a boy.” I remember smiling and falling back asleep again.
In recovery, the nurse brought him in and I woke up enough to kiss his cheeks and see that they had wrapped him in the blanket I had brought with me. I was amazed at how soft he felt. I wondered if they were going to have me hold him, but was relieved when she took him away because I knew I was in no condition to hold a baby. The more I woke up, the more I groaned in pain, and couldn’t believe how much my stomach hurt but also my throat, which I assumed was from the breathing tubes. I was so thirsty too, but knew that any food or drink could come right back up. Another nurse brought him in again to say hello, and she excitedly told me that he had taken formula well. This was turning out to be the least natural delivery possible.
As I lay there in recovery, my thoughts were that I was so thankful that he was okay, and that I hadn’t woken up in heaven. I was thankful, so thankful, but a little disappointed. I let myself think all of those thoughts that I had missed the birth, the first cry, the feeling of him coming out of me, the first bath and that the nurses had picked out his first outfit (which, by the way, was partially pink). I didn’t get to nurse him, I still hadn’t seen his face, and I was still stuck in a room unable to be with him. I was in a lot of pain and wondered how long that would last and even thought that he was probably our last baby. I was disappointed.
A couple of times in the past I had joked how nice it would be if someone could just knock me out and hand me the baby afterwards. After having gone through that, I’m not sure it would be my first choice in delivering for the next time, but I’m actually glad that I got to experience that, and that everything that happened leading up to that moment was so perfectly orchestrated and planned so that it happened the way it did – Even down to my rings being re sized before hand. How much time would have been wasted trying to get those off in the delivery room? What if my water had broken at home and the cord prolapsed there? I don’t think we’d have a little baby right now. What if the doctor hadn’t had me come in that afternoon? There are so many what if’s, but thankfully only one story and it ended with our sweet Simeon in our arms alive and well. I allowed myself to be disappointed at first about his birth story, but really, how can you be disappointed at something that brought your baby into this world? It wasn’t my earthly perfect, but it was perfect because God wrote it the way he did, and I’m so thankful that he wrote it with such a happy ending. I also know he didn’t have to do that, but he did.
We are home now and settling in to our family of five. Gabriella is thrilled to have a baby in the house and we are navigating the recovery stage, and happily surprised every time we look over and see a bundle in the swing, or hear a tiny cry ready for food. This is the time that I love – those first few days at home when there is an excited calm, little bundles of tiny diapers around the house waiting for someone to throw them away and random pacifiers scattered for convenient use. TV trays and blankets and random nursing pillows and all those little reminders that our lives are never going to be the same again, and our home is from here on out more full of life and tiny people who God allowed us to make and bring into our family.