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  • Cindi Denbow

The Birth Story of Gariel Otso Alexander

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I had you! It feels like yesterday when I went into labor with you and saw you for the first time. I had been preparing for your arrival and hoping you would arrive while my mom was here all the way from Finland, from late July to mid-August. I was such a nutcase trying to get too many things done before your arrival and I should have just kicked back and relax. But I couldn’t resist the strong urge to nest!

I woke up on Friday, July 13th 2012, at 8 am. I had a regular day with nothing special going on, except for normal aches and pains when you are 37 weeks pregnant. I had seen my midwife Cindi earlier, the previous week, and we both agreed it would be no big deal for her to take a few days off and go for a trip. You were due on July 30th anyway, so she’d surely be back by then. But, my sweet boy, your plans were different and you decided to be born sooner! So, that Friday I went to bed before midnight. Your dad fell asleep soon, but I was awake since I had trouble sleeping. I was so tired but couldn’t fall asleep… and then, after 2 am, came the first, faint contraction. I went to the bathroom and some of the fluids leaked out. I knew I was in labor and Cindi wasn’t in Florida! I called her, of course, and she asked me to lie down and rest. I did and tried to sleep, but I kept having mild contractions every 10 minutes and spent the rest of the night waiting for the morning… when I broke the news to your dad.

Cindi and your wonderful birth assistant Michelle had been in touch and had prepared for me to go to Sacred Heart Hospital in Miramar Beach, since I couldn’t go to the birthing center where I was originally supposed to go. We got up at 7 am and I chilled out in bed, having contractions and skyping my friends and family in Finland, telling you would be born that day. My neighbor Deanne came to lie down with me in bed for a little while. I also had our dogs Roli and Jimmy hanging out with me in bed. I had been awake for 24 hrs, but I felt surprisingly well and calm. I had a shower and we had a good breakfast, before Michelle came to pick us up at 11 am.

I was contracting every 3 to 4 minutes on the way to the hospital and felt great. The contractions felt like strong period pains and I was able to talk and felt good. On arrival in Sacred Heart, the nurse checked me out and I was 6-7 cm dilated. Wow, I thought I’d be less than that since I felt totally fine. They inserted an iv, which hurt more than the contractions, and then I just rested in bed, chatting with Michelle your dad who was excited to see you but calm. He is a medic after all and seen births before, so of course he was calm! I’m sure that he was a tad nervous inside though, since it was YOU he was gonna see soon! I saw the delivering doctor, Dr. Esses, and she broke my fluids. I had just had a leak at night but now they came all out. I still felt great.

The wonderful nurse prepared me a hot bath, and I sat there for almost 2 hours. Michelle and Greg were there and it was all so peaceful and calm (and I occasionally secretly snacked on almonds, I wasn’t supposed to eat as I had a hospital birth but I broke some of their rules!) I was on a good mood and the contractions felt even easier, if possible, in warm water. I had a wireless monitor on, so the nurse was able to follow what was going on with you while I could enjoy the water. I still miss that hot, long bath! I haven’t had a more comfortable bath in my whole life, despite being in a hospital and having contractions which I sometimes hardly even felt. At some point I was grimaging a bit, when some contractions felt a bit stronger and Michelle told me not to tense my face as it would tense me elsewhere too. So, I started singing “I’m gonna eat sushi soon” (I had been craving for it forever and that was my planned after birth meal). We had brought a CD player with us and I grabbed 2 CDs with me from the car—a Buddhist meditation music (monks chanting) and a CD of a Finnish rock band CMX. While in tub, I had CMX playing and one of their songs, an acoustic, very beautiful song, made me tear up. I felt emotional and surreal… I would see you so soon!! I felt so great I asked Michelle if birthing was this easy, why do women say it’s so hard? Of course I was joking and I knew mine just happened to be unusually easy.

My sushi, as well as my dear Finnish friend Annina arrived soon, as I had asked her to come and attend my birth. She brought my sushi and we just joked and talked while I sat in the tub. We quoted lines from the movie “Borat” and I had the best time ever! At one point the nurse checked my dilation and she said I was fully dilated and effaced and should hurry up and get out of the tub. She looked a bit nervous, but I took my time drying my skin and applying some lotion. I never felt the transition phase—I felt just as good fully dilated as in the early labor. I walked to the bed and was told I can start to push. I had earlier thought about utilizing different positions, but at that point it felt easiest for me to lie on bed and I doubt they would had let me push squatting or kneeling anyway.

Dr. Esses had arrived at that point and I think we had the monks chanting in the background. There was a moment when everyone was waiting and looking at me; Annina and the doctor at my feet, Michelle on my left side and your dad on my right. I thought about my country Finland and how far away I was from your grandparents over in Finland, how much I missed them and how close I was seeing you, my sweet Gabriel. There was this moment when time seemed to freeze: It was all quiet and I teared up a little and explained my tears: “I can’t believe I will see Gabriel soon”. Your dad told me later that this moment choked him up and I think the others were a bit moved too. Then began the 35-minute pushing and it hurt. If nothing else in my labor hurt really much, this did. I saw your head in the mirror and it seemed impossible to push you out. Annina was taking pictures, Greg and Michelle were holding my legs and I felt desperate. Finally, on July 14th 2012, at 16:35, you were born and I had you in my arms! My labor from the first contraction till you were born was about 14 hours and most of it I labored at home. It felt almost surreal to hold you and me and your dad were so happy!

I nursed you for the first time, Michelle helping me to position you etc., and I didn’t let anyone bathe you. Dr. Esses declined a pediatrician entering the room, firmly telling him “the mother wants to bond with her baby!” when the pediatrician wanted to get your stats. Yes, I wanted to hold you, and apart from the nurse taking your weight (3050 g) and height (19,5”) after you had nursed, you were back into my arms. We were so happy starting to get to know you! I’m glad I remembered I wanted to have my placenta saved, so we did and Michelle made it into placenta pills later. Your dad and I were so in love with you and even though I had been awake straight for 30 long hours at that point, I was awake for another 10 hours—40 hours total! I was just admiring you, feeding you and we bathed you that evening.

I am grateful that despite I didn’t get to birth you in the birthing center, I still had a wonderful hospital birth and everything went well. I am grateful I got great prenatal care from a great midwife and having birth assistant Michelle, as well as my friend Annina there was precious. I would love to have a sibling for you, so we may have to fly to Japan so Michelle can be my birth assistant again!:) Now, my sweet Gabriel, you are almost 11 months old and you are the funniest person ever—giving us kisses, imitating sneezes, eating solids yourself like a champ and knowing how to pull my shirt up or down to get some mama milk. My Gabriel, aiti ja isi rakastaa sinua! (Gabriel, mom and dad love you!)

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