Miss Gemma: A Birth Story

Well, our little miss Gemma is now about 2.5 weeks old and life is more tired, magical, and meaningful than I could have ever anticipated. Our little girl coming into our family is such a wonderful blessing.

It was Thursday, Dec. 3rd around 7 pm at Walmart, when I started to think Gemma might be coming soon. Her due date was Dec. 12th and so when I started feeling a contraction in my back, I got excited, but not too excited. I didn’t think I would actually have her early, but the back contractions felt different.

I told Sam that these contractions were different and that things might be progressing. He had me time them. The contractions kept up for about 30 minutes, but were completely irregular, even though they were stronger than any contraction I had experienced this pregnancy. It wasn’t the real deal.

We got home, put Parker to bed, and had just got settled into bed ourselves, when my first definite contraction hit. It was 11:20pm. It was really strong and I remember feeling and thinking… wow. If this isn’t real, then, that was the biggest Braxton Hicks contraction of my life. In my gut, I knew it was real. But knowing that I had false contractions at Walmart, made me hesitant to say this was the real deal.

5 minutes later. Boom. another strong one, lasting about 1 minute. Then the next contraction happened about 3 minutes after, then 2 minutes. By this point, I was trying to orient myself and start to get ready to go to the hospital. We had already texted Sam’s parents to get them to come stay with Parker.

The next half hour was comical and painful all rolled into one. I was pacing back and forth, trying to get ready for the hospital, while Sam was calling family to get things arranged. He ended up getting me ready too, because I couldn’t think straight at ALL. Good thing I had already packed my hospital bag. My contractions were getting steadily stronger though and coming every 2 minutes. We ended up having a friend in our neighborhood run over to stay with Parker, because we couldn’t wait for family any longer. I felt a big urgency to get to the hospital.

We got to the hospital around 12:05 on Dec. 4th. They got me checked into a room and started asking me this long list of questions about my medical history, the medications I take, etc… all while I’m having contractions every 2 minutes. Finally I stopped the nurse and was like, “I’m having strong contractions every 2 minutes or so, can we speed things up?”

Then she checked me. She checked me, extremely fast {I often feel like she checked me too quickly}, while I was having a contraction. Then said “you’re a 4.”

That was the most disappointing news and so critical in what happened during labor.

Before going into labor, I had decided I wanted to try going naturally. With Parker I had gotten to the hospital at a 5, and so hearing that I was a 4, while having very strong contractions was super discouraging. I was already tired and I just didn’t know if I had it in me to go naturally.

15 ish minutes later, Enter my Midwife. I told her I was having really strong contractions, but that I was really discouraged. I asked her to check me again. She said, “they just checked you. I don’t think you’ve changed much in the last 10 minutes.” Logically, I agreed with her. How could I have changed so much? In my gut, I felt differently though.

When she said she wasn’t going to check me, I decided I would get an epidural. The pain was just so much, and I had been told I was at a 4. I thought I would die, if I went all the way.

So they officially admitted me, got me in a labor & delivery room, hooked me up to everything, and ordered the epidural. Throughout all of this, I’m having painful contractions, but I’m trying to shrug it off. I’m only a 4! I can pull myself together and do this, Marla! Then they start to give me the epidural. I distinctly remember them starting to put the needle in as I started having a contraction. I told them, “I’m having a contraction!” They said, “Try to sit still!” And so I tried. But at that point, I was shaking and trying my absolute hardest to stay still. It was one of the hardest things I have done by myself to sit so still and be in so much pain.

I laid down after the epidural and started to feel it work, but at the same time, I still felt the contractions. After trying to turn me to make the epidural spread, and still feeling the contractions, my doctor said she would check me.

She checked me and then got a surprised, but business-like look on her face. She told the nurse “I feel a bulgy bag and a lip.” Then she looked at me and said “We’re gonna have a birthday party!” I was so tired at this point, that this completely confused me. I said “What?” Then she repeated what she had just said. I still didn’t understand, so I said “What am I dilated to?”

You’re a 9 1/2. 

A 9 1/2??? I had just had my epidural minutes ago. I had just convinced myself that I was at a 4, and that I had a couple hours to sleep while I slowly dilated.

Not so. She immediately called everyone in and got the room ready.

13 minutes later. Gemma was in my arms.

Gemma Jean Gale

1:58am. 8 lbs 2oz. 19.5 in long. 
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What a whirlwind. I remember that was the phrase of the night between Sam and I. It had been about 2 1/2 hours since my first contraction and now we were holding our new baby girl. I could hardly wrap my mind around it. With Parker I had hours of time to think about him coming and preparing myself that he would be there. With her, we were given quite the surprise.

I remember the relief I felt wash over me when my midwife told me I was at a 9 1/2. Everything all of a sudden made sense. The intense pain I had been feeling was actually intense pain! I wasn’t at a 4, I was practically complete. I didn’t feel so silly, like I had before. I felt like the nurses thought I was silly. There I was breathing heavily, shaking, and having such a hard time, when everyone thought I was at a 4. To hear that I was going through transition while they were trying to give me an epidural and sit still, made me feel so much better. I was hurting like crazy… and for good reason! It all made so much more sense and I felt stronger, knowing I had done more than I realized.

During the whole process, I was so grateful for Sam. While I felt like everyone else thought I was a wimp, I could see in Sam’s eyes, that he new I was more progressed than I was. He told me early on that he thought if I was progressing quickly that the contractions could be really intense. He made me feel like I was strong, even when I felt weak. He was there for me the entire time, helping with pressure points. During the labor, I felt more than ever that we were a team. He was helping me get through the pain. We were connected and I felt his support so strong. He was the only one I wanted by my side and I felt stronger whenever he was right next to me.

Now, 2 weeks later, we are still so thrilled. She is growing well and we are adjusting and trying to get some sleep. It is special to be with an infant that is so new and so pure. And it was amazing to experience, again, the moment of welcoming a new child into the world.

We love you, Gemma, and are so grateful you are in our family.

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