-Elijahs Story-

I want to take the time to reflect upon the birth of my beautiful little son. He's already a week old, and I want to remember every last detail about his first days here with us. He is such an amazing gift. I'm in love now in a way I never thought I was capable of.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007... The day started with a nice long walk through the neighborhood with Mom around 7:00 AM. We were trying to beat the heat for the day-- which had been lingering around 98 degrees for the past week and a half. Then I got a call around 9:15 AM from the hospital letting me know they had an opening for induction that day at 10:45 AM if I wanted to come in. I told them I'd be right there, of course. My mom was home with me and Manny was working. Mom and I gathered up all the last minute items at home, and then I called Manny to tell him to meet us at the hospital. It was an anticipation I had never felt before. I could hardly believe the day had finally arrived. We talked about it and planned for it for so long, it seemed a little like a dream. Strangely, I wasn't nervous or even very excited like with butterflies in my stomach or anything. I was calmer than I would have expected and just kind of went with the flow. We even stopped for gas on our way to the hospital (which was $2.75 a gallon by the way).

We all arrived at the hospital and got checked in around 11:00 AM. They showed me to my room, where we were met by our first nurse, Dottie. She was wonderful... so kind and helpful. She started my I.V., hooked me up to a fetal monitor and contraction monitor, and got all the paperwork going. Then at noon, Dr. Carr came in and checked my progress. At that time I was 3 cm dilated, 75% effaced, and Elijah was at 0 station. She broke my water (which took an exceptionally long time and several tries, and was also quite painful). Dottie started some Pitosen in my I.V. at that time, but it took about a half hour to kick in. In the meantime I was sort of relaxed - strapped to the bed - but feeling pretty good. Mom and I laughed and laughed about the water leaking out. I felt like I was peeing all over myself but couldn't stop. What a funny feeling. We just hung out and watched Food Network on TV while we waited for the action to really start. And start it did!

About 12:30 PM the contractions started to get pretty intense. That's the thing with Pitosen, it brings on the labor fast and hard. No warming up or getting used to it. They just hit you like a truck. At first I tried to just breathe through them lying in the bed, but they were strong in my back so the nurse urged me to sit on the "birthing ball". It was kind of like an elongated exercise ball I could sit on and rock back and forth or bounce if I needed to. The bouncing helped me relax between contractions, but during them I couldn't even move, much less rock or do anything else. Manny held my hand and tried to comfort me, while my mom sat on a chair behind me and rubbed my back.

After 3 hours of drug-free labor, I decided it was time for the epidural. Once I asked Dottie for it, help was on the way within minutes. Oh, the man who gave it to me (Mike) quickly became my new best friend! Epidurals are fantastic. I highly recommend them. The hardest part of the entire labor and birth process was sitting still while he inserted the needle though. I had to lean over the bed onto Dottie's shoulder while arching my back out as hard as I could. It was so tough because my big belly got in the way. Not to mention the pain in my entire body. I had 3 really hard contractions while he was trying to administer it, but he said he was beyond the point of stopping so I just needed to hold as still as possible while he finished. Oh man, I thought every nerve in my body was on fire. Something about not moving a muscle when you're in pain is very difficult! He had to take it out and start over once because he stuck the wrong spot. I was so scared I was almost to the point of tears. But we got through it and as soon as he had me hooked up I was feeling the relief. It was kind of like ice water down my spine at first. Then my toes and feet felt numb, then my legs. I could still feel and move everything, but they were heavy.

My Dad and sister Ragon arrived from Evansville just shortly after the epidural kicked in so I was able to enjoy their company and chat a bit. Dottie urged me to get some rest while I had the chance, so I tried to catch a little nap. Libby also arrived soon after that, and we all just kind of hung out and relaxed and watched TV while we waited for the real "action" to start. Manny and I had a few minutes alone during this time and he sat beside me, held me, and prayed with me. What a comfort. He asked God to help with the labor and bring us a healthy beautiful baby with no complications. (And his prayers were answered! Praise the Lord.) It was also during this time that we finally decided on Elijah's middle name. Manny suggested Daniel after my Dad, and I agreed. So that was it. My Dad was proud, I could tell. :)

At around 3:00 PM my next nurse, Michelle came in and checked on my progress. At that time I was 7 cm dilated and 100% effaced. We were surprised at how quickly I had come in such a short time, which explains all the painful contractions. The next thing I knew it was 5:30 and she checked me again, at which time I was 9 cm dilated. The time was so quickly approaching!! She called over for Dr. Carr, who was delivering a baby in the room next door to me. A few minutes later the doctor came over to see if it might be time to push. She had me do a "practice" push - which was basically me coughing as hard as I could. She informed us she could see him emerging when I coughed, so it was time to get this show on the road. She called in the back-up, all kinds of carts and baby warmers, and equipment, and sent Ragon and Libby on their way outside the room.

And then... the big moment had finally arrived!! It was like the activity in the room was moving in slow-motion around me, but in fast forward at the same time. I was watching all the preparations, hearing the conversations, listening to the doctor, and following instructions. But I was in another world - like my own little bubble. I don't know if I truly registered half of what happened because there was so much emotion and adrenaline running through me.

I remember them dimming the lights and turning on spotlights behind the doctor. I remember my family members taking their places: Manny on my left side, Mom on my right, Dad at the head of the bed with video camera in hand, nurse Michelle on my right next to Mom, Dr. Carr at the foot of the bed on a stool, and another nurse all suited up walking around the at the foot of the bed. I remember listening to that other nurse more than anything. She had such a kind and encouraging voice. I never even saw her face because of the mask she was wearing. (I think she's the pediatric nurse.) I remember Dr. Carr giving me a catheter right before it was time to start and I didn't feel a thing - thankfully. I remember her saying it would be time to push on the next contraction and Mom giving me a hug and telling me it's time and she knew I can do it. I remember Manny holding my hand and smiling at me excitedly. I was so caught up in the moment I didn't take time to think about how I was feeling. I was nervous, but knew I was in capable hands. I was excited, but didn't know what to expect. I thought about what it would be like to see my baby for the first time after all these months of waiting and I prayed for strength.

And then at 6:18 PM, the next contraction came and Michelle coached me through the first push, counting to 10, taking a big breath, pushing again for 10 seconds, and so on. We did 3 pushes per contraction. 6 or 7 contractions later it was getting more difficult; I needed to use all my strength, but it didn't hurt thanks to the epidural. I was surprised at how easy it was a first. I guess I expected some huge ordeal where people scream and make a scene. But it was very serene in the room with the lights down and reassuring voices of my family and nurses around me. In between contractions we actually laughed and enjoyed the process. When he "crowned" the doctor asked me to reach my hand down and feel the top of his head. It was surprisingly slimy and soft (squishy) where I had expected it to be hard for some reason. Honestly it kind of felt gross to me, but it was amazing at the same time because reality hit me then-- there is a baby in there and he's coming out NOW. Dr. Carr has such a sense of humor! Everyone was so amazed at how much hair he had so she dried off the top of his head and twisted some of the hair up into a ponytail. I didn't see it, but everyone else laughed.

We got to the point where his head was about to emerge and Dr. Carr made the decision to do an episiotomy because he needed to come out quickly and I was going to have a tear. It apparently had taken much less time for me to push than expected and my skin didn't have time to stretch all the way. She said she made a small cut, which later only required 1 stitch. Then the next thing I knew his head was out! Dr. Carr sucked the liquid out of his mouth and nose while I waited.
Then, at 6:39 PM, on the very next push, there he came... Elijah Daniel Gutierrez. A slippery, wet, wrinkled, crying, little miracle!! I was shocked at first and was taken aback by my own feelings. I didn't cry for joy, as I expected I would. My first look at him was blurred by a rush of adrenaline and all I recall thinking is "Wow! That's MY baby. There he is at last. Oh my gosh, I did it!" I could hear Manny laughing beside me and my Mom crying on the other side. But I was in a daze. I saw the doctor help Manny cut the cord. I felt them lay him on my chest so I could hold him while he was cleaned off. His eyes were open and I looked into his wrinkled, smashed up little face and I honestly could not believe what had just happened. There really are no words to describe holding and seeing your own baby face to face for the first time. There he was, in my arms. I was astonished at how perfect he was... how tiny... how beautiful! And he is beautiful. His skin was a pretty pink color right away. His eyes were wide and he hardly cried at all. I later found out he scored 8 and 9 on his APGAR tests, which is very good! He weighed 7 pounds 6 ounces, measured 21 inches long, had a head circumference of 13.5 inches, and type O+ blood.
It took a little while for the excitement in the room to die down, but after all the clean up, stitching up, weighing, measuring, and dressing, I nursed him then Manny got to hold him. The look on his face the first time he held his son was priceless. He was grinning from ear to ear and giggling. I could tell he was so excited and proud. He sat down on the bed beside me, kissed me, and told me he's so proud of me. He said I'm his hero and thanked me for having such a beautiful baby. Manny is a wonderful husband and I'm sure he will be a great father too. Then Elijah was passed around to my Mom and Dad to hold. Mom swears Elijah smiled at her the first time she held him, and I believe her because I've seen him smile myself. He has the sweetest smile I've ever seen!

Around 8:30 PM, Mom and Dad left to pick us up some supper at Jimmy Johns (because the kitchen had closed before we had a chance to order food) and then go to my house for the night. Meanwhile Nurse Michelle gave Elijah his first bath and washed his hair. Manny was allowed to stay in the room with me on the fold-out couch. But neither of us did much sleeping. For one thing, we were too excited to sleep even though I was exhausted beyond words. Also, Elijah stayed in our room with us that first night and every time he made a peep we were checking on him. He really did very well. He hardly cried, but my body was so tired it was hard to stay awake to feed him every 2-3 hours. During the night Manny stood next to his little crib and watched him sleep. He kept telling me how amazing he is and how cute he looks. He was just in awe of the little baby we made and were so anxious to meet. When he cried a little, Manny rocked him in the recliner for hours and just stared at him while I got some rest. I have a new found appreciation and love for my husband, seeing how wonderful he is with his new little son. He is one excited and proud pappa. I love seeing him interact with Elijah. He gets the sweetest grin on his face when he holds or looks at him.

It was during that first night while I was up feeding and holding him that I began to realize how much in love I am with this tiny person. I was looking at his sweet face and I couldn't imagine loving something so intensely with all my heart. Then it occurred to me that he's already breaking my heart and he's only a few hours old. The thought of him growing up and not being this little, sweet, perfect bundle in my arms just made me so sad. Suddenly my world had changed and began to revolve around him. And he'll have no idea how much I love him, probably ever, until he has a son of his own. Now I finally understand a mother's love.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007... After a much needed breakfast and shower I was feeling much more like myself. Still sore and tired, but better. My family arrived back at the hospital bringing flowers, peppermint patties, Heath candy bars, mint Milanos, and a mango for my "happy Mother" gifts. Dad and Ragon had to head back to Evansville so they only got to visit for a few hours before leaving. I know it was so hard for Dad to leave. We spent the day trying to catch up on a little sleep, visiting with friends and family who came by, and trying to get settled into our new roles as parents.

Speaking of visitors; here's who came to see us... Uncle Scott, Haley, Libby, Jenn Bond with Emma and Ethan, Jonathan, Heather, Lauren and Elizabeth Badua, Laurie Able, Erin and Hudson MaGuire, our pastor Toby Risner and Megan, and my cousin Angela. It was actually really nice to have people visit because I had people to talk to and keep me company. Mom and Manny were there the whole time, of course.

Elijah was circumcised on Wednesday morning and the nurse said he didn't even make a peep. Sweet little guy. He is such a joy to all of us. We went home from the hospital Thursday evening around 7:00 P.M. Elijah was perfectly happy during his very first car ride. And that -- is the story of how we brought home our little perfect bundle of joy!

The following days were mostly filled with feeding Elijah around the clock and resting when I could. I was surprised at how worn out my body became after very little activity. Simply getting up to help my mom with dinner or the laundry was enough to make me need a nap. Saturday, August 11th we took him for his first Dr. appointment with Dr. Fisher. Everything checked out fine and we felt much better knowing he was eating enough and growing as he should.

I was so incredibly grateful to have Mom there to help me!! We did have time to play with Elijah, give him baths, and take a zillion pictures of him. I swear everything he does is cuter than the last! He smiles at us already, and I know at least once we heard him laugh. I really do love him with all my heart in a way I never thought possible. I love being a mom!