Meet Rocco Samuel.Already proving he has got his own rhythm on life, he arrived 8 days early, on a hot summer night, July 26th. I now have three sons, and a wildflower. Wait, what?! It’s all quite surreal, and just like the birth stories I have tried to share before, there are no adequate words to be found to describe what meeting your child for the first time is really like. Here is just a summary of one of the best days of my life…
Before it all started…
All three of my children before Rocco were born on their due dates, so I wasn’t expecting much different this time around. It wasn’t until I arrived to Friday night after a long hot week here in Atlanta, I started to think this babe might be a different story. I was a few days short of 39 weeks, and I was beginning to have very strong braxton hicks contractions anytime I attempted beyond a snails pace level of activity. Legs occasionally going numb also might have been a clue? I started to frantically organize my house as would be the bazaar and accurate thing to do when you sense a baby about to arrive. (Someone should really figure out how to bottle that mysterious nesting energy that gives you all kinds of motivation to complete avoidable tasks.) I wrote out directions for my sister who would be caring for our little ones, packed the last details of my hospital bag, went to the store and stocked up on food, tied up some last minute projects, and began to pray for strength to overcome some of the anxiety I was battling. To be honest, barely making it to the hospital and having a fast natural birth with Max made it hard to feel calm about everything. I had an appointment scheduled with my midwife for Monday that we had planned a month prior to see if we could catch pre-labor signs before my due date. I knew that would be my reassurance of timing and when to prepare. However, as I am always quick to forget, God had other plans, and they were much better than my own. My gut instinct was I wouldn’t quite make it to Monday. I really wanted my midwife to deliver this baby since she delivered my first son as well. I was driving 45 minutes just to see her throughout the pregnancy, but we knew though that with my history of fast labors I had to be open minded with no real birth plan but to make it to the hospital on time.
Here he comes…
After a long brunch with family on Sunday and a calm afternoon, I began to think this baby was just fooling me all along, and I would just have to put up with braxton hicks contractions another week. We were all packing up to head out the door to a friend’s going away party when I had my first contraction. I immediately downloaded the full term app and started timing. (Because surely I wouldn’t be able to time them on my own as I had done for the last three!) I half second guessed myself. Was it really a contraction? You think you would know the 4th time around. After just a few they were getting a little stronger. Gabe looked at me and knew it was time. He went into mission mode and started loading the car in between phone calls. Behind teary eyes I took each of my children and held them and kissed them one more time before a new chapter would begin. My contractions were already 5 min. apart and I begin to panic that I wouldn’t make it up to my midwife. When I called her we both agreed it was best to head straight to the nearest hospital….
Fast forward to the delivery room ten minutes later, I made sure the nurses and doctors knew my body doesn’t know how to pace itself very well, and they very well could be catching a baby with a baseball glove momentarily. Luckily this time around, there was more of a steady pace of progression that actually gave us enough time to get me gowned and tubed up before things got really painful. Ladies who have given birth…. it’s that 5-6 cm mark that really does it right?? I needed Gabe’s hand on one side, and my rosary in the other. I felt God near. I knew He was in that room, as with the birth of every new life that He creates. I felt the world pause as I was about to take part in one of the greatest gifts given to a woman…the ability to be a vessel of new life.
I held my breath as the doctor asked me to stop pushing. I had only pushed once and the baby was flying out. The cord was wrapped around his neck, and he needed to cut it quick. I was given the go ahead to give my last push. He was out in a flash, and they stole him away to the other side of the room.With my heart racing and begging God to hear that first cry, I waited in anticipation. There was a minor complication they were looking into, and so my heart felt like it was inside of my throat. It wasn’t until I heard that first little wail that my entire body breathed again. I looked at Gabe through teary eyes in a moment of complete gratitude. We had a son, and he had a healthy pair of lungs!
Gabe got to gaze at him first as they made sure he was okay. We kept shouting at each other across the room…He has dark hair! Does he have the signature family birthmark? He has a whole new look! When they finally brought him over to me, a dam of tears broke inside, and I wept uncontrollably as I got to feel my baby’s skin for the first time against mine. He was the smallest of all of my babies so far, and his tiny body felt immediately like he was always meant to be. Psalm 139 came rushing into my mind…
You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.
…Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.
I am thankful for this indescribable joy just as much as I am thankful for the pains and aches that paved the way for this reality. It has been a blissful few days of complete exhaustion, and baby snuggling, and lots of feeding and diaper changing and a little noisy chaos in between. Gabe is taking care of our other three little ones as we adjust to life with four. I can’t even describe how much Gabriel and Veronica love their little brother already. They won’t leave his side. Max is somewhat clueless, although we have high hopes for their future bond;) Gabe chose the name Rocco after a catholic saint who spent his life in the service of the poor and sick. We always like to choose names that are role models for our children to turn to as they grow:)
Thank you to each of you who have shared your congratulations, and love. We are so grateful for you!
A little video Gabe and my sister took when the little ones met Rocco for the first time:) Song by Coldplay.
*We didn’t know the gender of the baby so we had two names picked out. Swell Forever so kindly sent the keepsake blanket a few weeks before he was born. You should check out their company and support of adoption and loss!
Rocco’s little bonnet is from Flora and Henri, and striped blanket I found from Little Unicorn.