I had forgotten what it feels like when the nurse places the baby in your arms for the first time. I had forgotten that even though it's the first time you are meeting him, it also feels as though you've known him forever. I had forgotten that any doubt you ever had about loving your baby will be swept away with your baby's first gulp of air.
It's true, just how much I had forgotten since giving birth to Elise. But things quickly came back to me last Tuesday the 14th as Nelson and I drove to my last doctor's appointment. On the car drive into Boston, I was experiencing contractions ten minutes apart. I dismissed them as more Braxton Hicks and continued to discuss our dinner plans in the North End. When we arrived at the doctor's, I was given an ultrasound since I was now one day past my due date.
Everything looked great with normal fluid levels. I was then put on a monitor. The machine confirmed that my contractions were ten minutes apart. Of more concern was the fact that the baby was non-reactive. The doctor wasn't overly concerned, though, because when she checked my cervix she discovered that I was 4 cm apart. She suspected that I was in early labor. So our North End dinner would have to wait. I was being sent to the hospital to have the baby! At the hospital, I was again hooked up to monitors. The baby was now reactive. The doctor offered me the chance to go home and come back in the morning if I thought I would be more comfortable. But there was no way I was going home. I wanted the baby out, despite my nervousness.
From here, things went smoothly and relatively quickly. After a few hours of waiting, we officially got things rolling. I was given pitocin, and the doctor broke my water. The contractions became strong, so I requested an epidural. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist had trouble placing the catheter in my back. I suffered through what seemed like forever as he poked and prodded me. Finally, he called in another doctor. She was able to place the epidural with no problem. A few moments later, my legs were tingly, and I was content. For the next hour, Nelson and I rested. I drifted restlessly in and out of sleep until I felt some pain and pressure. The nurse checked me. I was 6 cm. She declared I most likely had a few more hours to go. She fetched Nelson a cot to sleep on. Five minutes later, I felt intense pressure and pain. The nurse came back and checked me again. I was fully dilated! It was time to push. When the nurse lowered the bed, the pain subsided. I then pushed for fifteen minutes. I was calm and in control--a stark difference from my experience with the girls. After about eight pushes, the doctor told me to stop pushing. I huffed and let out a small scream as the baby crowned. They don't call it the ring of fire for nothing. The cord was wrapped around his neck, although he never showed any signs of distress. The doctor quickly cut the cord and told me to give one more push. And so it was that at 2:49 am on the 15th, I gave birth to David Nelson Abreu.
I confess that there was a part of me that thought I might not love a boy in the same way that I love my girls. I thought that the birth of my third child might not be as meaningful. I really had forgotten those feelings of transformation and love that overtake you when you meet your baby for the first time. Now that David is here, he fits into our family just as he should. He's been with us for just over a week now, but it truly does feel as though he's always been with us.