From day one to day 365
A letter to Gabrielle written five days after she was born June 21, 2005
You were born on a Tuesday. June 21. The first day of summer.
“It’s the first day of summer and I’m freezing,” said your mom, her hands shaking as she endured the 11th hour of labor. She has always been sensitive to cold – she’d wear a long sleeve bathing suit if she could find one – but we didn’t expect the fire in her belly to inspire a chill.
The shakes were one of the few discomforts she endured that day waiting for you. The IV in her wrist ached horribly (we later found out it was slightly bent.) The epideral in her back may as well been an arrow. It hurt to lay on it. Every movement sparked lightning along her spine.
Me? I was painfree. Not a bit of discomfort (a little hungry actually). I was pained to watch your momma suffer so. I just sat and awaited orders. And yes, orders were to come.
Before getting to that, let me set up the day. We arrived at the hospital about 6:30 a.m. Her (your?) water was broken at about 7:45 a.m. We then walked lap after lap after lap around the birthing center. The effort was intended to jar you loose. It didn’t work. We’d walk then wait. Walk then wait. Walk then wait.
Your momma was determined to have you natural. She felt ya knocking around, yet your door wouldn’t open another centimeter. She didn’t want to use any juice to spring you but soon changed her mind. Walking a couple dozen laps over three hours with a lead balloon under your chest does that.
So then came the medicinal WD-40. Then the wicked epideral. Around 4ish, the labor pains started. (Until then, your mom was busy watching her afternoon story, “Days of Our Lives.”)
Your aunt April was with us through the day. She held the video camera. As you may have seen on the tape, your momma started feeling the need to push around 6:30ish. She turned on her side in the bed and gave me orders. I was to kneel at the foot of the bed and hold up one of her legs and support a foot. It appeared I was fighting your mom’s attempt at some legscissors. Your hanger was inches from my face. A telescope couldn’t offer a more indepth view. Nice.
After one really good push by your momma I caught my first glimpse of you. Just inches from my nose. I saw your furry head briefly pulse through the appropriately-named birth canal (Imagine the Sarlaac pit from Jedi after an intense downpour). While I was in awe of the heap of hair I spied, the nurse ordered no more pushes and ran for the doctor.
Within 15 minutes the room was full of blue-costumed personnel. Against her will your mom was on her back (she actually argued with the doc to conduct the delivery while on her side. He won). The room was dark save for the spotlight focused on stage middle. It was showtime.
It occurred pretty fast. Your mom did some hardcore pushes then suddenly – scarily – faked death. She told the doctor to wait a second then appeared to faint. She lay motionless. Quiet. Then BAM. SHE GRABBED THE RAIL and applied the force of Niagara Falls to that bundle in her oven. Out you slid.
Time on the clock – 6:56 p.m.
You were out and sure enough, you had the hair of David Letterman. (He’s a late-night tv show host. Look him up).
You squalled, of course, as most babies I assume do. Your momma’s first words were “Is it a girl? Is she a girl?” (I had been picking at her for weeks that we may be blessed with a Gabriel and not a Gabrielle.) Once you were handed to her she fought off the nurses for the right to clean you. It was love at first wipe.
After you were cleaned, the nurses shrink-wrapped you in four blankets and handed you to me. You were so tiny. I wanted to cry, really. The smile on my face almost exploded. You were as gorgeous as I had hoped.
Your sister later held you for about a minute, then your momma claimed you again. A crowd came out for your first night out. It included your momma’s cousin Angie and her son Dalton, Angie’s mom Teresa and Angie’s friend Candace. Angie’s younger sister Chelsea was there too. I have photos of them at the window watching you get weighed (7 pounds, 6 ounces).
The hour after you were born was full of more phone calls than minutes, or at least it felt that way. I was proud to get the word out.
I had a beautiful daughter. I had my Gabrielle.
I had you.