Happy Birthday Gaby – this is your birth story

My Gabriella turned six today!

She is having so much fun with a new art set she got, so I thought I’d sneak in to write a few words.

Gaby was born in a small country hospital in Schweinfurt, Germany.

It was a cold winter day, just like today, and me, Isabella and my mother had been visiting all the Christmas markets whole week long. My mother had come from Finland to stay with us, and especially with Isabella, while I was having the baby.

My due date had been over a week earlier, on the 4th of December, and I was so ready to have a baby. On the 15th of December, on Saturday evening we rented movies and I ate over a pound of black licorice – the licorice is supposed to enduce the labor. I did start getting little aches here and there during that night, and at 2 o’clock I started having this feeling – maybe the baby will actually come out soon.

When the morning light hit the waves of Main river, I was in labor.

We lived in the valley of Main river, in a tiny village called Gädheim, in the Northern Bavaria, and the hospital was 15 minutes away. I wanted to have as natural birth as possible, and I was a little nervous having a baby in a foreign country. Our first baby was born in Finland, in the same hospital where I was born. We had an option to drive over an hour to Würzburg, where there was an American military hospital, but that was even scarier to me.

I spoke German, but was not familiar with all the words related to child birth – especially if something went wrong. Me and Matt had been reading the Bradley Method and I was determined to have the baby as natural as possible.

One of my friends in Germany had also a due date on December 4th that year. When I was pregnant with Isabella, my friend was also pregnant, and on that time too we had had same due dates. The odds of that happening twice were so small, so in my mind we were connected in some way. My friend had already had her baby, on Thanksgving a few weeks ago. But there was no joy in her home, there was no new baby sounds or smells. Their baby was a stillborn, and my friend had given birth to him a few weeks before her due date and buried him a week later. When my labor really started, my friend and her baby were the only things I could think of. And I had never been so scared in my life.

I was brave of course, and I let Matt pamper me. Most of the morning I was at the bathtub, surrounded by candles and my husband there with me. My mother was playing with Isabella, who was 21 months old. The water really helped me, and I just wanted to stay in the warm water until the baby was ready to come out. At 2 on the afternoon my water broke, and even though I didn’t really feel that the baby was ready to come out yet, we left for the hospital.

The maternity ward was packed! The hospital was the only hospital in the surrounding towns to do emergency c-sections, and the hospital was packed with moms, who needed a c-section. I never even a saw the doctor the whole day. The hospital also had a Christmas party for personel that day, so they were under staffed and weren’t able to get more workers to come in.

My midwife’s name was Elke, and she smelled like she had already worked the whole night shift when we got in. This is horrible thing to say, but that’s really the only thing I remember of her, her bad odor. But she helped me to the bathtub, and put some aromatherapeutic drops in the water and played some calming music by Enya.

You know when at some point of the labor you get so excited of the idea of seeing your baby soon? I did not let myself to feel that joy, I was so scared. All I could think of was the pain and what had happened to my friend. I think I actually forgot why I was at the hospital at some point.

My midwife didn’t really come and see us many times. We were most of the time alone, I was in the bathtub, Matt sitting next to me, knealing on the floor. At that point the natural childbirth wasn’t as romantic and appealing as the books made it sound like. A few hours later, my midwife came to say that I was not allowed to have a waterbirth, the baby was too big. So when I barely could even walk anymore, she made me walk from the bathroom to delivery room and told that the baby will come out soon.

For some reason I never really had the urge to push, even though the midwife said I was having the baby right then. The baby was not coming out, and the midwife got tired of waiting and left us alone again.

“Call me when the baby comes out” and Matt was left alone to deliver our baby. It took over two hours of pushing, when Gaby finally came out. She was red and blue and SCREAMING. Oh my, she was not happy at all, but oh I loved that sceaming and crying. In that moment I finally remembered why we were there and the pain was all worth it. I had a fighter, a big healthy baby girl, and all I wanted is to hold her. She had a huge bumb in her head – she had been stuck and it had reformed her beautiful head (it took a few months to get normal, but it was a sign – that girl gets bumbs and bruises like no other, nothing stops her!). But she was my beautiful miracle, born on the cold Sunday evening.

Now my miracle is six years old, and she is the funniest little girl. She makes us all laugh and she truly is a little miss sunshine. Happy Birthday Gaby! We all love you!

Gabriella, summer 2007

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