Tomorrow, little Baby Elle will be a year old! It hardly seems possible, yet it is so. I remember knowing that Gabrielle was a girl, even at a few months into the pregnancy. To me, it was common-sense science: I was very sick with Aidan, and with this new baby, I wasn't sick at all. I hypothesized that because my body was an estrogen-friendly place, I could tolerate baby girl hormones much better than all the testosterone Aidan was housing. And I was right.
Aidan was 13 months old when we found out that we were on our way to becoming a family of four. He didn't understand the concept, and it wasn't until my stomach grew noticeably large that he started to talk about the "baby in Mommy's belly."
I was given two or three due dates for Gabrielle -- Nov. 27, then it was the 29th, then it was the 28th. We just knew it was in that range. I didn't have my hopes up for an on-time baby because Aidan was a week late and we had to induce labor. The running joke was that since this baby was a girl, she'd be more like me and come exactly on time, if not a little early. As it turned out, I went to the doctor on the 28th, and I had made no progress, so I went home, a little bummed. I went to bed, and at 4 a.m., I began having very slight contractions. Because the body will experience "practice" contractions (called Braxton-Hicks contractions), I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I couldn't go back to sleep. Just as I had another slight contraction, Aidan called out from his upstairs bedroom, "Mommy! Mommy! Come here."
I went up to his room, and the first thing he said to me was, "Mommy, are you OK?" It was incredible; I didn't know why he woke up, but he was clearly in tune with what was happening. I lay down in his bed with him, and he fell asleep in my arms. A few moments later, I had another very slight contraction and he immediately woke up: "Mommy, are you OK?" There was no possible way that he could have physically sensed the contraction; they were more like light stomach cramps.
Later, when I realized that I was in actual labor, we called a dear friend, Linda, to come to our house to be with Aidan so that we could go to the hospital. She arrived, and we were about to leave. Linda said, "Aidan, do you know where Mommy and Daddy are going?" And he said, "Yes. Baby time." He was only 22 months old, yet he knew exactly what was going on.
Once we were at the hospital, labor was not an easy experience. I had a lot of back labor, which is very painful, but the worst part was that when I would have contractions, Gabrielle's heart rate would drop very low. I wasn't allowed to leave the bed or the baby monitor because they wanted to keep a close eye on the baby. The nurse who noticed the change in the heart rate called the doctor in, and as soon as she saw the heart rate, she was in scrubs in no time flat. Because she could tell that I didn't like to be out of the loop, the doctor was straight with me: "Sometimes this just happens for no apparent reason. Sometimes it is because the umbiblical cord is wrapped around the baby's neck. But don't worry, I will be here the whole time, and if the cord is around her neck, I will take care of it right away."
Reassuring words, but for a woman in labor, not exactly what I wanted to hear. I was very apprehensive about Gabrielle's safety, and when she entered the world at 11:11 a.m. on November 29, 2006, I was relieved to hear that she was healthy, strong, and happy.
Gabrielle, or "Baby Elle" as she has been nicknamed, is a joyous little girl who loves to laugh and crinkle her nose up in an adorable smile. She is smart and perceptive, she loves life, she adores her big brother and her daddy, she loves to cuddle with her mommy.
Happy Birthday, Gabrielle Rebekah Connor!