She’s here. She’s perfect. Tallulah Grace Gilbert, born September 20th, 2016, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” – Kurt Vonnegut
If there’s one thing having children teaches you, it’s this: gratitude for when things go well. Nothing quite hammers home the lesson that we have so little control over our own fate than child-birth.
We arrived in Mexico just barely in time. The VW Vanagon melted down in the extreme heat of Arizona and northern Mexico, allowing us to only drive in the early mornings before revolting around noon. I was so uncomfortably, hugely pregnant and my Braxton Hicks contractions were so painful that I feared we wouldn’t make… truly we cut it way too close and arriving in Puerto Vallarta felt like skidding into town sideways.
Woah, we’re here.
My history with pre-eclampsia meant that I’d be having a third c-section, so we went to see Dr. Laura and get sorted out. I started blood pressure medicine that’s safe for pregnancy but otherwise not widely used because of the side effects (psychosis, depression, and anxiety were all listed on the bottle). I spent the last weeks in a haze, all too thankful when the scheduled date of the surgery came around.
I was scared. I tried to talk myself out of it, but there was this quiet, dark, fear underneath it all that I couldn’t shake. I felt on some level that I was going to die. In hindsight, it was almost certainly the medication, but I said good-bye to my children and my husband on the way to the hospital– all while secretly fearing I’d never make it out alive.
So imagine my surprise and relief when I survived! Tallulah was pulled, quite forcefully, from my abdomen, and I heard that tell-tale startled cry. Ah ha! Life! We’re all alive! It’s all okay! Thank god…
A moment later, they placed her on my chest, while they finished closing the incision. I just stared at her, happy, drowsy love washing over me, then Dr. Laura popped her head over the blue surgical curtain and told me that I had two huge fibroids (basically benign tumors) that were about the size of a six-month pregnancy. I laughed.
Here I was on my third birth, seven years since I was pregnant with my first child when I had all these high hopes about a natural birth and now I knew: I was never going into labor. It wasn’t in the cards for me. All that worrying! All that research about how to avoid c-sections! All those tears after Cole’s emergency c-section. And here I was with the benefit of hindsight to see that none of my pregnancies ended well – I had pregnancy induced hyper tension and pre-eclampsia all three times. All three babies refused to descend. Cole made it to 40 weeks and 5 days without moving down. Stella had the cord wrapped around her neck so tightly the surgeon struggled to untangle it. And my last baby, a planned c-section, wouldn’t have faired any better with two bowling ball sized tumors and the assistance of three doctors to safely navigate her out.
Drew took a photo of my belly post-baby, but before they bandaged me up. I wanted to see. There it was, a large bulge where the fibroid lived, filling up my uterus up to my belly button.
No wonder I thought I was having twins. No wonder the Braxton Hicks contractions hurt so much. No wonder I carried so high and so big. No wonder the doctor couldn’t find my six-week embryo, she was living in there with these massive fibroids!
After my first c-section, I cried. After my third, I laughed. I always wondered what it would be like to have kids and now my story had played out. In the end, I had three perfect babies. It was all a beautiful mess.
Welcome to the world, baby Tallulah. We’re so happy you’re here!