I know now angels walk the earth. I know because 3 months ago when my little family expanded from 3 to 4 in a very dramatic fashion, these angels sprung into action. It has taken me a while to write about it because it was such a big deal I couldn’t really get my head around it – especially being in survival mode with our new little baby boy, Nico. Things have settled down quite a bit – my new-mommy haze has cleared enough and I’m able to talk about it without totally crying my eyes out. I will always get emotional talking or thinking about it just as I am writing this, but at least I can face it better now.
The morning of week 38, my water broke. I thought “Here we go!” and posted a quick message out to FB as my hubby was still sleeping. Literally just as I told him the news he said “I need you to call 911” _for him_. Scott has Crohn’s Disease and something bad, really bad was happening. We gave each other a look and nervous smile like “Can this really be happening to us NOW? AT. THE. SAME. TIME?” I took a deep breath and called 911. There was little time to think.
Enter angel #1. My friend Jennifer.
She had been by the house not even an hour before to pick up Gemma for a play date to give me and Scott a break – we were already exhausted from a 3 am 911 call for Scott the night before. I called her back. Her play date Sunday turned into “Can you help me birth my baby?” She didn’t hesitate and said she’d be right over to pick me up and take me to the hospital.
I ran around gathering things for Scott and next thing you know the Fremont First Response team was at the door. Literally there in less than 5 minutes. WOW. As you can imagine, I was quite a mess…exhausted, shocked, a million questions in my head, worried about my husband and leaking baby fluid. They were so great. They came in and took care of Scott and calmed me down. It took every ounce of mental energy to not totally lose it when they rolled him away. Scott kept saying “I’m sorry” and I kept on saying “It’s ok, I’ll be fine. I’ve done this before.” He left. Gulp. The First Response Team stayed with me in our living room chatting, joking and keeping me company while I waited for Jennifer. They joked me through my first contractions. More angels.
Things start getting really fuzzy at this point. I remember trying to act like everything was ok and normal. It clearly wasn’t. I didn’t call all the folks I should have called, not my family, not my best friend, not my photographer. I feel so silly but I didn’t want them to worry about me and I didn’t want them to doubly worry about what was happening to Scott. I think I was in denial about how huge this all was for me. This was the time I needed them the most but I knew if I talked to them that I would totally and utterly lose it. I think I thought I had to stay strong for the baby. And for Scott. I wish I would have called but I reverted to my children-of-alcholism isolation… “I have to do this alone. I don’t want to bother people. I don’t want to ask for help. I don’t want to be disappointed.”
Enter angel #2. My best friend Max. I don’t know how she found out. Did Jennifer call her? Did Jennifer pick up my phone when she saw her calling? I retrospect I’m glad I took 20 seconds to post on FB about my water breaking, Max must have seen it and called. ***UPDATE: She just told me that she called because she wanted to tell me that a room full of parents and her had just prayed for me and Nico – she knew I would appreciate that. Wow! God works in amazing ways. I’m so grateful for those prayers and grateful she called. Apparently I picked up the phone as we were on the Dumbarton bridge on the way to the hospital. I don’t even remember that happening but I’m thankful to God that it did. *** Well folks, this is the time when you understand true friendship, true angels. When she heard what was happening, without me asking or knowing, she quickly arranged for her husband to take care of her 2 young kids and got on a flight from OC to be with me and help. When Jennifer told me Max was on her way, I lost it. It was what I wanted but I couldn’t somehow ask for it. Not only that, she called her sister Marisa, one of our closest friends as well, to drive down from SF to be with Scott and keep him company. Angel #3. This made me totally lose it too. I felt like I didn’t have to pretend I was strong, Scott and I were being taken care of by our 3 heart-of-gold angels. I felt totally supported and loved and ready to have Nico. I could breath.
The birth happened really quickly. We got to the hospital and 3 hours later he was born. 100% natural. The good news about a short labor is that it is exactly that, short. The bad news about it is that for me the contractions were coming so quickly near the end that I didn’t get a break. It was like being pummeled by waves on the beach, you can barely breath. Jennifer was there rubbing my back, counting the contractions down with me and calming me with her soft sweet voice. I’m so incredibly grateful for her kindness, open heart and soft kiss on my forehead when I needed it the most. I gave birth to Nico on my knees in a prayer position. They caught him and handed him to me between my legs like a football but with an umbilical cord still attached. I remember smiling through my happy tears. I got to cut the umbilical cord. He was 7 lbs, 4 oz of slimy crying perfection.
We had 10 minutes of bliss together before it all went crazy.
My placenta came out but somehow my body thought it was still in there. I would not stop bleeding. It was pretty incredible and horrible to see all the blood gush out of me. We are talking bad b-movie kinds of gushing. Quickly my doctor, the amazing Gary Hoff, realized I was having a major hemorrhage. And just like that, they took Nico away and my room was filled with nurses and other doctors. On one side I had a nurse trying to put in an IV (I hadn’t had one for the birth as I wanted to be 100% natural and mobile). On the other side I had the anesthesiologist talking to me. It was all a blur. I needed an emergency operation to stop he bleeding. At that point I had lost over 1/3 of my blood and was still losing it quickly.
The folks at Redwood City Sequoia Hospital were amazing. I’m grateful for their excellent care and attention to me and Nico. More angels. Funny note: right before I went into surgery, or was it when I was waking up from it, is when Max arrived. I remember because I heard a nurse day, “Her lesbian partner just arrived.” I know my eyes were closed but I cracked up inside. I had only women with me so the nurses just assumed…
The bleeding stopped but I was still weak. They didn’t let me get out of bed for fear that I would faint. I had to wear these compression boots on my legs to help prevent blood clots. Talk about being uncomfortable. Ugh. At the same time, at Washington Hospital in Fremont, Scott was going through his own trauma and he ended up needing a blood transfusion. He didn’t get to meet Nico until the 3rd day. It is so crazy for me to think about both me and Scott hemorrhaging at the same time in different hospitals in different cities. I do not take life for granted and am grateful to God and everyone who helped us. When I think that in one day little Nico and Gemma could have been orphans, my heart sinks. Having this experience has made me even more grateful for everything and everyone I have in my life. I feel more alive than ever and am so grateful to my little family.
Over that last 3 months we’ve had so many amazing angels help us get through and we are so grateful and indebted to them all.
Our Food Angels: Thank you Kathryn, Nerissa, Ana Rita, Chelsy, prima Cristina, prima Rosalia and Lucretia. Your amazing loving food literally helped us not starve and helped us be able to concentrate on recuperating and taking care of Nico. Thank you so very much. Special note about Lucretia, she didn’t even know us. She heard the story from her husband Kyle who works with Scott and found it in her heart to help us out. We were very touched and grateful for your surprise food gifts. Thank you all food angels!
Our Transportation Angels: Thank you Ana Rita for coming to the hospital to take us home. Thank you Jennifer for taking such great care of Gemma those first fews days we were in the hospital. It was such a major relief to know that she was safe and happy. Thank you to Sonia, Henry, and Ana for picking up and dropping off Gemma for Daycare. Thank you Chelsy for helping cart Gemma to Straford.
Our Moral Support Angels: Looong list! Everyone above, plus Mark and Ana who came to visit us at the hospital. Calvina, Pascale, Daniel and Kate who took amazing photographs of Nico and us so we can remember those precious times… he’s growing so fast! My other BFF Sherry – talking and skyping with you helped me get through the days! Thank you too for inviting us to your family vacation in Lake Tahoe. It was our first family trip with the little man and we so loved spending time with you, Shelby, Meg and Jason! Thank you Kirsten, Erin, Daniel and Davina for your wonderful visit. Thank you to everyone who texted, called, posted on FB and sent positive vibes and prayers our way. Love to all the Les Femmes Fotales – your love and humor help me smile and get through the tough days. I also want to say that I love Max for calling me consistently everyday for the first several weeks. I didn’t have to answer or call back but I knew that if I needed to talk to her, that I would be able to anytime. Her calls were like a life preserver floating around next to me and I could grab it if I felt overwhelmed or just needed a little extra support. Thank you for having a heart of gold!
Our Family Angels: If there was an award for having the best in-laws, I think I would win. Scott’s parents are so wonderful. They came out and basically took over the household for 2 solids weeks. We didn’t have to worry about food, about entertaining Gemma, driving Gemma to all her activities and school, buying food, cleaning up… we pretty much were dedicated to recuperating ourselves and taking care of Nico. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart. Thank you to my amazing and loving mama who came out to meet Nico and (try to) teach me about cooking. Her moral support and loving presence helped calm me down. Te quiero mucho, mama! Gracias por todo. Thank you to my niece Francesca who face-times with us so abuelita can still keep in touch with us and see Nico. Also for coming out to assist me on my first wedding post-Nico. Muah! To my brothers, sisters & cousins, Maria, Gonzo, Carmen, Phillip, Olivia and all the Arteagas for your love and support! Love you guys!
I also want to thank all my clients for your patience and understanding during my troublesome pregnancy and difficult first 3 months. Also Crystal Dynamics for being so good to Scott and allowing him the time to recuperate and spend time with me and Nico. Also, I want to thank all the S.O.’s of our angels. Thank you for giving them the space and time to help us. We truly appreciate it. Thank you God and all the positivity in the universe that allowed us to get through it all and come out a happy healthy little family. Life is good!
Ok, this is the longest blog post I have ever written or ever will write. I just really needed to get it all out. And most importantly, publicly thank all our angels. You guys give us hope and made me believe in true friendship and feel true community. We hope to return the favor one day. Thank you all again. Love you all.
~Rosaura, Scott, Gemma & Nico
ps. All photos above were taken with the iPhone (except Max & Marisa’s photos).
Photo above by my dear and amazing friend, Calvina.