Archive | January, 2013

our first hours with Gil

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Elliott and I worked on a name for our son for months.  We knew we wanted to cull his first and middle names from our family heritage, so we spent awhile piecing together family trees and picking out our favorite first and last names on both sides.  We would then try out different combinations, saying them aloud over and over.  Eventually, we thought we had the right one.

But then our baby just did not look like a… well, can’t say because we might use it one day!

So there we were, in the hospital, everyone asking us what his name was, and we had no idea.  We went back to the drawing board and at some point one of us remembered an old favorite. “What about Mark Gilchrist?  And call him Gil?”  And then back and forth and back and forth again… and it just fit.  What could we say?  He was our Gil Garber.

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“Mark” is my father’s name, and I am so proud to name our son after my dad.  I know my dad’s mom, my beloved Gramma (who died when I was pregnant with Lena), would have loved that!  I hope in so many ways that Gil is like my dad: sincere and thoughtful in faith, a seeker of true truth, a lover of books and reading, a disciplined and conscientious worker, a man who prioritizes his wife and children before any other relationships, a faithful and honest friend, and, of course, an insatiable adventurer.

“Mark” is also the name of the author of the Gospel of Mark and one of the first New Testament missionaries.

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“Gilchrist” is an old Scottish name, probably of Gaelic origin, that means “servant of Christ.”  “Gilchrist” is also a family name on Elliott’s father’s side, which they have traced back to the 12th century in Scotland.  The Gilchrist denominational heritage is Reformed Presbyterian, and there have been RP Gilchrists since the early days of the Protestant Reformation (16th century).  A significant Gilchrist in the recent family history was Elliott’s great-grandfather, Herb Gilchrist, who was a Colorado cattle rancher and deacon in his local RP congregation. Elliott’s dad spent many summers of his childhood with his Gilchrist grandparents in Colorado and felt a very close connection with them their whole lives. Gil’s Uncle David has the middle name Gilchrist, too.

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We were thrilled to have some visitors that first day in the hospital, including a lot of little kiddos who were very excited to see the baby!

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We’re hugely grateful to our dear friends the Arthurs, who watched Lena for us that weekend.  She was in heaven, I can tell you.  She asks every day if we’re going to see them.  “Bukka?  [Becca?]  Dosh?  [Josh?]  Ees?  [Elise?]”

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Thanks to the sweet Arthurs, Elliott was able to stay with me the entire 36 hours that Gil and I were in the hospital.  I savored that time with just the three of us.  Elliott and I had so much time to just sit and talk and admire our baby.  It hasn’t quite been like that since we got home with Lena bouncing around us all day long!

I also am kind of a funny natural birth mama, I guess, because I actually like being in the hospital.  Think about it:

  • So much food… multiple courses delivered to you on a tray while you lounge in bed!  You didn’t have to prepare or plate a single dish.  And they take away the dirty dishes when you’re done.
  • People make sure that you are okay all the time (not you making sure everyone else is okay).
  • You can shower anytime you want to… and without a toddler in the stall with you.
  • They make your bed with fresh sheets every day.
  • … and you can eat all the chocolate pudding you could ever want.

What can I say?  Sometimes it’s the littlest things that mean the most… like that darling little baby in your arms!

25 :: in Baby Numero Due, family, Gil, Instagram, motherhood

{closed!} a very tasty little giveaway

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Well, yum, isn’t someone going to be lucky!

These are some of my very favorite Italian foods; we always have a good stash of each of them in our house here in Sicily.  I hand-picked them so you can experience them too!  There’s some delicious pasta, a beautiful bottle of olive oil, a jar of real Nutella*, and a special Sicilian addition: crema di pistachio.  Sicily is famous for its pistachios, particularly those from the town of Bronte on the slopes of Mt Etna, about an hour from our home.  This sweet concoction is a wonderful way to experience them on a slice of bread… or just straight out of the jar!

This giveaway is open to everyone, including my friends here in Sicily.  (You all are some of my most faithful readers!)  I’ll ship the package of goodies to the winner next week.

The giveaway will last one week and close on Wednesday, February 6th, at midnight EST.  A winner will be selected through the random number generator, www.random.org.

You have 2 chances to enter:

  • leave a comment!  Tell me what your favorite Italian food is, if you’d like.
  • sign up to receive my blog updates via email either in the sidebar under “Subscribe // Connect” or in the box below.  I’ll know that you signed up, so you don’t have to leave another comment telling me that you did so.

And that’s it!  Good luck!!!

*You didn’t know you weren’t eating real Nutella in the States?  It’s true… sorry!  But enter this giveaway and you could get a jar of the good stuff. :)

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——–

Well, I counted up all the entries (comments on this post + subscribers to my email updates).  The results are in and the winner is #174, Miss Lucy P.!  Lucy, I’ll email you to get your address and send you the package.  Congratulations!!!  I hope you enjoy it all… especially the Nutella. :-)

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101 :: in giveaway, Italy, Sicily

{birth story} welcome, Mark Gilchrist!

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As I write this, a sleeping baby boy is nestled next to me, I can still hardly believe this is happening.  To us.  Again.  We get a newborn of our very own!  A tiny, days-old baby who does nothing but eat, sleep, and poop; who needs us more than anything else in the world; who is ours, flesh of our flesh and bone of our bones; who looks like an adorable chipmunk right now but will one day look like his daddy and me.  I just want to wrap all these beautiful moments up and lock them away so that I can pull them out and savor them again over and over.

And so I blog about them.

I’m excited to share Gil’s birth story with you all, but of course it will be a pretty simplified version of the story.  My brothers-in-law are some of my most avid readers and I want to spare them the birthing details!  If you would like to read a more extensive account, I’m going to type one up today.  Feel free to let me know through my Contact Page if you’d like to receive a copy.

OK, here we go…

Well, Friday, January 25th, began as any other.  Lena was eating breakfast and I was making oatmeal when suddenly my phone rang.  It was my OB calling to let me know that she wanted me to come in for another blood test.  Remember how last week I was complaining about itching on my hands and feet?  All week we’d been waiting for the results of one remaining, all-important blood test to come back from the military hospital in Germany.   Finally I requested that we get my blood tested in Sicily as quickly as possible, and so my OB had asked for insurance approval on my behalf.  As of Friday morning the claim had been approved, and so… could I come ASAP to get my blood drawn?

By 9:30am I was watching the lab technicians take my blood away.  If it came back with elevated bile acid levels, it would mean I did have cholestasis of pregnancy.  That would probably mean induction.  As I hadn’t felt itchy for days now, I put it out of my mind and went on with my day.

At 4pm Lena and I were out on a walk on a crisp winter afternoon.  My OB called again then and I answered cheerfully, not really thinking about what she might have to say.

“Hi, Becca. Well, your lab results came back and you do have elevated bile acids.  The highest normal value is 7 and your level is 10.  Based on the elevated level and the fact that you are already over 39 weeks, my recommendation would be induction.  Preferably tonight.”

For a minute it felt like everything went into slow motion.  Induction?  Like… go into the hospital and get Pitocin?  Have a baby?  Tonight?  This long-awaited event… now?

I called Elliott and we talked for a long time, going back and forth, reviewing a medical journal article about cholestasis, discussing whether we should wait until the morning or have the baby that night.  Finally I said I wanted to go ahead with induction, even though it might mean a long, hard delivery for me.  The right thing to do was to get our baby out of harm’s way.

I walked home with Lena, feeling emotional.  I would never walk this way with just one baby again.  She was about to be a big sister!  I was about to be a mother of two.  I was going to meet my son that night!

I called my friend Becca to come get Lena, finished packing my hospital bag, and then packed a bag for Lena, too.  When Becca came, I laughed and was cheerful, but she knew there was so much more under the surface.  I couldn’t shake the dark cloud that hung over me.  Becca hugged me and told me she understood; “just pray and commit it to God, and then go forward.”

I drove the whole way to base with my hand on my stomach.   For a long time the baby didn’t move and I panicked, thinking it might be too late.  But then he shifted reassuringly, and shifted again.  I would hold him in my arms tonight, God willing!

Elliott met me on base and we walked into the hospital together just before 7pm.  I had been there that morning — that morning of the blood draw, of greeting acquaintances and friends around the hospital, of rolling my eyes about “when will this baby ever come?” — and it all seemed so far away now.

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A few minutes later the nurses for the night shift came in to introduce themselves.  One of them we already knew and we were hoping she would be working whenever I delivered.  She seemed so calm and conscientious and obviously loved her job.  (She’s probably going to read this so… hi, Melissa!  We were so glad you were there.)

The OB on call came in and introduced herself.  I had only met her once and was at first disappointed that my regular OB wasn’t on call.  However, I ended up loving Dr. Adriano and am so glad she delivered Gil.  Together we went over my birth plan. I explained that I had a natural childbirth with my daughter and have taken Bradley childbirth classes, and so my desire with this birth — even with induction — was to adhere as much as I could to a natural, drug-free delivery.  I wanted to move around during labor.  I didn’t want to be offered an epidural.  I preferred as much privacy as possible throughout the process.  A little bit shyly, I also said that Elliott would like to catch the baby and cut the cord, two things that seemed rather natural-birthy in a classic hospital setting.  But Dr. Adriano was unphased and said she’d do whatever she could to accommodate us.

And then induction began.  At about 7:15pm, Melissa started Pitocin, a drug that would begin contractions.  Elliott pulled The Italian Job out of his bag; he’d stopped by the library on his way to the hospital!  Good husband.  We settled back to watch the movie and wait for things to happen.

After about an hour of Pitocin, I was having regular contractions but could barely feel them.  That was enough to satisfy Dr. Adriano that labor was progressing as it should, though, so she broke my water.  Since I had delivered Lena less than 6 hours after my water was broken, I hoped that meant I didn’t have long to wait for serious labor and then delivery.

By the end of the movie around 10pm, the contractions were definitely painful.  With Lena they got much more painful and frequent, though, so I thought I still had awhile to wait.  I could still get up and walk around and had moved to sitting on an exercise ball.  Eventually I moved the ball to the side of the bed, sat on it, and leaned my torso forward on some pillows.

I think by then it was about 10:30, and the contractions began to get much stronger. I muscled through them for about 30 minutes and then learned I was 9cm and could probably start pushing whenever I felt like it.  Around me I could hear Melissa and Dr. Adriano getting ready for delivery.  Elliott stood by my side, rubbing my back, encouraging me after each contraction.  He was just what I needed through all of this: calm and reassuring, quiet and supportive, and quick to help me smile.

Dr. Adriano asked if I wanted to get into bed at this point, but since I was comfortable (??), I asked to stay where I was.  They decided they would just roll the ball away when the baby was ready to be born.

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About 25 minutes later, right before Gil was born, Elliott donned gloves and was ready to reach down to hold Gil’s head as he slid into the world.  At my request only the doctor, nurse, and Elliott were in the room, and they were all waiting quietly, respecting my desire for no cheering/counting and just letting me take my time.  I was in a great deal of pain; I had totally forgotten that it hurt this much!  However, the pain wasn’t getting any better, and I finally told myself, “There’s no one and nothing that can help you with the pain except to have this baby.  Just push through the pain.”  So I did, and it was awful for a few seconds, but then… then I heard a piercing cry, the melt-your-heart cry of a brand new baby, a baby who, in the space of a second, goes from inside you to out in the world, gulping in air, filling his perfect little lungs, and crying for his mama.

They helped me into bed and put Gil in my arms.  He was a total mess, not at all cleaned off after delivery.  Holding my little son in my arms, naked and brand new and hollering, was an entirely new experience for me, because the hospital staff had cleaned Lena and wrapped her up before I held her.  The first time I met Gil was raw and messy, humbling and beautiful.

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At first I couldn’t get over how much Gil looked like Lena.  That round, red little face and all that dark hair!  But Elliott could already see Gil’s Uncle David, his grandfather Mark, and definitely Uncle Eric and Uncle Jonathan too.  One thing Elliott thought right away, though, was that the name at the top of our list just didn’t fit.  We gazed into our little boy’s face, running down our list of names, trying to decide what to call him.  In the end it took us over 12 hours to decide on a name, about as long as it took to agree upon Lena’s!  Are all parents so anxious that the face fits the name?

I’ll share the background on Gil’s name on Thursday, as well as a bunch of photos from those first 24 hours with our son!

24 :: in Baby Numero Due, family, Gil, motherhood, thoughts

hello blog and hello baby!

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Well, surprise!  I announced on my old blog on Friday that I would be launching my new blog today, but little did I know I would also have a new baby by today!  I posted on my old blog around 2pm, got a call at 4pm from my OB that I needed to be induced, and by 7:15 I was in the hospital watching Pitocin drip down an IV and into my arm.  Our son was born about 4.5 hours later, healthy and hearty and crying oh so lustily!

After much deliberation and gazing into his face, we decided to name our boy Mark Gilchrist.  We will call him “Gil” for short.  Gil Garber.  Our little son!

I’ll share more of the birth story, the background on his name, and some photos tomorrow and Thursday.  Right now we’re home from the hospital and reality is still sinking in as I gaze down at this little bundle beside me, sleeping so peacefully and trustfully, making those little newborn squeaks and grunts that I remember so well from Lena.  I’m overwhelmed with love, thankfulness, and gratefulness.

I also promised you a giveaway with the launch of this blog.  It’s a great giveaway… but I didn’t manage to take photos of the items before our baby was born!  I will post all the details about this Italian-themed giveaway on Wednesday, so check back a little later this week for that.

If you’d like to follow along during these early days, I’m on Instagram now; my username is beccagarber.  In the meantime, this mama will be snuggling with her two little loves!

43 :: in Baby Numero Due, family, giveaway, motherhood

new blog launching on Monday!!!

Completely unrelated photo of my sister Emily with little one-month-old Lena… 
because I can’t stop looking at baby photos these days! 

Well, my friends, the day is almost here!  As I mentioned in my Goals for 2013 blog post, I have been working hard to build a new website up on a self-hosted WordPress site.  Finally I think I’m ready to reveal this little baby of mine to the public eye… and have chosen Monday to be the day.  Good news for you: the blog launch will also come with a wonderful, very Italian giveaway.  Thank you for being such faithful, thoughtful readers!  I’m so excited for this new step!

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P.S. What about the other baby, you say, the baby in my belly?  Sadly, no baby news!  I’m 39 weeks and 2 days today.  I hope there will be an announcement about a newborn in our arms very soon!
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12 :: in Baby Numero Due, giveaway

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