An open-adoption birthmother's ode to a supposedly 7 pound baby

September 23 | Guest post by Shelly Gulick

So there I was: nine months of being called sir because of the Sinead O’Connor hairstyle (despite the ever growing belly), three months of craving beer like there was no tomorrow and enduring one of the hottest summers in New Mexico history with a tiny little space heater inside of me, numerous bad looks and negative comments regarding my plans to place my child with an adoptive couple (it didn’t seem to matter that it would be an open adoption and I’d still be a part of his life), absolutely no birthing classes (I couldn't justify spending good money on something that mankind has done it's entire existence), being arrested at 8 and a half months, and one woman who thought my son was a tumor (mostly because I, uh, told her that I was undergoing chemotherapy and would she kindly take her hand off my tumor… but I only did it because she needed to learn that it’s not okay to touch strangers, even pregnant ones).

For the most part, I hated being pregnant and I had waited impatiently for the due date. Finally, the magical day arrived: September 1. I took a walk and I waited. Nothing. I took a hot bath and waited. Nothing. I worked my way through the home remedies up to Castor oil. Still nothing, not even those “negative repercussions” everyone’s always warning about.

Finally, six long days after my due date, I started having contractions. I timed them until they were a minute long and two minutes apart and I called the nurse. She asked why I didn’t appear to be in pain. Uh, I wasn’t. Should I be? She told me to call back when I can’t really talk, it hurts so bad.

A few hours later, after three failed attempts at sleep, the contractions got painful. But they were sporadic. I called her anyway and she told me I could come in (apparently they weren’t busy that night). Well, it turns out this Offbeat Mama has an offbeat uterus! By the time I got to the hospital, I was in one long contraction.

I got whisked away to a labor and delivery room (hospitals are fancy nowadays) and began having some real big, severe pain. I politely asked for my painkillers using only a minimum of profanity and received them an excruciating half hour later. Then I discussed literature with my mother, my son’s adoptive parents, my Doula and her husband (who took the pictures), and my midwife whenever she wasn’t busy with other women in labor.

Yes, we were over the limit. But my midwife was like a pit bull, telling everyone that this was a special occasion and that if they had a problem with the number of people in the room, they should take it up with her.

Three hours of discussions later, my midwife checked and told me I could begin pushing. After the first two sets of pushing, I frustratedly announced that if this had been a movie, he’d have been born already. Forty minutes later, chaos erupted in the room as his shoulders cleared my body, my midwife quickly unwrapped the cord from his neck, and he began screaming like a banshee.

Jackson with his parents

My doula’s voice rose above it in shock, proclaiming “that’s no 7lb baby!” He was 9lbs 10oz, 23 inches long, 10 fingers, 10 toes, and a gorgeous port wine stain birth mark above his lip. [Editorial note from Ariel: I have this exact same birth mark! Aww.] Perfect. His adoptive parents cut his umbilical cord together, his adoptive mother was the first to hold him after me.

He got his first check up as I got stitched up and my midwife didn’t even crack a smile when I asked her if she’d give me “one more for the boys.” Come to think of it, she answered very seriously when I asked her if the baby was done when my navel poked all the way out, so she might not have known I was joking.

That was three years ago. I am still in touch with my son and his family and he knows me as the person whose tummy he grew inside and that I picked out his parents to be his mom and dad. He loves musicals and doesn’t play with toys. He’s still blowing the tops off the height and weight charts. And you know what? He’s still stubborn as anything.

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  1. First, let me say that I will never cease to be amazed by people who feel that it's okay to judge another person's decisions regarding his or her body, especially when it's a stranger. I'm naive like that, I guess.

    In any case, I have a question. In your bio, when you say that you are a "birthmother," do you mean that you gave birth to a child, or that you actually help couples who can't have children on their own, for whatever reason? I was just wondering.

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  2. I was told I was carrying a "7 pound baby" too… he was 10 pounds. I kept insisting I was going to have a huge baby and everyone told me I was crazy. I am about 4'11" and 100 pounds when not pregnant, and my Dr. said if she'd known how big my son was, she would have given me a c-section.

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  3. Not to turn this into a whole c-section debate but it just goes to show how well we know our own bodies and how well our bodies perform when left to our own devices!

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  4. Shelly, I just want to tell you I really enjoyed reading your birthing story. I usually don't read them all the way through, but yours was pretty funny. Good luck with your modeling and keep enjoying that view!

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  5. Love your story Shelly. It was interesting to hear things from your point of view. 🙂

  6. I cried. I gave birth almost 6 years ago to my daughter, and this fall is her first at school. It is hard and wonderful and terrible and.. thank you for posting this on offbeatmama, for recognizing that we are parents, too.

  7. thank you so much. My husband and I can't have children due to cancer and chemo and all that jazz. We aren't sure if we'll ever adopt children, but if we do – we'll be one of the most loving, nurturing families around… and we will owe it to someone like you. Making someone else's dreams come true, and providing the best life possible for a child are two of the most unselfish things I can imagine. Shame on anyone who said negative things to you.

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  8. Delighted and awed to hear a Republican who believes she has a right to determine what happens with her body!
    Nice story!!

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  9. Awesome story! Very heartwarming, so glad you decided to handpick the perfect parents for your child and have an open adoption! Not to be nosy but you've got me curious…arrested at 8 1/2 months?? I love that you told someone it was a tumor…ha!

  10. Wow, I just got around to reading the comments here. I had gotten a speeding ticket a couple days before finding out I was pregnant, needless to say it completely escaped my mind until 8 and a half months later when I got pulled over (again for speeding). Cop didn't realize I was pregnant until I got out of the car. He told me to hold on, went to his car, came back and told me that he'd still have to arrest me, but would handcuff me in the front and allowed me to call my dad to come pick me up. I spent all of two hours in jail, got told numerous times that they don't birth no babies there, and the cop probably still hasn't lived arresting a heavily pregnant girl for a $150 bond down (I was his first arrest on top of that).

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  11. I'm so happy that the Offbeat Empire recognizes all types of parents including birth mothers. I have two very wonderful friends who are hoping to adopt a baby and it fills my heart with joy that there are women on this earth with the maturity and strength to make the right decisions for themselves and their babies while giving the greatest gift to very deserving people. Kudos to you. Much love to you and your family.

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