Every birth has been completely different. No matter how hard you try to duplicate - or avoid - certain aspects of previous births, without fail a curve ball is thrown. The encouraging part is with each birth you get a little better at handling curve balls, a little better at expecting the unexpected.
Here are Zeke and Evie's birth stories for those, like me, who are obsessed with these things and can binge read them at 2am when you're up for the second time breastfeeding your newborn.
On to Micah:
|We'll start with a photo because, let's be honest, that's why most of you are here. Our dark-haired and dark-eyed beauty. Kyle's Cajun genes finally won the day!|
I woke up Monday, the 8th, four days past my due date. As I was getting out of bed my water promptly broke, or at least I thought it did. My water had never broken with my previous two - both times they had to artificially break it right before pushing - so I wasn't sure, exactly, what water breaking looked like. It is crazy how ambiguous labor can be until all of a sudden it very much isn't.
For the past week or so I had contracted on and off for a few hours at a time, nothing regular and nothing too painful. This, also, was different from my previous two births. Zeke and Evie had very clear "start times." I would have a few Braxton Hicks, but once I started painfully contracting, that was the beginning of labor.
Not so with Micah.
Fortunately, I had an OB appointment already scheduled for that Monday morning so I went in and had my doctor check to see where I was at. I was dilated at a 3 and 60% effaced. Which in labor terms is good news. My body had done a lot of work in all this "pre-labor" contracting.
My OB was sure my water had broken. I still wasn't having regular contractions so she sent me home and told me to do everything I could to get the contractions going by that afternoon. If not then I would go to the hospital and they may try to get the contractions to start with pitocin.
I really wanted to avoid that as I've heard pitocin can make labor more painful - so I went home and walked.
And then went to Chick-fil-a. And then walked some more.
And the contractions finally came and picked up in intensity. Here's a text I sent soon after, that definitely falls under the "things you thought you'd never say" category:
"Finally! They're getting more painful!"
Kyle and I went to the hospital around 6.00, and by 6.50 I was signing off on paperwork to get my epidural. I had decided to get one this time and felt good about the decision. (My first had been a non-medicated birth, my second I got an epidural.) Leading up to the birth I had the thought that it would be good to be mentally prepared in case there wasn't time for an epidural, or something crazy happened like say, it not working...
Somewhere around 7.00 I began feeling incredibly nauseated. By the grace of God my friend popped in right at that time to drop off some cookies for the L&D nurses, and I mentioned in passing that I was feeling pretty queasy. She called Kyle after she left and suggested that I ask the nurses about any anti-nausea medication they could give me. So I did and... medication, man, it's crazy. It knocked the nausea out. Which is nice because the last thing you want to be doing during a contraction is throwing up.
After the anesthesiologist finished up the epidural around 8.00, I immediately felt relief on one side - but only one side - of my body. The nurses told me to give it about 25 minutes to kick in, and if it hadn't then we'd try a few things to see if we could get it to work fully. This wasn't too bad because the contractions hadn't hit the major leagues yet. Let's put them at the "exquisitely uncomfortable" mark. I was just getting ready to start transition. I knew this because I was thinking, "I cannot do this. What if this epidural doesn't work?" And in general feeling very non-committal about wanting to push this baby out of me. I started sweating like crazy and became incredibly hot. This is difficult to do in a hospital delivery room because I'm pretty sure they keep those things at a balmy 50 degrees.
Around 8.45 or 9.00 things got serious. I had my first two contractions that were officially, absolutely, certifiably insane. It's a surreal feeling. It's like before hand your body was just practicing, and all of a sudden deep inside you feel something (let's call it your baby's bed pushing through your pelvis) shift and you think, "This baby is coming." The pain escalating tips you off, but it's how your entire body seems to respond to the contractions that let's you realize that you're about to meet your little one very soon.
They called the anesthesiologist to see if he could come redo the epidural because the pain hadn't alleviated, but he was tied up in the OR. The nurses did a good job of keeping my hope alive, which I probably needed more than the truth that Micah would likely show up before the anesthesiologist did. I tricked myself into getting through the next hour one contraction at a time. Even though the epidural only worked on half of my body, it helped a little bit. Better half the pain then all of it, eh?
During this time I vaguely remember my OB coming in and mentioning that Micah's heart rate was dropping during contractions. I was in a haze of adrenaline, but they gave me an oxygen mask to help get oxygen to Micah. At this point the contractions were coming alllmost right on top of each other. A few contractions later, I realized that this whole "fixing" the epidural thing wasn't going to happen, and this didn't change the fact that I was going to have to push her out. I think I moved out of transition at this point because all of a sudden my emotions clicked into place and I was ready to do this.
So I cursed the anesthesiologist in my head and wished upon a star that I was close to the pushing stage, remembering from my first birth that once you can push the pain eases substantially.
Maybe it was around 9.30 or 9.40 when I said I felt the need to push. My OB was amazing, she oversees a lot of unmedicated births, and at that point I was incredibly grateful I had a doctor who was used to navigating a birth without pain medication. She knew exactly how to tell me what to do and how to do it.
I floundered for the first several pushes because I was pretty out of practice. The nurses really stepped in and helped me push more effectively. "Don't scream while you're pushing, put your energy into actually getting her out," being the most helpful reminder.
My first had to be vacuum-extracted because of his positioning, so even though I didn't have an epidural, I didn't experience what it felt like to well... push a baby out of you. My second's epidural worked amazingly well, so though there was a lot of pressure there was no pain and no feeling. Feeling Micah every inch of the way was probably one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. This may have been a weird labor thought, but I remember being kind of bummed that Kyle would never know what it feels like to do this. Looking at a mom in labor from the outside, not many would want to trade places with her, but it really is an incredibly intense experience that's amazing to think about - once you're done.
Using an epidural kind of emotionally disconnected me from the whole birthing process. It had no effect on me attaching to my second born, but the birth itself felt significantly more like going to the grocery store than bringing a human into this world. Not so when you feel everything. Your mind clues in to every single detail and responds accordingly.
After I was able to fall into the groove of pushing well, I realized that the epidural at this point had worn off completely, but I was able to hone in on every contraction and push effectively. Micah came out in about four or five pushes, all 9 pounds and 11 ounces of her. Somehow, by some miracle of nature, there was no tearing. She was my biggest baby by 10 ounces and she was the easiest on my body.
At 10.02pm Micah Justice came into this world with speed and power. Once she finally made up her mind to come, she didn't waste her time doing so. It's surprising how many quirks they have as a newborn that turn into personality traits later on. Zeke was unpredictable and fascinated with the world. Evie was playful and cuddly. Micah, so far at least, makes her presence known loudly and immediately. I assume this will serve her well as a third child.
My sisters reminded me of this verse after the birth, and it's been impressed upon my heart when I think about the way she came, quick and steady like a river, combined with what we chose to name her.
"But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" Amos 5.24
Kyle and I had almost no issue when picking Micah's name - from the first time we said it out loud, both of us experienced a deep peace about it. The verse was a sweet confirmation and reminder that the Lord has his hand even in the tiniest details.
She's here, and beautiful, and the Lord has used her significantly in my life already. I can't wait to see what she'll bring to our family.