Micah’s birth story is bittersweet because we no longer live in the house that he was born in. While we love our new home, the birth of both of our boys will always be associated with our first home (as will the bringing home of our daughter from the hospital). As I reflect on his birth and thumb through the pictures, memories of so many great times come flooding back and I can’t help but get caught up in them. When we had Micah, we didn’t know we’d be in another house on his first birthday, but here we are. I am so grateful for the love we shared in that home and for the family we built but I do have a tinge of sadness when I remember it. <3
We knew before we met you that we’d name you Micah. We waited to find out if you were a boy or a girl until we got to hold you in our arms (had you been a girl, you’d have been Myka). You are the perfect addition to our family and we are so thankful to be the ones God chose to raise you. This is the story of how you came into the world as written by me, your mama, exactly one year later. It’s not a perfect recollection but it’s not intended to be. It’s simply an imperfect remembering of a truly wonderful weekend that built up to your arrival on a stormy Sunday night.
October 16, 2017
Friday, October 14, 2016
They had been forecasting the storm of the year to hit this weekend. Planning a homebirth, I thought through everything I’d need should the power go out while I was in labor. I pumped up the birth pool, set up an alternative way to heat water, and made candles. Lots and lots of candles. Everything was ready: the mattress where I’d be sleeping in the office was made up with sheets, blankets, and lots of comfy pillows; the birth kit was laid out for the midwife and her birth assistant; the fridge and pantry were stocked with kid-friendly food for Serafina and Caleb and I had made gelatin squares for quick energy when in labor. Let’s also not forget that I had a bottle of hard cider to toast the baby once we got to meet him or her!
Caleb and I got home from taking Serafina to preschool and heard a loud crack outside. A huge limb from the neighbor’s tree had fallen onto our fence (yes, OUR fence – long story) and filled up half our yard. I freaked out inside wondering how we could take care of this before the baby came and in true millenial fashion, I posted a picture of it on Facebook with a status update somewhat to the effect of “are you kidding me how is this happening right now oh my goodness this is so not cool!!!!!”. Of course, I couldn’t get ahold of the landlord (and never could – total deadbeat). Not 15 minutes after posting the picture, a friend from church was over with his chainsaw getting the limb off the fence and cutting it into manageable pieces. I also got a text from another friend saying that she, her husband, and two sons would be by after school with their truck and trailer to haul away all the branches and leaves. I was overwhelmed by their generosity and so grateful.
I skipped cross country practice that afternoon and by dinner time, I knew I needed to get out of the house. It was POURING down rain but I didn’t care. I put on my rain pants, borrowed Ben’s rain jacket, and went on a walk. I blasted my labor playlist and sang Shane and Shane’s version of Cornerstone as well as All Sons and Daughters Creation Sings at the top of my lungs in the squall.
Saturday, October 15th, 2016
Micah had two due dates. This was one of them – the other was Monday. Having had my first baby on her due date and my second 90 minutes away from his, I knew I was close but didn’t really feel like today was the day. I kept myself busy making applesauce and puttering around straightening random things, flipping through magazines I’d seen a million times, etc. Auntie Kay came over with a soccer ball for Serafina and read books with the kids. She was a crucial member of my birth team with Caleb and while I was bummed she wouldn’t be around for this baby’s arrival, I was so blessed by her visit. I slept surprisingly well that night for how pregnant I was.
Sunday, October 16th, 2016
I woke up feeling good but also felt the need to be alone (I should have recognized this inwardness as a sign of impending labor but in the moment, did not). I asked Ben to take the kids to church without me so he dropped me and Maya off at my favorite coffee stand on their way. I got an iced chai and we walked home. I listened to my playlist again (all worship music) and got totally caught up in the hugeness of God and how we can get lost in His love and goodness. I had been very frustrated and overwhelmed with this third baby and was frankly terrified of going through labor again. I was afraid it wouldn’t go well, that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain like I had with the first two, that something would go wrong, etc. Having this time to myself to get some fresh air, worship, and be alone was so good and definitely something that helped me finish the mental preparation needed for a home birth.
Ben and the kids came home, we had lunch, and he put the kids down for their nap. I messed around with a few things and then turned on the Seahawks game. Not long after kickoff, I realized this was the day I’d get to meet my third child (1:30 pm). I’d felt my uterus hardening but no real big contractions so I called my midwife. We chatted for a bit and she excitedly told me today was the day based on everything I was telling her. She said she’d slowly get ready to go and then come over in a bit. I texted a group of gals who had been my prayer support over the last few weeks and asked them to start praying as I knew I’d be holding this baby by tonight. I also called my friend Julie (in charge of Serafina and Caleb during delivery so Ben could focus on me) and my friend Angela (hiking buddy who I hired to take pictures – for me, there’s something about home birth that begs to be captured).
Midwife Melissa and her birth assistant Stephanie (and *her* assistant in training Anna) arrived around 4:30 pm and got set up in the office and at the dining room table. Being GBS+, they started me on my first round of antibiotics. While I was attempting to relax in the office on the makeshift bed, my mom came by with dinner for everyone. I don’t think she realized when she offered to bring us dinner earlier than morning she’d be feeding an entire birth team!
Every time I had a contraction, Melissa told me I could meet this baby sooner if I squatted through them. The first few I had after she told me this, I stubbornly didn’t squat, mostly because I knew they’d hurt more and I’d been dealing with the pain pretty well so far thank you very much. With each baby, my contractions were all quite similar: 5-7 minutes apart when timing the start of each one but 2-3 minutes long. She kept giving me a hard time and I finally squatted through a few and could feel just how much progress I was making. When she had arrived I was dilated to a 4 and at this point (around 5:30 pm), I was almost a 7. Her partner, Midwife Sarah, called and asked how I was doing. She asked if she could come by and I was so happy to have her; after Melissa gave her the rundown, she joked how it was perfect timing and she wouldn’t have to stay too long! She had delivered Caleb two Thanksgivings earlier and it was comforting to have both of them caring for me throughout the birthing process.
Throughout these contractions leading up to transition, Serafina and Caleb were pretty clueless as to how much pain I was in. Julie kept them pretty occupied and they’d approach anyone sitting down with a book and ask them to read it. When I finally decided I was ready to labor in the tub some time after 6, they asked if they could get in to which they were told no. Serafina wanted to know why and I let her know that the only people who could get in the tub were those pushing babies out of their girl parts that day. Logic ruled and she concluded she nor Caleb could get in the tub with me. They also tried to put their stuffed animals in the pool to which I responded no and pointed out that cats of any kind – real or otherwise – don’t really like water. By this point my contractions were only 1-2 minutes long but now 3-5 minutes apart, giving me little rest in between each one.
I got really hot in the pool and got out in between contractions. I also did a few contractions out of the pool but felt like I was getting close so I got back in. Having had Serafina in a hospital 20 minutes after arrival (read: no laboring there, just on my back pushing for 10 minutes with no idea what was going on) and Caleb on my hands and knees on our bed in our upstairs bedroom, the pool was a new experience and I wasn’t sure if I was going to have this baby in the pool or not. It’s not that we (the midwives and I) hadn’t discussed it but more of the fact that I wasn’t sure if that’s how I wanted it to go (assuming I’d have a say since birth is so unpredictable).
I had spent most of my time with my belly forward, using the buoyancy of the water to hold it up while I hung on the edge of the pool and tried to relax through contractions. Melissa asked me to flip over so she could check the baby’s heart beat through a contraction so Ben helped me flip over and draped my arms across the back of the pool. I remember Anna bringing me a fresh cool wash cloth and hearing Melissa and Sarah discussing when they should check my dilation again when I felt the intense need to flip back over and start pushing.
Without warning, I cried out to Ben to help me turn back over and as soon as I could get onto a modified version of all fours (knees on the bottom of the pool, arms over the edge of the pool), I pushed hard. This broke my water and there were bubbles coming up in the pool. I didn’t have a chance to tell anyone I was ready to push but just yelled deep and loud and pushed with the next contraction wave (push #1). I heard Stephanie say she could see baby’s head and I felt the urge to push again. Melissa calmly asked me to let my body relax in between these contractions so I wouldn’t tear by pushing too hard and fast (I’m glad I listened as I ended up not tearing at all!). There was flurry of activity and Melissa nearly fell into the pool because the angle my body was at put the baby far away from where she could stand and reach in. Melissa kept coaching me through two more waves of contractions while Ben held my hands so I had something to push against (pushes #2 and #3).
The baby appeared under the water and Ben quickly flipped me back over onto my back. Melissa wiggled the baby up onto my chest but being a long torso-ed woman, it’s was a ways to put a baby on my chest with the cord still attached. Ben had to hold me a bit under my arms to get me out of the water enough to have the baby up on my chest but not in the water. After we got situated, Melissa asked if we’d like to know if the baby was a boy or a girl! It had been a few minutes and we hadn’t even thought to check yet! As soon as she said he was a boy, I couldn’t stop repeating over and over, “Thank you, Jesus!”, “Hi there!”, and “Hi Baby Micah!” I was so happy to finally be holding him. We cuddled while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. Afterwards, Ben said he was surprised at how quickly it went (1:30 pm to 7:23 pm) and also told me he was a little concerned about Micah because he was blue. Micah did cry right away, though, and was getting plenty of oxygenated blood from his cord.
Micah was born at 7:23 pm, three hours after a Seahawks victory just like his big brother Caleb. He was 8 pounds 15 ounces and 21 inches long. His big brother and big sister came out of the office to meet him just a few minutes later – Julie had taken them in there to watch a movie while I was in the last 20 minutes of delivery and she said they didn’t even flinch when I got really loud.
Having two midwives and two birth assistants around was amazing in this post delivery time. One of each attended to me, getting me out of the tub, helping me delivery the placenta, etc and one of each attended to Baby Micah, checking while he had skin to skin time with Ben.
My mom had brought a pie along with dinner and Julie had popped it in the oven earlier so we toasted Micah with the hard cider I had picked out along with piping hot blackberry pie. I settled in to the mattress on the floor with tons of pillows and blankets and we had some family time with each big sibling taking turns holding the new baby. Melissa did the full newborn check and he did great in all categories but she did notice he had a tongue tie. She offered to snip it right then but she encouraged us to go to a specialist later that week which is what we opted to do.
All of the helpers slowly left but not before I gave them each a present. When it comes to love languages, I’m a words of affirmation and gifts girl so each of these special women got a little clutch and a card of my thanks. Birth is so personal and so intense and you have to have just the right people around you to make it successful and dare I say enjoyable (as enjoyable as non-medicated vaginal childbirth can be!).
Ben put the kids to bed and Micah and I snuggled in to our bed for the night. Maya, who had never left the living room except to go to the bathroom, also settled in right next to the bed on the floor. Micah did a pretty good job nursing those first few feedings and I felt good enough that I told Ben to go upstairs and go to bed.
None of my children’s births was a favorite. The first, while the process was not what I might have wanted it to be, was the one that made me a mother so there’s no replacing that. The second was my first home birth and my first son and it was on Thanksgiving night so there’s no comparison there either. Then Micah’s birth was a gender surprise (by choice) and a birth pool home birth so that’s entirely different too.
With Micah’s birth, I stayed in bed with him (minus bathroom breaks) for nearly 3 days. I also didn’t leave the main floor of our house for a week. Taking the time to rest and recover even for just a few days was exactly what my body needed. I am still – and always will be – in awe of how God made women to birth babies. By listening to my body and the sound coaching of my midwives, I have loved both of my home birth experiences. While obviously difficult, birth is also exhilarating and I am so thankful for the birth experiences I’ve been given.