Micah’s Birth Story

Micah at 1 week plus 1 day

Let’s get to the punchline first: Micah was born on the bathroom floor at the birthing center up in Danbury.

But the story starts on Monday. I went in for my weekly check-up with the midwives. They hooked me up for a non-stress test, and the machine picked up my contractions, which I could feel but was hard to differentiate from Braxton-Hicks, except for the frequency and duration. The midwife, Vanessa, was non-comittal, and said she’d see me the following Monday, for my 40 week check-up. By the time I got back out to reception, the receptionist had gone to lunch, so I would need to call to make my appointment.

I reminded myself over and over to call and make the appointment, while also telling myself, “I probably won’t need the appointment!”

For the next two days, I had frequent but irregular contractions, with back pain that came and went. I decided to call it early labor. As it happens, my friend NJ was also having contractions, despite not being due for another two or three weeks. So, we decided to race. We bet cookies to the first to have her baby.

On Thursday morning, I woke up with back pain that was a little more intense than what I’d been experiencing over the past few days. But I felt okay, so I sent Henry to work, remembering that I’d been in labor with Stella for a whole day. So, I was confident I could hang on until he got home from work. All the same, I texted my mother and told her pack a bag and put it in her car, in case she had to come straight from work. “But it’s probably nothing,” I told her, “Maybe. I’ll keep you posted.”

A little while later, I got a FaceTime call from my sister, who was on Cape Cod, 4 hours away. “You’re in labor!” she yelled at me. It felt like deja vu… hadn’t she said the same thing when I was in labor with Stella but in complete denial about it? Still, all the same, “I don’t know. It could be nothing. It’ll probably stop soon,” I insisted, not wanting her to make the trip for nothing. But Kate is not one to be deterred. She put in a call to Henry, who was just arriving at his desk, and told him to come home to me.

Fine, I guess this was really happening.

Kate also called our younger sister, Lilith, and told her to come watch the girls. She drove down from Albany, 2 and a half hours away,  with her fiance.

I’d been puttering around the house, doing laundry and the dishes, while the girls played and watched TV, and stopping only occasionally for a contraction. But soon, I found myself sitting in our armchair in the living room, breathing through contractions.

Around 10:30, Henry arrived home to find me working through contractions, no longer able to talk through them. Lilith and Anthony arrived around noon. Henry put our bags in the car, while I chatted with Lilith, who’d decided to take the girls to Cheesecake Factory and the mall– lucky kids.  At this point, I found myself assuming my favorite laboring position, leaning against the wall or counter, my feet spread wide apart, my belly hanging low, whenever a contraction hit.

I kissed my girls goodbye, and off we went to the birthing center. In the 12 minutes it took us to get there, I had four contractions. The nurse set me up on the monitor while we waited for Vanessa, who was attending a birth at the hospital across the street. But lying on the table was increasingly uncomfortable. Henry helped me off the table and we readjusted the monitors while I fell into my lean against the wall laboring position. When Vanessa came, she checked me. It was about 1 o’clock and I was 4 cm but only 60% effaced. I didn’t want to go home, so Vanessa sent us for a walk.

We strolled through the cemetery across the street (am I the only one that think it’s a bad omen to have a cemetery across the street from a hospital?) but my contractions were getting more intense, and it was hot. We made our way up a hilly sidewalk back to the birthing center, where the midwife suggested tha we get something to eat–specifically, ice cream. As we walked towards the door, I suddenly felt like I needed to stay put so Henry went off by himself to get ice cream, with instructions to get me something with a vanilla base, but free to get whatever flavor sounded good otherwise.

While Henry was gone, I decided to go upstairs to the birthing center because laboring in the office waiting room was making me feel self-conscious. The birthing center was empty, except for Robin, the most amazing nurse I’ve ever met. I waited in the kitchenette for Henry, using the breakfast bar as support for my laboring position. In between contractions, I paced. Henry finally returned with the ice cream. He’d gotten me sea salt and chocolate-covered pretzles (I think…). Whatever it was, it was delicious and to this day, I’m sad that I didn’t get to finish it and that we left it in the freezer.

Henry suggested going into the birthing room and getting settled in. I sat on the birthing ball in between contractions. I tried to sit on it during contractions but I couldn’t do it. I made a beeline for the wall, leaning against my arms every time a wave of contractions swept over me. Henry had put  the James Taylor station on iTunes Radio. I recognized the first song immediately and sang along with Sweet Baby James while working through contractions. A few more songs played before I recognized Jackson Browne singing Rock Me on The Water. I sang along, horribly off-key and out of sync too, but it made the contractions more bearable.

Somewhere in all this, I started throwing up. Hello, Transition, my old friend.

At 3pm, Robin checked me and found me to be at 6 cm. Henry started filling up the birthing tub in the bathroom, so that I could give it a try. While Henry was doing that, I suddenly had the urge to go to the bathroom. It took me a few minutes to realize that I didn’t have to go to the bathroom, that instead, I was pushing out a baby. I panicked. How could I be pushing?  I was only 6 cm. It was too soon, too early for this part, wasn’t it? Henry was still filling up the tub! Where was the midwife?

I saw Robin put down a mat and a pillow on the floor, and I had the clarity of thought in that moment that if I didn’t get off the toilet, my baby was going to be born in the toilet. I got myself down on the floor, on all fours. I don’t even remember pushing at this point. I just remember how painlessly the head came out, and how quickly the rest of his body followed, into Robin’s waiting hands. While I breathlessly asked if it was a boy or a girl, Robin was untangling the baby and aspirating him so he could breathe. Finally, I heard Henry say, “It’s a boy!” and Robin passed the baby under me into my hands. They helped me up off the floor and into bed. Vanessa was still across the street but another midwife, Katie, had come upstairs right as the baby was emerging.

It was 3:20 pm. In the space of twenty minutes, I’d gone from 6cm to birthing a baby. I guess all that early labor had done the trick.

{And NJ totally owes me cookies, though I might take a raincheck since her own baby finally decided to make an appearance this week.}

{Alice’s birth story is here and Stella’s story is here.}

5 thoughts on “Micah’s Birth Story

  1. auntie ali says:

    Oh so lovely Nancy. I love how intuitive your sister is. Good for her for having the insight to rally the troops when you needed it. Thank you for sharing your story, so well written and beautiful. Welcome to the world of boys!

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