Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fourth Child (Micah's lengthy gestation followed by a speedy delivery)

I guess little brothers want to be like their big brothers.  As in Zade's birth "process," Micah decided that I needed **lots** of practice contractions. As early as three weeks before his due date, I was experiencing sections of the evenings (and into the night) of hard contractions, five minutes apart that would last for a couple of hours.  I'd get Pete concerned, take a shower, go to bed and wake up still pregnant.

Once we were within days of the due date, the contractions slacked off.  We passed due date.  Contractions still almost non-existent.  After about a week after due date, they began coming back pretty fiercely.  I would text my midwife to give her a heads up "tonight may be the night!" only to go to bed and wake up still pregnant.

I ate eggplant parmesan two or three times. With Zade it seemed to work, but not for Micah.  I walked.  I prayed.  I cleaned.  I let the house get dirty (to tempt Murphy's Law).  And I cleaned again.  I went to the chiropractor. I painted the hall bathroom (shout out to Mythic non-toxic paint).  We hosted students for dessert, we had staff meetings, I waddled up to church to take the girls to G.A.'s (Girls in Action, Baptist girls missionary group), choir practice and to ride their bikes. We had family come to visit, we let family leave with no results... we even let Zade visit my parents for a few days while we waited.

Nine days after the due date, I took Gracie to proof for a memory award with Classical Conversations (two complete subjects, 100% verbatim, 24 topics).  She did it!  I was so proud!  We needed to celebrate!  I suggested a Chick-fil-A milkshake. Faith heartily agreed. However, it was Gracie's achievement and she wanted to go to the Science Center.

Since it was Spring break, they had all the cool "Saturday stuff" all week and to Gracie's delight we ended up there as they were feeding the snakes.  I have to say it was one of the coolest things I have seen.  Faith also thought it was pretty interesting.  We also saw "Kats, the Meerkat Musical" which was both lame and hilarious.  During the meerkat program, I started having contractions.  I did my best to track them on my phone (free app) without alarming the people sitting directly behind me.  *this is not a subtle app, huge button that says "start timer."

By the time the final song was sung, the contractions had stopped and we headed home.  Pete's sisters had offered to pay for me to have a massage.  My chiropractor recommended a lady who was certified in pre-natal massage who sometimes worked with him at his office.  I called her and she had a space available that night. So Pete handled church and G.A.'s while I headed over to get a massage.  It was really good - but no contractions.  I came home all relaxed and Pete and I watched TV and ate cake.

After some down time, Pete went downstairs to work (midnight-ish) and I went to bed.  Pete came to bed around 3:30 a.m.  I started having contractions.  I knew he was exhausted so I got up and went to the living room as I waited to see if this was "it."  I was hungry so I heated up some eggs and made toast.  I turned on the TV and was "happy, happy, happy" to find reruns of Duck Dynasty.

About thirty minutes later, I felt really strongly - these things are not messing around.  The contractions were anything but textbook.  Not progressive (some only 2 minutes apart, others 5 minutes apart) and varying in length (35 seconds to over 2 minutes long).  *But* they were hard!  I began muting the TV while the contractions came because it became irritating to me.  Since I've already given birth three times, I knew that concentration to get through contractions was an absolute here-it-comes, real-labor-is-here sign.

Here's how things went down from there...

So I texted my midwife.....and then I texted the other midwife (R).....and I went upstairs and let Pete know that his entire night's rest would consist of one hour.  Pete heads downstairs to add more air to the birth tub that had been sitting inflated for the last 15 days.  I hadn't yet heard from my midwife so I decided to call her.  My texts had not gone through!  She was out of town and that very night the other midwife's cell phone had taken a bath along with her toddler.  My contractions are definitely saying "here he comes!" and we need a midwife on the way!  I turn on the computer and begin playing the birth worship music I had found a few weeks ago.

Pete fills the tub (talk to him about the rigging required to get the water down the hall into the den).  I patiently wait - leaning on the ottoman - making guttural sounds through each contraction.  I head to the bathroom and my water breaks at 6:17 a.m. (Pete makes a note).   Pete helps me into the tub and I feel the urge to push.  I tell Pete.  He says, "Please don't!" When the color returns to his face, he fumbles for the phone to call our midwife.  She says R should be there by now but that she can talk us through this if necessary.

She advised trying to breathe through a couple of contractions without pushing.  I tried, but couldn't not push...  I just didn't tell Pete at the time.

Gratefully just a few minutes later, R came dashing down the stairs and said, "I'm here, go ahead and push!"  R noticed the water was a bit cooler than body temperature and Pete tried to warm it up, but the water heater couldn't keep up.  So (stereotypically) Pete was sent to boil water.  It was around 6:30 a.m. and Pete went to wake the girls so they could watch.  Both Gracie and Faith stood at the end of the pool while I pushed out their brother.  At one point Faith covered her ears.  I guess my "sounds of labor" are a bit loud. ;-)

This time around I was acutely aware of every stage of the descent (apparently that's common after the third birth).  The music was great - it helped to focus my attention away from my natural tendency to think "help! I don't like this!" and focus on thanking God for each contraction.  While I was very tempted to just push with all my might and get him out, R reminded me to slow down, don't hold my breath, gently let him come.  Oh, how hard that was!

I finally got his head out and it seemed like a long time (maybe 5 minutes) before I had a hard enough contraction and energy to push his shoulders and body out.  R made some adjustments to his position, a good contraction came and finally Micah was born at 6:51 a.m.  Did you do the calculations?  Thirty four minutes from water breaking.  Yes, Pete almost solo-delivered our son!  He is extremely grateful he didn't have to.

I held Micah close to me for several minutes while we were still in the tub. R kept handing me warm, dry towels to warm him up.  As a family member pointed out, please note that the pink towel was simply warm and available at the time.  He has been exclusively in masculine or gender-neutral colors for all blankets, towels and sleepers ever since. ;-)

Gracie and Faith both pitched into help (putting towels in the dryer to warm them, holding Micah, even making calls to family and friends to share the good news).  R said they were excellent assistants!

After the placenta was delivered, the cord was cut and we were out of the pool - everyone was checked over.  Once again, Praise God - no tearing for me.  Micah was weighed and measured.  This little ruddy, round-headed bundle of sweetness was 8 pounds, 7 ounces and twenty-one inches long.  He nursed very well right from the start.  Although Pete almost had to deliver his son, he managed to stay completely out of the birth tub this time, LOL!

After the birth, my wonderful husband made turkey bacon and grits for me (which is really out of his cooking comfort zone).  As we all enjoyed the delicious breakfast the feeling of "wow - this is over and I'm sooo tired" hit.  Micah and I were doing well so R packed up and headed home (she would come check on us the next day).  The girls sacked out on the couch to rest and watch TV while Pete went to find another hour or two of sleep before the grandparents and Zade arrived.  Micah latched/nursed really well and then we both slept as well.

I've now had four births, the last three being water births.  Each birth story has its own unique mark of God's grace and provision.  For the last several years, we have felt God leading us to have four children... and there is a sweet "completeness" to our family.

Love, Carra