(Read part one of Micah’s birth story here!)
After my contractions began, I was still skeptical it might not be the real thing. I texted my mom to fill her in and she fully believe it WAS the real thing! My contractions felt a lot like menstrual cramps – very, very intense menstrual cramps. I did not have any back labor, it was all very centered in my abdomen. Matt had downloaded a contractor timer on his phone and began to time them, as well as note their intensity. We’d planned to call my midwife at 9pm since that would have been 6 hours after my water broke, but because they had begun to intensify so much we decided to head in to the hospital at 8:30pm.
We live almost 30 minutes from the hospital; when we arrived the main entrance was closed so we had to enter through the Emergency Room. It was raining; I remember Matt dropping me off at the front and I found the nearest bench to sit & wait for him to park. A volunteer approached me and asked if I was in labor; when I answered “yes”, she brought me a wheelchair. About this time, Matt arrived and she took us through the Emergency Room and up to Labor & Delivery. We had to wait in a “holding room” for what felt like forever. Two nurses, Rachel & Glenda, came in to get my vitals & check to see if my water actually broke. As soon as they checked, another rush came and they immediately knew I was in actual labor. They took us to our labor room and Matt called my mom to fill her in. Since Matt didn’t bring our bags in when we first arrived (we didn’t want to jinx it!), Matt ran down to the parking lot while I changed into the hospital gown & they got me set up in the room. While he was gone they checked my vitals again and gave me an IV line just in case it would be needed later. It took a few nurses & a few tries to find my vein, but luckily they did!
Matt made it back up to the room completely drenched! He ran out the wrong entrance and had to run all the way around the hospital in the pouring rain!! All of the doors were locked since it was after hours, poor guy!!! By the time we were settled in the room & he was back, it was close to 10pm. They checked my cervix in between contractions (talk about painful!) and I was a little over 4 cm, 95% effaced and baby has -2.
Sidenote: we weren’t announcing Micah’s name until he was born, so when the nurse’s asked what to put on the whiteboard in the room Matt told them to make something up. They wrote “Herman” and every nurse on the floor was told it was a “fake name”. Throughout the night it became a joke and multiple nurses stopped by to check in on me and laugh about our “Herman”!!!
We dimmed the lights, turned on my Spotify playlist and got ready for a long night! I realized very quickly that I hated laying down during contractions. It was hard for me to “power through” just laying on my back. I felt like I needed to move with the contractions yet I didn’t want to walk. We tried a medicine ball but the one provided by the hospital was too tall for me so I couldn’t get comfortable (I’m short at only 5’2”). Our nurses kept asking me if I wanted the jacuzzi but I was so hot already I feared the hot water would make me miserable. We ended up raising the bed so that I could lean forward against the bed, bend my legs & rock with each contraction. I also began to vomit and as I’m sure you can imagine, it was terrible! It felt like I had the stomach flu on top of labor … horrible!
I honestly don’t know how long I stayed in that position … looking back, time sort of stands still for me. I know I was laboring that way when my mom arrived (she literally drove through a mudslide on the mountain to get there!). I know at one point my legs started to shake and realizing that I needed to sit & give myself a break. Because lying on my back wasn’t helpful for me, I climbed into bed on my hands & knees and began to labor that way. We also realized pretty quickly that I was a yeller. 🙂 I didn’t scream, and I didn’t yell curse words… but I did yell “owie” to the intensity of the contractions!! I vaguely remember Matt and my mom laughing a few times!
Unfortunately our midwife was not “on call” until 7am so she did not come to the hospital. The OB for our practice came in sometime after midnight to check my cervix; I was 8cm. I was so upset. All of this pain for just a few centimeters?! I remember looking at the nurse and saying “That’s all?!”. She encouraged me on my progress and reminded me that an epidural was still an option. At this point, I decided to move to the jacuzzi to mix things up. I changed into a sports bra & tried to relax with the jets in between contractions. They kept the monitor on me even in the jacuzzi, and were constantly checking baby’s heart rate & oxygen. They asked me if I felt like I was ready to “push” and I said yes. On the way back to the bed, I remember vomiting a few more times but thankfully we made it back.
I know it was 3am at this point because our nurses shift was ending and they introduced me to Madelyn, my new nurse. The nurses checked my cervix and thankfully I was at 10 cm!! They began to talk me through “pushing”; I’d read that for first time moms, “pushing” can be the hardest part because you don’t quite know when to do it and what it feels like. I can definitely agree with all of that! I pushed for about 30 minutes and nothing was happening. It was exhausting, painful and disheartening. They decided to check me again and said they felt amniotic fluid which means my water hadn’t fully broken yet. They called the OB back in so she could break my water fully. She also told me that the baby was still too high – he was at 0 and needed to be at -2. She told me I needed to stop pushing and continuing laboring until he was low enough to be pushed
At this point a few things happened:
- I almost completely gave up on my plan for “no epidural”. I was over 12 hours into labor & completely exhausted.
- The pain and intensity of my contractions became even MORE real. I think having her break the last of my water really spurred the contractions on and they began to come closer together & with much more intensity!!
- I didn’t know this until after Micah was born, but apparently when the OB left the room, she told Madelyn (my new nurse) that I may end up in the OR if I didn’t get an epidural. She felt I was too exhausted to keep laboring and then be able to push on top of that. THankfully, even though Madelyn has just met me, she knew I wanted a medicine-free delivery and began to go above & beyond to make sure I received just that!
Madelyn moved me to the jacuzzi filled with cool water (so wonderful because I was so warm) and had me try a few different positions to open my pelvis for baby. I remember looking at Matt and telling him that I didn’t think I could do it anymore. Thankfully, he ignored my doubt & kept on encouraging me!:) I also remember Madelyn coming in and telling me I needed to stop yelling with the contractions and focus on breathing. There’s nothing like being told your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen to get you focused on GIVING it to him!!!
Apparently I was only in the jacuzzi about 20 minutes but it felt like HOURS. She moved me to the bed, layed me on my side and gave me a peanut ball. I labored with my leg thrown over the ball so that my pelvis was open for baby to move down the birth canal. I labored on my right side for 20 minutes, then my left for 20 minutes. I remember telling her that I HAD to start pushing… I thought I was feeling the pushing sensation before but now I was without a doubt feeling it and I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. (During all of this, a friend from church who works in Labor & Delivery came in and prayed over me! I don’t remember what she said, but I remember crying and thinking it was divine intervention!)
I began actively pushing at 4:30am. It was by far the HARDEST thing I have ever done! I was on my back with my legs in stirrups. At every push, I would lean up, grab my legs and push with everything in me. They gave me an oxygen mask because baby’s oxygen level dropped due to being smushed in the birth canal. I remember seeing my mom behind the OB, hearing Matt talking in my ear and rubbing my shoulder and nurses literally cheering for me at every contraction. They would count-down for me, tell me to keep pushing and literally yell for me to not give up. I honestly don’t think I could have done it without them!!!
Our OB said she could see his head and that he had red hair, ha! She asked Matt if he wanted to touch him and while I remember Matt saying before that he didn’t want to see anything “down there” he jumped at the chance and touched our sweet boys head!! Sometime around 5am, the OB told me he was getting stuck on some of my skin; she said if she cut it, he’d be out in the next push or two. I couldn’t tell her to cut it fast enough!! I pushed as hard as I could at the next contraction and simultaneously felt the worst pain of my life … I looked up at Madelyn (nurse) and I’ll never forget hearing her say “Grab his head, Kat! He’s here! Grab your baby!”. I reached down and pulled him up onto my chest in the most surreal moment of my life. I’m crying just thinking about it!!!!
He was slimy, and wiggly and covered in gue… but our baby was HERE!! I looked up at Matt’s teary eyes and just started sobbing. While laboring, I remember looking at the clock across the room and praying he would come at 5am… and at 5:12am he entered the world!! Just seconds after he was born, they all said “so, what’s his name?!” and I’ll never forget looking at him, looking at Matt and then looking my mom in the eyes when I said “This is Micah!”. Such a special moment for us!!! They let Matt cut the cord, and I held our boy as the sun came up over the mountains (yes, we had a mountain view from our room… truly perfect!!!).
I’m so thankful for Matt’s servant-hearted and coach-like attitude during delivery. I honestly didn’t know how well we’d do together during labor … would I get frustrated when he tried to help me, would I lash out or just want to be introverted & alone?! I’m so thankful the Lord blessed our time and honestly can’t imagine experiencing it with anyone else. I’m so proud of him!!! I’m also so glad we delivered at a hospital that is so friendly toward mama’s & baby’s!! The attitude of our nurses made a world of difference & I’ll forever be grateful for how much care they had for us!! Madelyn was my birth fairy godmother and went above & beyond even though she barely knew me. I’m so thankful she was my nurse and truly helped me have an unmedicated, natural delivery!!!!!
I can honestly tell you that my labor & delivery with Micah was the hardest yet most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I remember my mom saying that the memory of the pain fades when you see your baby … I didn’t believe her until now. Even just 30 days later the memory is dim in comparison to this sweet, sweet baby sleeping on my lap right now. I might be sleep deprived and still getting adjusted to life with a newborn, but having Micah Asher in my life is the greatest gift and the only legacy I need. God is so good.