Micah’s birth story really should start a few weeks before he was actually born. Since his older siblings were born at 36, 37, and 38 weeks of pregnancy, it wasn’t unreasonable for me to be looking for signs of labor several weeks before his due date, which was January 16th. And when I found out I was already 3 cm dilated at my 37 weeks appointment, I definitely thought he’d be here any day!
But the Lord’s timing is different than ours, isn’t it? I was pretty tired of being pregnant by the middle of December, and we had family in town for the last half of December. So I was *hoping* Micah would be born during that time so that Adam would have help. Well, Christmas came and went, family came and went, the New Year came and went, and still no Micah! At my 38 week check up, I was 4 cm dilated. That morning I had a major Japanese interview/evaluation…I’ll never forget that I did that evaluation while being 4 cm dilated!
Because of Christmas and New Years holidays and the kids being out of school, we had no Japanese lessons scheduled to start until January 12th. On Sunday the 10th, we had a sweet time of prayer and fellowship with our teammates and another couple, where they prayed for me and Micah. Our teammates also offered to watch the kids so Adam and I could go out on a date night on Monday night. On Monday, we took a long walk with the kids, I took a long hot shower, and then we went on our date and ate spicy Chinese food (known to induce labor!). As we picked the kids up, I said: “Tonight would be the perfect night for Micah to come…after date night, and before lessons start!”. I was not looking forward to starting lessons, knowing that any day Micah would arrive and I’d be off again for another month.
That night Eliana did not want to sleep. Adam tried everything until about 12:45am, and then I took over. I brought her downstairs and cuddled with her while I watched a show. At 2am I told her it was time for bed, and she seemed agreeable this time. As I started to pick her up, I felt a contraction and had to stop for a minute before we headed upstairs. I’d had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions before, but this one felt different. Eliana did go to sleep then, and I climbed back into bed. I dozed off, and then had another contraction. And another. By 3am I’d had 4 or 5 pretty painful contractions, and was fairly sure this was the real thing. I texted my family: “I’m pretty sure I’m in labor. I haven’t woke Adam up yet though…”. They all texted back “wake him up now!”. Since I was pretty sure I was now 5 cm dilated, everyone had been telling me I needed to get to the hospital as soon as labor started. My labor with Eliana only lasted 4 hours, so we all thought this labor was sure to be even faster!
I got up and did a few things, had another contraction, and decided to wake Adam up finally. He called our teammates, Jared and Tara, and Jared came over (super fast!) to watch the kids. I finished getting ready and gathering what I needed. Contractions still weren’t very painful and were still just under 10 minutes apart, but I knew it could speed up. We got to the hospital around 4ish and they monitored me for a little bit. I was about 7 cm at that point. Thankfully, they allowed me to be free of the monitors for the large majority of the labor, and let me roam around and have the “active labor” that I wanted. I was so thankful for that!
My contractions never got very intense. I had a birth playlist of worship music playing on my cell phone, and during contractions I would lean on Adam and listen to the music. Sometimes I sang along and prayed, and sometimes I asked Adam to pray. Near the end I needed him to press on my lower back while I stood or knelt during a contraction…it helped so much with the pain. I couldn’t do labor without Adam.
Besides Adam, there were a few things that got me through contractions without tensing up and focusing on the pain. One was that I focused on the fact that God made my body in such a way that each contraction was bringing me closer to meeting my little boy! And tensing up and not letting the contractions do their work would only make it take longer. The other thing that got me through was thinking about how I had done this three times before, and each time the result was another amazing little human being that God entrusted to me to take care of! I kept remembering that each time, at the end of labor, I easily thought, “I would do it again in a heartbeat”.
When my contractions got to be about 3-4 minutes apart, I started feeling really tired. I’d been in labor for 6 hours, but I’d been awake most of the night and had had a long day the day before. After one contraction, I decided to lay down on the mat on the floor and rest for a minute. I actually fell asleep for 5 or more minutes…that’s never happened to me before in labor! But I believe that was the turning point that brought on transition and the final stage of labor. When I woke up the contractions started getting closer together again. I walked a little farther with Adam to get things moving, and when we got back I started feeling pressure…not quite ready to push, but getting there. The nurse had said that when I felt ready to push or when my water broke, to call her. I didn’t want people coming in to check on me too soon, so I told Adam I wanted to wait for a few more contractions before calling the nurse.
After a few more and the pressure feeling getting more intense, I told Adam to call the nurse/midwife. They came in, put the monitor on again and had me lay on the bed to be checked…those were the most painful contractions! They said I was 10 cm and as soon as my water broke Micah would be born. I was genuinely surprised because even though I was tired and the contractions hurt, they just weren’t at the intensity I’d experienced in my previous labors when I got to the 10cm point.
They offered to break the water for me, but I wanted to wait a few more minutes to see if it would break on its own. At one point I thought it did, so we called the midwife in again. I also started feeling the urge to push but decided to let the contractions do more of the work and wait until I literally couldn’t help it. I was standing up, letting gravity help Micah move down, but the midwife told me I could get on my hands and knees if I wanted, so I did. My head was in Adam’s lap and the midwife was behind me. Everything was in Japanese, and at that point, I was not able to comprehend Japanese…so I basically just started pushing when I felt like it, even though I’m pretty sure they were asking me to wait because the doctor wasn’t there yet. As soon as I gave a real push, my water really broke…more like gushed and splashed and made a huge puddle! After that, I gave two more big pushes, knowing the midwife was there and not caring if the doctor was or not, and Micah was out! They laid him down underneath me and I picked him up while his umbilical cord was still attached. We had asked that they wait at least 1 minute, and then Adam stalled them another minute so that he could get some of that good oxygen-rich blood back into him from the placenta before the cord was cut.
Micah was covered in the white sticky stuff called vernix! He was also a little purple, but that’s pretty normal. However, after I held him for a minute, they whisked him away to be checked out. I had a very minor tear, which the doctor thought was amazing considering how big Micah was, so I got a couple stitches while Adam stayed with Micah.
When they brought him back, they let me hold him and try to breastfeed for another minute or two, but also told me they were concerned about his breathing and that he needed to be “warmed up”. A very similar scenario had happened with both Evangeline and Malachi, so I wasn’t too surprised or concerned, although I’m sad that I didn’t get to cuddle with him again until that afternoon, and then didn’t get to have him with me until the next day because he was placed in an incubator. By the next day, he was breathing well on his own again, and he was able to come into my room. We stayed in the hospital for 5 days, which is normal in Japan after childbirth. Micah lost more than 11% of his birth weight (which I’ve since read isn’t that uncommon for large babies like him – he was 9 lbs at birth), so I had to give him some formula to supplement until my milk came in fully. Other than that, he was and is a healthy little boy! His siblings love him and he’s doing great with all newborns do…sleeping, eating, pooping, and staring at their new world!
And just like every other time, I can’t help thinking: “I’d do it again in a heartbeat”. 🙂