I am finally getting a chance to sit down and write out my birth story before I forget it. Now I do have an almost 8 year old so I am acutely aware of how the best laid birth plans can sometimes not happen. How my birth went with my daughter is one of the reasons I waited so long to have another one! And I was intent on forging ahead with this pregnancy and birth with absolutely no fear and complete faith. This was no small task considering at 27 weeks I was put on strict bedrest and remained there for 10 weeks.
To say this was the most challenging thing that has happened to me in my life would be an understatement. I could have spent the time asking WHY? continuously and moping around. Thankfully I was able to rise above that and realize that asking WHY? was completely fruitless. All things in life that happen to us are blessings whether we can grasp the good in them or not. So I knew there must be some reason for this to happen. I basically just made a point to say ‘thank you’ to G-d each and every day of my bedrest marking my gratitude for making just one more successful day to grow the baby.
What else could I do? Being thankful for the ability to rest and focus on growing my baby was what got me through the long days. Being thankful for my amazing husband and daughter who rallied around me in complete support was another thing to be truly thankful for. I feel that all of the events of the past year, all the personal and spiritual growth, led up to this moment. And everyone rose to the occasion beautifully. This is not to say we did not have challenging days, we most certainly did. It’s to say that on the whole, we not only survived, we grew much closer as a family unit and in our love and devotion for each other. This was truly a huge blessing.
So on to the actual labor and delivery….
We were approaching 37 weeks and that is technically ‘full term’. So we decided to go off the anti-contraction medication I had been taking and leave it in G-d’s hands. I had my daughter at 36 weeks 5 days so I was not concerned about the baby coming at this time. We were ready for it. What we didn’t expect was for it to happen so soon after going off the medications. It made me very thankful for those meds to be honest! I was able to keep cooking this baby for so long with the rest and meds! Again – a huge blessing.
Not two days after going off the meds, I went into labor. My contractions were 5 minutes apart almost instantly and we called our midwife. She came over and I was still very thick (not very much effaced) and maybe 1 cm. So we thought maybe it was a false alarm and so we went for a walk together. It was beautiful outside. I hadn’t been outside in a month! So I was super happy for the blessing of a walk! The contractions intensified and later that night, I was almost totally effaced and dilated to 3 cm. So this baby was definitely coming that night (or so we thought). This was Friday night. My midwife was a bit concerned that the baby’s hand was going to come out first as that is what she felt when she checked me. I was almost at 4 cm and nearing active labor and we determined she could likely reposition the hand away from the baby’s head if we broke my waters. She does not normally do this but in my case and with how I was progressing we decided to go for it.
After my waters were broken, I was pretty tired. I had been laboring for a while and I guess my body decided it was time for a rest. We ended up sleeping a few hours. When I woke up the next morning, things started up again. I labored the entire day and into the night and was having regular and strong contractions, however, I only progressed to about 7 cm dilated in all that time. And was EXHAUSTED. However, I somehow found some burst of energy and gave it all I had. My husband was cheering me on and for about 3 hours we worked very hard to progress things further. We took Black and Blue Cohosh and as a last resort, castor oil. But my midwife could see that my cervix was starting to swell. And again – I was totally spent and extremely exhausted. I did not know how I would even push at this stage. We decided to rest an hour and see what happened but it was clear when I woke up that things were moving in the wrong direction. I had been laboring for well over 24 hours and my waters had been broken for 24 hours at this point.
We made the easy choice (for me at least) to go to the hospital even though my mantra through the entire labor was – NO HOSPITAL! NO PITOCIN (you see I had pitocin at my last birth and I was dead set on not having it again because it was so bad for me that time). Sigh. The best laid plans. At this point I wasn’t even sad about it – I was thankful for it. Our midwife has wonderful relationships with the hospital and staff and called and set everything up for us and she ushered us in very quickly. Another blessing.
They gave me an epidural because the pitocin was going to be administered to possibly move things along. We quickly realized the pitocin was not going to help this time. Every time they pushed it, the baby’s heart rate went down and it did nothing to make my contractions stronger or more regular. My contractions actually appeared strong and regular to the doctors and nurses but just not quite strong enough to continue to dilate me for some reason. The nurse checked me again and said I was 5 cm. Backwards. At this point I told my husband, “get ready – we are about to have a c-section.” The doctor came in about 30 min later and checked me and I was at 4 cm at this point. Backwards again. I also had spiked a fever of 103. Yes it was c-section time. And I have to admit, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. After laboring 30 hours, I was DONE. This baby needed to COME OUT. All I wanted was a safe and healthy baby. Nothing else mattered. Getting a c-section was a huge blessing. I mean if I had lived at any other time in the past…I would be dead right?
Time to deliver…via C-section
They wheeled me in and it was done within 40 minutes of the decision and we had our healthy baby BOY! We gave birth via c-section at 7:37 am to a strong healthy boy of 5 lbs, 6 oz. and 18 inches long. And I could not be more thankful and would not change one thing. He was fantastically pink and his Apgar score was 9. He was fantastic!
A special thank you to the nurse who grabbed my husband’s phone to capture some amazing photos of the c-section. We didn’t even know we had them until he looked at his photos about two weeks later once the fog of all that had happened started to lift.
I got to experience what a home birth was like and also a respectful hospital birth. Would I change anything? I can’t think of anything I would change at this point. I could ask WHY? but instead I am chosing to ask WHO? Who is like you – G-d? Abundant in your blessings and timing. Testing my faith at every turn.
I was able to nurse him and then they said they noticed some grunting and so they wanted to put him in the NICU on a CPAP machine for a little while. They also were concerned about infection and wanted to watch him. So we let go of the reins again and entrusted him into the doctor’s hands. His blood sugar was low (well yours would be too after so many hours of labor!) and so as soon as I was able and he was able, I went up to nurse him again.
I was completely overwhelmed with how supportive the hospital was of our choices and our birth plan. This was night and day to my daughter’s birth and time in the NICU. Nothing was fed to my son except when I nursed him. No pacifiers were given at my request. I got no questions or lectures about our eye drops, Vitamin K or vaccine choices. We also didn’t have them wash the baby. Again this hospital staff was completely supportive and respectful and we could not have asked for more. What a blessing!
He was released from the NICU after about 24 hours and we were able to room in with him for one more night in the hospital. He slept on my chest and on Evan’s chest and did wonderfully. The next day, after just 2 nights in the hospital, we were able to come home.
What’s in a name?
We did not know the gender of our baby ahead of time so we chose a girl’s name and a boy’s name about a month ago. The name we were drawn to was Micah. Micah means in Hebrew – Who is like you G-d? This comes from the Mi Chamocha prayer which is a part of the Song of the Sea. מִי כָמֹֽכָה בָּאֵלִים יְיָ? At the Jewish deliverance by G-d’s hand out of the bondage and slavery of Egypt through the Red Sea, Moses and the Jews broke out into song (Exodus 15). We loved the name and the meaning of freedom that is represented in this Song. There is none other like G-d and his ways are AWESOME. We wanted to imprint this on our son’s soul…a sense of awe and faith that everything that happens is a blessing. To know that being blessed most definitely does not mean a life without struggle…it is actually the opposite. It is in the moments of struggle when we truly see G-d’s hand guiding us in our purpose.
It is only today, after a week of adjusting to our new lives as a family of 4 that I am researching more about the name and the timing of Micah’s birth for our bris or brit milah tomorrow. It was at this moment that I realized Micah was supposed to come on the exact day that he did and we had no reason to want it any other way!
We were in the midst of Chanukah and as you might be aware the story of Chanukah starts with the Greek’s trying to force the Jews to become Hellenists and denounce our G-d by not honoring shabbat, not getting circumcised and not honoring the Torah. The Maccabees fought back and were able to restore the Temple from desecration by finding some pure olive oil with which to light the menorah. The miracle is that the oil should have lasted only 1 night but instead lasted 8 nights. What does Maccabee mean? מִי כָמֹֽכָה בָּאֵלִים יְיָ – Who is like you G-d? Same thing as Micah. Micah was born on December 18th, 2016 or the 18th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. G-d’s name is mentioned 18 times in the Song of the Sea! 18 also means Chai – Life. The middle name we had already selected for Micah is Hymie. This was for my husband’s late grandfather and my late great grandfather. It is a variant spelling for Chaim which means LIFE in Hebrew.
So you see, Micah Hymie had a date in mind to come into this world. A date determined by G-d and not us. In our faith we ended up with a very healthy baby boy and my prayer for him is to find complete faith and joy and to see everything that happens to him as a blessing.