Disclaimer: This is a birth story. If you’re not into a certain degree of overshare, this is not the post for you. Consider yourself forewarned.
On Saturday, I cleaned my house.
I didn’t scrub every baseboard or dust every surface or even consider cleaning my oven. It was just your basic tidying up. Laundry washed and folded and put away. Beds made. Dishes clean and floors swept. I don’t want to brag or nothin’, but it looked nice up in here, y’all.
As I finished up sweeping (but not mopping, I’m not a domestic ROBOT) the kitchen floor, I felt the baby start to squirm around a bit, followed by a random Braxton-hicks type contraction.
“You know,” I said to Nate as I brought our nightly ice cream into the living room and sat down for a little TV before bed, “I’m noticing some early type contractions. I think this kid will be here in the next few days after all.”
We sat and ate ice cream and I bemoaned the fact that I hadn’t been out for a run in about a week, and resolved to get up early-ish in the morning to go. We stayed up way too late, as per usual, watching tv/falling asleep on the couch, but finally headed upstairs to bed at about 1:30. I looked around at the tidy, quiet house, and enjoyed it. Cause that shit don’t last. But at least I was caught up for now, and if I could just maintain this until the baby got here…
As I brushed my teeth and got into bed, I felt a few more contractiony feelings. Nothing serious, more like baby stretching and my body reacting back. I briefly considered staying up and trying to time them with the handy contraction timer app I’d downloaded earlier this week, but I really did want to get up and run in the morning, so I decided to just go to sleep.
I slept poorly until 3:45, at which point I had to get up to pee.
At 4:00, I had to admit that I was not getting any more sleep, and I sure as hell wasn’t going for a run. I was going to be spending my day having a baby. I started timing contractions, and it started out weird, because this kid had the most epic hiccups for about 20 minutes. Like, really really strong hiccups. Interspersed with contractions that got strong, fast.
At around 4:30, I woke Nate up with what I hoped was a nice gentle kiss on the cheek, and said, “Oh hey, just wanted to give you a heads up. Looks like we’re having this baby today.” I intended to wait a full hour of consistent, timetable contractions before waking my midwife up so early. I’d hate for her to come when it would be hours and hours yet. Nate got up and after questioning whether he should shoot off a quick email to let the guys know he wouldn’t be at hockey that night (pro tip for any potential fathers to be reading this- that’s not a real priority to your wife at this precise kind of moment) began setting up the birth pool (hurray, waterbirth!).
At 4:48, I texted my midwife, Barbara, to give her a heads up. At 4:59 I decided I probably should go ahead and call her because maybe she would want to hear what I sounded like breathing through a contraction. I remember reading that with enough experience, that kind of thing can be telling. Sure enough, I had one while I was on the phone with her, and she said, “I’ll be there in an hour. Call if things change sooner than that.”
Immediately after hanging up the phone with her, I had another contraction. Except this time, I wasn’t breathing through it. I was vocalizing. And that made me think you know what? I need this to slow down. I’ve read that getting into the shower can slow things down. I’ll get into the shower to pass the time until Barb gets here. (In hindsight? Shower was not my smartest idea. Remember how I said Nate was setting up the birth pool? Part of the process is filling the pool with water, if you can believe it. So using up all the hot water in the shower was, ipso facto, a terrible idea.)
At 5:24, Nate called her again. I think he was starting to panic at how fast things were moving, and he was not the only one. She said she was leaving her house in 5 minutes. Nate heard that she would be here in 5 minutes, which is the information he relayed to me, and while it turned out to not be accurate, I’m damn glad he said that because I thought okay, I can I do this for five more minutes.
Twenty minutes later, after what I can pretty safely assume was a good bit of speeding, Barb arrived. When she got here, I was kneeling in the blown up but not even close to being filled pool. There were maybe two inches of water in this massive pool, and I dipped my belly down into that like my life depended on it. And at this point? It felt like it did. I love water. Especially hot water. It is soothing like nothing else.
But I’m gonna be honest with you. Over the next hour, as we turned the water on and off, trying to muster up as much hot water as we possibly could, I was kind of a whiny baby. I remember using phrases such as “How much longer do I have to do this?”, and “I am so done.” and, “This was a terrible idea.”
After an earlier unsuccessful attempt at checking my progress (all we found out was that the baby was still face up which is not great news for ease of delivery, and when she couldn’t give me a number of centimeters I was convinced she knew but just wasn’t telling me because I wasn’t even halfway there and I’d be doing this forevvvvvvvvvver), I was hesitant to allow the midwife to check again, but I also really really wanted to know what I was looking at as far as how much more I had to do. My legs hurt, my hips hurt, my back hurt, my everything just fucking hurt, and I just wanted to not be doing this any more. So I had her check. And since this time I was on my hands and knees, she went in from a different angle and she was able to determine that I’d progressed to “maybe an 8 or 9? Ohhhhh and there goes the baby’s head, now it’s positioned properly.” Another 5 minutes and it was time to push. And another six minutes after that, that baby was out.
So to recap- woke up at 4. Shower at 5. Into pool by 6. Baby born at 7:01.
And where were the girls, you might be asking? My girls that come into my room like clockwork by 6:30 every morning, with requests for the iPad and breakfast and snuggles? THEY SLEPT THROUGH THE WHOLE THING. I was yelling and moaning and whining and whimpering and cussing up a storm, and those three slept through it all, not 15 feet away. It was the weirdest thing. The baby was born, we did the whole placenta delivery/cord cutting/check to see if it’s a girl or if “ohhhhhhmygah it has a penis”.
One bummer of everything happening so fast? I totally did not have time to set up my camera settings so that it would be easily useable for anyone to just grab. Unfortunately, that means that all the photos taken in Michael’s first few moments of life look like the one above. In fact, that’s the best and clearest of them all. I’m actually surprised I was able to bring anything back at all, this particular image was more than 10 stops underexposed, plus I had to tweak all the highlight and shadow levels… Ah, well. It is what it is.
Nate took the baby for some father/son skin to skin bonding time, and I jumped back into the shower (again) to rinse off. I joined them in bed and we snuggled and nursed (after I quickly grabbed the camera and set everything up in auto mode) and then we heard the door to the girls’ room open.
Fiona crept in first. She took a look around, a bit surprised. We called her over, told her the new baby was here. We told her he was a boy. She looked at me, said “A boy?!?!? Ohhh, just what I wished for!!!” And then she climbed into bed for snuggles.
A couple minutes later, we heard the door open again. Violet made her way down the hallway, climbed into bed, joined the snuggle party.
A few minutes after that, we heard Bianca calling from her crib. Fiona went down the hall to get her out, and Bianca came into the room with a confused expression on her face. There were these extra people, there was a big swimming pool, Mama was sitting on Daddy’s side of the bed, there was a baby… It was a bit much for my littlest girl to wake up to. She started crying, and came to me for snuggles. After a few minutes, she warmed up to the situation and showed some interest in baby brother.
And from there we weighed and measured brother, and we took turns holding him, and Fiona put his first diaper on, and we all talked about what name we should use for this new little person.
Nate and I have had this name combo sort of in cold storage since 2008, when we first had reason to think of baby names, and so we kept coming back to it. I wasn’t sure, was it too boring? Did it sound good with the girls’ names? Was it weird that it’s the same as one of Nate’s cousins? But I kept coming back to a conversation we had way back when I was pregnant with Fiona.
“Hey Nate, we should talk boy names. Any thoughts?”
“Well, I’ve always liked the name Michael. You know, the archangel and all that.”
“Yeah, that’s a good name. And it’s my dad’s name, too. What about middle names? If it’s a girl I know I want to use Jeanne as a middle name, but I don’t have any ideas for a boy.”
“You know what name I’ve always kinda liked? But is waaaaaaay too Italian to ever use as a first name? Salvatore.”
“Really? Did you know that my grandfather was named Salvatore?”
“Whoa. That’s kinda perfect then, huh?”
And it kinda is.
And he kinda is.
And that’s the beginning of his story.
Welcome to the family, Mikey. This is gonna be good.