Memnoch the Devil: Michael’s Birth Story

After the Day of Reprieve, Dan and I headed back to the hospital to start induction. I had confidence in what we were doing, and even though I hated the monitors and IV I had to be hooked up to, I figured by sometime on Tuesday, I would deliver a baby.

My baby, on the other hand, had other plans.

I don’t know why I expected things to go… either smoothly OR as expected. The only one of my inductions that could be said to go well was the one for Flora, and a sunny-side up baby and three hours of pushing can’t exactly be called “smooth”.

So, Monday night, checked into hospital.

Tuesday got my breakfast, which consisted of liquids and strawberry gelatin. The thing about a planned delivery at the hospital is they don’t let you eat real food. It’s a worst-case-scenario type of mindset.

And to add insult to injury: I got decaf tea instead of coffee.

Dan and I settled in for a day of induction. The pitocin started.

And it didn’t do much over the next, oh, 10 hours. My cervix effaced but didn’t dialate. The contractions ramped up toward the end of the 10 hours as they turned the pitocin up, but my body simply wasn’t responding. We decided to turn everything off, pack everything up, and head home. And hope for natural labor to kick in over the next week.

Turns out, we didn’t have to wait very long.

After they turned off the pitocin, my contractions spaced out to about 4 or 5 minutes apart. They had gotten brutally strong over the last hour or so, and I expected them to taper off. I was tired, starving, sad and frustrated.

The contractions were not tapering off. I was not handling that very well. My midwife gave me a funny look as I was putting on my shoes and complaining about how hot I felt suddenly. (It was about this point that I gave Michael the nickname in the title of this post.)

“Listen,” she said. “I want you and Dan to walk around the floor a couple of times before you leave. Let’s see if those contractions go away.”

I had a contraction about four steps out of the room door. A few feet down the hallway, I had another.

Dan said, “That wasn’t five minutes.” He whipped out his smartphone, and started timing my contractions with the stopwatch app.

In the hour after they turned off the pitocin and Dan and I took two laps around the L&D floor, my contractions went from 5 minutes apart to a minute and a half apart. And those suckers were strong. When we went back into the room where my midwife was waiting, I said, “I don’t believe it. I think my body is screwing with me.” (I was in a GREAT frame of mind.)

My midwife said, “I’m pretty sure your body is not screwing with you.” She checked my cervix and announced, “You’re dilated to three centimeters.”

I won’t give you all the gory details. Suffice to say, after about another hour of hard contractions (and they still wouldn’t feed me), I asked for an epidural. Dan and I slept, and things continued to move along. They broke my water at midnight. Around 3 a.m., my epidural started to wear off. I was about 7 centimeters.

The baby was experiencing some heart decellerations, which was worrisome. The midwives changed shifts, and after assessing the situation, the new midwife put an internal monitor on the baby’s head to keep an eye on his heartrate. (It sounds kind of scary to describe, but they figured what had happened was that when I laid on my left side, the baby’s cord was getting compressed. Once I turned over and was on my back again, the decells went away.) After watching the baby through a few contractions, the midwife declared, “Okay, you’re going to push this baby out.”

That was kind of news to me.

I wasn’t feeling very strong contractions, which was going to make pushing challenging. *TMI ALERT: You may want to skip the rest of this paragraph.* I hadn’t dialated all the way, either, but my cervix was thinned out enough that the midwife could just stretch it the last three centimeters.

I started pushing at 3:30 a.m. I was using more muscles than I had ever used before (and felt it for days afterward). Everyone was shouting encouragement. (Okay, maybe they weren’t shouting, but it seemed like it to me.) I asked for some ginger ale, because I was desperately thirsty and I needed a sugar rush. I got it, too. At 4:48 a.m., Michael Timothy came out crying.

Because of the heart decellerations, there were pediatricians waiting to see him. After I got to see and touch him, the nurses took him to the peds (right in the room); Dan went over with him. The nurses got me cleaned up, and brought the baby back to me.

My parents and Dan’s sister came in around 5:30 a.m. to meet Michael. After a round of pictures, text messages, and tweets, my parents went off to get me and Dan breakfast, then went back to our house to get some rest. (They and my SIL had been at the hospital all night long.)

As if we hadn’t already thought about it, this labor was certainly enough to convince me that we are not going to have another baby. I’m okay with that. Michael feels like an appropriate bookend to his brother, and I’m ready to close the chapter on childbearing.

Now it’s time to focus on child rearing. God help us all.