The Christian Birth Testimony of Jackson
The Birth of the #LittleBrownBun AKA Baby Hulk
July 13th, 2016 – Wednesday
I woke up around 4 in the morning. Contractions had just begun. They weren’t very strong. But I couldn’t sleep through them. That’s when I knew what I thought had been cramps were actually contractions this whole time. So, I pretty much had contractions on and off for about 1.5 months before Jackson arrived. I had contractions about every hour until about 12 pm. They had gotten as close as every 10 minutes by 2 pm. By this point, Kira (doula) was over and helping me climb stairs, walk around, be more comfortable, etc. Then stuff started to slow down. They were every 30 minutes and I wanted to get checked. We all went to see Cindie (midwife). When we got there, she checked and I was about 1 cm dilated. Not what I wanted to hear, but it was ok.
She said it was still going to be a while so I should really rest as much as possible and there was no need to try to make things happen. I wish I had listened to her. She told me to take a bath, drink some wine, watch a movie, do anything to try and distract me and relax me. She also said a morphine shot was an option to help me relax and sleep. I said I wasn’t ready for that yet. She told us we could call her at anytime, if I felt like I needed it and couldn’t sleep. So…we went home. I got home had dinner. Bryant drew me a bath. I drank some wine and took sleeping pills. Contractions were still happening about every hour. I was uncomfortable, but not in pain. I found the contractions got more intense when I laid down. I tried to go to sleep.
July 14th, 2016 – Thursday
At about 3 in the morning, I just couldn’t sleep anymore. I was restless and felt like I had barely slept a wink. We called Cindie, made the 20 minute drive to the clinic and got the morphine. Within 30 minutes, I was feeling the effects and ready to pass out as soon as I got home. And I did. I woke up around 11 am. Sleeping for about 5 am to 11 am isn’t really that long. But it felt amazing. I had something to eat and drink after I woke up. Contractions were coming about every hour or so. I was pretty uncomfortable and sore and tired and couldn’t seem to find a position my body would tolerate. We watched some TV. I think I just moped around a lot. Not wanting to do anything while at the same time wanting to be useful somehow. I think Bryant was pretty excited. He wanted me to go walking, or do the MILES circuit, or Spinning Baby stuff, or use my breast pump for nipple stimulation. I was so annoyed with him. I no longer wanted labor or birth to happen. I wanted to sleep. And the contractions weren’t allowing it.
We went back and forth about what to do. I took another bath. Drank some wine. Then we tried watching Spiderman VS Batman or the new Batman movie. I don’t remember. I never finished watching it. I think it was the latest Batman movie. I ended up hooking myself up to the breast pump. I was only having contractions as long as I kept the breast pump on. If I turned it off, they were only occurring every hour. Around 10 pm, I just couldn’t take it any more. I was allowed up to 3 morphine shots, if I remember right. We went in for the 2nd. I also got checked and found out I was at 2 cm. We got home around 11 pm and I had half a glass of wine and went to sleep.
July 15th, 2016 – Friday
Birth is full of late nights, early mornings, weird noises and lots of fluids. Friday I woke up at 3 am. Contractions were strong, unwavering, undeniable and unrelenting. This is when I knew, “This is it. I’m going to meet Jackson today. It’s happening. And you are with me, Lord.” Little did I know it would still be another 18 hours before I would lay him on my chest. But in that moment, I was strong, determined and focused. I had a strength that I never had before. And that I probably won’t have again till the next birth. I got out of bed and woke up my mom. I wanted Bryant to get as much rest as possible for our long day. I had big, strong, real contractions ever 8-10 minutes. I laid on the couch trying to sleep in between them all. My mom supported me while contractions came and I stood, rolled around on the birthing ball, stair-stepped on the couch. As well as my personal favorite, did the “hip squeeze.” Can I get an AMEN? Bryant woke up around 6:30 am and was kind of angry. He was sure he was going to walk out into the living room and find us all basking in the glory of the Little Brown Bun and he had missed it all. He didn’t. My mom and I updated him on what had been going on. He made breakfast and made the calls to Kira and Cindie. Elise, the midwife on call, listened to me go through a couple contractions and said she was getting her bag ready. The photographer was on her way as well. They both arrived around 8:30 am. The birthing tub had been set up Wednesday. We were about to approach the 48-hour mark. At that point, it has to be emptied and re-filled. For hygienic reasons. I just needed to get in it before 4 pm.
Around 9 am, I was relaxing and felt the tension melt away as I sat in the tub. The water was so warm and soothing. I got checked and was 4 cm. I felt great about it. I had worked really hard and felt like the contractions were much different than the days previous. Two centimeter in 6 hours, I’ll take it! I continued to labor; on the toilet, on the couch, on a step ladder, in the tub, everywhere! Around 12:30, we did another check. I was at 8 cm! I was super excited. I wasn’t sure I could keep going. It was getting harder to eat and drink. But it had felt like hours upon hours had past. I was encouraged to know it was only three hours later. I had more time to make it happen. Before labor, I had dreaded being in labor for hours on end. I definitely didn’t want to give birth at 3 in the morning. I vividly remember laughing with my mom, Kira and Elise and perking up for the next couple hours because I was so excited that it was only noon.
We kept laboring. I was so worn out that I started sleeping in between contractions. I remember thinking, “How is that possible? How could someone SLEEP in between something so intense?” Well, it’s possible. I was later told, I was full-on snoring in between contractions. When one would start I would sit up, stand up and get into position and then just fall asleep again. I was starting to lose my strength of heart and mind. I begin to doubt I could complete the task. I really didn’t want to go to the hospital. I felt like it was giving up. I was also a little terrified that I would be pressured in to a C-section, which was pretty much my worst case scenario. Around 4 pm, I was checking again and STILL at 8 cm. I couldn’t do it. Bryant, my mom, Elise and I sat in our bedroom. We had already visited the “break my water” question and Elise was not willing to do it. Looking back, I wish I had pressured her a little more. I don’t wish I had pressured her into doing it. I’m not sure we had a complete and real conversation about it. It would have put us on a time-limit and it doesn’t always speed things up. Next option; transfer to the hospital, get an epidural, get rest and see if my body could finish the task. I was sad. I was relieved. I was scared. I was disappointed. I was tired. We packed up and cleaned up and made our way to UW Medical Center. By the way, laboring in a car is the ABSOLUTE WORST. The car rides to the clinic to get morphine shots and the ride to the hospital were horrid.
But the Lord blessed us with easy traffic on a Friday afternoon at 5 pm. We arrived and made our way to the labor and delivery area. I wish I had made more of a ruckus when I arrived. Someone else had arrived at the same time and made more noise than I did so she got her epidural first. Anna, our labor and delivery nurse, was phenomenal. She was encouraging, loving, helpful, supportive, patient. Then came quirky Dr. MacKinnon. She was a hoot. She is all for “a good, ol’ fashioned vaginal birth.” I got my epidural and felt sleep creeping over me. We waited for the epidural to kick in. They set me up to break my water. I didn’t even feel it.
They told me there was meconium (baby poop) in the fluid, so they were going to have a baby team on hand. They brought those people in and introduced them. Then I was allowed to rest. I slept hard and deep for about an hour. Around 8:15 pm, I was woken up and little did I know, I was going to meet Jackson in less than an hour. Dr. MacKinnon checked me and I was completely effaced and at 10 cm! She said she could actually see the top of his head. Dr. MacKinnon wanted to do some practice pushes. When I did, she said, “All right! We are going to have us a baby! I’m going to go get my birthday suit on and we are going to get all ready. Because you are having this baby! Great job!”
Everyone got ready and like 10 other nurses and doctors came in. Kira was frantically trying to get a hold of the photographer. Then Dr. MacKinnon got all serious, “Michelle, now, you just listen to me. Don’t pay any attention to all the other voices. Just listen to me. Ready?” Legs lifted, Bryant at my side, giant space light above me, mirror in position, it was time to really push. Three contractions and 30 mins later, Jackson Keith emerged, screaming and completely disturbed about this whole out-of-utero thing. The neonatal unit was dismissed, Jackson didn’t seem to have a problem with his lungs. Two things that the nurses did say, “Look at that neck strength!” and “Look at those feet!” He’s built like Bryant, big hands and feet. And for some reason, he’s had crazy neck strength. We rarely had to hold his head up as a newborn. He did it all on his own.
The thing that is most vivid in birth was Bryant’s noises those last moments. He was grunting SO LOUDLY while I was pushing. It was so annoying. I told him to stop. I suppose it was a comfort to him. It must be a helpless, useless, frightening feeling to be a man at a birth. You can do nothing. But be there for your loved one and be as active and supportive as possible. I also remember Anna shouting at Bryant, “Breathe, Bryant, breathe!” over and over. She didn’t want him to pass out from the grunting and such.
After 65 hours of labor, Jackson was placed on my chest. He quieted. He blinked slowly. He took deep breaths. Our relationship truly began. And simultaneously we would attach to one another and grow apart. We would ride the roller coaster of emotions for the next months. I would know deep, dark places that I hadn’t know before all the while seeking, grasping and looking for the Lord. As well as endless, enormous joy that I never knew existed. Jackson would begin to trust and rely on us. Bryant would exhibit grace, love, patience, strength, and stamina beyond my imagination. Bryant and I would know and experience Christ and his love in a inexplicable way. We rested and basked in the new life before us.
I was stitched up. I had first degree tearing. I attempted breastfeeding. I was sorely disappointed and angry with our lactation nurse, Nicole. I really felt like she was jamming Jackson’s face into my breast. I wish I could have stood up for myself more. Then it was time for the weighing and measuring. Our Little Brown Bun was 7 lbs 10 oz and 20 inches long, born at 9:02 pm. We all slept. A couple hours later, the catheter was removed. It was time to take some steps and try peeing. I felt like my inside were going to fall out. What a weird feeling!
The nurse was checking on Jackson and Bryant and told me to call her if I felt light-headed. I desperately tried to pee. I didn’t want the catheter to go back in. Then things got fuzzy. I shouted, “I’m getting light-headed.” The next thing I remember was 6 nurses carrying me back to the bed with my IV drip. Bryant said he leaned over to peak in the bathroom as the nurse ran in. Baby in his arms, he saw me pass out and have a seizure on the toilet. It was so terrifying for him. Of course, the nurse ran in and caught me and pulled the emergency cord which explains the 5 other nurses that ran in. With the long, extended labor, I lost a lot of electrolytes. I was put on a water restriction, meaning no water, for the next two days. I only drank juice and Gatorade. I thank God every day that we had made that move to the hospital. Maybe things would have been different if we had broken my water at home 4 hours earlier. Maybe it would have been okay.
But I do know the Almighty had ordained and planned for us to be in the hospital for this birth. I can’t imagine what that would have been like to have a seizure at home with only my husband, worn out mother and newborn baby. And now, looking back at the last year. I know myself more and less. I know these things; I am fierce. I gave birth to another human. I survived. The Lord is good. The Lord is gracious. The Lord is abundant. But sometimes, I look in the mirror and don’t know the woman, wife and mother that looks back at me. God has transformed me.