The Quick and Crazy Birth of Michael Joseph

(Alternate title: The Birth Story That Took Longer to Write Than to Actually Happen)

I feel like this birth should be the easiest to write about since it was the fastest.  But for some reason, I haven't sat down in the past near seven years to write about it.  And I really really need to.  So I'm doing it.  Finally finding the words to describe Michael's crazy and wild entrance into the world late one March evening in 2007.

We discovered we were pregnant in July of 2006.  Michael's pregnancy was hard.  I struggled with a lot of fear since we had just lost Joseph Mary only two months earlier and that was such a shock and a heart break.  I was constantly analyzing how I felt and I remember checking every single time I went to the bathroom preparing myself to see the blood.  But I did feel sicker this time.  That, at least, was a comfort.  My hCG levels were good and the doctor even put me on a natural progesterone skin cream just in case that was the issue with the last pregnancy, telling me that there were no drawbacks to using it as long as you wean yourself off carefully.  I used that until about 16 weeks or so.  We did have one episode of light spotting at only nine weeks or so and I went in that day.  It was thrilling and surprising that we were able to pick up his tiny heartbeat that early!  Such a grace.  Hearing that sound brought some relief to the worry.  Some.

I struggled a lot again with the lightheadedness and low blood pressure, especially in the morning.   Later in the pregnancy, I had these crazy nosebleeds that would go on and on and on, usually in the middle of the night.  I remember passing quarter size clots through my nose.  (I know you wanted to know that.)  Every time I was beginning to think that maybe I'd need to go to the hospital, they would finally stop.  I'm sure part of it was the dry air of winter but I wish I had been proactive enough to have really have looked into what was going on and fixed the underlying cause because it couldn't have been good for me.

This was also the pregnancy when the back issues started in full force.  I never realized after John Paul was born that my abdominal muscles never completely knit back together.  I felt okay but once the weight of Michael's pregnancy grew, it threw my back off in all crazy ways since there was no support in the front.  There were lots of tears.

John Paul was born six days earlier than the estimated due date so I prepared myself to be ready for that.  I was due officially on St. Patrick's Day and part of me did think it would be fun to have the baby that day.  I didn't want to be caught so completely off guard this time around so I was ready earlier, though.  Thank goodness.

During the time between John Paul's birth and Michael's pregnancy our doctor stopped attending births at home.  The insurance company raised his rates too high for it to make sense for him.  So we went along with him and decided to birth at the hospital this time instead of switching.  At the time, I still wasn't all into my birthy stuff and made the decision without a whole lot of research or thought.  I regret that a lot.  You know those things you wish you could go back and redo in life?  This is one of those.

We took the hospital tour and sat in on their class (with our two year old sitting in my lap eating Cheerios).  I wanted to know where things were and what the room was like.  The class itself was pretty lame.  Here's what we will do to you when you come in.  But at least I was able to get a look at the room itself and know what the rules were for being set free once the baby was born.  I also learned that people will look at you funny if you ask about bathtubs and CD players.

We went to bed Friday, March ninth at around nine.  I fell asleep quickly and was jolted awake only an hour later at ten with what I realized quickly was a VERY strong contraction.  I laid there for a few minutes and another one hit.  I woke Brian to let him know and I remember going downstairs to the bathroom and walking through them.  They were spaced a few minutes apart but they were strong.  I remember getting in the shower figuring that either that would help calm them down or at least make me feel ready to leave for the hospital.  Once I got out I remember them picking up a lot while getting my face ready to go (oh, yes I did).  Brian came down and I remember finally relenting that we did, in fact, need to call our friend Jim who lived around the corner from us to come watch John Paul and that we did, in fact, really need to get out of there because things were getting very intense very fast.  We had a half hour drive in front of us.  I felt bad about waking him up when he had two children of his own already but they had volunteered and were some of the sweetest people in the world, previous homebirthers themselves.  He would come and then my mother-in-law would start the drive up to take his place.  I'm fairly certain I made Brian make all the calls because who wants to be on the phone during a contraction?  (Or, if you're me, who wants to be on the phone ever?)  Our doctor was already at the hospital for another birth and he said he would wait.

Jim got to our house quickly and I just remember having a beginning of transition type of contraction while standing in the doorway ready to leave.  Thank God he was there.  We left right away for what turned out to be the most painful car ride in my entire twenty six and some years of existence.  Never transition in a car if you can help it.  Never EVER transition in a car that is a half hour away from its destination on a rainy night with so. many. stoplights. on the way.  I am so grateful that we had purchased a used minivan before this labor for the sole reason that I was able to move around in a limited way, bending, swaying, squatting, groaning in the back seat hunched over the car seats.  I have a great deal of respect for women who go through transition naturally lying down in a hospital bed.  I must move.

I did remember during this time to start pulling from the visualization aids from the hypnobirthing book my sister had lent me.  I tried the best I could to relax, to breathe, and to visualize opening.  It was helpful but very hard to do while hunched over the car seat.

We (fi-nal-ly) arrived at the hospital's emergency room around 11:20 p.m. and the clerk knew what we were there for.  She was a smart one.  She made me get into a wheelchair and I was in no position to argue.  Brian ran to park the car while some random man wheeled a writhing and twisting me down to the room.  I may have tried to bolt from the wheelchair, it's all a bit fuzzy.  The nurse who greeted me there tried to make me put on a gown.  I gave her a look and said words that I don't remember but basically equivalent to "NO way in hades are you going to make me worry about my outfit right now, woman".  I may have scared her because she didn't come back and she was replaced by a nurse used to working with "Dr. E.'s patients."  I appreciated that and I promise, I wasn't mean or intending to be difficult but have you ever been in transition while someone tried to talk to you about your outfit choice?  I was in full having a baby right now mode and was about to need to be stripped down anyway.  

Dr. E. came in (yay!) and was surprised to find me already at 9 cm.  Thank the good Lord.  It was so so intense.  Crazy intense.  I'm convinced that while it's great when a labor is quick and it means that everything is lined up well and ready to go, it can also mean the labor is way more WOAH since your body is doing the same exact thing but in less time.  The visualization actually did help and I remember the image of a rose opening being the one that was easiest to remember in the moment.  A few minutes later and I was feeling the pressure and the pushing and the "dear silly man, I'm sorry, but there is no way I am NOT pushing right now".  Brian got into position since our doctor had asked if he was interested in catching the baby.  And since Brian's cool like that, he was very much interested.  In one agonizing push out came that sweet little head and according to Brian, the rest of him "just shot out."

There are no words for that moment I experienced right after.  It was this primal need to hold my baby.  A need I could feel in my throat and my body.  I can still feel the traces of it.  There was no control over my arms as I reached for him and pulled him to my bare chest.  (At some point just before pushing I had ripped off my shirt.  Detail you didn't need?  Yes.).  I don't know what I would've done if they had taken him even for a moment and thank God I didn't need to find out since they handed him right to me.  A boy!  Another sweet baby boy and he was perfect and oh my sweet goodness, what. just. happened?!?

It was 11:42 p.m. The entire labor was a wild and crazy hour and forty two minutes.

His cord was clamped after it was done pulsing.  I don't remember much about the third stage and the afterbirth and all that.  I do remember the joy of the stitches from the tear (SARCASM) because he came out so quickly.  But I held my sweet baby boy the whole time despite the chills and shakes.  Whether they were from shock or just normal post-birth shakes, I'm not sure.  I was thrilled and in shock and in love and exhausted.

He was weighed at six pounds 15.5 ounces.  We joked that the extra half ounce must've put me over the edge and my body was in evacuation mode (John Paul was six pounds 15 ounces as well) necessitating the whirlwind labor.  He was 21 inches long and absolutely perfect.  I could barely let him go to take that glorious (and dizzying) post birth shower.

Pretty soon after, the doctor went home telling me I could leave whenever I felt up to it.  I would've been ready that very minute but we had to wait to see about the Rh issue since I'm negative and Brian is positive and we had to do that whole "name the baby" thing that they make you do.  We waited for the blood test to come back and tried to get some sleep while I cradled the most perfect newborn in the world in the crook of my arm.  And since hospitals are so conducive to rest, I got probably 46 minutes worth of sleep.  Or something like that.  Very early that morning of March 10th we decided on the name Michael Joseph.  Michael because of St. Michael's awesomeness (and according to my grandmother, "Every family needs a Michael.").  Joseph in honor of the little one without whose sacrifice this new little person would not exist.

I ended up needing the Rhogam and we waited for what seemed like eternity.  I was not at all patient. I just needed someone to open some closet, pull out the Rhogam and stick it in me and for some reason that took four hours.  Four very long hours.  I couldn't wait to be home and I missed John Paul so much.  It felt so odd and off not having our family together at such a big moment and the hospital felt strange and uncomfortable.  Finally it arrived and we were able to go.  It was noon.  If they hadn't of made me use a wheelchair, I probably would have run.  (Just kidding.  I'm not that much of a super birther.  I would have hobbled humorously.)

There is a huge part of me that wishes I would have just stayed home and had the baby there.  Had I known how fast it was going to be and how close we were to having a baby in the car, I probably would have.  This was a huge factor in our future decisions.  I am grateful that I got a taste of the hospital, though, because it helps me help other women having a hospital birth and I'm grateful for a doctor who was supportive of natural birth.  And I'm grateful for a husband who knows how to drive fast.

His birth was beautiful.  Beautiful in an intense, crazy, wild, powerful sort of way.  I'm not sure I'll ever cease to be in awe that God saw fit to trust us with another of His children and the crazy way He brings them here.  I'm not sure I'll ever be able to convey to this boy how much love I have for him.  I'm so eternally grateful for the gift of the amazing little person who shot out and changed our world forever. My grandma's right:  Every family needs a Michael.

I wish we had more shots of his birth but we were kind of busy :)

 I remember someone suggesting to Brian that people like to get a picture of the scale.  They failed to remind him that people like to actually get the baby in the shot, too.

Michael Joseph
March 9, 2007
11:42 p.m.
6 lbs. 15.5 oz.  21 inches


  1. What a crazy, fast and beautiful story of your son! :) Birth stories are my favorite.
    Hey, question? Do you like hospitals for birthing ;) lol. I crack myself up.
    Your children are so very lucky that you are their mom. and Brian's picture CRACKED me up. #duderesponse

  2. I remember Brian's call that night. I was on my way home from some social event. I had an overnight bag in the car just incase one of these days you went into labor. I don't think Brian realized that you would be going to the hospital that quickly because I think I was surprised when Jim answered the door. Good thing you didn't wait for me because I think I arrived at 11:20 after driving faster than I should have from the far south side. It was amazing how prepared you were. You had cute bags filled with different things that might be needed. Early in the AM Brian called for me to look in one bag for the list of Saints for each day in March so you could consider those names ,too. JP was wonderful but missed you as much as you missed him. You were so relieved to be back home and have all your men of that time around you. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

    Grandma in Chicago

  3. I had 2 fast labors like this, and I sort of think it causes PTSD because I'm terrified of doing this again. I just need to focus that at least it will end soon and I'll have a sweet baby to hold!

    1. I think there's something to that for some women. After going through this birth, I prayed a lot before my next labor literally asking that it be longer! I really wanted the experience to be calmer with time to enter in and get what was happening and not be such a whirlwind. Thankfully, He said yes and the next labor was about 5 hours and was the labor I felt the best about afterwards. I'll be praying for you. You will be able to do it no matter how it happens and He'll be there with you giving you the strength. Feel free to email me when it's go time and I'll get on my knees and help pray you through :)

  4. My second born was born in 4 hours... and I thought that was a whirlwind! You are one tough cookie!

  5. Beautiful birth story! I always wonder how some women can move around during labor because I feel like I can't move. I don't receive an epidural or anything, but for some reason during that time moving around feels completely out of the question. You're so blessed you got to go home so soon. My doctor always says I can go home after one night, but the pediatricians always want the baby to stay two nights!! For Peter, I kept crying because I did not want to stay another night away from my family, but I had to. I even made the nurses call the pediatrician again , but he still wouldn't let us. They say it has to do with group B strep.

  6. Gorgeous photo of the scale. I'm sure you have that one blown up and framed!!

  7. What a beautiful baby! And I love the one of his dad looking at him. Is it just me, or do they have the same nose? Difficult to tell in babies.

    Our quickest was 3.25 hours, and it was juuuuust a little too quick. The midwife didn't make it to the hospital, and a passing nurse-anesthetist delivered the baby. I think six hours is just about perfect for labor if one is going somewhere to have the baby born—time to assess that it's time to go, time to get the other kids where they need to be, time to get to the hospital/birthing center, time to get the birth attendant(s) there, time to be relaxed about things. Our last baby did it just right. :-)

    1. I have a very hard time telling that kind of stuff on my own kids! I can always see family resemblances with other people, though!

      I like that time frame, too. The baby after Michael was about 5 hours and he was born at home. Time enough to get that it's happening, to get your things ready, to remember all your coping strategies... Thankfully, the last two were both about that length!

  8. The car ride brings back memories of my our crazy car ride with the birth of our daughter (our fourth). I had already been in the hospital TWICE with her with "false labor" so I was refusing to leave the house unless I was ABSOLUTELY coming home with a baby! We had a 40 min. drive, I remember just telling my hubby to "drive faster" in between contractions as I'm crawling all around the back seat of our station wagon trying to get comfortable. I think we left a wee bit too late because I was hitting transition as we pulled up to the hospital. The checked me and told me I was at a 6 (NO WAY was I at a 6 in that kind of pain) but when the dr. came in a checked me 10 min. later I was past a 9. She was born about 40 min. after we arrived at the hospital. The fast labor left me a bit shell shocked, my hubby liked it but I much prefer the slower ones. It seems easier to stay on top of the contractions when I have a bit more time to build up to it.

    1. Ah, that sounds so familiar! I always wonder what a cop would do if they pulled someone over in that situation! And after a few births I've been at, I've lost a lot of confidence in the reliability of most internal checks. SO subjective and I think sometimes they just make up a number to have an answer!!


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