I didn’t know what a contraction felt like until week 38 of pregnancy. That was when my doctor started fetal monitoring twice a week. Before that, I thought the tightening was just Malachi running out of room. So it was exciting to track these strange sensations, knowing that somehow my body was preparing to give birth! Although the contractions didn’t hurt (and didn’t dilate) I had them all the time.
I was pretty patient waiting for Malachi to come – for me at least! It didn’t help that my doctor told me to stop working at TJ’s due to her concern of low fluid. Still not sure if I actually had low fluid or not, but my last day of work was March 12. So add extreme boredom to impatience. When the due date of March 28th came, Josh and I celebrated with a “due date date night” to Culver’s and a movie. I had kept busy by thrifting a lot and hanging out with Mom and my sisters who were in town. It wasn’t until the 29th that I got really stir crazy and begged God to help the baby come.
Easter Sunday I still had lots of contractions but no baby. People were surprised to see us at church. The contractions started to hurt that night. It was just bad enough that I couldn’t sleep through them. I called the nurse exchange in the middle of the night and she told me to go to the hospital. So Josh and I excitedly grabbed our bags, which were already packed and ready to go. We didn’t look like a couple in labor, but we were doing what we were told to do and we couldn’t sleep anyway.
We got to the hospital and enjoyed watching the contractions on the computer screen. We were told after a painful cervix exam that I was barely dilated a centimeter. The nurses told us to walk the halls for an hour and see what happened. Josh and I raced up and down the halls, up and down the stairs, did squats, etc. It was a long hour. Still no change. The nurse called doctor Kodner, who said we could try walking another hour or just get induced since since I was past due. We didn’t want to do either of those things, so we decided to go home and wait it out. Besides, the baby would have been born on April Fools Day.
I told Josh to go to work the next day since we didn’t want to waste any of his precious vacation days. But that was a rough day! I tried my hardest to sleep, but could barely nap for a few minutes before the contractions woke me. I know I was in early labor, but the internet said that some women are in early labor for weeks! It was so discouraging having to deal with the pain, knowing that I probably wasn’t progressing. I cried a bunch. Mom texted me that afternoon and I hold her we’d gone to the hospital. When she found out I was alone, she came straight over to help distract me. That helped my mood a lot!
Eventually Josh came home. He and his close friends had prayed that I would progress and not get discouraged. At dinnertime Dad, Amanda, Kevin, and Ryan came over with pizza. Moral support! My contractions were getting stronger and closer together. We listened to worship music, timed contractions, ate chocolate, and Josh massaged my back. It was a pretty cool experience. Around bedtime we decided the contractions were definitely bad enough to go to the hospital again. This time it felt different – I actually had to stop what I was doing and breathe through each contraction.
My family left and said they’d wait at home for updates. Josh and I went to the hospital. Some of the nurses remembered us from the night before. The lady at the check-in desk welcomed us back and said it was rare for people to come in just one time before the actual birth. Since it was clear I was in labor this time, we were admitted into a delivery room right away. They said I was only at one and a half centimeters but we should stay anyway. I said good, because if this wasn’t it, then I didn’t know what was!
We walked for an hour again, only this time it was a lot harder for my body. Mostly we paced the empty waiting room, praying and breathing through contractions. When we got back to our room I rocked on the birthing ball while Josh massaged my back and watched the contractions get bigger on the monitor. Josh’s mom and Jacob and Zach came and said hi to us and waited in the waiting room.
It freaked me out that this was the day I’d deliver! In this room! On this bed! And they’d put the baby on that heated exam table! I told myself not to think about the next steps, but to focus on what I was doing at the moment. It was less scary that way. I would simply take the whole birth process one step at a time. By now, I pretty much had the hang of contractions.
We really liked our nurse during labor. She was sweet and perky and encouraging. She only checked my cervix when asked, so that cut down on the pressure. She told me I was handling contractions like a pro, and could go all natural if I decided I wanted to. Hehe. Around this time Mom came and joined us in the room. At 4.5 centimeters we decided I was progressing fast enough that the epidural wouldn’t slow things down, so we asked for one. This part made me the most nervous, even though I felt strongly it was what I wanted. A friendly man with with gray hair administered the epidural while our nurse cradled me and I held a pillow. Hurt, no. Scary, yes. Worth it, yes! I thanked the anesthesiologist for his modern medicine. Instantly the medicine soothed my lower half so I could no longer feel contractions. Once it kicked in the the nurse gave me a catheter (also a bit scary, but I saw nothing and felt nothing). That’s when my water broke on its own. Josh and I got to lay down and relax now. I actually slept some, which was great! Yet we could see the contractions were still going and getting stronger.
Dr. Sensiboy, who was on call to deliver my baby, stopped by on her way to the office that morning. She’s very young and perky for a doctor. She saw me and suggested they give me “just a breath” of pitocin to help things along. I was proud of the fact that I’d made it so far all on my own, but since I had the epidural I didn’t really care if the contractions got crazy and unnatural.
Once I got the pitocin things kicked into high gear. I could feel the head of the baby in my pelvis very soon! One of my delivery nurses came in to check on me after a little while and said I’d be ready to push soon. Yay! We were so excited to meet Malachi! We did a few practice pushes while we waited for the doctor to return. It was cool because I could move my legs and feel things, but it didn’t hurt. I was happy to actively participate and experience the birth.
When the doctor arrived, things moved very fast. More people came into the room. My mom took pictures. The nurses said my epidural medicine was gone so we would go quickly before it wore off the rest of the way. Okay. Pushing was fun. Kinda like pooping and doing a sit-up at the same time with my legs in the air. We pushed several times. Then the head started to show. I heard Mom and Josh’s reactions. People said he had hair. They said I tore a lot. They wanted him out fast, and were getting the vacuum extractor ready when his head popped out. They said the cord was wrapped around his neck twice. My mom made worried sounds. Josh said he was praying really hard. I didn’t have time to worry or react. The doctor cut the cord quickly and I heard crying so I knew everything was okay. The rest of the baby came out all at once. I got my first glimpse of Malachi. It was so surreal. That little ball of baby had been inside of me, and here he was! He was ours!
The nurses had to take Malachi to the table right away because of meconium in the amniotic fluid. Josh went with the baby, but we exchanged happy glances across the room. Josh got to do the ceremonial 2nd cutting of the cord. When the nurses and pediatrician were finished, they placed Malachi on my chest and put a warm towel over him. It was the coolest thing ever to hold the baby we’d dreamed about so long! I could feel the doctor stitching me up a little, so I tried to stay focused on the baby. Our nurse helped me start nursing him right away. Malachi figured it out pretty quickly after being “chomp-latched” a few times. Malachi got his first bath and his first outfit after all the doctors left the room. He was so cute!
The nurses helped me stand up and get in a wheelchair. I was really lightheaded and felt like I would pass out. They wheeled us to our recovery room where we would spend the next two days. Our families were there, and they brought us food. It was really crowded and happy in our little room!
We had a great time at the hospital, learning about babies, cuddling with Malachi, meeting with visitors, ordering food, resting. I felt like a princess the whole time, even during labor and delivery. I never knew having a baby could be a fun experience! We felt the prayers of everyone who was praying for us. The whole time, I kept thinking how perfect everything was going. Although I gave birth with relatively little pain, part of the amazingness of being a woman has been revealed to me. Now I’ve entered into that beautiful mother / child relationship with a little human being. It is a connection stronger than I ever imagined. What an honor to be a mother at last!
God’s timing for Malachi’s birth was perfect. We started trying to get pregnant 12 months before we actually did. Facing that was the hardest, most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. However, we are thankful for that year we had together. Had we gotten pregnant right away, there are many things we would not have been able to do.
We think it’s pretty cool that we (probably) conceived Malachi at the last Cornerstone ever. It marks a new beginning in our life. And then I had the opportunity to go to Guatemala with our church because I didn’t know I was pregnant. Thankfully it was early enough that I didn’t have any morning sickness while there! It was awesome to be able to come home from that trip and surprise Josh with the good news!
Even the exact day that Malachi was born is an example of God’s perfect plan. He was due March 28th, but we thought it would be cool if he was born on April 2nd because our favorite verse in Malachi is Malachi 4:2.
“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”
The song by The Welcome Wagon “But For You Who Fear My Name” had something to do with why we chose the name in the first place. But I was happy as long as Malachi wasn’t born on April Fool’s Day. I didn’t want his birthday to be a day of people playing tricks and pranks on each other. When I told the ladies at church about Malachi 4:2 they confidently declared that he would be born that day. Sure enough (and maybe I shouldn’t be surprised), Malachi came on 4/2. He came all on his own, no induction or planning.
All I have to do is look at these “coincidences” to know that God is in control and working in Malachi’s life. Clearly there is a plan and a reason for him to be here at this exact time.
My friend Kathy from church looked up the meaning of Malachi John. Malachi means “messenger” and John means “God’s grace.” So together they mean “Messenger of God’s grace.” I believe that’s a glimpse of God’s plan for him, and this is also no coincidence.
So God overcomes and outshines the darkness and uncertainty of infertility. He assures us He knows what He’s doing with Malachi and with our future children. All this has challenged me and helped make me who I am today. I know I don’t need to worry about our son because God has shown His hand at work in his life already! For that I am thankful and so, so blessed!