Wednesday, June 6, 2007


A few days before I opened this site my wife, Michelle, informed me she was pregnant (again) and so I guess the story below is being posted now because of that. It is the account I wrote of the birth of our youngest daughter (as of this post) in early 2006. Most of what you read at new-think will not be intensely personal....this is....enjoy.

The Birth of Millicent Grace Johnson: Father’s Perspective (March, 2006)

Millicent Eating Her Veggies

Early in Michelle’s pregnancy with Millicent we began discussing the possibility of a home birth. Initially I was nervous about the prospect. As I began to realize that this was something Michelle was really passionate about doing my nervousness led me into intense research and preparation. In that sense it was a gift from God. By the time Michelle was 6 months along we were decided on delivering the baby by ourselves. Furthermore, God had granted me peace with this decision (primarily through study and watching videos of d.i.y. homebirths) and had also helped me with my comfort level at being Michelle’s only prenatal care provider. This primarily consisted of monitoring her blood pressure and a few urine tests for protein. We decided internal exams were not necessary, and only did them a few weeks out from birth when our curiosity got the best of us and we wanted to know if there was any dilation or effacement.

It was the evening of January 26th (Thursday) when Michelle went into labor. We had been on a date and some contractions started up that did not end until Millicent was with us. Michelle endured approximately 40 hours of low grade contractions that were enough to keep her awake, but not enough to produce a baby. That time was a whirlwind of getting excited……then coming down from the excitement….getting excited again….then coming down. The engineer in me came out and I began creating charts and graphs to track her progress. Every time she had a contraction I was collecting data. How long was it? How intense? How long since the last contraction? The charts confirmed what would have been obvious without charts….not much progress was being made. Michelle mentioned that the charting was probably more beneficial to me than to anyone or anything else. She knows me very well.

By Saturday morning we were all fairly exhausted from anticipation. We (Michelle, me, and Millicent’s 3 big sisters) headed to my parents house to pass the time. My sister, Carol, and her family also joined us. Michelle later confided to me that she felt like a watched pot sitting on the couch visiting with my whole family. Perhaps that is why labor really took off once she retired to my parent’s room for a nap. I don’t think she slept much. After a few hours of intensifying contractions she told me she was going to take a bath. I was still charting…..and it, again, confirmed the obvious….labor was intensifying. I sat in the bedroom adjacent to the bath, watching my favorite basketball team (go pokes) on the television and intermittently asking Michelle how she was doing. When I realized that contractions were anywhere between 2.5 to 5 minutes apart and getting much harder I told Michelle that unless she wanted to have the baby at my parent’s house we needed to head home.

The ride home was interesting. Ashlea and Kati decided to come home for the birth, while Kori opted to stay with her grandparents. 14 year old Ashlea helped calm 6 year old Kati’s nervousness about the impending birth, even though I am sure Ashlea was quite excited as well. On the 25 minute drive home we had to stop 4 times for Michelle’s contractions. They were now to the point where she needed to focus everything on getting through them. I never worried that the baby would come while we were still in the van. God was with us and I felt just as peaceful throughout the whole experience as I would any Sunday sitting in church.

When we got home Michelle immediately got into the birth pool that I had been keeping filled with warm water since contractions started on Thursday. From that time until Millicent was born she only got out once to use the restroom. The birth pool really made things easier on her. We had planned for Michelle to labor in the pool and then get onto the floor or bed for delivery. Plans changed. Michelle announced that she was going to just stay in the birth pool. It sounded like a good idea to me. I lit a candle, turned on some music (mixed contemporary Christian), and found some good passages to read from the bible to comfort Michelle. It was around 5 pm on a beautiful sunny, January, day. All of our curtains were open and we could look out across the miles of uninhabited hills that surround our home as the sun shone in on us. As the contractions intensified we sent Ashlea and Kati out of our bedroom so Michelle could better concentrate. The contractions came one after another and I began loudly praying through them with Michelle. Even at this point, the climax of intensity of pain, the majority of prayers offered were of thanksgiving. I read aloud Christ’s words from John chapter 16,

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

Obviously Christ’s analogy had never been so clear to us (at least me, Michelle was beyond the point of contemplating scripture). I was, and am, so thankful that God uses our earthly experience to teach us about His Kingdom.

Around 5:20 Michelle’s water broke. She almost immediately reported the urge to push. I encouraged her to listen to her body. In a matter of seconds Millicent’s head had crowned. I petted Millicent’s head (now under water) and even thought I could feel a soft little cheek beginning to emerge. I told Michelle to reach down and feel our baby’s head. She did. During the next push (I only remember 2 or 3 pushes total) Millicent came out into my hands. I have never rejoiced as I did at that moment. Of course I rejoiced at the birth of my other daughters, but in the hospital environment I was somewhat restrained by social convention. The first moment after birth was a very tender moment where, silently, I laid Millicent onto Michelle’s chest and we discovered she was a girl. We talked to her and kissed her…and each other….and we wept. If I could live in that moment, I would. Then a joy explosion took place in me, I was unrestrained. I ran through the house yelling….”Praise God!!!! Thank you Father!!!! Girls, come meet your baby sister!!!!

Things calmed a bit. Ashlea and Kati came in to meet Millicent. We had them leave for a few minutes while Michelle effortlessly delivered the placenta. We let them back in. Kati, who was mesmerized by her baby sister, also was interested in the placenta and she examined it carefully. Ashlea did not care to examine it. Soon Millicent was nursing, still attached to her mother. She was born hungry….and she has stayed that way. Kati cut the cord while Ashlea snapped a picture. We phoned everyone who’d been at my parent’s house earlier to let them know it was okay to come out now…..and to bring Michelle a cheeseburger.

It has been over 7 weeks since Millicent was born. She has never been to the doctor….In fact, she doesn’t even have a birth certificate (yet). She has never been sick, either. She has gained over 3 pounds since her birth. With 3 doting big sisters she rarely lacks for someone to oooh and ahhhh over how cute she is.

I loved Michelle with all of my being before this pregnancy and birth experience. I have read many birth stories were husbands and wives speak of the new found respect and love they have for their spouses coming out of the experience. I had such a high level of love and respect for Michelle before the birth that I cannot say that the birth changed it significantly…although it was certainly reinforced. I am thankful to God that He allowed us to trust Him, as a couple, in this experience. I pray that He will use this fortified trust in our marriage for the furtherance of His Kingdom and for the work He has prepared in advance for Michelle and me. I am so thankful that God blessed me with a wife like Michelle. No matter where or how our children are born…..I hope I never face the prospect of life without her. She was truly designed specifically for me. I hope we get to do this again and that God will continue to work with us, teaching us to raise the children He has already given us in a way that is profitable to His Kingdom.

No comments: