When 2011 began, my wife Nancy and I never fathomed that on Nov. 15 our lives would change forever.
At 1 a.m., in an inflatable tub located at the foot of our bed in our Long Valley home, our second son, Micah Eddy Koestenblatt entered the world, and we became parents for the second time.
We planned a home birth with the Hackettstown Midwives, the same group of woman who oversaw Nancy’s pregnancy and labor with our first son, Jacob. It was a decision that , and we’re extremely happy with how everything turned out.
As I get older and watch families grow, including my own, I learn that women–and rightfully so–trade labor stories the way men tell tales of catching fish. And they love doing it.
You had an epidural? Well I had three. And still felt the pain.
You were in labor for two days? I was in labor for four, and pushed for another two.
After watching Nancy give birth to our two sons without a drip of pain medication, my respect for her–and the entire female gender–cannot be topped. What women do to bear children is amazing. As Nancy has said in the past, what is so natural and designed by God, seems so incredibly unnatural.
I tend to agree.
But I digress. It was about 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14 when Nancy had her final visit with our midwives in Hackettstown. They said she may go into labor that night, or it could be another couple days. Either way, it was happening soon.
So we did what most families on the verge of childbirth do–we had dinner at Friendly’s. Or at least attempted to.
Just a few bites in to her meal, Nancy began feeling cramping, and we promptly asked for to-go containers and the check. Maybe it was our urgency, maybe it was the ‘Uh oh’ look on Nancy’s face. Either way, we gave some of the waitresses a bit of a scare when we made the request.
We raced home and one of the midwives, Cindy Redmond, arrived shortly after. A doula and photographer, Teresa Fischer, also assisted at the house (and took some amazing photos) along with midwife Roxanne Mitchell.
Nancy meandered around the house for quite a while, contracting and breathing and sitting and standing and laying and making small talk with everyone in attendance. And then midnight came, and it was time to get down to business.
Jacob was born in a tub at Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, so the idea of being in the water during the actual birth wasn’t foreign to us (I say ‘us’, but we all know who actually did the work).
The contractions intensified drastically–a portion of the labor known as transition–and Nancy went through hell for the next hour.
I’ve known Nancy since we were both 14. I told her after Jacob’s birth that I had never seen her agonize like that. It was an out of body experience, she said, and couldn’t imagine it being worse the next time around.
Well, it was.
Nancy says the pain was intense, but admits it’s hard to compare the two labors. From my vantage point, owning the hands and arms being pulled and squeezed and cried upon, it was way worse.
But at the end of the tunnel came an amazing light, and at 1 a.m. we said hello to Micah. He came into the world 12 days early, but weighed in at 8 lbs. and 4 oz., standing a solid 21 inches in height.
He’s a wonderful little boy and a tremendous blessing to our family. Just ask his proud older brother, who dotes on him endlessly and tries to help with changing diapers and making sure he belches after each feeding.
You may or may not have noticed, but I was away on paternity leave for two weeks immediately following the birth. It was a much-needed vacation and one that helped me to bond with my new son and family as a whole.
While I was gone, guest editor MaryLynn Schiavi and Patch Regional Editor Lou Hochman stepped in to run the site. They did a great job keeping the wheels turning and providing all the news and information Washington Township has grown accustomed to. Much thanks to them for putting my mind at ease while I was away.
But, I’m back now, and I’m looking forward to introducing Micah to the Long Valley community. If you see us around, be sure to say hello.
We’ll be the ones with bags under our eyes and smiles on our faces.