Micah Lee Birt announced his arrival in St. Louis at 11:36 a.m. Friday with a series of percussive screams. He weighed 8 pounds and 2-1/2 ounces. He was 21 inches long.
He had a button nose, a head full of dark brown hair, 10 fingers and 10 toes (my father-in-law verified this by watching a nurse count them in the seventh-floor nursery).
My wife, Julie, and I are thrilled that he is ours.
Julie began going into labor shortly after midnight. Preparing for the trip to the hospital proved surprisingly easy. Of course, I can say that—I didn't experience the pain component.
Our bags had sat at attention in the baby's room for weeks. We could hardly believe the real thing had arrived, though we certainly counted it as an answer to prayers.
Our two dogs enjoyed getting up at a strange hour and going outside. They assumed they'd get fed. Sadly for them, they instead got an early morning trip to their respective kennels.
I hope they slept soundly on our behalf.
With that, we got our bags and packed into the car for the trip to the hospital. At that time of night, many of the lights flashed yellow and red instead of cycling through their ordinary ritual. Some of the lights in particular seemed to last forever.
But we made it.
We parked in the garage and made our way to the storied land of labor and delivery. Two people greeted us at the front desk. One of them remarked that we were scheduled for an induction the following week.
Yes, Julie said. But I'm in labor.
Oh, they replied. In that case, fill out these forms.
So she did. With that, they wished us luck and sent us on our way to get checked out.
I didn't have to get a checkup. I got to be the support person.
A nurse and a midwife followed up with Julie once we were situated in a room. Julie needed to make more progress to go to labor and delivery, they decided. The nurse said to walk around for half an hour and then return to be re-evaluated. The midwife followed and extended that to an hour.
I was pretty sure being in intense pain qualified a person for a speedy transfer, but who was I to judge?
We went for a walk. We walked the upper floors of the hospital, traveling past the nurseries repeatedly to see the new youngsters and dream about the future. We counted 18 on one floor and 10 on the other.
Intense pain seemed to follow intense pain. At times, Julie could barely walk. I think that was the worst part of the whole experience—seeing someone hurting exceedingly and not being able to make a bit of difference.
But an hour passed, and we returned.
Our evaluating nurse, as it turned out, has four children, all girls. She re-evaluated Julie. She was extremely understanding. She told us that she would get us over to labor and delivery.
The midwife returned to exclaim that a miracle had occurred, because my wife would be delivering a baby.
We made the trip over to the delivery room. The pain came more and more frequently. Julie stayed strong through it all. How she made it until the epidural at 5:45 a.m., I'll never know. But she did, and the hours passed quickly thereafter.
Her family had arrived about 15 minutes earlier, and we invited them into the room on several occasions as we waited for the next stage in the process.
At 8 a.m., a nurse drew Julie's blood so that the baby's cord blood could be donated to those who might need it some day. At 9 a.m., the nurse and doctor instructed Julie to labor down—to let her body do the work so that the doctor could perform a C-section and return for the delivery afterward.
By 11 a.m., the doctor had returned. She had another C-section scheduled, and the nurse initially told her to do that first and then return for Julie. But when the nurse realized how quickly Julie was progressing—this being a first-time delivery—she told the doctor to come back.
A handful of pushes later, Micah had arrived. He screamed his 14-inch-circumference noggin off. While the doctor worked with Julie, I admired my son under the bright light of a warming table. A nurse plopped a blue-and-pink striped hat onto his head and monitored his vitals.
She explained that it was perfectly all right to touch my son. I did, hesitantly at first. How do you touch a baby? Won't he fracture? But he kept screaming, so I was heartened. He had soft, tissue-paper skin and beautiful, searching blue eyes.
The nurse then weighed him. The family had placed friendly bets on how big he would be. Julie was closest to his weight—she guessed 8 pounds and 6 ounces—while her mom, Carol, was dead on with his length.
The nurses then transported Micah upstairs to get his first bath and have his first vaccinations. The family got to watch that. I stayed with Julie as the nurses finished working with her and as we awaited a room upstairs.
Before we knew it, we were headed upstairs to be reunited with Micah.
In the hours that followed, we visited with family, passed around our new baby, changed our first diapers, held him in the night when he cried and awoke every few minutes at his tiny noises, fearing the worst.
But now he's at home and doing well. He enjoys waking at midnight and being rocked until 4 a.m.
He's awfully cute. And he's ours.