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Danielle Miceli

☘️ March 31st, 2019 ☘️ 


What’s New?

I’d like to introduce you to my son, Caleb Liam Miceli. 😍
I debated whether or not to include a brief version of my birth story in this letter. Obviously, it has nothing to do with writing, but Caleb has been the center of my existence for this entire month, and so it would be impossible to write you an update for March without him in it. Besides, I like to be transparent even with my personal affairs, because they always affect my writing in some manner, and anyway, we’re all friends here, right? 💞

My last newsletter was sent 5 days before my baby’s due date, and sure enough, 5 days later, my water broke. I won’t go into full graphic detail here, but there’s no getting around the fact that labor is messy, so if just the thought of it makes you want to bury yourself in a deep hole, please, do us both a favor and skip this next bit. 🙈 I’ll understand.
  1. Birth Story: I woke up on March 5th, Caleb’s due date, but alas, he was still inside me.
Me at exactly 40 weeks pregnant.
My husband Nick and I took our 40 week pregnancy photos and headed out to my OB for a Biophysical Profile (BPP) test, where they hooked my belly up to monitors that tracked the baby’s heart rate and overall stress.

Caleb was so active my doctor actually had to send me and Nick away to try and calm him down so they could finish the test. She said it was unusual--most babies need to be stimulated for the test, not the reverse--but not our child. Even in the womb, Caleb was destined to have no chill.

We wandered a local Whole Foods (it was freezing that week in New York, so our indoor walking options were limited), and when we returned, Caleb was still acting up, but he had enough moments of calm to pass the test. We scheduled a “last resort” induction for 2 weeks later, but my doctor was confident I wouldn’t need it. After all, I’d already been dilated at 3 cm for over a week. 

One strange thing happened at that appointment. During part 1, my husband noticed a contraction monitor printing a flat line. This did not surprise me at all, since I hadn’t felt anything in the realm of contractions throughout my entire pregnancy--no Braxton Hicks, no nothing.

But when we came back for part 2, the contraction tracker spiked, pretty high, and consistently. The doctor came back and asked if I could feel anything and...I couldn’t. Not a thing.

After part 2 of our appointment, it was nearly 7 PM and we were late for dinner with my parents. We joined them, ate, and at about 8:00 I sat down and heard a strange crunch between my legs. I didn’t think anything of it until a few minutes later when I stood up and water started pouring down my legs. 

Everyone told me that TV and movies dramatize water breaking, that it’s more of a slow trickle, and some women don’t even notice it’s happened. While that may be true, what I experienced was a full-on Phoebe-from-Friends moment. Water gushed out of me and would not stop. I shoved maxi pads into my pants, grabbed a towel for the car, and we rushed to my in-laws (with whom we were staying to be closer to the hospital) to grab our bags and brush our teeth (well, I stopped to brush my teeth 😅) before heading to the hospital. It was just me, Nick, and Nick’s mom, Sheila, who is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital in question and was going to play the role of doula for us.

Fun fact, my poor mother-in-law had just (and I mean JUST) gotten home from a 12-hour shift when we showed up at the house and dragged her right back to work. Spoiler alert: she is the hero of this story.

I finally started feeling my contractions in the car, and I was not a fan. 15 minutes later we were in triage at the maternity ward. I learned I had dilated to 6 cm in the few hours between then and my BPP. I said goodbye to all my human clothes, wedding rings, everything, and put on the hospital gown I would live in for the next 2 days as they wheeled me to a private room.

Once I was settled in, the contractions came in hard and fast and relentless. I’m not going to lie, it’s only been 3 weeks and already the memory of the pain is fading, which makes it hard to describe the magnitude. I can say this--I’ve had kidney stones before and survived the entire ordeal with NO pain medication (that story is a hot disaster). But this pain, while similar in some ways, was a formidable beast of its own.

I had really, really wanted an unmedicated birth. And I held out until after midnight, when the contractions started coming in on top of one another, with no breaks in between. Once I no longer had pauses between the waves of pain, I couldn’t find the time to breathe, which, on top of everything else, made me feel like I was suffocating. That’s when I finally caved and asked for an epidural.

Ah, the epidural. The part I feared most because NEEDLE IN SPINE. Until then, my MIL had mostly stuck to her doula role, but like a super-doula who also knew where everything was and was qualified to use all the hospital equipment. The anesthesiologist made everyone, husband included, leave the room while they set up my epidural because it’s a sterile procedure (and also apparently people sometimes faint watching it?), the only exception being the nurse. So Sheila donned her scrubs and basically usurped my on-duty nurse in order to stay with me while they inserted the dreaded epidural.

I cannot describe how much of a game-changer that was. I was terrified; I started shaking so badly my teeth chattered the entire time. So having a familiar face be the one to keep me steady, instruct me, and literally hold my face and tell me it was going to be fine made all the difference. I may have forgotten a lot about that night, but I don’t think I can ever forget how grateful I was to have my MIL with me talking me through the epidural procedure. 💖
My MIL, Nick and I with our celebratory lollipops after I got my epidural.
Once that was over, the contractions got easier and easier to deal with until the pain disappeared entirely and was replaced by mild pressure. Honestly, after the epidural was set up I felt silly for enduring all that pain as long as I did. The doctor checked me and said I was fully dilated at 10 cm, but since I felt no urge to push, he told me to relax for a few hours. We were all able to get some sleep until about 4 AM, when we started to feel restless, and both Sheila and the on-duty nurse decided we should try pushing.

It took over 2 hours for my baby’s head to crown. I initially thought I’d only want my husband in the room for the actual birth, yet with each push, I had my MIL propping one of my legs up and Nick holding the other, which seems bizarre and surreal now, but at that moment, after all we’d been through together, I didn’t think twice about having them both there.

By the time my baby actually started to emerge, I was completely exhausted. I remember screaming during the last few pushes, half from pain (because the epidural did not soften the burning feeling of expelling a small human from my vagina) and half from frustration. I remember the doctor insisting that I “Look! Look!” at the baby during my final pushes, and I also remember squeezing my eyes shut and refusing. I still can’t explain exactly why I didn’t want to look, but I didn’t, and they couldn’t make me. 😂 I’m super squeamish and I was trying to focus! #noregrets

After about 2 and half hours of pushing, at precisely the time of sunrise (6:19 AM) on March 6th, 2019, my son arrived, weighing in at 8 lbs 12 oz. They put him on my chest and he looked around with huge eyes, strangely calm. So many emotions bombarded me at once, but I think the greatest of them all was wonder. I felt as wide-eyed and fascinated by him as Caleb was by this strange new world. Even now it’s hard for me to believe that Nick and I created this tiny human.
Nick, Caleb and I at the hospital, shortly after my labor.
The next few days at the hospital and the first few days at home feel like a delirious blur now. Honestly, so does yesterday. Regardless of how much I already love my son, motherhood has been one of the most trying experiences of my life, and I spent most of March recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m trying my best. For Caleb, for Nick, and for myself. 💙

Novel Update

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t make progress on my book beyond editing some pages in the first few days of March before I went into labor. However, later in the month, some pretty exciting plans arose for the near future.
  1. New Critique Partners: I’ve mentioned before that my husband has read the finished draft of my book and was sort of acting as a critique partner (CP) for me. But I realized recently that he’s been more of an alpha reader, that is, someone who reads and offers feedback on an early, mostly-unedited draft of your manuscript. A critique partner is a fellow writer, and usually involves a mutual exchange of work.

    So, when a writer friend I’ve long-admired mentioned she’ll be looking for another CP soon, I finally took the plunge and volunteered. This one act of bravery led to another, when I offhandedly mentioned to a second writer friend how much I’d love to exchange chapters with her one day, too, and she offered to do so now

    This just goes to show, friends, you never know until you ask. There’s no harm in being open with the people who inspire you. The feeling might even be mutual, or a door you hadn’t given any real thought to might open. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

    I’m aiming to begin both my CP exchanges in mid-late April, depending on how hectic my new stay-at-home mom schedule turns out. I’m hopeful that being a CP will help kick my butt back into gear; I’ll have to finish my self-edits because people will be waiting on them! And once my self-edits are complete, I can incorporate CP feedback and finally, finally offer my book to beta readers. FINALLY.


March Reads

  1. Guess what? Life with a newborn has not been conducive to writing or reading! 🤷🏻‍♀️ I made maybe a chapter’s worth of progress on Jay Kristoff’s Godsgrave before I gave birth, and that’s about it. I have a backlog of short stories I was hoping to read for some friends and an out of control TBR.

    But I’m starting to slowly, painfully, learn and adapt to new patterns of life with a baby. My goal for April is to beta read what sounds like an incredible Victorian horror novel for a friend, and to read at least a chapter a week of my 2 new critique partners’ books once we start our exchanges.

    If I can also find the time to finish Godsgrave next month, I will be one happy duckling.




Upcoming fantasy author, D&D addict, Gemini, lover of raw dough, Slytherclaw, wants to be your friend. 💗

Copyright © 2019 Danielle Miceli, All rights reserved.

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