As I was sitting in the dark, rocking Kaelyn back to sleep last night during one of the few times that she woke up (yes, we are having some sleeping troubles) I was remembering my labor, and her birth. It is amazing how clearly I still remember many of the details even after 9 months, and before I forget, I want to write them down. So, here goes… sorry that it is so long, but I like details in a story!
It was Thursday, Oct. 18th. I was 6 days overdue. I was scheduled to be induced on Sunday, Oct. 21st, if she did not come before then. I really wanted to have a natural birth and avoid interventions and especially a c-section, so I really wanted my body to go into labor on it’s own. I woke up about 5:45 a.m. with contractions, and I knew that this was it. Women always say that you will just know when you are going into labor, but I was having lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions in the evenings, and kept thinking, “What if this is it and I don’t know it?” Well this morning it was different, and I knew it was different, and I knew that I was going to have our baby. I tried to go back to sleep, but I was watching the clock each time I got a contraction. They were about 10 – 12 minutes apart, but not super strong. I had no idea how long of a day it would be. I woke Jer up and told him and we tried to decide whether he would go into work or not. I really wanted him to stay with me, but I also didn’t know how long the whole process would take, and he didn’t want to miss more than a day of work just for labor, because he only got one week of work off for the baby. Finally about 8:30 Jer called work and let them know I was in labor and he wouldn’t be coming in. I am so glad that he decided not to go, because we got to spend a relaxed, wonderful day together anticipating the arrival of our baby girl.
The whole day is a little bit of a blur to me, I do know that we took two walks, watched Evan Almighty, cleaned up around the house and made sure everything was ready for our new baby to come home. I was having regular contractions, but they weren’t too close together and they were not unmanageable at that point. Around 6:00pm things started to get more serious, my contractions were about 6 minutes apart and they were becoming stronger. I had to focus more to get through them, and I knew that this was the beginning of “active labor”. At this point Jer started to get really worried about me and wanted to go to the hospital. So, we called my doctor who said that I probably still had at least 12 hours ahead of me, and to just stay home until the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. We then called our doula, Stacia, and told her that we were ready for her to come over and assist us with my labor. For those of you who don’t know, a doula is a labor and birth coach. They are trained and certified to help women with their labor and to advocate for them, so the woman achieves as close as she can to the labor and birth that she desires. In our case we chose to use a doula because I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth with as few interventions as possible, and studies show that having a birth coach greatly increases your chances of having a natural delivery, and decreases your risk of c-section. So, Stacia came over to our house around 7:00, and somewhere along the way it started storming heavily outside. Thunder, lightening, pouring! By this time, things were getting much more intense, and I had to “work through” my contractions. Jer was an amazing support to me, and most of my contractions were spent standing rocking side to side with my arms around his neck and my head resting on his chest or shoulder. Some of my contractions were double-peaking, something that I didn’t know could happen until I experienced one. For those of you who have never been through labor, contractions are like a wave – they build slowly, rise to a peak, and then slowly come back down. When you are trying to manage your contractions normally you know that once they hit their “peak” you can relax because the worst is over. Well, when a contraction double-peaks, it means that it builds, peaks, and then builds from there to a second and “stronger” peak – the best way to describe it is NOT FUN!! And much, much harder to manage, in my humble opinion. But, most of my contractions were still 4-5 minutes apart, so it seemed I still had a while to go.
So, the storm outside seemed to die down, and Stacia suggested that we go for a walk to try to get things moving along a little faster. We head out around 9:00 to walk, and as we are leaving, my parents show up. They were going to stay at our house with our dogs while we were at the hospital. They were going to go inside and then head to my sister’s apartment in Elkhart (20 min. away) and we planned to see them later at the hospital once the baby was born. So, we’re walking around the block and are about 2/3 of the way around when the tornado sirens start going off!! Yikes! We hadn’t thought to actually check the weather before we headed out. We started to speed walk/run back to the house – all the while I am having major contractions. As we get to our driveway, the sirens stop. We went inside and checked the weather and see that the tornadoes are mostly north and south of us, but the rain starts pouring down again outside. I am freaking out a little at this point thinking about how we are going to get to the hospital in the middle of the storm. We decide to wait a little bit longer and see if the storms move on, and I lie down on the couch to try to get some rest – I had been up since 5:45 that morning. And as a side note, we did have major tornadoes in the area that evening, but none that were too close to us thankfully!
Finally around 10:30 the rain dies down, my contractions are instensifying even more, and about 2-3 minutes apart. We decide to head to the hospital. The whole drive there it does not rain at all on us, but I am so, so uncomfortable in the car trying to manage my contractions. We get to the hospital and have to check in through the ER. I am sure that the people in the waiting room got quite a show, because I was in serious labor at this point. They asked me if I wanted a wheel chair, but I told them I would walk because I didn’t want to be confined to sitting during a contraction. While we were making our way up to labor and delivery I had two major contractions, one in the hallway, and one in the elevator, and the orderly that was with us told them to put me right into a room, I didn’t even have to go through triage, because there was no doubt that I was in labor.
My nurse’s name was Kristy and she was awesome! She had read my birth plan and wanted to help me have the natural birth that I desired. They had to hook me up to the monitor for 20 minutes to check to make sure that the baby was okay and that the contractions were regular and normal. That was one of the longest 20 minutes of my life. I can understand why women who go to the hospital early in their labor and are hooked up to the monitor constantly, and are not allowed to manage their contractions on their own, end up getting an epidural. It was torture to sit there and not be able to move, as contraction after contraction swept over me. Finally, they un-hooked me and the checked to see how dilated I was. This was the lowest point of my whole labor and delivery because they said I was only 4 centimeters (you have to get to 10 to be ready to push). I thought for sure I would be at 6 or 7, and I did not understand how my labor could be so intense and I still had 6 more centimeters to go. At this point I started to think that maybe I wouldn’t be able to do it, because I didn’t know how I could handle even more and stronger contractions as the labor progressed, thinking that I wasn’t even halfway through it. But, Jer and Stacia helped me to try different things to manage the contractions, and get my mind off of how dilated I was. After rejecting a freezing cold shower, and sitting on a birth ball for a while, I started to feel the urge to push and felt like I was going to throw up. I also felt like I could not do it anymore. I really really wanted it all to just stop and go away, and I wanted to be done. This was when I started to really loose it. These are typical sings that you are in the “transition” stage of labor. The nurses and everyone told me I was not ready to push, but the checked me again to see how far I had progressed. It had only been about an hour and a half, but I was 8 centimeters dilated! I was so encouraged that I had progressed that much so quickly, and I had new resolve to make it without an epidural. I did however give in when they asked if I wanted Nubane, which is a narcotic, like morphine. It doesn’t completely take the pain away, but it makes you not care about it so much. So, they tried to put an IV into my hand to administer the drug, and it took them three tries – two on one hand and one on the other. It was awful!! I was wishing I had just said no to the Nubane, the pain of having them keep missing my veins while I was having contractions was almost to much. But, they finally got it and gave me the medicine and if anything it was all in my head, because I did start to feel like I could manage better again. The contractions were right on top of each other now – about 45 seconds apart and the most intense peak I could ever imagine, but they were also over quickly. Jer held me, as I stared into his eyes and focused on just living through each contraction – they were so intense I really thought I might not make it through them.
Finally, they told me that I could push as I felt the need to. Pushing relieved so much of the pain and pressure, and the contractions slowed down alot, so I had time to rest and recover in between them. I pushed for about 45 minutes, and then Kaelyn Elizabeth McClements, came into this world at 2:34 am on Oct. 19, 2007. Amazing!! And I had done it almost completely naturally, without an epidural!! All I have to say is that it was so worth it – it was a high like I have never experienced before in my life. At that point everything else vanished in the world and it was just Jer, me and our baby, I forgot all the pain and struggle and was just overwhelmed with amazement at what my body could do and overcome with love for our baby. She was so beautiful, healthy and alert. She made it all worth it – and that moment of holding her on my chest is one that I will cherish always.