From the Archives
As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mommy and have lots of babies. Growing up, I practiced mothering on my two brothers, my two cousins, and my multitude of dolls. I baby-sat almost every weekend for a decade and loved every minute of these opportunities to fine tune my diaper changing and bottle warming skills. At 22, I learned that I would be able to use this expertise in April of 2001 on a sweet baby of my own. I was both terrified and absolutely thrilled.
During the nine months of my pregnancy, I prepared for the arrival of our first addition. As would later become my tradition with every pregnancy, I watched A Baby Story every weekday. I read What to Expect While You’re Expecting until I was so frightened by the possibilities of what could go wrong that Clay took the book away from me and hid it until after our baby was born. I washed loads of baby clothes in Dreft, painted bookshelves, and organized and reorganized the beautiful nursery that Clay and I decorated in stars and moons.
In December, Clay and I went to the OB/GYN for our baby’s five month sonogram. As the ultrasound tech scanned our baby’s body, we learned that we were going to have a little boy. Knowing we had a son on the way made the idea of parenting a lot more real.
At Monday, April 2nd, I awoke briefly to cramping feelings in my back. As they were not too uncomfortable, I went back to sleep until 10:00. At this time, I awoke and put in a recorded tape of Survivor. Snuggling with my husband, we watched the reality show while I experienced continued contractions. Shortly after the show began, I felt my baby make a big turn, perhaps moving his head in the necessary position for exiting. At that point, the contractions moved from my back to my abdomen.
As I was still six days from my due date and this was my first child, I was uncertain if these contractions were truly labor or a false alarm. Clay began timing them at 10:23, and we noticed that while they were not spaced perfectly apart, they were consistently coming. I called my mom to let her know what was happening, and she agreed to go with Clay and me to my previously scheduled doctor visit that afternoon.
Hoping that we could speed labor along, my husband and I decided to take a walk. We dressed in shorts and t-shirts, and then I slowly waddled up my street with him, holding his hand. Every two to three minutes I had to pause for a contraction. I was surprised at how close together they were, having expected them to start far apart like all the books, Lamaze instructors, and doctors had said they would.
After finishing our mile long walk, I went back to our house to shower. My grandmother had since learned that I was in labor and was convinced that if I took a shower that I might very well have the baby in the bathtub. Instead of letting me relax in the shower, she stood her ground in the bathroom and talked to me while I shampooed, conditioned, and shaved my legs. There was no privacy as I readied myself for my OB/GYN appointment.
At 3:00, nine hours after my first contraction, I went in for my scheduled doctor visit with Clay and my mother. I was nervous in the waiting room and even more anxious in the exam room. While I waited alone for the doctor to enter the room, my contractions continued, and I lay down to ease them. They were not very painful yet, but they were nothing I could ignore.
The doctor examined me and determined that I was a “loose” one centimeter, 25 percent effaced, and probably in labor. All I could think was nine hours of contractions and only one centimeter? This mama was not happy.
After the doctor’s visit, Mom, Clay, and I went to Chick-Fil-A. I ate soup and French fries, feeling annoyance and contractions throughout our meal. I knew my baby was on his way, but I had no idea how long it would be before he arrived.
When we got home, Clay and I went for another walk. Again, I experienced a contraction every two to three minutes, but their intensity wasn’t strong enough to even justify a call to the doctor. My contractions continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
At dinner time, we went next door to my mom’s house. My mother had made my favorite vegetable soup, which I ate not knowing that this would be my last meal for the next 26 hours. Clay talked on the phone to a friend while we were there, giving him the details of my labor. As my contractions continued, so did my frustration with Clay being on the phone. After I snapped at him, he quickly hung up, and we headed back to our home.
Throughout the day, my contractions had slowly increased in intensity but not significantly. Nevertheless, I was exhausted from the day’s emotions and 18 hours of labor. I crawled into bed at and slept until my bladder woke me up at . Initially, I thought my water may have broken, but this being my first baby I wasn’t sure. 21 and ½ hours of contractions though prompted Clay and me to ready ourselves for the hospital whether it was my water or my bladder that had broken.
After making this decision, I called my mom to give her the update. She said that she would get ready and shortly be over. Clay called his parents, and they made plans to meet us later in the morning at the hospital.
I waddled to the shower and again readied myself. As I sat in my rocking chair and curled my hair, I wondered when my baby was going to make his appearance. A few minutes later, my mom knocked on the door, and we all piled in our car. I was determined that I would not come back home without my baby.
On the way to the hospital, Clay mentioned that he was hungry. He stopped at the Quik Trip that we passed and went inside to buy powered doughnuts. I was annoyed.
At , we arrived at the hospital, a long 23 hours after my first contraction. I was assigned a triage room, and after I changed into a gown, a nurse checked me. She determined that my water had not broken (apparently it had just been my bladder) and that I was still at one centimeter. I was so disappointed. However, the nurse could see that my contractions were painful, so she instructed me to walk the maternity floor for an hour to see if I could further my dilation. And so began the hour of hell.
Around and around the floor, my mom, Clay, and I walked. Each time a contraction gripped me, I had to stop and cling to Clay. The more I walked the stronger the contractions became. At one point, I claimed to have to use the bathroom and just went into the waiting room restroom to escape having to walk. I was stunned by how horrible the pain was and was ready to run away if there had been any way for me to do so. Reluctantly, I left the bathroom after ten minutes to continue the most painful walk of my 23 years.
Because my contractions had developed a steady pattern, I would experience one every time I passed the triage station. The nurses witnessed my being able to neither walk nor talk through the pain. I thought nothing of that at the time, but their seeing my physical distress while walking apparently convinced them that I was not experiencing false labor.
When the hour was up, I returned to my triage room. Walking even one extra step was not an option to me. I was immediately checked by a triage nurse. She stated that I was still a “loose one,” but she also said that I was now 80% effaced and my cervix was soft. She also explained that because my contractions were clearly regular that I was in labor and here to stay. I was so grateful that a medical person finally believed that I was in labor, something that I had known since my first contraction 24 hours earlier. Briefly, my in-laws came in the triage room, and Clay explained that I was being admitted and that their grandson was on his way.
Because I was not eligible for an epidural yet, the nurse offered me a narcotic shot. After having experienced such horrible contractions while walking, I gladly accepted her offer. She gave me the shot in my right hip, and I could feel the medicine’s impact almost immediately. The nurse forbid me to try to walk to my labor and delivery room, even though I had just been doing laps around the hospital floor. In the words of my nurse, “You’re drunk, and you’re not walking anywhere.” Without argument, I sat down in my wheel chair and rode to my new room.
The narcotic shot was not what I expected. The nurse had told me that that it would “take the edge off” my contractions. However, my pain did not diminish but my ability to stay awake did. Instead of being able to try to relax as the intensity of each contraction built, I would wake at the peak of each one, groggy and terrified of the inescapable pain. I would fuss at my husband to hold my hand as I tried to endure the pain and then would promptly shove him away, so I could go back to sleep as soon as the contraction was over. This cycle continued for ten hours. The frustration of being unable to relieve my interminable exhaustion or pain was the most difficult part of my labor for Clay.
Throughout the morning and afternoon, many parents, in-laws, siblings, and friends were in and out of my room. This long stretch of labor was painful and hazy to me, especially after I received a second narcotic shot. I remember waking to see my mother-in-law in a rocking chair, my husband eating Taco Bell (which he was forbidden to ever bring into a labor and delivery room again), and my baby brother and little sister in law telling me how they had snuck away from the waiting room to play on the elevator and had gotten in trouble.
Brandi, my best friend from high school was at the hospital and didn’t want to miss her opportunity to video the birth. She asked the doctor if she could go to class without missing it. The doctor said, “You could drive to
and back and this baby still won’t be here.” She went to class and made it back
with hours to spare. Tennessee
At 3:00, the labor and delivery nurse checked me. After 33 hours of contractions, I was finally deemed to be four centimeters. I was equally grateful to learn that my body was progressing and that I was ready for my epidural. However, I had to endure another hour of contractions before the anesthesiologist arrived at 4:00 to give me the relief I so desperately wanted.
As the nurse and anesthesiologist set up my room and readied me for the procedure, I became nervous. My mom told me, “Don’t worry. As soon as you get the epidural, you won’t feel any more pain. The hard part will be over.” I clung to what she said and was later relieved when her comforting words proved to be true.
Receiving the epidural was nerve wracking. As I sat on the edge of the hospital bed with a pillow in my lap, I tightly gripped the hands of my nurse. She encouraged me to stay curled up like a ball so that the needle could be easily inserted into my spine. However, staying relaxed and in this uncomfortable position while being hit with a contraction was almost impossible. Thankfully, the anesthesiologist was patient and able to place my epidural between contractions. The procedure was quickly finished. More importantly, the contractions I experienced while I received my epidural were the last ones I felt during this labor. My mother was right. The pain was over.
After receiving my epidural, I was happier and willing to interact with my visitors between my drug induced naps. My family and friends periodically came in to talk to me. However, I was still very tired because of the narcotics and slept the majority of the evening, waking periodically to scratch my face or my chest. Itchiness proved to be a side effect of the medication in the epidural, but I hid that information from the nurses as I did not want them to turn it off. I much preferred itchiness over pain.
Not long after getting my epidural, my body began to relax and my contractions grew less frequent. My nurse followed my doctor’s orders and added Pitocin to my IV to help reregulate my contractions. In less than four hours after this medicine was administered, I went from four to ten centimeters. I was ready to push but unfortunately the medical staff was not.
Not surprisingly, multiple women were in labor at the same time I was. Because of them, I had to wait until other women delivered before my midwife or nurse could prepare my room and me for my son’s delivery. During this time, I started shaking. My exhaustion and nerves were reaching their peak. I was ready for this long labor to be over and to meet my baby. Testiness began to overwhelm me before I even began to push.
At about 7:45, I was finally prepped and ready. My labor and delivery nurse sat on the end of my bed and instructed me when to breathe, when to push, and when to relax. Clay and my mom stood on either side of me while Brandi stood back and to the left of the bed with a video camera. Through my narcotic haze, I began pushing. It was awkward. It was difficult. It was also extremely embarrassing to be that exposed to so many people in my room.
I pushed and was encouraged. I pushed and was cheered on. This cycle continued and still I had no baby after an hour had passed. The nurse coached me to try long pushes while holding my breath. Still no baby. The midwife told me to try short pushes with every other contraction. Still no baby. My frustration could not be contained as I told everyone in the room to be quiet and threatened to kick my mother out of the room if she made one more joke. This exhausted mama was about to lose it.
Because my laboring was taking so long, my midwife and nurse could not stay in my room the entire time. They began checking on other mothers, leaving me in the room with just Clay, my mom, and Brandi. Despite their absence, I continued my pushes with each contraction and finally saw my son’s head begin to emerge. I was so completely ready to be finished with this labor that I was unconcerned if there was any medical staff in the room to deliver my son or not. I kept pushing.
The nurse returned and immediately summoned the midwife who was surprised by my obvious progress when she reentered my room. As she quickly slipped on her gloves and delivery garb, she told me to relax and not to push. I was aggravated and just wanted this delivery to be over. After what seemed like an eternity to me, my midwife instructed me to push with my next contraction.
With Clay and my mother each holding one of my legs, I pushed with every ounce of strength I had remaining. Slowly and through several more contractions, my baby finally made his entrance with a great rush of amniotic fluid that sprayed all over his daddy’s arm. I was overwhelmed at the sweet sight of him.
After 39 ½ very long hours of labor and an hour and twenty minutes of pushing, Bryan McLain entered my world at 7 pounds 4 ounces and 20 inches long. God blessed his father and me with a strong, healthy, incredible son that captured my heart from the moment I first looked at him, forever changing me from daughter, sister, and wife to mom. I am so eternally grateful that God chose me to be McLain’s mother and cannot imagine my life without him.
~Shared by Ashley B.
~Shared by Ashley B.