I am so excited to be sharing McKinley’s birth story today. I am one of those weird humans who loves hearing and reading about others birth stories and I knew I wanted to pen down McKinley’s birth while it is still fresh in my mind.
Disclaimer: The choices I made during labor and delivery were those made by myself and my team and were just that – my personal preferences. Labor and delivery is a whirlwind process and I have no judgement for other moms out there who made different choices than myself. It is such a personal journey and I decided what was right for me in the moment. I’m so thankful that I look back at my labor and delivery with such a positive experience and memories.
My goal and plan for labor was to do early labor at home for as long as possible before going to the hospital. I wanted things to be as calm, peaceful and quiet before the hustle and bustle of lights, nurses, and chaos. I also wanted to go as long as I could without medication, though I was not opposed to an epidural. I wanted to experience labor fully and see how the process would go for me. Thankfully I was able to train my mind to go into labor without any expectations of myself or others. This is something that I worked on with myself and our doula in the months leading up to McKinley’s birth. We decided to hire a doula for that exact reason – I know myself fairly well and knew the pressure I tend to put on myself. We also really wanted someone who we knew well and felt comfortable with in the room (as opposed to new faces such as nurses, etc.). Our doula, Sarah was amazing at teaching and coaching us throughout my pregnancy, labor and postpartum and was the best decision we could’ve made. As a person who has never been in extreme pain or been in a hospital environment, I knew I wanted someone on our side who could navigate with us throughout the entire labor and delivery process. I felt extremely prepared and comfortable at all times and never felt like I walked into the unknown or was fearful.
Friday, January 24th
My due date was January 27th, 2020
Seth and I planned to go out for a nice dinner and some bowling afterwards. We got to dinner at 5:45 pm and enjoyed each other’s company and yummy food. I kept joking to Seth that this was “my last supper” as I really wanted to go into labor in the middle of that night (I had also been hoping that for a few nights straight). I also told Seth that I really did not want to throw up such a yummy dinner in labor – ha. Towards the end of dinner around 7:00 pm I began to feel contractions. Seth promptly told me that we were NOT going bowling and I easily agreed. We decided to go home and see how things progressed.
I began timing my contractions when we got home and they were 7-12 minutes apart lasting about 40 seconds or so. This lasted for the next 15 hours! I tried to sleep and rest over night, but was unsuccessful. I would get close to dosing off, but each contraction would put me on alert.
Saturday, January 25th
Around 9:00 am I was feeling frustrated that my contractions weren’t getting stronger or closer together, but were still painful enough to feel them and not go away. I was worried I would have days of prodromal labor. I decided to get into the bath around 10:00 am to see if I could relax. I also knew that real contractions would not go away in a warm tub so I was hopeful things would pick up! As soon as I began to step into the tub, I felt what I thought was my water breaking! I called for Seth and told him the news and then immediately asked him to go get me a breakfast sandwich so that I had one last meal in me.
I called my doctor and was so relieved when the on-call doctor was one of my favorites! My practice has many midwives and doctors so there was no telling who was going to be on call when I went into labor. She told me she was on call all weekend (!!) and to come in and they would check to see if my water really did indeed break. Fun fact: the on call doctor only works once every fifth weekend so we were incredibly lucky!
The doctor told us we could take our time as it wasn’t an emergency so Seth and I showered, ate and got ready to head to the hospital. Unfortunately my contractions had completely stopped at this point and I was feeling discouraged. I then wasn’t convinced my water had broken completely and was now worried we’d be sent home from the hospital. I had worked myself up so much over it that when we got to the hospital my blood pressure was pretty high and every nurse asked if I was nervous (YES)! I really did not believe I was in labor which is funny looking back while also being 2 days away from my due date.
They told us there were 3 tests to check to see if my water had broken. The initial test was a quick swab that came back negative. After that they did a more invasive test that was sent to a lab and took about an hour to get the results. I was completely elated when they came in and told us that YES my water had broken and we were not leaving the hospital without a baby!
My contractions were not progressing much at this point and due to the risk of infection with my water breaking, I was administered medicine to get things going. Almost immediately things were kicking into gear and we were on our way to meet our daughter. I was checked and was only 1 cm and 50-60% effaced. At my appointment earlier in the week I was not dilated or effaced at all so even though it wasn’t a ton of progress, I was happy. We knew she wouldn’t come before Sunday so we got settled with our things and called our parents to let them know Miss McKinley was making her way into the world.
Around 5:00 pm when darkness hit things started to get more intense and painful. I was still talking through contractions at this point. Sarah arrived that evening and then sometime around 7:30 pm my parents stopped by to say hi. At this point I went into “Labor Land” and was closing my eyes, not talking and breathing to get through each contraction. I was truly focused and blocked everyone out when one hit. I kept reminding myself they came in waves and once I hit the top of one that the pain would decrease and then eventually fizzle out. I was checked again at this point and was only 1.5 cm. Again, I did not feel discouraged because I knew by body was working! I also knew that dilation didn’t really matter and women can go from 4-10cm in a matter of minutes. Labor was funny and amazing to me because you can feel totally fine one moment and not the next. I was bouncing on a labor ball for hours and after my parents left decided I wanted to walk the halls to speed things up. Walking was extremely difficult for me. I was stopping a ton with each contraction and only made it one lap before deciding to head back into our room. Things were really intense at this point and I remember voicing “I can’t do this” to Seth and Sarah. They were both very encouraging telling me “you’re already doing it!” and “you got this.” I labored for a while longer on the exercise ball until the contractions got even closer and more intense. At this point I had been in labor for about 27 hours and was worried about my stamina for the duration of labor so I decided to get an epidural. I was also awake for 42 hours at his point due to insomnia during pregnancy and waking up Friday morning at 4:30 am. I received the epidural around 11:00 pm and felt relief after about 15 minutes. I was a little nervous for the needle, but it honestly felt like nothing compared to a contraction. I thought the anesthesiologist was joking when he told me he was all done.
Sunday, January 26th
We all tried to rest after the epidural, but I was mostly unsuccessful. I probably napped for 15-20 minutes two different times, but mainly had trouble sleeping. The worst of my labor came at 4:30 am when the left side of my epidural wore off. The pain was nothing like I have ever felt before and there was no relief between contractions. I called in our sweet nurse and she told me she was going to call the anesthesiologist, but that I should page her if things got worse before she was going to check on me again in 10-15 minutes. Almost immediately after she left the room I woke Seth up to call her back due to the pain. I was very scared at this point because the anesthesiologist had told me earlier that sometimes epidurals don’t work on everyone or on both sides. I feared the worst. Thankfully he came back in and was able to change the dosage for me. After some “ice tests”, he told me the epidural was still working but it had settled into the lower half of my body and since I was on the lowest dosage, he upped it so it would reach more into my abdomen. After he increased the dosage I felt relief in about 15 minutes. At this point it was around 5:30 am and they were going to check me again when the doctor could come in.
Around 6:30 am I was checked and was 10 cm dilated, but with a cervical lip. They told me they would come and check me again shortly to see if it moved out of the way. In the meantime my team helped me get on a peanut ball to try to get things moving. I remember feeling a ton of pain at this point everywhere in my stomach and really had to focus on breathing. I was checked again and still had a cervical lip, but it had moved so my doctor was confident it would move out of the way during pushing. I began pushing at 7:45 am. I hadn’t made much progress at all in the first 45 minutes. It was taking me a while to figure things out and I was quickly becoming discouraged. At this point I got really sick and threw up a lot and for a while. After that was over, I really kicked into gear. With encouragement from Sarah I was able to get in the right head space and get into a groove. She had Seth turn on some upbeat music from my labor playlist and I was eventually told that she would be born on the next push! At 9:15 am McKinley Marie came into the world and was immediately placed on my chest. She was absolutely perfect and we were both so elated that she was here after months and months of prayers. I cried and Seth cut the umbilical cord. I am so thankful for all of our wonderful nurses and doctor – they were all incredibly kind, patient and sweet. They loved on us so much and chatted with us through the entire process. They allowed us unlimited skin to skin contact and did not try to take McKinley away for weight, tests, etc. We were able to love on her for so long. In fact – I held her for an hour and half before I immediately had Seth take her because I ended up throwing up again. Thankfully that passed and with some medication I was good to go.
My mom and Dad were able to meet McKinley that morning and held her while I tried to rest. I was too excited and full of adrenaline to nap, but they brought us food, flowers, a fountain coke, (I really wanted this! Hah) gifts, allergy medicine for Seth, warm blankets and more! It was so nice to be pampered and we felt like we were on a cloud. We moved to our postpartum room around 1 or 2 in the afternoon and she was able to meet Seth’s parents then! We had a few other visitors that evening and soaked up lots of cuddles with our new baby girl! We kept talking about how perfect she was, starring at her little hands, fingers and cheeks and could not believe she was finally here in our arms. She is the most beautiful gift from above.
Nursery and Lifestyle Photos by Marisa Kinney Photography