Connor, Part Two

For Part One, click here.

"What do you mean, they don't do epidurals?!?" I gasped. It wasn't easy to talk, seeing as the very air was being sucked out of my lungs by the collapse of the universe.

My new friends laughed nonchalantly. "They've never done epidurals at our hospital. But it's not a big deal. They do intrathecals instead, and they are almost as good."

I don't remember the rest of the play date. I'm pretty sure I excused myself shortly thereafter, gathered up Natalie and ran for my car, where I promptly started to ball. (Oh crazy pregnancy hormones, you never fail.)

I called Corey, still breathless, and we had the following conversation.

Me (ragged with tears): "I just heard the most horrible news!"
Corey (concerned): "What? What's wrong?"
Me: "The girls at playgroup just told me that the hospital in this god-forsaken little town doesn't do epidurals!"
Corey: (silence)
Me: "Are you still there? Did you hear me?!? NO EPIDRUALS! I am moving back to California as soon as I can pack my bags. Are you with me?
Corey (amused, which was NOT the right tone, may I add): "Wow. For a minute there, you made me think something was really wrong. Like an ax murderer was loose on the streets or something."

I don't remember the rest of our conversation. (Denial is my favorite coping mechanism.)

Eventually, I learned that our hospital, like many rural medical centers, had decided it would be too expensive to hire an anesthesiologist dedicated solely to laboring women. Instead, they offered intrathecal narcotics, which don't require anesthesiologist and are like epidurals light -- "half of the pain relief with double the side effects."

I was devastated. But I loved my doctor. And my new friends tried to reassure me by giving me glowing reviews of the intrathecal. "It really helped take the pain off during transition. Of course, the itching was so bad they had to give me Benedryl in an IV for 24 hours. And that meant I slept through my baby's first day. And I threw up a lot. But otherwise -- it was golden!"

Fast forward to my 9th month. During my first cervical check at 36 weeks, my OB pronounced me 2 cm dilated. I was stunned. Natalie had been born at 41 weeks, and I was barely 2 cm the day she was induced.

The trend continued. At 37 weeks, I was 3 cm. At 38 weeks, I was 4 cm. At 39 weeks, I was 5 cm. "Cool!" I thought. "I'm halfway there, and I haven't even felt a contraction worthy of calling Doc Baker."

My OB wasn't as enthused. "You can't walk around town 5 cm dilated," she said firmly. "When that baby comes, he will come fast. You are going to have that baby in Wal-Mart if you aren't careful. Do you want to have your baby in Wal-Mart, Kelly?"

I assured her I didn't. I asked if Target was an option.

She said it was, but that she probably wouldn't be able to make it in time for the delivery. As an alternative, she strongly urged me to come back to the hospital the next day to get induced.

The next day. As in THE NEXT DAY.

I was thrown into a tailspin. I had never considered that I could have a baby BEFORE my due date. It had never happened in my family. And I had a lot on my To Do List for the upcoming weekend. The next day? Really?

But in the end, after much praying and many phone calls and tons of adrenaline, Corey and I decided my OB was right. I called the hospital and put myself on the induction calendar for the next morning. Decision made, and nerves aflutter, I sat down with Corey and Natalie for our last dinner as a family of three.

It was somewhere in the middle of dinner, around 7:00 PM, when I noticed I was having contractions. They didn't hurt; it was more of a tightening sensation. Still, they wouldn't stop. So I told Corey I was going to lie down on the couch for a while and see what happened.

It was on the couch that I noticed the contractions were actually coming in a pattern. Four minutes apart. Steady. Tick, tick.

Corey was alarmed. He urged me to call the hospital and ask a nurse for advice. So I did. On the phone, I downplayed my situation, both because I hate to be a bother to anyone and because I truly didn't believe I could be in labor. The nurse advised me to get into a warm bath, drink lots of water, relax, etc.

I followed her advice. But the contractions didn't stop. They got stronger. And painful.

By 8:00 PM, I told Corey we might as well head for the hospital. If the contractions stopped once we got there, we could always just spend the night. We were scheduled to be induced at 7:30 AM anyway.

Thus began the scramble to find someone to stay with Natalie. I won't bore you with the details. (An ironic statement for sure in the middle of this long, rambling post.) But we didn't know our neighbors, our closest family members were two hours away and the few friends I had made in town were all unavailable. So it took time -- precious, precious time. I ended up lying on the bed, moaning a little, trying desperately not to think about the future and just focus on my breathing. "Please, Lord. Just help me breathe."

Finally, one of my friends helped us find a grandma substitute. She arrived at 9:30 PM. By this point, I couldn't stand without collapsing in pain. Corey carried me to his SUV and we were off, racing to the hospital, running deserted red lights, screeching around corners. "It's just like the movies!" I thought between contractions.

At the hospital, Corey pulled directly into the ambulance bay. A crowd of people came running. (Not that I saw them. By this point, my eyes were firmly closed as I tried to cope with the ever-quickening contractions.) They pulled a gurney around to my door. I rolled over and fell on it. Two orderlies wheeled me to a room in Labor and Delivery, where a trio of nurses took over my care.

Not sensing (or maybe not believing) the urgency in my demeanor ("I was already dilated to 5 cm at my OB appointment this morning. Can you please get the intrathecal right now?"), they suggested we start by getting me into a gown.

Trying to be a cooperative patient, I got up and took two steps toward the bathroom. But I didn't even make it through the doorway before collapsing on the tile with my head on the tub.

"Can't stand," I panted. "Need to lay down. Stay on side."

The nurses were convinced. They whipped into action, supporting me to the bed, dressing me in a hospital gown even as I stayed curled in a fetal position.

About that time, Corey made it to the room. It was about 10:00 PM.

I continued to ask for the intrathecal. The head nurse said she needed to check my progress before she could call for the narcotics.

Her next words changed everything. "Honey, you're already dilated to a 9. We don't have time for any medication. This baby will be here before that."

And with that, she placed me squarely in the middle of my greatest nightmare.

The next 30 minutes were excruciating but mercifully fast. The OB on call (not my doctor) sauntered into my room to do his standard meet and greet and was met by a flurry of nurses yelling, "Change out of your street clothes! NOW!" He ran out of the room.

I started to feel the urge to push, which scared the heck out of me. I had pushed for an hour with Natalie -- after my nurse had turned off my epidural and turned up my pitocin. (Like I said, another story.) Pushing was THE ABSOLUTE WORST PART of labor for me. I couldn't believe I was getting ready to do it again WITHOUT ANY PAIN MEDS.

But what do you do? There's no retreat. So I moaned and gasped and pushed and suddenly -- Connor was here, a red-faced, dark-haired baby placed on my shuddering chest.

The time was 10:30 PM. We had been at the hospital for 30 minutes.

Doc Baker would never have made it.

Post-Script: Connor today is a sweet, smart, inquisitive imp. He is obsessed with Legos. He's a mastermind at puzzles. He can read almost as well as Natalie, which is a little freaky to me. He can count to 100. He loves to make Teyla laugh by running into a wall. He's goofy and charming and he has the longest eyelashes I've ever seen on a boy. I'm totally in love with him. He was worth it all and more.

Happy 5th birthday, buddy.


  1. Whew! Now THAT was a ride!

    As a midwife and lactation consultant, I really can't resist a birth story, and yours did not disappoint! Happy birthday to your sweet boy!

  2. What a cute Lego cake!
    I LOVED hearing the birth story! Thank you for telling it! :-) Now I am looking forward to hearing about the other two.

  3. I loved your story. I want to hear about the other two, too. Happy Birthday, Conner!

  4. I know it was scary at the time, but oh to be in a labor that short!!! You'll be so glad you have that written down. I didn't do that and now it's be too long to remember the details that you think you will never forget!! Thanks for sharing! Love the Lego cake. I'll put that in my memory bank for future Lego Lovers!

  5. I love to hear labor and birthing stories. Thanks for sharing! He is adorable.

    Happy Birthday, Connor!

  6. Oh my...i am crying...this is what birth stories do to me. I can't turn one down but i also can't stop myself from crying. What a great story. Thank you for sharing. Happy birthday to your handsom boy!!!

  7. What a great birth story. My first two were very similar to Connor's. No drugs? We can do it!

    Happy Birthday, Connor.

  8. Ow. That is an incredible story. I am so thankful it went by (relatively) quickly. But, um. Ow.

    Happy Birthday, Conner!

  9. THAT was amazing. I got all nervous as I read it. You are so lovely, Kelly. You tell your stories with such wit and charm.

    I'm so glad you didn't have to wait for Doc Baker.

  10. 30 minutes at the hospital? I hate you and I'm taking you out of my Google Reader.

    Just kidding. But 28 hours (14 at hospital) with baby #1 and 26 hours with baby #2 (7 at hospital)make me turn green to read stories like this.

  11. My 2nd child...SAME STORY. And that same baby just had a blue lego cake for his 6th birthday a couple of weeks ago ;)

  12. Yeah, when I had my son all my friends were going natural. I told my husband that in my many childbearing years, I would probably have no choice but natural at some point. So why not save that experience for another time? So I had my epidural and loved it. And I'll do it every time, if I can. But I've heard a lot of plural-kid moms talk about the time they rushed to the hospital and had no time for meds.

  13. what an awesome birth! i hope my 4th is that easy.

  14. That's a great story! and a super cute cake :)

    I had a BAD experience with an epidural for my first and had 3 more natural. . . now I want to know more of your stories too!

  15. Great story! I'm glad he wasn't born at Walmart, that would have been all wrong. Target was a much better choice ;)

    And he's super-cute, Kelly. No wonder you adore him.

  16. Praise God it was a short delivery and that you made it to the hospital! P.S. Love the lego cake!

  17. Happy Birthday, Connor! I just can't believe the little dude is 5 years old. Crazy. We can't wait to see you in December. We miss y'all so much...

  18. Awesome story! You're so right--Doc Baker never would of made it. It's funny though, the birth scenes in Little House always made me WANT to have a baby. So dramatic, ya know? And I'm all about the drama. ;)

  19. He is so, so cute! And I loved hearing your birth story - I'd have freaked out about no epidurals, too.

  20. That was a fun story...for those of us who weren't there or involved in it in any way.
    I bet they make you re-tell this story at every family gathering and baby shower.
    Can you even imagine?

  21. Oh goodness. I am in a "no-commenting" mood, but had to say something. I am seven months pregnant with my second, and am fairly fearful. My doc said, "why do you need a doula, you know what you are doing, this is your second...." ACK! But I don't!

    My son was breech and refused to turn, so I had a scheduled c-section. Never went into labor. Strolled into the hospital at 6 a.m., got my little IV and epidural (which event I mostly blocked out of my brain) and the baby was born at 7:48.

    Now I am attempting a VBAC b/c I don't want another surgery, but STILL! I don't know what to expect, and it feels weird, because as a second time mom, I should!

    But I have enough friends, and the doula, telling me that "you can do it!", so maybe I won't be as afraid as I think.

  22. Sounds like the birth of my second (he's almost six now), except that I was at the hospital for an hour and a half. I didn't get my intrathecal because the anesthetist was with another patient, and by the time he was available, it was too late for me. I still joke that my boy is a "me do it" kid since he decided to come on his own--fast--an hour before we were scheduled at the hospital for induction.

  23. Ha, ha, I remember when you were in the "no children for me, unless they're adopted" phase...glad you decided to give childbirth a try! :) I had a similarly fast delivery with #1 and was shocked; didn't know that the early dilation was a clue to that...good info!