Let me just say that during my pregnancy with Camille, I had prayed fervently every day for the birth experience that I wanted. I prayed daily:
That the Lord would prepare me, mind, body and spirit, for what lay ahead
I would have the expectations of Jesus during my labor and delivery (not what the world said it would be like)
James and I would have excellent communication as a team
That there would be minimal pain that would be completely bearable through Jesus, and that I would not need pain meds or anesthesia
That we would have peace
Our little girl would be healthy and whole.
These daily prayers ended up being SO important, and the most key preparation that I did for my delivery. Because I ended up going into labor prematurely (I didn’t know at the time that I could have prayed for a full-term baby) at 35 weeks and 4 days, the thought NEVER ONCE crossed my mind that we would have anything but a healthy baby. We had such peace because that it what we had prayed for. When you pray for peace, God WILL grant it. Interestingly (Divinely), Camille’s name means “perfect love,” and, of course, “perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:8).
Days Leading Up to Birth Day
It was VERY hot in our home. We did not have a working air conditioner at the time, and I was majorly in “nesting” mode. In hindsight, I should have been taking it easy, but I just couldn’t stop myself. I had been swelling quite badly (water retention) and the fact that our home was about 85 degrees did not help matters. There was nothing that I could do to relieve my swelling, even by putting my feet up or icing my ankles. My mom also noted later that baby girl had “dropped” lower already. On the night before I went into labor, James and I were getting ready for bed. James remarked, “So, you haven’t told me about any Braxton Hicks (practice) contractions that you have been having.” I said, “That is because I haven’t had any.”
Labor and Delivery
That night (early morning), I woke up at 1:50am to a “pop” sound that appeared to come from my body. I instantly just knew it was my water breaking, so I got up quickly and went to the bathroom. As I started to wipe, gushes of clear fluid just kept coming out. I thought to myself, “That is definitely not pee, because I have never peed that much AND I just can’t control it.” After wiping a few more times, I wedged a towel in between my legs and I went to wake up James. I told him that I thought my water had ruptured and he said, “Are you sure.” I told him I was pretty sure, but I was going to call the midwife and see what she said to do. At this point, I wasn’t experiencing any contractions yet. I called my midwife and she said to go ahead and go to the emergency room, and they would do a test to check the fluid that I was leaking to see if it was amniotic fluid. I thought to myself “I know it is.” Thankfully I already had my hospital bag packed and our car seat was unboxed and ready to go. We got dressed, calmly grabbed our belongings, and got on our way to the hospital.
On the drive to the hospital, I began to have some contractions. I don’t recall how far apart they were, but they were steady and felt like dull period cramps. James and I prayed excitedly, and I remember him reaching over to grasp my hand. It was all very peaceful.
We arrived at the hospital at around 3:20am, an hour and a half after my water broke. They took our info at the registration desk, and then took us to a triage room. I had to go to the bathroom and evacuate my bowels. Doing so did not take away the urge to go (I realized later it was just pressure from baby girl being so low in my pelvis already). I changed into a hospital gown, came out and the nurse started asking questions. She did a litmus test and confirmed that my water had broken (“Duh!” I thought). At 3:40am, she did an internal exam and reported that I was 5 cm dilated and 80-90% effaced. Because I was 35 weeks and 4 days gestation, I had not yet had a GBS (Group B Strep) screening (I was actually set to have it that day at my 36 week prenatal appointment. Obviously that never happened). Therefore, they put an IV (intravenous) port in my left wrist to be able to administer antibiotics (protocol for management of GBS) later. When they asked me if I was planning to have an epidural, I told them “No, and please don’t ask.” They were very nice about this, and no one ever asked me from that point on if I wanted one.
I moved in to Labor and Delivery room #9. At my request, I was granted intermittent fetal monitoring, and once my Ampicillin had been administered for GBS, I was unhooked from the IV and was able to freely move about the room. I spent most of the time in the bathroom on the toilet. I continuously felt like I had to defecate, but it was just pressure. I sat on the toilet and ran hot water over my hand. It was very effective at relieving some of the discomfort and pain. All of the things that we had planned to use for “atmosphere,” we used NONE of. The nurse brought in a birth ball, but sitting on it was uncomfortable for me. At 4:57am, the nurse checked me again and I was 6cm dilated and 90% effaced. Not long after that, my mom and stepfather came in for a brief moment and prayed with us. I am pretty sure I began to enter transition after this (period from 8cm to complete). I moved back to the toilet and had thoughts of “I don’t think I can do this much longer.” Then, an uncontrollable urge to push came over me. I told James, “I need to push NOW!”
At 6:08am, the nurse came rushing in and checked me (I did NOT want to lay on my back for this!). I was 10cm dilated. At this point, we had been at the hospital for less than 3 hours. They had called my midwife, but for whatever reason, she did not come to the hospital. The hospitalist on call was paged, and at 6:15am, I began to push (not very efficiently, I might add—I had bruising later on my neck and face). I pushed only two times, and at 6:18am Camille Amorina McClary was born. She was pink and crying vigorously. She weighed 5 pounds and 13 ounces. They did not place her on my chest immediately, and James did not get to cut the cord, but they took her over to the corner to examine her because she was premature. She, of course, checked out beautifully and never showed one sign of being premature. I had some internal lacerations that had to be sutured, which seemed like it took FOREVER! After this was finished, James brought Camille over to me, all swaddled, and I got to hold her. They let me keep her for an hour before taking her for a “mandatory” nursery observation (wish I had known better). During this time I breastfed her for the first time and she latched on like a champ!
Thoughts and Hindsight
In hindsight, everything that I prayed for was granted to me. James and I had great peace and communication throughout the process. James was my rock; he was so attentive to my needs (mostly being by myself in the bathroom!) I couldn’t have done it without him. He held my hand while I pushed and never wavered in his belief in me. I had a short labor with minimal pain that the Lord helped me get through. We had a beautiful baby girl, who although she was “premature,” was completely healthy!
Immediately after I delivered, however, I just had a sense that there was more to be experience than what I had experienced. The nurses that were in the room were so supportive while I pushed, and told me what a wonderful job I was doing. They were probably the best thing other than my hubby. I began to miss a few things though, like James not getting to cut the cord and not getting immediate skin-to-skin contact with my baby. I also knew that I did not want to deliver a baby in stirrups again, while lying on my back with bright hospital lights, etc.
All of this sparked my curiosity and I began to research and read. I became educated about all of my pregnancy and birth options. I became prepared, and I knew that if I were to ever have a hospital birth again, I would definitely have a birth plan for myself and my baby (I did not have one for this birth.) I also became better equipped spiritually and became more specific in my prayers surrounding pregnancy and birth the next time. (See Peter Solomon McClary-A Journey of Birth)
Thankfully, everything turned out well with my Camille, and I see God’s wonderful purpose and divine plan in it all.