And Then There Was Clara (Part 1)

Well I am insanely sleep deprived but I really want to take the time to get Clara’s birth story down before it’s lost in to the recesses of my brain forever. And I really, really want to share the story of her surprise arrival with you! 

I’m blessed, or lucky, or genetically gifted. I’ve gotten to carry all three of my pregnancies to term. So I try to keep the complaining to a minimum, because these babies are a blessing and I would never want to invalidate anyone’s struggle by complaining about my own blessings.

However, if I’m being honest with you, this pregnancy was hard and it took everything I have. It truly felt like carrying our daughter and barely sustaining our family was all I was capable of.

For months I operated in a fog at 50% battery life or less and to make matters worse I beat myself up about why I couldn’t carry more joyfully or with greater energy.


As you may know our baby girl was due to arrive on November 13, but she came early on November 10. Here’s how that all happened.

All that weekend I had been having contractions that would come and go, but they were way worse than the Braxton Hicks, tight-belly only contractions that I’d been having through the second and third trimesters.10730843_541514449677_1758459000295678324_n

The evenings and overnights were the worst and I wound up calling my office’s on call doctor at 1:30 Monday morning to get her take. She told me to sleep if I could and call the office in the morning to get my Tuesday appointment moved to Monday.

I have to emphasize here that with our previous two births I’d never had painful contractions, even though I’d been in active Labor. So my trust in my ability to identify what my body is doing when it comes to childbirth is fairly low.

And these contractions hurt, like cramps that started in my back and shot around down my thighs. New territory for me.

So at 8:01 I attacked the nurse triage line incessantly until I got through to someone. I just wanted to be seen a day early and really truly wanted to avoid going through the hospital, only to be sent home feeling like an idiot. When I finally got through the nurse took my info and ran it back to my doctor who told me to drink water and lay down. I was pissed, I’d drank water! I’d spent all night in bed! Whatever these were they felt like something worth paying attention to… 

Then they called back a few minutes later to tell me to drink 8oz of water every fifteen minutes for two hours (that maths up to 64oz of water for those that are counting).

So I stormed downstairs to fill a glass and went back to bed to watch top chef and text friends about my fate of chugging water and laboring quite literally in vain.

Then I drank and drank and peed and drank and peed and the contractions kept coming every ten minutes for about 1.5 minutes each just like they had been doing all night…

After hour 2 and oz 65 for good measure I called the doctor back to let them know that the water fest did nothing. They told me to go to OB Triage and get checked out.  

After that everything was a scramble, My bag was already packed so I threw in a few more things like my trusty fleece robe and texted my Aunt Betsy to see if she could watch Noelle and Caedmon for the afternoon. Earlier in the day she had graciously offered to take off work to take care of them.

We grabbed Noelle from school, with the secretary and principal’s excited well wishes and tried to keep them calm as we drove to the hospital. I had no idea what was going on, if we were having a baby or a dramatic false alarm.

I hate drama and I don’t like calling attention to myself so between the contractions and the idea of getting sent home with no baby I wanted to curl up and cry.

Kel dropped me off at the hospital to check in while he met my aunt by the exit near her home to install carseats and drop off kids. (at this point you may be wondering… did you pack bags for the kids? And no, no we didn’t…. I was still sure we’d just be sent home.)

So I walked into the hospital, into Maternity admitting by myself and got checked in. Then I peed again because… 65 oz of water is a lot… and got settled in to a triage room.

A nurse and nursing student got me hooked up to monitors and gave me an internal exam that will go down in history as the worst I’ve ever had. I swear she almost touched my lungs.

I was dilated to a three and having “for real” contractions so they headed to the desk to call my doctor and see what their thoughts were.

Then began one of the longest 45 minutes waiting games ever. I could hear snippets of the one sided conversation but had no idea if I was about to get sent home or up to the OR for delivery.

About 20 minutes into this Kel got back from dropping off the kids to sit and wait with me. Meanwhile those contractions were getting stronger and closer together and all I could think was.. I can’t chill like this for three more days, if they send me home I’ll surely die.

A million years or twenty minutes later the nurse came in and said that there was no point in keeping us waiting and that all this contracting wasn’t good for the scar / incision site.

“How do you feel about having a baby today?”

Our doctor was available and on her way in to do the surgery. Hooray! A baby three days early yet still delivered by someone our Doc over a stranger.

They moved me from Triage and up to a prep room to get ready for Surgery and I took a deep breath in preparation for the intense few hours we had ahead of us while Kel texted family and close friends to keep them up to date on the exciting new developments.

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Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2, the part where we actually have the baby, I promise.

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  • Mark Allman

    I look forward to part 2. I am glad that you did not get sent home. When I called the hospital about our first that we thought was coming 5 weeks early I could hear it in the nurses voice that said “come on down to the hospital and we will check your wife out and then send you back home”. Well when they “checked Dreama out they ran to call our doctor”. So I was glad we did not get sent home and did not meet what they surely thought was two young people who did not know what was going on.

    • Leanne Penny

      Absolutely, there is totally a reason why the “go to the hospital” is part of the routine and I am glad that you followed your gut and that all went well!

      • Mark Allman

        Oh Congratulations to Kel, you and your family!

  • Patricia

    My sister had similar feelings with her 3rd pregnancy…that it definitely was the hardest on her body. Looking forward to the rest of your story!

    • Leanne Penny

      The third is tough! I don’t know how women do this 5, 6 or more times! Hats off to them.

  • Rea

    First, congratulations! I’ve been waiting for this post!

    Second, 64 oz?! I do not think at 9 months pregnant I could have BEGUN to fit that much water into me in such a short time span. I would have popped.

    • Leanne Penny

      Ha! Seriously… SO much water! Thanks for waiting! I have the next one up now! I wont give up on this blogging thing I swear!

  • pastordt

    Congratulations, Leanne – and I look forward to the rest of this. I will admit to some confusion, as my daughter had 3 planned c-sections and never had to have labor at all (first boy was breech and almost 10 pounds, so they told her c or nothing. So if you’re headed to surgery, why did you have to fiddle around with all that water and waiting??

    • Leanne Penny

      Okay so I had a lot of Braxton Hicks with this pregnancy and had ended up in false labor a lot. Water can stave off BH contractions, SO they wanted me to get nice and hydrated to see if they were real of not.