Callan's Birth Story

"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.

12 Then you will call upon me
and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
13 You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV, emphasis mine)


Oh my word.

What an incredible two weeks it has been! I can hardly believe this beautiful child Kyler and I brought home just a few days ago was created in my womb, birthed from my body, and is now ours to love and raise up. It's been a surreal couple of weeks at home. (Of course now, he's screaming to nurse again, which isn't so surreal, but anyway....) :)

Even with my wild imagination, I never could have written the story that God already had planned for me with this labor and delivery. As Kyler and I drove to the hospital on Tuesday morning, we talked about my desires for this labor again, and I tried to put into words some of those difficult emotional reasons why I wanted to deliver the way I did (namely, without an epidural).

We agreed that one of the most difficult things about explaining these reasons was inherent in the fact that every woman's labor and delivery story is uniquely hers. The emotions, sensations, and impressions it leaves her with are as different as she is. So while scores of women may choose to deliver in the same manner (or even with identical birth plans), and while we love to compare experiences, the fact remains that no two women will ever have the same experience of anticipation, fear, anxiety, pain, relief, or joy that is laboring and delivering a baby.


Long before Callan was even conceived, and long before I had any children, actually, I knew I wanted to experience a natural labor and delivery. That is, one free of pain medication. For me, it was about focusing on God and accomplishing something I knew I couldn't do on my own. It wasn't about being superwoman or purporting to hold one over on women who choose pain meds. Nothing like that at all. It was a personal choice for a personal journey I wanted to take with my Lord. I prayed for another story I could add to my testimony of who He is, why I trust in Him, and what He has done in my life.

And now I have one.


I was admitted to the hospital around 7:15am on Tuesday morning. My blood pressure was proof positive I was more than a little nervous. Our labor and delivery nurse was fantastic though, and did a great job calming me (and keeping us entertained) with stories from her 25 years nursing in maternity wards from Hawaii to Boston.

The Pitocin drip was started at 9am (after a hold-up with the pharmacy), and my doc was in at 9:30am to check on me. I had made a little progress from my appointment the day before, was about 4cm now and almost fully effaced. By around 11:15am, I was 5cm and contractions were about 5 minutes apart. I'd been "breathing through" contractions for about half an hour, and Doc thought it was time to break my water. As with Kayden's birth story, pain (and progress) increased a good deal after my water was broken. Although compared to the veritable Niagra Falls that came during my labor with Kayden, I had only a few Dixie cups full of fluid with Callan.

By 12:15pm, I was losing focus. Contractions were 2 minutes apart, lasting over a minute, and very hard. As with my labor with Kayden, the Pitocin (we think) made them peak almost immediately after they began. I'd been dealing with a cold/sinus infection for over a week before going into labor, so they were also literally hard to breathe through. Our nurse was aware of all of my concerns about getting an epidural, and offered to have an anesthesiologist come in to "chat" about other possibilities for managing the pain I was experiencing. She checked my cervix again, and reported that I was still only 5cm. Hearing this, I was beyond discouraged. Truly, I was giving up on my delivery plan. The pain was so intense I found myself able to only pray single words through each contraction.

Through all of this, my husband was a hero. He didn't leave my side for a second, and just continued to tell me, "You can do this," through each contraction. Despite his best efforts, I had reached my breaking point. I simply could not imagine focusing through that pain for another 5cm. I asked our nurse to order the epidural.

She was only in the hall for a minute, or less. I was in the middle of a contraction when she returned, finding it nearly impossible to keep from bearing down. Seriously, the pressure was unreal. While still contracting, she checked my cervix again. I expected to hear maybe 6cm. Instead, we heard:

"Oh my - ha! Now she's 10. I feel baby's head. He's coming...NOW."

That's right. 5cm to 10cm in roughly three contractions...like five minutes. If that.

She quickly ran to the door, shouted to someone to page my doctor, and came back through the door with no fewer than seven people. The labor room quickly turned into a delivery circus. Callan was already crowning, so the physician on the floor hardly had time for gloves, much less scrubs. She literally walked in, said "Hi Heather, I'm Dr. Horton. PUSH!" and delivered Callan's head.

The next contraction basically piggybacked that one, and just about simultaneously the doctor, nurses, and I had this little exchange:


"Hold on a sec. Don't push..."

"I can't...I'm not..."

"He's coming anyway..."

"This kid is delivering himself!"

"Now, push!"


"He's already here!"


And Callan was born.


Those first few minutes were a bit frightening. Callan was quite blue when he was born, given to the fact that the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around his neck...twice. They had to clamp and cut it off, because it was wound too tightly to even get a finger underneath. His nurse got him suctioned out and used a respirator bulb to get some oxygen into his lungs, and after a pump or two convinced him to start breathing on his own. So, his first Apgar (at one-minute) was only a 5, but after a few minutes of robust screaming, his five-minute was a 9.


In those chaotic moments before Callan was born, still in the midst of intense pain, I remember feeling complete relief. And understanding. And thanksgiving. In those moments when all I could pray was a word or two, and I thought I had so much further to go, I focused on simply, "Deliver me." And I believe that God, knowing just how much I could bear, heard my prayer and did just that. When I thought I'd have to labor through several more hours, He knew it was mere minutes before my son would be born.

Delivering Callan without any pain meds was not easy. It was extremely challenging for me, especially given the induction. My labor may not have been long, and my baby may not have been as large as the others, but I really don't think that had anything to do with why I was able to accomplish what I set out to do. I absolutely believe it is because I leaned on God and He gave me the strength to endure.

I love that my God knows me so intimately. I love that He is faithful to answer our prayers (whether His answer is the one we expect to hear, or not.) I love that His promises are true, and His plans are good. And I am in awe of His mercy, despite all the undeserving things I do on a daily basis.


12 "Then you will call upon me
and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
13 You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart."


Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Ashley M said...

Thanks for sharing this, Heather!!! I'm crying tears of joy with you right now (and when I got the text from you). The Lord was so sweet to you. It was a joy and privilege to pray for you through your pregnancy and delivery!

Natalie Morris said...

I'm so happy for you- the experience of God being there for you in incredible pain is priceless- I know that feeling, it's so awesome. I loved your story, I laughed at Callan doin' it himself! "Look out, I'm comin' whether you like it or not!" That's how Isaiah was! I'm so glad it was a beautiful experience for you!!