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McKinney James Antolick

McKinney James Antolick’s Birth Story

The story of McKinney’s birth is somewhat of a Christmas story.

The night of December 23rd, Jon and I had gotten to bed late, around 11pm, after his last indoor soccer game of the season.  The team had tried to persuade us to go out with them to Awada’s joking, “If you come out and start labor, maybe the little one will get a lifetime sponsorship!”  Laughing, we declined, as we had an appointment to keep with Paula (our midwife) at 10am.  We were in our 39th week of pregnancy and Paula had mentioned that it would probably be another couple weeks.  I was planning on a quiet Christmas with family-my last one before motherhood and grateful that our baby wouldn’t be labeled a “Christmas Baby”. 

After an hour of sleep I awoke at 12:15am to use the bathroom.  There was a little blood, but nothing major and I’d had this earlier in the week, so back to bed I went.  I rolled to one side, Ouch!  Rolled to the other, Ouch!  Thinking I was probably a little constipated I headed back to the bathroom.  Sitting there my mucus plug let loose and I realized “These are contractions!” Timing the contractions by the clock on the microwave I paced and squatted and breathed as my muscles worked at pulling my baby into position.  This was intense and after 20 minutes I awoke Jon to take over timing and to call Paula.  The contractions were 6 minutes apart consistently and it was an hour to the birth center.  We waited awhile longer and the contractions kept coming between 4-6 minutes steadily.  Paula gave us the go sign and we were on our way by 3am.  It was a warm foggy winter night.  In the quiet I was focusing on breathing through the contractions which were coming faster and thinking, “This is probably just my body practicing and soon everything will stop and we’ll go back home”.  In my heart though, I was wide awake, excited, and hopeful that the time had finally come!  The roads were empty and visibility was limited, but even so we made good time.

Paula met us at the door and by 4am I was 4cm dilated and tucked into the purple room with Jon lying next to me.   I rested an hour than sat on the birthing ball. Rested some more and tried duck walking around 6:30am.  Jon stood strong as I’d wrap my arms around his neck and hang, moaning low and deep. After this I was 9cm, Yeah!  The baby was not yet in position though, so I did some lunges and than got into the soaking tub.  Jon poured water over my belly as the contractions came.  It is was so soothing.  He had the perfect rhythm and pressure and we were one.  I relaxed enough between each contraction to sleep a moment.  When I’d awake my belly would be quaking and Jon was speaking soft encouragement.  Catherine and Karen arrived around 8am and I felt peace, confidence, and sacredness.  At 8:40am I was 10cm and began stair walking.  My left hip was filled with pain and Karen attempted to relieve it through massage.  It was agonizing, but I could feel her love.  I slow danced in Jon’s arms.  I moaned.  I blew deep hot breaths out like a horse.  I felt good and strong, but tired.  When was our baby going to come?  More resting and bath time and ball time and hanging onto Jon.  Karen and Paula had me lie down on a cloth and tried Rebozo shifting to move the bay into place.  They pulled the cloth up around my hips and tried to swing the baby.  Through this he finally moved into place, but I still had terrible pain in my hip.  Karen tried acupressure, but nothing helped.  Finally, around 1pm I started pushing.  My water broke but our baby stayed put.  Around 3:30, while I was on the birthing stool pushing, there was a gush of blood.  The babies heart rate dropped and a room of encouragement became unnaturally quiet.  I couldn’t see what was going on.  I was scared.  75 seconds went by and than, the little heart picked up again and we all breathed relief.  Still, we were with empty arms.  At 4pm I went back to bed and Paula discussed options with us, which resulted in resting and no pushing.  Tired and discouraged I kept thinking, “I don’t want to go to the hospital.”  I knew my body could birth our child, but I was feeling discouraged. At 5pm Katie arrived and brought with her freshness and excitement. We all felt a small sense of renewal.  For the next 5 hours I pushed and rested and groaned and waited.  I was so tired and my legs and cervical lip were terribly swollen.  At 10pm I agreed to go to the hospital.  We didn’t know why the baby wasn’t coming and were afraid that I would be too tired to get the baby out with my own strength. 

Dr. Feigal was called and Katie, who was the nurse on call at Red Cedar Medical, took our blankets and cds and went before us to prepare our room.  Driving the four short blocks I felt sad and anxious.  I wanted this baby out and didn’t want to be a mother.  I just wanted to be able to go home and crawl in bed and sleep until this was all just a memory.   I’d been told that the baby was coming all day, but now I couldn’t believe that it would be today.  I was really discouraged and felt that it was my fault that we were going to the hospital, even though the baby’s vitals were fine.

The hospital was empty and quiet-it seemed as if I was the only one there.  I walked a long hall to get to my room.  My birth team had reassembled and my blanket and pillow were on the bed.  Dr. Feigal came in and realized that the reason the baby wasn’t moving down was because the cervix had gotten pinched between the baby’s head and my pubic bone and there was no way through.  He gently pushed it back with his long fingers and we were in business!  I was very tired and unsure that I really had it in me to finish the work I’d begun 23 hours ago, but Catherine looked me right in the eyes and with sincerity and faith told me, “ You can do this.”    They had me use a bar to pull myself up into a squatting position while I pushed, but than switched me back to lying down. They brought a mirror and I watched as with each push the head would come out and than pull back in.  It was terribly discouraging, but I knew that this baby was going to come out.  I pushed and pushed and finally the head was through!  There was so much dark hair!  Than a couple more pushes and the baby was here!  They placed him on my chest and I remember he felt so limp and warm.  There was a lot of mucus in his lungs and we had to keep rubbing him and suctioning him until he finally let out a cry and wouldn’t stop!  Jon had tears in his eyes and we looked at each other with amazement and tenderness; it was the most incredible day.  Jon cut the cord and I held our son.  He nursed a little and we all breathed sighs of peace.  I birthed the placenta and than had a few minor stitches-which, incredibly, were the worst part for me.  We were moved into another room and we all started to settle in for the night.  It was around 2:30am on Christmas Day.  Our son had been born at 11:58pm on December 24th, 2005 just squeezing in so he couldn’t technically be labeled a Christmas baby.  It took us until noon to choose a name and by 3pm we were on our way home to our own bed.

Birthing McKinney James was an incredible journey and I’d do it all again without hesitation. Jon was almost an extension of me throughout the entire birth and I am so grateful for his love, strength, and ongoing encouragement as we parent our son. The birth unified us in ways unimaginable and becoming parents is the most miraculous experience I believe we will ever know on this earth.

Renae Antolick


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