I need to set the stage for Mimi’s labor and delivery. This pregnancy was so tough for so many reasons! Phil was deployed to Afghanistan for half the pregnancy and that left me caring for a 3 and 1 year old while experiencing my worst morning sickness in a pregnancy yet.
Those early months of Mimi’s pregnancy consisted of waking up at 5:30 am with my very early risers, handing them granola bars and putting them in front of Bob the Builder, while I napped on the couch until about 9:30.
Then we’d rush out the door to make it to the McDonald’s Drive thru before they stopped serving breakfast. (This was waaaay back in the day before Micky-D came up with the brilliant idea of serving breakfast all day. Genius!)
I was on a first name basis with everyone at both the local McDonalds and the Starbucks (sometimes the only adults I would see all day!), where I went for a coffee frappuccino.
Yeah, this was not my finest pregnancy. I could barely manage to pick myself off the couch, much less work out. I just ate, got sick, ate some more and then got sick some more. I couldn’t even call Phil to complain, because AFGHANISTAN!
All this took place in the depths of winter with all the snowstorms, fevers, flus, and cooped up days inside. Good times. I also developed horribly painful varicose veins that forced me to wear those thick compression hose from morning till night every single day!
Again, I couldn’t really complain to anyone… this was just before Instagram was a thing. Maybe that’s a good thing because my feed would’ve been just grainy pictures of stale goldfish crackers on my greased stained belly. #influencer.
So anyway, Phil finally came home! And shortly, after that we moved to a new Military post assignment. At least this time Phil was home so he could hear all about how much fun moving with compression hose and an extra 30 lbs on my front was for me. I kid. I kid (mostly).
CRAZY PREGGO LADY
So yes, I suppose you could say the pregnancy was a bit tough and as the due date approached, I decided that I wasn’t even going to attempt a natural birth. I felt very peaceful about the decision.
A couple of days before my due date, I got up in the morning and just felt off almost like I had the flu. When Phil got home, I made a gourmet dinner of frozen pizza, but couldn’t eat a thing.
I then felt a mild first contraction. And when that happened something in me snapped! I turned into a frenzied nesting and cleaning machine.
In the course of about 3 hours, I folded all the laundry, vacuumed all the floors, washed all the bathrooms, bathed the kids, put them to bed and organized the fridge.
Every 15-20 minutes, I’d get a contraction, but each one was mild. I called my mom and asked her to come spend the night just in case. At around 9:30, I collapsed on the couch and asked Phil to turn on an episode of our favorite show, Chopped.
But then my first real contraction hit and I immediately told him to turn that awful show off (crazy lady in da house!). My mom showed up shortly after and suggested I try to get a little rest in between contractions. We all figured this was the beginning of early labor.
I remember timing my contractions upstairs on the bed and thinking, “These are long and hurt like hell!” But they came anywhere from 6-8 minutes apart. But they really, really hurt!
And I could hear my Mom and Phil laughing downstairs. And crazy Kathleen thought, “NO ONE SHOULD BE LAUGHING RIGHT NOW!” So I called for them, but they couldn’t hear.
I started taking books off my nightstand and throwing them on the floor, hoping they’d hear (again, lots of rational thinking going on here!). Nope. They did not hear, and they were STILL laughing.
Finally, I managed to drag myself to the top of the stairs in between contractions and yell, “I HOPE YOU GUYS ARE HAVING FUN DOWN THERE, BECAUSE I AM HAVING A BABY UP HERE!”
Mom and Phil ran upstairs to help me time contractions. No more laughing. But I could tell that they both thought I wasn’t handling this “early” labor super well. The contractions were far apart, but man they hurt and I didn’t feel like anyone understood this.
I THEN LOCK MYSELF IN THE BATHROOM.
So I did what any crazy laboring mama would do. I fled to the bathroom and locked the door. I would labor alone, I didn’t need anybody watching. (Note to new mamas: if you start hiding that is a sign that BABY is coming!!!)
The minute I locked myself in the bathroom the contractions started coming right after the other! I couldn’t catch a minute to think or rest. I was just riding the waves. Phil tells me the following exchange occurred at some point:
Phil: Honey, I think maybe we should go to the hospital.
Kathleen: I don’t want to go. I like it in here!
Phil: Kathleen, open the door right now!
Kathleen: I’m ok!
Phil: No, we are leaving right now!
I finally opened the door and have a vague memory of him shuffling me down the stairs into the car.
We only lived about a 4 minute drive from the military hospital on post, but that was the longest, most awful drive of my life. I kept telling Phil that the baby was coming and he kept telling me, “No, it’s not!”
We arrived at the hospital around 11:30, abandoning our car in the hospital driveway. Somehow Phil managed to get me up to L&D and apparently the nurses eyes got wide when they saw the state I was in.
A TEENAGER DELIVERS MY CHILD, SORT OF
No triage this time around! The nurses took me straight into a room. As you may recall I had planned on getting an epidural, so I kept waving my arm at them, asking them to start my IV and call the anesthesiologist.
They told me, “He’ll be here any minute” (and then apparently shook their heads no to Phil … really glad I didn’t see that exchange!).
Almost immediately after they said that, I told them I needed to push. The doctor rushed in and confirmed that I was ready to go. That’s when the filter on my mouth just broke down.
I was calling on the name of Jesus and getting LOUD! The doctor present looked about 14, and I asked Phil (in what I thought was a whisper, but he says only if you call it an Irish whisper aka shouting…) if I thought this doctor knew what he was doing.
I have to say much of that labor was a blur, but I remember that the doctor did not look confident and he also reminded me of a random show from the early 90s, Doogie Howser (the show is literally about a kid who happens to be smart enough to be a doctor): I had never met the doctor before and here was this child doctor delivering my baby with a look of mild disgust on his face. All-Natural Kathleen did not appreciate this one bit!
Anyway, they wanted things set up before I pushed, but I told them the baby was coming and in two quick pushes, the baby came flying out into the arms of a very surprised–and a little annoyed–doctor! I looked up to see a healthy little girl screaming her head off, just the way her sister had 4 years earlier.
She was adorable and Phil and I started laughing about how we almost had her in the car. We arrived at the hospital only about 10-15 minutes before she was born! And my actual labor was 2 hours and 15 minutes from the first painful contraction till she was born.
Mimi was born a few days before her due date and weighed in at 8 lbs 1 oz. I love how her birth (exciting, hilarious and intense) matches her personality!
Each labor, just like each child, is unique and no matter how we try to prepare, we have to be prepared for the unexpected! I think of the swift labor as a gift from God after such a long grueling pregnancy and every day I thank God for our little wartime baby.