Gavin’s Birth Story

Maddie and Me Christmas 2000

It was Christmas time in the year 2000. Auntie Colleen was visiting and we were heading home from Jumpin’ Jupiters, an indoor playspace that Maddie loved to frequent. I suspected I might be pregnant and just had to know. I suggested we stop by a store on the way home and grab a pregnancy test. I wasted no time, and in minutes we were celebrating two pink lines.

My parents and siblings would be arriving any day, with a car full of parcels, to celebrate Christmas. We considered how we would share the news. Let’s present it as a gift, we decided. Without hesitation, we agreed who the recipient of this special package must be…my dad. Pop had a history of opening gifts that confused him. Gifts he didn’t comprehend. Gifts he was sure, he had mistakenly received. We had enjoyed many tear jerking laughs before, when my Dad, with a half opened gift in his lap, had ever so discretely attempted to identify the correct recipient. Only to find out, the gift was indeed intended for him.

The pregnancy test would be perfect! There was no way he’d be familiar with the appearance of such a gadget. I giggled, just imagining the look of confusion on his face. We placed the package, tagged with his name and wrapped with anticipation, under the tree.

Pop did not disappoint. He ripped open the paper and lifted the box lid. He turned to Mimi, with eyebrows knit together, for some sort of explanation. My mom looked up with immediate recognition on her face and exclaimed, “You’re pregnant?!”

It really wasn’t long before the nausea, hunger, and fatigue set in. This was very reassuring, because I had miscarried only a few months earlier, after feeling very little morning sickness.

Our house in Raleigh was on the market and sold in the first few weeks of the New Year. We were looking to find a new place with a bit more space and closer to Duff’s work. We moved to Apex and rented a home while we continued looking for something to buy. We eventually found a neighborhood we liked and began building a home that would be completed about 2 months after the baby’s birth.

My prenatal appointments were going well and everything looked fine. Baby was growing and developing perfectly. We decided not to find out the gender at our ultrasound and looked forward to being surprised this time around.

I had undergone a cesarean with my first, due to a footling breech presentation. When I miscarried the subsequent pregnancy and began researching more about the long-term consequences of cesarean, I realized I really wanted a natural childbirth. I spent hours and hours researching VBAC. I read all about the Bradley Method. I considered hiring a doula but was discouraged from doing so by my obstetrician. “They create love triangles in the delivery room”, she had warned. (Yes, I actually believed this! Bah-hahaha)

I paid close attention to what I ate and exercised regularly. I developed my birth plan which involved as little intervention as possible. I wanted to avoid narcotics, epidurals, pitocin, and AROM (artificial rupture of membranes). All of these things could decrease my chances of delivering naturally.

I was due at the beginning of September. On September 4th, I began showing signs of impending labor. I called my Mom and Dad to let them know, and they began the long drive South that evening. They drove through the night and arrived early on the morning of Sept. 5th. I was having contractions off and on but nothing very regular or strong yet. My parents tried to nap a little and by the afternoon my contractions were growing more regular. Dinner time approached, and I felt it was time to head out. We grabbed our bags, leaving Maddie behind with Mimi and Pop.

When Duff gets behind the wheel to drive, he often discovers he’s tired or hungry, and this time was no exception. He suggested we stop to get a bite to eat. I really wasn’t up for eating. We stopped at Whole Foods and Duff picked up some yumminess while I walked around the store breathing through contractions.
Satisfied with his selections, we continued on to Rex Hospital.

Now I knew I was only in the early stages of labor, but I really didn’t want to wait until the last possible moment and experience the adrenaline rush of a mad dash to the hospital. We parked the car in the garage, grabbed our bags, and headed up to the Labor and Delivery floor. After checking in at the main desk, we were shown to a room and the admission process began. They drew blood samples, filled out paperwork, and got me settled. It wasn’t long before the doctor on call checked in on us.

He seemed like a nice enough obstetrician, and then I handed him my typed up birth plan. He quickly perused it, sort of laughing to himself as he did so.

“What?” I inquired.

“Well, it’s just that this is all nice on paper and all. But the fact of the matter is, you’re attempting a VBAC. And unless you adhere to the timeline, intervention is going to be required.”

I couldn’t believe it! My entire pregnancy, all of the doctors had been so encouraging. So supportive. And now I’m in labor and he’s changing his tune?? How dare he just throw my birth plan out the window! I was livid!

I attempted to reiterate how intervention would just complicate matters and reduce my likelihood of delivering naturally.

“Well, then what are you here for??” He wondered out loud, “If you don’t want intervention, then you should go home.”

That was it!! This man was impossible!!! There was no way I was staying in this hospital to have my baby. We gathered our things, got our discharge papers, and were on our way.

But where exactly were we headed?

We had no idea.

And my, these contractions were getting stronger.

I was hurting. This was intense.

I was having trouble thinking clearly.


“Duff, I need food! I’m famished! Let’s drive down the road and find me some food.”

We jumped in the car and began scoping out some places.

Everything was closed.

“I need to get out of this car. I can’t be in this car! This car is killing me!”

“Well what do you want me to do?”

“Just take me to a hotel or something! Somewhere peaceful, where I can be left alone. I am not going back to that hospital!”

“You want ME to deliver this baby?! I can’t just bring you off to some hotel. I have no idea what I’m doing!”

The argument went back and forth, back and forth, into the wee hours of the morning as we tried to come up with a plan.

“I’m taking you back in there. We have no other choice.”

And so back into Rex Hospital we went.

We were readmitted.

Paper work was redone.

Blood redrawn.

And we settled into the hospital room waiting for the doctor…

A new doctor.

Because, as we learned upon readmission, the 24 hour on-call period had ended, and now my very favorite OB was covering the floor.


Dr. P entered the room, she was caring and kind. She reassured me that the baby’s heart rate was looking good and explained that she’d be watching the monitors and would regularly come by to check my progress. It was approaching 7 am on the morning of September 6th.

I was having agonizing back labor. I couldn’t speak, move, or have a coherent thought, throughout each contraction. We tried the shower, we tried walking, we tried intense counter pressure for hours. Nothing was helping.

And then my doctor would come in and do a cervical check and explain that there was little to no progress. Talk about discouraging!

I didn’t know how much longer I could last. This was insane!

And the thought that kept entering my mind throughout all of this was- Be the sheep? Ha! What a load of crap!

You see the Bradley method is supposedly based on a man’s observations of watching animals birth their young. They don’t fight the contractions. They go off alone, to a quiet place, relax, and allow their body to respond to the contractions. The more relaxed you are, the more productive the contractions will be, thus dilating your cervix.

But I was in sooo much pain, I couldn’t possibly relax!

Dr. P was becoming more concerned by lunchtime that my progress had been so minimal. I was still only 2-3cm. She shared that my cervix was beginning to swell from being in hard labor when the baby’s head was not well engaged. She suggested I try getting an epidural.

“Sometimes an epidural, in cases like this, can be helpful. It will allow you to relax which may hasten your progress.”

I couldn’t resist the dangling carrot any longer.

The epidural took affect and I rested my eyes for the first time in hours; Duff falling fast asleep in the chair beside me.

We had those few peaceful moments before my doctor hurried back into the room.

“You’re having late decelerations, Kelly. We need to turn you onto your side.”

After several attempts to restore the baby’s heart rate to a more reassuring pattern, an emergency cesarean was recommended. Late decels can mean baby isn’t getting enough oxygen. They slapped oxygen over my face, gave me a pen to sign the consent, and whisked us off to the OR.

It wasn’t long before Duff leaned down near my face to report,”It’s a boy!” I saw a tear trickle down his cheek. He was in complete awe of God’s perfect creation. Miraculous. Truly miraculous.

The baby was posterior(sunny-side up) and had a triple nuchal cord (umbilical cord wrapped 3 times around his neck).

This probably explained why his head wasn’t engaging and my failure to progress.

He was also a rather large baby, weighing in at 8lbs13oz.

He had fair skin, blonde peach fuzz for hair, and the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen.

He was absolutely perfect. The sweetest little thing, with a deep husky cry.

Happy Birthday, Gavin Matthew O’Melia!


  1. BEAUTIFUL STORY! I am looking forward to reading all your other birth stories!



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