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Ruby Allison McLean: A Birth Story

January 25, 2015

From the time I woke up Wednesday morning (December 17) I was having regular but very light contractions. They continued through the day and did not go away, so I started to feel that they were not Braxton Hicks but the real thing! I texted our doula Star to update her on what was happening and then we went on to have a regular and relaxing day to see how things would progress. But we were very excited because we knew today was the day!

By afternoon I was feeling very antsy for things to progress and wanted to get out of the house. We went out for a walk but it was freezing cold so the walk did not last long. During the walk I called Star and told her the contractions were pretty close together but they were not very intense. She said she could hear just from talking to me that we still had a long ways to go. Michael and I decided to go for a drive.

By evening we were really wondering when things were going to pick up. After dinner we sat down to play a game of Phase 10. Neither one of us were having very much fun. I got up to use the bathroom at about 7:30 and when I got up off the toilet there was a huge gush of water! My water broke! I was not expecting my water to break so early in labor because I knew it only happens to 1 out of 10 women but it was kind of fun and exciting like they show in the movies. I called the midwives. Mercedes was the midwife on call. She told me there was no hurry and we could labor at home for a while longer. We called Star and asked her to come over at this point.

As soon as my water broke the contractions became much more intense. From this point on, everything was dark and quiet which was really nice. I sat on the bed and rocked and moaned while we waited for Star to arrive. Star came and talked with me and thought it looked like the baby was posterior (facing up rather than down) so we started a Miles Circuit, which is a series of positions to try to turn her around. I found most of it really uncomfortable. The whole thing lasted an hour and a half. Star and Michael fed me cheese and crackers as I did lunges in the bathroom. By the end I was tired and in quite a bit of pain. I decided it was time to go to the hospital.

Originally in my birth plan I said I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I could have stayed home for several more hours but for some reason I really wanted to go at this point. I think it was because I wanted to settle in and be in the place it was all going to happen before things got really serious.

I remember when we left our apartment building that every speed bump in the parking lot was torture. In triage I discovered I was only 3 centimeters dilated when I thought I was a lot farther. But at this point I didn’t care and was glad to be at the hospital so we could settle in the birthing suite. I was really looking forward to getting into the tub. It was 11:30pm on Wednesday when we checked in to the hospital.

From this point on I don’t remember things very clearly but specific moments do stand out in my mind. I liked kneeling in the tub a lot and would have stayed in that position, but Star encouraged me to keep moving to different positions to move things along. It was wonderful how Michael stayed by my side the entire time and kept his hands on me as I labored in the tub. One of the only things I remembered from my preparation and put into use was to make low vocalizations and to keep my jaw loose so that is what I focused on during each contraction. My birth affirmations did come to mind occasionally but it was most useful when Michael whispered them to me. I really liked picturing myself as a mama whale in the water and it helped me a lot. My birth music was playing the entire time and at some points I wished it was even louder so I could hear it over the people talking and everything. But it was quiet in the room for the most part and they kept the lights dim which was wonderful.

The nurse had to regularly check for the baby’s heartbeat but other than that the hospital staff was wonderful about not disturbing us and following our wishes in the birth plan. Mercedes my midwife was also there the entire time, along with a midwife in training. They stayed back and let Michael and Star comfort and help me until we reached the pushing stage.

There was a moment when I was in a lot of pain and I looked Michael right in the eyes because I needed to know that he was there and that he understood how hard it was for me. He said later that was the worst moment for him because he felt so bad but really just him being by my side the entire time was amazing. He only left my side once to go to the bathroom and didn’t have anything to eat or drink the whole time.

Eventually I had to get out of the tub although I didn’t really want to. I started feeling like pushing but when they did a cervical check I was only 8 centimeters. I was a little frustrated to hear that but put it out of my mind and kept going. From this point on I feel that all I did was complain and whine. I couldn’t stop saying things like “This is too hard,” “I can’t do this,” or “This really hurts.” This was the only point where it even crossed my mind to ask for an epidural but I knew I didn’t want to so I pushed the thought from my mind and kept going. Everyone was nice and sympathetic but I really just wanted it to be over. I was so tired and worn out. I was ready to push her out and be done with it!

I’m pretty sure this is when I was in transition. I was laying on the bed on my side with Michael holding me when I said “I’m going to throw up!” My stomach emptied but since I had been drinking apple juice all night that is all it tasted like coming back up. Then we got in place for pushing.

I felt a definite urge to push overtake me during each contraction but pushing was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. Mercedes was really helpful at coaching me and directing me which muscles to push and which to relax. It was very difficult to focus on the right muscles. Towards the end Mercedes held a knotted blanket and I reached up and pulled on it each time I pushed. I think that really helped.

I do remember feeling the baby moving down the birthing canal and that was pretty amazing. Eventually the head was crowning and I could feel the excitement in the room. I thought it was almost over but it still took so many more pushes to get her out! It went on and on and I thought it would never end! They told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head and that was so amazing. Michael even went down to watch the whole thing and I was so, so happy that he did. They offered me a mirror so I could watch too. I declined but I think next time I would like to see it. Each time I pushed the head was a little farther out but still not there yet.

Mercedes kept telling me to let her go out into the world and stop holding back, that it was time to share the baby and not to be scared. I thought of Michael and how much he wanted to meet our baby girl so I tried to let go and push even harder for him. Every time I pushed they said just one more push but there was always another push after that and then another. It felt like forever! But every time she was closer until there it was – her head was out and another big push for her shoulders and then they were putting something on my chest and it was her and she was so big and beautiful.

She was born at 6:37am on Thursday, December 18. I remember asking if the sun had come up yet because I thought it would be beautiful if she was born just as the sun was rising. It was still dark outside but it was a beautiful early morning birth just the same. From the time my water broke labor lasted about 11 hours, and I pushed for an hour and a half. The baby was 9lbs 4ounces which surprised everyone but me.

Michael and I just stared at her together and we were so happy to be a family. Michael asked me which she was, an Esther or a Ruby and at first I couldn’t tell and wanted to focus on breastfeeding and our skin to skin. But by the time the nurses took her and weighed her and her skin turned bright red as she screamed and screamed we knew she was Ruby and we were so happy to welcome her into our lives.


Allison’s Favorite Reads of 2012 (Part One)

December 30, 2012

I wrote about my ten favorite books last year and since then I’ve been looking forward to doing it again this year. I reached my goal on goodreads of reading 100 books this year, so I really have a lot to choose from. The really fun thing about my reading lately is how many formats I read in now. Usually at any given time I am listening to one book during my commute, reading one book on my Kindle, as well as usually reading one adult book and one children’s book all at the same time. Throw in a good mix of comics and graphic novels and it becomes pretty clear I will read almost anything! I hope you enjoy hearing about my favorites.

ageofmiracles The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. Adult Fiction. In this book, the end of the world as we know it comes in the form of a slowing down of the rotation of the earth. As the days and nights grow longer and longer, throwing the world into chaos, Julia is just an 11 year old girl trying to deal with all the normal parts of growing up. I really love literary speculative fiction and this absolutely fits the bill. Julia’s voice is so fresh and the writing is beautiful and exquisite.


The Brides bridesof Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan. Young Adult Fiction. This novel explores the legend of selkies, seals that are transformed into beautiful women. The island setting is richly evoked and feels so real and haunting, though at the same time is not any one particular time or place. The story is told through different points of view through several generations as a witch uses her magic to summon the seal wives out of the sea. I loved the atmosphere of this book and the magic and mystery of the story.

splendors Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz. Middle Grade Fiction. This is another magical/historical novel. You can tell what I was really into this year. I like to call it literary speculative fiction, my favorite genre. Anyway, this story is about two orphan children who work for a Puppet Master in Victorian England. It reads very much like Charles Dickens for children, but with puppets and magic and an evil witch thrown in. I loved this book and would be so happy to see it win the Newbery this year. I think it has a good chance too!

saga Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan. Adult Graphic Novel. For a long time I would have said that Fables was my favorite comic book series. Well, sorry Fables, but there is a new series this year and it is called Saga and it is not only my favorite comic/graphic novel this year, it is probably one of THE GREATEST THINGS I HAVE EVER READ! Okay, I know that sounds extreme but I could gush about this comic for ages. The artwork is exquisite and the world is so unique and richly imagined and the characters and storyline are just awesome, awesome, awesome. This is basically a Romeo and Juliet story, except where the couple in love are from two races of people at war with each other and they have a baby and run away from the trained assassins after them to give their child a better life and take vows of nonviolence in a world where violence is all they have ever known. The storyline of the comic reminds me a lot of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which if you remember made my list last year because I absolutely loved that too. Although I want to recommend this comic to everyone I know, I do have to give a caveat that there is a lot of adult content and some graphic nudity so please be aware.

green Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Picture Book. It certainly helps that green is my favorite color, but I absolutely love this picture book about the color green. Each page illustrates a different shade of green. Peek-a-boo holes in the pages hint at what shade is coming up next. The green of a fresh cut lime, the glowing green of a firefly, the lush green of a  forest, it is all there in this beautiful book. I’m dying to share this book with a child and I only wish there was a book like this for every color in the rainbow.

Christmas Owls

December 29, 2012


I knitted these two little owls for my sisters for Christmas. The first one I made has wonky eyes but Maddy didn’t mind one bit because she likes things that are a little different. I had a lot of fun making these! My hands are just itching for their next knitting project.

2012 in Review

December 24, 2012

(P.S. The world didn’t end!)


Click on an image to see the gallery. I know I did not blog a lot in 2012 but it was such a busy and exciting year! I finished school after 18 years of education and I got a job doing what I love and we moved to South Bend, Indiana. Now is the exciting beginning to the rest of our lives! I hope you enjoy taking a look at what we have been up to this year. May 2013 bring many more happy memories!










National Novel Writing Month

October 28, 2012

I’m going to do it!


I first heard about National Novel Writing Month three years ago when I was in my last semester at BSU and a fellow classmate was doing it in my Creative Nonfiction class. Immediately I knew I was going to do it someday because it was just the kick in the pants I need to actually write something! Last year I considered it and even went so far as signing up on the website, but I never actually wrote a word. This year I am serious!

NaNoWriMo is an event that happens every year in November. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. The website helps you keep track of your progress and you can also meet up in person with other people in your area who are participating! I am so excited about this now for so many reasons. As soon as I committed myself to it, the ideas for my novels just started coming to me. I am the kind of person that really needs goals and challenges so ever since I finished school it has been hard to find something to replace the constant goals of schoolwork and grades. But the one thing I’m really excited about is that because we are still so new to this area and really don’t know anyone, this is going to be such a great way to meet people! Tonight is the first meet up so I can’t wait to see how it goes.

Your job, as my family, friends, and support group, is to check in with me through the month to make sure I don’t give up. I have to write over 1,600 words a day to make the goal and that is going to be HARD and I’m going to get stuck. I’m counting on all of you to help me through it! Here we go on this awesome adventure. I really hope I am able to write something amazing from this.

Three Years

October 27, 2012

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Michael and I celebrated our third anniversary on Tuesday. We got our dressy fall pictures that are now a tradition and of course had to get the obligatory sitting on a bench shot. Here is a post with the pictures from the past two years.

The coolest part was hearing from my dad that my family honored our anniversary too, by going to the Boise Temple open house where we were married three years ago to the day. I was so happy that they chose our special day to do that and to remember us in that way. I have heard that the temple looks beautiful and I hope we get to see the changes sometime soon. I have so many amazing memories of that very special day.

Michael has stood by me through good times and bad and has been an amazing support and comfort to me. I honestly would not have been able to get my degree and get where I am today without him by my side. I love you so much honey. Thank you for a wonderful journey and I can’t wait to see where it takes us next!


The Birds

September 3, 2012

Being in nature truly replenishes my soul. Since our move away from Bloomington, we haven’t had as many opportunities to get out into the country, the wilderness, nature. This area of Northern Indiana is a bit more densely populated and urban than Monroe County and Southern Indiana. The great thing about Bloomington was all the rolling hills and how beautiful Brown County was only a few minutes away. I realized I was really starting to miss that up here. So we on Thursday we took advantage of a day off and discovered our nearest state park, Potato Creek.

I was so happy to discover that this park is only about 30 minutes away from us! This park had pretty much everything you could want in a park. Hiking trails, bike trails, horse trails, bikes to rent, boats to rent, a sandy beach, cabins and tent areas. It was perfect. There was even a really cool little Nature Center. We went on a really fun 2 mile hike and then enjoyed a picnic together. The great thing was how empty the park was in the middle of the week, right before the Labor Day weekend rush.

My favorite part of the day was going into the Nature Center and looking out the bird watching windows. They had a ton of birdfeeders set out in front of this window and it was a great place for viewing birds! We saw at least a dozen different bird species out there. And since I was having a great time I picked up a Birds of Indiana Checklist and decided to start keeping track of the birds I saw! Of course my next stop was to pick up a Bird Field Guide at the library. Next I’m hoping to get a bird feeder for our little patio and eventually maybe a pair of nice birding binoculars. I love birds so much! Since moving to Indiana I have been struck by the beauty of the birds in this part of the country. I think Cardinals, the Indiana state bird, will always be my favorite. Another favorite is the Great Blue Heron. It reminds me of those special mornings we would see a heron fishing in the pond in our backyard growing up.

So far I have counted 18 bird species on my checklist. That is a very small number of the 990 North American bird species in my guide book, so I have a lot of birds yet to discover!!  My new goal is to reach 100 species by next Fall!