In the morning (and on my due date), I decided to call Kathrine and just let her know what was going on. She heard me go through a contraction over the phone and suggested I come in just to be checked. We called my parents to come pick up Marlie and had an emotional, tearful goodbye, knowing this might be the last time that it would be just the 3 of us, and headed off to the hospital.

When we got there, Kathrine checked me and said “Here’s what I think: you’re going to have this baby, just not today (the look on my face must have been complete devastation. All this pain over the past 2 days and no progress?!?), so I’m going to give you “some-drug-I-can’t-remember-the-name-of” to help you relax and get some sleep, BUT…your cervix is high and I couldn’t feel it, so I’m going to have the nurse here double-check to make sure.” So the nurse checks me and says I am easily 5-6cm dilated, possibly 7! Turns out I had been in real labor all along but baby’s positioning is what was causing inconsistent contractions. We all laughed and called a new game plan. Kathrine sent us to go walk, get a bite to eat and grab our stuff from the car while she got our room ready. It took forever to walk to the car and the cafeteria and because we had to stop every 5 minutes for a contraction. People kept offering me a wheelchair, but I wanted to walk and keep things progressing.

While we ate, I got in touch with the volunteer doula organization that we were utilizing. I had not met my doula since they operate on an on-call basis. They texted me shortly after my phone call and told me that Mary was on her way and that she was their best doula. Truer words have never been texted. When she knocked on the door and Kathrine heard her voice call out, she said ‘Oh no! Not Mary!’ Then they squealed and hugged like old college roomies. Turns out that Mary was a retired midwife and  Kathrine’s former mentor! Shortly after that, Ash arrived. She had been one of my biggest supporters for a VBAC throughout my pregnancy- calling and texting with words of encouragement and sending me emails filled with links to helpful info. It didn’t hurt that she was a fellow VBACer, so she knew what it was all about for me. She was there as my friend first and birth photographer second, but really ended up being a second doula. I find the words lacking as a way to explain how thankful I am to her for all of her support and for being there for me and documenting Lainey’s birth. But that’s the great thing about friends like her. I think she already knows.

I labored in the tub for a bit with Mary applying amazing counter-pressure. By the way, Mary? I am 110% sure that she was an angel hand-picked and sent straight to us from God. I don’t know how I went through labor last time without a doula.  It was like she just knew exactly what to do and when to do it. She had such a mothering touch and gentle spirit about her. She reminded me a lot of my mom, especially her hands. I don’t know if she understands what her being there from start to finish meant to me, but I wish there was a way that I could convey it to her.

Ryan stepped out for a bit and Ash and Mary both helped me get through some major waves. I tried the birthing ball, which felt great, until a contraction began. Then I wanted to be standing or hunched over something. By about 5pm, things were getting really intense. I’m grateful that everyone respected my birth plan and didn’t offer me any pain meds. I took it upon myself to ask for some fentanyl to take the edge off. I started with the lower dose and opted for the larger dose shortly after. Once it wore off after an hour, contractions obviously felt even stronger. My original ‘plan’ was to go med-free (LOL) but after not sleeping for days, I needed some rest. I had nothing against epidurals and didn’t want a trophy for going through a med-free birth. My only reasons for not wanting the epidural were that I didn’t want it to stall labor or get it out of fear, nor did I want the epidural to fail like it had twice with Marlie and still be stuck laboring in a bed due to hospital liability policies. We all discussed it together and my nurse and midwife assured me that if the epidural failed, I would be able to move about freely once it wore off. That was all I needed to hear and we summoned the back-stabber. When he finally arrived 9,476 hours later, the clouds parted and the heavens shone down upon my room. I had to lie on my side and turn every hour or two, but the epidural? It worked! Cue unicorns prancing and stomping hooves, pre-flight.

 

Kathrine went to check me around 9pm, barely looked at me touched me and my water broke. I had an abundance of amniotic fluid again with this pregnancy, but because of the epidural, I couldn’t feel the 3 sets of sheets and blankets I went through. I was dilated to 10cm by 10pm but Lainey had not descended yet due to her OP position. We all slept on and off for a few hours throughout the night, interrupted by quiet and sometimes hilarious conversations between Mary, Ash and I. They fed me ice chips and kept my spirits up while we waited for baby to make her way down. I felt lots of pressure during contractions, but no urge to push yet. Then around 6am, my temperature was reading 99.8. Contractions had spaced out again further than Kathrine liked to see, so we started pitocin to try and get things going before the temp became an issue. My temp continued to rise over the next hour and around 7am, she told me I had to start pushing because Lainey could be at risk of infection (chorioamnionitis) which is usually found in cases where your water has been broken for 24+ hours, but in my case it was due to being in labor for so long. Mary and the nurse were at my sides, helping me push. Ryan and Ash were by my head, getting cool washcloths for my forehead and feeding me ice chips. My throat was so dry and hoarse. I remember Kathrine arguing with the nurse for a hot second about letting me have some water, bless her heart. And apparently I wasn’t breathing enough because an oxygen mask was soon placed on my face for Lainey’s sake. I kept tossing it off because it was bugging the hell out of me and I think Ash kept puttng it back on so that baby’s heart rate would stay level. My temp was at 100.4 when Kathrine told me she had to step out and talk with the OB about what to do. When she came back in, she said that Lainey would definitely have to go to the NICU for chorioamnionitis to be on precautionary antibiotics for 48 hours.

NO.

My heart sank. The only thing that was as important to me as immediate skin-to-skin time with Lainey was that we not be separated. It kills me to this day that Marlie and I were separated so soon after birth, and now even though I still had the chance to have my VBAC, I was being told that she was going to be whisked away from me shortly after she was born. I couldn’t take it. I was so, so sad. But I didn’t have much time to dwell on it, because another contraction was coming and Kathrine was telling me that I had to give it everything I had. We had to get her out NOW in order to avoid a c-section. My temperature was 100.9 and climbing.

Everyone had been so encouraging for the past half hour that her head was ‘right there,’ but I was certain that it was all fluff and they were just saying that to make me feel better and keep me positive. To call them out on their BS, I reached down to feel, and as it turns out they weren’t lying. That’s when I had my Oprah ah-ha moment, or as I like to call it, my OMG-there’s-her-head moment.

Up until this time, there were usually 4 pushes per contraction. 1 was to get back to where I was, 2 was to lock her in place and 3 and 4 were for progress. I surprised everyone, myself included, because at 8:41am on April 21, 2013 on push #2, there was a loud pop and a look of disbelief on everyone’s face, followed by a beautiful little cry and Kathrine’s laughter as she told me to grab my baby that she had caught and bring her to my chest myself.

Oh, that moment.

I can’t tell you what I said. I can’t tell you what I did. I can hardly put into words how I felt. But I’m pretty sure there was lots of crying and me smothering her with kisses and telling her I loved her.