She is here! Molly is here! Her due date was April 15th and that day quickly came and went. Then I was a week late. Then I was 10 days late. All this time I had bouts of contractions that got closer but didn't grow in intensity. I thought I was going into labor FOR SURE for days. But they all puttered out. Then it was Tuesday April 26th, 2016 3:00AM and I was woken up from my sleep with a strong contraction. They started coming 7-10 minutes apart, lasting 30-50 seconds for several hours. I woke Philip up and said "these actually hurt - but I am not sure" He stayed home from work that day and my contractions would pick up and then putter out. I couldn't sit down without a strong contraction radiating through my body. I tried to take it easy, in hopes labor soon would be here. Around 8 PM Laura, my sister and Doula, came over to take my mind off of the disappointment. She gave me a pedicure, rubbed my feet and hands with essential oils and helped me relax (Laura was incredible by the way, this is not the last time you'll read about her selfless acts in this story). By 11 PM my contractions were getting much stronger and I stopped being able to talk through them. I didn't want to say I was in labor because I didn't want to say I was in labor when I really wasn't.
Eventually by 1 AM I decided this must be it.
Here might be a good time to mention that after our horrendous stay at Hurley back in March Philip and I had planned to do a home birth. We started telling people about our plans and started getting a lot of unsolicited negative feedback so we stopped telling people. So, there were no plans to go to the hospital.
back to the story
Fran, my awesome friend and photographer came around 1:45 AM (maybe??) and started snapping pictures. At this point we still had FRIENDS on in the background and I was listening to the dialogue and laughing to get my through the long contractions. I made everyone tell me stories to take my mind off of the pain. Laura, Philip, and Fran pulled stories from every corner of their brains to help take my mind off of it. My legs were getting tired from standing and swaying but every single time I sat down a fresh contraction would start.
Philip and Laura were constantly heating up rice packs and holding them onto me to ease the pain in my back legs. Between each contraction they held La Croix and straw up to me so I would not get dehydrated.
My labor seemed to be progressing very quickly and around 2:30 AM we called our midwife Goldie to come because I had stopped talking between contractions and that was a sign that baby was coming. I asked Philip to put some worship music on, praying that the power of the Holy Spirit would make the baby slip right out pain free (spoiler alert, it didn't work). I stood holding onto Philip to help get through contractions, I closed my eyes and prayed, I let tears fall from my eyes. It was so peaceful, this is the birth I had imagined. This is how my baby was going to come into the world. This was my plan. This - however was not Molly's plan.
I'd like to take a minute to do a shoutout to my husband here. Philip was amazing throughout this entire experience. I drew strength and courage from him, he quietly and confidently guided me through contractions, held my hand, prayed for me, anticipated my needs and showed me how Christ loved the Church through his actions.
After Goldie and her assistant got there they started filling the birthing tub. I got in the tub for a while and contractions just rocked my body. I started doing the labor moan they talked about in my birthing class. I thought "this is it" my baby is going to come. I felt the need to push and everyone was starting to get ready for her arrival. I started pushing and nothing seemed to be happening. Goldie checked me and told me my body wasn't ready to push yet. This went on for what seemed like days. Contraction after contraction, feeling like I had to be making significant progress, and then being told that no progress had been made. At this point I was feeling pretty defeated. I had no idea what to do, and after around 3 hours in the birth tub, it was time to get out and try something different.
My contractions unfortunately were slowing down. After taking some time to rest during the lull in contractions they finally starting kicking in again constantly around 8AM. At this point I decided I was ready for the tub again and I stripped down and got in. After laboring in there for another hour, Goldie checked my progress-I was only a 7. Those contractions had hurt so bad I was flopping around the tub like Shamu in a shallow pool. I asked Goldie why this was happening and she tried to explain to me that I was scared and I needed to release into the process. She encouraged me to give it another hour and then see what happened. I didn't think I could do another hour I didn't think I could do 5 more minutes. But the thought of getting dressed, driving in the car, getting checked into the hospital was the worst. I was paralyzed with fear. I laid in the birthing tub and prayed out loud. Begging God to let me progress. And then, something clicked and I knew I needed to go to the hospital. I knew Molly wasn't in danger but I just knew.
I told Goldie what I had decided she told me I needed to get up and get dressed myself. I asked Laura if she would pack my bag while I got dressed, she said no. Goldie has moms in labor pack their own bags just to be sure that they are really serious about going to the hospital. I got myself out of the tub someone handed me a towel and so began some of the worst pain I have ever been in for the next hour.
I blindly grabbed sweatpants, shirts, underwear, socks, toiletries, baby clothes, anything that made sense to pack in-between contractions. My birth team asked if I was sure, reminded me of what this entailed but I was determined. Something (someone) deep inside of me knew I needed to do this.
We got in the car and contractions came stronger and closer together. I tried desperately to get ahold of the Hurley Midwives, my previous care providers, but to no avail. We pulled up to the ER entrance as another contraction hit and I birth-warrior -roared my way into the security line. The security guard told me to go past the line and got me a wheel chair. Someone else asked me stupid questions like "How far apart are your contractions?" "How many weeks are you?" "I HAVE BEEN IN LABOR FOR 30 HOURS I AM 7 CM DILATED AND MY DUE DATE WAS 12 DAYS AGO" and off we went to triage.
They rolled me into triage and Lyric, the triage nurse/midwife, said "Mary-Keith?" "I HAVE BEEN IN LABOR FOR 30 HOURS I AM 7 CM DILATED AND I NEED SOME FREAKIN PAIN MEDS"
The next few minutes is honestly a fog. I remember them waiving the initial checks, insisting I walk to my room on my own, oh and for pain meds. During one particular contraction I stood up out of my wheelchair in such a fashion Philip said it looked like a scene from The Ring. He thought I would have given myself a c-section if a scalpel was near by.
In my labor room they told me I needed to strip down and get into a robe in order to get an IV. Within 10 seconds I was stark nude with both arms held straight out - waiting for them to pick any vein they needed. Then I had to sign paperwork - I am pretty sure I signed the rights to my second born and the deed to my house over. Didn't matter - this meant relief was coming. They got my fingerprints in record time. Literally, they told me no one had ever done their fingerprints faster. I started yelling out things I remembered from my birth plan "I want skin to skin when she's born!" "No Pictocin!" "No Hep B!"
They checked me and I had progressed to an 8. Finally, progress. Must it have been in the car and while stomping around a hospital? Apparently. Then I finally got the pain meds. Glory be. After 10-15 minutes the drugs began to set in and I was able to get some relief. I started to relax a bit. And started to progress. I labored for a few hours and got to a 9. After I got to a 9 I started to stall again. I was in so much pain and I was so incredibly tired. But I had to keep going, this baby had to come out.
Eventually I felt like I needed to push again, but I wasn't ready. I had had enough I wanted the epidural. Everyone thought I could keep going that Molly was almost in my arms but I knew in my head I could not do this without a break so and I asked for the epidural. An epidural was something I said I never ever wanted. I am afraid of needles, I am weirded out by my spine being touched - so the combination of the two was just something I could never do. But that little voice inside of me told it was time for a break.
Philip encouraged me that it was ok, I needed them I had put in the time and it was not giving up. Getting the epidural was hard. I was still having contractions and I felt like I was weak for getting it. I wept as they had me hunch over a pillow and the doctor performed the procedure. They laid me on my back and let the medicine do its magic.
I want to take a quick pause here and talk about how amazing my nurse was. I also had the most amazing midwife from Mid Michigan Midwifery. They both were kind, supportive, encouraging, and made sure I stuck to my birth plan as much as possible. Shout out to Nicole and Jenny :)
After about 10 minutes I started getting really loopy and relaxed. I had the break that I had been begging God for. I got to eat some popsicles, I cracked jokes, laughed, text a few people to update them, and built up my confidence. An hour later I was finally fully dilated and got the ok to push! I pushed and I pushed, I barely felt a thing. This was glorious. Drug Free is NOT the way to be. After about 1.5 hour I started to feel pain and pressure in my back and bum. They checked and did not think she was in optimal position. I got on my hands and knees, I squatted, I laid on my back, I did everything I could think of to turn her.
I want to pause here and talk about my Doula. Laura held my legs, rubbed my back, held me up while I squatted with everything in me. She showed me a selfless love I have never experienced before. She poured herself out for me hour after hour, I would not have been able to get through if it weren't for her.
Alright let's carry one with the story.
Here I am like Salt N Peppa, Pushin' Real Good. Times are a blur but over the course of about 2 hours they checked me a few times and she went from +3 to +1 (which is moving backwards) I would start to feel the intense back pain and then it would be relived.
The doctor came in to give her opinion: Molly had plenty of room to get out, but she wiggling backwards and turning herself sunny side up.
If you recall - I posted this rendering I did of what I believe Molly to be doing on the inside. Turns out I wasn't too far off.
I was so defeated again. I felt like I was running in sinking sand and losing. The midwife told me to let the doctor try to manually turn her, that if this one thing worked and I didn't try; I would regret it. So I agreed. During the next contraction they told me "get mean" and push with all I had. So as a contraction rocked through my back and my butt I pictured every Nay-Sayer I had encountered about my home birth. They would not be right. I was big enough, tough enough, I could do this, I WOULD do this. With 8 fingers (that's a full hand and some change) the doctor turned Molly to the correct position. I screamed a scream that would scare small children and grown men. Philip thought his brain was going to melt.
After it was over they checked me a few minutes later. She had already begun to turn herself. I. Was. Done.
I told them I wanted a C-Section I would not be able to do this. I was so tired, everything hurt so bad and I just wanted my baby. They said she had room, I could keep going, that I could do it, her heart rate never faltered, her stats were good, but she might just keep turning herself. They offered other ways to help get her out. That was met with a quick "NO!" and a finger wag.
So a C-Section it was.
They said it typically takes 30 minutes from when they order the C-Section to when we're in the OR. Those 30 minutes felt like 3 hours. I cried, I felt like a failure, I didn't want my birth team to be mad at me. We had come this far just for me to give up. Laura looked at me with tears in her eyes and told I had earned this, I had done more than enough and it was ok.
Eventually, I think because of my swearing, threats, and attempted bribes, the anesthesia team came in. She asked on a scale to 1-10 what my pain was. "50!" she then bent the rules and started the drugs just a little before we got to the OR. Praise The Lord for that woman.
After the pain meds were flowing I was feeling better. They numbed me, Philip got to come in.
The sensations one feels during a C-Section can't be described. It's just weird. They pulled me open, pulled out my insides, rearranged them and put them back in. The first thing the doctors saw when they cut open my womb was Molly's eyes staring straight up at them. Over the course of a half an hour she had managed to flip over yet again. Then the doctor said "Is dad in here?" "I'm here" "Stand up, Dad" and boom she was out. They walked around the corner with her in their arms and I saw my little baby for 1 second. Then they left to check her vitals. They started putting me back together and I started to cry. They asked if I needed more meds and I said "I'm not crying because it hurts, I am crying because I'm a mom now"
That is all of the story for now. I am going to write about my experience in the hospital later.
Overall - I don't feel like I failed. I feel like I earned my pain meds, my epidural, and my c-section. Molly Grace wanted to be born that way. I wish my home birth had worked and I don't want people to think they were right, that Home Birth is dumb and I couldn't do it.
I wouldn't change anything that happened. I wouldn't make it one second shorter. I would do it again for Molly. I don't know that I would do it again for a second child...