Okay, on to Colette and her story.
I went to bed the night before feeling a little different. For some reason, I had an inkling that something would happen sooner rather than later, but I'd been wishing to be done with the 40+ week pregnancy for far too long and didn't want to get my hopes up, so I pushed the thought away. I'd been having back contractions since about 36 weeks, and would often wake up in the middle of the night from them. They were painful and annoying, but never wrapped around to my stomach and always went away with a warm bath - so I knew they weren't true labor.
Around 3:30 a.m. on New Year's Eve, I woke up again to back contractions, but this time they were wrapping around to my stomach. They felt exactly the same as what I'd been having, but were coming regularly at eight minutes apart, and my stomach was finally hard as a rock each time one came. I laid there for about 45 minutes, thinking "This is it! It's finally over! Yay! She's coming! Holy crap, I have to do this now. I have to face my fears. Stop! Stop! I'm not ready!"
I turned to my husband, Mike, waking him up and telling him I was finally in true labor and I was going to go shower. When I stood up, my water broke - or maybe that was just the first time I noticed it - not really sure on that one - so I hurried to the bathroom as fast as a 40 week preggo woman could (ummm, not very fast). I took a shower and as time went on, I realized that there was a lot of blood accompanying my water breaking - like, A LOT. And it didn't stop. Of course I was Googling, "How much blood with water breaking," and all sorts of other search terms that would tell me if I should be worried or not, and from what I could tell, it didn't seem like there should be as much as there was. I called the on-call doctor and he suggested we come into the hospital right away.
I was disappointed we had to go into the hospital so early, as I had wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. And at that point, the contractions weren't too bad and were still about eight minutes apart, so I almost felt silly going in.
But Mike called his mom to come watch Eli, and within the hour we were at the hospital. I was dilated to a five (Yay!) and was told by the triage nurse the blood wasn't a big deal. It was a lot, but it wasn't a concern. I never did get a reason why on that one - I forgot to ask as we were checked into a room fairly quickly to start the waiting process for baby girl to make her grand appearance.
Mike had texted my doula earlier that morning to let her know I was in labor, but he told her we'd let her know when we wanted her to actually come - no sense in having her just sit there and stare at us while we stared back at her waiting for my contractions to get a little more lively. As soon as I got into the room, I went to labor in the tub, but quickly found the contractions were slowing down to about 10 minutes apart while I was in there.
So I got out, and Mike and I walked the halls to try to speed up the contractions. And this is where I started to notice how different this labor was from my first. Mike had me laughing out loud between contractions as he jigged by the nurses, made jokes about my waddle, and did high kicks (not even kidding) after I made it through each contraction. Fairly quickly, contractions started coming about three minutes apart and were much more painful, so we went back to the room and found I had dilated to a six. (A bit bummed about that - I mean A LITTLE MORE PROGRESS FOR ALL THIS PAIN PLEASE!)
I lumbered myself onto a birthing ball while Mike texted the doula to head on over. Turned out, she was too sick to come, so she notified a replacement doula that I'd never met to come fill in. I was super disappointed my original doula wouldn't be able to make it, particularly because I knew my Midwife was away on vacation, so a random OB would be delivering my baby - which meant two of my "team" members besides Mike were missing. I started getting a little discouraged at this point. The people who knew my story, my fears, and my hesitations couldn't show up and I was starting to feel alone, and even a bit angry that they weren't there for the big show.
But I didn't have long to dwell on my feelings because the labor was progressing quickly. Soon the replacement doula showed up, she was nice and friendly and got to work immediately offering suggestions to make me more comfortable, giving Mike tips on counter pressure, and even whipping out essential oils to help with my nausea. Soon the OB showed up and low and behold, it was the same OB that delivered Eli. She walked in and I was all like, "You delivered Eli! Do you remember me? Do you want to see a picture?" #proudmomforlife
She smartly brushed away the photo offer (I mean, I was in no position to whip out my phone and find a photo.) and said that she did in fact remember me, and verified it with saying, "Eli came out OP (sunnyside up), didn't he?" Well, yes, ma'mam, that he did.
The OB wanted to check me again, just to verify the nurse's check was accurate, and to see what position baby girl was in. With a grim face, she told me Colette was also OP, but brightened as she said that unlike Eli, most OP babies do "turn" in labor through contractions, so this baby probably would.
"Yeah, fat chance for me," I thought.
But this is where the doula really showed her skills. Right away she got to work, suggesting a couple of really, really, really weird positions for me to labor in. She said I needed to labor through 10 contractions in each position and together they should help turn baby.
Honestly, I would do ANYTHING to not have an OP baby again, so right away I got started laboring in her suggested positions. Each position was super hard work, and not nearly as comfortable as laboring on the ball with counter-pressure and a cool cloth on my neck and all that good stuff. Anyone who's had a child before knows that in most contractions, you just sorta try to relax and "ride the wave" of each contraction, breathing through them so you can get to the next "break." But with this, I was working super hard. I still needed to breathe through the contractions, but I was also lifting my belly with my hands while doing a squat against a wall, or nearly falling off the bed - seriously, the doula and Mike had to hold me onto the bed while I just sorta hung there and held my legs in really weird positions while pointing my toes.
I can't even explain it people.
It was bizarre.
I'm sorta trying to block it from my memory. Particularly trying to block out what I must have looked like while doing it. Poor Mike.
But (spoiler alert) it worked.
After about 30 contractions in these weird positions, the contractions started speeding up like crazy, coming one after another, after another, with no breaks. I started to throw up, and even felt the urge to push a bit. The OB checked me, saying I was showing all the signs of transitioning, but whomp, whomp. I was still at a six.
I about died. I know it's not about the numbers. I know that. But in that moment, all I could think about was Eli's birth and how I stalled out at 7.5 for 10+ hours and how that was going to happen to me again because Colette was OP, just like him. I started having flashbacks and feeling trapped and scared and completely, totally, entirely discouraged.
"I want an epidural."
But you're so close!"
"Don't care. I want it now."
"But you're transitioning Laura, you can do this!"
"I know I can, I've done it before, but I don't want to. Epidural. Now."
The nurse, doula and I went around and around like this for a few minutes. They were encouraging me to hold out. I was adamant and firm that I wanted an epidural. And I basically just kept repeating, "Give it to me. Now."
So they ordered it up and in no less than 10 minutes the anesthesiologist was in my room. He knew my story (I assume from my letter?) because he came in and right away told me this time, my experience would be completely different. And he'd make sure it was - promising to stay with me until we knew it worked and that he would redo my epidural as many times as it took - but, as he assured me, it'd only take one try.
I immediately liked him. His bedside manner was a far cry from the last interaction I had with an anesthesiologist, and I could tell he was genuine and kind. I turned my back towards him to prepare for the epidural and in the time it took for him to prep his stuff and have me sign my life away on the waiver, I had three contractions one after another. Each of them more intense than the next. He put the needle in, I laid back and the OB said she wanted to check me immediately - I was a nine.
Right away, I started to feel relief. Everything went tingly from my stomach down. Not completely numb, but tingly. I could still feel lots of pressure, and could even tell when I had a contraction. It didn't hurt, it just felt like I was holding a bowling ball between my legs that was about to fall out, and I could feel more pressure in my stomach when I had a contraction.
As the meds kicked in, I began to cry, and I turned to the anesthesiologist - and yes, I most definitely told him I loved him through a face full of tears.
Completely platonic of course.
He left pretty quick after that.
One more contraction, and I was a 10.
I started to push and it was a totally out of body experience. There was no pain, no fire, no burning. Just pressure, that's the only way to describe it. I started to smile. I let out a laugh. I made a joke. And then I laughed at my joke! I was having fun! I shall be funny!
I obeyed the nurses as they told me to "push through my bottom!" And I alerted them when another contraction had come, asking each time if I was allowed to push. No longer was my body involuntarily pushing, I was choosing to push. It was bizarre. And amazing. I had no idea birth could be like this. Dare I say - enjoyable? I was giggling, I was so happy. And I instantly became so much more excited to meet my daughter.
About 10 minutes into pushing, Mike stepped away and told the room he needed to sit down, he was about to faint - yep, just like with Eli. Poor guy. I turned to him and felt actual empathy for him. And thanks to the epidural, I said to him, "Oh Mike! You okay? You can do this honey!"
I was giving birth. Pushing out a baby. And I was able to care about another human being besides me. I was NICE to another human being. If I could have, I would have gotten up and offered Mike something to eat I felt so good.
While he took five, I continued to push and after a grand total of 20 minutes of pushing, baby girl, her dark hair and big lungs were out in the world and in my arms.
I smiled. I cried. I was overjoyed. Happy. Thrilled. Moved. Just absolutely in awe of my beautiful daughter. My heart felt like it might burst with pride, happiness and joy.
I inspected her all over and just couldn't get over her squishy cheeks, big eyes and THAT HAIR.
Where did that come from?!
I don't even care.
My baby was finally here and I could barely believe it. I still needed to process so much of what happened, but in that moment, all I wanted to do was soak. her. up.
My baby girl. My love. My New Year's Eve party. My daughter. My Colette.
She was here.