However, I was still there and had the great blessing of being present for her birth!
Just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes.
After a few false hopes of 'this is it', a few nesting moments, a Father's Blessing and a few conversations about 'what if', Laura was able to put aside her worries, do a little more nesting and finally wake me up in the wee hours of the morning to say ...
"We're going to the Birth Center."
That short, simple, statement was peppered with short breaths laced with pain.
Well, as you can imagine, I popped out of bed, dressed, brushed my teeth and tried to fix my bed head hair to the sounds of Laura's moanful scurrying around the house getting everything together.
She had to stop what she was doing a few times to pace through her contractions.
I felt so helpless and unhelpful.
Because it was so early in the morning, 4:30am, we weren't able to exit the base through the gate closest to their home, and a straight shot to the birth center. Instead, Brian had to drive almost across base to another gate and then travel about twice as far. It seemed 4 times farther.
For the most part, it was a quiet drive. Brian and I still shaking the foggy sleep from our minds. The stillness of the early morning only rattled by Miss Laura and her contractions, about 4 minutes apart at the time.
Before I even arrived in Anchorage, and almost everyday I was there, comments would be made about Laura's demeanor during labor and delivery. We would talk about transition and how I shouldn't take anything Laura might say, personal. We also talked about different women's experiences with 12 hour labors, 24 hour labors, 36 hour labors and resulting Cesarean births.
I was worried.
Worried about the unknown.
Worried about saying or doing something to add to Laura's discomfort during labor.
So, on this extended journey to the birth center, my quiet demeanor was rife with worry, too.
When contracting, while in the car, Laura would hit the door, pound the dashboard, stomp her feet. At one point she rolled down the window, stuck out her head and hollered. As loud as she could. After the contraction subsided, she pulled in her head, rolled up the window and sighed.
I'm sure I was sitting in the back seat wide eyed. Worried.
Finally, we arrived at the birth center.
May I interject what an awesome job Brian did in getting us there?
He was the cool man under pressure.
At one point he gleefully said "We're going to have a baby!"
Brian pulled in to the parking lot at the birth center and gave me the assignment of insuring Laura made it inside safely.
When we arrived she was in the middle of a contraction!
She slid out of the car and paced around the parking lot, working her way through the contraction. I stood off to the side while she paced and then followed her into the building feeling so helpless and unhelpful.
When Laura was a little girl I dubbed her the "No Pain Queen" and often remarked that I didn't want to be around when she had a baby! Pain was not her friend, she did not embrace it, she did not endure it well, she did not tolerate pain.
So here I am, miles and miles away from home, 20 minutes away from my sweet rock of comfort (Val was at the Gent home with Kellie, who was sleeping, nary the wiser about where her Mama was at the moment), with Laura Michelle, the No Pain Queen, in labor!
Inside, Laura resumed her pacing. Up and down the short hall of the birthing suite. Amanda, her doulah, Trina, her midwife, still in her street clothes and Felicity, her nurse were already there... preparing for the big event. They all looked so fresh and composed at 5:00am!
After Laura's contraction passed, Trina checked her. She wasn't yet fully dilated.
Another contraction began, Laura needed to "pee". A woeful, frustrated groan and declaration from the bathroom .... "Nothing's coming out, awwwwww."
In between contractions Trina offered Laura the tub. Laura accepted. Felicity turned on the water to fill the tub, meanwhile, Trina was writing on Laura's chart, Brian unloading the car, Amanda and I hovering.
While pacing the hall Laura shouted out "I want to be in the water." Trina calmly explained to Laura that it takes 10 to 15 minutes to fill the tub.
Laura continued pacing.
She vocalized her pain as she paced. At one point, during the pacing, I didn't know if I could handle it. I felt so overwhelmed. Hearing her pain was painful for me.
Selfishly, I prayed that she didn't have to go through hours of labor. I didn't think I would be able to endure to the end.
Amanda and I were still hovering. We wanted to be there for Laura but knew she was in another realm of reality.
"Water, water, water. I want the water."
After that exclamation from Laura, I smiled and chuckled to myself thinking... That must be where Kellie gets her repetitive nature when in need!
Laura was finally able to get in the tub, looking for relief from the contractions and the weight of a soon to be born child she carried.
Trina checked Laura again and told Laura her dilation was complete and her cervix was gone.
"Good-bye cervix", Laura replied.
The water therapy didn't work for Laura.
Trina explained that if Laura wanted to deliver while in the water she had to reposition herself in the tub, enabling the mid-wife to monitor her progress.
Laura chose to get out of the tub and migrate to the bed.
By this time Trina and Felicity were in their scrubs and barefoot.
Two other ladies arrived to observe and help. They were nurses in training.
The bed wasn't working for Laura either. She couldn't find a comfortable position.
Trina suggested a birthing stool Laura could use, after her contraction was finished. Laura moved to the birthing chair.
At this point I was on the other side of the bed, trying to ensure I wasn't in the way.
After each contraction Laura would frustratingly say "She's not moving. The baby's not moving." Trina would check and reassure Laura that the baby was indeed moving.
Laura wasn't convinced so Trina showed her how to check the baby's progress on her own.
I was thinking to myself... I hope Trina's just not saying that to make Laura feel better.
Trina coached Laura during a few more contractions. This helped Laura know what she should feel when pushing.
During another contraction Trina asked Laura to move back to the bed after she worked through her current contraction. Her screams of pain and frustration were piercing.
While the nurses tried to get Laura to move back to the bed, Trina was down on the floor trying to check Laura's progress. At the same time, Laura was protesting that she didn't want to get back on the bed.
With her head almost lying on the floor, peering up at Laura's girl parts, Trina exclaimed... "Her head's out!"
Oh man! Here I was trying to stay out of the way and I missed the head coming out!
I scurried to the other side of the bed as Laura contracted again... instead of moving to the bed. Laura was practically sitting on the floor!
Down on her haunches, almost sitting on the floor, Trina declared..."Here she comes." Gently, she took hold of Miss Delia, helped her complete her entry to our world and put her in Laura's arms! It was such a fluid motion.It. Was. So. Amazing!
And I got to be there to witness this marvelous event!