Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
....except a pregnant mama. A few miles down the road, a very pregnant mama was stirring and had been stirring all day.
Upon initial meeting I had told them both I would agree to be her doula as long as they understood I could not be on call for them Christmas weekend. My daughter was about to be 3 and this was the first Christmas she actually "got it". I was so excited about this Christmas, more than any other. I almost felt as excited this year as I used to feel as a child. This first time mama was due 10 days after the new year and we both knew the odds of a first time mom being 2 weeks early were slim. The couple agreed they were fine with Christmas not being covered.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve. A very nervous mama is talking to me on the other end of the phone. "I've lost my mucus plug and my contractions are about 10-15 minutes apart".Her answers to my questions confirmed what we both had hoped would not happen. It looked like a Christmas baby was coming after all. Without hesitation, my mouth opened and I found myself saying "I know I said I wouldn't be on call for you on Christmas, but I can't leave you without a doula. I just can't do it. This is your first baby". I could hear her voice cracking on the other end - "Really? Oh my gosh, thank you so much."
Hubby and I agreed we would not put presents under the tree that night. Just in case I wasn't home in the morning, our daughter wouldn't know the difference. She wasn't old enough to realize days or dates and after the myriad of gifts from grandparents, we concluded she probably thought Christmas had already come.
11pm the couple headed to the hospital. 3cm, 100% effaced. Doula went to sleep at 11:30. At 4am I got a call from dad - "She is 5cm and they say she is stalled and she needs pitocin". We talked through the facts, the defnition of "stalling" and I told them I would head up there. Mom refused pitocin.
Mom was rocking right along, doing wonderful. A natural at birthing for sure. At 7am she was 8cm. Shortly after, water broke. Transition ensued.
I kept using all the encouraging doula words I could find. Mom was really having a hard transition and wearing down fast. "You're almost done!!" I kept saying. 9:30am - STILL 8 cm. My "almost done" line was becoming a hard sell at that point. Transition became harder. Her anxiety level was out of control, despite my best efforts. Her fear was intense. The only position Mom could tolerate was all fours.
11am - STILL 8 cm. Cervix was swelling. Doc tells mom we need to do pitocin. Mom breaks down in sobs, she doesn't want pitocin. She has nothing left to give, doesn't know if she can go on. Just doesn't know what to do. We discuss options, I leave the room to give them a moment to discuss in private.
I was emotionally drained. For 4 hours I had been locked with her for each contraction, giving every ounce of my mental focus and energy to her. I knew she could do it but I also knew if she kept in this fear and anxiety cycle she would never dilate. I felt if she could just relax for a little while, she would be pushing this baby out. Maybe an epidural WAS her best option, I reasoned.
I walked to a distant hall way with huge windows overlooking the city. The hospital was deserted because it was Christmas Day and I was all alone. It was snowing so thick outside you could barely see across the street. Probably the only White Christmas I'll ever see in my lifetime in my home state. And there I was - my 3 year old daughter home with daddy with an empty tree and no mommy.
I called my husband and when he answered I started to cry. I couldn't help it. I had a breakdown. I sobbed, I just wanted to be home sipping hot chocolate and playing with our daughter in the snow for her first, and probably only, white Christmas she'll ever have.
I hung up the phone. Time for some self-pep talk: "Buck up, soldier. You've had your moment, pull up your boot straps and get it together. You've got a job to do." Then I took (yet another) moment to pray - "Lord, in Jesus name I pray you will bring completion on this precious mom. You have given her so much strength, please have mercy on this sweet family. Bring her to 10cm so she can push this baby out and let this hard work be done"
I went back to the room. Mom had opted for pitocin, which was started at a low dose. She said she definitely could't go on any more, needed the epidural. About an hour passed before anesthesia could get in the room. I tried to talk Mom into letting them check her again before epidural was given but she refused. She said "I WANT IT!". :-)
She stoods up from all fours, walked around the bed, and just as she was about to sit on the edge so an epidural could be placed in her back, she yelled "OH MY GOD I AM PUSHING AND I CAN'T STOP IT!!" The nurse quickly reached in to check her and with wide eyes announced the baby was "right there" and Mom needed to go ahead and push.
Relief flooded my soul. I thought I was going to cry. Mom was a little confused and looked dazed but continued her involuntary pushing. Dad was holding Mom's hand on the other side of the bed and looked at me...with confusion and anxiety he said "What's happening?". I looked at him and with a big grin and tears in my eyes said "She's gonna have this baby. She's done. She's pushing". Tears welled up in his eyes and he said "Thank you Lord!"
30 minutes later, the little White Christmas baby was born - pink, rosy, and healthy and a little opinionated about the wild ride it had been. ;-)
I arrived home at 3:30pm. Hubby and I loaded up the oblivious 3 year old in the car and secretly put the presents under the tree. Then we headed to Waffle House where I proceeded to consume all the waffles and coffee I could hold. When we came back home, we walked in the door and exclaimed "Merry Christmas!! Look at all the presents!!". The sweet little excited girl knew no different than that Christmas came while we were at the Waffle House. ;-)
We had a wonderful Christmas, sipping hot cocoa and watching her play. Later that night, I got the most precious message from the Mom that made both hubby and I cry. What a blessing it had been for me to minister to them.
As I laid down for my long winter's nap, I decided I didn't mind having spent my one and only White Christmas watching the snow fall from a room where God brought new life to the world. That's a memory I will cherish forever.