Keagan Grace- The Rest of the Story

So once the boxes were unpacked, I began my search for a good, VBAC-loving OB or midwife.

It was then that I was introduced to the concept of “alegal midwives”.  Not legal.  Not illegal.  But alegal.

I’m not sure “alegal” is even a real word, but it is the adjective used to describe direct-entry midwifery in Wisconsin.


In North Carolina we had only obstetricians and certified nurse midwives to assist you in delivering your baby.  Direct-entry midwives were (and still are) illegal. (Although they do operate through a sort of underground system, if you will.)

In Wisconsin, direct-entry midwives are alegal.  Which as far as I came to understand, means the powers that be turn their heads in the other direction.  They have laws neither prohibiting nor regulating the practice, resulting in a much more open community of midwives delivering babies at home.

I began interviewing doctors, midwives, and doulas by phone and in person.  We toured birthing centers and I grilled the labor and delivery nurses about the best doctors.

I entertained the idea of having a homebirth.

I decided I wanted to be near but not necessarily in a hospital, until labor was well established.  I felt I was too high-risk for a homebirth (with my history of 2 cesareans), but knew if I arrived at the hospital early, I stood little chance of having a natural birth.

Several of the doulas I spoke with recommended a doctor at Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital who supported birth as a natural process and would be willing to let me have a trial of labor.  I met this man and right away thought he was wonderful.  He was a calm, caring, Christian doctor who seemed to be very logical.  He was definitely hired.

I turned my efforts back to interviewing doulas, and found one I felt quite comfortable with.  She seemed to have ideas/solutions to address all the concerns about my baby’s delivery.  She helped me come up with a plan I felt very comfortable with.

We would rent a room, equipped with a jetted hot tub, in the resort beside the hospital.

I would labor there until we reached the “point of no return” (about 6-7 cm), at which time we would drive next door to the hospital for the delivery.

My doula felt fairly confident that she would know when I was approaching transition.  She had assisted in hundreds of deliveries.

My doula also recommended different things I could do to make sure baby was in the optimal birth position. (I swear I spent the last month of this pregnancy bouncing on a PT ball and listening to meditation tapes. No Lie.)

Meanwhile, with my due date looming on the horizon (July 8th), we had a wedding to attend!

My older brother, Kev, and his beautiful fiancee, Diana, were getting married in CT on June 21st.

I went for an OB appt., the day before departure, to obtain a medical release note (required after 36 weeks gestation).  My obstetrician scribbled the note only after I promised he would not hear about me on the evening news.

Off we flew to CT with medical records in tow, just in case.

The wedding was amazing!!  And although I looked surprised in every picture captured by the photographer that day, it was actually a case of compensation gone amiss.  I was trying to look more awake and alive, anything but the degree of exhausted I felt. :)

We returned home from Connecticut and last minute baby preparations began.

Dr. G kind of hinted that he thought baby might be a girl, even though “we” didn’t want to know the gender, and so I began washing all things pink.

Uncle Russ, flew out from Boston, to be on-call as sibling sitter.  This was a huge blessing because we really didn’t know anyone in Wisconsin yet!

We attended the Fourth of July fireworks, went to the lake, visited the park, ate chubby custard…and still no baby.

Uncle Russ’s visit came to a close and Mimi (my mom) flew in from CT to take over as on-call sibling sitter.

Would this baby ever make an appearance?  I was getting to where I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer!

I finally went into labor on July 10th around dinner time.  The contractions were tolerable, but coming regularly.  Duff and I went for a walk, while Mimi got Maddie and Gavin ready for bed.  As we strolled around the neighborhood, the contractions grew stronger and we decided to leave for the resort.

We checked into our room before dark and after a little time in the hot tub my contractions began fizzling.  They went on and off like this throughout the night, and by late morning we gave our doula a call to see how we should proceed.

I found myself climbing up and down stairwells and working out in the resort’s fitness center, a short time later.

If I wanted to have this baby, I needed to get moving, she had advised.

But after a pretty intense workout session, things were still not kicking into high gear.

My doula felt pretty certain that baby was posterior or sunny-side-up (just as Gavin had been).  This was making it difficult for baby’s head to engage.  Labor wasn’t progressing because her head wasn’t applying adequate pressure to the cervix.

My birth attendant immediately instructed me to assume the “polar bear” position, which meant I was now on my hands and knees with butt in the air.  (You’ve got to love the indignities of childbirth.) ;)

She explained this would give baby room to flip.  Strapping a cold pack to my abdomen, she informed me that babies do not like the cold and therefore attempt to turn away from it.  My baby was facing outward.  If she turned away from the cold, this would place her in the anterior position (much more favorable for delivery).

Over the next 15 minutes things dramatically changed.  My water broke and I was in hard labor.

I labored in the jaccuzzi and made frequent trips to the bathroom because my “mean” doula forced me to.

Things were intense for a long time…I thought I was dying, and I was okay with that.

“Gentle Birth”.  What a crock!

And then there was a sudden calm in the storm of contractions.

I welcomed this unexpected break from the ongoing pain.

I closed my eyes, relaxing in the warm water of the tub.

But wait a minute…what was that sensation?

“I don’t think I can do this,” I verbalized to the doula.

“What do you mean you can’t do this?” she inquired.

“I can feel pressure and stinging. I think the baby is coming.”

“What?!” (My doula’s shocked surprise.) “Duff, go get the car.  Pull it alongside the building by the side entry.”

The doula attempted to make me presentable for transport to the hospital.

I was beginning to think (in my altered mental state) that the hotel was a perfect place to have a baby.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited.

“Where could he be?  What is taking him so long?” my doula wondered.

(He had apparently decided to checkout of the hotel before transporting me to the hospital.  But in his defense, he did cut to the front of the line. ;) )

The door bursts open and my prince charming arrives pushing a luggage cart.

“Hop on!” they instructed me.

“NO way!” I reply, making it perfectly clear I refuse to take a ride on that contraption.

In fact, I refused to leave the room at all.  Duff had to force me to my feet and insist I make it to the hospital.

Now you have to understand the corridors of this hotel were like something out of “The Shining”.

They were so stinkin’ loooong!

And I’m in the second stage of labor.

Contractions are coming every few minutes and lasting approximately 45-90 seconds.

I don’t want to get up off the ground, much less walk the lengths of these hallways.

We mobilize.

I make it to the elevator and fall to my knees with the next contraction.

The elevator descends to the ground floor.

The doors open.

The doors close.

I can NOT move.

“I’m going to have the baby right here!” I announce.

Each time the elevator doors open…they reveal a still larger crowd of people standing with mouths agape.

At last the contraction ends and this motley crew heads down the hallway to the side door where our ride awaits us.

I have a fuzzy memory of a gentleman asking if he could assist us in any way.  And maybe, just maybe, our doula throwing the PT ball into his helpful hands.  I’m not entirely sure.  It’s all a little bit blurry at this point.

I walk through a door held open, into the cool evening air, and immediately hit the sidewalk as another contraction renders my legs useless.

The doula calmly explains that Duff needs to call 911 because we are going to have this baby right here on the sidewalk.

Perhaps the image of me, delivering on concrete, was just too much…

Whatever the reason, I leapt to my feet when the contraction ended and scooted into the front seat of the car.

Now this next part is truly one of my favorites…

because at the time I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

The doula sat in the backseat of our tiny car and calmly instructed Duff to make a left, up ahead, at the stop sign.  Now Duff knew where he was going, but I guess she figured in light of the present situation,  he might need a gentle reminder.

To say we were astonished when my darling husband made a hard right on two wheels, would be an understatement.

But we regrouped and turned around…

and expected to drive straight through the intersection to correct the erroneous right-hand turn.

Instead my frazzled man makes a hard left, putting us straight back where we’d come from.

Duff was obviously blinded with anxiety.

Flabbergasted, we sought some sort of explanation.

He explained that he could hardly see.  It was as though his eyes were clouded and everything was very dark.

Still, he managed to turn the car about and head off in the right direction, pulling up to the hospital’s emergency department moments later.

A male ER nurse ran out to the car with a wheelchair and I calmly informed him that I planned to give birth right there in the car.

He begged.

He pleaded.

And he begged some more.

I got the distinct impression that he did not feel comfortable catching this baby in the front seat of a Toyota Corolla.

I moved to the wheelchair and was quickly rushed in the back bay of the Emergency Room.

My OB arrived in the next moment, his calm demeanor setting the mood.  He donned his gloves while reminding me that I was about to have a baby.

My doula insisted the nurses dim the bright sterile lights.

And with the next contraction a beautiful, 8 pound baby GIRL was born.  She cried immediately and was placed into my arms.

I smiled but was too exhausted to otherwise move.

Happy Birthday, Keegan Grace O’Melia!!!

You are truly a gift from God!!

(Above is the original spelling of Keagan’s name.  Another story for another time. ;) )


  1. oh my word. what a story. you are such an inspiration. i do feel like being a mom of two is so hard to me and then i see someone like you and just amazed. do share how you do it with me sometime. and how in the world you look like a supermodel post birth! :)


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