Liam’s birth story starts out a lot like Sierra’s birth story, even down to the day of the week. Friday, February 25th, I woke up in the morning and found that my underwear was wet – not a huge amount, but enough to be questioned, and it was definitely not urine. Because I was having some strong but not painful contractions that were about 7 minutes apart, we decided to call the OB. Dr. G (who delivered Sierra) was already at the hospital for surgeries that day and he said we should come down there. I got dressed, packed my and the girls’ bags, and made myself some breakfast, then Lex and I left the girls with my mom and headed to the hospital.
By this point, the contractions had slowed down a lot, which made me kind of regret that we were going to the hospital. I was listening to one of my Hypnobabies tracks to keep me focused. When we got to the hospital and arrived in triage, we met with one of the midwives, who did my initial exam. A swab test confirmed that my water had broken. We were told we were staying and went to settle into our L&D room.
Many, many, many hours passed with nothing exciting to report. I wasn’t having any regular contractions. I refused any internal exams because I didn’t want to expose myself to a risk of infection. I listened to various Hypnobabies tracks, most often the “Baby Come Out” track. My sister Samantha arrived in the late afternoon, since we had asked her if she wanted to be there for the birth. I ate graham crackers with peanut butter (despite the nurse’s disapproval), drank apple juice, and tested my blood sugar at various intervals. We walked the halls. Towards the evening, we sent Sam home and told her we’d call her if anything changed, but that otherwise she should just come back in the morning. Dr. G started to bring up augmenting with pitocin and I said I didn’t want to go that route yet. His shift ended at 10 pm, but he said that if there was no progress by the morning the next OB on call would need to do something, since it would be 24 hours past my water breaking.
I got into bed and tried to get some sleep – not easy, given how uncomfortable those beds are. Around 1 am, I started to have real contractions at last. Lex was wonderful, using the Hypnobabies cues we had practiced to keep me relaxed. I liked sitting on my birth ball with my head on the bed. After 3 am, I panicked a little. The contractions were increasing in intensity but I could tell we weren’t close yet and I didn’t think I would have the energy to stay focused for several more hours after having been awake for nearly a full day. I decided I wanted to get the authorization for an epidural taken care of, even though I didn’t want to get one yet. I also wanted the IV fluids (I only had a hep lock up until that point) so that I wouldn’t have to wait for the epidural if I decided I was ready, plus I was tired of drinking apple juice. The nurses phoned the doctor on call, but she wouldn’t authorize the epidural unless I had an internal exam; she wasn’t at the hospital and was concerned that if I was already far along, the epidural would get me to 10 cm too quickly for her to get there. I still didn’t want the epidural yet but really wanted the security of knowing that the paperwork was in place, so I negotiated that she’d authorize the medication but I wouldn’t be able to receive it without consenting to the exam.
Some time after that, I got back into bed and I got to a really good place. Hypnobabies was really working for me. The contractions were coming pretty regularly and it took a lot of concentration, but I was staying very relaxed through them, so much so that Lex fell asleep. I don’t remember the exact circumstances or time, but one of the nurses ended up checking me and I was 4 cm along.
Then the morning arrived, and the OB who was now on call came to check on me. I had only met her once before, and I had said to Lex at that appointment that I hoped she wouldn’t be the one to attend this birth. I stand by that sentiment. Immediately she insisted that I needed to get on pitocin. I said that Dr. G had said I only needed to start the pitocin if there was no activity or progress, but that I was clearly in active labor now so it shouldn’t be necessary. She said that we had to see if I had made any progress since the middle of the night, which it turned out I hadn’t, and she kept playing the “You agreed to this with Dr. G” card. I felt defeated. I didn’t like this doctor, I didn’t trust her, but I knew that Dr. G would recommend pitocin in the same situation, as he had when Sierra was born, especially since it had been approximately 27 hours since my water broke. I felt I had no choice. I consented to starting pitocin, but refused to have it without an epidural first. Been there, done that.
After that, I kind of fell apart. I was so disappointed about it taking so long again and getting the pitocin. I thought I had been doing so well and was devastated that I hadn’t been able to progress farther on my own. I couldn’t relax through the contractions anymore. Lex read me the “Change of Plans” Hypnobabies script, which helped me make some peace with the situation, even though I was still very unhappy and scared of getting the epidural. I had to wait until an additional bag of IV fluids was pumped in, and then the anesthesiologist came. He let Lex stay in the room, which was a first for us. I got into a seated position at the edge of the bed and held on to the poor nurse’s hands, squeezing her fingers way too hard, whoops. The epidural was put in place and my right leg went completely numb fairly quickly. The nursing staff helped me get back into the bed and set with the monitors, and then the waiting game began again. I was very comfortable now. It was around 9 am.
Sam had come back somewhere in the middle of all that. The three of us spent the morning chatting and listening to the sound of the baby’s heartbeat on the monitor. I napped intermittently. I had another exam and was 7 cm along. The contractions were coming very close together according to the monitor, but I only felt pressure. The nurse asked if I felt like I was ready to push, and I said that I had no idea. When Sierra was born, I only knew that it was time because Dr. G had checked and I was 10 cm. This time, I was feeling a lot of low pressure during each contraction, but in between them it would subside. The nurse said that when I was feeling constant pressure, let her know.
Lunch came and went (not for me), and we were getting kind of bored just sitting and waiting. At one point we actually played the “I’m going on a picnic game” to pass the time. The monitor showed that the contractions were more or less back to back, so we asked about having the OB come to see if it was time. She was assisting with another birth, but the nurse said she would come when she was finished. An hour passed. The OB was still at this other birth. More time passed. The nurse got impatient and said she was going to check me herself – 10 cm! The nurses prepped the room. Now we just had to wait for the doctor, who was still at this other birth. It was around 2:30 pm. When 3 pm hit with no OB, we began to get antsy. When 3:30 pm hit with no OB (STILL at the other birth), we inquired whether it would be best to call the practice to see if someone else could come to the hospital. We weren’t trying to be insensitive or impatient; we were just concerned that perhaps it wasn’t good for OUR baby to be subjected to constant contractions while he waited for the doctor to finish with someone else’s baby. Soon after that, the OB finally came in. I thought that she was defensive to the point of rudeness about how long we had to wait. I actually misunderstood her at first and thought she was coming in to say that she still wasn’t finished at the other birth.
Once I realized it was time, we reviewed some of our preferences for the birth, in particular that I wanted to try pushing on my side, that we wanted to delay cord clamping, and that I wanted the baby put directly on my chest. A little after 4 pm, we began. The amniotic sac was still intact around the baby’s head, and the OB asked if I wanted her to rupture it, but I declined. I pushed a few times, and unlike during Sierra’s birth, I could actually feel what was happening – just pressure, no pain – because the epidural had run out during the time we had spent waiting for the OB. With no warning, the OB said that if I didn’t get his head out on the next push, she was going to have to use a vacuum. The baby’s heartbeat began to drop very low, though it had been completely perfect until that time. I asked if turning onto my back could help, which it did – his heart rate went back up – but she still wanted him out immediately. His head was out on the next push, but the cord was wrapped as tightly as possible around his neck, so it was cut right then. With the next push, the rest of his body came out, along with the bulk of the amniotic fluid. It was 4:27 pm.
Those first few minutes were terrifying and seemed to last forever. He was blue, he wasn’t breathing or making any noises or moving. Someone called in more staff, maybe an emergency team. I couldn’t really see what was happening beyond the nurses suctioning him and rubbing him really vigorously. Sam was holding my hand, Lex was standing near the table where they had him trying to see what was going on. We were both crying. No one was telling us what was happening or really talking at all. Then he finally started to make some strained gargling sounds and I saw him move a little. I started breathing again and someone said he was going to be fine. He began crying in earnest. I think I cried even harder then.
Another eternity passed while the team made sure he was stable and the OB tended to my enormous 2nd degree tear, and then my precious boy was finally in my arms. He was alert and beautiful and perfect, with a headful of light brownish blondish hair and deep blue eyes. One of the nurses told us his Apgar scores had been 7 and 9, but that doesn’t quite make sense in retrospect, since at 1 minute he was still blue and not breathing. He latched on the moment the breast was offered to him and nursed as though he had been practicing for weeks. When we moved upstairs to postpartum and he was weighed and measured, he was a whopping 8 lbs, 13 oz and 21 1/4 inches.
My parents and other sister soon arrived with Sierra and Anya so they could meet their baby brother. Sierra was a little hesitant about touching him or kissing him at first; she was also a little confused about whether he was the baby in my belly, in part I think because my belly was still pretty big (She asked if I had another baby in there, thanks, kid!). Anya was so excited about the chance to hold him, and when we set her up with the Boppy she lifted up her shirt and announced she was going to feed him.
Thus began our life as a family of 5. Welcome to the world, Liam Brandeis Friedman!
Share on Facebook