Liam’s Birth Story

So Leah, while pregnant, was a big fan of Life’s Birth Stories, and so in that vein, I thought I’d post my experience of Liam’s Birth (Leah not being a blogger herself, although she does keep reminding me that she does want to):

Early last week, we realized that there was still a whole lot of baby-related paraphenalia that we needed to get. So we booked a car for Friday evening, with a plan to do a Costco/Babies’R’Us run to get us stocked up on food. We were even going to venture to the evil empire of Walmart, if only because damnit, we needed cheap stuff. Fortunately, we didn’t have to break my personal boycott of Walmart, because…

On Friday, around 11AM, Leah called me, somewhat in a panic, saying “I think my water may have broken”. She wasn’t sure though, so I told her to call her doctor, and then call me back. Which she did, some 10 minutes later, confirming that yes indeed, her water had broken. However, she was not having contractions, and so there was a chance that if she didn’t start having contractions, they would have to induce labour sometime on Saturday.

Around noon, or so, Leah called me to say that she was getting some back pain. We dithered and discussed but finally decided that these were quite likely early contractions.

I of course, was then a complete wreck at work. I had been planning on working late on Friday, and then taking advantage of the long weeked to get ahead, knowing that I would be taking a week off in early June. Instead, I barely got done what absolutely had to be done on Friday, and then came home around 3:30pm. By this time, Leah’s contractions were stronger, and more regular – probably about 8-10 minutes apart. Because we had the car booked, and knew that there some necessities, we thought maybe we should still try and go shopping, but head straight to the hospital if need be, or if not, once we were done.

But by 4:30, it was clear that this was not to be in the cards. I, however, ran out to Belly & Beyond to pick up some absolute basics that we knew we needed, as well as a piece for our carseat (required in order to leave the hospital). I also borrowed a camera from my friend Steve, as the one I normally use, which is Pencilneck‘s, was in Arkansas with Autumn.

At Leah’s request, I stopped in at Wendy’s to pick her up some food, and was home by around 5:30 or 6. However, Leah never got a chance to eat her food. Her contractions were now painful, and about 5-6 minutes apart. Fortunately, our good friends Jess & Guy were available to drive us up to Womens’ Hospital, where we were slated to deliver. We got there around 6:30, at which point Leah’s contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, and clearly painful – she could no longer talk through them.

Upon arriving, however, we discovered that they were on “diversion”, which means they had no spare beds (although I think the problem was actually spare nurses, not spare beds), and we would most likely be diverted back to St. Paul’s, some 3 blocks from where we started from.

We then waited in the wating room until around 8PM or so, when finally, Leah was examined by a nurse and a doctor. She was beginning to groan something fierce with her contractions, which were holding at about 2-3 minutes apart, and was dilated around 4 cm. I, stupidly, was somewhat embarrassed by the noises she was making, because we weren’t in a private room. The doctor told us that we would be moving to St. Paul’s, by ambulance, which we did, around 8:30PM. The ride for me was quite fun – they used the lights and sirens, and I got to sit up front, so I could watch as we sped through traffic, drove through red lights, etc. I suspect it wasn’t nearly so much fun for Leah, stuck in the back. The paramedics were really nice, reassuring us several times that they’d both delivered babies multiple times before. This, curiously, had almost the opposite effect on me: I was now worried that the paramedics would have to deliver the baby, which I definitely did not want, no matter how often they had done it before.

Once at St. Paul’s, it was actually quite nice for me. We got set up in a spacious, private room, nicer than any I’d seen at Womens’, which would be both our delivery room & our recovery room. The only problem was how long it took for someone to examine her. During this time, we tried out a variety of positions to help ease her pain, including a stint in the very nice jacuzzi hot tub in the en-suite bathroom – another plus for us having moved to St. Paul’s, as Women’s only had showers, if I recall correctly. Leah was finally examined around 9:30PM or so, where it was discovered she was already dilated to around 7-8 cm. So it wouldn’t be too long now. The resident on duty told us, however, to expect 2-4 hours of pushing once active labour began.

The nurses fussed about, and measured the heart rate of the baby and Leah’s contractions (although they had a devil of a time measuring those for some reason). Because Leah was in pain, she started using Nitrous oxide during contractions, which apart from making her a little loopy, did really seem to help her manage the pain. By 10:15PM, however, it was clear that Leah needed something a little more to help her deal with the pain, and so she goot hooked up with an IV, and got a phentenol drip put in. This definitely made her a little delirious, but did help her until around 10:45PM, when the contractions were essentially constant. The doctor checked her again, and to everyone’s surpise, realized that Leah was fully dilated, and would be in active labour imminently.

Leah started pushing around 11PM. This was the hardest part for me to watch, and never in my life have I felt like such as asshole. First, because when it started, I felt nauseous, and was worried I’d have to leave. But I refused to succumb to that fear, and stayed through. Second, because about 30 minutes in, I though to myself “I’d like a break – my back’s a little sore from being bent over awkwardly for such a long time.” Only to be followed up moments later by a “Suck it up, asshole! Look at what your wife’s going through!”. What made me feel most like an asshole was watching Leah in immense pain, and coaching her through her breathing. “OK. Big breath in, now push! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10! Quick breath in, PUSH! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. Quick breath in, PUSH! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10! Ok. Deep, slow breaths honey, try and relax. That’s it! Deep, slow breaths…” And so on. I mean, who’m I to tell her this, when she’s in so much pain!? But, hopefully, it helped, and Leah, having played competive sports all her life, responds excellently to coaching. It certainly worked better than next door, where we’d earlier heard the woman scream “GET AWAY FROM ME! GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME! DON’T YOU TOUCH ME! DON’T YOU COME NEAR ME!” and so on. Poor guy.

Because it was all happening so fast, little Liam was in a little distress and having hard time getting enough oxygen, so between pushes, Leah breathed through an oxygen mask to keep his heart rate up. This, for some reason, didn’t concern me. I could see on the fetal heart monitor how quickly his heart rate would dip during pushing, and then rise once on oxygen and the medical staff present (by this time, a good half-dozen of varying types), while watchful, did not appear alarmed. Also curious was that throughout her active labour state, they kept having Leah change positions: on her side, on her back, on all fours, etc. Very bizarre.

At around 11:50PM, they decided to use suction to help Liam out a little bit. They did this, and with one great big final push, Liam was finally in the world, at 12:03AM, after 1 hour (and 3 minutes) of active labour. Everyone involved was surprised at how fast Leah progressed through all the stages of labour, particularly the pushing, especially because he is our first child.

He came out red and screaming and hairy, all good things, and was quickly weighed, while the most surprising, and in some ways troubling part of the delivery then occured: The placenta. I knew at some level that this would happen, but I wasn’t ready for it, and Leah was upset, and the baby was new and crying, and there was blood, and stitching up had to happen. This last bit was really nothing but a blur for me.

Finally, around 1AM, the last of all the tasks were done, and we were allowed a little time with Liam on Leah’s chest. By 2AM, all the cleanup was finished, and we could rest. Not sleep, because hey look, we’ve got a baby, and how insane is that!? But rest, which was oh so good…