Sunday, March 30, 2008

Liam's Birth by Robyn

I woke up at 5:30 am feeling "wet". After two trips down the stairs to the bathroom, I determined my water might be breaking and woke my husband. We paged the midwife. It was three weeks and a day before my estimated due date. This is the beginning of my birth story.

I realized I was having contractions on the way to the hospital and remember little of the twenty minute drive, other than insisting my husband call someone just to let them know what was happening. My midwife had recommended we go to the hospital to get checked out due to the early timing of things and I wanted my support system to have some support as well. He called his parents. At this point, I was still uncertain that my baby was on the way. I was more worried that I would be sent home on "bed rest" and resting had been one of the more difficult demands of my pregnancy, until the last few days. What started as nausea and fatigue on Wednesday evening had developed into increasingly intense pain in my ribs by Thursday. This pain, relieved only by the less than eco-conscious number of baths I took in a three day period, was thought to be the discomfort of my baby's position in the last weeks of pregnancy. I refused to believe it was more than that. The contractions that I thought had started Sunday morning were a welcome shift in my body's discomfort.

Our parking garage ticket stamped 6:31 am announced our arrival at the hospital where we had chosen to give birth. Not wanting to feel like a "patient", I opted to walk through the main entrance and take the elevators to the floor of the birthing center instead of being wheeled in from the emergency room- a tip I remembered from our hospital tour. Movement felt good to me, working with the natural waves and surges rippling across my belly. I walked down the long hallway through the doors of the birth center, stopping every few steps to let my body rest when it needed. I was directed to triage where the plan was to test the fluid I was leaking to see if it was amniotic fluid and confirm that my labor had begun. My husband arrived minutes later from the parking garage, just in time for the nurse to examine me. It was then my water broke and, in her words, my cervix "melted". I was five centimeters dilated, April 30th would be our baby's birthday.

As we walked to our birthing room, we confirmed the names we had chosen for a boy or girl. My contractions were stronger and quicker paced and I was anxious to get in the water where I had found comfort for the past several days. I was wearing a sleep shirt I had brought from home and was comfortable rocking my hips back and forth while waiting for the birthing tub to fill. By now, I wasn't able to talk much and I remember it being very quiet in the room, just the sound of the water filling the tub. Upon confirming my labor, the nurse paged my midwife and she arrived in time to help me into the tub where the warm water enveloped me like a blanket, nurturing the process of birth. My contractions continued to intensify in nature, but were much more manageable in the water. I tried different positions, but found that relaxing back into the water's weight was most effective. My husband held my hand, rubbed my back, his presence a welcome comfort along with the water. After about an hour, I started feeling the urge to push. For some reason, it just didn't feel comfortable to push in the water, so I got out and onto the bed.

After about thirty minutes of pushing (and one interruption by my husband's parents to bring him coffee!) my baby's little head emerged. I now joke that the pushing phase is the actual labor in birth- it was much harder than the contractions, especially knowing I still had the rest of the body to go! A couple more pushes and my husband and I became parents to a gorgeous baby boy. It was 8:51am. The weight of my son in my arms was unlike anything I have ever felt. He looked exactly like I thought he would.

Shortly after birth, I tried to sit up and passed out. Believing I was only dehydrated from the stress of such an intense, quick labor I was given IV fluids. However, labwork and an elevated blood pressure reading quickly indicated I had developed an advanced form of pre-eclampsia called HELLP Syndrome, explaining my malaise over the previous few days. Over the next four days, I was on the bed rest I feared and was given more IV fluids/drugs and received two units of blood. Apparently, I was seriously ill but you couldn't have convinced me of that. I was on a birth high and convinced things happen for a reason, took the opportunity to lie in bed and nurse my son. We were released on the Wednesday evening following Liam's birth on Sunday morning. In spite of the complications, I have complete faith that my body did what it needed to preserve the health of me and my son and the natural process of birth. I was also blessed to have amazing supports in my husband, midwife and labor nurse.

Liam Christopher was born at 8:51 on April 3oth,2006 and weighed 6lbs, 15oz. He is Robyn's first child.

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