Liam Arthur: Birth Story

Saturday, March 24, 2018
My son is over two weeks old and it has taken me every single day since his birth to feel emotionally ready to share this with the universe. Some days I still can't believe he's here and that he's completely healthy. That all the fear that I allowed to manifest during my pregnancy is no longer. As I write this, my perfect boy is nuzzled close to my chest. His sweet head of hair is close enough for me to kiss and I can breath in his newborn scent. He arrived with ten fingers, ten toes, and the moment I first saw him, the moment I first took him in - I bawled. Uncontrollably. He's alive. My son is here and he is alive. Those were the first thoughts racing through my mind. Having spent the last nine months in a high risk pregnancy that had already been subjected to loss was without a doubt the most terrifying experience of my life. I had no clue what our story would end up like. Silver linings in mind, at the end of it all - I would do it all over again if it meant I'd still get to meet my son.
As I've always done, I will keep the most intimate details of my birthing experience for myself, but I did want to share the moments that led us to welcoming our sweet, sweet son into the world. Most of you know that I opted for an induction this time around - the date was set for March 8th, 2018. This date is extremely special to our family because Liam shares a birth week with not only his mother, but his grandmother, and his great grandmother. March 5th, March 6th, March 7th, and we anxiously waited for the impending arrival of our peanut on March 8th. 
Justin and I arrived on the L & D floor at 4am. I remember it being so quiet. After filling out a quick "check in" paper, we were directed to our room. I got changed, Justin hung up the happy birthday sign, and I waited for the inevitable pokes and blood draws from the nursing staff. While they were trying to find a vein, I noticed they were getting it from the middle of my arm. Normally, that section where your arm and elbow connect is where I'm accustomed to getting poked from. Not this time. They kept going for my wrist, the top part of my arm, etc. It was weird.
Two nurses were unsuccessful in finding a vein, so they sent in a gentleman from the anesthesia department. He used this sonographic like tool to actually find a vein without poking and missing. I don't remember feeling him stick me at all (I found out later that he'd numbed the area pretty good). It was nice to be able to bend my arms during labor. I can't believe how much of a difference that made.
Pitocin was started after 5am and shortly after our birth photographer arrived. Keeping Liam's heart rate on the monitor consistently was a major pain and also created major setbacks during my labor. Each time I moved, had to use the restroom, or dare stand up - Liam's heart rate would stop tracking and a nurse would have to come in and readjust. If the readjusting took 10 minutes or longer, pitocin was stopped for thirty whole minutes. While the medication was turned off, they had to get thirty minutes of heart rate activity from our babe before they could restart the pitocin. The goal with induction is a safe delivery for mom and babe - I understood, but I would be lying if i said it wasn't frustrating. This situation happened at least four or five times throughout the day. Like i said, a major pain.
My midwife came in that morning to check on me and touch base (I would only see her again twice more throughout the day, once to break my water and another to deliver my baby), where she felt optimistic we would be welcoming our sweet boy before lunch... I am giggling thinking back on that comment. As lunch time approached, so did full blown labor. The pain was all too familiar and this time around my mind was so focused on all the thoughts I'd expressed to you earlier. Through each contraction Justin would hold me, let me hold him (a combo of both), and I would just breath through it. I remember my birth photographer telling me how amazing I was doing. I don't even really remember flinching at the initial contraction waves that poured in.
A couple hours later, the contractions were at a new level of intensity and I could feel my body changing along with my focus. Things were blurry. It was getting harder to maintain my cool disposition and I could feel Justin's eyes scanning my face - looking for some sort of direction. I had none. One of the nurses came in to check me and when she did.. this was the point where I felt completely defeated. I had no cervical change and maybe once centimeter gain in dilation. I remember her saying the words, "Very little change." That completely crushed the foundation I had built for this labor.
All of the thoughts of failure rushed through my head. My son not arriving by lunch, my cervix not dilating as I thought it would, and now all of this immeasurable pain...for what? My body wasn't doing what it was suppose to be doing. I cried through the next few sets of contractions. I cried, I held Justin, and I just kept calling myself a failure. Each time I said the world failure, Justin quickly redirected. Constantly reminding me that each labor experience is different and that there was no way I could fail.
I tried to block out those feelings, I tried hard to remind myself not to place expectations on birth... it was only then that I was able to mentally get myself back on track. Dinner time approached and as it did I felt complete exhaustion. I was not able to labor outside of the hospital bed and aside from the contractions, I was SO completely uncomfortable. I couldn't even turn around in the bed to labor - turning on my sides was the only option. Justin was becoming a pro at adjusting my monitors and helping me with the peanut labor ball. I'm pretty sure our birth photographer even helped him a little.
The next time I was checked I was sitting at 9cm and I was almost completely effaced. I felt my body transitioning in an all too familiar way. I felt pressure. I knew what this meant. I told Justin that I felt like I needed to push. I watched him hurry and race to find the stirrups. The nurse came rushing back in and aided with setting up the stirrups. She wanted me to try a couple practice pushes... only to discover that I was crowning. 
I WAS TOLD TO STOP PUSHING. My midwife was over ten minutes away and they did not want me delivering without her. I was so incredibly pissed off. You have no idea. I was sitting there, shaking, ready, and unable. The stirrups were pushed down. I was told not to push, just to breath. I did neither of those things. When the nurse left again to page my midwife, I began to push full force. Justin was in place ready to deliver our son if need be.
Our birth photographer was completely ready for Justin to deliver our son and totally supported our decision to allow things to naturally take place. While Justin did not get his "catch the baby" moment, our midwife did arrive before our son. The moment she came in, I pushed a total of three sets before his head was completely earth side. There was a little confusion in which way Liam was turning during delivery and I could feel extra time being taken while our midwife guided him earth side.
Just seconds later he was placed on my chest. After my own initial experience with our son, I looked to his father. Never have I seen Justin carry such emotion in his eyes. He looked worried, sad, relieved... he looked like he too had carried the weight of the world wondering if we'd ever get this moment. My words continue to fail me here, because I cannot fully bring myself to explain or express the moments after or all the moments in between. But I can say this. When our words fail us, photographs do not. Liam Arthur Howland arrived March 8th, 2018 at 8:52pm. 8 pounds 0.8 ounces of pure perfection and my feet have not touched the ground quite yet.

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