Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Liam's Birth Story (Part 2)

When she told me I hadn’t progressed at all I, surprisingly, felt much less discouraged than the first time I heard it. I was disappointed, but by this point I felt like I had done everything I could possibly do. I wasn’t angry or embarrassed. My body was run ragged, but my mind was clear and I was ready to start making some choices. I had prayed for the gift of discernment so that I could make difficult decisions during labor if I had to and do what was best in my situation. I didn’t want someone else making those decisions for me and I didn’t want unnecessary intervention. Cathy said I had two options from this point: I could keep laboring on through a second night, or I could check into the hospital and be put on Pitocin (a drug that intensifies labor to help you dilate more quickly). She left it at that and exited the room so Joel, my mom and I could discuss what to do next. It was sort of funny because I looked at the two of them and they were completely deadpan and silent. Finally I said, "I think it's best to go to the hospital now," and I could see them both relax with relief. They knew how much I did not want to go to the hospital (hospitals make me so anxious) so they didn't want to pressure me into it, but they thought it was the right choice. Cathy came back in and I told her my decision. She had the same reaction as Joel and my mom. Cathy and I both agreed that a vaginal delivery was our ultimate goal (besides mine & baby’s health, of course). I knew there was a high possibility that if I continued to labor on my own that I would never dilate. Having two cervixes can stop the cervix of the pregnant uterus from pushing forward and dilating. Cathy said that one of the women with a didelphic uterus that she assisted never dilated on her own.  This option increased my chance of an emergency cesarean birth and I wanted to avoid that at all cost. So we discussed the dosage of Pitocin she would put me on and how she would be my caregiver at the hospital. The birthing center is directly across the street from the hospital and the midwives have a great relationship with the staff. They deliver babies there all of the time. She highly recommended I get an epidural because of the combination of Pitocin and already having been through 28 hours of labor. While epidurals can start a snowball effect of complications, they can also help by relaxing the mother. I still didn’t want an epidural, but I knew she was right. We then headed over to the hospital, Cathy close behind, and as I hobbled into Labor & Delivery (oh was I a sight to see!) I knew this was the right step. We were going to have a baby soon.

I expected my time in the hospital to be more pleasant. (No pain thanks to the epidural—this should be the easy part, right?) But the next 6 hours were much worse than the last 28 hours. I had an I.V. in one arm and the other was being poked for multiple vials of blood. Monitors were strapped tightly around my belly and I was lying awkwardly in bed because of the numbness of the epidural. I hated it. I felt confined and claustrophobic. I felt like a sick patient. It was a whole different world than the last day and a half. My heart rate monitor kept going off because I could not get my anxiety under control. A few hours into it, half of my body was so numb I felt like I couldn’t breathe and the other half was barely numb at all so I could still feel the contractions. I had an amazing Nurse—she was an ANGEL!—that was motherly and empathetic but tough. I really appreciated how she listened to me. She convinced the anesthesiologist that something was wrong with the epidural. Eventually he came in and redid the epidural and discovered the tube had slipped out. When he was redoing the epidural, I know now that I was going through transition. I was doing everything I could not to throw up but I vomited anyway. They wouldn’t let me drink water because I would throw it back up but I felt like I was about to pass out. I felt like I was outside of my body and dreaming. I was so exhausted but, because of the pain and my anxiety, I still hadn’t been able to sleep. Once the second epidural was administered, I got about a half an hour of sleep until Cathy came in to check me and said, “You’re a 10. Let’s start pushing!” We were all shocked. It had only been 6 hours since I was admitted to the hospital and they expected it to take double that time. Joel jumped up from the couch (he had fallen asleep) and came to my side. My mom came to my other side to help me with the oxygen mask between pushes (those deep breaths felt like I was being pumped with extra strength). Pushing was awesome. 34 hours of having no control over my progress and finally, I did! That, plus Cathy’s very specific coaching, is probably why it went so quickly. After less than 20 minutes of pushing, Liam was born at 2:10am. I remember I kept thinking Finally! Finally!

William da Silva Castro
7 lbs. 2 oz., 20 inches

I got a good look at Liam’s face and he looked exactly like Joel. I looked up at Joel to tell him and I caught him wiping away tears from his eyes. It was a sweet moment. It had all happened so quickly that we were both caught of guard. We cried and hugged each other. We both couldn’t believe that Liam was actually here. He was covered in meconium so they had to suction him off to the side, but they kept him in the room because he was doing fine in a matter of seconds. 

Thanks to Cathy, the SuperMidwife, I only had a tiny tear and was cleaned up pretty quickly. I held my sweet, baby boy in my arms and nursed him. Then we all just stared at the little miracle. It’s amazing how calm and happy everyone was after the tumult of labor. We ate, laughed and adored our newborn. They are magical, those babies. From that moment on he had changed everything. Our present and future had been changed and even the way we thought about our past. We’ve never loved anything so much. 

Remember how two days earlier I did my hair so they would look good in these pictures?? HA!

Once the exhaustion hit me again, the Nurse wrapped Liam and placed him in Joel’s arms without asking him if he wanted to hold him. She said she never asks dads that question, she just hands them the baby. For a couple of hours, as I slept, Joel held Liam. That was a very important time for the both of them.

As difficult as some moments were, Joel and I both feel blessed that everything turned out the way it did. It wasn’t ideal but, under the circumstances, it was the best way things could have gone. I’m grateful for my past experiences of “mind over matter” when it came to pain and anxiety. I didn’t realize it, but it was the best training for labor. Hypnobabies is a great resource that works wonders for some women, and I used a few of their visualizations, but in the end I already had an ingrained way of dealing with pain and Hypnobabies mostly got in the way. I think I’m going to read more about The Bradley Method for next time around though. I’m also grateful for modern medicine and trained professionals that helped when my body couldn’t do what it needed to. I’m happy that I got to see what labor was like for me outside and inside of a hospital, with and without medication. It wasn’t a traumatic experience and I actually look forward to next time. This article I read a week after Liam was born could not have captured my feelings about childbirth any better. It is my extreme sport. Cathy gave me her word that with the next baby I will only labor for 4 hours and the baby will pop right out. I’m holding her to it! ;)

Grandma Ann & Liam
Showing us his tricks--he could lift his head and turn from side to side

Going home outfit. I remember thinking there was no way he would fit into this tiny outfit. 

Now we are a family of three


  1. Oh Sara! What a beautiful story. I'm tearing up. I am so happy for you guys. It's hard work but isn't it a miracle? The biggest thing we'll ever do?? I hope I get to meet him soon! Love you lady!

  2. ps. That article you linked to? WOW.

  3. You and Kate Middleton in the blue and white polka dots!!! Please tell me that was intentional. I love it. Such a sweet story. I love the pictures, so fun to see him as such a newborn baby... he's already so big! And so relieved that everything worked out and you guys have such a handsome, alert, darling little guy! Love you guys! XOXOX

  4. What a great story! It's funny you said that labor felt so natural and right to you (I believe you even though I can't imagine it). For me, nothing felt physically right about the last few months of pregnancy until they cut me open and took Matthew out. And then it all felt better. I'm so glad the pitocin worked and you didn't have to have a c-section after such a long labor. You are strong and your baby is adorable!

  5. I need to stop reading your blog at work - you always have me in tears. You are an amazing woman and a beautiful mommy. Love all three of you.

  6. This is fabulous, Sara! I am so glad it all worked out and that you felt good about the decisions that you made. Bummer about your epidural not being put in right the first time. Vomiting during labor could not have been fun. You are a TROOPER! Thanks for sharing, I love hearing everyone's story!!

  7. I'm glad to finally read this! Birth stories are always amazing and each one is unique. I'm glad of that because each person has their own story of how they entered this world. Likewise, each woman has their own circumstances and labor, and what is best for one is not necessarily best for another! I hope your labor taught you just how strong you are! You're forever changed for the better! Liam is such a beautiful boy and I'm so happy for you and Joel!

  8. I'm so happy for you! What a beautiful little boy Liam is. I'm glad I finally read your birth story... I've been waiting for it! Congrats you two!