Liam’s Birth Story (aka the Never-ending Story)

Well… have a seat folks.  Make some tea and bring a snack because, this was a 4 day event and we’d like to tell you all about it.

It all starts Tuesday morning – day after Valentine’s Day.  We go in for a ‘routine’ biophysical ultrasound.  This is where they make sure baby is in the right position for birth, make sure the weight isn’t too monstrous, check your fluid levels etc etc.  So, I go in and ‘soon to be Daddy’ waits in the waiting room with all the other Daddy-in-waits.  I am feeling good, I have the routine down – get naked from the belly down, wear this ‘gown’ made of kleenex and walk down the long hall parading my tush into exam room 6.  I am greeted by “Disgruntled Employee #73” who wastes no time in telling me she is in haste to go home for the day because it is just too damn hot in the exam room and she’d rather be snowboarding.  Awesome. I lay down and #73 carries on with what she clearly deems boring and monotonous work.  Then she asks me the last time I ate, how active is baby usually, what do I do to make him move etc etc.  Blissful me, thinks she is just striking up conversation.  She then asks me to laugh for 1 minute straight.  Huh?  Laugh about what?  I laugh about how ridiculous a request that is – for about 20 seconds – and then ask why.  #73 says “because baby hasn’t moved this whole exam”.  Uh… what!  He’s ALWAYS moving!  So I ask if there is something else I can do besides laugh, because clearly this has gone beyond a laughing matter and she offers up either cough for a minute straight, jiggle my belly or poke him.  I pick cough (can’t really explain that decision as it was the hardest to do… clearly my brain had shut down)  I cough for what seemed like 9 minutes and to this day still have a sore throat from the effort.  No movement.  Drank a glass of ice water – no movement.  Had 2 candies – no movement.  Shook my belly until I almost fell off the exam table – no movement.  #73 calls over to my OB and says I have failed the biophysical exam, what would he like me to do from here.  OB orders I go straight over to Labour and Delivery Triage for a Non-Stress Test and possible emergency C-section.

Holy Crap.

So Daddy-in-wait gets called into the exam room with me, thinking he is just coming in for the routine “look there is your baby” shots and a print out of what is supposed to be pictures but actually just look like smudges – because #73 could care less about her job, clearly.  He walks in with a big smile on his face and I couldn’t bare to say it.  I waited for #73 to bring it up.  She went on showing crappy pictures and said “Ok so Dad, go back to the wait room while I finish up and then you guys can go over to triage and it looks like you may be having baby today!”.  Tears. Shock. Absolute fear.  I just looked at him and said “Liam has not moved the whole time”.  As if just shot through the heart, Daddy just got the worst news ever and can’t do a damn thing with it. Back to the waiting room he goes.

#73 finishes up and has the balls to say “Congratulations, it’s probably your baby’s birthday today!” I just wanted to punch her – but I had things to do… like go take a “non-stress test” which, in the moment was pretty much the most stressful thing I have ever had to do. Ironic?

Rushing to get dressed and practically running across the street to the hospital we go. I don’t even think I put my underwear back on – just pants and shoes. Gitch in my pocket, ultrasound goop still slathered on my belly.  We arrive on the 4th floor after the eternal elevator wait (Seriously-when did elevators become so inefficient anyways?) and come to the telephone in front of the locked ward doors to Labour and Delivery.  I pick up the phone and wait for the person on the other side of the window I am standing in front of to answer.  I can see her – she can see me, I can hear the phone ringing through the door.  I am pretty sure it rang like 9 times before she picked up.  Time to declare my business. “How can I help you” she says.  “Um, we’re here… Uh, we came straight from a failed biophysical, um… I’m here for an NST I guess”.  Crap lady – just let us in!  Woosh the doors open and like a flood gate so do my emotions.  We check in, get some fancy hospital jewellery (a paper wrist band) and head into Triage.  There we are ‘kindly’ greeted with “We are very busy, please have a seat in the lounge across the hall.”  Are you kidding me?!  Deep breaths.  We head into the lounge.  14 hours later (which was likely only about 10 minutes real time) we are welcomed into our very own curtained room fully equip with a gerni, one chair and a machine that goes ‘ping’.  We are a mess emotionally.  Non-stress test… ya right.  The lovely nurse hooks me up to the machine which monitors both Liam’s heart rate and my contraction rate via 2 ultrasonic microphones adhered to me via 2 elastic bands around my big round belly.  (You will read later about how much I hate this device – so keep the visual fresh.)  I also get a little clicker (like on Jeopardy) which I use to indicate whenever I can feel baby moving.
ThumpaThump Thump, ThumpaThump Thump…. Liam’s alive!  Sigh of relief.  #73 failed to mention he still had a heartbeat back at the office.  Okay – things are not as bad as they seemed.  Deep breaths.

An hour later the device is removed.  Liam’s heart rate and movement count are all “excellent” and right on track.  The nurses seem impressed by this – given that #73 had just been monitoring this an hour earlier and found no movement.  Stupid Disgruntled Employee #73… I should have you fired!  Clearly you suck at your job!

Anyways – moving on.  Doctor R pops in the curtain a few minutes later with more news.  Seems my failure at the biophysical wasn’t based solely on non-movement.  My embryonic fluid levels are low.  How low you ask?!  (I asked too)  Dr. R says ‘normal low’ would be around 75… our low was 31.  31!!  My brain just fried.  Caput.  I don’t know what else could possibly go wrong with this day.  “What does that mean” I manage to muster up.  “Well, it means baby needs to come out”.  I can feel my strength and will to be upright melting from within.  “Come out how, when…” we ask.  “Well…” Dr R starts, “what was your plan with your OB?” Plan?  We have no plan, that’s been our plan all along!  We talked about things, and then didn’t do them, and then talked about other things and were waiting for the results of this biophysical to make plans.  We have no plans!  Oh wait – at some point we talked about using a Cooks Cervical Ripening Balloon.  That was our plan! “Oh good, then let’s do that now” Dr R says.  “NOW?!”… Okay.  Let’s do it now.  If we do it now, maybe it will speed things along and Liam can come out sooner because clearly he’s running out of fuel in there and a sooner-than-later approach seems mandatory.  Now….. seriously?  Okay, now.

Can I just say this.  The Cooks Cervical Ripening Balloon looks terrifying! 

The thing in my left hand is the balloon and attached catheter.  Yup, it’s so big we couldn’t even fit it in the picture.  The syringe I am holding is one of 2 that were full of saline that they inflate said balloon with.  One on each side of my cervix.  Oh sorry… I meant to start with TMI.  My bad.

Anyways.  In goes this big boy, drainage tubes taped to my inner thigh.  We head home.  If anyone has ever told you having your cervix ‘ripened’ is a painless adventure… they lie!  Holy crap, what a night.  I could go into grave detail about how extremely awkward sitting with this is, or how …. okay I will stop.  Let’s just say I hated each and every one of the 720 minutes I had this in.  Back to the hospital to have it removed at 6:30am.

Wednesday 6:30am.  I have not slept more than 40 minutes all night.  Both of us are excited because, from our understanding, this is induction day.  Liam will be born soon!  We get checked into our curtain, hooked up to the machine that goes ‘ping’ again and wait.  Doctor shift change is at 8am.  Nurse shift change is at 7.  No one is opening my ‘can of worms’ on this shift… so we sit and listen to Liam’s heart beat for an hour and a half.  Worse things could be happening, we suppose. 8:30am rolls around and the new shift takes us on.  ‘Balloon’ removed, cervix checked…. no change – no dilation.  NO CHANGE!  I am filled with rage.  I just spent an entire night in writhing pain for nothing!?  Dr. S says it must have been put in wrong.  WRONG?  Are you kidding me?!  Dr. S wants to try again… this time he will put it in right.  In goes a new giant catheter and 2 huge syringes of saline.  I can tell it’s done different this time and, if nothing else – my mucus plug is now gone so, that’s good. (Celebrate the little things in life!)
Back onto the machine that does ping for another 30 mins, then back home to ‘ripen’ once again. Return to hospital in 12 hours.

We go home.  Naps and resting all day long in anticipation of being induced upon return to the hospital at 8:30pm.  We do the math… even if induction starts at 9pm, Liam may not make it out until Thursday but that’s Okay, we have prepared for a long night – Daddy drank a whole pot of coffee right before we left.  8:30pm and we arrive at hospital luggage, snacks, cord blood stuff, pillows etc.  Back on the machine that goes ‘ping’ and wait for the Doctor to come remove the balloon and check my cervix.  An hour passes (at least) before we even hear a Doctor in the Triage room.  He orders a nurse to remove the catheter and check my cervix… he is kinda busy.  She does and comes back with 3-4cm dilated! Woot!  It worked!  I feel absolutely no different though.  Should you feel different when your cervix dilates?  I still can’t answer that.

So, we lay around for another length of time until we can hear a Nurse calling the Doctor as he is rushing down the hall about what to do with ‘the Cooks patient’.  Doctor says ‘send ’em home, they can go on tomorrow’s induction list, no room at the inn tonight’. Damn it!  Back home we go with instructions to call Triage in the morning to book our induction time for Friday.

Friday 7:30am.  I call into Triage and ask to be put on the induction list.  Nurse taking the call says “Okay, we’ll call you back shortly with a time.”  I go back to bed knowing, since the day before we got at call at around 2pm from Triage saying come in for induction because I somehow made it on that list from the first Cooks Balloon that we would likely be called around 2pm today too.  2pm comes and goes. 4pm comes and I call Triage to make sure we did actually make the list.  Yup, we are on the list – there is just a ridiculous influx of births and again, ‘no room at the inn’. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 pm comes and goes.  We make dinner, have more naps and resolve to just not being called and change into our comfy pants ready to hunker down to some Thursday night television.  9:30pm we get the call! “Come on in for an NST since it has been 24 hours since your last one”.  An NST?  But, we want to come have a baby…

10:15pm we arrive at the hospital to what seems like both a deserted island / hospital employee coffee party.  I pick up the phone to enter the ward “Hi, we are here to have a baby” woooosh go the doors and the first nurse who helped us back on Tuesday says “Holy – you haven’t had that baby yet?” to which I reply “Not for lack of trying!”  We check in and have our pick of curtain rooms in the Triage room.  We pick number 3 since it is the only one we haven’t been in yet.  I get hooked back up to the machine that goes ping.  An hour passes.  Everything looks good on the strips, Liam is happy and moving.  I get unhooked from the strip, take a couple of pee breaks and we wait for my OB, who was the Doctor that evening, to give us the go ahead to start induction.

Midnight – Nurse peeks behind curtain and says “Are you ready?” Lady – ready is an understatement! 

Kev snaps a picture of the look on our faces to find out Liam is now for real on his way.

I say “Were we just waiting for one of the palace rooms to open up?” to which she replies “Well, you certainly deserve to be in one of those after all this don’t you?”  You see, in this hospital, there are nice rooms and then there are niiiiiiice rooms.  I am pretty sure we got the latter.  We pull into our giant room, sort out what goes where and what I am going to wear for the big event … which clearly I had no say in since our first instructions where ‘here change into this gown’ and settle in.  Our Nurse for the evening was Agnes.  Nice enough lady – no sense of humour though.  Agnes tries to start an IV.  Poke in the left hand – no dice.  Poke in the left arm – no dice.  Agnes calls in an older Nurse who has probably done IV starts eight thousand times before.  She tries on my inside left arm – no dice.  Left hand – no dice.  Older Nurse calls in the expert.  Expert Nurse arrives to save the day.  By this time I have 5 bandages on my arms and am in a fair amount of pain from all the poking.  IV Expert Nurse takes a seat, puts on the tourniquet, taps my right arm like a junkie, and voila, starts my IV.

1:17am – Induction begins!  Now that the IV is rigged and I am sufficiently pumped with electrolytes it is time to hard wire in the Oxytocin.  For those of you who don’t know, Oxytocin is the hormone that makes your contractions happen.  Since mine hadn’t started naturally, and it was well past time for Liam to come out – we went with a slow drip of the synthetic kind. As soon as this started – back on go those ugly brown NST bands with the heartbeat mic and contraction monitor. No jeopardy clicker though.  Everything looks good.  Agnes advises us to try to rest as it is going to be a long night.  Daddy hunkers down on his ‘couch’ with pillows and blanket, I in my hospital gown hooked up to wires and IVs mind a racing wondering why I don’t feel anything yet in the fancy birthing gerni, Agnes at my side watching the machine that goes ping.  At some point my OB comes in to check my cervix.  Back to ‘fingertip’ a.k.a less than 1 cm dilated.  WHAT!  You mean I wore those 2 balloons for no reason now?!  Sigh… oh well, we are started now and that is all that matters.  Drip Drip goes the oxytocin and I feel nothing.  I should be sleeping, but these stupid brown straps are strangling me and I can’t lay the way I want because then the contacts come off and Agnes has to come readjust which also means tighten.  Also – it is both comforting and kind of creepy to have a Nurse sitting less than 3 feet from you at all times while you are trying to sleep.  I couldn’t turn my brain off enough to make sleep happen.

7am – shift change.  A new Nurse comes in and Agnes gets to go home.  Pretty boring evening for her I guess.  I don’t envy that part of her job.  New Nurse is perky and friendly and wearing a cute pink sweater with a matching pink water bottle.  I think her name was Rachael.  She is so not my type.  She checks my NST belts – tightens them even more and tells me to try to sleep.  Lady – I AM trying but, I am kind of excited too Okay, cut me some slack!  The morning passes and I am starting to wonder if the drugs they claim to be pumping in my veins really exist.  I feel nothing, but the strangle hold of those damn NST belts and a frequent urge to pee, just so I can get them taken off for a few minutes. 

Dilation check at 7:30am -1cm (what!) but, Dr P broke my water anyway.  Water breaking is interesting.  Not sure why I thought ALL the water would come out at once but let me assure you, it did not and I could be tracked like a wild animal anywhere I went in that room.
And then it happens.

The first dose of Oxytocin runs out.  I don’t have any contractions and things are at a standstill.  Rachael gets approval to up my dose past the ‘maximum allowable’ and we are off to the races.  And by races I mean the most excruciatingly painful, terrifyingly overwhelming and outright torturous time of my day.  Anyone who has given birth probably knows all about this so I won’t go into too much detail.  My only advice to all those who haven’t yet been blessed with birthing a child… don’t labour only in the bed – use a yoga ball.  

Moving on.

At noon Dr S comes in and does another dilation check.  No progress.  In a stern voice he says to me “make some progress or we need to talk C-Section”.  Yes sir.  I do NOT want a C-section nor do I want to stay in the amount of pain I am in currently.  Making progress is my only option. This is when the yoga ball is cracked out.  What a difference it made for pain tolerance… and also for Rachel to have to synch that damn belt on 90000 more times.

2:30pm another dilation check – 4cm!  Only 4?!  I could feel my insides doing things that to me, didn’t seem at all natural or anything other than stretching and moving everything inside towards it’s inevitable exit.  4 fricken cms!  Okay – progress is progress.  I am pretty sure I will die in childbirth at this point. I am a tough cookie on every other occasion and anyone who knows me well would say I can/have endured painful stuff in my life.  This takes the cake.

3:00pm – Epidural time!  Eff this, I don’t need to be a hero.  I am absolutely sure I will die if I don’t do this.  I am assured that the Epidural guy is a champion in his field and that he will not poke 5 holes to run this thing like the IV team this morning.  I just, now as I am writing this realize – I never actually saw this guy in person.  Somehow I was prepped for the needle, poked and taped up by an invisible man.  A veritable Pokeroo.  He is still my hero though.  What a difference. 

The time between Pokeroo and just before 7pm is all a blur.  I think I slept/stared at the wall through most of it.  I remember listening to the Beatles on the iPod and I remember pretty much being bored to death/anxious beyond all recognition and paralyzed without much awareness of it. I also remember bribing Rachel to let me have one little Werthers candy just to sweeten my breath for baby.  Hey – worst excuse ever but, I was starving!

Then it was dilation check again.  10 fricken centimetres!  How the hell did that happen without my awareness? 4cms will be etched in my memory as the most painful thing I have ever endured… how did I go another 6 without one single cramp.  Who cares – it’s go time!
I think the mix of drugs, excitement, lack of sleep, lack of food since 10pm the night before and then the realization that I am just moments away from touching the little boy I was growing inside me got the best of me… or it could have just been the Werthers, but at exactly 1 minute to 7pm I rolled over to say good-bye and Thank you to Rachael as it was the end of her shift and as I opened my mouth a completely unexpected thing happened.  I vomited with such incredible force that I got Rachel square in her front and pretty pink sweater, the NST machine, the wall and whatever else lay in its path.  Holy!  I didn’t mean to do that – but if I knew all I had to do was puke on that stupid machine to make her stop winching it onto my belly all day – I’d have done that hours ago!  I mean uh…. sorry Rachel.  Good thing it’s the end of your shift though eh…haha?!  She was so not impressed.  Kev could not stop laughing. He snapped a picture to share with you, but I will spare you the details.

Ok so… 7pm, shift change.  A new nurse… or 3.  The OB going off shift came in with some sage advice.  He said, in no uncertain terms, “Just try to push a shit out so hard it hits that wall” and then left the room.  Well, Okay then! I for one have never pood laying down, or with my legs in stirrups but, I am a good visualizer so I can work with that. 

So, with the next contraction (that I could not feel in the least – that damn NST machine lead the cavalry on this one) I was told to push.  Push what? I don’t feel anything. Push how – I have no traction?  The biomechanics on this still baffle me.  I did what seemed like pushing and the crowd that had amassed at my feet seemed impressed.  Then, between contractions Liam’s heart rate would go lower, so they suited me with my own Oxygen mask to use after pushing.  Can’t say that did much but, at this point everything was happening on good faith anyways – so I just went with it.  Push Push Push… in comes the OB, her intern, a team of Paediatricians, some more nurses, other people off the street… I have no idea.  The place was packed and everyone was looking at my junk with high praise.  Weirdest thing ever.

An hour into pushing, OB comes in and says that if no progress, forceps.  What!
I remember at some point asking if there was any other position that I could try this pushing thing in and was reminded that my legs don’t work and standing or squatting as I had requested would not only be comical, but impossible to say the least.  With Kev on one leg and a nurse on the other, me with my handle bars that magically came out of the side of the bed (seriously, where were those 5 hours ago?) we began what can only be described as seemingly the most fruitless exercise of my life.  “Push” something you can’t feel for an indeterminate amount of time and distance.  I remember asking “am I doing this right”, “is it working”, “if you all can see him, can’t one of you just grab him and pull him the rest of the way?” Kev looked me square in the face and said “Laura – just shit on the wall”.  And with that, a couple more pushes, less than 30 minutes time passing and there he was.  The crowd went wild.  (Well, Okay I might have imagined that) 

Right before my final pushes my midwife asked if I wanted him placed on my belly to feed right away, if Kev wanted to cut the cord etc.  Yes and Yes.  And Yes to anything else that I should be doing in his best health interests too.  Deal.  But then here he is, and he’s not on my belly, no one is talking and everyone is buzzing around the room with very little interest in my junk anymore….

Kev was asked to cut the cord and Liam was taken to the back of the room where like 6 Doctors were working on him.  No one said anything to us.  I told Kev “go with him” and he did… but was kind of crowded out by all the ladies. 


I can’t see anything, except the look on Kev’s face.  I can’t move.  I can’t think, or process or speak or make the one demand I needed … “What the hell is going on”…  I just lay there trying not to think about what I might be forced to think about and mourn for the rest of my life… Positive thoughts… positive thoughts.  93 hours passed, or maybe like 3 minutes. A rumble comes from the paediatrician club… Kev turns to me, as I view him through the frame made by my legs in stirrups and over the head of the OB who is arms deep in my uterus…. “He’s Okay”.  Of course he is… there is no damn way we would come this far and he wouldn’t be.  (I convince myself.)  I can see the Paeds ladies congratulating Kev and letting him take pictures, weighing Liam and doing what I assume is normal ‘you-just-had-a-kid’ stuff on the other side of the room.  Feeling kind of lonely I strike up a conversation with the OB who is the only person close enough to me to actually hear my voice.  “So, what ‘cha doing down there?” “Well, seems your placenta is attached with super glue so, I am just taking it out piece by piece here making sure not to miss anything”.  Okay wait… taking it out?  You have your arms inside me?  Holy crap these drugs are strong.  “Oh yeah… how many stitches you gonna need to put in?”.  “Well, it’s more like a hemline than stitches actually….”  Huh?  It was at this point, the conversation ended.  That information led my brain on a journey that I could just not come back from.  The OB raised her arm to receive a tool from her intern and I could see she was elbow deep in my blood.  That’s just messed up!

Ok so, the rest is kind of a blur.  At some point Liam was returned to my arms to feed and he was adorable. 

Big wide eyes and a cute little smirk making little squeaks and squirming.  As this was happening, probably the funniest thing I have ever witnessed happened down at the end of my bed.  OB had finished her fishing journey and took off her blood drenched gloves and gown.  The tub of placenta was taken to a nurse to piece together like a puzzle and make sure everything was there.  All the cord blood stuff was being completed by another nurse and the Paeds team where completing all the paperwork for APGAR etc.

In walks the ‘sanitary engineer’, mop and bucket in hand.  She comes past the curtain whistling as she walks, greeting the crowd as she goes and then comes upon the end of my bed.  She stops dead in her tracks, takes a look at the floor and says “I am going to need more than a mop for this mess”.  Keep in mind, I have no idea what she is seeing.  A nurse says “I know right, it’s like a blood bath murder scene eh!”  Um… at this point, all I can do is laugh.  I look over at Kev, who clearly was trying to not fill me in on this info and he says “There is a lot of blood down there” kind of nonchalantly. Well Okay.  Nothing I can do about that I guess. 

So, eventually everyone leaves the room, Liam is carted over to me where I lay, still kind of paralyzed, exhausted but filled with joy.  Liam is swaddled like a burrito, lying super content in my arms and both Daddy and I are left alone to reflect.  The only thing I could muster up the energy to say was “Holy crap I am hungry”.  A nurse left buzzing around in the back of the room offers to forage the kitchen for me to see if there is any left over dinner stuff – but says that the kitchen is closed and I will not be served a meal until 7:30am.  The Tim Horton’s in the hospital is now closed and if I wanted anything to eat Kev would have to go off property to find it.  Daddy doesn’t want to leave his baby’s side, I don’t want to eat drive-thru as the first meal I offer Liam so we are stuck.  Nurse comes back from her food hunting expedition with a muffin, 4 crackers and 2 pieces of cheese.  Okay, that is a start.  Then I remembered…. I have Werthers!

The rest of the night was peaceful, uneventful and bliss.  Liam slept in about 45 minute intervals interrupted with a weird shocking squeal and then return to sleep.  In the morning we got up, got dressed, had breakfast delivered and waited to be discharged after a final round of IV antibiotics for me and a bath for Liam.

The van ride home was surreal.  He’s ours!  We get to keep him!  I wonder if he is warm enough… is he too warm?  Can he breathe in there… why is this drive taking so long?  What is with all the pot holes?  It all kicked in for both of us.  We get home and the dogs didn’t seem too surprised.  It’s as if they knew he was coming.  They took a few sniffs, ran in circles as they usually do and went on about the day like nothing had changed in their big picture. 

Okay… let’s call this the end of Liam’s birth story and then everything else the story of his life.  I did warn you in the beginning this was a ‘Never-ending Story’ didn’t I?


2 responses to this post.

  1. It's amazing what we go through to have these little miracles. Bless you!


  2. Great story because it is yours. Glad the ending was (is) happy. Hope you're healing well. No one warned me about the recovery afterwards, and that was brutal for my first. A billion stitches too. None for my 2nd though, so if you have a #2 it might be quite different. I took comfort in that.


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