On Saturday, January 26th we welcomed rainbow baby Liam Hayes to our family at 11:41pm.
Early Saturday morning Benton and I woke up with a yucky stomach bug. I spent the day between bed, the bathroom, and the couch while Alex held down the fort. I began to feel a bit better and we all settled in to watch Beauty and the Beast around 5pm.
Throughout my pregnancy I had an “irritable uterus” which meant I would have contractions that would last anywhere from 15-30 minutes a piece, throughout the day. Prior to our bout with the flu, I had convinced myself I was going to “enjoy” a castor oil milkshake to get labor going, but ended up never taking it. When we settled in to watch the movie I began having contractions that felt very different from what I had been experiencing. When Alex began timing, they were 45 seconds long and 7 minutes apart.
We texted our midwife, Ingrid, and she said to “send in the troops” and to text her again when the contractions were a minute long and 5 minutes apart. I spent time working through the contractions on an exercise ball while the boys massaged my back. It was so sweet to have Benton close by to encourage me and gave sips of water. I felt infinitely more relaxed knowing everyone would be coming to me and an uncomfortable ride to the hospital in a cold car was not in my future. By the time our movie was finished — around 7:30pm — I texted Ingrid again and it was time for her and Miranda (the assistant midwife) to make their way to the house. Meanwhile, my mom and sister drove down from LaCrosse.
Alex bathed Benton and we tucked him into bed for his last night as our only baby. It was such a bittersweet moment giving him that kiss goodnight. I moved to continue laboring in our bed and by the time our midwives arrived, around 9:00, the contractions definitely commanded more of my attention and were difficult to talk through. Because baby had a two-vessel cord, they listened to baby’s heartbeat through the Doppler before and during a contraction. There were no signs of distress and the sound of his rapid little heartbeat made me choke up. It was such a relief to know everything was going well!
Miranda helped me move into a “mountain climber” position to help the contractions intensify and bring baby closer. I laid on my right side with my left leg up on a pillow, belly tucked between my left arm and leg. The only option in this position was to wait for the contractions to come and ride them through, and they were STRONG.
Out in the kitchen, Ingrid had Alex begin boiling water for a big pot of herbs to help with postpartum healing. My mom and Claire arrived shortly after 9:00 and kept me company for a while and took over Benton’s water patrol. They switched off the lights and switched on a salt lamp so our room was as relaxing and free of distractions as possible. Liam’s little foot dug into my side when I switched sides in the mountain climber position, so laboring on that side was short lived. Eventually, Miranda had me move to the toilet to help him drop down further into my pelvis. I sat in the bathroom shivering and Miranda asked if I was cold or if it was just adrenaline. In the moment I thought I was just cold, so she wrapped me up in my fluffy polka dot robe, and left me to labor quietly for a while. Looking back, I think that was the start of transition.
After a day of being sick and now a few hours into labor I was really craving sleep. All I wanted was to curl up and snuggle into the covers. Labor was becoming so intense that I don’t think I opened my eyes again until I began pushing. I moved back into my bed, and with a pillow propped between my legs began the final stretch of labor. Soon I was burning up, the robe was gone, and I could feel that baby was getting closer.
Alex laid next to me in the soft yellow-orange light of our room and quietly let me (almost) break his hands clean off his arms. Miranda laid cold washcloths on my neck which was such a nice relief. I could hear my mom and sister sitting through the glass bowl of jelly beans while chatting with Ingrid in the kitchen. Ingrid made her way in and grabbed my shoulder and hip with her steady hands and told me to focus on the breaks that were waiting for me after each contraction. She reminded me that baby and I were safe. These contractions brought baby lower and closer each time and we decided it was a good time to begin filling the birth pool.
I am not sure how much time actually passed, but suddenly that familiar growl I remembered from Benton’s birth began building in my belly. I felt the need to bear down now with each contraction. Miranda left the room to tell Ingrid to stop inflating the pool. We’d be meeting our baby very very soon.
Still on my side, Ingrid helped me pull a leg back so I could begin trying to push. Benton awoke to all of the commotion and I remember seeing my mom grab his sleepy little self from the hallway and tell him that everything was okay. All I could do was bear down and try to breathe through my teeth with each contraction. I *really* didn’t want to move, but Ingrid persuaded me to get up to my hands and knees. I waited through one more contraction and used the moments between to get up into position. Alex was still at my head, Miranda and Ingrid were at my feet, and Coco laid on the bed to my right.
When I got up, I noticed that our bed had become covered in a red and white plaid plastic tablecloth, towels, and potty training pads. As soon as I made it to my hands and knees I knew I could really push and it almost brought a sense of relief.
1 push. Oh my goodness, our baby was actually coming. I wasn’t feeling trapped by the contractions anymore and had something to really work against.
2 pushes. My water broke, and the pressure and commotion in our room increased noticeably. There was so much pressure as he moved down with the contraction and relief as he moved back when it was over.
3 pushes. I was certain he was nearly here, so I reached down and touched his head. It was surreal thinking that this was the child we had been waiting so long for. Miranda told me that his hand was next to his face and that I needed to slowly breathe him the rest of the way out.
4 pushes. One final long, deep, growling breath and our baby was here! Coco jumped up from her spot on the bed and spun in a circle, completely confused by what had just happened. She darted over to investigate the creature who was now laying below me. I pushed for 16 minutes in total, and at the same time it felt like such a whirlwind. I carefully picked baby up and brought him to my chest — a moment that was equally terrifying and overwhelmingly filled with love and happiness and gratitude.
As soon as baby and I began to move towards the pillows to lay down, the placenta came out right behind us. Ingrid and Miranda seemed especially thrilled. At my prenatal appointments I shared how anxious I was for my belly to be pressed on after birth, and knew it was a real possibility that I was at risk for extra bleeding with an irritable uterus. I am so thankful that these women not only took the time to listen to my concern, but that Miranda pressed down on my belly as gently as she could and that the bleeding ended up being quite minimal.
We laid down and were tucked into dry towels (which were clearly running low as I noticed we were covered in a clean bath mat), and my mom, sister, and Benton came in the room. I wish I could have captured the look of proud amazement on Benton’s face. My mom asked if this baby had a name, and Alex and I looked at each other and knew that of the names we had been considering, that this was Liam.
Over the next hour we cozied in with skin-to-skin, weighed, measured, and cut the umbilical cord. Benton, who was now on quite the energy high for 1am, ran to the kitchen to grab his digital camera and snapped photos of the commotion. Miranda helped me up to the bathroom, cleaned me off, and pulled on that lovely pair of ice pad- filled mesh undies.
Alex and I cozied back into bed with our sweet new boy, and though he was cooing while soundly asleep and I was exhausted, I could hardly close my eyes. Liam’s birth was peaceful, filled with love, respect, and strength. It was absolutely perfect.
14 hours later, Nicole came over to document this postpartum period as our family adjusted to this new rhythm. My dad hadn't met him yet so we all snuggled on the couch and everyone got to hold our sweet boy. This time was a bit of a fog, so I love being able to have these photos to look back on.