Liam's Birth Story

I am so excited to finally share Liam's birth story with all of you, as well as have it recorded to read again in the future! As I left things in my last blog, I was 40 weeks and trying to be patient with God's perfect timing for Liam's big arrival. I had a prenatal appointment on Wednesday, May 4th, and since Dr. Soper was delivering a baby, we met with the nurse practitioner, Sandy. She checked me, and said that I was 50% effaced and 1 cm dilated. FINALLY! My body was making some progress. I felt so encouraged by the news. After the appointment, I went back to work and finished up as much stuff as I could. I dealt with some spotting the rest of that day due to the check, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I should take a personal day the next day to clean our house and get some last minute groceries just in case I went into labor in the next couple of days.

Thursday rolled around, and I just felt different. I was thankful for the half day off work because my contractions were a little more crampy/achy, and I was still spotting. I dropped Noah off at his class and went straight to Meijer. After I finished my shopping, I drove back home, and the cleaning spree began. I was having contractions still, but they weren't close enough for me to want to time them. I figured that if things moved along, I'd know it and time them at that point.

My four hours of shopping and cleaning were gone in a flash, and it was time to pick up Noah from his class. I quickly got him down for a nap and was able to get a few more things done while he was sleeping. After Ryan got home from work, we all went outside to play for a bit. I could feel the cotnractions coming on stronger and thought to myself, "Oh yeah, this is what contractions feel like!" I told Ryan that I felt like this could be the real thing, but I could feel myself holding back because Noah was home. I didn't want him to see me in pain or behaving any differently, so I just wouldn't submit to the direction my body was trying to go. I got pretty emotional at this point. It hit me hard that this would most likely be the last time that it would be just the three of us. I looked at Noah, and he looked SO big. He was being so sweet and so silly, and I was loving every minute of it. After a good cry that I did my best to hide from Noah (mostly because I wanted him to leave our house that night feeling like everything was normal), I felt a lot better. Ryan called his parents and asked them to come down for dinner. Then, if my labor was still progressing, he asked if they would take Noah back to their house.

While John and Gloria made their way to our house, I started making beef stroganoff. I mean, why not, right? I had the meat already thawed in our fridge and didn't want it to go bad. Plus, I thought the carbs and protein would give me energy in case we did go into active labor! At some point, I called Julie (our doula) to let her know that I thought that things might be progressing toward active labor. She was getting ready to have dinner with her family, so we decided to touch base in a couple hours. Ryan's parents arrived and we all sat down to eat. I was timing my contractions at this point, and I think they were 4 to 5 minutes apart, lasting about a minute each. I could still talk through them just fine, but they were definitely getting more intense. Since things were moving along, we packed Noah's bags and said our goodbyes. As much as I missed him when he left, I was excited to finally surrender to my body.

Ryan and I got Kya and starting on our first walk around the neighborhood. My contractions increased in frequency, duration, and intensity during the walk. I was having them every 2-3 minutes, and they were lasting anywhere from 1.5-2 minutes each. After walking about a mile and a half, we went inside to see if my contractions continued with the same duration - they did! They continued to last 1.5-2 minutes but were 3-4 minutes apart now. Ryan and I decided to watch Grey's Anatomy and an episode of The Big Bang Theory, but my contractions became more intense, and I couldn't concentrate on BBT. Ryan packed up the car, took a shower, and went to Subway to get us some foot long subs (Jimmy Johns was already closed). We called Dr. Soper to let her know about the contractions, and she said, "Well, the only way we'll know if you're in labor is if you come to get checked." Instantly, I was scared because hospitals make me very nervous. I asked that she share my desire to have a room with a tub to labor in when she called the hospital, but she said, "Oh just let them know when you get there." I was doubly anxious then! She had everything set up for us last time when we arrived, and to know that we could possibly not have a tub when got to the hospital made me really nervous to go. I told her that Ryan was gone getting food, and that we would leave sometime after he got back. I still was in no hurry to go to the hospital at that point. Part of me really questioned if I was truly in labor - I think I was in denial to be honest. I started texting/emailing friends, family, and coworkers to give them the update. I finalized Noah's birthday cake plans (i.e., scanned the sketch I made along with pictures of Word World characters). Yes, I was finishing all of the last minute things that "needed" to get done so that I again could surrender to this process.

Almost immediately after talking to Dr. Soper, my contractions slowed down. I had been sitting for awhile watching TV and sending email, so Ryan and I began walked around the house. Things picked right back up, so we called our friend, Kevin, to come pick up Kya. He arrived at our house around 11:30 p.m. I could still talk through my contractions just fine, though they were pretty intense at times. With Kya gone, I felt myself surrender that much more. My contractions were picking up and were starting to get more difficult to talk through. We called Julie to give her an update, and we decided to meet in the hospital lobby. That would give us a chance to see how things were moving along and determine when would be the best time to go up to the maternity floor. I was excited to meet Liam but also nervous to experience the rest of this labor and ultimately the delivery!

 As we drove to the hospital, Ryan and I savored the time together. During contractions, I was focused on breathing, but between them, I was completely relaxed and happy talking to Ryan. We arrived at the hospital at 12:30 a.m. and went straight to the lobby. I sat on my exercise ball and just moved through the contractions. They were definitely sharper in intensity, but again, during the breaks I felt fine. Julie arrived about 10 minutes after we did, and the three of us just talked whenever I wasn't having contractions. Finally, at about 1:00 a.m., Julie suggested we go ahead and walk to the elevators that would take us up to the maternity floor. We stopped for each of my contractions so that I could move with them, and then we would continue on our journey. The entire time, I was praying and telling God that I trusted Him. Whatever happened once we reached the maternity floor, I was ok because I knew God had a plan for Liam's birth. We were offered wheelchairs on the way to the elevator, but Julie and Ryan let them know that I preferred to walk. The ride in the elevator went quickly until I had a really strong contraction just as the elevator reached the top. I worked through that one, and as I turned around to get off, I saw at least 10 people sitting in the waiting room staring at me with their mouths open. I think they thought I was going to have the baby right there in the elevator! :)

We walked to triage where they would want to check my cervix, separate me from Ryan and Julie to ask me domestic abuse questions, give me an IV port, etc. I skipped triage when I was in labor with Noah because Dr. Soper told them to just send me back to my room. This time, they made me go to the bathroom to change into a gown and give them a urine sample. I prayed, "God, if I need to go to triage this time around, I trust you. Whatever you have planned, I surrender to it." In the meantime, I continued having strong contractions. As I was washing my hands at the bathroom sink, my contraction was so strong that it took me up to my tippy toes. Then, there was a POP and GUSH...my water broke all over the bathroom floor. The nurse at the front desk said, "Is that what I think it was?" We answered that yes, my water broke. She and the midwife decided that I didn't need to stay in triage afterall. They knew I was in labor! Ryan said, "That old water balloon-in-the-pocket trick works everytime!" I was cracking up! I felt God really speak to me in that moment - to continue trusting His plan and surrendering to His will. Everything would be just fine!

We made our way down the hall to the labor and delivery room, and sure enough, there was a tub waiting for me inside! I got in the bed while the nurse and midwife established a baseline for Liam's heart rate. I had some pretty strong contractions in the bed, and Julie said, "I'm going to start filling up the tub." I thought to myself, "Julie, I'm probalby 3 cm along. Don't get my hopes up and make me think I'm going to be able to get in the tub!" The midwife checked me, and sure enough, I was 5 cm already. I yelled, "Thank you, Jesus!" because I knew I would find a lot of relief once I got in the water (they won't let you in until 5 cm or else you take the risk of slowing down labor). After they established his heart rate, I high-tailed it to the tub and jumped in the water. Ryan said he almost missed me get in because I was moving so fast! :)

The tub was still filling up when I got in, but before I knew it, the water was well over my belly, and I started getting into a rhythm. I started rocking side-to-side, just like I had when I was in labor with Noah. Rubbing my lower back against the ledges on the tub helped relieve some of the back labor I was experiencing. The contractions were definitely strong, but I felt the counter pressure around me from the water, which really helped. Before I knew it, I was starting to feel the urge to push at the peak of my contractions, so I mentioned it to everyone. The nurse checked me, and she said I was 7 1/2 cm already and that the baby was right there, which is why I felt the urge to push at times. When I heard 7 1/2 cm, I knew that I was in transitional labor, which meant LONG contractions with very short breaks in between. My body began shaking, and I asked Julie why that was happening. I remembered it happening with Noah but not at that point in labor. Julie later told me that I was shaking because I was in transitional labor. During this next stage, I felt like I was having the longest contractions ever, and it seemed like I wasn't getting any breaks. They were really intense, but I knew it meant we were getting closer. I asked Julie and Ryan to pray quietly to themselves that things would move quickly because I was feeling pretty overwhelmed.

Then, all of the sudden, everything stopped. I found myself totally relaxed and at rest. In fact, I felt like I had fallen asleep in the water. My body was completely submerged, and only my face was above water. I floated in the water for about 5 minutes completely at peace. Slowly I woke up as my next contraction began to build. Then it hit me: I had just experienced the rest period you have when your cervix is completely dilated, and your body is ready to push. It was go time! At this point, I really feel like my mind and body disconnected. With Noah, my pushing phase was very cognitive driven. I would think to myself, "Ok. Push. Hold. Take a breath and push again!" This time, I felt the first overwhelming urge to push and started saying, "Have to push...have to push...help...help..." because my doctor wasn't in the room yet. Everyone encouraged me to just listen to my body, and before I knew it, my body just started pushing and my mind was playing catch up! I think I got in at least two good pushes before Dr. Soper arrived. The rest of my labor seemed to be one big contraction! Again, without my mind's permission, my body began pushing again. Everything was moving so quickly this time! I completely felt Liam move through my body. I could hear Ryan saying, "Amy, you're doing it! I can see him. He's right there! You can do this!" This time, it was overwhelming how strong the next contraction was and how NOT in control I felt. My body continued to push again, and before I knew it, Liam's head was out. One push later, and Baby Liam was in my arms!

The explosion of endorphins hit me immediately and felt like the fireworks' finale. Ryan and I were both overcome with emotion seeing this little baby boy lying in my arms. We kissed each other and stared at Liam in amazement. Dr. Soper said, "Well, that was fast and furious!" She wasn't kidding! Then Ryan said, "Oh no, did he tear his little lip on the way out?" I looked at Liam's face and saw that he had a little cleft lip. Dr. Soper stuck her finger in his mouth and let us know that his palate was completely intact, so it was simply cosmetic. She said that it wouldn't affect his ability to nurse at all. What a relief!

I then got out of the tub and got into the bed so that we could donate Liam's umbilical cord blood. While Dr. Soper collected the blood, she asked what the official time of birth was. Melissa, our nurse, answered, "2:42 a.m." My eyes made a bee-line straight to the clock, and sure enough, it wasn't even 3:00 a.m. yet. I was in shock! We didn't even leave for the hospital until midnight, which made us arrive around 12:30 a.m. We sat in the lobby until 1:00 a.m. and by the time we were in triage and my water had broke, it was 1:30 a.m. Now they were telling me that Liam was born at 2:42 a.m.! I couldn't believe how fast my labor had progressed. We figured out that I was only in transitional labor for approximately 15-20 minutes. That was WAY faster than the hour and a half of transition I experienced with Noah.

While I was on the bed, Ryan was busy cuddling and falling in love with Liam. He brought Liam to me then, and we had our own skin-to-skin time. Before I knew it, Liam was rooting and ready to go. He wiggled his way over and latched right on like he'd been breastfeeding for months already. It was AWESOME to see that his lip didn't affect his ability to nurse at all just like Dr. Soper said. After Liam was done breastfeeding, Melissa and Ryan took him to determine his weight, height, and complete other baby checks.

I sat in bed, amazed at the gift God had given us - another little boy to call our son. He was perfect in every way, and I was falling in love with him already. I thanked Julie for once again supporting us throughout our labor and delivery. I couldn't imagine having a natural childbirth without her there to support us along the way. Then I looked at my husband and knew that I had never loved him more. He was so encouraging and helpful not only through my pregnancy but also especially while laboring at home, in the car, and at the hospital. His voice was the only one I heard during the pushing phase, and it was all that kept me grounded when I could've been just completely overwhelmed by my body. I started praying and thanking God for giving me the strength to bring another child into this world. When I was in transitional labor, I kept thinking of Jesus on the cross and the sacrifice He made for us so that we could spend eternity with Him in heaven. I was meditating on scenes from The Passion when Jesus is suffering at the hands of men. Although my suffering and sacrifice where on a much smaller scale in comparison, I felt my strength grow when those images came to mind. One thing is for sure - in the majority of cases, a woman's body is perfectly created to safely bring a baby into this world without medical intervention. I am SO thankful that God allowed my body to show the strength of a woman through my birth experience.

Liam's birth was easily the craziest, most intense experience I've ever had in my life, with Noah's birth coming in second place. Although I remember the details of both experiences, it's amazing how quickly you forget the pain of childbirth. People often don't understand why I would choose to have a natural birth, and there are just so many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that we rarely experience anything on Earth the way God created it to be. We typically like to do things our way, so surrendering to His process made both Noah's and Liam's births  really spiritual experiences...something I know I will never forget.

While at the hospital, I found completely in love with Liam. My son was so beautiful and sweet! I experienced pain only from my uterus shrinking back down to its original size. That pain felt excrutiating at times, and I breathed through them like labor contractions. Other than that, I had no pain from the birth - honestly! That was part of the reason I wanted a water birth so badly. I had heard the recovery is so much better, and let me tell you, that is definitely true! My recovery has been a breeze.

Our parents all came to visit, as well as a couple friends during our day and a half stay at Methodist. Ryan's parents brought Noah to see us, and I loved the snuggle time he gave me! He was sweet about Liam but also just played around the room by himself. He was happy and made the transition to big brother without missing a beat. We were excited to be discharged around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, approximately 40 hours after we arrived on the maternity floor. Ryan's mom brought Noah to the hospital, and we took our first pictures as a family of four.

We left the hospital, two boys in the backseat, and I had such a sense of completion - so much so that it brought me to tears. I have never felt so blessed and so undeserving all at the same time. What have I done to deserve such a beautiful family? Why do I get to have all I've ever dreamed of having - a marriage where we adore each other so completely, a little boy who is compassionate, sweet, and silly at all once, and a new baby boy who is reminds me that God's greatest gift is allowing me to be a mother. We drove home as a family of four, looking foward to the future with anticipation, excitement, and sheer joy.


40 Weeks

We hit the 40 week mark yesterday, and my due date of May 2nd came and went! I've never been pregnant this long (we had Noah at 38 weeks), and to be honest, it has been quite an experience. For those of you who read this blog often, you know my feelings about due dates being plus or minus two weeks. Sometimes I can get frustrated with people for saying they were "late" when in fact having a baby after 40 weeks is completely normal. Well, friends, let me be the first to tell you that while I still feel that having a baby after 40 weeks is completely normal, I now have sympathy for women who are still pregnant past 40 weeks. At 37 weeks, you are considered "full term," and the baby would be born completely ready for the world! So, at 37 weeks, part of you starts to prepare and think, "Ok, the baby could come anytime now and be ok!" So, after having those thoughts for 3 weeks, I've started to have some fear creep into my mind. Will I go into labor on my own? Will the baby be ok? I had a friend from college lose her baby at 37 weeks gestation, and as much as you try not to think about it, the reality is there - it happened to her and could happen to me, too. When those moments hit, I find myself in prayer and remembering that Satan loves to attack us through fear and doubt in ourselves. Knowing that this baby and the timeline for his birth are in God's hands - that He is in control, and I want what He wants - is all it takes to push those fears away and to feel His light surround me. I do feel more humbled now that I know what it's like to be pregnant after your due date and am thankful to be experiencing that emotion!

With all of that said, I truly feel great physically! I am more tired and a bit uncomfortable in the evenings, but after a full night's rest, I feel rejuvenated and ready for the day. I haven't had the thought "Get this baby out of me! I can't take it anymore!" I really feel ok. Of course, I'm ready to know how my labor will begin...ready to know what my labor will be like...ready to know how the delivery will go...and ready to meet my new son! However, I'm being patient and trying to stay positive through some of those "down" moments that I've had the past week. We have a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning, and I'm hopeful that I've made some progress in preparation for the big event. I did plenty of walking today with my friend Dalia, her daughter Ava, and Noah today at the Children's Museum, which has brought on many more contractions than what I've had in previous days. Maybe just maybe they are getting me somewhere. Either way, God willing, we will meet this little guy no later than May 16th! Then we can reveal his cute little name, share his birth story, and start our lives as a family of four!!

Ryan and I have really been on a high in terms of our connection in our marriage. We have both put a lot of effort into taking care of each other the past few months, and I know it has helped us build a foundation as we prepare for the big transition that lies ahead. I don't know that I've ever felt closer to him in the 10 years we've been together! I can't wait to see him be a father to this little boy that has been growing and stretching in my belly for the past 40 weeks. I fell in love with him even more after Noah was born, and I know I'll be smitten all over again, taking our relationship to the next level. How exciting is that?!

As for Noah, my sweet boy, I get choked up thinking about how much he means to me. It's truly like seeing your own heart exist outside your body. He has the sweetest, most tender soul, and at the same time, his energy and spirit are both so happy, silly, and playful! I know he is going to be a great big brother, and my hope and dream for these boys is that they are the best of friends, forever and always being in each others' corners, loving each other, and taking care of each other. You know, when you have kids, I think it really gives you the opportunity to prioritize what you want most out of life. And I have to tell you, if at the end of my life, my boys love the Lord, have been safe from harm, and are happy with their lives, it will be all that I've ever wanted and more. Noah, I'm hoping someday you'll read these blogs I've written about our lives together - you, me, and your daddy - and I hope you can feel how much I love you, that you know I would do anything for you, and that you understand how easy it would be for me to give up my life for you. I love you and your daddy beyond anything I have ever known, and I can't wait to move into this next stage of life together, with your little brother baby brother joining us in this journey we call life. And as for you, little baby boy, keep growing strong, and know that your daddy and I will love you, take care of you, and provide for you in every way we know how. I can't wait to meet you!

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