Monday, January 16, 2012

Reflections On The Pains Of A "Labor" Of Love

Due to the craziness of my often more than full-time job and my pregnancy-induced tiredness I haven’t blogged in forever.  I think that it’s fitting that my first post be about the reason I now have a lot more time to post, the birth of Liam.  I also apologize in advance for the length of this post.  It might be best to take it in stages :-)

Since mid-December I’ve just had this inkling that I wasn’t going to last until my due date, January 25th.  Call it what you will (a mother’s intuition, God giving me a heads up, etc) but I just knew (though clearly I didn’t heed). From that point on my constant prayer was, “Please God, wait until after my last day of work on the 6th!”.  I did not want to have to leave parts of my job undone if I left early so each day, and multiple times each day I prayed that prayer.

Thankfully God answered my prayer and I didn’t go into labor before the 6th.  Instead I went into labor on the 8th!  To give you a little idea of how unprepared we were Monday was going to be my “baby clothes washing day”.  I had just sorted them into sizes on Saturday and was planning to wash all the newborn clothes on Monday.  I was going to pack my suitcase on Saturday as well but got distracted by the many tiny little baby clothes I was sorting.  And on Tuesday I was going to head to Babies ‘R’ Us and finish buying things off our registry that we needed but hadn’t gotten at showers.  As of right now, we still haven’t gotten out to buy those, but you know what, I’m ok with that because I’ve got the sweetest little man and the sweetest husband who make me forget about all the things I wanted to have in order.  

Apparently my nesting instinct was either a) inhibited by the craziness of my last two weeks of work or b) wasn’t on the same time table as Liam because all of last week, which consisted of midnight feedings and diaper changes, was supposed to be my time to get everything ready and the house cleaned!

Sunday at church I was pretty uncomfortable and was wondering how in the world I was going to make it feeling that way until the 25th, or even February, because that’s what I had mentally prepared myself for.   Kind ladies at church kept asking me how I was doing and how much longer I had and I would say, “until the 25th, but I’d be happy to go before then!”.  I even said that Sunday night to several people while having contractions; granted I didn’t know at the time that they were contractions.  

That night I headed up to bed at 10:30pm so I could try to get comfortable.  Will came to bed at 11 just when I went downstairs to search my pregnancy books for what contractions were really supposed to feel like as the pains and discomfort seemed to be coming at regular intervals.  Everyone kept telling me that my abdomen was supposed to tighten, that they would be regular, and that “you’ll know”.  Clearly I didn’t because apparently I’d been having them all day!  I finally found a definition of contractions that better seemed to explain what I was going through and decided to start tracking them a little after 11.  

Due to our distance from the hospital my doctor had said to call when my contractions were 5 minutes apart for 2 hours.  Around midnight, after an hour of tracking I knew they were 5 minutes apart and gaining in intensity and frequency with each contraction.  I went upstairs and woke Will up with, “I don’t think you’re going to be going to work tomorrow”, followed by, “I need you to go to Meijer and get toilet paper (we were almost out) and shampoo and a robe”.  I’m pretty sure he thought I was a little crazy because at this time I don’t think I had mentioned the word contraction or baby or “it’s time” or anything like that.  I finally explained what was going on and he was up and out the door in a hurry.  In the meantime I began packing that suitcase I should have packed Saturday and took a shower.  By the time he got back around 12:45am (after brilliantly deciding to fill up our car with gas) my contractions were less than 4 minutes apart and I couldn’t talk through them.  He called the doctor at 1am and they told us to head in.  What happened next included the fastest 5 hours and 47 minutes I have ever experienced.  

We left our house around 1:15am and let’s just say we drove REALLY FAST to the hospital.  I kept alternating between telling him to slow down where cops usually park and politely asking yelling at him to nevermind and speed up or we wouldn’t make it to the hospital.  By the time we got to the hospital around 1:45am my contractions were less than three minutes apart and I wanted an epidural NOW!  They got me upstairs to maternity triage where they said some of the scarier words of the night, “you might not be able to have an epidural if your platelets are low” because I had high blood pressure.  

After hooking me up to two IV’s, one that had fluid and one that had Stadol, they were trying to find additional places to draw blood to check my platelet levels.  They tried 4 different places on my left hand/arm and 3 different places on my right hand/arm with the 7th time being the charm (if you can call it that).  All the while a nurse is trying admit me and is asking me questions like “How do you learn best: hearing, seeing, or doing?” while I’m in the midst of contractions so fierce I wanted to tell her that I learned best when people were quiet and not asking me questions!  By that time they decided to admit me and moved me to a labor and delivery room.  

I got to L&D around 3am and spent 3am-4am answering more questions and finally getting my epidural.  By 4am I was resting quite comfortably with my epidural and between the Stadol and epidural I was flying pretty high.  They told me that I would have a few hours to rest as I was only dilated to 5.  I praised God for the epidural and the time to rest as it had been quite some time since I had slept.  At 5am a nurse came in to check me and said, “Oh wow, you’re dilated to 10, I think it’s time to push!”  She got the doctor’s go ahead and between my wonderful Will and the fantastic nurse they talked me through the contractions and helped me know when to push.  Quite frankly I after I got the epidural I was not at all afraid of delivery and was trying to crack jokes in between contractions and pushing.  

Unfortunately there were several times throughout the pushing process when I had to stop to, um, vomit.  If you know me you know I HATE to throw up so this was the absolute worst time I could think of to have to do that.  On top of that I couldn’t have anything to drink and I couldn’t chew gum because, “…you might swallow it”.  Apparently some women can’t deliver a child and chew gum at the same time.  In hindsight I’m quite thankful for the vomiting because it helped progress Liam along to the point where I only needed another 3 pushes and he was out!  Apparently in the world of labor and delivery each time you vomit it counts as a push….who knew?  It was now 6:47am and I had been pushing for a little over an hour and a half.  

They immediately placed him on my chest to rub some of the yuck off him and then took him to the warmer to finish cleaning him off because, little did I know right then, I was losing a lot of blood, fast.  Suddenly there were 2 doctors and about 7 nurses hovering around shouting out ideas to stop the blood and then handing Liam off to Will who was standing in the corner. All of this was a blur to me as I started to feel light headed and my body started to feel heavy.  This was when I had my first moment of fear.  I felt completely and utterly drained and have been told that I looked extremely pale and still.  

Through the haze of medical personnel I was able to look over at my two guys, Will holding our son, and I was afraid that the bleeding wasn’t going to stop and I wouldn’t get to see them again.  This may seem melodramatic but in my post-pregnancy hormone stupor it was my reality.  I prayed a quick but heartfelt prayer that God would deliver me from this problem just as He had helped me deliver Liam.  And He did.  And I am so thankful He did because my first week as a mother has been an amazing blessing.  

They were finally able to stop the bleeding in a last ditch effort that was going to be the last thing they tried before they prepped me for surgery.  In the end I found out that I had lost 2 ½ liters of blood.  The average adult has 5 liters of blood in their body so I lost about half of my blood!  

Shortly after they stopped the bleeding they started transfusing two bags of blood into me. I started to perk up enough to joke about how glad I was that I had donated so much blood over the years.  It was a very surreal experience to look up at the IV stand and see someone else’s blood being pumped into my body but I’m thankful to that person for their gift.  After I was stabilized they brought Liam to me and Will and I were finally able bond with him as a little family.

Something else that I learned just this past Saturday while Will was recounting his perspective of the story to his parents was that when Liam was born the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck.  The doctor calmly unlooped the cord and said that there was nothing to worry about, it happened quite often.  I remembered her saying that but thought she must have been talking about how I had maintained a lot of my “bag of waters” which “broke” after Liam was delivered.

All in all it was an easy delivery, but a long recovery.  But you know what?  I would gladly go through it all over again just to be able to hold the sweet, cuddly bundle that is my Liam and to hear my Will sing to our son in the middle of the night.  As I feel Liam begin to stir for a feeding I think about how God has blessed me beyond anything that I could ever deserve and I am so grateful for His grace, love, and mercy. 


  1. I love your blog, Ashley! Thanks for sharing your birth story - what a blessing!

  2. Wow! That brought tears to my eyes. I had no idea how dire the situation was for you with your loss of blood, but am so thankful to God for showing the doctors what to do and for letting you be with Will and Liam. What an amazing story! I love birth stories; they're all so different and exciting :) And what a precious little blessing Liam is!

  3. Ahhhh...loved all the details! :) You have a great story and it is bringing back all those "first baby" feelings - precious and special! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Wow, Ashley, what a traumatic birth, I'm so glad that you are doing well now and that the doctors and nurses were able to help you so quickly.

    Congrats again on your precious little son.