Liam's Birth Story

To sum it all up:  Pain that I can't remember now, epidural, pitocin, fast labor, 30 minutes pushing, baby born, baby sick, NICU, 7 days at the hospital, love of my life.  

I wrote this in pieces the days after Liam's birth.  Some of it is a little choppy, but I was trying to remember every little detail and give people a vision of what my experience was like.  And it's long, very long...
So it all began…… June 17, 2011
The day was just another day, another day I thought would pass without a single sign of labor.  I had no prior contractions and not a single feeling that labor would strike later that evening.  I had lost my mucous plug two weeks earlier, but I had only been dilated 1 1/2 cm at the most, one day prior.   I didn’t even take my daily walk this day, which I had been doing throughout the week.  I did bounce on the exercise ball that afternoon for about 30 minutes, which I heard could induce labor.  I did this again later in the evening for another 30 minutes.  Everything was nice and clean around the house, in perfect shape for the arrival of our baby.  My appetite was low and I didn't end up eating much for dinner, though I had been cooking earlier that week (which was surprising since I hadn’t been into cooking for the past few months).   Because of the cooking and my cleaning frenzy, my mom kept telling me that I would have the baby soon. I didn’t think so.  I even blogged that evening, complaining that I felt like it would never happen.

8:40 pm- First contractions
I was standing in the kitchen eating a snack that I called dinner, when I felt a pain in my abdomen. It lasted maybe 45 seconds and it was painful enough that I had to stop eating.  At this point I wasn't sure if it was a contraction or not.

When I talked to my mom on the phone shortly after, I told her that I had felt a pain, like a strong menstrual cramp.  She was convinced that it was a contraction and assured me that I would have the baby in the next 48 hours.  When I hung up the phone,  I grabbed my iPod and opened my contraction counter app.  I was ready for the next pain, if it came again.

About 40 minutes since the last one, I had another pain.  By about 10:30 pm, I had experienced three of these pains.  By that time I had come to the realization that these were contractions.  At this point I had started bleeding too (sorry TMI?), pretty badly.  I know "they" say you will know when you go into labor and at first I was unsure, but at that point I knew. 
I decided I should get some rest, just in case this was the night.  But, of course that didn't happen.  At about 11 pm I had another contraction.  This one was about 20 minutes since the last. 
My husband, Brandon was at work, but I didn’t want to bother him yet.  He only had one more hour til he got off work and would be home with me.  I figured I wouldn’t be pushing out a baby before then, so I just waited it out.  I tried to sleep, but I was anxious and nervous and also in a bit of pain.

At one point I got out of bed, finished packing my bags and decided what I would wear to the hospital.  I text Brandon letting him know I was having contractions.  He called me when he was done with his shift at work and got home at about 12:30 am.  I got out of bed and ate a snack since I was starving and "dinner" had been interrupted by a contraction earlier.  I was feeling a little better now, mainly because I was not alone anymore.  I told Brandon to get some sleep because I figured we would be heading to the hospital sometime soon.  As he slept and I layed in bed, I didn’t wake him up.  Not even when the contractions started getting stronger.  Sometimes, he would stir awake and ask how I was doing.  I would moan and we would both try and go back to sleep.  I recall getting a little sleep, but not much.  Some of the contractions were too strong. 
At about 2-2:30 am, I wasn’t feeling so hot.  The contractions were getting stronger and even closer together, so, I decided to get up and try and take a bath.  The warm water felt good, but I remember some of the worst contractions came during the bath.
I tried to lay down again, but that wasn't working out for me.  I had the longest and most painful contraction yet and decided, that it was time for me to call the doctor.  The doctor on call was one of the ones that I did not particularly want for my delivery, so at first I was a little discouraged.  I left a message and he called back almost immediately- probably less than 5 minutes.  I told him that I was having contractions about 7 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds each time and that I was bleeding pretty heavily.  He asked me if I thought it was time to come to the hospital- (I thought this was weird, he should be telling me if it was time!) but, I felt ready.
I woke my Brandon up, I guess it was a little after 3:30 in the morning now.  He woke up quickly and seemed nervous and jittery.   I gave him time to get things together.  I got up, made the bed (thought about how lucky it was that I had cleaned early that week), brushed my teeth, got dressed, etc. We were ready to go in about 15 minutes.  I think about the I Love Lucy episode, when Lucy says she is going to have the baby and everyone panics and freaks out.  This was not like that at all.  It seemed like we had all the time in the world.

We were heading to the hospital in the dark of the highway on Liam's due date, June 18th.  My contractions were about 7 minutes apart still, sometimes 5.  I still didn’t want to tell anyone that I was going to the hospital since they only admit you if you are in active labor.  I let Brandon stop and get something to eat on the way there.  Though, I wasn't feeling up to eating at all.  The whole time he was eating the food smelled so unappealing that it was making me sick.

My husband was so excited that he would be a father soon.  He kept asking me if I was ready for all this.  I told him I was scared.   I was very emotional and cried a little.  I had a few contractions on the ride, but they weren’t too horrible.  Our drive to the hospital was about 20-25 minutes long.

4:30am- at the hospital…. (laboring)
When we got to the hospital, of course, I felt alot better!   My contractions were not nearly as strong as they had been.  When we got to the birthing center inside the hospital, I don’t even think I had any contractions.  I can’t really remember exactly what I was feeling at this time.  I know I was scared and a little excited and nervous all at the same time.  I did not know if I was ready for all this. And I definitely didn’t know if I would be able to stand all the pain, I hated it already.
The nurse checked me and said that I was maybe 3 cm dilated- 3 cm! What the? I thought I would be a little further along than that.  They couldn’t admit me because I was not 3 cm yet and my contractions were still a little irregular.  The nurse said she was going to call the Dr. and let him know which would determine what we would do next.  She told me to rest, put on the fetal heart monitor, and suggested I should try walking or showering in a little while to try and speed up the labor process.  One thing I do remember and something that I loved is that when they hooked me up to the monitor the baby’s heartbeat was playing out loud so that I could hear it.  It was sooo soothing and made me feel secure. It was the last time that I would be listening to my baby’s hearbeat in my womb.
I am not sure how long I layed in bed for.  I think Brandon and I decided we would try and get some rest. We didn’t turn on the tv or anything, just layed.  He might have gotten some sleep, but I did not.  I would moan in pain when a contraction came.  He came over and rubbed my back and tried to soothe me.

At some point the same nurse came back in, took off the fetal monitor and encouraged me to walk around.  We went out and walked the birthing center halls for probably an hour.  When I would get a contraction I would stop and hold onto my husband.  He would rock with me and support me as I tried to breathe through each contraction.  My contractions were only lasting about 45 seconds long and they were still about 7 minutes apart.  After a while I got tired of walking, so decided to get back in bed for a little bit.  When I had a contraction I would have Brandon dig his fist into my back or hold my hand.  At this point, the nurse said that at some point in the morning the Dr. would be in to check me, for now we were going to lay low in the hospital and wait it out.
I think at around 7am, a new nurse came in to check me.  I was now about 4 cm dilated.  I remember talking to her about how I wanted to do this naturally, but wasn’t sure if I could.  She told me that it takes the longest time to get to 6 cm, but after that, the time goes fast.  This was encouraging.

My husband and I rested in the room for awhile and then got up and walked around again.  After this walk when we got back to the room I remember saying to my him that I didn’t think I could handle the pain any more without an epidural.  I was scared and I was in pain and I knew it would only get worse.  At one point, I told Brandon to grab the trash can because I felt like I was going to get sick after a contraction, and I did.   I was starving at this point too, an empty stomach on top of a bunch of pain is not a good mix.  But, I was not able to eat.
We decided to call my mom.  We were going to be admitted to the hospital so we felt like it was time to start letting our family know what was going on.  We are so lucky to live close to family, so it wasn't going to take my mom long to arrive at the hospital.  I found out my brother was still in town, which was great.  And Liam’s Godparents were also in town!  It just seemed like such perfect timing to have this baby!  And to think that he might be born on his due date?  Amazing!  How could it all happen so perfectly?!
I decided to get in the shower.  It felt great, so hot and soothing.  I would spray the water on my belly when I would have a contraction, which made me feel a little better, but by no means took the pain away.  I stayed in the shower for about 45 minutes.  Through my entire labor, it was so hard for me to actually relax and breathe through contractions, I tensed up so much.  Even though I had read about the Bradley method and practiced it a bit, I didn’t use it at all.  I do have to say my husband was fantastic.  He helped me out so much, held my hand, and comforted me.  He tried to get me through the pain and I love him so much for that.
My mom had arrived by 9 am.  She showed Brandon a couple things he could do for me, to help ease the pain, like hold me from behind and support my belly.  She was really great at helping us through the pain.  She had done this naturally four times in her life which was inspiration to me.  I was so thankful to have her there, I couldn’t have done it without her!  
I got back into bed and stayed there for awhile.  When I would get a contraction, my husband and my mom would hold my hands or my mom would massage my legs or feet.  We played soothing music on her iPad, which was very calming, but it was all I could take.  I didn’t want the tv on or the playlist I made on my iPod.  I just wanted quiet or that music.

My doctor finally arrived after hours of wondering when he would get there.  He told us we needed to make a decision on whether or not we wanted to intervene in the birth process since I wasn't progressing very fast.  He suggested that when he checked me in a few minutes, that he could break my water.  The other choice was to just wait it out, which could take awhile.  My doctor left the room for a minute so that we could discuss our options.  Brandon and I talked about it and decided we would have him break my water to speed up the process.  This was something I was completely fine with and had no objection to throughout my entire pregnancy.  I was four centimeters dilated.  Since there had not been any progress since the last cervical check, we were even more set on our decision.  My OB went ahead and broke the water.  He said the baby’s head was sitting down very low.  He also had a hard time getting my water to break.  There was no gush, I guess just a trickle.
At that point I broke down and asked for the epidural.
I felt a little like I was letting myself down.  After all, I had been talking myself up for months- trying to convince myself that I could do it.  I've always been someone who doesn't handle pain well, so I should have realized right from the start that labor would be very difficult for me to endure.  Not only did I feel like I was letting myself down, but also my mom and all the people that had encouraged me to do it naturally.  After my water was broken, the pain came stronger.  It was bad, but I managed it for the time being.  My contractions still weren’t horribly long and they weren't coming too close together yet.  Sometimes they were random, like every 5 minutes, then every 3 minutes. But never lasting very long.  Some of them might have only lasted like 20 seconds.  Those weren't so bad.  
It took awhile for the anesthesiologist to come.  I had to get blood work and an IV inserted.  I hate IVs, they are extremely uncomfortable to me.  I was also told I would recieve medicine in my IV for my nausea because of how sick I had been feeling.  When the lab tech came in to draw my blood, right before she could get the needle in, I had a contraction.  It was a horrible one and threw up right after.  I knew then that I definitely needed the epidural and I needed it now!

Squeezing my frog to help during contractions
The epidural…
At about 11:30 the long awaited epidural arrived.  I was scared of the needle.  I was also scared that I would have a contraction in the middle of it and that the anesthesiologist would miss and I would be paralyzed.  Yes, paralyzed.  These were the things that had discouraged me from getting it when I was pregnant.  At this point though, I was already in so much pain and I had to make myself get over these thoughts.  When getting the epidural, I had to crouch over, leaning my forehead on Brandon.  This way, if I did have a contraction I could put all my weight and tenseness into his body.  When the epidural was inserted, I didn't even expect it.  There was no warning and before I knew it, it was over.  My legs started to get tingly like they were falling asleep. I could still feel them, but only a little.  When someone pinched me, I could still feel the pressure of it.  Right after I got the epidural I asked if I would be able to feel my next contraction and the anesthesiologist said- “you just had 2!”  I was so relieved!  I felt pain free and ready to have visitors and enjoy my labor.  Such a great feeling to have all that pain taken away in an instant.  A big plus to me was that I would be able to enjoy my labor now instead of having to go through it in pain.  A weird thing was though, that the epidural did make me very itchy after it was in.  I couldn't stop itching all over!
We agreed to start pitocin since I was progressing so slowly and since I had just gotten the epidural, things would probably slow down even more.  At that point people started coming to visit me, but the doctor told me I should probably rest because pushing is very tiring.  I was really nervous about pushing with an epidural because I had read so many things saying that it makes pushing much more difficult.  I tried to sleep, but it was hard because I couldn’t feel my legs and I couldn’t control my own position.  While I was resting a nurse came in and said that the babys heatrate was dropping with contractions.  She shifted my position and then gave me oxygen, so that more oxygen could get to the baby.

At some point around 1-1:30 I was about 5 cm dilated.  Things seemed to be taking forever!

My nurse came back a little while later (a little more than an hour, I think?) and checked me again and said that I was getting very close to pushing, which was pretty shocking!  I had progressed very quickly which was so weird since I had gotten the epidural.  The nurse had switched my position into the “queens position” which was sitting straight up with my legs crossed.  Apparently this would help the baby down and may save time when it came to pushing.  My husband and I waited in the room with my parents and inlaws.  My mom watched my contractions on the monitor and said that they were about a minute apart and some lasted for two minutes!  Ahhh, I can’t imagine dealing with a 2 minute contraction without pain meds!

Daddy waiting...
3:30 pm- PUSHING…
When the doctor returned, I was checked again and was told that the babys head was right there and it was time to start pushing.  All I could feel was some muted pressure.  Brandon and my mom were in the delivery room with me. We did a couple practice pushes.  With the practice pushes I also had to practice holding the bottom of my legs and pulling them back when I pushed.  I took deep breaths and held them and pushed my chin into my chest.

The pushing position was me on my back, the nurse down at the bottom, Brandon and my mom holding my legs.  This was hard for them because my legs were like dead weight, I couldn't feel them to do anything with them.  Its funny how when you are pregnant and have to expose yourself so much that you don’t care anymore.  I had no shame with the nurses or anyone else at all.  During my pregnancy, I had so much anxiety about all the uncomfortable moments that labor can bring.  You've heard the stories.  And it's completely normal and natural.  But, it still made me nervous.  Needless to say I somehow avoided all of those things.  We'll see about next time around...   
So, we started the real pushing.  The nurse would tell me when I was having a contraction and when to push.  At first it was just one deep breath and hold for the push- later it would be a couple of those.  The pushing was the hardest part, out of everything.  I was putting all I had into those pushes.  I can’t imagine how hard it would have been dealing with pain at the same time.  After awhile I was able to tell when I had a contraction, I would feel a strong amount of pressure and I determined when to push.  It was exhausting.  In between pushes I was so tired that I wanted to fall asleep.  I would just lay my head back and close my eyes and rest.  I remember everything felt kindof blurry during those times.

The worst thing during pushing was trying to hold my breath for so long and push at the same time.  I would push so hard and focus on the nurse, straight ahead.  My face felt so red and I kept feeling like I would throw up from holding my breath and putting all that pressure on my body.  I kept it in though, I knew I just had to push past it all.  At one point, not very long after I started pushing (which I was surprised this happened so quickly) the nurse said “look at all that brown hair!!”
Finally after much pushing, the head was crowning.  The nurse asked me if I wanted to feel the head.  I was a little hesitant, but decided to do it.  I'm so glad I did.  It was an amazing experience.  I cried because I had just touched my baby for the first time, my baby I’ve been longing to see and hold for 9 months.  It was time for Liam to come into the world.

My OB returned, shocked and proud of me for pushing only 35 minutes.  Everyone kept telling me that I had been doing such a great job.  I don’t think they expected me to only push for such a short amount of time, this being my first baby and having gotten the epidural.  I was proud of myself as well.
For me, this whole experience was filled with many different emotions. I was anxious to see my baby, but at one point when I realized he would be here soon, I broke down crying and said “I’m scared”.  My mom asked me why and I told her that I was scared of becoming a mom.  I was scared of my baby, scared of the unknown.  She told me not to be scared and comforted me.  I just felt such an adrenaline rush that I can't even explain.  The biggest rush I've ever felt.

4:07 pm- The birth!…
I heard the Dr. say something about the baby having a bowel movement in the womb.  The nurse called the neonatologist to come so that they would be able to help him if he needed it.  The Dr. told me to push a little bit, then stop, and then push a little once more.  I remember seeing him grab towards me.  Someone put a blanket on my chest.  I heard my mom saying “oh my god, Sarah” with tears in her eyes, and Brandon was looking down with love and shock at the same time.  From this point on, I don’t think I looked at anyone else.  I saw a head and then little shoulders.  The next thing I knew there was a baby on my chest, covered in goo, a little bluish and pink.  I heard the nurse say 4:07 pm, the time he was born.  The Dr. asked if Brandon wanted to cut the cord, and he did, though he had been unsure of this until now.  The doctor rushed him in doing so because Liam needed to get over to the neonatal doctor immediately.  Right then I started to think something was wrong.

I held my baby in awe, akwardly on my chest for about a minute before they took him back.  This was my Liam.  I couldn’t even see his face because he was turned away from me and I had so little time to admire him.  I couldn't even really tell who he looked like.  I did know that as I held him to me, he smelled funny.  I didn’t think babies were supposed to smell like this.  I started to cry, but Liam hadn’t cried yet, he was making a funny gurgling noise instead.  As the neonatal doctors were checking him out, I then heard Liam cry for the first time from across the room. I could barely see him because of all the people, but I could hear him.  Every time he would cry, I would cry and sob “ohh my god, oh my god!”  I will never forget that, hearing my baby's voice for the first time.

Liam seemed so far away from me and I kept hearing the neonatologist talking and what I heard, didn’t sound good.  My OB explained to me that my amniotic fluid did not smell right and that there must have been an infection of my placenta.  He kept assuring me that things were going to be okay.

The nurses said that my baby weighed 7 lbs and was 21 inches long.  I had been so curious about how much he was going to weigh and he was actually a little smaller than what I had expected.  He was very long though!  It made sense now why every time I was checked by a doctor they told me his head was really far down, but I hadn’t dropped.  It must have been because he was so long.
Things were kindof a blur at this point.  The neonatologist came over to me and explained that Liam had a bowel movement in the womb and that he had also swallowed some fluid.  He had been having some trouble crying (gurgling, strange cries) which made them suspect there was something wrong with his lungs.  They also suspected he had an infection, because of the foul smelling fluid.  They needed to take him to the NICU right away and monitor him for a few hours.  I was told he would come back to me soon.  A nurse brought him to me before he left for the NICU and I was able to hold him for just about a minute before he needed to leave me again.  I got a better look at him. It was so amazing to see him and touch him.

Right before he was taken away from me :(
Taken to the NICU…
When he was taken from me, I felt incomplete.  After all that work and all those months of having him right with me all the time, he was gone.  I was scared, frustrated, and sad.  I kindof felt blank.  I don’t even remember the Dr. leaving the room or anything.  I remember Brandon leaving to go tell everyone in the waiting room and I remember my mom, who was there with me the whole time.  Everything I had imagined for Liam's labor and delivery did not go how I planned it.  Not at all.  This was not how it was supposed to be.  I should be holding my baby right now and showing him off to my family.

I missed him, I felt empty and worried and nervous.  It was not a good feeling.  My mom asked me if she should tell people to wait to come in and see me and I said yes, I did not want to see anyone yet.  The nurse told me I could go see Liam as soon as the epidural wore off and I could walk.  I was still only told he would be in the NICU for a little bit.
When people came in to see me a little while afterwards, I didn’t really know what to say.  I tried to stay optimistic when I was asked questions, but it was hard because I didn’t even know what was going on.  At one point the neonatal doctor came in and explained that Liam had a small hole in his lungs from swallowing fluid.  The fluid had punctured his lungs.  He would need to be on oxygen to treat it.  They were also checking him for a few other issues, because they were sure he had some type of infection.   I was then told that Liam would be in the NICU for at least 2 days, if not more, depending.  I was blown away.  I did not expect this.

Liam was now able to have visitors and Brandon took his parents in first since I couldn’t go yet.  After Brandon had seen him he told me that Liam looked really good.  But, he had this oxygen bubble over his head.  Other than that, he looked nice and healthy.  My husband kept telling me how beautiful our son was. I wanted to see him so bad. I wanted to be with him. I felt so sorry for him, that he was all alone without the person who held him for 9 months.  I should be in that room with him.
The nurse came in and told me that she was going to help me go see him, even though the epidural had not worn off yet.  She brought me a wheelchair and another nurse to help me get situated in the chair.  Needless to say it was very difficult getting me in the wheelchair from the hospital bed, when I couldn’t feel a thing from the waist down.

In the NICU...
When I first saw Liam in the NICU, tears started to fall right away.  He was laying on a small table thing that had a light attached, shining down on him.  He had a plastic bubble surrounding his entire head, tubes up his nose for oxygen and all over his body monitoring his vitals.  A screen was flashing with the numbers of his heartrate, oxygen rate, and respiratory rate.  He also had an IV in his hand and a cast-like thing to hold it on. I felt so horrible for him- I hate ivs in the hand and could only imagine how uncomfortable that would be for a little baby.  He couldn’t put his hands near his face, but he kept trying.  The “bubble” was blocking him from doing so.  He was getting treated with antibiotics for the infection and the doctors needed to run more tests to find out if the infection had spread and where.  My poor little guy, just entered the world from a warm and cozy place and now he was dealing with all this pain.  I wondered if he knew who I was sitting there with him.  I couldn’t even hold him and comfort him.  This is not how I planned our first bonding session.  I wanted it to be the three of us in the hospital room, him on my chest with skin to skin contact. But, no, it was this- I could barely touch him.

I do have to say though that he was beautiful, even going through all of this. The color and touch of his skin was perfect- so smooth and no flaws whatsoever. His eyes were a little squinty from just being pushed out and a bit watery from eye drops, but they were dark and deep like an ocean. I couldn’t quite tell if they were brown or blue. And his hair, his beautiful dark hair covering his head- so perfect and soft looking. He was perfect, through all this pain and sickness he had, he was still perfect. I sat there with him, talking to him and wondering if he knew me and if he loved me.  
Liam was able to have visitors (one at a time with my husband or I), so we had family and friends come in to see him.  Everyone said how beautiful he was, they couldn’t stop staring at him.  It was a really good feeling, knowing Brandon and I had made something so beautiful.  Brandon took me back to the room so we could relax for a little bit.  My legs were still pretty numb, but I could feel them a lot more now.  The nurse told me I needed to lay down for a little while and relax.
We rested for a little bit and then went back to see him. We spent most of the evening in there with him and finally after many hours, we were able to hold him.  The hole had already closed up in his lungs and he did not have to have that oxygen bubble around him anymore.  Brandon held him first because he had not yet held him at all.  That had to be hard for him also.  I can’t remember what it felt like to get him in my arms, if it was awkward or if I knew what to do automatically.  But, I do know that it felt good.  We admired him and touched all his fingers and toes.

Saying goodnight to him leaving him to go back to our hospital room was hard.  I just felt like he was looking at me wondering why I was leaving him again.  Or maybe he didn’t even know who I was.  Both of those thoughts bothered me.
I didn’t sleep well that night. The epidural had worn off and I was in pain and uncomfortable.  It was very uncomfortable to sit down, though I had only torn a little bit.   I was still having some contractions, nothing too major, but it hurt.  Also, where they had given me the epidrual in my back, I was sore. It was a very uncomfortable feeling like pressure and I felt I couldn’t straighten out my back.  I didn’t like it and it freaked me out.  At first I told the nurses I did not need pain meds, but once all of the epidural was out of my system I took percoset and motrin both.  The nurses said both were okay to take while nursing.  I still had the stupid IV in my hand which I absolutely hated.  They didn’t want to take it out yet because I had gotten really dizzy and they may need to give me some more meds or fluids.  I got a few hours of sleep.  I was exhausted, but couldn’t sleep that well.

I swelled REALLY bad after delivery.  At one point I even called the Dr. to make sure everything was ok. My feet and calves were so swollen and hurt so bad that I could barely walk, especially, when I would get up in the morning.  They felt so tight.  I don't think it helped when I would sit with all the blood rushing to my feet as I was breastfeeding Liam in the nursery.  I tried to keep my feet propped up as often as I could, but it was hard to do so.  I think the swelling completely ceased a little over a week after delivery.
I was woken up at about 7 for breakfast and shortly after that I got a phone call.  It was the neonatologist. He explained to me that they needed to do a lumbar puncture, which would entail drawing fluid from Liam's spine to see if the infection was in his spinal fluid and had gone to his brain.  I needed to sign for the procedure and needed to do it immediately.  At this point, the doctor had also told me that my baby would probably need to stay in the NICU for 7 days instead of 2 to be treated for infection.  I stayed strong on the phone, my voice may have broken a little.  But, when I hung up, Brandon woke up and I broke into tears. He asked what was wrong and I could tell he was really concerned.  I told him what the Dr. had said to me. I was so upset.  Thankfully, my husband stayed strong and said that he was going down there to be with Liam for the procedure.  I did not want to go, I told him that I wouldn’t be able to watch.  I did not want to see my son in pain, but I also felt guilty not going down to be with him.  It was all so upsetting and emotionally draining.  Brandon went down to be with him and I asked him to call me when it was over and I would come down and see Liam.

When I got down to the NICU, Liam was fine.  Appparently he didn't shed a tear during the procedure.  I was so thankful and proud of him.  What a strong little baby.

A positive thing happened while I In the NICU at that time.  The nurses asked me if I wanted to try and start nursing Liam.  I was excited, but also a little nervous.  The lactation consultant was called down to give me some tips.  She was very encouraging.  At this point my milk hadn’t come in yet.  Even though it hadn't and we were just beginning, I felt very good about the whole experience.  It feels good to know that you can provide food for your baby and bond so closely while doing so.  I was able to sit there and just stare at Liam’s beautiful face.

At the same time, though it is stressful wondering whether or not the baby is getting enough to eat, etc.  Liam was so tired and sick that he did not do much work, so the whole experience became a little difficult for us.   Through the whole week of being there, I really appreciated the time I got to learn more about breastfeeding and to get help and tips.  That was a positive thing through all the stress.  My milk probably came in about the third or fourth day after Liam's birth.  I would pump after each feeding to increase my supply, which helped.

Sometime during that day in the hospital, which was my first full day, my Dr. came in to check up on me. Right when he came in and asked how I was feeling, I said “alright”, but got choked up and started to cry. I told him that this was really hard, not having the baby with me. He told me not to get discouraged, that the baby would be fine. His heart rate had not been in distress much during the labor and he was healthy looking.  He told me that this was nothing I had done, that it just happens sometimes.  My Dr. said that if anything I had probably saved his life by doing so well at pushing and getting him out quickly.  This was shocking to me and I’m not sure if it made me feel better or if it just made my mind wander more.
I forgot to mention that the next day after Liam’s birthday was father’s day, Brandon’s first.  I didn’t have anything for Brandon, except I’m pretty sure a new baby is the best gift you can have!  At this point we were waiting for a bunch of Liam’s tests to come back.  His lumbar puncture, to tell us if the infection had gone to his brain (which would be meningitis).  I was really scared of this one, meningitis is a scary word to hear.  We were waiting on blood cultures also to see if some things were going down (like protein) which would mean the infection was getting better.  It was stressful and I asked the nurses about it a lot. We always talked to them to make sure we fully understood what was going on.

We started to have visitors come more frequently on Father's day.  During our week in the hospital, we had at least one person every day come to see us.  It was tiring because I wasn’t getting alot of sleep, but it was so nice to see everyone and have their support and encouragement.  I don't think we had to buy a single meal that week for dinner.  Everyone always brought us food and goodies. We felt so loved.

I was discharged Monday at about 3 pm. We had been talking to the nurses about staying in an extra room (boarding at the hospital).  They do that for you when you have a baby in the nursery and you stay in an extra room for free for up to 48 hours if there is one available.  Then, after that you have to pay- if there is space for you to stay.  Instead of kicking us out, they told us about this apartment that they have in the hospital.  Usually it is used by parents who have premature babies- they get to bring the baby in the room with them and experience what it will be like to bring baby home.  It was unknown how long we would be able to stay in this room because the hospital was filling up so quickly with laboring mothers.  When we got to the apartment, we saw how nice it was! It was also basically right across the hall from the nursery, so we were really close to Liam.  
In the hospital, I got my sleep in pieces due to going to the NICU and nursing Liam.  I would set my alarm on my phone and wake up and go over to the nursery.  No matter how tired I was, it was always a joy to walk in there and see his little face.  I was told to change his diaper to wake him up a little before feeding him so he would be more awake.  One night feeding him was really stressful.  He was having problems eating because he was sick, he didn’t seem to be getting much milk and I was getting very upset.  It was so hard to see my child struggling to get food and I couldn’t really help him.  He was weak and tired and just wanted to sleep.  We used a supplemental nursing system to help him get more food (formula) while still nursing.  It was a neat concept, but I wasn’t thrilled at the fact that he was getting formula.  The nurses also asked me if they could feed him formula straight from a bottle for a little bit, so that he would get enough to eat.  That made me nervous and I asked if it would affect his ability to nurse.  I was told it wouldn’t be a problem, so I let them do it.

I remember that night going back to my room and crying because I felt like he was so sick and getting worse, not better.  I felt discouraged by not only the breastfeeding situation, but also because a nurse had mentioned to me that she thought Liam had a little jaundice, which really freaked me out.  She kept telling me that- “he is sick and very tired”.  It made me feel like he was not getting better.
Anyway, the week got better and better. Once we heard back that the lumbar puncture and blood cultures were good it was like my world just turned around.  I felt very hopeful and I could forsee us going home soon.  We were told that Saturday (one week from Liam's birth day) should be the day.

Saturday, June 25th- Liam’s Homecoming…
Saturday was the day we could take Liam home.   I remember when we finally heard on Thursday or Friday that he was coming home, I felt so relieved!  But, then I started to feel nervous when reality hit.  I now had to take care of my baby with my husband, by ourselves!  No more medical help from the nurses or monitors telling me if something went wrong.  
When we first were able to hold Liam without all the wires stuck to him and continuously beeping, it was wonderful. It was like holding a different baby.  We could move and walk around with him as much as we wanted, no more restrictions!  I loved it, he felt so nice in my arms. So little and light.

At the point of leaving the hospital Liam was back to his birth weight of 7 lbs.  That week he had dropped down to about 6 lbs 12 oz or something like that, so his weight gain was right on track.

Driving away from the hospital was almost like leaving my comfort zone, my safe house.  We had spent a whole week there with all the help in the world, everything handed to us.  Now we had to go back to reality- but not really “back” because we had never been in this situation before.  The past week, we had been surrounded by people who knew what they were doing and who could help our baby if anything were to happen.  In a sense, at the hospital we were able to relax a little knowing that we had extra help.  Now, I felt like I was on my own- even though I had my husband and everyone I love by my side.  I am not sure why.

As we entered our home for the first time as a family of three, it was strange thinking about how much our lives had changed since the last time we walked through those doors.  It was a little hard at first to get accustomed to our new life.  Changing the diapers and utilizing the nursery was so new to us.  I was still getting used to moving Liam around.   The first week in the hospital I was still a little uncomfortable handling him and I kept asking the nurses when I would feel like I wouldn’t break him anymore!
The first night at home, I rested as much as I could and took small naps.  I was still trying to catch up on sleep.  Everything felt so strange.   I felt out of it.  Reality hadn’t quite set in that I was a mom now.
Liam did well sleeping the first night at home. I think he would have slept longer if I didn’t have to wake him up.  Being home was strange to me because the last time I was there, I was pregnant and now I had a baby.  I just kept thinking that.  And really, the last time I was there I was feeling contractions, waiting for my world to change.   It was sooo different now.

The first week at home with Liam…..

The first week was a little hard. I started to get stir crazy being inside with the baby all the time. Especially, when my husband went back to work.  I felt like all I did was sit and feed the baby.  I do admit, I missed some of the things I used to do and the freedom that I had, which I did not now.  It is hard for me to change, but this change was so wonderful.  Brandon really helped me through everything.  He pushed me to get outside and take walks.  This did help, though I was reluctant to do so at first.  I was just a little emotional and sentimental and I didn’t really want to leave the baby just yet.  My hormones were all over the place.
I didn't have too many problems sleeping.  Liam would go back to sleep after each feeding and sometimes we would fall asleep on the couch together, which I loved.  The first few weeks I would jolt myself awake and start feeling and reaching around for him in the bed.  I was in a panic, pushing away pillows thinking he was in the bed somewhere and that I had fallen asleep with him.  I was so scared that he was suffocating somewhere in the pillows.  I do not even know why this happened, I never fed him in bed much and I never fell asleep with him in the bed.  I guess it was just a big fear of mine that I would do so.  One time, I even woke my husband up in a panic and asked him where the baby was!  It was frightening, even though Liam was sound asleep in the bassinet beside me.

Getting to sleep was a little nerve racking. I would have to check and make sure Liam was breathing every couple minutes before rolling over to sleep.  I would even feel his body to make sure I felt him taking a few breaths.  Once in the middle of the night, I had turned my alarm off that was supposed to wake me up to feed him and I let him sleep an hour or so longer than I should have.  I felt so horrible when I woke up and realized what had happened, like I had starved him.  
At Liam’s first doctors appointment he weighed 7.1 pounds.  At two weeks he weighed 7.5 pounds.  He was growing so well and melting our hearts day by day.  
Finally, I am finished writing Liam's birth story.  It has been a long journey and if you made it to the end of this page, I thank you for being so interested.  I wanted to try and remember every detail.  I also hope that I can inform others and paint a picture of how labor, delivery, and the first week after baby is born, may go.  I wouldn’t change anything that I did.  I believe I have learned so much from this experience.

My advice to other soon to be Moms is this:
Write a birth plan, it is a good way to let everyone know what you want out of labor and delivery, including yourself.  But, don't be disappointed if it doesn't go your way and try not to get discouraged.  I was afraid before I went into labor, but I should not have been.  Don't be afraid.  Your body takes over.  And although there will be pain, lots of pain, you won't really remember what it was like.  It will be over before you know it.  Afterwards, you will want to do it all over again because the gift you receive after months of waiting, is well worth it.  The birth of your child(ren) will be the best experience of your life.  There's nothing like it.  Take pictures. Write everything down.  And enjoy it!
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