Baby Liberty: A Birth Story

When I went in for a checkup at 37.5 weeks, I declined the routine exam. If those exams could somehow predict the future, I would've been all over it. But they don't. And they're uncomfortable. So my obstetrician found me sitting up fully dressed on the bed and announced,

"So.. 37 and a half weeks. I think it's time we induce this baby." 

"Sure, let's do it," I replied quickly, with only the smallest hint of sarcasm in my voice.

He looked at me blankly for a moment.

"Wow," he said. "And here I was trying to razz you for your non-interventionist Bradley Method ways. You don't miss a thing!" he chuckled.

I laughed a little. "Ooops... ummm... sorry to kill your joke?" The atmosphere in the room lightened as I lay down and he measured my belly. For a medical doctor, he really was understanding, and we appreciated it. 

He asked about contractions and recommended stripping the membranes to get things moving. I said we were just waiting for the contractions to to turn into something. And declined the membrane stripping.

The following week I reported several days in a row of contractions about 3-5 minutes apart, beginning in the early evening, getting strongest from around 10pm-1am, and then waking me up frequently throughout the night. My doctor gave me a long look, and said rather good naturedly,

"You really are hard to work with," as he helped me sit back up. He knew I wasn't having any of the membrane stripping business, and didn't care to know the condition of my cervix either. I felt happy to know he was on call that night, anyway, in case anything should happen. 

"We'll get there," I smiled. I was somewhat expecting to go into labor anytime with the previous weeks' history. But I knew things could also go on this way for quite a while.

A couple days later, I was really tired. I wouldn't normally try anything to induce labor before my due date, but... I was really tired of the contractions. It had been over a week of early labor every night. So on Halloween I pulled out my trusted old friend blue cohosh (what jump started my labor with Verity), and took a happy toddler trick or treating in our hilly neighborhood. I figured if those two things didn't do it... then she just really wasn't ready yet. 

And as it turned out, she wasn't. She stayed put. 

Over the weekend, things slowed down a little and I was able to get a little rest. Armed with those few hours of sleep, I stocked up on all our favorite foods, cleaned, and completed some projects for the baby. 

Come Monday, I was starting to feel anxious. My due date was on the horizon. I knew with my next appointment I'd be needing to schedule extra appointments for ultrasounds and non-stress tests to check up on my "late" baby, and that before long I'd find myself talking about induction options. Or rather... fighting them. I was dreading all of it.

I was never diagnosed with postpartum depression after having Verity. I'm not one to become depressed. Mainly because my need for productivity and fear of failure trumps any and all feelings to the opposite extreme. For me, the postpartum craziness manifests itself more in the form of anxiety than anything else. I am always on the lookout for signs of anxiety. 

So on Monday night, I was already anxious. About going past my due date and the possibility of induction, but more than that.. anxious about the anxiety I knew I'd be facing postpartum. I was so worried. 

The thought crossed my mind: I wonder how much of this is psychological...What if I'm the one who's not ready?

I pulled open my macbook and began to compose a letter to Liberty, in hopes of clearing some of anxiety from my mind, and preparing myself to meet my little one.

The next morning I woke up about 6:30 and something just kinda felt different. My contractions seemed more deliberate than the ones I’d been having up until then. I tried to go back to sleep, but it was pretty useless. I got in the shower and the contractions continued, about 3-5 minutes apart. They were even getting stronger. As I opened the shower door, I paused for a contraction and out my mouth and heart spewed the words,
"Libbie, I can't wait to hold you!" I was so filled with joy at the recognition of her coming, that my eyes filled with tears. Happy tears. This is was really it!

I woke up my Husband and told him to go make me a good breakfast cause I was going to need it. He was excited. But I never got to eat that breakfast… I started feeling too nauseous. We didn’t really have everything packed, so Husband got the last of things together over the next hour and half or so while I labored on my hands and knees (leaned over on the couch) and was in and out of the bathroom. Contractions were about 2-3 mins apart at this point, although not overpoweringly strong yet. Just enough to need the help of my coach.

We arrived at the hospital at 10:30. We checked in at Labor and Delivery and the nurse immediately discovered one of my number one grievances after I told her my name.

"Is that.. A...a...??" 

"No. It's E-R-I-N."

"Dumb ass," I whispered under my breath as Husband and I walked away. What is it with westerners and not knowing how to spell my name?!

Clearly, the nurse (her name was Roxanne) and I didn't get off on the right foot. 

We reported briefly about my contraction history over the last couple of weeks and that morning. 

"So, you're sure this is the real thing?" Roxanne asked me.

"Uh, yeah," I said definitively. Why don't they ever believe me when I do this?

The nurse checked me and said I was at 2-3 cm and 25% effaced (which didn't help convince her that I was actually in labor). So they didn’t admit me. Instead they hooked me up to the monitors for 20 minutes and told me to walk around for a while. And the walking was a good idea, because things had really slowed down since we got there. So I paced around our room, not wanting to go for a stroll in my classy hospital gown, leaning on Jordan or any nearby furniture during contractions. The pain in my back was very strong, but between contractions I was just ducky. Our friend and photographer, Heather, showed up and we both started feeling like we may have gotten ahead of ourselves in going to the hospital. Contractions had spaced to about 4-7 mins apart.

Walking got things back on track pretty quickly.

Roxanne came back in to draw blood for admittance and run another 15 mins on the monitors. I couldn’t keep still enough for the monitors to stay put though, and neither could the baby. I felt her turn from posterior to anterior and the monitors lost her. The nurse was irritated with me. She had students there observing things, and I guess I wasn't the most cooperative patient. The pain in my back just would not allow me to be in any other position but on my hands and knees. So I had to deal with them trying to draw blood during active labor… which was hardly successful (I have small veins, and they roll), and they just gave up after two failed attempts and settled with the half a vial of blood they managed to get. They were going to give me the hep lock then but decided to wait until I was in the tub and more comfortable. Roxanne checked me again, at 4cm and 50% effaced. She decided to “let me stay.” 

Husband helped me off the bed and across the room to the jacuzzi. 

"Why are we doing this?" I moaned. As soon as those words were out of my mouth, we both realized how far my labor had actually progressed. 

The jacuzzi saved my life, let me tell you. I wasn’t in there long before we knew I was in transition. Extremely powerful contractions one on top of another. It was really hard. Husband was fantastic. He was so excited, and positive, and encouraging. 

"You're doing so great! We're almost there!" he cheered.

The water, the jets, Husband putting counter pressure on my back.. I just couldn’t have done it otherwise. 

The nurse came in with the doppler to check on the baby, and again… got really irritated with me because she couldn’t reach, and the idea of holding still for five minutes seemed impossible. She told me I had to get out and lay down on the bed with the monitors, or use the ambulatory one outside the tub. I told her I absolutely couldn’t do either of those. So I did my best to be still through 2 contractions in transition… halfway out of the water. Oh, gosh. It was a little silly. Jordan asked why they needed to get 5 minutes, and of course, it’s to make sure the baby’s not in distress. The absence of pitocin and epidural drugs could have told them as much, but I was past arguing at that point. I just did my best to work with them.
Transition is incredibly frustrating. I was cranky. There may have been a few angry comments to Husband and others. Like when folks started chit-chatting mid contraction, or let the jets turn off, or when that stupid rubber ducky thermometer kept bumping me. What the heck is that hitting my butt?! There may also have been a few disheartened comments from me. I don't want to do this! Followed by lots of love and encouragement from my Husband. He is one seriously great labor coach.

It seemed to me like a decent amount of time had passed in the tub, and we’d be getting close to second stage. I asked Husband how long I’d been in there, and he said about 35 minutes. That helped a LOT. I knew transition usually lasts about 20-35 minutes. And as hard as it was, I knew I could handle a few more contractions. 

And this is where this story gets kinda hilarious… cause I was waiting for the urge to push, but didn’t quite feel it. I was waiting for contractions to space out, for my burst of energy before it came time to push, but it didn’t happened that way. I was on my knees, hands over the edge of the tub, head resting on the edge. I felt a TON of pressure, and tried pushing a little but it didn’t feel quite like time yet. I didn’t let on that I’d tried pushing cause they’d make me get out of the tub, but I did mention the pressure. Oh.. the pressure. So maybe one or two contractions later, I tried pushing again and my body just took over. I shouted out, 

“She’s coming!” and felt her crowning. 

The staff was in absolute chaos. There were like 2-3 nurses and like 2-3 more who were students observing, all rushing into the bathroom. Roxanne yelled at me, 

“You cannot have that baby in the tub!!” 

Second push.. her head was out. My water broke. Third push… I delivered the rest of her body and Husband caught her. I stood up and pulled her around in front of me. It was chaos. Which is really funny now. And at the time, we didn’t care. It was just amazing. 

So I climbed out of the tub, carrying her in my arms, umbilical cord still attached, and walked across the room. I got on the hospital bed and Dr. Cox showed up, looking rather amused.

"Hi, Dr. Cox." I laughed.
I would never have guessed I’d have such a short second stage. 60 seconds. One contraction. Simply awesome.

The doctor (and a resident who was also present) asked me to lay back on the bed, and again.. on account of the back pain, I couldn't. Mid contraction, he asked me calmly,

"What would you like us to do?"

But before I could answer, I gave a little push and delivered the placenta. Problem solved.

"Okay, I'm good," I said, leaning back to reclining. 
I latched her on and she started nursing right away like she’d always known how. It was so sweet! Dr. Cox asked if it was alright to clamp and cut the cord, cause it had stopped pulsing, and we did. They then gave a few shots of anesthetic and began the repair as Husband and I gazed lovingly at our little one and talked about her features. She looks so different from her sister!

There is such a surreal, magical feeling, holding your newborn in the delivery room. Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the hospital staff going about their duties, everything slows down. It's like time and everything else just stops, and you're there.. smiling into the face of a little tiny person straight from heaven. It is absolute, pure bliss. 

She was so calm, she didn't even cry. At one point I remember Dr. Cox's voice asking,

"Erin? Does she have a name?"

"Liberty," I answered, savoring that precious moment of announcing the name we'd chosen for her. "Her name is Liberty."

Libbie was born one year and five days from the date of my miscarriage. I can hardly believe how blessed we are to have had another baby so soon after that loss. The term "rainbow baby," the baby after a miscarriage, fills my eyes with tears. She is my rainbow baby.

Husband later told me, as we recounted all the details of Liberty's birth, that when he lifted her out of the water, he lifted her out of her sac as well. She was born still inside it, or born in the caul, as they call it. It's extremely rare for a baby to be born in the caul (about 1 in 80,000), and used to be considered a sign of good fortune for the child, or a sign of supernatural protection. I wish I had seen it with my own eyes. Still, knowing she was born this way, means a lot to me. It makes it all even more special. It makes her even more special.

We left the hospital the next day and headed home. The past three weeks have been full of ups and downs, of love and tears, and getting to know this little angel who's joined our family. We are so grateful for a quick, safe, and easy delivery, and so grateful for another beautiful birth experience. Libbie is perfect. We love her dearly.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Erin and Jordan on a birth well done! Our last baby was born in the caul too and she is very special now at 16! Welcome to earth little Liberty!! :-)


hey, thanks for reading! leave some love, will ya?