The Homebirth of Liam Henry
I had started having Braxton Hicks at 13 weeks, lucky me! They would always pick up when I went walking or if I was on my feet a lot in a day so I was pretty accustomed to them as 40 weeks grew closer and closer. I also had myself fairly convinced that I would go at least 41 weeks. At 37 weeks my Braxton Hicks had gotten much stronger and were coming 8-10 minutes apart. I was in disbelief that I could be in labor but the contractions were what I had read true contractions could feel like; starting in the lower back and wrapping towards the front of my belly. Little did I know these would last almost exactly 2 weeks.
On Friday night, the 6th of April, it was late and my husband was at work and normally I had been going to bed before he got home (a little after 11 p.m.) but this night I just couldn’t. I was cleaning and organizing and just a general sense of “hurry up and get things done”. I remember texting my husband and telling him that I was pretty sure that I was going into labor. He asked me a few questions and when he came home that night we just went to bed, waiting.
In the morning, I woke up about 10AM with contractions. These were even more different than the Braxton Hicks at the beginning of the pregnancy and different than the ones that I’d had the 2 previous weeks. They were even more painful and I started timing them, 8 minutes apart still. Darn. I thought I really was going into labor. As that hour progressed though, they became 6 minutes apart. I kept an eye on how far apart they were but I tried to keep myself busy. About noon, I decided it was probably a good idea to make sure we had snacks and easy meals in the house just in case this was really it. By the time we made it to Walmart the contractions were about 1 ½ to 2 minutes apart. They were definitely uncomfortable and I had to stop walking during most of them but as it was the day before Easter, it was pretty packed so I welcomed the distraction of all the people as we gathered our last minute items.
We were home by 2 PM and I called Cindi. She advised that we try to keep ourselves busy and to keep her updated. I called again at almost 4 PM just to let her know that they were still close but not really much of a change, uncomfortable but definitely manageable.
We decided it would be best to have some friends over that night for our weekly “game night” and it was slightly miserable playing Phase 10 and Skip Bo while having contractions but I stuck through it and we laughed and had fun and I was able to relax. At this point, I still didn’t believe I was in labor. I remember at midnight, we all said “Happy Easter” but we kept playing and enjoying each other’s company. They left about 2 AM and Kyle and I prepared for bed. When I went to the bathroom, I noticed I had lost my mucous plug! It looked complete and not like I was losing bits of it. I just stared at it and was shocked. I told Kyle as we were getting into bed and we were excited, maybe this really was it. I told him to make sure to go to sleep because it could be a long day. I lay there for the next hour wondering if we were going to have an Easter baby and trying to relax between the contractions that were still 2 minutes apart.
I was just starting to doze off at 3:30 AM when I felt a pop and a gush and was shocked that my water just broke. I woke up Kyle and he jumped out of bed and whipped his head back and forth confused for a few seconds as to what to do. He turned on the light and grabbed a few towels so that I could make it to the bathroom. We called Cindi right away and she thought it was great but that we should try to get some more rest because it would be a long day and after getting off the phone, I started trying to clean myself up when the first contraction hit after my water broke and it hit me like a freight train. This one was easily more intense than anything I’d felt. I could barely hold myself up. I tried taking a shower, letting the water hit my lower back to try and provide relief but 2 more contractions in there and I was in terrible agony. The contractions were coming with only about a minute break in between and I started shaking uncontrollably. After a couple more of these contractions, I asked Kyle to call Cindi because there was no way I was going to be able to go back to bed and I was scared that if this was what I was going to experience all day, I wasn’t sure if I would make it. Cindi directed us to try a few comfort measures such as the shower and to try a bath and to call her back in an hour to update her.
I tried getting in the bathtub but only lasted one contraction on my back, one on my right side and one last one on my left side that seemed to go on for almost 5 minutes, it just kept coming in waves. I wrapped myself in a towel and had Kyle help me lay on the couch, still shaking and starting to moan through contractions. I could barely think between them, I was just mildly aware that Kyle was there trying to keep me relaxed and calm. I tried to lay on my back and again on my side but just could not find a position that was comfortable but also was in too much pain to try and move to see if I could find another comfortable position.
About 5:30 AM, Kyle called Cindi again to update her and she said we could start filling up the birth pool and that she was starting to get around to head our direction (couldn’t have heard better news at that point!). About 20 minutes later I was starting to get so nauseous that I made my way towards the birth pool where the trash can was set up and I immediately started vomiting. As the contractions came after that, I realized that I was grunting and that my body was pushing for me. All I could think was “Cindi isn’t here, can we do this without her here” and I was terrified to tell Kyle that my body was pushing but Kyle had heard me grunting and seemed to know already and started preparing a tablecloth for me to kneel on just in case. Kyle again called Cindi and called Nicole, the birth photographer, and went back to helping me and making sure the birth pool was filling.
Between 6 and 7, Jessie the birth assistant arrived and I remember her talking to Kyle and asking if he was okay to catch Liam if he came before Cindi arrived and I knew that he would be great and he affirmed he knew what to do and was ready for it. Nicole and the midwife Marilyn showed up shortly after 7 after I had been laboring on the floor on my knees, leaning against an exercise ball. After Marilyn showed up, I was able to get into the birth pool and the relief was immediate.
The next hour was my true test of strength. I wasn’t really bearing down with my contractions even though my body was trying because I was first afraid that Cindi wouldn’t be there and then later because I just don’t think I was mentally ready. I labored in the pool, leaning over the side and grasping the handles and just letting the contractions come. Kyle was such a help, some contractions I didn’t want him to touch me at all and others I knew he must’ve been rubbing my lower back so hard that his fingers would hurt the next day (though he swears he was barely applying pressure), but we kept making it through each contraction as it came. I barely heard Cindi start to come in but was aware of her getting everything ready and just a feeling of relaxation came over me, this was really it…I was going to meet my son soon!
I was still leaning against the side of the pool and still not really pushing, though. I tried a couple of “trial” pushes and they just didn’t feel right to me, it felt like he was hitting my tailbone at such a harsh angle that I must not have been doing it right. I know I looked at Marilyn then and said that I didn’t think I was doing it right but she just looked at me and with such confidence said “You’re doing great”. I went through a few more contractions and Cindi suggested that I try another position to see if it would make things easier and I know that I just shook my head “no”. As I went through the next contraction, though, I knew I had to make that mental decision that Liam really was coming and that despite all the supportive people there, I was the only one that could bring him earthside.
Another wave of calm washed over me and I turned to Kyle and told him to sit on the stool in the tub so that I could lean back against him and just started pushing. It was such an overwhelming experience feeling him come down but I instinctively knew that what I was doing was right and was best for the both of us and so I continued. As he started to crown, Cindi and the others helped direct me to just let him gently stretch my perineum and it took all the concentration I had to keep him from slipping back up but to not also push him out further. That was easily one of the hardest things I had ever done, the pain was so intense and I knew that if his head was out or back in then it wouldn’t hurt that bad anymore but I stayed disciplined and listened to what they were telling me. I know I kept saying over and over again “It hurts, it hurts so bad”. If I thought the contractions were bad, the crowning was worse but I just kept mentally reminding myself that he was almost here. Before I knew it, his head was out and then he was completely out and I was holding him. At 8:25 AM, Liam Henry Constable was born into my hands. I pulled him out of the water and he just looked at me for a long moment, it was so strange seeing this little person whose face I had never seen before but I instantly knew like my own heart. Kyle and I just held him and marveled at his little slippery body. Kyle and I started singing “You are my Sunshine” to Liam, it has such a special place in mine and Kyle’s relationship and it meant so much more with this tiny human who instantly fit into our little family.