Liam Lance: A Birth Story

Thursday, May 1, 2014

On Sunday, April 13th we went on a walk with Daniel, Hannah, and their boys at Parque Taqueral. I was complaining that I hadn’t felt a single braxton hick in 2 weeks, and was convinced that this little man did not get the memo that he wasn’t supposed to stay in there forever.

We had a good time on the walk... still nothing. But at 3AM I woke up to some mild period-like contractions. I couldn’t fall back asleep, since every time I was just about to another contraction would wake me up. Contractions were long but far between (around 30 minutes apart) until around 9, when they seemed to be petering off. So I decided to go to the gym, and see if I could get things moving. Just as I was reaching down to tie my shoes, the largest contraction that I’ve had up to that point hit and took my breath away. I decided I should probably pack my hospital bag first, just in case. From that point on, the contractions were coming every 10 min or whenever I changed positions (i.e. standing up, sitting down, bending over). 

Little did I know this would be my last bump picture!

By 5pm the contractions were around 5 minutes apart, so I took a long shower and insisted we go through with a dinner we had planned with a bunch of friends. I figured it would be the perfect distraction, and it was! So much fun.

When we came back, we got ready for bed and tried to fall asleep around 10. I really tried to sleep since the previous night had been rough, and likely I would be having the baby tomorrow. But lying down only seemed to the make the pain worse. So eventually I got up and hung out in the living room. Thankfully Hilary was around so we were texting back and forth, which I needed desperately.

The next 3 hours I paced around the living room, leaning over the couch and swaying during the contractions, and took another long shower. By 1:30AM dealing with the pain alone was starting to get to me. At this time my contractions were consistently 3.5-4 minutes apart and I called Dorothe (my doula). I felt horrible about waking her up, but like I said I was starting to get desperate.

When she arrived at 2:30, I was dilated to a 4/5. I was pretty happy with that. I got on my exercise ball and that helped a lot with the pain. I sat there for the next 3 hours until we checked again around 5:30, to decide whether we should leave for the hospital before or after rush hour. I was at a 6 so we decided to wait.

The next check was around 9, and I was sure we were ready to head out. The past 3.5 hrs had been the hardest so far, and I was expecting good progress. Unfortunately I was at a 6/7 and that was really discouraging. I was happy to still be progressing, but I couldn’t believe how slow it was going! I was at a 4/5 nearly 7 hours ago! Also the contractions felt like they were overlapping with back labor and pressure from him descending.

After texting back and forth with my doctor, she suggested we leave for the hospital around 9:45 and she would meet us there. We grabbed our hospital bags and headed out.

The car ride seemed to take forever. The contractions were incredibly strong, and I was SO grateful that we decided against staying with our doctor in São Paulo. Nobody seemed to think that a long car ride (minimum 2 hours) was a big deal, but I beg to differ! Alex was so crucial during this part. He would guide us in breathing together, while my eyes were tightly shut to block out the traffic and anything else.

Priscila (my doctor) was late in arriving and we needed her there to fill out some forms. It felt like we were waiting in that stupid room for ages! I could practically feel everyone in the waiting room staring at me, and I can't really blame them. I was teary eyed, swaying obsessively, and of course intense breathing. The pain coupled with a distracting and hectic atmosphere was making concentration so much more difficult- and therefore managing the pain. Whenever someone asked me a question I could barely manage a whisper in response, all my energy was invested in focusing through the pain.

By the time my doctor arrived and checked me (an hour and a half later), I was at a 9. This was when it got bad. For this, they brought me into a temporary room that appeared to be a doctor’s office with a large desk and medical bed. Alex and Dorothe were downstairs filling out paperwork, and it was just the doctor and I. 

Her checking me was really painful, but I realized after a bunch of water gushed out that it was because she was breaking my water. After doing so, she got back up and went to sit at the desk. In a panicky voice I asked, “did you just break my water??” She looked up dismissively, said yes, and went back to whatever she was doing on the computer. I was now soaking wet and alone, and suddenly the pressure seemed to skyrocket. Naturally, I started to panic. Was I going to have this baby here, without Alex?? She told me we would be changing rooms soon, but when I told her I was soaking wet she just motioned to a paper towel dispenser across the room. I shuffled over there, totally baffled, and tried to mop myself off. Then threw up. This room, that didn’t look like it was supposed to be used for this type of thing, was quickly turning into a disgusting mess. Water everywhere (and I was continuing to leak), and now throw up all over the floor and all over me. Is this too much information? It was gross.

After what seemed like an eternity, Alex and Dorothe got there. They helped me change into a hospital gown, and soon they brought in a bed to wheel me to the delivery room. I begged them to not make me lie down, but they insisted. That ride was the very worst! Alex was walking along side, trying to calm my breathing that was quickly escalating.

Right before they wheeled me in, they told Alex and Dorothe that they had to change their clothes. I (very) reluctantly let Alex go, while they brought me into a room that looked a lot like a lab. Everyone was wearing hair nets (which they put on me too), matching clothes that covered every inch of their bodies, and masks. Not even my doctor was there yet, but they had me move to yet another medical bed and told me to “lay down and start pushing.” 

This is when I semi lost it. Nobody I knew was there, and I most definitely did NOT want to lie down and not ready to push. I was struggling to find the words for this in Portuguese, and at this point my breathing was more like hyperventilating. I was panting “where’s my husband??” and “I’m not lying down!” and causing a frantic scene I’m sure. But it was traumatizing being surrounded by so many people that I didn’t recognize, and telling me things I was struggling to understand.

Finally Alex, my doula, and my doctor came in and they moved me to a little stool that we had decided beforehand I would use for pushing. As we were doing this, my doctor asked if I wanted an epidural. I looked at her like she was nuts. I was about to start pushing! Thankfully, getting an epidural hadn’t even crossed my mind up to this point. With all the mental imagery and being in a peaceful environment at home, I was able to handle the majority of the labor just fine. And through all the chaos at the hospital, there wouldn’t have been time anyway. But I had really prepared for a natural birth, and was so happy that it worked out!

Pushing was intense, but thankfully short lived. Probably a set of 4 contractions and our little Liam came!

After he came out, they put him right on my chest. At first he didn’t even cry and I was completely in awe. He was so beautiful- one of the first things I noticed was his adorable lips when he started to pout and cry. I couldn’t believe he was mine, this little baby that had been in my stomach growing the past 10 months. The little guy whose kicks and rolls I cherished so much. Now he was here! In my arms! It is a moment that is so hard to describe into words. Such a moment of pure, heavenly joy after enduring more than you ever thought you could.

At 6.7lbs and 19 inches, he was the most perfect thing I had ever seen. It amazed me how much love you can feel for someone you just met, and how quickly and exponentially that love grows. Basically those long 10 months and then the labor, was so so worth it.


  1. Oh my goodness- over here bawling right now! This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I love how those pictures capture the emotion so well! :)


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