I’m so happy to finally share the story of how Arlo came into this world. Just like with Adriana’s birth story, I had Eric “vet” the story to make sure I remembered things correctly. (Labour Brain is REAL!) Eric added quite a bit of detail, and a few funny moments that I had no idea about at the time.
I had contractions on and off for a few days before this labour, so I started taking notes early on. I’ll share the time leading up to the labour below. I always find it’s interesting how the “pre-game show” unfolds…
Sunday, September 25th:
It’s one day before my due date. We had our maternity/family photoshoot in the morning—talk about squeaking it in! I must say, it felt so great to get glammed up as I had been feeling so blah the last couple weeks.
The shoot was short and sweet because I wasn’t in the mood for outfit changes or a lot of walking outside. I’m happy we got some last-minute shots because we didn’t take many family photos (with myself included, anyway) during my pregnancy. It was nice to get some photos with the three of us. (Even if Adriana was running in the opposite direction laughing her head off most of the time!)
Later on in the day, I felt irritable and restless. I also had some shooting groin pain and regular contractions that lasted for a few hours. By the evening I was absolutely wiped, and I went to bed at 8:30pm, which is very unlike me. Maybe my body was resting up for the big day?
Monday, September 26th:
My due date has arrived! Adriana was born on her due date, so I had a feeling this little guy might be timely too. Also, my mom arrived from out West; I’m so glad she made it in time for the birth!
Throughout the day, I experienced a lot of contractions and several shooting groin/leg pains once again. Despite this, I was bursting with energy: cleaning…doing laundry…wrapping up work stuff. When the contractions stopped for a couple hours, I even decided to do my 15-minute Barre3 workout! Wtffffff. In hindsight, this burst of energy (madness?) was another sign that labour was near. I think I even shocked myself that I could get through my regular workout. (If I’m ever pregnant again in the future, I will definitely stick with this type of workout; I felt so strong right up until I delivered!)
That night, I had a dream about an earthquake. Our new baby was there and I was so scared he would be harmed. The next day I looked up the meaning of my dream, and this is what it said:
“Experiencing an earthquake, according to multiple dream interpretations, means that a change is going to happen, and it is going to be a very abrupt and startling one.” (Source: GoToHoroscope.com)
Labour…a new baby…changes in our family dynamic…I’d say that’s about right!
Tuesday, September 27th:
I had my last midwife appointment this morning. My midwife offered to check my progress and do a “sweep” (which could help get labour going), but I declined both. As much as I was curious and wanted to move things along, I trusted that things would happen on their own.
By the afternoon, though, I was totally regretting not getting the sweep, because I didn’t have any signs of labour at all. I started to worry that I was going to be a week late and my mom would miss meeting the baby. Feeling regret, I debated calling my midwives’ office and seeing if they could squeeze me in the next day for an “emerg” sweep, lol. But I resisted. Instead, I did my EPI-NO one last time and was feeling confident because I had worked up to 9cm in 3 weeks of daily use (about 20 minutes per day). I had no idea if it would help me during labour, but I sure as hell hoped it would. (PS—I have no affiliation with EPI-NO; I’m mentioning it because I think it might help some of you too. I wish I had used it prior to my first labour!!)
From 7:30pm until 10:30pm I experienced regular contractions about 7 to 9 minutes apart. Okay, now this is progress, I thought. The pain scale was only about 5. I said to Eric, “I bet that I go into labour tonight!” I spoke with my midwife over the phone, and she said to prepare for things to pick up very quickly since I had been having contractions on and off for a couple days. Once my contractions stopped at 10:30pm, I went to bed, mentally preparing myself to be woken up in the middle of the night…
I slept great, though, and much to my dismay I didn’t wake up to any contractions! I grew more convinced this kiddo was going to come a week late.
Wednesday, September 28th (40 weeks + 2 days):
Adriana woke us up at 5am. Around 5:15am I lost my plug, and I immediately knew (or had a strong hunch!) today would be the day. With Adriana’s labour I lost my plug and contractions started immediately and close together, so I was hopeful that the same thing would happen this time, too. We all headed out for our morning walk, and during the walk I had several intense shooting pains; they were so bad this time I had to stop walking until they were over.
After we got home I had a strong urge to tidy up. For some reason, having anything on the kitchen island drove me up the wall and I had to keep it completely clear. I think Eric and my mom thought I was nuts because their stuff kept disappearing from the island!! My mom commented that there was nothing left for her to clean because I had done it all.
I drank raspberry leaf tea (double bagged!) in hopes it would get labour going. (I’d been drinking one mug a day for the last month or two.) Around 8am, my contractions started coming 10 to 20 minutes apart. Other than that I was feeling normal (aside from starting to twitch if I saw any sort of mess). I did one minute of squats to try and help baby move down, but the squats seemed to intensify my contractions so I said, “F that,” and didn’t do any more! I Snapchatted a couple short videos talking about early labour and how scared I was. (I thought I was going to feel so confident this second time around, seeing as I had been through it all before, but I didn’t find that was the case. Nope, still scared. Excited too.)
Late morning, Eric and I headed out to the store to buy some ink for the printer. I wanted to get out of the house because I was feeling restless, but knew I couldn’t drive myself. I was getting some pretty intense contractions while shopping, but held it together…barely!
By 11:45am, my contractions were getting more intense and were consistently 10 minutes apart. I talked with Eric about the visualization that I wanted to use during this labour and how he could help me through it. I used it a bit for my first labour, and it worked well because I’m such a visual person. (I won’t be offended if you think it’s lame, because it kinda is.)
I’m on a surfboard riding a huge, massive wave. For the first half of the contraction (usually about 30 seconds for me), I’m riding up the very tall wave. And I’m KILLIN’ IT.
The first half of the contraction is always the most intense/painful for me. Eric would count down as I rode up the wave, saying, “15 seconds until you are at the top, 10 seconds until you’re at the top…almost there,” to help me get through the pain. After 30 seconds, he would tell me that I’d reached the top of the wave, encourage me, and tell me that our friends and family were cheering me on (this actually made me laugh in early labour because it sounded so ridiculous). When I needed a boost, I would tell myself out loud, “I’m so strong, You got this.”
The second half of the contraction is always a bit easier/less intense. Eric would say things like, “Only 15 seconds to go…you’re almost there…you’re doing amazing,” and I would picture myself cruising down the wave, getting closer and closer to everyone as the pain got less and less. Then I’d picture myself coasting effortlessly all the way to the sandy shore, hopping off my board, and running toward everyone. When I got to the crowd of people, baby Arlo and Adriana were there waiting for me and I gave them a huge hug.
The most comforting thing about this visualization was that Eric had such an essential role in it. He was basically my doula/coach, but even better because we are so comfortable with one another. I can’t even imagine going through labour without him by my side!
Between 12:30pm to 1:30pm my contractions became much more intense, and 7 to 8 minutes apart. My mom wondered if I should go to the hospital at this point. I could tell it was really hard for her to see me in so much pain. My midwife wanted me to call her when the contractions were 5 minutes apart, so I wanted to *try* to wait until then, if I could. So I laboured at home a bit longer…
By around 3:30pm, my contractions were every 5 minutes, lasting about 1 minute to 1 minute and 20 seconds. Bingo. And they were INTENSE. F-bombs started dropping. I was emotional. This is when Eric and I got into a little disagreement about when to leave for hospital. I said I wanted to leave now, but he suggested we have the midwife come over to our house to check and see if I was ready to go to the hospital. He was worried we’d get there too early and I’d be sent home. In fact, Eric’s was the plan we had originally discussed, but I quickly snapped back, “I decide when it’s time to go, and I’m telling you it’s time to go NOW.” Okay, then! Lol. My mom overheard my curt response and we laughed about it after (in between contractions). Eric knew I meant business, and there was no further discussion on the matter.
We called my midwife Joanna and told her we were leaving for the hospital. When Eric put me on the phone after a contraction, I could barely get out a “hello” and then I started to cry as I spoke to her. I think she knew at that moment that I was fairly far along!
Before leaving, my mom and Eric put on my sneakers because I couldn’t bend over to do it myself. I didn’t want to leave anymore (another sign it was time to leave!). I fought back tears as we hugged and said goodbye. I knew that as soon as I stepped out the door, everything was going to change.
I cried a bit in the car. I missed Adriana and almost felt like I was betraying her in some weird way. (In fact, I had felt this way for the last few weeks of the pregnancy.) We got to the hospital and my midwife was already there. I had a few intense contractions while walking through the hospital and had to stop each time so I could lean up against a railing. A couple got into the elevator with us, and I remember thinking, “Bold move.” ;)
For the first part of labour, it was just me, Eric, and my midwife in the room. My second midwife arrived during the pushing stage. I loved that it was so quiet, calm, and peaceful. With my first labour there were A LOT of people in the room (mainly during the 3+ hour pushing stage), and I found it to be overwhelming at times. This was a nice change.
Upon arriving at 4pm, my midwife checked my dilation and I was 5cm, maybe 6cm. I felt a bit discouraged because when I arrived at the hospital for Adriana’s labour I was 7cm. I started to doubt that I could handle the pain as well as I had the first time. Why did it feel so much more intense this time?! Little did I know, things were just moving much faster.
I told Eric I was considering an epidural for this labour. He supported whatever I wanted to do. I asked my midwife if she could explain the potential risks/side effects of the epidural so I could make an informed decision. Many of the risks I was most worried about were extremely low probability. She said, “Don’t forget, though, this second labour will likely be much faster than last time.” I knew she thought that I could do it, but the pain was super intense and I was filled with major doubt. At this point, the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was my own mind.
She asked, “How about we try the jacuzzi tub first?” I hesitated; I didn’t think I could wait that long! I was at my wits’ end. Eric reminded me how the tub had helped me so much with my first labour (in fact, I recall saying the jet tub was a DREAM and I would never labour again without it!), so I decided to give it a shot…albeit hesitantly…
Joanna got the tub set up. Eric kept helping me visualize through my contractions as we waited. When I was finally brought into the room with the tub, I immediately stripped and got in; it felt absolutely incredible. “This feels sooooo much better!” I was so glad that I gave the tub a try.
My midwife left briefly and told us to page her by pulling the string on the wall if we needed anything. She said, “If you get the urge to push or pressure in your bottom, make sure to page me right away.” We agreed. There was something amazing about it being just Eric and I in the jacuzzi room. I felt so comforted by his presence. There were no distractions…just getting through each contraction together. I asked for the lights to be dimmed so I could get into the zone.
During each contraction, Eric massaged my lower back firmly (I kept telling him to rub harder and I’m pretty sure his fingers were about to fall off by the end! Not my problem…bahaha.). The counterpressure helped my contraction pain a lot! He continued to talk me through our visualization. I had the tub jets on the lowest speed because I found the noise bothered me at higher speeds, and sometimes I just turned them off completely so it would be totally silent. The contractions were almost unbearable. My whole body started shaking uncontrollably. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was definitely in transition.
After about 30 minutes in the tub, I said, “I need to get out of the tub right now!” Eric pulled the string to page the midwife. Immediately after, I had a contraction and felt pressure in my bottom and the urge to push. My whole body jolted and felt out of control. The urge to push just takes over your whole body. My midwife came in during the contraction. I cried a bit and basically felt like I was losing it. She quickly checked my dilation and I was 8 or 9 cm (it was hard to determine my exact dilation under the water). She left briefly to prep the labour and delivery room. Eric told me to have one more contraction in the tub, and then we’d get out in between contractions and walk down the hall to the room. I agreed. During this next contraction I felt the urge to push again. I said, “Page Joanna…I need out…I need out!” I was pretty much in panic mode. Eric tried to pull the string again and the light wouldn’t turn on, so he pulled it harder and the entire string BROKE off! (I didn’t know this happened at the time, but he told me the next day and we laughed and laughed!) After the string broke he pulled the smaller (emergency?) string and it finally lit up. Poor Eric, heh. Joanna quickly appeared as Eric got rid of the evidence. They both helped me out of the tub. I put a towel over the front of my body and started walking across the hall. (Eric later told me that he covered my bare butt with a facecloth as we walked! I just about died laughing when he told me that. Apparently, modesty isn’t a big concern of mine during labour, but thanks, Eric, you got my back…literally.)
Upon arriving in the labour and delivery room, I immediately had another super intense contraction.
“I can’t do this anymore. I want an epidural.”
Joanna said, “Okay, but can I check your dilation first?” I agreed. Well, guess what? I was 10cm dilated!! The angels were singing! “Can I start pushing?” I asked. She said yes. I knew it was showtime. The jacuzzi tub worked wonders for relaxing my body. I went from 5/6cm to fully dilated in less than an hour. Things moved much faster this time around, that’s for sure.
During my first push, my second midwife, Wendy, arrived. After a few contractions (I’d do 3 strong pushes per contraction), Joanna said she could already see the baby’s head! I glanced up at the clock…just after 5pm. Umm…what!? Thankfully, I’d trusted my gut and left for the hospital when I did.
My water broke next, and just like the first time, it made me jump. I asked if Joanna could hold up a mirror to help motivate me. She held it up, and I saw a tiny bit of Arlo’s head. Instantly, I got this massive surge of the confidence that I had been looking for the entire day. I said to Eric and my two midwives, “I feel like I can do this!!” I felt so close. I felt strong. I got through about 5 more brutal contractions. Arlo started to crown and the pain level was almost at its peak. My breathing was now panicked, short, and choppy; I was gasping for air. This part is a bit of a blur. My midwives kept telling me to slow my breathing down, but I felt like I couldn’t. Though I’d tried it during my first labour and found it ineffective, I immediately asked for laughing gas, and this time it actually helped a lot! I breathed deeply and forcefully into the mouthpiece during contractions, and was able to regulate/slow my breathing immensely. I also found it was a wonderful distraction during the most painful part of pushing. Even though the laughing gas doesn’t reduce the pain, the fact that I could slow my breathing and feel distracted was a major, major bonus.
The pressure from the “ring of fire” was unreal, but I knew once I got the head out it was downhill from there. My midwives told me when to slow down my pushing so I wouldn’t push too fast and tear, and Joanna pushed on my perineum to stretch/support it. I was worried about my episiotomy scar tearing. After a couple more pushes, the head was finally out, followed by the shoulders and body. All the pain and pressure was instantly gone.
Our beautiful Arlo was born at 5:24pm!! Eric and I looked at each other, crying; I couldn’t hold back my emotions. I just kept crying happy tears.
As Arlo was coming out, Eric noticed that the cord was wrapped around his neck (I’m so glad I didn’t see this part). Our midwife commented that “he was born with a scarf” so as not to alarm us. They worked very fast. Through my tears, I kept asking if he was okay as it took a bit for him to cry, but soon enough he let out a very loud cry, and proceeded to cry loudly (the boy has some pipes!) for at least a minute as he lay on my chest. I was so thankful for that cry.
I delivered the placenta with one more push, and then received a couple stitches. I was relieved that my episiotomy scar didn’t tear. My midwife thinks that my regular use of the EPI-NO helped a lot. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt after this labour. It was like night and day.
Arlo latched after about a half hour, and then he nursed for 40 minutes or so. Eric brought me snacks from the cooler, heh. Boy was I hungry! Since we didn’t have any medical complications, we had the choice of going home that night or staying in the hospital. Our midwife would be visiting us first thing the next morning (and doing a few more home visits during the first week and a half). We decided to go home, as I felt good and we thought we’d have a better sleep in our own bed.
Here we are just before leaving the hospital.
And with my midwife Joanna:
The weather was super windy and rainy that night as we got into the car. Total snuggle weather. I sat in the backseat with Arlo and just stared at his sweet face in awe. We arrived home at 8pm—my mom could not believe her eyes when we walked through the door!!
We spent the rest of the evening snuggling Arlo in our arms and making calls and texts to family and friends.
Adriana was already in bed, so we did the official sibling meet and greet the next morning (which went well thanks to a cool gift from Arlo).
“And when I touch your head you shall obey me for ever and ever.” heh.
Here is Arlo meeting his great-grandparents for the first time at 3 days old. One of his middle names honours his great-grandfather Harvey, so it was a very special moment for them to meet. My grandpa is one of the most inspirational role models in my life and we’re so lucky to have him and Diane in our family.
Here is a sneak peek of our newborn/family photoshoot, which happened at 4 days old:
Photography credit: Sarah Martin Photography & Ooh Ooh Darling
And here he is at 11 days old sporting his very first (non-onesie) outfit!
We are so grateful for Arlo, and crazy in love. I know how fast the newborn days go by, so I’m soaking up every single second that I can.
Adriana lights up whenever “Lee-tle Bra-ther, Aar-lo” is around, and I can’t wait to see their bond grow over the years. I’m sure she’ll teach him all kinds of questionable things.
There have definitely been challenges and growing pains as we figure out the new normal for our family, but I know we’ll get into a groove by the time they move out, if not sooner. My emotions and hormones have felt a bit more out of whack than the first time around, so I’m trying to find my own personal balance too, and not put too much pressure on myself.
Thank you all so much for your well wishes and congrats over the past couple weeks! It means the world to us.
The Liddon Family