Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pura Vida - Part One ( L & D )

As you can imagine, it's been hard to get around to blogging lately. : ) But I'll try to start at the beginning. . . this post will be about our weekend-long labor and delivery, and then I will do another post all about our little man. : )

Fonzie's 50's decor . . .
Saturday morning I woke up with pre-labor cramps around 5:00 am, which continued all  morning. I had the same thing happen a couple days before, but they went away when I got up and moved around, so I knew these were different. Keith and I headed to breakfast at Fonzie's Burgers & Broodjes (see pictures), and tried to enjoy an American breakfast, wondering what lay ahead in the near future. I had pancakes for breakfast and Keith got a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on toast, which was served open-faced and looked delicious! We stopped at the Albert Heijn on our way to stock up on some things since we figured this was the real deal. At one point, I had a contraction that hurt worse than the cramps and I doubled over, grabbing my belly -- Keith gave me a look that said "You're going to freak people out" I said, "I can't help it!" We both laughed at the absurdity of me in the grocery store, having contractions!


After arriving back home, our doula, Esther, met us at the house around 2:00 pm to check things out, and talk about what we could expect. If you're not quite sure what a doula is, read here -- she was amazing, and I am so glad we had her here for our birth (more about that later). So after a little while, Esther left us to our laboring in peace (ha!), and she went home to rest. She had literally just flown back from the states the day before, so she was pretty jet-lagged. We kept hoping Liam would wait for her to get back before making his appearance, and he did! : )  Although my water hadn't broken, there were other signs he was coming soon (which I won't get into for the guys' sakes), so Keith I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening contracting, walking, and putting together final things around the house.

Keith & I in between contractions
Esther came back around 11:00 pm, and we spent the next several hours changing positions, walking, laboring, and watching Friends -- anyone who knows me knows that I can recite full episodes of my favorite sitcom! The midwife first came around 4:00 am to see us and check how things were going. I was at 3 cm at this point -- Yay! She stayed for a while, but saw that we had everything under control, so left us to our laboring and said she be back in a few hours.

Throughout the night and morning, Keith was right there with me, massaging my back, encouraging me, having me eat and drink -- I kept telling him how much I appreciated him, and that I hoped he remembered I said that later, in case I turned into the typical laboring mom you see in movies, with devil horns and whatnot. Esther was also so awesome, explaining everything that was happening, encouraging me, taking a TON of pictures with our camera (I'm sure I will appreciate that in future years, despite my haggard appearance!), and taking care of stuff around the house.

The midwife ended up coming back around 10:00 am to stay with us until after Liam was born. She checked me again and I was still at 3 cm -- bummer. So we kept on, contractions getting stronger and closer together throughout the day. The midwife checked again at 2:00 pm -- still 3 cm. At this point, I was a little disheartened. The midwife said she felt it was best to go ahead and break my waters to see if that would help my dilation. I wasn't really for it at first, but Keith, Esther, and I talked about the pros and cons, and I also called my mom to see her thoughts. We decided that at this point, and after being in hard labor for so long with so little progress, it was the best thing to do. However, Keith wasn't comfortable breaking the water at home in case there was something wrong, so we packed up our things and headed to the hospital, which is only about a mile away.

We arrived and got into our room around 3:30 pm on Sunday. My contractions at this point are lasting a little over a minute, and are about 3-4 minutes apart (after about 12 hours of active labor). The midwife broke my water once we got into an L&D room, and I'm so glad we made the decision to go to the hospital -- there was meconium in my water, which means Liam had already started going to the bathroom in my womb. This can be very dangerous if he swallows it. Because my waters were stained, the midwife had to hand over my labor to the OBGYN and midwife at the hospital, as this was now considered a more high-risk delivery. Turns out we would have had to go to the hospital anyway had she broken my waters at home, so I'm glad we went ahead and went.

I labored in the L&D room for several hours at this rate and made a little progress -- 5 cm, then 7 cm by 7:00 pm. I was so exhausted and in so much pain at this point. The contractions were right on top of each other and becoming more and more unbearable. After being checked twice, I stayed at 7 cm. This became my breaking point. As much as I wanted a natural birth, I just didn't think I could continue this way for several more hours. Rather than becoming Devil Woman, I became a whimpering mess, and feeling like I was ready for an epidural. In my "saner" moments, we would say, "let's try one more contraction," but the contractions were torture that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Keith said it was the hardest thing he's seen, to watch me go through that. At one point he was on the phone with my dad giving him an update, and I had a contraction -- my dad started crying listening to me be in so much pain and so far away. Finally, Keith, Esther, and I decided I would get checked one more time, and if I was still at 7 cm we would ask about pain medicine. Esther's concern was that at this rate I wouldn't have enough energy to push when it came time.

So I got checked, and I still had made no progress. Another reason for this is that Liam was what the Dutch call a "Star-gazer" or facing up instead of down. It is much easier for babies to be born face-down, so the fact that his head was "looking at the stars" meant he wasn't helping to dilate me like his head is supposed to. We tried a few remedies to fix this, like laboring on my hands and knees for a while, rocking back and forth during contractions, etc. but to no avail.

So we made the call to get an epidural and I headed downstairs to the anesthesiologist, who luckily hadn't left the building yet (though she had her coat and purse on!). The OB/GYN said it would be 15 minutes, though in my pain and her accent, I thought she said "50 minutes." I almost freaked out, and said "15 or 50??"  Finally the doctor came in to introduce himself, speaking full-on Dutch, and my tiny horns started to appear, as I said, "Ooo-kay" (as in, "whatever"). Keith and Esther looked at each other and laughed, though I don't remember any of this until afterwards when they tell me about it. Almost immediately after receiving the epidural I became myself again, and everyone said so. It was the first time my eyes had been open longer than 60 seconds for the past several hours, and I could actually hold a conversation. I even joked with the nurses and doctors, who were fooled by my fake cries of pain and laughing at my sarcastic comments (like father, like daughter, right Papi?). LOL : )

We headed back upstairs so I could get some rest, which was much needed. I slept from about 9:30 - 10:30 pm I think, and Keith went home to let Murphy out, since it looked like it would be a long night. But rather than slowing down my labor, like epidural can often do, my contractions actually became stronger and closer together. After being at 7 cm for so long, I went from 7 to 9 cm by midnight. By 12:30 am on the 15th I was at 9.5 cm. The doctors were concerned that Liam needed some help coming out because of his "star-gazing"position, so they gave me a small dose of oxytocin to make my contractions really strong. It worked slowly, and by a little after 1:00 am it was time for me to start pushing!  And after pushing for 25 minutes . . .

Liam Luis Douglas Coffey was born at 1:36 am on August 15th, 2011. : )

This was a funny time, because it was obviously still the 14th in the States, but for us it was the 15th, so Liam is part of that small 6% that is born on their due date! They immediately put him on my chest, where he stayed for the next hour and a half. Liam was laying on his stomach, and immediately picked up his head to look at me -- his neck muscles were so strong, just like his mom . . . My dad tells everyone the story about how I've been able to pick my head up since the day I was born, and now Liam was doing the same thing! He latched on right away and I was able to feed him for about 35 minutes, which I was so happy about. It was absolutely amazing, and Keith and I stared in disbelief at this being who had been a part of me for the last ten months.

The rest of the night was spent talking with our parents, marveling at Liam, and sleeping in small spurts until the next afternoon. While I had mentioned before that most women go home from the hospital a few hours after birth, our situation was a little different. First, because Liam was born at night, we obviously stayed the night in a recovery room together. Second, I had lost an "above-average" amount of blood during labor and needed to monitored the next day. It's a good thing they did because my first time out of bed I ended up fainting -- I am fine now, but they just want to make sure I build back up my iron. So we finally went home exactly 24 hours after arriving at the hospital.

Liam is all bundled and ready!
Coffey Family of Three!

Here are some other pictures from the past couple days:

Our hospital bracelets that we
never wore! This is much different than
the security anklets back in the States!
Liam meets his dad! This is my all-time
favorite picture -- they can't take their
eyes off each other!

Our precious bundle

Despite the fact that our "birth plan" didn't go according to plan, we are really okay with the way things progressed and our birth at the hospital. We felt very taken care of during the entire time, and are so glad we had our doula there to help explain things and be a liaison between us and all the medical staff (Esther used to be a nurse in the states so she is very familiar with both the American and Dutch medical systems). Another thing that we were extremely impressed with at the hospital was the fact that every person who was involved in the birth, from the nurses to the midwives to the doctors, had read and understood our birth plan. They would recite things directly from the plan and ask us questions and truly tried to follow what we wanted, despite the change in plans at times. And while I say that things didn't follow exactly as we wanted, one thing we stated in the very beginning of our plan was that our ultimate priority was for us to go home with our son when it was all said and done -- we wanted for him and I to be taken care of, and we were willing to make changes and different choices as things progressed. Keith and I were both open to changing our mind during this process, and I truly believe that's what helped us to adapt and make the best choices for us throughout it all . . . that, plus God, and our faith that everything would turn out the way it was supposed to. I continually was comforted at the thought that God knew the exact moment when Liam would enter the world -- and I didn't want him a minute sooner than God wanted us to have him.

Next up: Part Two - Life with Liam . . . (give me a day or two to tell you about our new lives at home with Liam, our kraamzorg, and our lack of sleep!)



  1. Wow. I was glued to the screen. What a long length of time! I hope you told the people at Fonzies you were in labor. Maybe you would have gotten a free piece of carrot cake ;)

    And I am so happy you guys were taken care of so well and you that you got Esther as your doula! I'm super curious because I hear so many raves about her! I hope you get sleep soon and that things are feeling normal yet whimsical ;)



  2. I can recite all of the Friends episodes too!

    Congrats again!

  3. SO wonderful to hear your story. I know full well that you cant plan these things to the tee and your flexibility was key. Dangit. I am welling up with tears...and I'm at work. Dangit. So very happy for you guys. Cant wait for more pics. :)

  4. Your labor sounds very similar to mine! My water broke at home, but I was only 1 cm when we got to the hospital. I waited as long as I could (not as long as you did! Go you!!) before getting the epidural because I thought it would slow everything down and it actually sped things up for me! I'm proud of you for keeping an open mind and for going with the flow throughout labor. It isn't an easy thing to do. I'm so glad Liam is here and everyone is healthy and happy! Get some rest when you can, and just squeeze that little boy for all of us over here in the US who wish we could squeeze him ourselves!!!!

  5. Love all the details!!! Funny thing - we had our Friends DVD's packed in our hospital bag! Got all the seasons! As you know, for us, we didn't get a chance to watch them! I am so, so, so happy for you and thrilled to hear that Liam latched on right away!! Great sign for success!! So proud of you and wishing you some rest!

  6. Big hug for the three of you! X Esther

  7. I got a little teary eyed reading your birth story! You did good Momma! Congratulations, he is SO handsome!

  8. Thanks for sharing your story!! It makes me so happy to know that you had some good support to help you through L&D. I am surprised to see how remarkably similar our labors were! I got the epidural at 8cm too (after "planning" to have not at all) and fell asleep for about 45 min. He is so precious and beautiful. I can't wait to talk to you about everything! I pray that you are catching some sleep here and there and that your helper (kramzorg??) is awesome! I miss you


  9. Kylie says "awwwwww, he's so little and so cute"...I could not have said it more perfectly myself. Congratulations from the Self family!!

  10. Thanks for sharing all the details! These are the details I would have asked you about!!! So glad the nursing is going well!!! You know I had meconium w/ Rach too. Mike was a little "freaked out" by that! My mom had told him that the "water" just looked like water....well, they had to break mine also since Rach was in no hurry to arrive. When they broke it, Mike immediately says, "That does NOT look like water.". I, too, was glad to be in a hospital at that moment! And for the epidural.....I had thought I might go without too...but when I got to the point of not being able to talk (which you know is very rare for me!!!) my entire family agreed it was time for it! It made things soooo much easier!
    Can't wait to hear all about Liam now!! He's beautiful just like his mom!
    Love you