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Archive for September, 2010

(I started using the Hypnobabies CDs at home around 24 weeks pregnant.  I used them nearly every single day, usually at night before going to bed. I never did get good at using all the Hypnobabies terms, so this contains all the ‘traditional’ birth language.)

To start off with, a brief recap of my past births.

My first daughter came on her due date, I arrived at the hospital at noon with some mild contractions coming semi-regularly.  Looking back, I obviously went in too early, but my family has a history of lightening quick labors, and my Mom was freaked out I’d have the baby in the car if I didn’t get in there soon.  Triage determined I was dilated to a 4, and had a ‘bulging bag of waters’ that was going to break any second.  So, I was checked in and immediately a nurse came in and said I needed to get the epidural now.  I had planned on getting one, but was surprised they were pushing it now, as my contractions were basically just uncomfortable cramping, and I wasn’t having to ‘do’ anything to get through them.  But, the nurse told me if I didn’t get it now, there was no guarantee the anesthesiologist, who had time right now, would have time for me later.  Scare tactic worked, and I got the epidural, and they broke my water right after.  (I remember being surprised by that, because they hadn’t mentioned they were going to do it, and all I could think of was “I thought it was going to break any second . . . why did you have to do it?”)  Despite that though, with the epidural, my labor basically stopped.  So, on came the pitocin.  Within minutes my baby’s heart rate was freaking out, and they shut off the pit and several nurses were working to turn me and move me into a favorable position to ease the stress to my baby.  I had never felt so helpless . . . my baby was in trouble, they were talking emergency c-section, and I felt like a beached whale who couldn’t even roll on to my side on my own.  Finally, the baby’s heart rate normalized, and they checked me again, told me I was at an 8, but the baby was really high so I’d ‘be pushing for hours.’  Thirty minutes later, the nurse checked, the baby was coming, and I pushed her out in three contractions.  Once things got going, I did end up going really fast, but I hadn’t felt a thing.

With my second pregnancy, I wondered a lot about how things would’ve been different if I hadn’t gotten that epidural so early.  With further study, I determined that natural labor was the way to go.  I was also very terrified of ever needing to use pitocin again, almost to the point of mild PTSD (I’d wake up with nightmares of being frozen in the bed, unable to move while I watched the monitor show ever decreasing heart rates.)  I took a Lamaze class (unfortunately, just one offered though the hospital though), and ‘prepared’ for natural childbirth.  Two weeks before my due date, my water broke and we headed into the hospital at my doctor’s request.  All night I walked the halls trying to bring on contractions, but nothing worked.  In the morning, my doctor was ‘no longer comfortable waiting’ and started pitocin.  I was terrified of the pitocin.  I sat, frozen, in my bed hooked up to all the monitors.  A contraction would come, and rather than relax or breathe, I’d end up so tight and stiff that my muscles were starting to hurt.  I was terrified of the pitocin causing horrible problems for my baby.  Of course, fear is rather unhelpful in these kinds of situations, so I soon agreed to an epidural when I was dilated to a five.  (In retrospect, it hadn’t even been ‘painful’ yet, I was just so fearful of the whole situation.)  Fortunately things went smoothly, and less than 2 hours later I was pushing out another baby girl.  Again, in three contractions, and again, I didn’t feel a thing.

My third pregnancy I knew was going to be different.

  • I was going to actually educate myself this time.
  • And not just about birth practices and the politics of birth.
  • I was determined to study and research actual coping methods beyond just breathing.
  • One thing that kept coming to mind was the fact that with both of my labors, I’d gotten to 4 and 5 dilated before receiving the epidural, and I hadn’t ever been in ‘pain’ at that point.
  • Maybe, just maybe, I could cope with labor more than I thought I could.
  • And maybe, just maybe, labor wouldn’t be as bad for me as it looked on TV.
  • Also, with a family history of fast labors, and my last only lasting 2 hours from when they got contractions going, I wasn’t expecting a very long labor.

I came across Hypnobabies and decided to give it a try. I started listening to it nightly at around 24 weeks pregnant.  First thing I noticed was I was falling asleep, and sleeping better, than I ever have during pregnancy.  My husband and I often joked that even if labor was a horribly painful experience, the program had been worth EVERY cent just in good sleep!

My experience with the CDs, besides loving how they totally relaxed me and put me to sleep each night, was my nightly ritual of putting on my headphones and falling asleep.  Usually within minutes.  My husband teased me that when I went into labor I wouldn’t know anything past the ‘don’t operate a vehicle’ portion of the CDs!  :-)

I practiced my finger drop technique for weeks, but never did do the ‘center’ thing . . . for whatever reason, it just never ‘clicked’ with me.

I worried I wasn’t getting enough from the CDs, because I was sleeping through most of them.  On rare occasions, I’d listen to the CDs during the day (difficult with a 2 and 4 year old running around), but even then they usually put me right to sleep.  I remember the first time I listened all the way through a track that used the ‘release’ cue.  I was shocked when I heard the word ‘release’ and my entire body suddenly just melted into the bed!  Apparently even fast asleep my mind and body were picking this stuff up!

Anyway, moving on to the actual birth.

I was five days overdue, and two days away from an induction my midwife was pushing when I started having really, really mild contractions for a few hours around 6PM.  They were so mild that my husband (who excitedly insisted on trying to time them) finally gave up timing them when I kept forgetting to mention when they’d start or stop.

But they started to fade away after 10PM, as I knew they would, since I felt strongly we’d have the baby the next day ,so we went to bed.

When my water broke around 11PM we decided to go straight to the hospital — I put on my headphones for the first time at this point to start focusing on relaxing, since I was nervous about the water breaking bringing on intense contractions.  When we got to the hospital I was having the same very minor contractions I’d had earlier.

The nurses there had no idea I was contracting, and were pretty surprised when I was almost 6 centimeters dilated.  They moved me to my room, where I found out my midwife was out of town, but was excited to meet the other midwife in the practice, who I’d heard a lot about.  She told the nurses I didn’t need an IV, so she became my hero (my midwife had pretty much insisted on a hep lock).  I’d been more fearful of an IV than almost anything about labor, so this was a huge relief!  Except that after a half hour they decided to give me fluids (’cause they were concerned about the baby’s  heart rate and lack of amniotic fluid — still ironic to me that I couldn’t drink any water though!).  :-)  So, I ended up with an IV.  Oh well.  The nurse was actually really sweet and amazing doing the IV, since she knew I had a phobia about them.

And it didn’t end up bugging me, because I found that once I was in my room the only thing I wanted to do was curl up on my side and block out everything else and focus on the tracks on my iPod . . . to the point that I made my husband go lay down on the couch and get some rest and just leave me to myself.

What amazed me at this point, is that the contractions had started to become more intense . . . but not much.  They had my attention, and I couldn’t always relax through them anymore, but I could relax between them.  I don’t think they were showing up much on the monitors.

I had my husband come rub my back through one, and that felt great.  Then I had him do it during the next one, and it was distracting and made the contraction feel more intense, so I had him go lay back down!  :-)   At this point, I was starting to get a little worried about how I would deal when labor really got going.  I was still doing great through them, I was barely even changing my breathing or anything for them, but they had my attention. I wouldn’t describe them as painful though.  I kept thinking that the contractions were so ‘small’ (I was only feeling any pressure in a fist sized area above my cervix) and they didn’t feel that strong or like they were coming that often, so I was worried I had a long road in front of me.

I suddenly felt like I had to go to the bathroom, and had the nurse come in and help me get unhooked from everything so I could go in and pee. I went in and had few more contractions sitting up on the toilet, which convinced me I wanted to get back to bed!  Having my headphones off, and sitting, seemed to make the contractions more intense, so I wanted to get back in bed and curl up on my left side again where I was more comfortable.

Once I got back too bed I paged the nurse to come in and hook me back up, but suddenly turned to my husband and said, “I think I need to go to the bathroom again.”  While in the bathroom I had one contraction that was fairly uncomfortable, and thinking back, I realize there was blood that came with that contraction.  I came back into the room, where my nurse and husband were waiting.

I didn’t put my headphones back on, as we were talking with the nurse. She mentioned that they felt like maybe I needed to get up and walk around, the get these contractions coming stronger and more often.  Seems I wasn’t the only one thinking I had a ways to go.  I politely declined though, saying with it being the middle of the night, I’d rather get some rest for a little bit.  (It was 1:30AM at this point).  I had one contraction while we were talking about the privacy/safety policies of the hospital.  I had a second one just a few seconds later, this time I could hear her and follow the conversation, but the contraction had the majority of my attention.  Then I had a third one right after.  I remember she was talking about making sure I filled out the menu/meal request forms while we were thinking about it. :-)  This one made me whimper a little, and change positions.

She suddenly looked at me and said, “I wasn’t going to check you yet, but maybe I should . . . ”  I agreed, and as she came towards me I suddenly cried out, “I think I’m pushing!” Sure enough, she checked and he was crowning.  I couldn’t believe it, she hit the nurse call button and was calling for anyone who could come, but there wasn’t even time for her to drop down the bed or anything . . . and for all my stressing about what position to push in, turns out all I could do in that case was just lay back on the bed and push, it happened so fast — he came all the way out the next contraction.  Right onto the bed, with the nurse just sitting at the foot of the bed.

He was born right onto the sheets in front of me (no pads or anything down), and I sat up immediately and the nurse helped me pick him up and I held my beautiful new baby against me.  It was amazing. She had said there’d be a lot of pressure and then burning — the pressure was definitely there — I screamed out for a few seconds, (out of effort and surprise though, not pain), but there was no real burning. It was literally over in a minute or so, it was crazy.  I was immediately hit with this realization of, “that was it . . . I did it and it was so much easier than I thought it would be.”

It was intense there at the end (but really like the last 20 minutes was all I had that felt even uncomfortable, and it was just those few contractions in the bathroom, then those three back to back that turned out to be transition that were intense.)  It was over so quick and it had never gotten anywhere near what I thought it would be like.  It was suddenly just over and it had actually been painless.  And the second he was out, I couldn’t even remember it being uncomfortable.  It was just an amazing thing to experience.

It was intense for a few minutes, sure, but never really anything I’d describe as painful.  But then we were there and it was over with and I was struck by the idea that I could do that again, (I actually turned to my husband within 20-30 seconds of pushing the baby out and said, “Wow, I could do that again!  Like, right now!”) And I felt almost silly for having had two epidurals in the past when it was that ‘easy’ for me to give birth!  I had to have a few stitches (old episiotomy scar tore a little), but other than that, everything was great.
My baby boy was 8 lbs. 1 oz., with a 80th percentile head.  He was a full two pounds heavier than my last baby, and a pound and a half bigger than his oldest sister.  And yet he just slid out in one contraction.
The nurses who all gathered were shocked by our birth.  My baby and I were kinda ‘famous’ during our hospital stay — we were the ones who’d had no doctor in the room for delivery.  Many of the nurses had wrongly assumed it was a natural birth on accident, but I proudly corrected them that we had planned and prepared for that natural birth, and it had been amazingly easy.

It still amazes me that a labor and delivery nurse with more than a decade of experience was chatting with me literally minutes before my baby was in my arms and she had no idea I was nearing the end, and didn’t seem to think I was really even in active labor (remember that ‘get up and get these contractions coming’ suggestion?  That was seconds before my last three contractions that apparently were transition.)  I’m still curious about how those last several minutes, when I was in the bathroom and then talking to the nurse, would’ve felt different if I’d still been doing my Hypnobabies and listening to the tracks.  Those several minutes were the ‘intense’ portions of labor, but they were also almost the only time I didn’t have my headphones on.  Who knows, it could’ve been even easier, if that’s possible, if I’d still been focusing on relaxing and my cues!
As much as I put into preparing myself for this birth, I never, in a million years, would’ve ever even hoped for such an easy, quick or comfortable birth!

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It’s been a month since my babies arrived. I have been a little sad about my hypno-journey being over, as I did not get to experience a natural birth, and that really disappoints me.  We do not plan to have more children.  It has been a little difficult for me to even look at the Hypnobabies yahoo group online. I get a little emotional seeing everyone having great birth experiences. I am happy for them, but feel left out. :(

I definitely got to use my Hypnobabies training however. The anesthesiologist had a difficult time administering my spinal. After much time poking and prodding, I was beginning to feel the needle, so they had to give me another local and try some more. They did finally get it, but before they did I was mentally starting to freak out…but then I took control, put myself in hypnosis, (I kept saying “Release” to get me to go deeper.) I was able to relax until they got it. I guess the problem was my belly was so large, I couldn’t hunch over well enough for them.

For a while after c-section you’re obviously in discomfort. I used my peace cue countless times. One specific time was when my pain meds in the hospital were wearing off, and I was having some very intense gas pains. My stomach was moving so much it looked like there was still a baby in there! It was very weird to see, and no fun to feel. Much worse than the pressure waves w/ my first child. While the hypnosis didn’t make the pain go away, I was able to relax thru it until I could get my meds, and it made it bearable, as they were quite awful.

Even though I ended up with a scheduled c-section. I know Hypnobabies played a large part in me going to 38 weeks (I STILL was not dilated or effaced!!!) My diet was key, and the wonderful sleep I got was so invaluable! The course was worth every penny, even if I didn’t get to listen to those last tracks. My doctor suggested me to deliver at 37 weeks. My blood pressure was rising (not pre-e), and the fluid was virtually non-existent in the boy. I asked for another week, because of “wimpy white boy syndrome.” My husband and I really did not want our children going to the NICU if we could help it.  

My doctor agreed, but requested to see me twice the last week to do non-stress tests and BPPs. That week proved to be so important. Our boy ALMOST had to go to the NICU. My husband said while the nurse was working on him (pounding on his back, etc.) Someone asked, “Does he have to go?” The nurse responded, “I’m not sure yet.”

So had we delivered at 37 weeks, he probably would have gone, and that would have been devastating to me. Hypnobabies gave me the confidence to challenge respectfully w/ good reasons to back my decision up. And really, my OB had no problems w/ my decision.

The reason for my c/s was I had breech/breech twins, and there were no providers in our area willing to deliver a breech Baby A. I had the best possible c/s though. No arms tied down. No separation from babies. Babies had their bath in the recovery room. I held the babies as I was being wheeled back to recovery, and they breastfed as soon as we got there!

I so wish I had known about Hypnobabies for my first, because I KNOW I could have done it. I could have done it with the breech/breech twins given the opportunity, I have no doubt.  But, I will keep saying my life’s motto: Control what you can…let go what you can’t.

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This is baby #5 for me, my second all natural birth, and my first Hypnobaby.  I had started the Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis program around 22 weeks, I wanted to  be fully prepared this time, since my last birth was anything but calm and natural.

I had a guess date of July 27th, but in my mind July 16th stuck out. Thursday July 15th, about 10 pm I started having pressure waves but panicked because my mom, who was suppose to watch my kids, was still on vacation and wouldn’t be home until Friday afternoon. I had been achy all day and the waves meant something was happening!

My Hypnobabies training helped so much, I felt tightening, hardness, but no discomfort. I knew this was the start of my birthing time and had my bags ready. For hours I was on my birthing ball- rocking, swaying, bouncing, laying. It was the best $13 I’ve ever spent!!

My waves were 5-6 minutes apart, getting really intense, but with my peace cue were totally manageable. I could feel changes, the baby was getting lower and pressing back, causing a bit of discomfort in my lower back. I listened to Easy First Stage and Deepening until 4am.

Then everything stopped. Totally and completely stopped. I went to bed totally frustrated, but slept.

Friday morning my husband stayed home from work, thinking I’d start back up and we’d have our baby. Nope. I walked, rocked, did laundry and housework. Not a pressure wave all day. My mom called to tell me she was home and ready when I needed her. I relaxed a bit after that, knowing my little ones would be taken care of by grandma.

About 8pm I convinced my husband what got us into this would get us out and I had a few pressure waves, but not enough get labor going. About 11 I went to bed.

I woke up about 4am to intense waves, 3 to 4 minutes apart. These were low and really hard. I was using the release/relax cue which helped, but I was surprised how hard and fast these were coming. I called my mom about 6am and jumped into a hot shower which felt so good I swear I didn’t have any waves at all, and that made me think that maybe I was wrong and labor would stop again.

After I got out it hit me that I needed to get to the hospital- NOW!! Thankfully my mom was there and hubby and I were off. We got to the hospital about 7am, where he went to admitting (even though we’d done all the paperwork and had already delivered three babies there) I went to L&D.

I knew I was close to delivering, but no one seemed to take me seriously. I was told to “give a sample and then we’ll see where you are.” I told the nurse for the second time I was close to having my baby. She just looked at me. I went into the bathroom, stunned, knowing there was no way I was peeing in a cup, then went back to the desk and said again that I needed a room, I was close.

Instead I was taken to triage. I was told to get undressed and lay down, and was hooked up to a monitor. I started getting a bit mad when 2 interns came in asking stupid questions. I told them again- not very nicely- that I have had 4 babies, I know when I’m close, and I needed a room so I could get back into my hypno-groove. The first one asked me when I had my first menstrual period. It was like the Twilight Zone, no one was listening. I was having hard waves that I probably could have controlled better if I was listening to the CD’s, but by that time I was just doing my best not to rip off the intern’s head.

Then she asked how far apart my waves were. I remember yelling that I didn’t have a clock, they were on top of each other and I could feel his head getting lower. The intern did a internal check and her eyes popped. She said I was 9-10 cm, the baby’s head was really low and I was ready to deliver. Gee, I told them that 20 minutes ago.

After being wheeled into a room, I got my angel, dressed as a nurse. She was pro-natural birth, having done it 3 times herself, and knew that I needed the squat bar, she rubbed my back, she told me I could do it, my body was made for birth. All that time I was swearing like a sailor, yelling ‘peace’ , and trying to breathe. My waves were more like one long wave with many peaks, and after 3 peaks everything changed.

My body was pushing, and while the intern was yelling ‘don’t push- your doctor’s not here!’  my angel-nurse calmly told me to do what my body wanted. There was no stopping, and honestly it felt good to push. After 2 or 3 hard waves/pushes my water broke. The nervous little intern was freaking out, calling the resident OB and making all kinds of noise.

In walks my doctor ordering everyone out, dimming lights, and telling me to relax and just do it. By now my legs were done so I sat back and for the first time I was in a position to see my son’s head come out, he was crowning and I pushed between waves- worked like a charm! This was the first time I didn’t need an episiotomy, didn’t tear.

His body slid out and he was placed on my chest with a warm blanket over us. Everyone stepped back and let my husband and I get to know our little man, who let out a few cries, looked up at me, then stuck his hand in his mouth and sucked on his fingers. There was no rush, everything was calm.

After about 10 minutes, my husband cut his cord, and he took him to be weighed, I delivered the placenta and was cleaned up. Braxton was 6lbs 12 oz, 20 inches long, and born at 8:08 am, about an hour after getting to the hospital.

Every nurse that came into my room knew I was the one who “came in complete and went natural.” I was told that 1 or 2 women a month actually have a non-medicated birth, and the nurses all brag about the ones that accomplish it. My hubby did a bit of bragging himself!

I felt that I could have had more control if I had gotten to the hospital sooner, but all that matters is that I did it. No interventions, no IV, no meds. And I felt great. My recovery has been a breeze!

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It’s incredible how much a woman has to fight to be in control of a child’s birth, to have a voice, to separate normal from abnormal, truth from standard medical practice, and most of all to diminish the fear that is the enemy of childbirth and trust her body.  This is the story of how Olivia, my first child, was born:

I had a wonderful and enjoyable pregnancy. But the weeks leading up to her “due date” were considerably tense. I’d planned to relax at home and be in peace and enjoy some last days of just me and my husband. My doctors (I chose to maintain dual care though would be attended by a homebirth midwife with a separate practice)were alarmed, knowing they weren’t in control, and insisted that I come in up to 3 times per week for monitoring and testing (my blood pressure had been elevated my entire pregnancy, which can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia, which should be taken very seriously. However, this wasn’t the case for me, I had a higher baseline.) . The stress was unreal (probably doing much more damage to my blood pressure), as although both myself and the baby repeatedly proved to be doing excellently, the doctors pressured me to induce as a “precautionary measure”. I knew this would be a dangerous thing to do for her and for me, and the slippery slope that would follow.

I started feeling the pressure to get things in motion, knowing that the messages from the doctors would intensify as I went past my due date (May 29th).

On Friday, the day before her due date, we decided it was time to start coaxing her out and after going through some of the natural ways to get labor started(wink), when I went to bed that night my Braxton-hicks contractions (painless practice contractions) became very regular and were accompanied by an ache in my lower back. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night, as every10-15 minutes the waves of pressure returned.

I’d listened to my Hypnobabies tracks but only fell asleep to them and never managed to stay on schedule. It was still incredibly effective for me, particularly the “peace” and “release” cues as well as the constant affirmations. I learned that fear and tightening and adrenaline are the actual causes of pain, that your mind can be in complete control of how everything plays out.

And it was true. Saturday morning came and the contractions (still felt nothing in my uterus only at times very uncomfortable– lower back pain) spaced out. I started panicking realizing that I wasn’t even in labor yet and worried that when it did really start that I would have the dreaded back labor and lose control.  I knew my baby was left occiput posterior so the contractions in my lower back confused me. Every time I let my mind go there, my body would tighten and the pain would come alive and take over.  But then I chose to release. To just shut down and let myself float on the waves with my breathing.

Saturday night came and again there was no sleep. Same thing, now only 8 minutes apart. “Release” I commanded myself, and let every muscle of my body shut down and ride the wave. It was no picnic, but it passed.

Sunday we walked to church, and I smiled and chatted in between contractions (which slowed during the day) as friends commented “Hey, weren’t you due yesterday!”  During the service, my husband Kevin hit the timer on his stop-watch each time I signaled a contraction.

Sunday night came, as much as I dreaded the evenings, and for a third night, no sleep. I couldn’t believe how long I’d had this “pre-labor” and how much I had to concentrate to stay deeply relaxed through contractions. Plus hello, I was tired. In the corners of my mind I feared what real labor would be like and if I would really be able to handle it like I’d been telling myself all these months. I’d had some “bloody show” and so I knew I was at least effacing but my midwife told me it could still be days or a week away. In those moments of fear and anxiety I actually felt intense pain through my body. At one point I was jerking on the bed through a contraction, wishing everything would stop. Kevin encouraged me to believe and utilize the tools that I had used to prepare. It took a hot shower with water spraying down my back and major mind coaching to bring me back to a controlled state and I calmly went to bed with my Hypnobabies tracks playing on my ipod, knowing I would only rest for 10 minutes at a time.

But by Monday morning I was worried and tense. I had a doctor’s appointment the following day with more testing and monitoring and I knew that it would mess with my head and with the process. I still hadn’t gone into labor and was confused as to what was happening to my body. I was having these contractions, which I assumed were “Braxton-Hicks”, since they were painless in my uterus, but was having back pressure (I’d learned to disassociate the word pain as much as possible from the process) that was requiring me to go limp and loose to relieve.

On Monday around mid-day Kevin and I went for a walk around the block, that took us about 45 minutes. The same contractions came closer together to about 6minutes apart and several times we’d stop and I’d turn into a deadweight and hang on Kevin with my eyes closed as people walked by perplexed and scared (ha, I think I scared the little boys at the lemonade stand on the corner). It was the only way I could make them not hurt, but just feel the pressure intensify and escape, by shutting down and mentally saying “release”.

When we got home, I finally called my mom. Up until now, I hadn’t told anyone what was happening because frankly, I was fed up with everyone asking if I was in labor yet (there is something about being near the end that makes you want to hibernate). I’d also always planned to have a private birth with only Kevin and my midwives present. Suddenly I wanted my mom there, and arranged for my aunt to come and give me acupuncture to accelerate the labor process.

Well it did! When my aunt Gilda came several hours later, she found me in a chair with my body slumped on the table. I’d put a finger in the air whenever I felt a contraction coming, and that was everyone’s cue to pretty much shut-up J. Otherwise they wouldn’t have even known I was having one. After the acupuncture session, they started coming ever 3½ minutes. We figured we should call Joni, our midwife.

I still didn’t know that I had been in “labor” this whole time.  Even when we called the midwife, I was worried that we were bringing her over for no reason, and that I would be no more than 1 cm dilated. Kevin started filling the birth tub just in case, since it would take quite a bit of time to fill (and later I found out that when we ran out of hot water, they were boiling pots of it at a time to get it in there!).

By the time my midwife came and listened to the baby it had to be around 9 pm. I was doing what I’d been doing the whole time, shutting down with each contraction and staying calm by relinquishing control. What a mind game! Well imagine my surprise, when she said to me, “Angie, you are nine centimeters dilated.” What?! I did all of that already (well, I mean technically it had been 3 days but I thought it was fake labor!!!)?! I think I remember croaking in response, “Holy crap that’s so awesome.”  I really wanted to shout in elation and jump up and down but figured it probably wasn’t the best idea.

That moment gave me so much confidence. I was really doing it! I’d been doing it all along without really realizing it. Still, although I’d believed I’d been in pre-labor these past 3 days, I was constantly replaying these affirmations in my head:

Release.
My body knows exactly how to birth my baby.
Open.
I am safe and my baby is safe no matter how much power flows through me.
Peace.
I deserve an easy and comfortable childbirth
.”

Shortly after, I got into tub and it felt amazing. Actually, my contraction slowed down, and I had quite a bit of a break, wondering if I’d reversed things. I was literally just chillin out in there waiting for something to happen. The apartment was quiet and dimly lit only with candles. My mom rubbed my shoulders with lavender essential oils and prayed over me, and in between listening to the baby on the Doppler, my midwife offered me vitamin water through a straw.  I kind of felt like a queen. Kevin came into the tub with me and put counter pressure on my back and supported my body. Temple Passmore’s (hypnomom) sung version of Psalm 23 was playing on repeat in the background. I felt so loved and supported, and knew I was bringing Olivia into the world in the most gentle and peaceful way.

Eventually I recognized that squatting would bring on the involuntary pressure I needed to push and bring my baby out. We actually put a little stool for me to sit on in the tub. And so I just let it happen slowly and with time. Every so often a contraction would come and I just let my body do the work for me and stretch slowly. It was so interesting. I could feel everything happening, and could work and stretch my muscles purposefully, and yet if felt so different than I imagined it would. I wasn’t in pain, but at the end apparently was roaring like a lion (ness) with the intensity flowing out through me (I later learned that my neighbors from the house next door could hear the whole thing. Awesome.). My water broke in the tub 10minutes before she was born. At one point I felt a tightness and dull burn and knew she was crowning. Joni, my midwife, asked me to reach down and feel and there was Olivia’s soft and very full head of hair starting to emerge. Oh my God, so much hair! I remember exclaiming, “Oh you beautiful girl!” I got to a point where I just pushed with all my might (and apparently, voice) and suddenly heard Joni say, “Kevin and Angie, reach down and meet your baby!” For some reason I was shocked and confused that she was out! And all in the same push! She came flying out with her hand on her face.  It was 11:19 pm.

There aren’t even words to describe the bliss and elation and wonder and miracle of picking up your newborn baby and meeting her for the first time. It will never, ever get old. She had her eyes wide open and stared for a split second before spitting up water and then belting out the screams that she is now famous for. It was out of this world.

We all moved me over to the couch, baby in arms and cord still attached, so that I could deliver the placenta. The cord was kind of short so I couldn’t really bring Olivia up higher than my belly. Kevin cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing. It seemed like the most normal thing in the world that I would be on my couch delivering my placenta. Ha, I bet it will make visitors think twice before sitting down to watch TV.

Joni examined Olivia while she was on me, and eventually weighed her at 7 lbs 5ounces and 19.5 inches tall. She was healthy and perfect. I felt on top of the world. (I had only a tiny tear that didn’t even require stitches and healed on its own by two weeks). Kevin whipped up some pancakes and scrambled eggs and fed me while all this was going on (I’d worked up quite an appetite.) Afterward, I went to shower, the grandparents came inside to gush over the baby. Our midwives stayed until the wee hours of the morning, and left the three of us tucked into bed.

I really believe had I not been so anxious about what was going to happen, and especially about the pressure from my doctors, the process would’ve been much shorter. In spite of it all, it turned out to be exactly the beautiful birth that I wanted. I can’t imagine doing it any other way. I’m so glad that I decided to go the Hypnobabies route, even if I didn’t follow it to a tee. You can call it hypnosis, or deep relaxation or whatever you want, but whatever it is IT WORKS. And I will for sure be doing this again!

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Hypnosis instead of pain killers?

There is a great article in ODE magazine about Replacing Pain Killers with Hypnosis.  They look specifically at a person having a tooth removed with only hypnosis.  They then go on to explain how hypnosis works for people to stay comfortable without medication.

Increasingly, dentists, physicians and surgeons are using hypnosis to replace, or at least reduce, the use of painkillers as well as general and local anesthetics. Hypnosis may not be the method of choice for major operations, but for a growing number of procedures ranging from kidney stone fragmentation to minor surgery to childbirth it has proved an effective alternative to conventional sedatives and analgesics. Hypnosis is real, says psychiatrist David Spiegel, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine. It’s no less palpable an analgesic than medication.

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I’ve been meaning to write in and tell you about my successful use of the Hypnobabies Home Study course to prepare for my first birth in the summer of 2007. The techniques were so successful that I delivered my son breech at home with a smile on my face the whole time.

Here’s my story:

Around 7 PM the night before my actual due date, I started having early “waves.” We tried to sleep, though I couldn’t, and then around 2 AM, we called the midwife to say that we thought things were moving along. The midwife told us to call her when the pain became “too much to handle” or the time between contractions very short.

So while my husband got things ready, I lay in a bed and did my focused relaxation; it felt mostly like I was having short spurts of menstruation cramps every so often. It was really manageable.

We finally called in the midwife around 5 AM, and when she checked me, I was already 8 cm dilated! I hadn’t realized it, but it seemed I’d been in “active labor” for hours. She quickly got the tub ready, as I had planned to at least labor in a tub to help with the pain I assumed I’d have. But there wasn’t really any pain and things were going so quickly and smoothly that there seemed no need for the tub.

We listened to a harp music CD and my husband used the “peace” cue with a hand on my shoulder whenever I felt a wave. I became aware and was told afterward that I was smiling (yes, smiling) the whole time! I just kept thinking, birth is natural and wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to see my baby. It’s hard to describe the blissful scene in our bedroom that early morning. We had candles around, soft music playing, and my husband and I held onto each other with so much love. It was so peaceful and moving, nothing at all like those horrible scenes one sees in the movies.

At 5:40 AM, my body just started to push naturally. It was amazing just to leave everything up to my body and to feel the push taking over. I pictured my baby moving lower and lower with every surge. Between pushes at some point, the midwifes told my husband the surprising news that my son was breech, presenting bottom first. He decided that it would be best not to tell me, as things were going so well, and he thought it would scare me. He was right.

I continued to push believing everything was fine. “Are those the shoulders coming out?” I’d ask. They kept reassuring me that things were going great and to keep doing what I was doing. Although I’d been laboring on my side for almost the whole time, I decided to get on my knees in hopes of having gravity work for me. I held onto my husband for support.

At the last moment, the midwives said that I would need to put everything I had into the next push. I felt a very intense stretching that was as close to pain as I’d gotten but still quite manageable and out came my son at 7 AM, after only about an hour of pushing.

He took a minute to revive fully but after a puff of room air and a spray of Bach’s rescue remedy, he was alert and wide-eyed. I delivered the placenta with ease 20 minutes later, with my beautiful baby boy in my arms and still attached via the umbilical chord.

I can’t say the next weeks were easy, but the birth itself could not have been more fluid. My husband and I still get teary eyed when we think back to that peaceful, incredible day. And my midwives, who had attended hundreds and hundreds of natural childbirths but had never taken part in a Hypnobabies birth, were stunned. It was, they concurred, one of the most beautiful births they had ever witnessed.

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It is so wonderful to see moms enjoying their births so much, they laugh while pushing their baby out!   The mom was using Hypnobabies.

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I love so many elements of this birth story!  Enjoy reading.

I can’t believe its finally my turn to post my birth story :)

A little background: On July 18th I was 40w 3d (according to my LMP) pregnant with my 3rd little boy . My first two boys were born at 39 and 38 weeks so I was surprised I made it that far. My husband was not with me as he had to go overseas suddenly and I was a bit apprehensive about not having him with me during the birth. But thanks to the ladies in this group I was encouraged to teach my mom a few techniques to help me during my birthing. My midwife had this idea that I was subconsciously waiting for him though. I told her I had come to terms with his absence and I was not worried but she said that I may be unaware of it myself on the conscious level….

Anyway, around 7pm on June 18th I was out walking with my mom (an oft-recurring scene during those days!) and we received a phone call from my husband. He said he had some urgent news he had to share and wanted us home to chat face to face on skype. So we hailed a cab and went home. As we were walking up to the building, our doorwoman (who I love!) said we had received a package, so I follow her to the package room and I find: MY HUSBAND!! I was so shocked and unprepared that for a minute there all I thought was, “dang that guy looks just like my hubby!” Then I snapped back started screaming and jumping (yes jumping!) for joy! All my husband said was, “ok I’m here, so are we ready to have this baby now?”

At 5 am (10 hours after seeing my husband) I woke up with some pressure in my tummy, I used the bathroom, felt better for a second then realized that I was having regular waves.. I was SO EXCITED!! I woke my husband up who said with his eyes half-shut, “now thats what Im talking about!” He was so calm yet excited, it was a lovely feeling.. I called my midwife who said to meet her at the birthing center.. I put on my birthing day tracks and started listening to them on speaker as I was getting dressed. We called a cab, picked my mom up and headed to the center. We live in Manhattan so traffic here was a constant worry for me, thank God it was 5:30 am! Throughout the car ride I was listening to easy first stage and I was so relaxed. I felt like I was in center the whole time, talking to the driver, my husband, my mom on the phone all while relaxed and calm. At some point my midwife called and said the center was full and that I would have to be admitted to L&D. Strangely though I didn’t panic or get upset or anything, I just looked at my husband who said, “whatever happens will be whats best for you, you know that right?” and I did! All those affirmations and statements on the tracks came rushing back and I just couldn’t be fazed.

We arrived 20 minutes later and my midwife met us at the door smiling. She said, “good news, one of the rooms at the center is now free”. My husband looked at me with his “I told you so” expression :) We went into the room and I put the ipod headphones in my ear and tuned everything else out.. My midwife checked me and said I was at 6cm, at that point I had had no bloody show, no loss of mucus, liquid, nothing.. I got up to pee and splash! a whole gush of what looked like water was on the floor and all over my hubby’s feet!! I remember my midwife telling the nurse to hurry up, that I was going to have this baby soon and I wasn’t sure what the rush was. (start BOP): my first two non-hypnobaby births were a day and half a day long! (end BOP)

That first wave after my water broke finally signaled to me that something was happening. I went down on all fours, my husband started squeezing my shoulder telling me to relax and to open. My midwife asked if I was feeling pushy and I wasn’t yet (start BOP): in previous births I had pushed when my midwife said push, once I had reached 10cm.. I had tears in both which needed stitches.. this time around I was determined to breathe my baby outand to push only when I felt I needed to (end BOP) I was actually surprised she was asking me that early on – I mean I hadn’t even reached  the ‘pushing baby out’ track yet… but apparently she was right! the next wave came and i felt my body pushing and my baby’s head crowning… by the next wave I heard some weird sounds coming out of me as I was breathing out (I had been completely silent up until then).. sounded a bit animalistic if you ask me! All I was thinking was “sliding the baby out” and that’s exactly what happened..at 6:28 am

Now comes the phenomenal part! I was still on all fours when the midwife held my baby and my husband tried to support me back onto the bed… I ask the midwife, “Is he ok?” and she stammers “um um its its a girl actually!!” I lay down on the bed and looked at my husband saying, “what did she say??” At that point I took my baby in my arms and sure enough there was my baby girl!! I couldn’t believe how blessed we were! My husband had been praying for a girl for so long and we were told at our U/S appointments to expect a boy.. we were still happy of course, picked out a name, bought new stuff and bonded with him and now we suddenly have a girl!!!

And that’s the story of how Sarah came into the world! I can’t begin to stress how amazing Hypnobabies has been for us as a family. Also for those starting late, I started at 33 weeks, but I was very dedicated to the program. I also fell asleep through most of the tracks but for some reason everything comes back to you when you need it the most.

Thank you all for your help, your stories have inspired me and given me hope. I pray that everyone has the most beautiful birth ever!

Marwa –  Mother to Adam, Abraham, and now Sarah :)

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Teagun Rex was born Monday, June 14 at 9:15pm. He weighed 7lbs, 2oz and was 21.5 inches at birth. He looked like a skinny tiny old man :-D. He has huge hands and feet, a small head, and gets his ears from his daddy and his blue eyes from his mommy’s side.

I think I recall somebody asking the experiences of second (or subsequent) moms who didn’t use HB for their first babies, so, if you’re interested, here’s DD’s *very* different birth story. BOP needed.  http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=17849803&blogId=393080457

Our birthing day started around 8:00 in the morning on June 14 (one day and 1.5 hours earlier than I had been visualizing). I started feeling mild PW that seemed almost indistinguishable from the Braxton Hicks I had been having for months, except that that they seemed to be coming about every 10 minutes.

We already had a non stress test scheduled, because we were 41 weeks, so we headed to our appt at 11. The PW had gotten less consistent, but never stopped. The test and following ultrasound showed that Teagun’s heartrate was dropping with the waves, and his fluid levels were low. This concerned the doctor, and while she was very supportive of our desire to have a natural, intervention free labor, she felt this necessitated a Pitocin induction, and she sent us to the hospital. Before we left she did a cervical check (only my 2nd with this pregnancy; the first was kind of a surprise), said I was 3 cm dilated. I agreed to having my membranes stripped, and she said that got me easily to a 4.

We meandered over to the hospital, after getting some lunch and snacks. I was sure to drink a lot of fluids in an effort to help out his fluid level.

While I know that the health of our baby is paramount to my emotional well being, it still didn’t mean I was happy about the idea of a medical induction. We brought our breast pump on the off chance they’d let us try natural means first. On the ride to the hospital, I listened to one of my Birthing Day Affirmations, and that really made me feel better about the impending induction, even though it was not what I had wanted.

We got to the hospital around 2ish, got admitted and hooked up to the monitors. Julie, our first midwife, came in and went over our birth plan with us. She was very supportive of our preferences, and even said we could try natural methods of augmenting the PW, since Teagun’s heartrate was looking good! I was so excited. It was as much her general attitude as not having to jump right into Pitocin. Even though I had come to accept the idea of Pit, I was very happy to have a second shot at something resembling the birth I had visualized.

I got hooked up to the IV and my GSB antibiotics around 4:30. The IV was terribly uncomfortable and continued to bother me until they removed it the next morning. While they ran the antibiotics, I tried the breast pump to augment the PW, which, I think, were about 6-7 minutes apart at that point, and still relatively mild.

After the antibiotics were done, around 6ish, we decided to walk the floor a bit. My mom, DH’s mom (Sue) and (2 year old DD) Kismet had joined us at this time. We hadn’t been walking for more than 10 minutes when the PW really started to pick up, in frequency and intensity. They were coming about every 3-4 minutes, and required a little concentration at this point. We walked for a bit, stopping for the waves and when we found a play area for Kizzy.

We made it back to the room about 7, to find we had wandered too far, and security was looking for us! =-O We apologized profusely.

Around this time the waves started getting really intense, and I thought I should try listening to my scripts, because if I couldn’t get the PW under control, I was worried pain meds were in my future, as they were starting to feel like when I had Kizzy, and I was certain we had several hours of that ahead of us.

I tried listening to Easy First Stage, but was having a hard time concentrating because Kizzy kept telling me to wake up, so Sue took her for a walk. As long as things stayed quiet, the CD helped a lot. Especially between waves, I was able to relax and rest.

I planned on spending the next few hours laying down, listening to my scripts, so I told Tony it was time for Kizzy to go home. He called his mom to bring her up to say good-bye, and my mom called her friend to come pick her up.

Sue brought Kismet up, and her and my mom went down to get Kizzy’s carseat, around 8:55. Shortly after that, I had a wave where I felt a little like I wanted to push. I called Maureen, our second midwife, and she checked, said I was 8 cm, and I could give little, grunty pushes with the PW if that felt good.  She reminded me I could stay on my side if I wanted, or do whatever felt comfortable.

I don’t remember if it was the next wave, or the one after that, but it was certainly within 10 minutes of the first “pushy” feeling, but whichever it was, the wave took over, and Teagun was born, in about one long pressure wave. My mom and Sue didn’t get back until his head was half way out. Tony ended up holding my leg with one hand and Kizzy with the other.

Teagun was born in the caul, which is to say that my water never broke, and he was still in the bag of waters when his head came out. It’s apparently quite rare, and is supposed to be a good omen. :-) Maureen broke my water as his head made its way out (from my hazy recollection, there really wasn’t any crowning; there was no baby, then his head was half out).  His cord was wrapped around his neck twice, which the midwife quickly took care of.

He was placed on my chest immediately, and, as per our request, they waited to clamp the cord until it stopped pulsating.

We made it home late Wednesday, and are enjoying learning to juggle 2 kiddos and getting to know Teagun: so far, I can tell you he has a squeaky little cry, crazy strong neck muscles, and an obsession with trying to eat his fists. <3 <3 <3  My recovery has been ridiculously swift; I only had mild burning with peeing for about 1.5 days, and then I felt pretty much completely back to normal (as opposed to still being in pain 8 weeks after DD’s birth).

I could hardly be happier with my experience.

  • On one hand, it wasn’t p**nless (the pressure waves were definitely causing some p**n near the end),
  • but I didn’t think to really utilize my tools until it was almost too late.
  • I think, thanks to the reprogramming of Hypnobabies, I didn’t realize how advanced I was pretty much until he was born.
  • I thought we had hours left.
  • If I had taken more time to get into hypnosis during my birthing time, I feel like I would have been more comfortable.

That being said, this was a walk in the park compared to my DD’s birth;

  • it was *significantly* less p**nful, for one.
  • My Hypnobabies training helped me stay relaxed and calm through my PW, even when (during transition, apparently; at the time I thought I was maybe halfway done) I started to doubt myself briefly.
  • I felt so much more in control of the situation and my body.
  • Ironically, the HB tools I was never particularly fond of (the 4-in, 8-out breathing and Special Place (I never felt comfortable trying to visual a baby I hadn’t met yet)) were the ones I ended up using the most.
  • DH had no idea I was experiencing any discomfort throughout our entire birthing time.
  • The staff was apparently impressed as well;
  • the midwife told me I restored her faith in childbirth.
  • I’m ready to do it again!  :-D

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Hannah’s birth story began eighteen months ago with the birth of my son Silas. Because I am cross posting this story, I will be using Hypnobabies terminology. I’ll put definitions in parentheses for explanation. For those in the Hypnobabies group, please use your Bubble of Peace while reading the story of my son’s birth. (Bubble of Peace: an imaginary bubble around yourself that allows only positive messages about childbirth into your mind. If reading something will create negative feelings in you, you use your BOP to read the story without it causing you to have negative thoughts about your own upcoming birthing.)

Although I had prepared for his birth using the Hypnobabies program, I had done a poor job of managing my diet, getting exercise during the pregnancy, and doing what I could to get him into a good position for birth. My birthing time with him was very long and exhausting, with eight hours of transformation-like pressure waves and the desire to push. I lost control of my emotions and went pretty crazy. I got an epidural, and was pushing him out 15 minutes later. He was quite large and was posterior, so pushing him out while completely numb from the waste down was no easy task. He had meconium and substantial deccelerations in his heart rate, my doctor cut an episiotomy, and pulled him out. He was whisked away to be assessed by the peds team. It was long time before I heard him cry. Meanwhile, I started bleeding pretty profusely and my blood pressure dropped quite low. I was placed flat on my bag and fluids were squeezed in (quite literally, I saw the nurse standing over me squeezing the bag of pitocin to make my uterus clamp down and stop bleeding). I couldn’t hold my son when he was pronounced healthy and brought back out because I was too weak and we were all afraid I’d drop him. I looked and felt terrible for days.

When I learned I was pregnant again, I knew there were things I needed to do in order to make this pregnancy and birthing better and more comfortable. I exercised as much as was healthy and I could squeeze in. Although I didn’t do a perfect job with a healthy diet, I did a much better job of eating healthy foods and didn’t splurge nearly as much as I had before. I sat in forward leaning or straight up positions to help encourage Hannah to be head down and to put her back towards my front (known as occiput anterior, the best position for birth). I slept almost exclusively on my left side and used a pregnancy pillow to help me stay on my left side. I did my Hypnobabies practice in the day time rather than evening, because I wanted to make sure I stayed awake through the tracks and actually thought about what I was doing on a conscious level (even though sleeping through the tracks is okay, I felt better about my hypnosis practice if I stayed awake).

As my pregnancy progressed, I felt like Hannah was getting quite large. I never felt like Silas was big when I was pregnant with him, but I felt like I was carrying a big baby this time around. I palpated my belly daily and she consumed so much space with little room leftover. I felt great, but I also felt like I was about to “pop” any minute. I felt like my intuition was telling me she would come early, so I prepared myself mentally and physically for this. My house was clean at all times, the bags were packed, the car seat in the car, the diapers washed and folded, the bassinet set up next to the bed…

Everything was ready and all I needed was a baby. The days turned into weeks and people began commenting, “You’re still pregnant?” “You mean you haven’t had that baby yet?” “When was your due date again?” “Are you SURE it isn’t twins?” “Are you having any contractions yet?” “Are you dilating at all?”
I tried to just smile and brush off the questions and comments, but after preparing myself for an early baby, a fast easy labor, and a smaller baby (my son was nine pounds and 22.75 inches at birth), my confidence started waning. I was tired. I wasn’t tired of being pregnant, per se, but just tired. I never felt or said anything resentful towards my child or my body, but I slowly became anxious. What if something were wrong with my baby and that’s why she hadn’t been born yet? Her movements had slowed down, and I found myself anxiously watching the clock in order to do kick counts.

My doctor never voiced concern over the size of Hannah until my guess date (aka “due date”) passed. I already had two guess dates: the guess date according to Naegel’s Rule for dating pregnancy, which is what they use in obstetrics, and the day that I knew to be my real guess date based upon the Fertility Awareness Method. The guess date on my chart at the doctor’s office was a week before my FAM determined guess date, so actually, my doctor didn’t even bring up Hannah’s size until I was a week past what they believed to be my guess date. She said she was concerned that since Silas was a nine pound baby and he was born with some difficulty that continuing until the time I thought would be 42 weeks (which would be 43 weeks by their numbers) could potentially result in a C-section. She said it was ultimately my decision, but she was very concerned. My doctor is a very caring person and I do believe she was legitimately concerned about our safety. We discussed scheduling an induction for later that week, but I changed my mind and was able to buy myself a little more time, thinking it wouldn’t even be an issue.

Another week passed and she voiced her concerns again. By this time, I had already been having anxiety. I knew that having an induction could potentially lead to a cascade of interventions that ended in C-section. The thought of a Cesarean made my anxiety intensify. I too, was concerned about Hannah’s size, though, and had been for a while. I discussed my fears with my doctor. She agreed that they were well founded fears, and assured me that she doesn’t encourage anyone to have an induction unless she is seriously concerned about safety because she knows that un-necessary induction increases risks to moms and babies. I asked her if it would be possible to do a “slow induction.” I told her I preferred to have my water break on it’s own, and to have the pitocin drip titrated slowly over a longer period of time. She thought it sounded like a good idea and was willing to write her orders that way. I left the office feeling good because we had discussed my options and I was empowered to make choices for myself and influence my own care. Most of all, I felt at peace with the decision.

I checked into the hospital on Monday, July 5 at 6:00 PM. We had gone out to dinner at Applebee’s with my parents and left Silas with them. I was nervous all through dinner and had a hard time being social. I had spent the day picking up loose ends around the house, playing with Silas, a lot of time praying, and doing Fear Release sessions. As the time drew near, though, I became a bit withdrawn. I had determined ahead of time that even though I was going in for an induction, that this was going to be a beautiful birth. I knew that if Hannah was as large as we all thought she was, I was going to have to be positive and stay focused in order to avoid an epidural and be stuck on my back paralyzed in the bed. I knew she’d need me to be mobile in order to get her out. So I thought about brave mothers in the Bible who made huge sacrifices for their children. I thought about Jochebed, and how she put baby Moses in a basket in the Nile to protect him from being murdered by the Egyptians. I thought about Hannah dedicating Samuel to the work of the Lord at such a young age. Of course, I thought about Mary, riding on a donkey as she labored and then giving birth in a stable, of all places. I thanked God for these women and knew I could do what needed to be done to give birth to my own child just as He had designed me to, even though the process was being started artificially.

We looked like a couple of tourists checking into the hospital. I had my suitcase, my pregnancy body pillow. Dan had his laptop bag, a backpack, his pillow, and my camera. The hospital was quiet and I asked the clerk checking us in if they had any patients. She assured me that they did. The nurse that took us to our room and got us settled was the same nurse who was present for Silas’s birth. We chatted for a while, mostly about her sister, whom I used to work with. Then she was off at 7 and my angel nurse, Karen, came on.

Karen reviewed my birth preferences and seemed excited that I had chosen to have a natural (pain-medicine free) birth. She told me she had C-sections with both of her children, but thought natural childbirth was wonderful. Because I was being induced with Pitocin, it was necessary for me to be continuously monitored. Knowing the risk of hyperstimulation of the uterus and fetal distress if the Pitocin is turned up too high, I agreed that continuous monitoring was a good idea. I told Karen I wished to be out of bed as much as possible, and she assured me that the cords are very long and I could walk around the room as far as the cords went. She even offered to re-arrange the furniture in the room if necessary in order for me to sit in a glider next to the monitor. I told her that wouldn’t be necessary quite yet, but I’d like to try the ball. She brought a ball for me (which was a nicer ball than the one I have at home!) and then positioned the bed with lots of pillows so I could lean forward onto the pillows as I sat on the ball. It was quite comfy. Then she went about the business of making sure the belts and everything were positioned correctly. She always told me to get comfy first, then she’d position the monitor. She assured me she would re-position the monitor as many times as necessary in order for me to be comfortable.

The Pitocin drip was started at 7:30. I hung out on the ball and listened to Birthing Day Affirmations on my ipod while Dan played a game on his laptop. We would occasionally look at the monitor and the strength of my pressure waves (contractions). They weren’t too strong but they had developed a nice pattern. I was very comfortable and relaxed. Karen came in around 9 PM with the resident. He checked me and I was at 4 centimeters, can’t remember the effacement, and a -3 station. Karen helped unhook my wires so I could walk to the bathroom. Dan helped me change back into my nursing tank and skirt because the hospital gown was uncomfortable. Then Karen put the bed into an upright chair position and helped me get comfortable with lots of pillows behind my back and under my knees. I put the ipod back on and relaxed while listening to the Painfree Childbirth track and Karen turned the Pitocin up. Dan called my doula Dee Dee to let her know what was going on while I was in hypnosis.

When I finished the Painfree Childbirth track, I was ready to use the bathroom again and get back on the ball. We decided to watch a little TV and settled on “Last Comic Standing.” Coincidentally, the comedian was talking about big babies. He was pretty funny and he had me laughing out loud. My doctor came in with the resident shortly after that. I think it was about 9:50. She wasn’t on call, but she likes to see her patients through. She’s only missed one birth in her entire career (she’s family practice, not OB, so she doesn’t deliver as many as an OB does). She checked me and I was at five centimeters, but still at the -3 station. We chatted and laughed about the show on TV and then she went to hang out at the nurses station. I got back on the ball and put the deepening track on. Karen turned my Pitocin up again.

I went into deep hypnosis with the deepening track. Deepening was my favorite track while preparing for this birth. I could really feel my pressure waves picking up in intensity as I relaxed through each one. Karen came in and adjusted the monitor because she was having trouble picking up the heart rate. I decided to re-start the deepening track since I paused it while she adjusted the monitor. I continued relaxing as the pressure waves grew stronger and more frequent. Dan took a few photos, and it looked like I was asleep on the ball, but I was very aware of everything going on. As the track continued, I could tell I was going to need my doula soon. I was a little torn. I wanted Dan and my doula to support me through the intensifying waves, but I also wanted to finish the deepening track because I was enjoying it so much. I opted to finish the track, and the moment Kerri (the woman who guides you through hypnosis) counted me back up, I put my light switch (mental light switch: off=deep hypnosis and anesthesia, center= alert, but anesthesia to midsection of body, on= no anesthesia, no hypnosis) in center and asked Dan to call Dee Dee. He wanted to finish his game, but I told him things were getting serious and I needed Dee Dee to come soon. He called Dee Dee and then he called Karen to come in and turn the Pitocin down since I wasn’t getting but about a 30 second break between pressure waves. I stood up next to the bed and leaned over the bed, relaxing as much as could while standing. Dan rubbed my lower back as I swayed back and forth through the waves.
Karen came in to turn the drip down and I decided I was ready to lie in the bed on my left side. She helped me get into the bed, and she and Dan helped position me on my left side with my pregnancy pillow and the pillows on the bed. I was feeling pretty comfortable, but I was no longer interested in laughing or much conversation anymore.

It was around that time that Dee Dee arrived. She sat in front of me and we talked a little. I would stop mid-sentence to turn my switch off through the waves. She told me I didn’t even look like I was about to have a baby. She said I just looked “blissed out” during each pressure wave. The waves were very intense. I would picture myself at the top of a roller coaster and then I would ride each wave like you would the drops and twists and turns of a fast wooden roller coaster. I felt a little rush of adrenaline at the beginning of each wave, and would say inside my mind, “Here we go!” just like you would if you were on a roller coaster. It wasn’t scary, or particularly painful, just intense pressure and tightening in my abdomen and back. I reminded myself to keep my face and my hands relaxed at all times.

Dee Dee’s apprentice Molly came in and I welcomed her right before another wave came on. Shortly afterward, Karen and the doctors came in. They wanted to check me again and put an internal monitor in since the pressure waves were pretty intense. My doctor didn’t want to continue going up on the pitocin because she was afraid she would over-stimulate my uterus, but they were having trouble monitoring the baby’s heart rate since she was descending pretty quickly. Knowing that they would have to break my water to do this, I went ahead and okay-ed it even though initially I wanted my water to break on it’s own. I asked if I could stay on my side since I was so comfortable and my doctor said that would be fine. When they checked me, I was at 6 cm, completely effaced, and she was at a 0 station.

I’m not sure how long it took them to break my water and put the monitor in, but it took a lot of focus to relax through the waves as they did what they needed to do. Dee Dee rubbed my belly, Dan rubbed my feet, and Molly rubbed my back. It all felt wonderful, but I started shaking and getting nauseous. My doctors stood at the bedside after the monitor was in. In hindsight, I think they knew things were picking up and they didn’t want to get too far away. I told them I wasn’t opposed to some Zofran, only pain meds. They kind of laughed as I told them I wanted 4mg of Zofran, or 8, whichever they felt like ordering. Karen got the Zofran for me and my doctor helped pile warm blankets on my back and my legs to help with the shaking. Shortly after I got the Zofran, my pressure waves intensified some more. I began doing a low moaning with each wave and it helped me keep control of myself. At one point I felt myself starting to lose control, and I said, “Stop it!” pretty loudly. Everyone thought I was talking to them, so all the wonderful massage stopped. At the end of the wave, I apologized and assured everyone I wanted them to continue what they were doing and I was telling myself to stop freaking out. The massage soon resumed, much to my delight and I regained composure.

I felt like time was moving very slowly at that point, and I started to get what my mom calls a case of the “jim-jams.” I felt like I just had to get out of the bed and asked for help going to the bathroom. Karen and Dee Dee both agreed enthusiastically that going to the bathroom was a great idea, so Karen unhooked me and they helped me walk to the bathroom. I had to pause a couple of times between the bed and the bathroom because I continued having pressure waves. As soon as I sat on the toilet, I was stricken with panic, as my waves intensified to an all-new level. I felt my belly get so hard and I began pushing involuntarily. I just couldn’t stop. I began having flashbacks to Silas’s birth, where I had felt the urge to push for nearly eight hours. I was almost in tears and said, “This is just like Silas” but Dee Dee stopped me mid sentence. The waves were right on top of each other and I can only describe the feeling as sheer panic. I was moaning very loudly and cried, “Please help me!” Karen and Dee Dee kept reassuring me and helped me back towards the bed. When I came out of the bathroom, I saw that my doctor and the resident had already gowned and gloved and had the table pulled up to the bed. I was in complete denial that I was about to give birth and I remember thinking that they were just wasting all the sterile supplies and they’d have to open up a new sterile table when it was really time to push the baby out. I kind of perched myself on the edge of the bed because another wave hit me right as I got to the bed. I was holding onto the rail and pushing (not realizing that’s what I was doing). I thought I was just yelling like a cave woman because I had officially lost control of my emotions. Dee Dee, Karen, and my doctor kept telling me over and over again, “The baby is coming, Summer. You’re pushing the baby out right now.” but I didn’t believe them. My doctor crouched down on the floor next me. She was seriously prepared to catch the baby as I stood at the side of the bed. Suddenly there was a gush of fluid as I yelled through another wave and then I felt a stinging sensation. I was able to gasp, “Stinging, stinging!” Someone said, “Summer, the baby is coming OUT!” and I suddenly became a believer and decided the bed was where I wanted to be after all. I couldn’t lift my legs up, though, and all I could say was, “Legs! Legs!” and everyone kind of picked me up and put me into the bed. I don’t really remember much once I got into the bed. I don’t think I even put much effort into pushing, I think my body was just kind of doing it on its own. Dee Dee said I only pushed through three total contractions, but I don’t know if that included me pushing at the side of the bed. I think it does because everything happened very, very quickly. I heard the resident call out that they needed peds team to come in stat, but I just felt like everything was okay so I didn’t panic. I felt her come out and Dan announced, “It’s a Hannah!” (We didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl). They took her to the little resusitation room, but she was crying before they even got her there. Apparently she was meconium stained and her heart rate dropped drastically when I was pushing. Dee Dee told me it’s actually pretty common for the heart rate to drop like that when a baby goes through such a rapid descent.

I remember thinking it was amazing how one moment I was having the most intense experience of my life, and the next moment I felt perfect. I laughed when I heard her crying, and Dan went into the rescusatation room to be with Hannah. He brought her out to me pretty quickly and I got to hold her right away. She didn’t really cry that much. She cried when she was first born, but then she quieted right down and was just very mellow. I had some bleeding issues again, but didn’t lose as much blood as last time and my blood pressure didn’t bottom out. The nurse had to “massage” my uterus, which is definitely not massage at all. I didn’t want to turn my switch off for it because I wanted to be able to look at my beautiful baby, so I just had to deal with it. I told my doctor it was worse than the actual birthing time (labor).

Dee Dee said that it was only about twenty minutes from the time they checked me until Hannah was born. That means I went from six centimeters to ten and a 0 station to baby completely out in twenty minutes, which Dee Dee said was “crazy fast.” Everyone kept telling me how awesome of a job I had done and not to worry about my cave woman moments in the last five or so minutes because anyone that went through transformation and pushing that quickly would be a cave woman too. My doctor said she has patients that scream like that at just 2 centimeters.

I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since she was born. I was on this incredible adrenaline high for two days, and people that saw me said I didn’t even look like I’d just had a baby. I feel so much better this time, and I feel like I’m healing faster. I truly believe the difference is that I didn’t use pain medicine and my body’s natural pain killers, endorphins, were not suppressed so I have less post partum pain. I’m not any less “injured” this time around, I’m just feeling much, much better.

Hannah has already grown and she’s filling out her wrinkles. She’s even getting a double chin! As far as her being a big baby goes… She was 8 pounds and 4 ounces… not that big after all. She did have us all fooled, though, because even Dan earlier on in the pregnancy said he thought this baby was going to turn out to be a ten pounder because I got so big.

I guess my conclusion to Hannah’s birth story is pretty simple. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God. He created the entire birth process. It’s not something to be feared or dreaded. I know the apostle Paul didn’t have birth in mind when he wrote the book of Phillipians, but the passage in chapter four and verse eight “… whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” definitely applied for me in Hannah’s birth, and I know it can for others too. I’m so thankful to God for blessing me with a husband that supported me through me decision making and the entire pregnancy and birth process. I’m thankful for my wonderful doula Dee Dee who helped bolster my confidence and helped keep my focus. I’m thankful for a doctor that was willing to listen to me and supported my decisions while respectfully giving her input. I’m thankful for a program that helped me focus on the positive and helped remind me that pregnancy and birth are “natural, normal, healthy, and safe.” Most of all, though, I’m thankful for a beautiful and healthy baby girl.

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