Although this birth was nothing like I had actually envisioned (a 4 hour relaxed hospital birth), it was exactly like I wanted and needed (a natural, surprise home birth – superfast about an hour of true birthing time) primarily because my birth plan was followed exactly…
- I wanted to labor and deliver as my body directed me
- I wanted to assist with the birth and bring her directly to me
- I wanted to stay skin to skin
- To initiate breastfeeding when we were ready
- Let the placenta deliver naturally and cord stop pulsing
- To delay procedures until I was ready to let go.
(I had these 6 things printed on a 3×5 card, that was my entire birth plan) I had planned for a hospital birth so all of those things were potential sticking points, things I was most concerned about, the birthing was least of my worries, in fact I hadn’t even tried visualizing a completely comfortable birth, I was so hung up on confrontation with the staff over my birth plan. I also, had been very torn about child care for my daughter, I wanted my mom to be the one caring for her but I also wanted her to be there at the birth, this way she actually did that.
However perhaps the craziest part is that one thing that I had envisioned and rehearsed really did happen, and it was the best thing, water breaking and then 5 or 6 pushy waves later baby would be born.
I had envisioned, rehearsed and told everyone that would listen, that Ellie would be born on Thursday, May 6th. The midwives delivered on Thursdays and I was hoping that delivering with a midwife at the military hospital I use, would get me the intervention free birth that I wanted. Although towards the end I started to think, that perhaps that wouldn’t guarantee my ideal birth and started to let go and accept the thought that perhaps another time might provide the optimal care provider mix to have my ideal birth.
I had not had an internal check at my 39wk visit, May 3rd. I had had about 2 or 3 strong, practice waves a few weeks before so I thought I might be dilating but was so sure that May 6th would be the day that I was ready. I’ll admit to being anxious and not really sure though. I was a bit anxious going to bed on the 5th, but I had totally prepared for a trip to the hospital the next morning, just like I envisioned.
Nothing… then around 4:30pm an hour of pressure waves, not very strong but lots of stretching down low, at my pelvic bone, like I had with Clara, no pain or discomfort anywhere else just very very tight stretchy feelings down low that were uncomfortable. I could say they were painful but I know they really weren’t.
Not much more for a couple of days, then to the nurse on Monday, the 10th my official Guess Date. I was 2cm dilated, 50% effaced and baby was at a -3 station (still high but slightly engaged). After that exam on Monday I had more pressure waves and bloody show throughout the week. By Friday, May 14th, I was getting anxious, tense, mad, scared, all the bad feelings. I was mainly worried that baby was in a bad position which was preventing my body from keeping the pressure waves going and that I would indeed end up at 42 weeks with no baby and an induction. I read a wonderful post on the HypnoBabies Yahoo Group. Susan was advising another woman in a similar situation, a woman who’s confidence was shaken thanks to some painful practice waves. She reminded readers that those early pressure waves can be the hardest and most painful, they can be your body positioning baby and the are so irregular it can be difficult to get into good deep hypnosis. (Msg number 76966) I took that thought to heart and went to do a fear release after a what seemed like a 20 minute wave while watching a wonderfully powerful lightning storm.
I slept through the fear release script trusting that my subconscious would clear out the fear and doubt I had in my mind. I wanted to give birth joyously as I’d planned, not grumpy and angry or mean to my support team so I decided not to be that way. I woke up feeling more settled and accepting of my birthing time, whenever that would be.
My husband came to lay down with my daughter was sleeping and my mom was relaxing in the living room, it was around 9pm when… A ‘real’ pressure wave, it was stronger than I’d been feeling, I knew something had changed and I was excited. This one I felt the stretching and discomfort move up the front of my uterus. Before they were just down low near my cervix. With this one I could feel the stretching moving up. My husband and I stayed on the bed relaxing, I wanted him to talk to me, he was so tired, I was frustrated with him and begging him to talk to me, when another came about 10 minutes later. And then…
A third real one, that was really really pretty bad (for me anyway – I’d guess that many women, not using Hypnobabies would say it wasn’t that bad.) And a strong pop – my water had broken. I was way up high near my ribs so I was a bit concerned about baby position still. I didn’t want to move even though I could feel the fluid seeping down onto the bed. After the pressure wave was finished I moved to the bathroom, and saw that happily the water was clear. Mark wanted to head to the hospital, I told him no, they need to get stronger and closer together, it could be a while. I even doubted calling the doula, which we did and calling my friend Brandi to come watch Clara.
I had another wave talking to my Doula, Emily, she estimated that it was about 4-5 minutes since my water broke. I think I went through 2 on the toilet and then moved to the birthing ball. They were pretty bad and wasn’t really into hypnosis, although I had my headphones on listening to Easy First Stage, I think. A wave on the ball and I thought I sensed that my body was pushing, just as it had with my daughter Clara, I got nervous and wanted to lay down, went to the couch, and another wave, moved during it and for sure my body was pushing!
My husband and mother wanted to go to the hospital, I said there was no time, and was insistent that I wasn’t going to move. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to move that baby out, but I knew that moving to the car and taking the 40 minute ride to the hospital was just not something I could handle at that point. I guess I felt like she was coming down, because I remember reaching up to check my cervix (I’m not sure what I thought I’d find) but I felt her head, I knew she WAS close. So I went to the toilet again, knowing that it would feel better there. I have to say the waves were intense and I was not using hypnosis to handle them, but I was thinking about the cues and I do remember telling myself “I’m safe, my baby’s safe” during a particularly rough moment.
My husband went to move the car, although I told him again, there’s no time. My mom wanted to call the paramedics I said not to. I’m not sure why, I guess I was still in a bit of denial about it happening so fast.
Things got fuzzy here, but my mom and I estimate maybe 3 waves later baby was crowning! I felt that first wave on the toilet move her down and out of my cervix, my memory now seems like I felt her move down like I felt her just kind of pop down into my birth canal in one wave. The soreness of my pelvis for weeks seems to verify that there was not gentle stretch or movement of the pelvis.
I remember reaching down and feeling her head crowning, knowing I needed to slow down and relax, I think I did for just a few seconds. I remember looking into my mom’s eyes and saying ‘oh baby’ and she saying that back to me, not sure if she was talking about me, her baby or just about the fact that a baby was here. I pushed between waves and out came her head, I felt it tear a bit forward and back in my perineum.
I knew that it would be really hard for my mom to catch her over the toilet so we started, in a strangely lucid moment between waves, to talk about me moving to hands and knees, even down to the detail that I was going to turn my head towards the tub. Then another wave and out she came! I remember feeling the cord pull up a bit and tighten as my mom handed me the baby I brought her up to my chest, I have a clear memory of blood splattering the wall as my mom reached back for a towel.
I remember joy, excitement, amazement, wonder, at holding her. Ellen Judith. I remember a moment of fright waiting for her to cry, and then MORE (could there be more? I didn’t think so) joy at the sound of her cry. This was indeed the birth I needed to heal me, the weeks of worry, about her position, pain and frustration of ‘false labor’ and my frustration at my last birth in the hospital when baby was wisked away from and brought back like a stranger to me.
I remember double checking to be sure she was a girl.
My mom called 911 almost immediately, I remember reminding her of the address and hearing her tell me to keep the baby at a lower level than the placenta (I ignored that advice though). I remember Mark coming in shortly after and he had a shocked look on his face, he was so upset that he missed her birth – he’d oddly been delayed because of a broken gate in our parking garage. Sometime shortly after that Emily the Doula arrived – she’d been delayed by surprise roadwork in her neighborhood. So baby came in a 2 minute window that my mom and I were home alone together. This is amazing since this child’s middle name is my mom’s name. Judith, a complete surprise and honor to my unassuming and excited mother.
Somewhere in there the placenta delivered without any effort, I don’t even remember another pressure wave happening. I felt it come down and out of me and into the toilet.
Emily asked quite calmly if we wanted to move to the bed. Mark and my mom seemed stunned by the thought and Emily directed them to get the shower curtain and spread it on the bed. I had to remind Mark to get the curtain from the girl’s bathroom since the one in ours was not waterproof.
My mom got a bowl for the placenta, and once Emily fished it out of the toilet and put it in the bowl, I got up to move to the bed, I was sore and I could feel some pain where I know I tore while I was moving to the bed, I could feel blood running down to the carpet, my mom cleaned it up for us later, I never saw it.
The paramedics arrived at some point, lots of them, at least 8, all men. I think I was already on the bed. They asked a few questions but were pretty hands off since I think things looked pretty stable and I knew all the right answers, (water clear, placenta delivered, baby had cried, even down to volunteering this was second pregnancy second live birth). They told my mom at some point that we all seemed very calm for having just gone through a surprise birth. They wanted to cut the cord, I said okay, but had to ask for my husband to do it, no malice there I think they were just looking to keep things moving alone.
It was time to move to the hospital, I was wheeled out on the stretcher, this hurt, I could feel every bump at the point of my two tears. I remember my mom coming out into the hallway with us, and holding her hand and saying goodbye, sad she couldn’t go with us but so very relieved that she’d be home if my daughter needed her.
I was really insistent that Ellie latch before we left, and so got her on in the ambulance before we left and she and I did our best the whole way to the hospital. Mark rode in the front and Emily rode with me in the back, it was nice to have her there we kind of giggled like kids, I was so excited and proud and happy and yet still needed her reassurance and guidance. Yet more evidence that doulas are truly important people in my opinion. It seemed so strange in the ambulance, like it should be smaller, I felt odd I still had on my cami top and no pants, I was in a sheet that I guess the paramedics brought with them. I had no idea where we were going, they told me but I wasn’t familiar with that hospital so it was just all so strange and like I’d been transported somewhere else.
We go there and I was wheeled in, through a lobby not through the ER, just in through the very quiet lobby it was around 11pm I guess. I was checked and found to have two tares, they were afraid I tore up towards my urethra, that was scary, that would really really suck, but it turned out I didn’t. A very uncomfortable repair later I was feeling pretty good. Although I wish I handled the staff better, I didn’t fully surrender to them but I look back and know that I did a bit, just to go with the flow, I still feel like I was in control, asking questions, being the owner of my body and my baby. I controlled when they took the baby out of my hands and when I got to breastfeed, I felt like, unlike with my first, Clara, that this was MY baby, I guess because I brought her to the hospital with me.
Hypnobabies was a great tool before during and after my birthing time, a great education and preparation and certainly the confidence it gave me to deal with the hospital staff was quite welcome. I also was so glad for that bubble of peace since I got a few ridiculous comments from the doctors. They don’t realize how important their words are to women, and had I not been prepared and educated I’d be scared out of my mind at some of the things that were casually said to me, with no malice intended but still quite negative just the same.
Thank you Hypnobabies for although it was not what I envisioned, I’m certain it was the birth that I needed.