Saturday April 23rd after our 40W+ doctor’s visit where we got to know her heart beat was strong, amniotic fluid ok, that she was still super low in my pelvis (as she had been for several weeks already) and that some braxton hicks were going on (though most times I wouldn’t notice them), we had lunch in the neighborhood with an insurance lady to discuss Leona’s future insurance plan. During lunch I suddenly noticed I was having noticeable PWs, and after timing them for half an hour they were consistently around 3-4 min apart. By this time I was done dessert, and mentioned to Judge that perhaps we should wrap things up and get going, just in case (shocked looks on both Judge and insurance lady’s faces).
I got up to use the restroom – and the PWs slowed apart to about 6-7 min as they had been during the monitoring at the doctor’s office. We decided to head back to the birthing center anyhow, as the doctor had asked us to go do a penicillin skin test (I was GBS positive and would need antibiotics during labor for the safety of Leona). [Turned out I was a bit allergic~ Never knew before]. And then we headed home.
There was no further birthing-time action that afternoon, evening, night, or next morning, so we decided to go mountain cruising. ‘Just in case’ we kicked into gear we did the cruising in the car (which, by the way, is not even a fraction as wonderful as scooter cruising – but still invigorating and refreshing to see all the lush greenness). During the drive home I felt some kicks towards the left-front of my stomach and I was worried she had moved further around (she had previously been left posterior forever, then the day before switched to right posterior).
We ended up going to bed a bit late – 12:30am (so technically April 25th), and I decided to do two hypnobabies tracks – two I had been doing regularly for a while: ‘Baby come OUT’ and ‘Visualize your birth’. In the visualization track I always envisioned the birthing time to start at night, with a lot of dilating PWs going on during my sleep, and waking up around 5am or so and then us heading out around 6am, arriving at the birthing center at 6 or so cm dilated (but not having any internal exams done), would walk along the stone path with stone-wall waterfall and gazebo with Judge and when a PW occurred would ‘slow dance’ through it with him, after a while would head in and jump in the tub, and a total of 4 hours after arriving (so that the antibiotics could kick in) Leona would be born.
During the ‘baby come OUT’ track we are asked to feel that baby is ready to be born. During the previous couple weeks of doing the track I had never really felt this one fully, but that night I truly felt it.
So, at around 2am I finally went to sleep for reals. 3am I woke up because of PWs that were giving me discomfort in my back. After a couple of these that were not so far apart I decided to get up and go downstairs to track them on the computer. After about 45 min they were consistently about 7 min apart, and the intensity was strong all along. I texted my doula [BOP] “Pressure waves every 7 min or so, the kind I have to concentrate for. Powerful back cramping…kind of toe curling.” [END BOP]. She called me a bit later and asked if we wanted to head up to the birthing center to beat morning traffic. I thought that sounded like a good idea, and woke Judge up.
We were in the car around 4:20 am, and the PWs got closer together (around 4-5 min apart) during the 40 min drive – where we got to enjoy the sky-lightening that comes with day-break.
When we arrived at the birth center around 5 am I was first monitored (flat on back with bands around belly). PWs were not as strong for most of them except one which felt like the ones I’d been having up until then – and that was off the chart (the chart only goes up to 100…). I also ended up having an internal exam as it was a choice between that and more frequent ‘band’ monitoring. Using Hypnobabies skills the internal wasn’t uncomfortable at all. Pleasantly surprised. Also measured at 3 cm dilation – not the 6 I had visualized, but enough that they felt I was in my birthing time and let me check in.
Then a marathon of PWs started, where the majority of them were off-the-charters and other than powerful cramping in my back (not the sacrum area but rather in a band between the top of my hip-bones) I didn’t feel any discomfort. The back cramping kind of immobilized me though, and instead of being able to walk around and change positions a lot I was on the birthing ball, with Angie (my doula) providing counter pressure on my back and Judge helping me with my hypnobabies’ cues, and them switching places once in a while. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a fully supported position so wasn’t able to go into full relaxation, which I believe would have helped. In any event, without Angie, Judge and Hypnobabies I believe I would have quickly lost it.
After a couple of hours of these powerful PWs I felt like I wanted to get in the tub. The birthing center has a rule you have to be 4 cm dilated to get in, so we did another internal and I was sure I’d be at 6 cm by then. [BOP] But alas, I was still at 3! This is why internals can be bad…quite disheartening. [END BOP] A while later we did another one and I was finally at 4 cm, and so they took 10 min to sterilize the tub, and then we had to monitor Leona’s heartbeat through PWs to ensure it didn’t dip. Unfortunately it did dip a few times (though I’m not sure if it was because I moved or whatnot) and so there was no tub action for me. Instead Angie took out her TENS machine and hooked me up to that to help with the back-pressure.
At one point I threw up and when got back on the birth-ball had the shakes. Judge was super worried, and asked if this was normal, and I told him if we were lucky this was me going through transformation and things would get busy soon and baby girl would be born. Angie said she had been thinking the same thing. But alas, the nurse came in and we asked her to do an internal (I think we asked for one – a lot of things are fuzzy for me) and I was only at 5 cm. Hrm.
It went on like this for a long time. With just Angie and Judge and I as I had requested limited coming and goings and so the nurses would only come in to check Leona’s heart-beat once in a while – sometimes hooked up kind, sometimes with a hand-held doppler. At one point my doctor came in to check on me, and we did an ultrasound and found that Leona had moved back to left posterior. Somehow this knowledge helped with the back cramping (shows a lot of it is in our heads~~) but didn’t eliminate it.
Finally at one point when I was 7 cm dilated I decided to lay propped on the the bed as Angie said she thought I was far enough along that Leona wouldn’t slip to anterior. This allowed me to finally use the ‘release’ cue and go fully and deeply into relaxation, hypnosis and hypnoanesthesia. It helped immensely with reducing the power of the back cramping that was still there – but I still needed Judge or Angie, as I needed one of my legs propped up as I had it bent in order to be in a better birthing position.
Throughout the birthing process I went through three ‘transformations’ – vomiting and the shakes – but didn’t mind them as I knew they were helping me dilate.
Then, finally, I was in the last few cm of dilation. By this time it must have been around 7 pm or so. Having only had 1 hour sleep the night before, off the chart PWs for about 16 hours, no food, and most of my liquids coming up again, one can safely say I was exhausted. Judge no less so, as he had only eaten a small thing, and had stood by my side the whole time very worried about me – and Angie as exhausted as well as she had not left my side either. So I got into a self-supported position on the bed, Judge lay down on the couch, and Angie rested a bit while keeping a watchful eye on me, and Judge and I both napped. I actually woke up during most of the powerful PWs but was so peaceful that Angie thought I slept through them all.
When I got ‘stuck’ at 9.5 cm, I decided to have the nurse manually rupture my membranes to see if we could finish this journey up sooner rather than later. When the nurse came in to check my dilation, I think she must have touched the amniotic sack and intentionally or accidentally ruptured the membranes as she had said she was first going to just check, but in any event my waters finally broke. This may have been around 9 pm.
Up until this point I had had “Easy first stage” playing out loud almost the whole time. Both Angie and Judge got a bit hypnotized/sleepy because of it (the birthing room lighting was low and comfortable as well) ;P Once I was at 10 cm I put on the pushing baby out track.
I had planned to just ‘breath’ Leona down and out, but I got powerful bearing down urges, and so – well, still breathed her down, but also pushed with my breaths, kneeling on the floor supporting myself on the bed and tub, using the positions I had learned helped relax the perinium and lower muscles the most (learned from the Pink Kit – quite interesting information in there!). There was no discomfort or pain, just a lot of effort.
For the bearing down two nurses joined my little team, and they would check her progress once in a while, as well as often check her heart-rate. When she had about 3 cm to go I got on the toilet to work through some PWs, and I felt her head with my fingers. I couldn’t believe it was my little baby!
Finally it was time to call in my doctor for the catching of the bebe. I removed the gown as I felt it was just in the way, and found the best position was kneeling on the floor on both knees, supporting myself on the bed (so I was still as vertical as possible) [later Angie asked the doctor if she had assisted in this type of birthing position before – she had never]. I decided this had gone on long enough and it was time for Leona to come out, so I pushed both during the bearing down PWs and between them. My doctor tried to help a couple times (stretch my perinium or something) and I quickly told her ‘no’ and she thankfully backed off. Angie kept encouraging me with my progress (‘silver dollar’, egg sized – shown with fingers) but I was instead rather “what? that’s it!?” :P
Finally I felt if I just pushed a few more times strongly she’d come out, so I did. There was a bit of stinging, but nothing terrible, and suddenly out she slipped. It was 11:01pm and she later measured at 3400g and 51cm long.
The nurses passed her through my legs so I could hold her, and then I was to climb back on the bed to birth the placenta. A nurse held Leona so I could climb up, but wasn’t used to the umbilical cord still being uncut so I had to quickly remind her that Leona was still attached to me and couldn’t move that far away from me! She then slowed her movement so I could catch up, and once I was on the bed Leona was placed on my chest.
The doctor then started to make like she was going to help with my placenta, so I reminded her that I wanted it to come out naturally. After Leona was suctioned more thoroughly she started the breast-crawl as I birthed the placenta.
Throughout the 20 hours of labor I have to admit there were a few times where I felt it was just taking too long. I was too exhausted. Not to a point I wanted to give up, but frustrated and perhaps on the verge of break-down. I know Judge was worried and thinking I was in a lot of p**n sometimes as I would become a little stressed when I felt a PW starting, needing them to help me through it using the cues. Without them (and Hypnobabies) I know I would not have been able to handle it, but with them it was just strong, manageable discomfort.
So though the birth did not go exactly as planned – I consider it to have been the right birth for us.