Most people do not know how long we waited for your arrival, but it was much longer than the standard nine months. After an ectopic pregnancy in 2005, I was left with only one uterine tube, which could have led to fertility issues. But we were expecting Autumn within a few months, so it did not seem to be impacting us. In 2009, I found out I was pregnant just a few months after we had decided we wanted another child. I was delighted, but a few days later found out that I was again having an ectopic pregnancy that had to be ended with Methotrexate. I was devastated and my sadness was compounded by the news that future pregnancies would likely end the same way. The doctor told me that my remaining tube was probably blocked and if we wanted another child our only option was in vitro fertilization. We do not have private insurance and since IVF was financially impossible, I gave up hope of a third child and decided to go back to school.
Dear Lola, imagine my surprise (and fear) that Friday nearly three years later, when looking at my calendar, I realized that I was “late.” Imagine my delight (and terror) when the second pink line appeared after I peed on “the stick”. I kept you, my delicious secret, for about a week, before telling your dad. And we waited another month, until we could see you growing safely in my uterus via ultrasound, until we told Mimi and Pap (then the rest of the world on Facebook.)
So you are very special to us: A wish granted unexpectedly and a joy unlooked for.
After an uneventful, complication-free, healthy pregnancy I headed into the weekend before I reached 37 weeks with the expectation of at least another week or two of pregnancy. In retrospect, I did a lot of nesting that weekend. I bought several last-minute baby items, paid all our bills, filed papers, made a to-do list and a number of appointments.
On Monday, April 30 I woke at 4 a.m. with a dreadful feeling about my appointment with the backup obstetricians that I had scheduled for May 1. The head doctor had called me several time the week before, wanting me to come in a sign yet another liability waiver for my homebirth plans. It was starting to wear on me and I was concerned about what awaited me at the clinic. I woke up Hal and cried to him because I felt that I was being sucked into the hospital agenda, that I would not go into my birthing time naturally or would go beyond 42 weeks. He calmed me down and I slept for several hours, missing my usual 6 a.m. 3-mile walk.
The girls and I enjoyed our first day off from homeschooling. We shopped at the Girl Scout Council store and bought some books for next year and patches. The security guard teased me about when my baby was coming and I wanted to have a Braxton Hicks in front of him to really scare him, but instead we smiles and went on our way. Our next stop was Trader Joe’s for our weekly groceries. I noticed that I was having fairly frequent practice waves and so I used my “Peace” Hypnobabies cue as I drove. Once at TJs, I was having to go to the bathroom with nearly every wave. So we finished shopping fast and I decided to skip my planned stop at Whole Food and ask my mom to pick up the gluten-free pizza crusts instead. I wanted to get home to eat, cook dinner and relax in case “this was it.”
After cooking, I had a sudden burst of energy, so I decided to channel it into my usual walk. The girls went with me for awhile, but mostly I was on my own, listening to my Hypnobabies Pregnancy Affirmations. A neighbor who recently had a baby, teased me about trying to get the baby out. At this point, I was still in denial that the baby could be coming sooner than later.
By the time I got home, Hal was there with the girls and we sat down to eat dinner together. I did not have much of an appetite for the stew and sitting on the hard kitchen chair was not comfortable. During dinner, I started using my lightswitch actively, even though I thought I was still have practice waves. I figured that if they turned real that I would be very relaxed from practicing and if they stopped, I would have gotten a lot of practice.
Finally, I felt like laying down, so I relaxed on the couch while Hal took care of the girls’ bedtime routine. They asked me to join them in Madeline’s room for bedtime stories, but I could not find a comfortable position to sit in, so I ended up wandering around her room impatiently until it was time to turn the lights off.
I brought down the big laundry basket of baby clothes and homebirth supplies. Hal looked surprised, but I insisted that it did not mean a thing- I was 37 weeks and felt it was important to have them out now. He suggested that I lay on the couch and relax and time some pressure waves while he worked on his final paper for his degree. It was due on Friday and both of us thought he had time to finish it before the baby would be here. But when I timed four waves, I found that they were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds. Hal exclaimed, “This baby is coming, isn’t it?!?” I smiled and said I still was not sure. But he was.
When I headed into bed, I decided to call Ellen and give her a heads up. I also emailed my doula who was still in California for her Hypnobabies training. I slept very deeply, listening to the Deepening track, alternated with other ones, like Fear Clearing and Special Place. Using my lightswitch and peace cues all day made it easy to sleep through this early part of birth.
I alternated between the birth ball and sleeping in bed. Hal feverishly worked on his paper. Around 10 or 11 p.m. I decided we should call Ellen. I was afraid of having the baby too fast and my waves were becoming much more intense. I made Hal go to bed in case I needed him later in the night, I did not want him up all night working on his paper and without energy to support me. When Ellen arrived at 12:45 a.m. she offered to check me, but I declined. I had not lost much mucous plus and was worried that meant I was not dilating. She assured me that many women have babies without ever seeing their plug, which made me feel better. I decided to go back to sleep after a snack and a tour of our house. She offered me something to help me sleep, but I did not want to be groggy if the baby was born in the middle of the night. Ellen slept on our couch and I alternated between sleep, birth ball and eating chicken soup on the toilet. All the while, I was listening to my Hypnobabies CDs and using my finger drop to stay totally comfortable through each pressure wave.
At 6:45 a.m. I asked Ellen to check me, as my pressure waves were still not lasting over a minute consistently and we knew we needed them to grow in intensity to bring the baby. At first, she thought I was not dilated at all, but quickly realized that what she thought was the other side of my closed cervix was really my extremely bulgy bag of water hanging out of a very stretchy 5 cm dilated cervix.
The girls got up as usual at 8:30 a.m. and were very excited to know that the baby was probably coming today. Hal made us all breakfast and I ended up sleeping until 9 a.m. Love that Hypnobabies!
Ellen thought that we should take a walk, so Hal and I went around a nearby street with a nice big uphill. We walked and talked. It was such a lovely day. Whenever I had a wave, I would lean on Hal and he would tell me to “relax” and “let go”. I started feeling double-peaking waves and I think I may have entered transformation at this point. But it did not matter. I trusted totally in Hal’s support and with each wave, I would imagine myself floating on a wave, in my special place. The water was my anesthesia and as the wave peaked in my uterus, I would envision the wave peaking and carrying me to shore. This visualization along with Hal’s voice giving me cues was so powerful that the sensations literally faded away and became exquisitely intense rather than uncomfortable.
We came home and I napped again, listening to Hypnobabies CDs. The waves were feeling much more intense and it was harder to find comfortable positions to rest in. I was really just listening, deeply relaxed and getting up to use the toilet in between nearly every one. I was still worried that I was not losing much mucous plug and concerned that the baby was still in the left occiput transverse and was getting stuck on my pelvis. I was feeling each pressure wave, first in my abdomen, then again radiating through my pelvis into my birth canal. It was more intense than I remember feeling during either of my previous births.
At 11 a.m. we decided to go for another walk, even though my waves were extremely intense. They were nearly constant, only 30-60 seconds rest and lasting well over a minute and a half. It took us at least an hour and a half, maybe longer to walk around the same street that it usually took us 10 minutes to go around. People stopped us occasionally to ask if our baby was coming. I would take a few small steps (all I could manage at this time) and I would have another wave while leaning on my husband and having him give me verbal cues for anesthesia.
We got home and I decided that after that walk, I deserved to finally get into the birth pool. It felt heavenly. I leaned into the side, listening to Easy First Stage and holding on to the handles. The girls brought me a posy of wildflowers and I looked at it. They poured warm water on my low back, which helped me focus. I talked to you, our baby, telling you that I was ready for you to be born.
After an hour, I got out to use the toilet and asked Ellen to check me again. I was 8-9 cm, but the baby was still high because of my incredibly resiliant, bulgy bag of water. She declined to rupture it, due to the risk of cord prolapse, but encouraged me to do it myself. But I just was not able to get the power I needed with each wave to push yet. And I was starting to feel a little grumpy and impatient.
Ellen asked me to get out of the tub and do squats or walk our stairs. The squats did not feel like they did much. But the stairs… oh my… walking the stairs was perhaps the single most intense experience so far. I did it once and began to cry for Hal, my rock who kept me in hypnosis and helped me focus on maintaining my anesthesia. He did two more rounds with me as I cried and swore like a sailor. Ellen took the girls into their bedrooms to explain what I was doing and that I was okay. They are so sensitive to my feelings and I did not want them to feel scared. After the third time, I refused to go further and decided to sit on the toilet.
I began to have a pressure wave and in that moment, I decided that I was going to push the heck out of it, whether I felt like it or not… I did not care. I let out the loudest sound Hal has ever heard me make. A roar, while I pushed as hard as I could and broke my bag of water. There was so much fluid that it splashed out of the toilet and all over the bathroom.
Upon the bag breaking, I immediately felt you move through my cervix into my birth canal. Ellen came running with Chux pads, intending me to birth in the bathroom. Hal knew I would be sad if I did not make it to the pool. He looked me in the eyes as asked, “Are you ready? We are going to walk to the pool. It isn’t far.” I did not think I would make it, but I did. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. Later, Hal told me that he had planned to carry me down the hall to the pool, if I had refused to walk.
Once in the pool, I freaked out because the urge to push was so intense, but Ellen simply reminded me to reach down and feel your head to center myself. I did that and instantly, instinctively, I remembered to push between waves and said “Peace” to myself as I eased your head out. I called out for help as I felt your shoulders emerge, one at a time and then your body as I knelt in the pool. I sat back, brought you up to my belly. You were blue at first, as waterborn babies are, but your heart rate was strong and you were quietly alert, looking at me, your dad and your sisters, who were present for the whole thing.
I reached down to check and found you were a girl! Madeline was crying in joy and I started crying, mostly because I was happy to finally be finished.
We got out of the tub and snuggled together on the bed. It was so amazing to go from having a baby to resting in my own bed at home. It felt so right and wonderful. You recovered from birth quickly, pinking up with the help of a little oxygen and massage and you started nursing immediately. Your sisters will never forget watching their baby sister enter the world. I feel so lucky that we all were able to have this experience together as a family. Your dad’s support created a level of trust between us that will never go away.
Initially, I felt like I had really let go of my hypnosis towards the end. That I should have worked harder to stay comfortable… then I realized that there was no way that I could have spent over three hours (or more, who knows!) at 8-9 cm with a bulgy bag of fluid in transformation if I had not been using my hypnosis. The intensity that I experienced was only matched by the power of my mind to stay in control and working towards the goal of giving birth. I also initially felt caught off guard by the length of time I was birthing because it was so much longer than Autumn’s birth. However, when doing the “Visualize Your Birth” script, I always imagined my birth starting at night, going through the morning and you being born in the late afternoon. This was exactly what happened! I just had not imagined the intensity of the experience. Having gone through it, with only my husband’s support, I feel stronger as a person, wife and mother.