Lyla was born on April 16th 4:13am weighing 7 lbs 10 oz and was 20 inches long! I would definitely call this a Hypnobabies success story!
A lot of people have been curious about Lyla’s birth story especially since I used hypnosis to have a completely natural birth. I hope that in sharing, this will encourage more women to trust in their body’s ability to give birth naturally and not be so quick to accept interventions that are unnecessary (and which lead to more interventions and c-sections). Also, I wanted to add to all the other positive stories out there of successful VBACs- and for everyone to know that a VBAC after 2 c-sections is not only possible but can be such a great experience! Those who know me know I tend to be wordy, so yes, this is long and detailed. Also it is a birth story- so expect it to be just that!
To tell the story of the birth Lyla, a little bit needs to be said about the births of our first two children. Having a natural birth has always been important to me. My mother had 5 kids and it wasn’t until her last baby that she experienced the rewards of a completely natural birth in Japan with the help of some amazing midwives. That was enough for me to want it. However, my first birth ended in a c-section. From the very moment I walked into the hospital, nothing was going my way. Although I didn’t want an IV or to be monitored constantly I was told I had to and I eventually gave in- and I ended up laboring uncomfortably in a hospital bed. By 8cm it was just too much to handle and I asked for an epidural. When I hit 10cm I was immediately told to push (unnaturally) and pushed for 3 hours with no progress. Never once did I feel an actual urge to push. My tired doctor finally convinced me I needed a c-section and I gave in. With my second baby, I approached the same doctor about a VBAC. He told me my pelvis was too narrow for natural birth and that I would need a scheduled c-section. He was very convincing and I trusted him again.
When I got pregnant with my third, I knew I had to do what it took to get my natural birth. A birth where I was alert, aware and in complete control of my body. From the very start odds seemed to be against us. I was worried that after 2 c-sections it would be impossible to find a care provider who supported my wish. But with encouragement from my husband and close friends, I started searching, and my search led me to Melissa Courtney- a midwife who had just started her own practice at Womankind Midwives. I remember feeling so nervous walking into her building to talk to her- and I RARELY get nervous over things like that! But the moment I met her I felt at ease. She was kind and sweet and took a lot of time to listen to my story and the reasons why a natural birth was so important to me. She calmed any fears I had about uterine rupture and other complications. Even as I got really emotional she was so sweet and understanding. I knew immediately that I wanted her to deliver my baby. BUT. There was a catch- she had to get a doctor who would back her up just in case. Thankfully that was Dr. Campbell- a high risk OB who supported midwives and their cause. I had to wait for Melissa’s call that day that he had agreed to give it a go. I was so nervous. Then the call came. He was on board! There were a lot of “what if’s” but at that point I didn’t care. I had faith that things would work out and I wasn’t going to give up.
In our quest for a natural birth, we decided to take a Hypnobabies class. My best friend had used Hypnobabies with her VBAC and raved about it. That led my sister-in-law to use it for her birth and she also had a great experience. The class was taught by Julie Six, who was also my sister-in-law’s doula. I decided to contact her to see if she would be a good fit for us. In talking to her, she was very experienced and passionate about what she did. After texting back and forth we also discovered that we knew each other already! From high school! Small world… no wonder she felt like an old friend! We decided to hire her as our doula and I had every bit of confidence she would help me in every way possible to get the birth that I wanted. I also learned early on that finding the right people to support you during birth is so important!
As my due date got closer and closer there were a few concerns. My first 2 babies were apparently considered close to the “large” side at 8 pounds (Joselyn) and 8 pounds 10 oz. (Landen) The policies at the hospital don’t allow for VBACS of babies looking to weigh more than 8 pounds 14 oz. (let alone a VBA2C!) So Dr. Campbell wanted to make sure that my little Lyla wasn’t going to be close to that number. At 37 weeks she was already calculated at weighing 7 pounds 3 oz and with babies growing about half a pound a week, we would be cutting it close. At this point I should also mention that apparently there were 2 due dates floating around. Dr. Campbell had been going by my April 6th due date (calculated according to the first day of my last period)… but according to an early ultrasound, her due date was actually projected to be April 11th. The latter was the date my midwife had been going by. We went back for another ultrasound 2 weeks later and were relieved to find out that she had only gained 4 oz!! This was such a blessing!! With that, Dr. Campbell pretty much said we were good to go!! My only concern after that was that she would come fast so there would be no more questioning her size.
So then we just waited. And waited. April 6th came and went, nothing. Easter came and went. I was for sure she was going to be an Easter baby. April 11th came and went and nothing. I was starting to get a little concerned… but Melissa was reassuring as was Julie. Babies come when they are good and ready- and Melissa didn’t seem too concerned over the weight of the baby. I was a little anxious so I had Melissa strip my membranes twice, both pretty much only causing a few pressure waves here and there with some minimal cramping. Over the course of the 5 days leading up to Lyla’s birth I would get periods of pressure waves that were getting closer together and stronger. I would think “this is it!!” but then they would stop. That was so frustrating to me!! Not to mention a little embarrassing since I felt like the boy who cried wolf every time I called Julie or Melissa. On Saturday night April 14th, I just had a feeling I would be going into labor the next day. It was approaching 4 days past my latter due date which is when I went into labor with Joselyn. I knew for sure I wouldn’t feel up to going to church so I called for a sub. At 1 am in the morning the pressure waves started. They were 5 minutes apart. I wasn’t going to cry wolf this time, so I timed them for 2 hours, I took a nice warm bath and listened to my hypnosis tracks to relax myself. When they didn’t stop, I finally called Julie and Melissa to give them a heads up- but told them I would call them later on in the morning. I tried to get a little sleep in between pressure waves and at this point everything was very manageable. Nothing painful at all- I wouldn’t even call it discomfort. I was actually enjoying them! Really! I knew it meant that I would finally be getting the birth that I wanted and that I would finally get to meet my little Lyla Jane. When everyone woke up at around 8am, pressure waves were still coming 4-5 minutes apart lasting about 1 minute long. Melissa had told me that’s when I would want to be going to the hospital- but when I called her she wanted me to wait a little longer. The more I labored at home the better.
Julie came over around 9:30am and we took the kids over to my in-laws. I got out my trusty birthing ball and did a lot of my laboring right there in my living room. I listened to just about every hypnosis track in my possession. We went for lots and lots of walks. I have fond memories of these walks. It was incredibly beautiful outside- a light cool breeze and sunny skies. It was the kind of day I had imagined in my head when I thought about Lyla’s birthday. We talked and laughed in between pressure waves- I was so excited things were happening!! We were going to do this!
By around 4:30pm things hadn’t really progressed much- pressure waves were still about the same or ranged from every 2-3 minutes apart to 4-5 minutes apart. We decided to go meet Melissa at her office just to check on things. I had said early on that I didn’t want to know my progress in numbers- I was afraid knowing would discourage me if I hadn’t made much progress even though I had been taught in my classes that those numbers could mean anything. Well, it really was a good thing I didn’t know. After laboring all morning and afternoon, I was apparently only 4cm. I was 100% effaced though and the baby was at 0 station so at least that was all in place! We were sent back to labor at home some more. We tried to all get a little nap in when the evening came and even took another nice long walk just as the sun was setting. I really was starting to get a little discouraged. I kept on waiting for Julie to say “ok! let’s head to the hospital! It’s time!” but she never did. I personally felt like things were going SOMEWHERE because I felt different. I went through a period of chills and shook for a little bit as I was laying down and at one point couldn’t stop crying I was just so emotional. I was laughing through the tears because I honestly had no idea why I was crying. Of course it was the hormones- things were progressing- but still not enough for Julie to think I was ready to head to the hospital. I was afraid that if something were to happen fast we wouldn’t get to the hospital in time, but Julie reassured me that everything would be ok since we lived only about 5 minutes from the hospital. As far as “pain” or discomfort goes, everything was still manageable. Intensity had definitely picked up though especially in my lower back. Julie and Adam both took turns with massages and hip squeezes (took a lot of muscle on their part!) that relieved a lot of the pressure I was feeling. By midnight I was just ready to have the baby. It had almost been 24 hours since I started my labor and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel discouraged. I felt that by staying home I was somehow keeping Lyla from coming- that I needed to be where I was going to give birth. In a lot of cases, going to the hospital can slow things down though- so really we had no clue what was going to happen once we got there. But I wanted to be at the hospital. So we went.
When I first walked in to the room, the nurse immediately told me she supported what I was doing 100%. Not only was that a confidence booster, but it made me feel a lot more comfortable. Because it was a VBA2C, I was supposed to immediately get a heplock and be monitored the whole time. I was also supposed to get a dose of antibiotics because I had tested positive for Group B Strep. But Melissa still felt I had a way to go and that I would possibly want to go back home if I didn’t make any progress so they held off on the IV. I was checked- and once again, it’s a good thing no one told me. I was only 5cm!!! After laboring ALL DAY LONG!!! But as you will see, you really can’t birth by numbers!
The nurses were so wonderful. They respected my wishes to labor on the birthing ball where I was most comfortable and tried really hard to get the monitor to work for me on the ball. It was difficult- they weren’t picking up much. So finally they said if I would lay in the bed for 10 minutes and let them monitor the baby they would let me back on the ball without the monitor. I will say trying to labor at the hospital WAS a lot more difficult. It was a lot harder for me to get into that relaxed state of mind that I needed to be in. Nevertheless, I know that the hypnosis was working because every time I heard certain cue words such as “relax” I would immediately feel more relaxed and my breathing would slow down. Things were getting pretty intense. Still manageable but definitely got me wondering if I could do it- especially when everyone around me seemed to think I wasn’t really close. I felt like the pressure waves were coming back to back at that point. I think it’s at that point when women think “I can’t do it” that things are actually happening. It was right about then that I felt a pop- and I said “I think my water just broke…” I stood up to “confirm” and sure enough my water had broke. They took me to sit down on the toilet- and I felt like I had to pee- and the nurse checked me again. I was an 8. Then all of the sudden I had an urge to push. I had never felt it before but it was very powerful. I remember it being really intense but I loved that my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing! It almost made me giddy inside. They moved me to the bed. I had told myself I would never push on my back again (which is what I did with Joselyn) but it was strange that it was what felt right and most comfortable. Things moved pretty fast from there. I couldn’t hold back my urge to push- and Melissa was called. An IV was put in quickly so I could get my dose of antibiotics as well. I must say I felt pretty silly- I was trying to breathe her out as much as I could but sometimes what came out of my mouth was making me laugh inside. With each push I could feel Lyla making progress. It was incredible! I would get a small rest in between the pressure waves and those were relaxing. I would get enough energy to push again. I was glad at this point that I had labored mostly at home- eating and drinking as much as I wanted so I would have energy for that moment.
Things kind of get complicated from here. I was really focused on what I was doing so although I was completely aware, there’s apparently a lot I missed. We had learned earlier on that Dr. Campbell was on vacation. Melissa wasn’t there yet so a laborist (on call Doctor) was called up to deliver my baby. Although I was having the urges to push, I was apparently not “complete” and the nurses were trying everything to get me to that perfect 10 to “avoid interventions”. I later learned the laborist was completely against VBACS and was telling the nurses I needed to have a c-section. Thankfully, the nurses were successful in getting me where I needed to be before the Dr. had come up to deliver the baby. I pushed for about 15 minutes- and then she was here at 4:13am! Words can’t describe the feelings I felt at that moment. I couldn’t believe I had done it! It was exhilarating! Adam and I were both very emotional as they pulled Lyla onto my chest. She cried for a minute, then with her big dark blue eyes just started looking around taking in the new world around her. She was so sweet and I was so in love. I just got to cuddle with her there as Adam helped clean her off.
About 5 minutes after the delivery, Melissa walked in. I am so sad she missed it- she was the reason I had been able to do this in the first place. I had a 2nd degree tear- nothing major at all- but the doctor apparently wanted to take me to the OR for better lighting to give me stitches. That seemed odd to everyone in the room, but I initially consented. When it was apparent that was an odd thing, I asked Melissa if it was necessary and she said it wasn’t. It wasn’t a bad tear, I didn’t have bleeding… so I decided not to get stitches. That apparently made the DR pretty upset. After talking to Melissa, he came back into the delivery room and said I would have to sign a waiver. I told him I would calmly and thanked him for all that he did. I could tell he was upset. I later learned he was not a huge fan of midwives or VBACs. He told Melissa she hadn’t followed protocol and was trying to write her up. The nurses would not consent. She had done everything she was supposed to. To me, this was a blessing in disguise. Even though I would not have consented to a c-section, I can imagine things would have been tense and stressful had I not progressed the way I had and he had walked in even saying the C word.
I’m so glad we didn’t give up along the way. I got exactly what I had wanted. Even looking back- knowing things did get hard at one point, I can’t remember being in pain at all. All I remember are the overwhelming feelings of joy when Lyla was born. And the feeling of accomplishment. And gratitude for the experience and to all that sacrificed their sleep and time with their families to help me. I’m amazed with what our bodies can do- really- even after 2 c-sections my body still knew what to do when it came time to giving birth. It was all a miracle! In the hospital, the day I gave birth, a nurse walked in and asked if I was the patient. She couldn’t believe I was up walking around doing things so shortly after my birth. The day we got home from the hospital I took a short walk- it felt nice to be able to move around freely.
Again, choosing Melissa as my midwife and Julie as my doula was essential to my success. I am a big believer that choosing the right care provider during a VBAC or VBA2C will greatly add to it’s success. Laboring at home as long as possible also helped me to stay focused listening to my hypnosis tracks. I ate a lot of crackers and apple sauce and drank lots of water during labor- that gave me the energy that I needed to last through my 26 hour labor and delivery. I’m so grateful that Hypnobabies helped me to have a relaxing and enjoyable birth experience void of fear and pain. I won’t say it wasn’t ever hard for me, but the intense moments were short lived and easy to get through because of all the techniques we had learned in class.
I’m in love with my birthing experience and the bond it has created between me and Lyla. Even my relationship with my husband was strengthened because we worked together through it all. I will shout praises about Hypnobabies the rest of my days!