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Elizabeth’s Change of Plans Birth
“I listened to my hypnosis tracks, both the Birthing Day Affirmations and Easy First Stage (Hypnobabies special track for birthing day). The words about my birthing time (Hypnobabies word for labor) being just perfect for me really stood out. I was able to feel peace about my choices as things went on.”
Hypnobabies® – Natural Childbirth at its best!
I started seeing my new OB when we arrived in our new town a couple months away from my guess date (Hypnobabies word for due date). She was very cheerful, upbeat, and open to conversation about any aspect of pregnancy. I didn’t feel the need to bring up my use of hypnosis during our appointments at first, because I have found that in my last pregnancies it was rarely my assigned OB who attended the birth. When I turned 37 weeks, I started getting high blood pressure readings at my appointments. My OB briefly mentioned the risk of needing to be induced if I continued to have high BP or if my lab work started to show warning signs, and I told her that was not something I was interested in doing if it was not necessary. Thankfully all lab work was fine. However, over the weekend, I started getting headaches and experiencing more swelling than I had previously. With the high blood pressure readings looming in the back of my head, my anxiety started getting pretty high. I desperately wanted to avoid being induced. I knew if I kept worrying about it, my blood pressure would only get higher, so I focused on doing more Fear Clearing sessions (Hypnobabies special hypnosis track to release fear) with Hypnobabies and reaffirming that pregnancy was natural, normal, healthy and safe. I did not want to ignore any warning signs my body was sending if indeed I was at risk, but I also wanted to remain calm and make logical choices that fit with my beliefs about childbirth. I ended up calling to get an appointment that Monday so I could have peace of mind that everything was really okay.
At that appointment, my blood pressure was still reading high so they did more labs and sent me up to triage to monitor the baby’s movement. From that point forward they asked me to come in twice a week for monitoring. Thankfully the labs came back normal and in fact had better readings than the week before. My blood pressure was fine on the monitor and the baby was moving well. By this time, I had heard the mention of being induced several times. My OB had gone over the risks and tell me the standard procedure for elevated BP after 37 weeks is to induce. The OB in Triage would ask me each time why I hadn’t been scheduled for an induction and then “Do you want to be induced today?” The first time I was asked this question, I was caught off guard. After planning for natural childbirths for all my babies the last 8 years, I had no intention of choosing that route nor had I ever been straight up asked that question- it seemed so taboo to me! I told her that we had been monitoring everything and if my labs were fine, baby was fine, and I had no further symptoms I wanted to wait. One of my favorite parts of each of my children’s birth is seeing how God created the perfect timing for their births. Despite all the unknown details, I believe that babies are born at the perfect time and they truly do know just how and when to be born. I mention all of this because I believe this repeated questioning of my decision eventually contributed to the way my birthing time came to be. It was hard to remain strong in my choices when doctors continually mentioned the idea of being induced. I felt anxiety about if I was really making the right choices. It planted the seed of “lots of moms get induced and have beautiful healthy babies, why shouldn’t I?”
I went in for my 39 week appointment and was feeling calm, but very ready for it to be my birthing time. My husband and I had talked a lot over the last two weeks about what it would be like if I had to be induced, since at several points while waiting for lab results, it seemed like I may need to be. Also, I was having many pressure waves (Hypnobabies word for contractions) the last few weeks and excitedly wondering if these waves were going to begin my birthing time. I was getting emotionally drained with all the uncertainty and just wanted this feeling to be over. I again had a high blood pressure reading and confessed to my doctor that I was feeling so tired and emotional the past few weeks. After talking a bit and finally explaining to her about Hypnobabies and my desire to have an unmedicated birth, of which she was supportive, I asked her to sweep my membranes. She said I was 2-3cm dilated but not yet effaced. I left with the plan to go in for an induction the next morning if my birthing time did not begin on its own after the sweep. I was just so tired.
That night, I began having consistent birthing waves. Beginning around 10 pm, they came every 5-10 minutes and lasted about a minute. This continued for several hours. At midnight, I woke up my husband and told him what was going on in case we needed to arrange childcare for our other boys. I have a history of 4-6 hour births so didn’t want to wait too long. The waves continued, but never grew stronger and by 3:30 am, we decided to just sleep… sure enough, they never returned.
I called the hospital around 7 am to check to make sure they had availability for the induction. They were too full and told me to call back later that morning. The same thing happened 2 more times that day, and finally, they told us we could come at 2 pm. By the time we got back to a room, it was about 3:30 pm. I was still planning on sticking with my plan of an unmedicated birth and even gave a short brief to the nurses about my preferences. My OB came in and we decided that she would check me and break my water. I was still dilated 2-3cm and was now 50% effaced. Baby was still very high and she had a hard time breaking my water. She decided to wait a little bit and see if my water would break on its own after her attempt. I was feeling pretty good and put on my Birthing Day Affirmations.
A part of me, however, was growing nervous about how things would progress, worried if one intervention would lead to another and leave me feeling unprepared. I was tired from being up all night and knew the kind of mental effort it took to be relaxed and use my Hypnobabies tools during my birthing time. A part of me was feeling guilty that I was even at the hospital being induced. Obviously, my baby wasn’t ready to be born. I confessed to my OB that I was nervous, and she said kindly that everything was fine, and I didn’t have to continue if I was uncomfortable with anything. God bless that woman. At this point, I could still go back home and wait. I really considered that. I talked with my husband about why we came in to begin with, what it might look like either way and decided to continue with things at the hospital.
About 6:30 pm my doctor came back in the room. I told her we were committed to having this baby today. I had very little emotional strength left. I was so afraid of the amount of effort that the next few hours would bring. As easy as hypnosis makes childbirth, I knew with the way my emotions were at the time that it would be an intense time of concentration, and I wanted to cry thinking about it. I could not believe the words coming out of my mouth, but I heard myself asking about what it would look like to get an epidural and use Pitocin. I had been so dedicated to natural childbirth, that I had not ever researched what epidurals require as far as the actual procedure of placing it, etcetera. She was very understanding of my feelings and put no pressure on me, yet answered my questions and explained the benefits and risks of the procedure.
I told my husband I thought I wanted to do the epidural but asked him if he thought I would regret it knowing how passionate I am about natural birth. He and my OB were both affirming about my past natural births, assuring me that no matter what choice I made, we would still be moving towards meeting our baby. After speaking with the anesthesiologist, I decided to get an epidural and start the Pitocin. I knew I wanted the epidural first because I remembered what Pitocin felt like just during the afterbirth of my previous births and did not want to be getting an epidural between those intense waves. Giving myself permission to make that choice was very freeing; I was happy to have a birth plan, even though it was different than I planned, and felt cheerful again. By the time the epidural was in place, it was after 8 pm that they began Pitocin.
After the decision to get an epidural and begin Pitocin, I felt like a Hypnobabies failure. I was enjoying the progression of my pressure waves with the Pitocin, and I’m not going to lie, I was enjoying the ease of the epidural. Yet, I felt like choosing these interventions disqualified me from using my Hypnobabies tools. In fact, my husband and I completely stopped using Hypnobabies language such as pressure waves and birthing time and even used the *p* word in describing the intensity I was feeling. It’s funny that it felt so against the rules.
However, with the interventions, I experienced side effects such as uncontrollable shivering and dips in my blood pressure. I was also feeling much more sensation on the left side of my body than I was in my right. With these side effects, I could only get relief when my husband or nurse was applying pressure to my shoulder or forehead, which is a Hypnobabies tool my subconscious mind had been training with. I asked my husband to start using the Relax cue (Hypnobabies tool to deepen hypnosis) and the Peace cue (Hypnobabies tool for instant physical comfort) to help me settle. It then clicked that even though things were not as planned I could indeed still use my hypnosis tools. We decided to try to rest waiting for my birthing time to progress, and I listened to my hypnosis tracks, both the Birthing Day Affirmations and Easy First Stage. The words about my birthing time being just perfect for me really stood out. I was able to feel peace about my choices as things went on.
About 10:40, I called my nurse because I was starting to feel a different kind of pressure than before. Then, my water broke. She checked me and I was 6cm dilated. A pressure wave went by and I started feeling even more intense pressure. It is here that I must apologize to any prejudice I have ever shown to a woman who had an epidural. There is still an intense amount of pressure with an epidural! It was very similar to the pressure I felt with my Hypnobabies births, which made me happy. At this point in my birthing time, I had to start moaning to get through the waves. My husband knew from my past births that both being 6 cm and hearing me moan to get through the waves were huge signs that I was beginning Transformation (Hypnobabies word for transition). My nurses simply did not believe us, no matter my husband insisting things were about to get going and they needed to call the midwife who was to catch the baby to come now.
I actually saw the nurse roll her eyes which made me so frustrated. But then another pressure wave came and I told her I was feeling pushy. She checked and I was 8cm, just 2 minutes after she checked me last at 6cm. She rushed to get the midwife and by the time she arrived and checked a minute later I was 9cm. She asked if I wanted to push and see how it felt. I’m glad she did because it was a totally different feeling pushing with an epidural. It was more difficult to direct my effort, and they tried to make me hold my breath and push that way. I did not like that advice, so just ignored them and did what I remembered from my unmedicated births. Within 2 pushes, our baby’s head was born. I enjoyed the break in intensity, then took a breath before the next wave and the baby’s body was born.
I want to never forget the feeling of euphoria when I held my baby for the first time, though now, writing this 3 weeks later, it is already fading. This was such an emotional pregnancy and birth for me. It was such a relief to have that baby on my chest. To know that this baby is a boy and to be able to finally call him by name after waiting to know his gender until birth. I was just so grateful, happy, and savoring every feeling of having a squishy, warm, newly born baby on my skin. Will I ever have this feeling again? Only God knows. Waiting for his cord to stop pulsing, my husband and I enjoyed looking at him together. I wanted to know everything about this baby and discover every detail. He was so alert, eyes wide open looking around at whatever he could raise his head to look at. Then he began using his legs to crawl his way to my chest, latched on unassisted, and began nursing. He was so content and nursed for an hour at least before we checked his weight and length.
In comparing unmedicated and medicated births, I will say this. The positive to the medicated birth is that I was able to feel more tolerant of the internal exams during my birthing time and not as overwhelmed during transformation. In my opinion, transformation was just as intense of a feeling each way. The drawbacks to the medicated birth were the uncontrollable shivers, the inability to move to different positions (not a huge deal this time) and blood pressure drops. I almost passed out three times due to the epidural. In fact, they had to give me the epidural twice because the first time, blood got into the valve and they could not push the medication through.
Also, the baby’s heart rate dropped a few times during my birthing time and I had to use an oxygen mask which was quite annoying during the pushing stage. In terms of recovery, my back was very sore after the epidural for three days. My belly was very sore for 2 weeks which I had not experienced in my previous births, and I wonder if it was due to the intensity caused by Pitocin. I also experienced uncomfortable swelling after birth due to the IV fluids they gave me with the epidural. The afterpains were worse this time during recovery, but I think that is due to multiple pregnancies- they have gotten more intense with each birth.
My biggest take away from this pregnancy and birth is to have grace and focus on truth. When my ideas of how my birthing time would go were threatened, it set off a pattern of anxiety that was hard to draw back in. I felt threatened and therefore I sought control. There were many moments of peace during it all, and for that I thank God. It was a battle to draw my strength from the Lord during this struggle with anxiety, yet he did not abandon me. Those moments of peace were a gift from him. When I struggled with the decisions regarding my birthing time, I kept feeling like if I could just surrender the control, the Lord would have a blessing bigger than my own understanding. He always does in situations of surrender! However, in his mercy, he did not withhold all blessings. He still showed us grace and blessed us with a beautiful, healthy child… and with gratitude I bless you, Nathan Jeremy Glosson, to walk in the light, to grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man, that the Lord may bless you and keep you and shine his glorious face upon you. Amen.