Elsa’s Birth Bullet Points:
-Hospital birth with MW
-First baby, did not find out sex before birth
-5’8″ 120 lbs. pre-pregnancy, gained 35 pounds
-Used BabyPlus machine starting at 18 weeks, less regimented towards end of pregnancy
-Faithfully practiced Hypnobabies home study course daily from week 25 to birth
-GBS + (had saline lock and was given 2 rounds of antibiotics)
-Baby arrived at 38 1/2 weeks
-From 5 cm to Baby’s birth: 5 1/2 hours
-Had chiropractic treatment (massage and adjustment) for sciatica every other week from
-Did acupuncture treatment starting at 30 weeks (2 treatments total)
-Success thanks to Hypnobabies resulted in drug-free, discomfort free, GLORIOUS birth!
I awoke the morning of April 30 at around 1:30 a.m. with menstrual-type cramps that continued throughout the night at the rate of roughly four per hour. My DH and mom headed off to yoga around 9 a.m. later that morning, and I emailed the Hypnobabies groups my “real thing” question, as I really didn’t have any idea how long these would or could go on.The cramps were lasting from :45 to 1:50 and seemed pretty consistent, coming about every ten minutes. They were fairly strong and a good chance to practice my “off” switch and other Hypno-tools.We had a standing appointment with our MW at 1:45 but I put a call in anyway to let them know what was happening.
Very calmly they said to just keep doing what we’re doing and to come to the appt. I was hungry and had 2 soft boiled eggs and a little bit of toast, this breakfast was falling pretty short of what I usually eat, but I felt I needed protein and was a bit shaky from all the cramps through the night. When I went to get ready for the MW, around 11:30 a.m., I saw brownish spotting, the first time in my entire pregnancy. This moment was feeling more and more real, and I told my DH and my parents (we are delivering near their house and will spend time here with the new little one) and my sweet DH, he went into HIGH GEAR. (I finally had to tell him to relax because his frenetic packing the car was getting me a bit nervous, all the racing about! He was adorable, with one of the baby monitors on his belt and the other with me, staying “relaxed” and in “off” or center.
At our 2 p.m. appt., our MW asked if I wanted to be checked and to my surprise, I did. I just didn’t know still if this was the “real thing”. Sure enough, I was 100% effaced and dilated to 3 cm. She told me I could either go home (about 8 minutes away) or hang out for awhile, take a walk, and then go get ready to go get settled at the hospital. We opted to walk the parking lot, up a hill, and while I was doing that, the waves seemed to come more frequently, leaving me to bend over DH or lean or sit down on the curb. The waves came closer together while walking and I soon wanted to rest, so I lay down in the back of our truck with a camper shell (prepared with blankets, again DH!)
Checking in to the Hospital
We arrived at the hospital at 4:30. The MW’s assistant monitored the baby for a little bit-it seemed she was dragging her feet a bit to give me a little more time to progress. Wonderful! Our delivery hospital is very unique in our area in that they allow very personalized births, laboring in tubs, birth attended by MW, but there was still a certain level of bureaucracy that is to be expected. My hunch is the staff thought I was checking in too early, really, but my MW knew my desire to get settled and I felt as though she really advocated for me to be there.By 5:30 we were moved and settled into our labor and delivery room-beautiful, overlooking the Pacific Ocean with the entire western facing wall, windows. I was checked and found to be at 4.5-5 cm. Good news.
The next two hours were uneventful, but focused. DH massaged my back constantly as I sat spread eagle on the birthing ball, my pelvis tilted forward and leaning on the bed listening to the “Birthing Day” CD. I just focused all my mental energy on my cervix to keep that dilation moving along. By 7 p.m., I was at 8 cm with hardly noticing any difference in intensity from what I had been feeling all day.
My two favorite places to be were on the ball or on the toilet, leaning against DH. He had told me earlier that week that “I only had to get through one wave at a time, that’s it.” It served as the singularly most powerful reminder during my birthing time and kept me focused. At one point, I thought, “How much longer can this go on?” because it was physically fairly strenuous and to work with my Hypnobabies training meant that, for me at least, I was using a fair amount of mental exertion to keep on target.
At the time, I didn’t think I consciously used “center” much if at all-looking back though, I believe I was in center the entire time. I had NO interest in walking around, conversing, or taking energy away from the process or my body or baby. (I certainly didn’t touch my special knitting “birthing time project” I had chosen, but did get to make the nursing staff brownies!)
At 7 p.m., I told myself that I wanted to be birthing my baby at 9 p.m. (I didn’t do much of the pre-visualization of my birth. I just didn’t know what to put in that space and wanted it to develop into it’s own event, but I did do all of the positive reinforcements.) Around 8:30, I felt, or rather heard, my body begin to do something different. I assumed this was transformation and could feel I was getting close.
Birthing My Baby
I used open mouth exhaling/ahhh guttural sounds and by this point, the sound totally changed, deepened, it was remarkable. My body was totally in charge and I felt as though I was just along for the ride, yet still very much in control of how I choose to work through this time. I had totally forgotten about my bag of waters, and the one time my DH stepped away to wash his hands, my mom (and his birth assistant) took over. “POP!”, my bag of waters did not just break but they exploded in a projectile out in front of me (I was again on the toilet), drenching my mom’s legs. It took us both my surprise!
My MW then came in to check me and at that point, yes, we were in business! The staff was laying out drop cloths on the floor, and I moved to where they were, next to the hospital bed. The first position I assumed was draped over DH’s shoulder, leaning over him. It just felt the most natural, but my MW said he wouldn’t be able to see the birth, so I then went in to a crouching position. At this point, I mostly lost my sense of time, except the feeling that the birthing waves were not lasting very long. The “pushing” was far more strenuous than I imagined it would be, and my MW soon recommended that I lean back between waves and then with the next surge, pull my knees up and transfer that power to “curl into my baby”.To no avail. We tried this for a bit and then also sitting on the edge of the hospital bed with the back up and converted into an upright chair. Still no baby. I guess her head would come out and then “prairie dog” back in. She just wasn’t coming out. At this point, my waves had slowed to about one every five minutes or so. Pulling back on my legs exhausted me, that was very hard and my arms felt spent after all that pulling back, also like it was pulling energy from the effort of pushing.
I looked at my MW and said, “Ok, what can we do to speed this up?!” I was getting a bit concerned, not for me or the baby, but there was just this sense that after several pushes her head just wouldn’t go beyond crowning-and I was certainly pushing my mightiest-and I just sensed concern on behalf of the staff, a sixth sense or something.
I went into the most “wakeful” state I had been in and told my husband and sister to get the washcloths and start with the nipple stimulation. My Type A tendencies clicked in! Sure enough, DH and sis did, and I don’t know if it made a difference, but it made me feel as though we were actively trying to move things forward. All I could do in between was rest, and my mom told me afterwards that those long waiting moments between birthing pushing waves I looked like I was asleep.
My MW told me we had to change things as my perineum was swelling and I told her just to tell my what to do. I took the side-laying position now, on my left, and DH was instructed to pull up and back on my right leg, opening my pelvis. I had to pull back on that leg, too. My MW was also very serious in telling me that I had to push hard hard hard, get this baby out. By this time, our baby had been in the birth canal, just crowning, for close to 45 minutes. No one seemed concerned, but this sense of urgency did seem to hover. On the first wave, I pushed, but the same thing, right back in she went. My MW was instructing me now on my breath: As I feel the wave coming, take a deep breath, exhale, then take another deep breath and hold it and push. I did that through a few of the waves and was surprised that “how” to breath through this didn’t come more naturally. It was very hard to hold my breath and push like that (I am in quite good physical shape, with regular walking and yoga throughout the pregnancy), and at this point, I started this spontaneous mantra: “I am ready to hold our baby in my arms.” I just kept on with this, chanting it to myself, and at the same time, saying a prayer: “This child, as God’s divine idea, is already here. I just need to bring it out.”
These two things strengthened me and really helped me get her out on the next push. Thank God!
I heard everyone’s excitement as she emerged and I could feel the relief and beautiful slipping as the last of her body left mine. She was immediately brought to my chest and I just remember looking at her and being awed that she was finally in my arms. The geometry of her body suddenly made sense to me, I could see and feel the curve of her little butt, the right angle of her elbow, and what was unknown to me for so many months clicked and fit.
She was really pretty quiet. The staff roughed her dry with a towel and she cried a bit, then just settled onto my chest. Then, oddly, for the FIRST TIME during the entire birth, I felt discomfort. Come to find out, it was the baby’s umbilical cord, still attached, stretching up over me and kind of cutting in to my crotch, like when jeans ride up! What a ridiculous sensation, after a completely discomfort-free birth, to feel this!
Five minutes or so passed, and the MW’s assistant said, “Well, do you know what you have? Don’t you want to know?” I just looked at her and mused and sighed. It was like that last thing that mattered. “Yes”, I said. And they lifted little one and told us, “It’s a girl, you’ve got a little girl.
”Baby Elsa stayed with us for 1 1/2 hours before the staff weighed her, etc., which was all done just a few feet away in our room. Everyone was stunned to learn her size, 8 lbs., 14 oz. and 20″ long. This big of a baby came as a surprise as DH and I were both born 7 lbs. a few ounces, at 40 weeks. I couldn’t imagine had Elsa had gone for a few more weeks- babies do arrive on their “birth days”!
Elsa did get the Vitamin K shot and eye ointment a few hours later. She roomed in with us and took to the breast 45 minutes after her birth. I did have tearing and stitches, and did get anesthesia for the stitching up. (We did do perineum massage regularly pre-birth but she was also a very big baby.) Elsa nursed throughout the night and has continued to nurse. That said, she did lose 10% of her birth weight by the third day (down to 8 lbs.) but by the fifth day, she was back up to 8 lbs. 6 oz. and she continues to gain.
My birth was 100% discomfort free. This alone, was miraculous. The best way to describe the pressure (what I did feel, an incredible pressure) was that I had to take the biggest poop ever (sorry if TMI). There is a lot more pressure directed on the bottom than I imagined.
The birthing time did take an extreme amount of focus and concentration to stay in the Hypno-zone, and I did have to stay very very close to the idea that I take each wave as it came. Just be in the moment. Remind myself that this was a gift I was giving my baby. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my DH, who massaged and massaged me through the entire birth, was there for me to lean on, literally and figuratively. The experience was far more blissful than I imagined, not at all scary, and just beautiful. I couldn’t have scripted a better birth for our new daughter, Elsa.
Originally posted on June 4, 2008