Farrah’s Hypnobabies Birth Story – From her Dad’s Perspective
“Sadly Hypnobabies class came to an end. I missed our Saturday’s but left with a sense of confidence in my birth partner abilities. I had come from having an overly simplistic view of birthing to becoming educated on the entire process. I felt accomplished. I thought life is good.”
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When Nicole told me we were pregnant, I couldn’t have been more excited. I thought to myself we are going to have a baby…and I already love this baby. We are going to need to buy things for this baby. We are going to need to decorate a room for this baby. Then magically nine months later we are going to “deliver” this baby. Afterward we will take this baby home and love it forever. I thought life is good. Life is really good.
Now along with Nicole’s baby Swentek announcement came a thoughtful gift of a book entitled “the Caveman’s Pregnancy Companion”. I’m sure to many it’s obvious how appropriate this book was. My idea of how a birth story unfolds was embarrassingly simplistic. This was all about to gradually change.
I started to read the book and thought to myself Gronk has a lot to learn, AND SO DO I. Now along with the book and many discussions with Nicole as well as attending birth and baby expos, words I didn’t quite understand started popping up like doula, birth center, midwife and childbirth hypnosis. Birth center and midwife were easily explained and understood. However, I needed a bit more clarification regarding doula and childbirth hypnosis.
My initial assessment of doula and hypnosis was, once again, embarrassingly simplistic. In my mind I had a doula as a mother’s personal assistant and hypnosis as a watch waved in front of the mother while giving birth. This was all new to me as members of my family and close friends had opted for the more traditional birthing route, which I thought was essentially the only route, so a whole new world was beginning to open up. Just so you know, I do become more educated.
As Nicole and I continued our talks, it was apparent she really wanted to go the birthing center with a midwife route. This sounded great and it was fun to start making these decisions. It was also becoming apparent Nicole wanted to have a doula and birth naturally. When I found out naturally meant without medication, I was a bit concerned. And when I found out we would accomplish this via hypnosis, I was a bit skeptical. Okay, I was more than a bit skeptical I was in full-on doubt mode, but Nicole was so invested in this and sure of it that it gave me a sense of confidence this could work. It’s amazing to me how her positivity and confidence helped bring me to a point where we could go down this path. We started (we = Nicole) looking into doulas and childbirth hypnosis and were put in contact with Laura.
Our first meeting with Laura was wonderful. I felt we got to really know her and what she believed in and how she could help us leading up to, during and after our birth. Yes, help US…she was not going to be a personal assistant. She was going to be much more to not only Nicole but our baby and me as well. Laura told us about a couple she doula’d for previously and how the father nicknamed her the “dude-la”. We left the meeting feeling confident she was the right choice. There is a kindness, confidence, and calmness about Laura that was immediately apparent. We also left the meeting with Hypnobabies on our minds.
Since Laura was now our doula and she also taught a Hypnobabies class, we thought there could be no better way to learn about hypnosis. Full disclosure…in the back of my mind I was thinking we can change our plans if this whole hypnosis thing doesn’t work. So we signed up for Laura’s six-week course. Turns out during the entire six weeks I didn’t see one watch waved in front of any of the couples. My initial assessment was wrong. Hypnobabies isn’t lulling the mother into a semi-comatose state to “get through” birth. It’s basically a re-wiring of your brain and its preconceived notions of what the birth process is. It’s a reframing of what you think you know to be true into a more relaxing and manageable experience. But it’s more. We got an in-depth look at what we were about to encounter during the birthing process. We received a thorough education, and I mean thorough.
Laura helped address our expectations, options and our rights as parents. She introduced the concept of a birth plan. She gave us the confidence in ourselves to make informed decisions for our baby. Laura gave us the ability to do all this calmly. The class also brought me closer to Nicole through our at-home readings and exercises. It helped me take a more active role and helped to define it. We were able to discuss things we would never have imagined discussing without this class. Our fears, our hopes, dreams, and hesitations. We were also introduced to the other couples in our class, several of which we still see regularly and are able to call friends. This was an unexpected and welcomed result. I really enjoyed those Saturdays and got to learn so much that would prepare me for the arrival of our baby.
Circling back, you may be curious when I abandoned the need for a backup plan. Simple. One of the home exercises is for birth partners to listen to their own hypnosis track on a regular basis. I’d cue up the track on my phone, put in my earbuds and away I’d go. It just seemed every time I’d listen to the track I’d fall asleep at some point. I was getting rather annoyed with this, so I told Nicole. She laughed when she found out I would wake up before the track was over. Evidently I was under hypnosis when I thought I was sleeping and still following all the cues. Nicole said the hypnosis is working for me. I asked if it was working for her. She said yes and the backup plan was no more.
Sadly Hypnobabies class came to an end. I missed our Saturday’s but left with a sense of confidence in my birth partner abilities. I had come from having an overly simplistic view of birthing to becoming educated on the entire process. I felt accomplished. I thought life is good.
Our guess date was May 23rd. Farrah arrived on May 29th, which was a Sunday. Her birthing time started the Friday before.
The onset of birthing time (Hypnobabies word for labor) was later on Friday night after a gathering with neighbors. Nicole began to feel regularly occurring pressure sensations (Hypnobabies word for contractions) just before bedtime. I was so excited. I began to read relaxing passages from our Hypnobabies book and gently rub her back. Quickly Nicole informed me this was not helping so I stopped reading passages and rubbing her back. She preferred just hearing simple cue words to help her relax even more. So the sensations continued throughout the night and into Saturday morning. I remember feeling even more excited to know I was going to meet my daughter “soon”. Later that day, the sensations became closer and closer so we called Laura.
This whole time I remember watching and listening to Nicole and being amazed at how well she was doing, how calm she was. I also remember being ultra-focused on her. Hypnobabies taught me what to expect and this gave me the ability to focus on Nicole. We kept Laura updated during the afternoon until Nicole felt it was time for her to come to our home. We were both excited but again remained calm. When Laura arrived, I felt even calmer. I could see in Nicole’s eyes she felt the same way. Laura began helping Nicole with calming words, calming touches, and Hypnobabies phrases and music. She also helped with some exercises and essential oils. Meanwhile, I was getting our car ready for the ride to the birthing center. Laura even found time to ask how I was doing. She was amazing.
We got to the birthing center around 8:30 PM on Saturday and Nicole walked in. By this time the birthing sensations intensified, but Nicole was still doing amazingly well. The midwife and assistants checking us in couldn’t believe we were in our birthing time. I got the feeling they thought we were a little early. This was confirmation the hypnosis was working.
I’m thinking at this time my daughter is arriving soon and I can’t wait to hold her. Well, I had to wait a bit longer. She wasn’t ready just yet. The birthing sensations continued and I would feed and hydrate Nicole between each of them. As the night progresses, Nicole calmly dealt with the sensations even though she didn’t get nearly enough sleep. I am even more amazed.
Later Sunday morning we get to the active birthing portion of our story. The portion of the story where I get to take a more active role. It’s at this point the birthing sensations are intensifying even more. We try to speed things up by doing some abdominal lift and tuck exercises (Nicole did not like this). She took a shower and walked around the birth center too. We even danced for a while. There was some sort of squatty seat device that helped a lot. Things progressed to a point where she got into the tub, which is where we wanted to birth. However, Nicole did not like this, so out we came. I was impressed at Nicole’s ability to quickly move from what didn’t work to what worked. Laura was extremely helpful in suggesting different positions. Strangely enough, we got the most action out of Nicole lying on her back. This is the position we did not originally think we would want. Adaptation. While she is on her back, I am positioned at the business end of the birth story. I have a great view. I’m going to catch our daughter and cut the cord, two things I never imagined myself doing. Now I have the confidence to know I can do this. I’m thinking this is how I’m going to meet my daughter. I want to do this.
Up until now, Nicole has been absolutely amazing. She has done tremendous work in a very calm manner. I am convinced I could not possibly have done this. The birthing team has told me they are very impressed. Around this time I recall Nicole leaning into me and saying with a quiet voice, “I’m sorry I’m yelling”. I let her know she is not yelling. Another sign the hypnosis is working. Very cool and very amusing. By now Nicole is exhausted, as am, I. Nicole is probably dehydrated as well. And she hasn’t eaten much over the last 24 hours. I believe all my offers of water and food were wearing on her. The birthing team wants her to take a break. They hook her up to an IV for fluids, give her some nitrous oxide and we attempt to rest. The IV turns out to be the most beneficial. After about 30 minutes of “rest”, we get right back to it. Nicole has found another gear and is pushing like a champ. I’ve re-assumed my business end position. I begin to see my wife as a warrior. She inspires me. I begin to throw out words of encouragement. I have never been more proud. And this is where things get really cool.
BOOM! I see the top of our daughter’s head. I see her hair. I can’t describe the excitement I felt at this moment. I was so proud of everybody. Back to it, Nicole is pushing hard. Bodily fluids everywhere. The head crowns, the midwife is helping, but something is preventing baby Swentek from exiting. It just isn’t time. I remember seeing Nicole’s pubic bone and thinking to myself it seems rather large. Keep in mind this is the first pubic bone I’ve seen so I have no frame of reference. Now with some midwife’s finagling and hard pushing by Nicole, we progress to a point where our daughter’s head completely pops out. OH WOW! Now my recollection of what happens next is a bit fuzzy. The cord was wrapped around our baby and she was turned slightly sideways. The birthing team had Nicole hop up immediately to all fours in order to untwist our baby and she did so with impressive quickness. Seriously, I have never seen a human move that fast. BOOM! Our baby is born and briefly lands in my hands and the birthing team’s hands. We pass it to Nicole. In that brief passing, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of “we did it” and “she’s here”. Nicole then gracefully leans back and enjoys skin to skin with our baby. WHEW! I lay next to Nicole and Farrah. I caress their heads and once again get to think life is good. Life is really good. Nicole hands Farrah to me so we can enjoy or skin to skin time and life gets better. This will sound corny, but Farrah has increased my capacity to love and has done so every day since her birth.
Eventually, Nicole, Farrah and I spend some time as a family in our birthing room and it is beautiful. I think back and can honestly recall not having any other thoughts, cares or worries on my mind. I was mesmerized by Farrah and Nicole. They both fought so hard. My warriors.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Nicole for being an amazing wife and mother. It was her idea to go to the birth center, midwife, doula, Hypnobabies route and it was the best decision. It is a great gift to Farrah. And to me.
I’d also like to thank Laura for being our doula, for being our hypno-doula. She was so much more than a personal assistant. She is a best friend to our family, a guardian, a support staff, a calming influence there with a soothing glance and comforting words. Laura will always have a special place with our family. Always.