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A little history…my first birth, a planned homebirth, ended up being a cesarean birth due to presence of meconium during labor and also a malpositioned baby (right occiput posterior). I had a lot of post partum stress with baby ending up in NICU for 8 days, then myself coming down with a very bad infection in my right ovary/tube area that hospitalized me for 5 days; just 3 days after we finally all got to go home. For someone who never wanted to go to the hospital in the first place, I sure got the full experience. For this birth, I knew I wanted to try for a VBAC and we decided it would be best to use a private CNM who has hospital privileges and to have the baby in the hospital. The hospital (Group Health Seattle) has the lowest c-section rate in WA state (23%) and are very VBAC-friendly so I was pretty comfortable with my choice, although it took me the entire pregnancy to accept it. I would have considered another homebirth, had my husband and family been more supportive, and if I lived closer to a hospital.
At 38 weeks, the baby was found to be in a footling breech position. I was devastated as I saw my hopes for a VBAC flying out the window. I tried all the natural turning techniques for a whole week and had no luck. I did go in for an ECV (where they manually turn the baby externally) at almost 39 weeks, and it was successful. Yay! I totally credit my Hypnobabies practice for keeping me relaxed and giving me the skills to effectively visualize my baby turning into an optimal position. The doctors were amazed how calm I was during the external version and said it made all the difference.
Starting at 40 weeks, I started feeling some mild waves (contractions). I labored ALL week and kept thinking “this is it” and then fizzle, fizzle, fizzle…I kept going about my business and tried to just ignore the waves as best I could. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I went to the midwife and I was at 2 cm and ~ 75% effaced, so I felt like my body was preparing. I told her that I thought the Saturday after Thanksgiving would be the day. [I had this vision or feeling for a couple of months]. On Thanksgiving night, while at the in-laws, I kept having strong waves but I didn’t time them or anything and they’d come and go, although some were quite intense and I had to stop what I was doing, as they took my attention away from what I was doing. But then, I didn’t feel much on Friday. I had been losing bits of my mucous plug all week.
My midwife and doula kept telling me that my body was doing all this work ahead of time and that when my birthing time came, it would be fast and easy. And, let me tell you, they were right! Finally on Saturday morning (41 weeks) I just kind of had a feeling it might be the day (just like I visualized) and was feeling more action all morning. Around noon I decided to lie down and time the waves. They were coming at 7-8 or 10 minutes apart; then nothing for about 15 minutes. I got up, had some lunch at 1 p.m., and then they picked up again. I stayed calm (thanks to my Hypnobabies!) and started timing them again around 1:40 p.m. The waves were increasing in intensity and were coming fast at 2, 3, 4, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, etc. minutes apart. I told John that I needed him to put Leo (our 2 ½ year old) down for his nap because I was having troubles focusing because he was trying to play with me. I sat on my birth ball, resting my head on the edge of the couch during each wave. After about 15 minutes of timing them, I called my doula who said, “You better call your midwife”. It’s now about 2 p.m. I called my midwife and she had me talk to her through a wave. I was so calm and could easily talk through the waves, I think it threw her off, because she told me to call back in an hour. The Hypnobabies and deep relaxation techniques I’d been practicing for months were being put to the test during this time. I remained totally calm and comfortable, despite the fact I was experiencing intense sensations, but would not call it painful at all.
I decided to go upstairs and listen to a Fear Release hypnosis script. I lay down on the bed and told John I was feeling kind of scared and I started crying a little. Reflecting back, I am pretty sure I was in transition, due to this sudden swing in emotions. I laid down and put on my script, but I couldn’t focus because I just kept thinking, “we need to go, we need to go”. So, after about 15 minutes, I got up, went to the bathroom, had a major evacuation of my bowels and my water broke a little bit. It was time to go, NOW!
Luckily, John’s brother was on his way to stay with Leo. He finally arrived about 10 minutes later and I got in the car. Whew! My water broke more in the car, lots more water. [I was so organized, I put towels in the car a few days prior, but didn’t think to sit on them, or even put them up front, so the towels remained in the backseat, while I sat in a puddle up front. HA! I just couldn’t muster up the strength to turn around and grab them while we were driving.] We headed down the hill, and called my midwife and told her we were on our way to the hospital. She said she might not make it for another hour, because she had to get her kids taken care of. We called my parents too to tell them we were on the way to the hospital. It was about 2:45 p.m. now, about 1 hour after my waves really picked up. About 5 minutes into the car ride, my body started pushing the baby down. It was totally involuntary and I got a little nervous. I had my headphones on, listening to a script (can’t remember which one I put on), but it was hard to focus. Although I pushed for 4 hours with my last birth but didn’t push him all the way out, my midwife told me she thought I’d probably have to push for about an hour with this one, so I kept thinking, “She won’t be born in the car. We’ll make it.” I was SO uncomfortable in the car and wanted so badly to get on my hands and knees, but no way was I taking off my seatbelt, as John was driving very fast (but safe). Poor guy!
We finally got to the hospital around 3:15 and they put me right into a room. I instantly stripped off every stitch of clothing and hopped up onto the bed on all fours. My doula arrived shortly after. I remember asking one of the nurses, “Aren’t you going to check me?” and she said, “You’re pushing honey, we don’t need to!” My midwife showed up around 4 p.m. After about 40 minutes on hands and knees (squeezing my husband’s hand during each wave), they wanted me to change positions to see if I could open up a bit more. So, I turned over and pressed my feet into the squatting bar with my back reclined (kind of like a reclined squat using my feet up on the bar as leverage) and that really helped. After just a few more pushes, I could start to see her head. I breathed my baby down, making low guttural sounds with each push, using the force of the waves to help. It took about 6 waves for her head to be born after we could first see her head emerging – with lots of dark hair!
I got to watch her birth in the mirror. It was amazing. I laughed out loud when her head was out. The nurses and midwifes all laughed along too and told me they don’t often hear women laugh during birth! I was just thinking, “I did it!” and felt such relief that it was almost over. In one more push, her shoulder and body slid out and they immediately laid her right on my chest. There was a little bit of meconium in my water, so after a minute or so, they did have to take her over to make sure she was okay. She was fine and didn’t even need any suctioning, so they brought her right back to me. She took to nursing like a true champ. It was so easy. She was 8 lbs. 15 oz. A big, healthy girl!
Since it was a VBAC and I was GBS positive, there were lots of (unwanted) hospital protocols I was supposed to follow (hep-lock, cervix checks every 2 hours, continuous fetal monitoring, antibiotics) but since it was so fast, none of that happened, so in essence, it all worked out just how I wanted (with no interventions, pokes, prods, monitors, etc.). It was nothing like my first labor, which was much longer, and I was in much more of a hypnotic state with my first, because labor progressed slowly and I eased into it. This one came fast and hard, and was much more intense. I’d say once `active labor’ started, it was only about 3 hours until her birth and half of that time was spent pushing. But, the nurses said I was very calm and did just fantastic. Without the practice of Hypnobabies, I know it would have been much harder and scarier. I felt in control at all times. All in all, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was as perfect as it could be!
Thanks to all during this pregnancy for your good advice and good thoughts. My heart is with you all…
5.15.07 – Leo (cesarean)
11.28.09 – Eliza (VBAC)