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After finding out I was pregnant and beginning to learn about birth and options, I decided I wanted to attempt a natural birth. I felt very empowered after watching the documentary The Business of Being Born. At this point, it was in theory I wanted a natural birth for all of the wonderful reasons to have one, but in practice I really didn't have
much confidence I could (or would) do it. I knew I would have to change my fearful attitude and my first step was to stop watching anything on TV about birth!

My second step was to hire a doula/birth coach, and we found Erin. She was an incredible resource throughout my pregnancy as well. She also introduced me to the "Hypnobabies" program which was incredibly helpful to me as I prepared mentally for birthing.

The last few weeks of the pregnancy got pretty tense as we considered recommendations for inducing labor, based on amniotic fluid level that was in the healthy range but at the low end of the range. Ryan and I decided together that we would not induce labor with levels in the healthy range, particularly given the known inaccuracy of those readings by ultrasound. We knew our baby was thriving and healthy. We wanted her and my body to be as ready as possible before trying to force it into labor. We stepped up the natural induction techniques as much as possible, trying spicy foods, talking to Kay about coming out, the Hypnobabies "Come Out Baby" and fear clearing sessions, raspberry leaf, acupressure and more.

On December 22nd, we had a very low fluid reading and we knew this meant we would proceed with the induction.  Fortunately my body was much more ready than it was a few weeks prior and on that Monday evening I was at 1cm and 50% effaced. At least we weren't starting completely from scratch (and I do believe our efforts helped!).

That evening, a foley catheter balloon was inserted into my cervix to assist it opening to 3cm overnight. We were very nervous about how my body might react (or not!) to artificial labor induction. I listened to positive birthing affirmations and Ryan led me through the Hypnobabies "change of plans" script. That was very helpful as I visualized all of my fears and concerns, put them all in boxes and away in a closet marked "later" – then sent it away. I was so appreciative of the friends and family who called to check on me.

By morning, I was at 3cm and 70% effaced. Ryan and I took showers and got some good breakfast. The midwives and nurses were so respectful of our birth plans and no one ever offered me medication that day or even used the "p-word", but just let us do our work.

About 8:30 a.m. I was started on Pitocin. Again, I tried to relax and keep positive messages in my mind with the birthing day affirmations. I had no choice but to believe that this could still go very well. I couldn't help but feel robbed of an experience – of going into labor spontaneously, laboring at home, the trip to the hospital… but, we were going to meet Baby Kay and all would be well.

During the morning, I felt very mild contractions, mostly in my back. Ryan, Erin and I watched TV, talked, and laughed. Erin gave me a wonderful foot rub with aromatherapy, and worked some acupressure points to help contractions come. Erin went for some lunch and after that Ryan left for a lunch break as well. During Ryan's  absence, things got more serious. I got on the birth ball and Erin began rubbing my back with a massager.

At this point I looked up at the TV and saw that Home Improvement was on. I said, "I really hate this show!!" and asked the nurse to please turn it off right NOW! It just hit me that I hated that show so we had a good laugh about it. I had an intense longing for Ryan to return, and he did a few minutes later thankfully. I was starting to do some real work. With each contraction, I would try to breathe and relax my body. I did not have a desire to listen to my
hypnosis CD's but I always had the messages in mind, to relax as much as possible and let my body do the work.

My breathing triggered Erin to aid me with each contraction – she would press on my lower back or squeeze my hips. It felt very good and seemed to contain each contraction so it did not get too far away from me, too far outside of myself. Erin reminded me to take one at a time, and use my breaks to rest and relax, which was really key to my success. For some reason I wanted Ryan to press on my forehead with each contraction too. About 1 or 1:30 p.m., I felt a pop inside, which was a really interesting sensation! My water had broken – great progress!

At about 2:30 p.m. I was at 4-5cm. I felt a little discouraged because I thought I was progressing so well and had done so much work, but that sounded like I was only halfway there!. But my "team" got me focused again. I got back on the birth ball and continued to work. I was leaning over into Ryan's lap as he sat on the bed. He held me and
pressed on my forehead with each contraction. At one point I got emotional and started talking about our first anniversary and trip. We had just found out we were expecting and had not told anyone yet. Then I asked Ryan "Do you remember that steak I had with the chocolate? That was awesome…I want that right now". Erin and Ryan started talking about it, but by that time it was making me feel queasy and I quickly insisted that they stop talking about food!

My breathing turned into moaning through each wave. I cannot describe the feeling of the contractions but it certainly wasn't "p***". I suppose I would describe it as really intense rhythmic pressure but I really cannot find the words.

Contractions were coming pretty quickly now and I was really feeling like I wanted a break. I was okay with each one but they came so quickly now, I felt like I could barely breathe in between! Then I started wondering aloud how many more of these I was going to have to do. Erin focused me and reminded me that I only have to do this one. Just one at a time. I didn't realize it at the time but I was entering transition. I wanted a break, I was daydreaming about what an epidural might be like right now, and I might have said something about wanting to go home. I vomited, although I must say that felt pretty awesome. It felt cleansing, and also distracted me momentarily.

I remember clearly when we were returning from the bathroom (a mandated trip which I was not at all happy about!), Erin said "look at what the nurses are doing." I looked and they were putting out all of the instruments and getting ready for delivery. I gasped and said "Really?" as I looked at this happening in disbelief – I really thought it was going to be a long haul ahead. Erin said to me, "They are getting ready for you to have your baby!" This was an exciting moment. I knew Kay was coming very soon and that I was going to make it through.

At this point I got in bed to take a little "rest." After a few contractions I started to feel the overwhelming urge to push. This must have been about 4:30 p.m. now. I had to wait for the midwife to check my progress. This was by far the most difficult part of the labor, because I was fighting against what my body needed to do. It did not hurt, it
was just nearly impossible to fight off the pushing. The nurse kept encouraging me to just breathe through it, try not to push. The midwife checked and said I was almost fully dilated but not quite there. Erin told me to visualize my cervix opening up and Kay's head sliding out easily. Fighting the pushing was so hard – my whole being wanted to push and I couldn't even fight it entirely. They just kept telling me to wait a little longer. I must have had at least 15 of these contractions, trying not to push.

Once the midwife said to go ahead and push, it felt truly amazing!! I would never use the "p-word" to describe this. Pushing honestly felt GREAT. All that energy had a channel now. I was feeling great and accomplished and thinking about how the baby was almost here. Then my mind turned against me for a moment and it hit me that the pushing stage can last several hours, and that I might not even get the baby out this way. I couldn't get this thought out of my
mind but again my support team kicked in and kept me focused. Eventually Erin encouraged me to get up and let gravity help, so I stood and leaned over the bed. At this point things get fuzzy but I remember they got a bar so I could squat/sit down. Baby Kay was really on her way now, I started to feel stretching and burning. Now the midwife was down on the floor, but at this point again it was fuzzy. I was excited, elated, scared, everything all at once! I remember saying "She's coming! She's coming! What do I do?!" :) I was told to slow down and not push too hard, so she could ease out. Then they decided they really wanted me in the bed. This was a crazy moment... I just kept thinking, she is coming! I can't move!, but I had to climb into bed. The crowning really burned, but I was just so happy she was almost here that I didn't care one bit. Another push and suddenly thd midwife had Kay in her hands and I saw her face!! She was born at 5:49 p.m. I'd only had to push for about an hour!

The moment Kay came out was sheer relief. I gasped and couldn't believe there was our baby!! I knew there was a baby in there, but when I saw her it was still just such an amazing surprise. She was beautiful. They handed Kay to me and I said hi and I think I commented on how she had hair! I remember telling her that she was named after two very
special women (our late mothers). Then I looked over at Ryan who was next to me and saw his face, which was filled with both shock and love! We kissed, and exchanged words that I really don't remember now, and probably wouldn't do justice to what we were feeling in that moment. I let Kay near my chest for a while to root around and become familiar.

All I remember now was lots of commotion and that my legs would not stop shaking. I was in such a state of physical and emotional excitement – what a high!! Out of nowhere Kay just latched right on to my breast and it even startled me. She was drinking away! Erin commented on how amazing it is that they know just what to do, and I agreed. It felt incredible. Kay continued to feed for about 15-20 minutes. Ryan went out to tell his parents that Kay had been born, and when he came back he said he had lost it out there with them and they were all crying. I wish I could have seen that moment!

While Ryan's parents came in to meet the baby, I called my family and tearfully shared the news of her birth.  After his parents left, Ryan was sitting on the couch with Kay just holding her tight and looking at her with such amazement and love. He was softly talking to her and called her "Kay bear", and it has really stuck as our sweet pet name for her.

What follows is a whirlwind of nurses, doctors, instructions and information. We never imagined how many people  would be in and out of our room. That night we called or texted a lot of friends and family and just enjoyed this beautiful sleepy little bundle. I was on such a high that I wasn't even thinking about sleeping or eating nor did I notice any discomfort. I had just given birth to this baby!! After all of the thought, preparation, worrying... I had done it. What else mattered? Eventually I realized my body and muscles were very tired and sore, and that I needed to slow down and rest. We could have been released from the hospital on Christmas Eve but we did not feel ready. We wanted all the help of the nurses and lactation consultants while we had the opportunity.

We brought Kay home on Christmas Day. As we were getting all of our things together and ready to leave the hospital that afternoon, Ryan and I were both emotional. It was sinking in that we were really taking our baby home. We packed up all of our things and got this baby in the car, and just as many friends had told us we would, we felt a sense of disbelief that they were letting us leave with her! It was a very surreal but exciting moment. Let the adventures begin…
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Oliver was born on the 2nd of Jan using Hypnobabies and no medication in a hospital setting!

It was an extremely wonderful and empowering experience and very fast. I started having pressure waves at 5:30am and he was born at 6:30pm with my husband and a midwife that I had never met before in an Italian hospital!!!

The whole morning I knew that I was having some discomfort but I never thought that we were going to have the baby that same day! We kept track and I just said that I wanted to stay at home as long as I could so when they were about 2-3 minutes apart we decided to head to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital at 3:30pm and like many hypno moms the nurses had to ask why we were there because I was so calm. Whenever the pressure wave would begin I would just turn towards my husband and lean into him until it passed. The nurses hooked us up to a external heart monitor and left us. Finally they came in and checked me and were amazed that I was at 6cm. They had me go into a room with another couple of people (in Italy there are 4 beds in a room!) and I was not sure if I was going to have to continue going through pressure waves with other people.

Finally around 4:30 a midwife came in and escorted us to the delivery room. She complimented me on how calm I was and within minutes of her saying that, the pressure waves became closer and more intense. She encouraged me to use any position that felt comfortable so I went from standing/leaning into my husband/ squatting/kneeling on all 4's, and they even had this cool toilet seat type thing that I ended up using during the pushing phase.

I really surprised myself because I am generally a very quiet person and I ended up being very verbal using my voice to help push the baby out. After an hour of pushing, Oliver was born while I sat on the "toilet seat" and my husband supported me from behind!!! I have to say that I have no idea how anyone has had a baby while lying on their back!!!

I was able to use the strategies from Hypnobabies during the beginning but never actually listened to the cd's during the birthing time because it just went so fast and I had to use all my concentration to work with the pressure waves. Next time I will definitely have a hypno doula there to assist but I have to say that it was a very positive first birthing experience and I would definitely recommend Hypnobabies to EVERYONE!!!
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December 30th, 2008

We live in France and so this story speaks of midwives rather than OB's because it is they who are in contact with pregnant women in this country... in the case where all goes well the midwife handles births and pregnancies from A to Z and for any complications the doc jumps in.

So, at 34 weeks the midwife at the local hospital alerted me to take bed rest at least 4 hours every day because the baby was "low".  I did.

At 38 weeks a "monitoring" done showed a very high heart rate for the baby and they nearly kept me over night at the hospital to observe...I finally convinced them to leave me alone in the boiling hot room for about 20 minutes so that I could calm down (I have a hard time with monitoring machines...I worry excessively about the baby due to my daughters' previous births which were both stressful and nearly ended in emergency c-sections each time).  I put on my iPod and listened to pregnancy affirmations and calmed myself down.  It worked and they let me go home.  It was a wakeup call for me...reminding me that even though I had spent all these months working hard on hypnobabies and listening to the tracks faithfully...that I still had work to do eliminating fear  and tension related to past births.  So I cried and talked things over with my husband...I took some herbal remedies and sure enough the letting go helped immensely. 

At 40 weeks I went in for an appointment...All was well, and I was not dilated or effaced at all... after all those weeks lying down I began to worry this baby was never going to come out!

The night before my 41 week appointment I started having pressure waves...gentle at first and then stronger...all this after I settled down to try to get some sleep.  I put on my iPod and listened to birth day affirmations over and over.  The pressure waves got to being about 6 minutes apart and I thought that perhaps this was it...and then at midnight my daughter woke me up and I went to her bed to calm her back down...after she fell asleep I realized that the pressure waves had tapered off.   I finally fell asleep and woke up the next day feeling exhausted (I think I remember several good pressure waves waking me up slightly that night, but not enough to get up.) 

The next morning the pressure waves had disappeared.  My husband and I went to the hospital for our the non stress test, Monday the 29th of December...I was overwhelmed with joy when I heard the voice of my favorite midwife coming down the hall to get us.  Her name is Clothilde and she is widely respected in this region for being a midwife who is so gentle and helps women who want natural births.  She set me up on the monitors and left me to relax...I listened to birth day affirmations and then decided that I needed to concentrate on inviting this baby into the world...so I put on "baby come out"...it was perfect.  If Clothilde was on call for the next 24 hours I wanted to give birth in that time frame!  She told me that I was at 1 cm and fairly well effaced and that all was perfect with the baby...she sent us home but told me that she thought I would be back before the night was through. 

My husband and I took our time and had a nice leisurely lunch in town before driving back up to our village to spend the rest of the day with our girls.  It was peaceful and lovely.   I had a few random pressure waves throughout the day, more as the day went on, but nothing that made me feel like the birth was just around the bend. 

We put the girls to bed and then sprawled out on the couch to relax...my husband put on a film and I put on my iPod...beginning with "baby come out" and then the "birth day affirmations"...as soon as I lay down the pressure waves became much stronger...I was not at all uncomfortable, they were just getting a bit more intense...eventually I was having to breathe through them and then I began walking around ...sitting on the birthing ball, or leaning over the counter (all this with IPod on...love that thing!)  I was so happy to feel them getting stronger and encouraged them along...at one point I began trembling a bit and thought "that's weird".  I told my husband and he encouraged me to think about going to the hospital...ok, why not...I was optimistic that things would most likely pick up from here, but not sure and didn't want to risk being sent home because the pressure waves stopped or because I was only at 2 to 3 cm. 

My mom came over to watch the girls and we drove the 15min to the local hospital.  Along the way I listened to "easy first stage" and felt very relaxed...it was nice.  A few pressure waves in the car on the way there...nothing unmanageable.

We arrived and slipped in the back door of the maternity ward where Clothilde was waiting for us with her warm smile...it was just before 2 am.  She hooked me up to the heart monitors and I was so relieved to learn that all was still perfect for the baby.  She then did a check of dilation, but did not inform me of the progress (because I had asked her not to tell me for fear that I would get so discouraged)...BUT...behind my back she motioned to my husband that I was already at 9 cm!  He was so happy and upbeat that it really encouraged me.  Soon Clothilde asked me if I was ready to go to the birthing room and I said "already?"  Don't you think we should wait a little?  That was how unaware I was that I was in transition!  Thank you hypnobabies! 

The last CM was long...there was an assistant helping the midwife who showed my husband how to massage my sacrum on specific acupressure points and it was AMAZING how this relieved the intensity.  She and my husband took turns massaging me until the very end...I am so grateful.  Eventually Clothilde asked if she could break my waters.  Of course...I had been walking the halls with my husband for an hour with no progress and so it was logical.  Things got more intense and I also began to feel very tired...to my surprise she offered me a banana and juice which I ate and enjoyed immensely.  This is of course not usual practice seeing as the anesthesiologist really doesn't want us eating at all, but she is smart and knows we need energy!  And as natural as this midwife is she did finally encourage me to put in an IV with sugar water and also to start a very small pitocin drip...I was falling asleep and tired and she was worried that the birth would take a very long time if I didn't get a little extra umph.  I agreed and that was when my husband went to go rest on a bed for a while...things got really intense at this point, but nothing I couldn't use my relaxation techniques and breath to help me through.  

A very short time after the pitocin drip set in, I felt pushy...and so without even checking me she told me to push if I felt like it.  Ok!  I was on my knees leaning forward over a birthing ball and then up on all fours leaning on the ball (love the ball)...in my own world pushing away.  Then on my side some and finally in traditional gynecological position (don't ask me why this was what I chose...she didn't ask me to, it was my own doing!)  Pushing took quite a while and was very intense (I was surprised because for my girls it had been the fastest part of the birth)...the midwife kept encouraging me to reach down and try to feel for the baby's head...although there was a ways to go the thought that the head was nearing encouraged me along.  I tried to use exhale pushing as much as possible and was not able to keep the headphones on throughout...at some point I just began purple pushing and the midwife kept telling me to guide the head out with my breath...it helped!  Down and out.  Finally the head was VERY near and so I used the pushing when there wasn't a pressure wave technique...they all let me do what I felt was best.  It worked!  I was purple in the face...but it worked! 

The head crowned and came out and I really must admit that I did not experience a ring of fire...at this point so close to the finish line it is the last thing on your mind...I just felt huge excitement thinking that I was soon to meet my baby and hold him in my arms!  They undid the one loop the cord made around his neck, and then turned him...they had to do some maneuvering to get the shoulders out, but all was well...and he soon slithered all the way out.  They immediately put him on my chest and I dried him...crying with joy and relief of course!  I immediately knew it was a boy just by looking at the face...but of course I verified by looking under the little towel!  Our first boy!  My husband was teary and overjoyed beside me and we both rubbed him as he began to make his first cries.  What an amazing experience.

Clothilde, who had carefully read my birth plan, let the cord stop pulsing before cutting and then let me hold him on my chest for about an hour before then took him to measure and weigh.  I was so happy to have taken the time to do it and translate it into French!  He began nursing a bit not long after and it was so amazing after having been separated from my girls just after their births.  The placenta came out easily and Clothilde walked me through all the steps and reassured me that all was intact.  Bless her heart for understanding how anxious some couples can be.  We had done it...a natural birth after two epidural stressful births! 

Malcolm, as we named him, was born at 6 AM only 4 hours after we arrived at the hospital.  And even though he was big (9 lbs)... I had only superficial tearing requiring only a few little stitches! 

I am so grateful to the universe for sending me this midwife...and especially to Hypnobabies for preparing my mind and body over the past months for this peaceful birth!  I will highly recommend it to all expecting mothers that I cross paths with.  I have a newfound respect for the power of the human mind and belief in our ability to create our reality...
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I 1st read Hypnobirthing, then came across Hypnobabies.  I found Hypnobabies was much more in depth, so my husband and I took the Hypnobabies class AND we had a Hypnodoula (our class instructor).

Our birth (1st baby) could NOT have been any better!  I found the Affirmations cd to be wonderful in erasing ALL FEAR, I would listen to that cd ever day to/from work.  Having a doula was a great help to us especially being our 1st birth experience and not know exactly what to expect.

I went into labor at 35 wks, went to the hospital bcs I just felt really horrible and everything ached badly.....  Come to find out I was having contractions, so I got an iv, later a shot to stop labor.  I was 3 cm & 80-90% effaced for the next 3 wks.

At 38 wks, my Dr. asked if I wanted her to "strip my membranes" (allows the bag of water to put more pressure on the cervix). After some questions I decided to go for it..... 3 days later Owen was born :)

I started having stronger pressure waves around 9pm.....waited until 11pm to tell my husband (since I had PW's for over 3 wks...)  Then he timed, they would go from 5 min apart to 1 to 7 etc.  Never established a "pattern".  Around 1am I started bleeding so I called our doula, she said that was normal/ok.  So I stayed at home a few more hours.  We went to the hospital at 3:15 am - I was 6 cm.  After admission/1,000 questions we were checked into our room around 5:15 am.

I put on my ipod/headphones and was able to really "zone out" very well with the support of my husband/brother & doula.  They were a great SUPPORT.  The lights stayed off, the nurses never bothered me, they would quietly enter the room and quietly leave.  It was SO PEACEFUL !

The next thing I remember was my Dr. saying "OK you are at 10, you can push when YOU are ready".  I pushed for only 10-15 minutes!  Owen was born 6-30-08 at 7:53 am, 7 lbs 10 oz.  It was the best experience of my life.  Total labor was 9 hours for our 1st child!  The hospital staff was great & so supportive of our wishes to have no interventions.

I had to have 3 stitches, as soon as that was done, the nurse cleaned me up and I was up going to the restroom.  I felt WONDERFUL.  I'm ready for Hypnobaby #2 but DH isn't quite there yet.

Anyway - we absolutely LOVED Hypnobabies - the class, our instructor, the CD's the other couples we met in class and online......fantastic experience.

Owen is so happy and peaceful.
Debbie, Jeff & Owen - now 6 months old :)
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I decided when I was pregnant this time I would get a bit more educated. I really wanted to avoid the meds I felt had caused me so many problems the first time around.  I heard about hypnobabies on one of the forums I'm on and decided that was the way to go. I listened to the scripts almost every night, but wasn't very good about doing the practice (5 finger drops each day, etc) they talk about.  Well, I have to say, it still worked.

My labor story is actually quite long. I began having some contractions on November 7. My mucous plug started coming out and I thought things were really getting going. I called my mom to drive up (2 hours) to take care of DS1 so we could go have a baby . I made cupcakes for the nurses and just got myself ready to go. Well, things petered out. I was 3 cm dilated on Monday when I went to my OB appointment.  Let me tell you what a joy I was to be around over the next week as I continued to have to go to work and have contractions but nothing really progressed into real labor. By the end of the week, I had resigned myself to never having the baby.

I fell asleep early on Friday the 15th with my first son. I woke up about 1:30 and the baby was doing some really weird movement that hurt. After I got done pushing on him and telling him to stop, I felt some liquid. I still had to pee so I decided my water must have broken. DH was still up playing his game and I've never seen him shut down his laptop so fast. I was like it's no big deal. I'm not even having contractions. We watched an episode of 30 Rock on the DVR during which I had 1 or 2 contractions and then I decided to go downstairs and make some brownies for the nurses. I called my sister and she insisted on coming over to be with DS. I was still in denial I was really in labor but told her to do what she wanted. While the brownies were baking, I took a shower, washed my hair, and shaved my legs. I then got the load of diaper laundry out of the dryer and got my DS1's trainers all set for use while I was in the hospital. Then, I went back and french braided my hair. At this point, my sister had gotten to my house and kept telling me to go to the hospital as my contractions were like 3 minutes apart.

We got to the hospital at around 4:30 and had to go to triage where the nurses had me in a wheelchair and were ignoring me. I kept telling them I needed to get in, that my contractions were 2 minutes apart and my water had already broken. They finally got me in a room and 2 nurses had to check me as the first nurse couldn't believe I was complete. I did ask for drugs about this time.  I think the baby must have been posterior because the sensations in my back were pretty intense.  I wasn't able to get up on all 4s or do any of the different positions to turn him.  I also wasn't totally in hypnosis right then since I had gotten so agitated trying to get seen.  The journey up to L&D wasn't my favorite time, but it was bearable.

The doctor came in very shortly after I got to L&D and suggested I try to move to my back for pushing since I have babies with big heads and that would give him some more room to pass through my pelvis.  That didn't seem like a bad idea to me at the time so I gave it a try.  My nurses were wonderful. They just stood back and watched. The one nurse applied a little pressure to my one knee once in awhile to remind me to keep my legs spread to give the baby plenty of room, but she never made any comments. I pushed for probably 20 minutes. It was the coolest thing ever feeling the baby moving down slowly and just breathing him out. I can't even describe how amazing that was to me.  It truly was a relief after making it through transition :).  The nurses were all in awe of how I didn't make any noise. I was just doing really deep breaths.

Baby arrived at 5:45 am. He weighed 8 lb 6 oz and was 20.75" long.
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I like that this mom is patient with her body and baby.  I like that she talked to her OB and really made her expectations and desires clear.  I love that when she gets to the hospital her DH helps get a supportive nurse (after 2 grumpy ones) 

I love that she prepared so much for a great birth and she had one!

You can read Michelle's Birth Story of Lilah on her blog.
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Nate's Birth Story

Nate has been in our hearts forever but made his appearance in flesh early on a Monday morning after about 8.5 hours of birthing time.  He is our third son.

During the preceding weeks, I had many practice pressure waves, some of which felt like they could be the real thing, but they always ended up fading away after a few hours.  I started to lose my mucous plug so I knew that these waves were beginning to dilate and efface my cervix to prepare for the big day.  Our guess date was January 18th.

Our second son Sean was born almost 2 weeks before his guess date and had a very fast birthing time.  This set up the expectation, or at least the possibility, for my husband and I (and our families) that this third little guy would come early and fast.  It is January in the northeast and we've already had our fair share of snowstorms.  Additionally, my husband works a distance away with a commute time of up to 1.5 hours each way during rush hour.  I had a real concern that my husband wouldn't make it home in time to see his third son be born - and this really stressed me out!  I had to work on releasing this fear and trusting that our little guy would be born at the perfect time and under the circumstances that were right for us.

Sunday January 11th was unremarkable, except that we spent some extra time doing nesting activities (laundry, taking down Christmas decorations finally(!), organizing baby's things, etc).  We were still a week away from our guess date and I resigned myself to the fact that this baby might come after his guess date like his oldest brother, and that was okay.  In the meantime, we might as well have a clean and organized house, which was a rarity with two toddlers running around!  After the boys went to bed that evening, I put the Golden Globes on TV to watch while my husband started dozing off next to me.  I noticed at around 9:30pm that I started having some pressure waves.  They were definitely stronger than BH, but not unlike the others I had been having before this.  They seemed to be coming every 10-13 min or so.  By 11pm I noticed one that felt like "whoa, I think this could be it".  With that I had to run to the bathroom and saw the bloody show (a lot of it!).  This was confirmation for me that it was definitely my birthing time as I had not seen bloody show until well into my first two birthing times.  Almost immediately, the pressure waves started coming closer together, maybe every 4 or 5 min, but they were very short (30-45 sec) and not so intense.  I didn't have to concentrate through them.  Because my second son was born only 3 hours after my first pressure wave, we decided it was best to head to the hospital now and get settled in, even if it was very early in the birthing time.  We called my mom over to watch our boys while we were gone.

We got to the hospital around 12:30am and checked in.  I was still extremely comfortable and guessed that I was at about 3cm.  The nurse checked me and I was about 2-3cm but still pretty thick.  She could feel something "fleshy" so wanted the doc to check to make sure the baby was in the right position.  About 10 min later when the doc checked me, she confirmed that baby was head down and it was a bulging bag of waters that felt fleshy and that I was now 5-6cm.  They expected things to move quickly, but I had a feeling otherwise.  These pressure waves were still very comfortable and still pretty short (less than a minute).  It was okay with me to continue on at this pace!  I could do this all night and day!  I hung out on my birthing ball in between the 20 min fetal monitoring we had to do every hour and the waves were still not increasing in intensity.  When they checked me around 2am, I was 6-7cm but very thin.  I was pretty happy to hear that progress because this was easy!!!  I kept thinking that slow and steady wins the race. 

By 4am I started to feel some rectal pressure, not like I had to push, but just more pressure.  I also started to feel shaky and nauseous so I thought I might be entering transformation.  My water hadn't broken yet.  The doc came in around 4:45am to check me and I was still only 7cm.  She did a very aggressive cervical exam (it was painful, the only pain I had experienced so far!) and my water "spontaneously" broke.  Can you sense my sarcasm?  She called it a spontaneous rupture of membranes because she didn't use a needle to break the water.  My husband, the nurse, and I all agreed that it wasn't spontaneous! 

I knew I was in for it now, and I was.  Things got much more intense and they now wanted me on continuous monitoring because my water was broken.  I hated being stuck in the bed!  Gratefully I was able to change position as much as I wanted to, so I was either on my hands and knees or squatting and holding on to the top of the bed with my husband rubbing or applying pressure to my lower back and hips - at this point I had a ton of back and pelvic pressure.  

I started getting very vocal but was able to make it through each wave fairly comfortably.  I never felt like I needed drugs.  I eventually started a deep moaning which prompted the nurse to ask me if I was involuntarily pushing.  I told her yes!  It certainly wasn't intentional.  It wasn't an overwhelming urge (like I had with my second very speedy delivery) but it was happening.  She told me I could start pushing but I wanted her to check my cervix first since I felt like I wasn't quite complete.  My intuition was right - I still had a lip left but she told me I could push past it and I did.  I later learned from my husband that the two nurses thought the doc wouldn't make it in the room in time for the birth since she was stuck at a delivery next door.  But she did come running in and made it just as the baby started crowning.  This pushing phase was tough for me!  It didn't happen as quick and effortlessly as it had with my second son and that made me nervous and made me question my ability.  But my husband was holding my hand telling me what a great job I was doing and that the baby is almost here. 

I reached down to feel his head and there he was!  That gave me the motivation to kick it into high gear and get him out.  I gave it a strong push and out came his head but they told me to stop pushing while they unwrapped his cord which was around his neck.  They told me to continue and I pushed the rest of him out, and he had the cord wrapped around his arm and his torso too!  He was blue but as soon as they untangled him he pinked up and had apgars of 8 and 9.  They had to cut the cord quickly to untangle him so my husband wasn't able to do that.  We were ok with it since we just wanted a healthy baby!  Anyway, what was the little bugger doing in my belly to get himself all tangled up like that?! I had a sense that we may have issues with the cord but I didn't let that consume my thinking or make me fear the delivery.  I'm happy that I was able to let it go because everything worked out fine.  He was 7lb 12oz, 20 in long.  He nursed immediately!

I couldn't be happier with the way this birth went, and I have to thank Hypnobabies.  The program was so valuable to me in my second and third pregnancies and birthing times.  I had three unique experiences each teaching me lessons, and producing three very different but very beautiful babies!  Thank you Hypnobabies!!!
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Hello everyone!  I have finally found some time to sit down and write my birth story.  It was an incredible day!  But first let me tell you a little about my pregnancy.

At 33 weeks, I started having some strong contractions.  I went into the doctors office and I was dilated to 2 cm and 50% effaced.  They also did a fetal fibronectin test that came back positive.  Because of that test, they had me go up to labor and delivery to get medication to stop contractions and they wanted me to get the steroid shots for his lungs.  I did both of these things.  Contractions continued but mostly when I was active so the nurse told me to stay off my feet.  I was on a modified bed rest for 3 weeks and that helped a lot.  After I was taken off bedrest, I thought for sure he would come any day.  It caused a lot of emotional ups and downs, as I'm sure those with false alarms can attest.  It continued like this for 4 weeks!  The week before he was due, I started having very regular contractions.  I went in to labor and delivery and after a couple of hours of monitoring, they said that because these contractions were dilating me (slowly) that I could choose to stay.  The nurse explained that with "regular" or "normal" patients, they would start an iv and pitocin along with an epidural.  But because I was going natural, I had the choice to stay or go because it could mean a long labor.  I decided to wait one more hour to see how much I progressed and when she said there was no more change after that hour, we decided to go home and hope it progressed there.  I thought for sure we'd be heading back in the middle of the night and I'd be waking up to labor pains.  Well, I woke up the next morning with nothing and was disappointed.  I decided to just continue on and wait until he was ready.  So when he decided it was time, I was very ready.

On Oct. 11th (my due date) my husband and I were getting ready to go to church.  I was standing in the bathroom when I felt a little trickle.  I thought for a second that my water broke but because of all the emotional ups and downs and being in and out of the hospital, I didn't fully believe it.  The last thing I wanted was to go to the hospital only to be sent home again.  My worry wart DH kept telling me he wanted to go to the hospital.  I said even if it was my water, we could wait a while.  He didn't feel comfortable with that, since the doctors said if my water breaks to go right to the hospital.  So he convinced me and we got ready to go to the hospital.

We got checked in and set up in a room.  I was about 4.5 cm when I arrived.  The nurse checked the fluid coming out and it was indeed amniotic fluid.  So this was it!  I was very excited.  But nothing was happening!  No hard contractions or anything!  We waited and waited and walked and walked.  Because labor stalled with my first baby, they decided to start a pitocin drip.  I asked if we could start it very low and turn it off if things started to progress because I still wanted a natural birth if I could.  The continuously upped my pitocin level little by little, hoping it would start something.  I walked the halls and tried everything but I was moving so slowly.  After hours and hours, I had only dilated to a 5.  (half a cm!).  After about 10 hours, the doctor said he would like to change my plan.  He wanted to start an epidural to calm me down and insert an internal monitor to make sure the pitocin level was enough to change my cervix.  He also said they needed to start antibiotics because it had almost been 12 hours since my water broke.  I read this on the monitor before my nurse came in.  I looked at my husband and said "I don't need an epidural.  I'm calm."  My nurse overheard me and understood my concern.  She sat down and calmly talked to me about my options.  She also said that if I didn't start to change by 24 hours, they would do a C-Section.  I asked if we could start with the internal monitor and then up my pitocin and if that didn't work, I would have the epidural, if it was what was best for my baby.  She okayed that with the charge nurse and so we started on that path.  The charge nurse placed the internal monitor and immediately I started to feel the pressure waves.  I concentrated through them but they were incredibly intense.  I looked at my husband and said if the contractions are going to continue to get stronger and closer together, I didn't think I could do this without an epidural.  My nurse came in to check me 30 min to an hour later and I had dilated to a 6+.  The plan was working!  I told her my concerns.  I was not prepared to deal with these contractions just lying in a bed.  I had wanted to use the jacuzzi and birth ball and if they were going to get any stronger, I wanted an epidural.  She looked at me with a concerned look and said, "I know how much you want to have this baby unmedicated."  She then looked at my pitocin levels and said they were actually stronger than they needed to be.  She lowered my pitocin and got permission from the charge nurse to allow me to sit on the birthing ball.  That helped TREMENDOUSLY!  I was able to sit on the ball and relaxed through each wave for about another hour or 2.  My husband would apply counter pressure on my lower back and that helped a lot too.  I would just listen to the scripts and try to relax.  It felt so intense inside my head during the waves.  I thought I was moaning through them very loudly but when my husband captured a couple on camera, I looked completely calm and relaxed, my face even looked serene.  My nurse came in to check me and said I was a 7+.  She also said that one side of my cervix was dilating faster than the other.  She said if I lay down on my right side, that would help to dilate the other side of my cervix.  I layed down and immediately had an INTENSE wave.  I almost lost control at this point.  The nurse said to try and get through 3 more and then she'd check me.  She left the room and during the very next contraction, I shouted "I need to push!!"  My body couldn't stop.  This might sound weird but it felt like when you dry heave, you can't really control your body.  I couldn't control the urge to push.  My body just took over.  The nurses must have heard me from down the hall because they all came running in and started getting things set up.  My nurse checked me and said, "its time to push".  I looked at my husband and was so relieved.  Betsy, my nurse, took my hand and helped me breath through a wave or two until the Nurse Midwife arrived to deliver the baby.  I had never met this nurse midwife before, she was the one on call.  But she was great.  She allowed me to direct my pushing and didn't do the counting thing (thank goodness).  She told me when to stop (to avoid tearing) and just basically sat back and watched.  My sister arrived in the nick of time.  She held my hand (my DH had the other) and maybe 5 minutes later, she looked at me and said "The head is out." I was so happy because I understand what people mean when they say "Ring of Fire".  It was intense!  After another good push or two, his body came out and he was finally here!  They layed him on my tummy and he was so warm.  I just kept saying "I did it." and "I love you baby, thanks for coming out."  I felt an immediate bond with him.

Afterward, my husband asked if I would do it again.  At that time, when the **pressure/pain** was so apparent in my mind, I said I didn't know, probably not.  But 2 days later, I was sure I would.  The only part that was almost too much was 3-4 contractions before I could push.  But I did it and I am sure I can do it again.  I know what to expect now and I think if I prepare even better next time, it will be an even better experience, which is hard to say because this one was incredibly amazing!!

Asher Alexander was born 12:32 AM weighing in at 8 lbs 1 oz and 20 in long.  He scored a 9/9 on the apgar and is doing so well!  To be honest, I am excited to do it all over again!
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