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…