To make this long story short: Hypnobabies – I love it; and Natural Childbirth – Awesome.
I woke up around 5 am on October 1st, 2007. I got up to relieve myself and noticed some pink on the toilet paper. I checked the bowl and realized I had lost my mucous plug. I was excited because at 36 weeks and 6 days, this was the first sign I’d had that my baby was getting ready for her birthday.
When I got back in bed (because I do NOT get up at 5:00 am!) I felt a mild cramping feeling in my abdomen. It went away swiftly, but returned a few minutes later. After this happened a few times I realized that I might be having pressure waves. I started checking the clock and found that the cramps were coming three minutes apart. However, the cramping feeling only seemed to last a few seconds and was confined to my lower abdomen rather than radiating from high to low or front to back. I decided that I was probably experiencing pre-labor waves because If I was really in labor with pw’s only three minutes apart then they would surely feel stronger and last longer, and anyway we weren’t expecting the baby to come for a few more weeks. …
Although I didn’t think it was the real thing, I pulled out all my pregnancy books to see if they discussed losing one’s mucous plug in conjunction with mild contractions. The books didn’t help but I did confirm that my birthing day could still be days or even weeks away despite the loss of the plug, and that my cramping didn’t match the description of labor contractions.
While I was reading, it got to be around six or maybe six thirty. I was still having cramps and my husband, Jason, seemed to be half awake so I went ahead and explained what was happening. I stressed that it could be a false alarm but that I could possibly be early in my birthing time. I decided to take a hot bath in order to stay comfortable and because I wanted my hair to be clean in case I really was having a baby. (I had also been determined to have my make-up on whenever the baby arrived, but this didn’t happen.) I told Jason that it should be ok for him to go to work since these things normally take a while, but he wisely decided to wait.
While in the bathtub I noticed that the pw’s seemed a little stronger but they still seemed to last only a few seconds. I spent a minute or two practicing my hypnobabies (in fact, I think I turned my lightswitch off and forgot to turn it back on before I started moving again) and then I washed my hair. At one point I suddenly felt very nauseated, but the feeling passed quickly. Jason came to check on me and I agreed to get out of the tub so we could time some waves and decide on a course of action. Jason had the laptop out, and we pulled up contractionmaster.com. It was hard to tell how long each one lasted
because they had a definite start, but then they faded away very quickly without a definitive end. After deciding to call the 1st pressure wave over with I asked Jason, “how long was that, like five or ten seconds?” He responded by looking at me kind of funny and said it had been about a minute. The waves continued coming about three minutes apart and after we had timed four or five we realized that this probably was the real thing. I felt sick and vomited during one pw but once again the feeling passed very quickly. Jason had been researching the stages of labor online and mentioned that nausea is a sign of active labor but I still didn’t believe I was very far along because my pressure waves didn’t feel strong.
At this time we were really not prepared for the baby to come because we expected to have a few more weeks. We started by ripping the Hypnobabies Birthing CD to the laptop and copied it to my ipod, and then we started packing a bag for the hospital. My pressure waves started increasing in intensity pretty rapidly and I didn’t end up being much help with the packing. We didn’t time anymore waves, but judging by how little I was able to get done in between them, they must have been coming closer together. We decided we should call the midwife’s office to let her know I was in my birthing time. The office had not yet opened, so I tried to choose the option to speak with the answering service but I did something wrong and the phone went dead. As another pw began I told Jason that I wasn’t up to it and he’d have to make the call. He did so and gave the answering service our home phone number to page Lee, our midwife.
At this point I was still running around trying to get a bag packed, but stopping to lean over the stairwell railing during each pw. I was a little concerned that they now felt pretty intense so early in my birthing time, but I knew I could be more comfortable if I would just stop running around, relax, and listen to my hypnobabies cds. However, I wanted to have everything ready to go before I tried to settle down and relax. I had no real sense of how much time was passing but I was very frustrated at how I couldn’t seem to accomplish anything between waves. Soon, I started feeling the urge to sit on the toilet between waves and then during waves. I started seeing bright red blood and the amount was increasing. I knew some bloody show was normal during labor but this seemed way beyond that and I was a little scared that I might be having some kind of problem with the placenta. (To clarify, my mind was worried, but my body wasn’t really telling me something was wrong or I would have called 911.)
After a few minutes of this bleeding I told Jason we needed to go the hospital right away. He wasn’t finished packing the bag but I said it didn’t matter, he’d have to come back for whatever we needed later. This was the worst time because I was still concerned that the bleeding might indicate a problem but I was also concerned that I was going to the hospital way too soon since I’d only been having pressure waves for a few hours and I’d always been told to stay home as long as possible to avoid unnecessary interventions. In retrospect, I’ve realized that my water broke while I was sitting on the toilet and that’s what made it look like there was so much blood. I actually felt a little pop, but at the time I interpreted it as a clot of blood burbling out rather than as the sac breaking.
Anyhow, we got in the car with our half-packed bag and headed for the hospital which was about ten minutes away. It was now just past nine o’clock so the midwife’s office was open when I called to report (somewhat incoherently) that we had not waited for Lee to answer the page and were on our way to the hospital. I then called my boss to say I was going to the hospital and wouldn’t be at work. He asked if I was ok and I replied “I hope so.” Phone calls out of the way I gave in to the urge to moan through each pressure wave – I think it was a rhythmic “oh, oh, oh” kind of sound. The attendant outside the hospital parking garage didn’t direct us to the emergency entrance for some reason (despite being told I was having a baby), so we ended up parking on the second floor and we had to go down an elevator, through half the hospital and then back up an elevator to get to L&D. I was feeling a great sense of urgency at this time so I didn’t stop for pressure waves, I just kept one hand on the wall and walked kind of doubled over.
A nurse met me in the hallway – I tried to get across that I was concerned about the bleeding but she wanted me to try and get a urine sample. Remembering how comfortable I had been on the toilet at home, I agreed to try. In the bathroom, I felt a strange feeling which was my body’s first attempt to start pushing out the baby. I got worried again because this did not match the description of early labor in the pregnancy books. I came out a minute later, found a different nurse and explained crypticly that I couldn’t get a sample it was just blood coming out. (It’s hard to get things across with birthing brain!) They got me into an observation room and I immediately shrugged out of my jeans and hopped on the table saying I was bleeding and I wanted somebody to check me now. The nurse was chuckling saying she’d never seen anyone get out of her clothes so fast. She took my temperature and my blood pressure and then finally inserted her fingers to see how far along I was. I expected it to hurt when she checked me, but I barely felt a thing and then the nurse said something like “how about you’re ready to have a baby.” She calmly picked up a telephone and said “I’m going to need some help in here, she’s complete” while I experienced a rush of relief at finding out that I didn’t have any medical problems and that I hadn’t gotten to the hospital too early.
I was wheeled to an LDR room and I think my body was pushing again by the time we got there. I want to emphasize that this was not an urge to push that I gave into – rather, my body was pushing the baby out without any input from me. The nurses started telling me how well I was doing and I kept trying to tell them that I didn’t have any choice, my body was just doing what it needed to do and I really wasn’t in control of it.
After we got to the room, Jason took a minute to notify a few family members that Geneva was on her way. It become apparent at this time that I’m one of those people who can’t stand to be touched during my birthing time. A nurse tried to get a hospital gown on me, but I found it intolerable at the first touch, and pushed it away (I was wearing a sport style nursing bra, so I didn’t feel unduly exposed). Jason tried to be reassuring in some fashion but was rudely pushed away for his trouble, although I must have grabbed for him at some point because I remember accidentally biting his watch.
I had tested GBS positive, and so was supposed to be given antibiotics, but the nurses decided not to bother since they were supposed to be given at least four hours before the birth which they knew wasn’t going to happen. They figured there wasn’t any point since the baby would still be subjected to all the extra tests just as if the antibiotics hadn’t been given, and since I didn’t want an IV stuck in me, I agreed. We were overruled shortly thereafter when my midwife Lee arrived, because she knew the antibiotics might still help avoid an infection despite the late timeframe. I wasn’t real pleased at having the IV stuck into my hand, or with the blood pressure cuff on my arm, but these were minor annoyances. I think they used an exterior fetal monitor on a belt a few times, but I don’t believe it was left strapped on to me. (Possibly because I complained? Birthing brain again!)
The main nurse told Lee that it wouldn’t be long, but that the baby had a bit farther to descend (she held up her hands to show how much farther) and that Lee had plenty of time to change from her office clothes into her scrubs, which she did.
I spent most of my time in the semi-reclined, semi-seated position that’s so common, except that when I was actually pushing I would grab the bed rails for traction and hold myself in a raised position somewhere between seated and a squat. It doesn’t sound like it would be comfortable, but it worked great for me. The rail grabbing wasn’t even a conscious decision, just part of my body’s pushing which I still didn’t feel I had any control of. The nurses were urging me to push longer with each wave, but I ignored them
because I wasn’t trying to push in the first place, it was just happening, and anyway I thought things were moving plenty fast as it was. Lee asked if I wanted to reach down and feel my baby’s head, but I was in the zone and wasn’t about to change anything, even for this!
At 10:02 am, after maybe a half hour of pushing and five hours after I first woke up, Geneva Reese was born!
She was blotted with a towel, possibly suctioned, and then placed on my chest, where she remained for the next hour or so. My sister arrived soon after the birth and helped me get Geneva situated for her first nursing. Eventually, Geneva was weighed (7 lb 1 oz) and measured (18 3/4 in long and head circumference of 13 in). She was purple at birth but soon “pinked up” until she was bright red and she stayed that color for several days if not weeks. She slept much that first day, but was very alert when she was awake and she already had the strength to raise her head off my shoulder. The adventure had begun!
Hypnobabies conclusions: (BOP warning, I discuss the P-word below in a generally positive way)
After all my weeks of preparation I was surprised that I didn’t end up using my cd’s during my birthing time. At first I didn’t even think it would be helpful for me to post my story since I didn’t use my tools during the birth.
Now that I’ve had more time to reflect I wonder what I was thinking – I must have still had that birthing brain going on! It is obvious to me now that I derived a lot of benefit from my hypnobabies home-study.
First of all, the scripts and affirmations were supposed to program me for a fast, easy and comfortable birthing. Well, it was! I don’t think I’d go so far as to label it pain-free, but then I wasn’t even relaxing and listening to the scripts (I went through transformation
while riding in the car & making phone calls!) And, despite the less than perfect conditions, the pressure waves were totally manageable and I never felt like I needed or wanted medication. I would say that although it did hurt, I’ve had headaches that hurt
worse, and lasted longer. Even during transformation, the sensations were like 1 part kinda painful menstrual cramp feeling plus 9 parts intense, but not really painful feelings of my uterus moving in ways it had never done before. On the whole, definitely not a
sensation you could ignore, but not bad. Also, I know I said many times that I wasn’t in control, but that wasn’t a bad feeling either (at least once I knew for sure that the bleeding was normal). I just felt like my body was doing what it was supposed to and it didn’t need any input from my brain (or even for me to have conscious control of my muscles!)
Second, I may have been using my hypnosis more than I realized. After all, I did turn off for those few minutes in the tub, and assuming I automatically switched to center when I accidentally overrode my switch (I had occasionally made suggestions akin to this during my practice) I suppose I may have been in hypnosis the whole time. The thing that really stands out to me is the time distortion I experienced during my birthing time. I did my HB practice mostly at night, and mostly not on a conscious level, but I know that at least one of the scripts talks about time passing quickly during your birthing time. (It says twenty minutes will only feel like 1 minute or something like that?) After all, I was experiencing my pressure waves as just 10 seconds or less when they were really lasting much longer, and I still can’t figure out how I spent at least two hours between getting out of the tub and finally leaving for the hospital. It felt much quicker than that!
Lastly, whether my hypnobabies practice had a big impact on my daughter’s birth or not, I loved it just for the relaxation and help sleeping it provided during my pregnancy. I’m only 9 weeks along with baby number 2, but I’m already loving having my lightswitch and CD’s to help me deal with nausea, headaches, and falling asleep.
To make this long story short: Hypnobabies – I love it; and Natural Childbirth – Awesome.
mama to Geneva Reese and ittle bitty due late in September