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LABORING AT HOME
I started losing pieces of the mucus plug Monday November 29. For the most part I had a normal day. I organized a bit and finalized my hospital overnight bags. We had a home-cooked dinner and went to run errands afterward. While shopping my pressure waves were getting stronger where I had to pause and work through them. They seemed about 15-20 minutes apart at the time.
Then we made another stop. As I waited in the car I realized this was getting real and regular which triggered an emotional breakdown when we got home. I felt overwhelmed by the things I still had left to do, and frustrated by this biological timer that would disable my efforts every 10 minutes. With DH’s help we did a thorough house cleaning from 10pm to 1am. Unfortunately all while releasing my frustrations on my husband. Then at 1AM I put on my Hypnobabies tracks while he studied the birth partner’s guide for the first time till 3AM.
He slept while I worked through the waves on my own for another hour but I increasingly felt pressure in my tailbone and rectum where it was becoming uncomfortable to sit on the birth ball. I loosely timed my contractions but enough to see that they were coming 3-4 minutes apart.
Around 3:30 in the morning I knew I needed my doula’s help. When DH stirred next I asked him to call her. He was now awake. He started applying counter pressure on my tailbone for each wave and using Hypnobabies lingo! He had suddenly stepped in as my birth partner.
We called our doula at 4AM and she sounded bright and cheerful as she was expecting our call. She assessed my condition over the phone after timing my contractions and stated there wasn’t time to drop off my firstborn at his grandparents house. I was going from cold to hot through each rush and they were getting closer together as we spoke. We had to head to the hospital, especially before LA traffic began. We agreed to meet our doula at the ER entrance. DH got our sleeping toddler in the car seat and all our bags in the car, and I waddled to the car as well, hoping not to hit a pressure wave on the short walk there.
The freeway was beautifully empty and lit with the yellow freeway lights. We called our parents to let them know we were on our way to the hospital. My inlaws were on their way to meet us there. DH left me in my doula’s care and he went to wait for his parents at the hospital to hand our son to them. (It turned out later they were all awake and dressed to go to an early morning church meeting- how fortunate)
Pre-registration and triage took about 30 minutes. The triage nurse took her time- perhaps thinking I wasn’t far along. But when she discovered I was 10cm and fully effaced she hustled to get us a room. So quickly in fact that when my in-laws came looking for us at the main front desk it took several phone calls to find which room we were in! At that time I also lost the rest of my mucus plug and ended up throwing all the bloody clothes away.
We met our nurse midwife in the room. I had never met her at any prenatal visits. She introduced herself to us and announced straight away that she had read our birth plan and would deliver this baby however I wished. Wow.
Our baby nurse however was trying to get an IV in me when I preferred to be without. I can’t remember much except there was some intensity in the conversation between the doula and the nurse. A few minutes later we had a wonderful new nurse! (We found out later that the nurse switch was owing to our doula’s tact and advocacy! She respectfully suggested to the angry nurse that perhaps *someone else* could read our birth plan- and the nurse got it and voluntarily switched with someone who was on board with our plan!)
All this time I was listening to my tracks lying in the hospital bed and vocalizing my “AAAAAAAH’s” at the peak of each wave. They meant a lot of different things. Sometimes it meant, “Please let this be over soooooon!” and sometimes they were courageous and calm, and sometimes they were self piteous “HELP ME’s” and sometimes they were embracing and surrendering to this powerful experience. All the while I hoped on the promise that if I kept doing this I would “breathe the baby down” and the baby would magically slide out as I had read in so many Hypnobabies stories. I found there was a difference in relaxation when I AAAAH’d from my throat and when I AAAAh’d from deep down. At one particular moment I felt the baby internally moving down. It was incredible.
I had been doing wonderfully up to this point. I was handling my pressure waves. But emotionally I was inhibited about pushing. There was still fear inside of me about the sensations I would feel and the shift in gear. I started to say self affirmations aloud, “I can do this. I am courageous. Jesus help me.” I knew it was up to me to assent with my body, mind and emotion in order to open up. My fear kept me from wanting to try other labor positions that might make the baby come any faster. I was in transition and I desperately wanted to hear that it would be okay. I was able to reach that peace quickly. Thankfully, it was because God had graced me with this wonderfully safe environment. I had a nurse midwife and baby nurse who had not left the room the entire time, and my husband and my doula beside me. I was in a private and dimly lit room that allowed me to feel dignified and focused. I just needed to say yes and surrender.
I agreed to try the suggested positions, such as forward leaning in the seated position. That was when I felt the need to pee. Once my bladder was emptied the baby descended still lower. My doula suggested we work through a few waves sitting on the toilet and then turn around on the toilet and face the wall. The rim of the seat provided very good pressure where I needed it and I would have loved to stay there but I felt if I did I would be birthing the baby into the toilet. We came back to the room and my midwife suggested I try kneeling on the bed facing the wall leaning over the back of the bed. This set the stage for the beginning of phase two.
The early blue light of morning was just beginning to show through the blinds. My headphones came back on with the Fear Clearing track. My husband began applying counter-pressure to my back once again. My doula came to the head of the bed giving me support and courage. And my midwife encouraged me to push if I felt any urge. With the next few contractions I engaged with some timidity. Then about the third one my body took over and I pushed and my water bag just exploded with that completely surprising “Pop” sound. All I heard at that moment was my husband exclaim enthusiastically, “WOW. That was good” I couldn’t see what he was seeing but he later shared he saw my water bag bulge out and the first glimpse of the crown of baby’s head. From here we count 4 pushes.
Push #1 The baby’s head emerged to about the forehead and retracted. I asked my doula, “How much of the head came out?” hoping it had been the widest part. She answered, “Only to about here (the top of the eyebrow)”
Push #2 Half the baby’s face appeared and stayed suspended between my legs. It felt like the longest minute of my life. I remember wailing “Help me get this baby out!!” I heard my doula and husband reminding me to relax and breathe. So I did some light breathing and panting.
Push #3 Baby’s head was stretching me open. I yelled with the effort till the baby’s head was out. I felt a warm compress and My doula said, “It’s okay to cry. Your hormones are in. It’s a happy day. Just cry” And I did. I sobbed till I was calm from that intense moment and then rested. I could feel the midwife gently shifting the baby’s head left and right. She said, “This is a great photo op!” And again I heard DH’s exclamations of awe. Then she said the magic words, “One more push and the body will be out!”
Push #4 Baby’s entire body slid out. The sensation was so strange. The body felt as large as the head but that pressure gave way very quickly to a slippery feeling. I screamed but really due to nervousness mixed with adrenaline.
Then the baby was here. I heard a momentary cry and then silence. I was still on my knees facing the wall. They all said, “Turn around and look at her!” I looked around and down and she was lying between my legs on the bed. Her eyes were open and she had such a calm countenance. She was a tiny, beautiful little girl! I took her in my arms and cried with gratitude for everyone in the room who had shared, created, and given me this beautiful, redemptive birth experience.
One of the things I was most grateful for was when my doula spoke to me about crying with happiness. She knew how important it was for me not to feel terror or to feel out of control due to my first horrible birth experience. She put the correct significance on that powerful emotion that could have easily been remembered as trauma, to what it truly was: Joy.
Our nurse midwife also thanked us afterward for a beautiful birth and mentioned the Hypnobabies was working well. She said she wished I had allowed residents and nurses in training to attend the birth so they could have seen an alternative birthing position!
Josephine Elise was born on November 30 at 7:11AM, 4 days before her guess date, weighing 6lbs 8oz at 18.5″ long. She arrived 2 hours after checking in to the hospital and 4 pushes after my water broke. I sustained a very small first degree tear and minor laceration. the placenta was birthed about 15 minutes later. She is our first hypnobaby, and our second unmedicated birth.
My Hypnobabies doula was Lysa Quealy! She was wonderful!