David's Birth Story
Third Birth, Best Birth
With each of my labors, I have learned invaluable lessons. I have given birth to three healthy children, all naturally without medication. Each of them were different, and this third birth was the best. With my first birth, I practiced a different childbirth method that emphasized relaxation alone as a way to cope with labor. While the idea was nice, I felt myself unable to relax as the course promised and wished for a more effective strategy.
I first learned of Hypnobabies during my second pregnancy. I was already 36 weeks pregnant, so I knew that I would have very little time to learn the techniques. However, I was so fascinated by the approach that I began studying anyway. While it was indeed helpful, I knew that to receive the full benefit of the program, I would need much more time to practice. When we were blessed by another pregnancy, I began the program at 27 weeks and followed it as closely as I could as a home study student and mom of two energetic boys. I listened to the affirmations every day while getting showered, dressed, and ready for the day and did my hypnosis tracks during nap time. I became determined to do the best that I could so that I would have no doubts during my wonderful birthing time that I prepared to the best of my ability.
When I was 38 weeks pregnant, I just had a feeling that my birthing time was getting close. Of course at that point, it would certainly be close no matter what, but I just had a feeling that I would be meeting my baby boy that week. On the day I turned 38 weeks, I started feeling pressure waves when I went to bed. They were very comfortable, but noticeable. I practiced using my light switch and peace cues during the waves. After about an hour, they had not become regular or stronger so I decided to go to sleep thinking that if it was the real deal I would certainly wake up. Morning came and while I was disappointed my birthing time didn't come, I reminded myself I should appreciate every good night of sleep I could get before baby came!
While practicing my techniques, I found myself surprised at still being able to feel the pressure waves. I think it was good to get that practice because it allowed me to fully understand (as the course teaches) that using Hypnobabies does not mean that all sensation would disappear, but that using the Hypnobabies tools would allow me to experience the sensations differently and calmly.
Two nights later I had another round of practice birthing waves. I was due to see my doctor the next day and decided that I would allow him to check me out of pure curiosity. When he did the exam, he said that I was maybe 1 cm and 50% effaced. I dismissed that information knowing it could change in an instant. However, he couldn't tell for sure if baby was head down, so we did an ultrasound. It was a special time because my husband and two older boys were with me. They enjoyed hearing baby's heart beat and seeing him all squished up in mommy's tummy. The ultrasound confirmed baby was in the perfect position for birthing and that he measured 6lbs 3oz, which would be my smallest baby yet. We left the hospital at 4:00pm.
When we got home, I had to use the bathroom. As soon as I came out, I felt my water break! Or at least I thought that's what happened. It was such a small trickle I just wasn't sure. I heard my five year old ask my husband "What does that mean?" Hubby gave a good detailed answer and then said "and mommy probably feels like she peed herself!" sending my five year old into fits of laughter. Thanks, hon =).
At this point I had not felt any pressure waves at all. We went ahead and called my mother in law who would be helping take care of our older two sons and she came to pick them up. I took my time getting my hospital bag together. I felt very calm but was also very excited that we would be meeting baby soon! I must have been more excited than I recognized because I forgot many of the silly little things I wanted for the hospital, like makeup and a hair dryer for the days after. However, the first thing I grabbed was my iPod with my Hypnobabies tracks and my birthing time playlist.
After about an hour, I had only noticed one or two pressure waves. I have a history of 4-6 hour labors so we didn't want to dawdle too much. We decided to head to the grocery store and pick up some cookies for the nurses on our way to the hospital. They work so hard and make all the difference in a hospital experience!
We got to the hospital at 6:30pm. Before we walked into the building, Jeremy prayed for us in the car asking God to be with us and provide the right support for us. We got upstairs to check in and I realized we forgot the cookies in the car! I was very concerned about this and asked Jeremy to go back and get them while I filled out some paperwork. I made sure to ask for nurses who were naturally minded and the guy was pretty nice about it. Jeremy got back up to L&D with cookies in hand as we were called back to our room.
As soon as I got changed into the hospital gown, our nurses were just coming on shift. I was thankful that they were fresh on shift- maybe they would be more willing to be open to our techniques! They requested to do an initial internal exam which I was fine with but asked not to be checked again; it is such a mental game for me. Dilation can change in an instant and if I feel like I should be further along than I actually am, it can really defeat me. Thankfully they were very understanding and agreed to that. They did the exam and my husband put his hand on my shoulder so that I would instantly relax. I was not expecting him to do that and was so surprised that I did indeed instantly relax and my light switch moved to off on its own. I was still less than 1 cm dilated and about 70% effaced at that time. No surprise to me based on the appointment I had just had hours before.
They requested to get a baseline reading on the heart rate monitor to which I complied. After that they said they'd only need to check every hour or two. Immediately my contractions began at 2-3 minutes apart. They were still very comfortable but frequent. The nurses and I chatted and I was able to share a bit about Hypnobabies so they would know what we would be doing. I felt a little odd talking about it because I didn't want to come across as a know-it-all patient, but I do know a good bit thanks to Hypnobabies and past experiences and wanted to make sure I communicated our preferences.
The main things I requested were to not be checked, have intermittent monitoring, be able to be active during labor, try side laying or squatting position for delivery, delayed cord clamping, and skin to skin for the first hour. These nurses were awesome and supportive of everything we talked about. They brought me a birthing ball and this awesome peanut ball, which was like a birthing ball you put between your legs in the side laying position.
By the time the nurses left our room it was 8pm. Pressure waves were still coming every 2-3 minutes and were getting stronger. Since it had been about 3 hours since my water broke, I was very anxious to get things going and so we walked around the halls a couple times. However, I was feeling pretty tired. I reminded myself of the affirmation that this is a new birth and a new experience and there was no competition to have a shorter labor than my others. We went back to our room to rest while we could.
I found myself wanting to listen to my birthing time playlist over my hypnosis tracks at this point. I had put together a list of calming praise and worship music that reminded me of God's power and provision. The song "You Make Me Brave" had become a bit of a theme song for this pregnancy and birth as many of the lyrics reminded me of Hypnobabies terminology. It speaks about how God's love crashes over us in wave after wave, just as our pressure waves come in wave after wave. God is for us and not against us. He makes a way for us all to enter into heaven and into this world, which affirms to me that he has made a way for this baby to enter into the world by his perfect design of our bodies. The song then builds intensity as it sings "You make me brave" over and over, affirming that if any doubt enters into my mind during my birthing time that God has designed childbirth and will supply me with the bravery that I need to embrace his perfect plan. His love is strong and there is always enough love for me and my baby during our birthing time.
I went ahead and laid on my side using the peanut ball and took the chance to rest. I was nervous that pressure waves would slow down while I rested, but I knew I needed to save my strength. Immediately upon getting in that position, the waves started increasing in intensity. While the music played in the background, Jeremy would put his hand on my shoulder and read from the birthing partner script during my waves. I can't say for sure if my light switch was in the off or center position most of the time. I don't remember ever consciously turning it off and then up to center on my own, but as soon as my husband placed his hand on my shoulder I instantly relaxed and continued to be able to communicate. So I suppose I was in center. I decided not to worry about the details but allowed myself to use the Hypnobabies tools as they came on their own.
Around 10pm, the nurse came to check on me. She asked Jeremy if I was asleep. I remember feeling so proud of that because I knew I was relaxing and using my tools effectively, and they indeed were working so well. I was feeling the pressure waves just as that- pressure- and as they became more intense I did begin to notice myself moaning to stay open and loose. The nurse told me that she needed 15 minutes to be able to get the doctor to the hospital so was wondering how I was feeling. I was starting to feel a little pushy, with much more pressure on my cervix. She asked if she could check me to see my progress. I told her that no, I did not want to know my progress, and asked if there was any doctor at the hospital, to which she replied no. Jeremy encouraged me to let her check me and just not have her tell me how far dilated I was. I agreed but instantly began shivering uncontrollably and had a hard time using my techniques to calm back down.
After the nurse finished her exam, I asked her to just go ahead and tell me. She said "You just keep doing your thing, you're doing great!". I looked at Jeremy and said "Oh no, that means I'm not very far dilated. She doesn't want to discourage me." Jeremy said "Hold on, I need to go make sure she is calling the doctor." I tried to pump him for more information and get him to tell me how far dilated I was. He said "Just let me go tell them to call." I didn't want to let him leave my side because I was starting to really need his help with the Hypnobabies cues. My pressure waves were almost back to back at this point. He insisted that he go speak with the nurses and put on the hypnosis tracks while he left. At that time, I did not want to listen to the tracks, and just wanted to hear my music.
I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to come and be my helper. I had a great vision of two helpers in robes surrounding me and whispering affirmations and cues to me. "Release. Peace. You are completely relaxed now. Open." I felt their weight on me, the counter pressure that Jeremy had been using to help me relax was still there. The shivering stopped completely and I was able to relax and go deeper into hypnosis.
Jeremy came back into the room and, without missing a beat, picked up the birthing partner script and continued helping me relax. The nurse came in and said the doctor was on his way. She was wheeling in all of the tools they may need during delivery. Then she wheeled in the baby bassinet. I looked at Jeremy and said "Is it happening? Is the baby coming now?" While I was feeling the growing intensity in pressure waves, I just could not believe that it might actually be time to deliver. Surely it would get much harder than this first.
The pressure waves did indeed continue to increase in pressure without a break in between. "The more pressure you feel now, the more relaxed you become and the more powerful your anesthesia becomes. Much more powerful. The more tightening you feel now instantly the more anesthesia you feel now. Deeper and deeper relaxed."
The doctor arrived and was very chipper. He said "Hello hello! I'm loving the vibe in here! Love the tunes you have playing!" I looked at Jeremy and told him to make him be quiet. He said he was going to go wait in the lounge and told the nurse to call him when it was time. As soon as he left, I had my first pushing wave. I told the nurse "I think I need to push!" And she said okay, go ahead. I waited and listened to my body and ended up not needing to push.
The doctor came back in and insisted that they check to make sure I was fully dilated. I refused. The nurse asked why and I said I was too tense. I had not been able to fully relax and was having a hard time using my techniques with all the excitement of preparing the room for the baby. The doctor explained if I wasn't fully dilated, I could rupture if I pushed. I was quite annoyed because I knew what my body was telling me to do. Just then I had a powerful birthing wave and could not help but push. I told the nurse I was pushing. She looked at me and looked at the doctor and said "There's the head!" He swooped around and said "Okay let's go!"
I remember still being tense and asking for help. The nurse looked at me and to my surprise began using the Hypnobabies cues! She told me "Release" and put her hand on my other shoulder. I wanted to cry because I was so appreciative of her support. And I was feeling such intense pressure.
Another pushing wave came and I began to push. They encouraged me to keep pushing and deliver baby's head. My pressure wave ended, but I continued to push out of fear that his head may go back in. I wanted forward progress! His head was born and I had a good minute of rest before another pressure wave came. It was nice to be able to rest and have a moment of pure relaxation. It seemed like an eternity and was so nice. Then the next pressure wave came and baby boy was born at 11:12pm! While I was more tense during transformation than I had envisioned, it was such an easy delivery! As soon as he was on my chest I remember saying "Is that it? Is it really over? Is he really here?"
We enjoyed skin to skin and baby nursed immediately, not letting go for at least an hour. Jeremy asked me during that time if I wanted to know how far dilated I was when they checked me at 10:30pm. Of course I wanted to know and when he told me, I was shocked. I was 4 centimeters dilated. Less than 45 minutes later, baby was born. Thank God they did not tell me. And Thank God for a wonderful husband who recognized my emotional sign posts and knew that 4 cm was just a number and our baby was coming soon. And thank God for Hypnobabies that allowed my husband and I to experience our birthing time as a team and joyously welcome our healthy child into this world with peace and thanksgiving!
Sure enough, baby boy was 6 pounds, 3 ounces, which is exactly what the ultrasound that day had measured.