Vanessa’s Hospital Hypnobabies Birth Story
I had a mostly easy and uneventful pregnancy. Even the morning sickness was almost nonexistent, except for a general icky feeling in the early evenings for the first few weeks. I was incredibly tired and hungry throughout the pregnancy, and during the last 2 to 3 weeks I was nearing exhaustion. It was impossible to find a comfortable position and I was unable to sleep. My mental and emotional states were suffering in those last couple of weeks. I arranged to start my maternity leave from work a week before my due date in hopes of having time at home to relax.
About half way through the pregnancy I started practicing Hypnobabies, a self-hypnosis program for a comfortable childbirth. I had decided I wanted to have a natural drug free birth and put my faith in 6 CDs with suggestions to help me relax through labor and experience childbirth as an easy and painless event. Listening to a CD every night was a great way to relax and it also gave me confidence in my pregnancy and my body’s ability to birth a baby.
My due date was 09/09/07 but I was really hoping to have my baby on 09/08/07 because numerically I thought it would be a fun birthday to have. It was rumored that eating eggplant parmesan would cause labor to start, so we went out to an Italian restaurant for dinner on 9/7 and I ordered eggplant parmesan. I also had the leftovers for lunch on 9/8. I was having contractions on 9/8, but unfortunately they were not regular or strong enough to make me think that would be the day. On the morning of Sunday 9/9 I woke up, and after using the bathroom I noticed some pink spotting. I told DH I thought this would be the day. I continued having contractions that gradually…. very gradually….. got stronger and closer together. …
DH’s parents called and invited our 4-year-old daughter E to go out for the day to visit my sister-in-law and see their new house. E was excited to go and spend the day playing with her cousin, and I was glad that she would have the opportunity to do something fun rather than sit around the house watching me have contractions all day. At one point, DH went out to run some last minute errands and I was enjoying the peace of having the house to myself for a couple of hours. My dog wouldn’t leave my side; she must have sensed that something was going on.
Around 6pm we decided it would be best for DH to call his parents and tell them to keep E overnight. A couple of hours later he drove out to their house with some overnight things for her, and also to drop our dog with them so we wouldn’t have to worry about taking care of her either. At this point I was having hot flashes, so DH positioned a big fan in front of an open window and pointed it directly at me. I was lying on the couch with my eyes closed, focusing on relaxing through each contraction, while I waited for him to return home. I was feeling confident that I could handle it,
I wasn’t experiencing pain or fear, though I did repeat to him several times that he shouldn’t dilly-dally over at his parents’ house. I didn’t know how quickly things would progress and I wanted him to be home. Later in the evening I was feeling hungry so I ate some soup. I remember thinking how nice it was to be at home and to be able to eat when hungry. After eating, I decided it was time to start listening to some of my hypnosis CDs. I listened with headphones, trying to find a comfortable position on the couch. Then I switched to sitting on the exercise ball with my head resting on the arm of the couch. Through each contraction I focused on relaxing completely, repeating the words “relax” and “peace” (hypnosis cues that I had been practicing for weeks) over and over in my head.
Around midnight my contractions were about 3 – 4 minutes apart and finally I agreed to let DH call the midwife. After talking with her, he told me she seemed surprised that we hadn’t called her sooner and she instructed him that we should head for the hospital. I was glad to be on the road during a time when there wouldn’t be any traffic to worry about. The hospital where my midwives are on staff is about a 30 minute drive without traffic, and who knows how long during heavy traffic times. The only aspect of my labor and birth that I was slightly nervous about was the drive to the hospital, so it was a relief to know that heavy traffic wouldn’t be an issue. As it turns out, the drive was not a big deal at all. I sat in front with the seat reclined and my eyes closed, and continued to listen to hypnosis with my headphones. Before I knew it, we had arrived.
It was about 1:00 am. DH dropped me off in front of the emergency room while he went to park the car. We walked in the doors together and he talked to the man behind the counter. The man came out and got a wheel chair for me, but I told him I preferred to walk. He looked surprised, DH looked slightly amused, and the man made some comment about never arguing with a pregnant woman. He led us to the labor and delivery area.
I got set up in my room, changed into the sexy hospital gown, and the nurse came in to strap me up to the monitors and ask a bunch of questions. One of the questions the nurse asked was what my plan was for pain relief. I answered that I was using hypnosis for a comfortable and pain free birth. She also asked what my pain level was on a scale of 1 – 10 and I answered, “zero.” I was expecting those questions and had prepared the answers in my mind ahead of time. She checked my dilation and I was disappointed to learn it was only 4 cm and 50% effaced, but I told myself not to get discouraged.
Over the next several hours I continued to listen to the Hypnobabies on my headphones, repeating “peace” and “relax” to myself during contractions. I tried several positions during labor – on the bed, walking around, in the shower, on the chair, on the exercise ball, even on the toilet. I changed positions every so often, but mostly preferred sitting on the bed with the head of the bed raised completely upright. The midwife and the nurse both came in and out of the room many times to check on me, always asking “Are you SURE there’s nothing you need?” I guess they were surprised to see a woman in labor who was so relaxed and comfortable. Since I was not hooked up to an IV, they both continued to encourage me to drink lots of water and juice every time they came to check on me. Every time they reminded me I obediently took a sip, then promptly forgot about it until the next time one of them came in and reminded me again.
All night long I labored in the hospital, not sleeping. At 8:00 am the shift was changing. The midwife and the L & D nurse who had been there all night were leaving. Another midwife was starting her shift. During my prenatal visits I had seen both MW’s several times, so I was comfortable with both of them and glad they were the ones on call during my labor.
I was very tired and was starting to think I would be pregnant forever, that I’d never actually give birth to this baby. MW told me it was important not to get discouraged, and suggested breaking my water to speed things up. I was afraid. I had been handling contractions so well up to that point and I was afraid that breaking my water would be too intense for me to handle. She had to go and assist someone else with a cesarean section and said she’d be back to check on me again afterwards. While she was gone, I discussed my fears with DH. He said whether she breaks my water now, or we wait for my water to break on its own, it’s still going to be intense and I will still have to get through it. Might as well have her do it and get it over with that much sooner. That was an enlightening observation, which made perfect sense to me. When she came back, she asked again what I thought about having her break my water. She said she had another cesarean section in a few minutes, and I reluctantly, and bravely, told her I’d be ready for her to break my water afterwards.
It seemed like no time at all had passed before she came back to break my water. It was around 11:30 am. Before doing so, she checked my dilation. I was 8 cm and fully effaced. I had to lay on my back for this and as soon as my water was broken I felt this incredible rush of energy, and I half moaned / half yelled “I HAVE TO TURN OVER!!” Somehow I wound up on my hands and knees on the bed, which ended up being the only possible position for me. I can’t explain it, in fact I had consistently imagined myself giving birth in the squatting position, but hands and knees is the way my body positioned itself, and so that’s the way it was. It was right around this time that I lost my headphones. They were getting in the way and I just couldn’t be bothered to fuss with them. Until now I had been listening to the Deepening track over and over and over. The odd thing about this is that I didn’t really care for Deepening during my practice, but it was the only thing I wanted during my birthing time.
The next 50 minutes were unimaginably intense. Looking back, I wonder if I caused it to be so intense because that had been my expectation, that once my water was broken things would get intense. In fact I have read birth stories in which labor became less intense after the waters break, so I don’t know why I necessarily had this expectation.
I clung to DH during this time. I sweated and drooled on him. He sat straddling the bed, facing me, and I wrapped my arms around his waist and buried my face in his chest. I howled with every contraction. I felt the energy of a freight train through my body, but I have to say it really wasn’t painful, just incredibly powerful. In between contractions there was nothing but waiting, then suddenly the freight train feeling would be back. I was waiting for the famous urge to push, but it never came. Gradually I realized I had already been pushing for awhile. Once I had that realization, my next thought was that the also famous ring of fire would surely be coming soon, but that never happened. There was no ring of fire, there was only stretching.
At one point the midwife commented that the baby’s head was moving down, then back up again. She said this was good because it meant I was stretching slowly. Then she was telling me to push a little bit more, and I did. I pushed with no contraction and noticed how weak and wimpy my pushing felt without the freight train energy helping me. I felt the stretching, stretching, stretching almost as though the baby’s body was squeaking from the tight squeeze as she inched out of me. Then the midwife said we needed one more big push to get the shoulders out. I obliged and felt her big shoulders come free, then felt the relief as her soft belly, legs, and feet slid right out.
I had done it! All I wanted to do next was collapse on the bed, but our midwife was telling us to reach down because she was going to pass the baby through my legs and she wanted us to take her. DH took her, and time stood still for a few moments as we marveled at what had just happened and looked upon our beautiful daughter. I think DH summed it up right then by saying something profound like “Wow!” We both were surprised to see how much she resembled E. DH touched her face, and she turned toward his finger and started vigorously nursing on it. We were in awe.
After a few minutes we handed her over so she could be weighed, diapered, and whatever else they do. Absolutely everything was done in the same room as me. Finally I was able to collapse on the bed! I was whining about my leg muscles being cramped. After spending the most intense hour of my life on my hands and knees, of course my legs were tired! I looked over at DH and said, “So… what’s her name?” We agreed he would have the final say on naming her, since I had named E. He smiled and said, “Vanessa Lois…?”
Without warning, the nurses began to “massage” my uterus. This is nothing like having a relaxing massage at a spa. They were pushing down on my belly with quite a bit of force and I made no secret about not enjoying it. The placenta came out without incident. Then MW cleaned me up and repaired a small tear, which I also didn’t enjoy. Before long, I was being helped off the bed and to the bathroom. I felt great!
After returning to the bed, Vanessa and a lunch menu were handed to me. Someone said, “You must be really hungry! Order anything you want.” Hungry? I hadn’t really thought about it, but realized it had been quite awhile since my last meal. I ordered, and then latched Vanessa on so she could have her first meal while I waited for my lunch.
My whole experience was wonderful. Labor was long, and I was tired from not being able to sleep much, but I can honestly say it was not painful. My midwives were supportive, as well as the hospital nurses. Before leaving us alone, MW said she was so glad I gave birth on hands and knees. At the time, I didn’t think to ask why. Later I began to wonder. Did she have reason to believe it would have been more difficult in a different position? Would her shoulders have been stuck? At my 6-week post partum check up, I finally asked.
No, the baby was not stuck; in fact I had plenty of room for her to come out. The reason MW was so glad is because I am only the second person she has ever seen to give birth on hands and knees. As a midwife, she tells women how important it is to listen to our body and do what feels right, but still almost everyone ends up on their back for pushing. I was surprised to hear that. I certainly didn’t do it for the sake of being different. In fact, I am one of the few women who actually followed the instructions to listen to my body.
Vanessa was born 9/10/2007.
She was 8 lbs. 10 oz.