When I was pregnant with my first child, Duncan, I went to La Leche League meetings to learn about breastfeeding. In one of the meetings, women shared there birth stories. Several women had natural childbirths, several women had the epidural standard births, and two women sobbed as they relayed their non standard epidural births. I truly felt for those women and also believed that the natural childbirth women were a little too far onto the zealot scale for my taste. What an interesting experience to be able to reflect on when I became pregnant with my second, Violet.
My first birth was one of those horrible nonstandard epidural births. I had an epidural that didn’t work and a long birthing time (34.5 hours). After the three month mark of my pregnancy with Violet, I became terrified. I have a worrying temperament by nature and the thought of enduring a similar birth as Duncan’s was overwhelming. Along the road, I decided that I was going to look into natural childbirth and this belief was cemented by a discussion with my doctor that indicated it was likely that epidural would be largely ineffectual again. I went on a researching campaign and read at least seven books about natural childbirth including several midwife textbooks. While reading these books, talking with a local midwife, and watching videos of births on you tube, I cried several times because I realized that many negative aspects of Duncan’s birth could have been different. I wished that I had a doctor, family, or friends that could have educated me about my decisions for childbirth. I learned about hypnobabies through you tube videos and was astonished at the peace that these births portrayed. My husband and I decided to make the commitment to hypnobabies and I started practicing at 26 weeks and almost did everything exactly as written in the books.
My birthing time started after 41 weeks. I was ready for the birthing time and really confidant in hypnosis because I had an external version at 37 weeks and used hypnosis 100% effectively for the procedure (story told in the file section). I woke up the morning of July 30th and noticed that my practice waves had started coming at regular intervals. I had been having practice waves for at least a week and had been using several home strategies to try to regulate me and push me over the edge. When my husband woke up I told him that I thought it was the day and we were very excited. The pressure waves were a little more intense than the practice waves, but still easy to handle. We dropped Duncan off at daycare two hours later and told several people that we thought it might be the day. When we got home, my husband started working and I went into the bedroom to practice different positions with the birthing ball. At this point, the pressure waves became wildly erratic and at one point a full 20 minutes went by without any. My husband found me crying in the bedroom and was very supportive. I decided to do a fear release and when that was completed we went on a walk. We walked around the neighborhood for at least an hour in ninety degree heat with our contraction master application for our I Pod touch. We decided to go home and call my family who was planning on attending the birth when the pressure waves were fairly consistent between five and eight minutes apart and lasting a minute and a half.
My sister came over immediately and we again went out walking. It seemed as soon as I walked into my house the intervals would get wider apart and I wanted to help my body to shorten the labor time. After another hour and half of walking, the pressure waves were getting more intense and I would have to stop walking and concentrate. At this point, we returned home and my mother and father brought lunch. Throughout lunch, I would have to get up during the pressure waves. My favorite position was being on my knees and elbows with my stomach in the middle. At this point, I was feeling greater discomfort in my back. So I would tell my husband that a contraction was coming, put myself in deep hypnosis and he would press really hard on my hips. At this point, 3:30 pm, the pressure waves were between four and six minutes apart and we decided to head to the hospital to avoid rush hour traffic. I put my ipod on in the car and listened to easy first stage. I counted 8 pressures waves in the twenty minute drive and was increasingly astonished that I was feeling no pain. Let me be clear, it was definitely my birthing time. My stomach would round into a hard ball, and I could feel my muscles pulling at my hips and my lower back more than I have ever noticed before. After parking the car, we reconvened with my family minus my father who was watching Duncan. I remember a lot of talking and joking while entering the hospital. We would stop every time a pressure wave started so Kevin, my husband, could apply pressure to my hips and I could count into hypnosis. The receptionist at the hospital seemed astonished when I refused a wheelchair and asked where the stairs were. I refused to have another labor that lasted over a day.
When we got to labor and delivery at the hospital, the natural childbirth rooms were unavailable. One was being used for a two day inducement and the other was being cleaned. I requested to wait for the available room. It was really important to me because the natural childbirth rooms had super deep tubs. We were shown to the antepartum room where I was checked and a fetal test strip was done. While being hooked up to the machine, the nurse asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10. I informed her that I did not want anyone to mention pain to me. After a couple more exchanges I informed her that I would be glad to talk about intensity and frequency. She insisted that she had to write down a number and I know at one point she asked if she should just make one up. I told her that in between pressure waves, the intensity was 0 and during the pressure waves it was four. At this point, she insisted that she had to review pain medication options with me. I informed her that I had a birth plan and I was not going to be using medication. After some more debate, I informed her to write down that the patient indicated that she knew available options and wished to delay talking about medications until requested. When the discussion finally ended with the nurse, I used the easy first stage track during the fetal monitoring. The nurse did the initial cervical check and I believe I was dilated 2.5. I didn’t really pay attention and I wasn’t concerned about the number. We then had a lengthy debate between family, nurse and my doctor on the phone about whether I wanted to leave the hospital and return in a couple of hours. Pressure waves had maintained at three to five minutes apart and 1.5 minutes in duration, but the nurse was fairly confidant that I would not be delivering for several hours. Then because of black, black clouds outside the window we decided to stay. Then we started walking the halls. We would walk and then stop with a pressure wave. I would lean on the walls and then my husband would apply pressure to my back. Occasionally I would return to the antepartum room to chug some water and go to the bathroom. I was really trying to avoid the IV.
Around 6:30 pm, we went back and were hooked up for a five minute fetal monitor strip and Dr. Martin came in. He was very nice and talked to me about how things were going and did another cervical check. I know that it progressed, but the number was not substantial higher, maybe 3.5 or 4. His arriving on the scene seemed to open up the delivery room and we were packing and moving into the next room by 7 pm.
Then I was in the tub. At this point, the birthing waves were coming pretty close together roughly between two and three and half minutes apart. I’m not sure how long there were lasting, but it had been pretty consistently 1.5 minutes from the beginning. Kevin stayed in the bathroom with me and managed the contraction master (wrapped in a Ziploc bag supplied by the nurse) and applying pressure to my hips or my lower back. I spent the majority of the time on my knees leaning forward against the wall of the tub. At one point, I was sitting cross legged facing the back wall so Kevin could still push on my back. It required all of my concentration at this point to be on top of the waves so they would not become painful. I remember telling Kevin that I needed him to remind me not to tense my abdominal muscles during contraction and asking him to help me with the peace and relax cues. The nurse came in a couple of times to check on us and Kevin did all the talking. My sister and mother would come and go. The nurse only checked the baby’s heart rate once for a minute. She had me stand up in the tub while she found Violet. It is always amazing and wonderful to hear the heartbeat and to be assured she was doing fine. Violet was pretty motionless during the birthing time unlike her brother who was trying to kick his way out. A couple of times, the wave would start painfully, but we were able to catch up using the cues. I remember one time wondering how I was doing and doubting if I could keep it up and looking into the labor room. Again, I wasn’t in any significant pain. It is still an arduous experience without pain and the hypnosis takes a lot of mental energy. My mother and sister were sitting on chairs, drinking coffee, chatting, and knitting. It was comforting to know that this birth was going so peacefully they could relax. I took their behavior as a sign that everything was working perfectly and it rejuvenated me.
I know that at some point, I started saying peace aloud and open open open. Soon after that, my mother came over to check on us and I told her something was happening and I need to move. I could feel my body changing and even a sense of bearing down even though I wasn’t actively pushing. As my mother and husband were trying to help me out of the tub, the nurse came. They explained what was happening as I tried to sit on the toilet. This was a bad move. I wasn’t able to concentrate enough when leaving the tub and while attempting to sit down I had another powerful and this time painful birthing wave. My husband could not immediately apply pressure and I was unable to use my commands. I had at least another birthing wave on the toilet before I realized that going to the bathroom was not going to be possible. Following this was a seemingly, endless 10 foot walk across the delivery room to the bed. This was truly the most difficult part of my birthing time. I wanted to be at my final destination so badly that I don’t think I was patient and relaxed enough to use the hypnosis. I think the rest of the family got caught up in the excitement of the move including helping me walk so there were not a lot of applied cues. I finally made it to the bed became terrified of lying down and ended up on my hands and knees.
Almost miraculously the doctor appeared and did a cervical check. I guess he said “you can push.” I asked my mother if he said “the baby is never going to come.” I guess that’s transformation for you. My mother clarified and I said that I didn’t think I could be at the push stage since my water hadn’t broken. But I was happy to be entering in the next stage. Just doing nothing wasn’t working for me so I began to push using exhale pushing. Oops, I didn’t really share this plan with my sister and my mother and apparently they became terrified that I was in a lot of pain. They hid it well. Shortly after beginning to push, my water burst. Thankfully, my thoughtful husband had put a towel over my legs. He informed me that it was as dramatic as any Hollywood video if not more dramatic. I continued pushing with the addition of my birthing ball to lean onto. At one point, the doctor told me the position wasn’t working and wanted me to lay on my side. I informed my mother that I was frightened of the pain lying down caused and didn’t want to it. However, my mother and Dr. Martin convinced me to trust him. Once I laid down, Violet’s head was out with one birthing wave. I had to stop because the cord was around her neck and impeding her progress. She wasn’t purple. It just wasn’t long enough to let her all the way out or long enough to slip over her head. The doctor had Kevin cut the cord and she was out in what seemed like a second. They had to give her some oxygen, but she was soon in my arms and nursing like a champ. The doctor waited for the placenta to come out naturally and we successfully delivered without any tears or abrasions!
Dr. Martin and the labor and delivery nurse were amazing. The nurse did not follow hospital policy by putting a heplock in my arm. The nurse monitored the heart rate in the tub and while I was pushing she personally held the baby monitor device against my stomach. Dr. Martin never suggested pain medication to me, did not break my amniotic sac, and apologized for having to cut the cord. It was an amazing birth.