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Baby Will’s birth story is unusual because it spans about four days. But I’ve limited most of the story below to the actual birth, with a little background on how we got there.
I was hospitalized on July 19 (Sunday) for kidney stone pain at 39 weeks and given an NST. Baby was looking good and I was having minor pressure waves, but nothing productive. I was told I probably had a UTI so I was put on antibiotics and sent home the same day. I did OK on Monday, resting and taking my painkillers for the kidney pain and the antibiotics for the infection.
(In a previous post of mine, I talked about how I used the Hypnobabies “Deepening” track to get me through the pain and regular vomiting while on the 40 minute drive to the hospital.)
On Tuesday morning, the painkillers stopped working so I was instructed to return to the birthing center. When I arrived, the midwife told me my urine sample results had come in from Sunday and it showed I had a nasty kidney infection. I was put on IV antibiotics and more drugs for the vomiting and pain. I started doing much better within a few hours.
Around 4:30 pm on Tuesday we were told the OB would come in and talk to us about my condition. I didn’t really want to be discharged, but I didn’t see how I could stay overnight at this point because I was feeling much better. In the meantime I talked to my mom on the phone and she didn’t want me to be discharged because she was worried I would go into precipitous labor because of the kidney stones and infection and deliver really quickly overnight. That was exactly what had happened to her during her second pregnancy. (Unfortunate genetics…)
When the OB finally arrived at 9:30 that night, I told her that I expected her to discharge me, but she surprised us by saying she wanted me to stay overnight. She said I had a bad UTI and I hadn’t completed the course of antibiotics, so she wanted me to start them first thing the next morning. My husband left shortly thereafter.
Around 10:30 pm, I noticed I was having some pressure waves so I watched them for an hour. At 11:30 they were reliably 15 minutes apart. I watched TV for a while and made a note of how the waves were progressing. The lead night nurse checked on me close to midnight and I told her I was having waves about 15 minutes apart, so she said she’d come back around 2 am to see how I was doing. (She was a little skeptical that I was having productive pressure waves.) At 1 am I started listening to “Easy First Stage” of Hypnobabies to manage the waves since I was alone. I decided to call my husband Patrick at 1:30 am to tell him what was going on and he called the doula. Shortly thereafter the lead nurse came in and said with maybe some frustration, “I’m getting phone calls from people who say they’re coming in and you’re in labor, so we’d better move you to a labor room.” I replied, “Well, if I didn’t tell *them* what was going on, they’d get mad at me!”
I walked to the labor room, having intense pressure waves during the walk that forced me to stop and squat on the floor and breathe slowly. They hooked me up to the fetal monitor and saw that I was having productive waves, so Blanche the midwife took me off fairly quickly. My husband arrived around the time they were monitoring my pressure waves. My doula, Julia, showed up around 3 am. I spent part of the time sitting on a birth ball and breathing the word “open open open” throughout my pressure waves. I only threw up once (that’s my typical response to p**n) shortly after Julia arrived, and I felt much better afterward. As they intensified, I put my arms around the shoulders of either my husband or my doula (whoever was closer) and breathed the word “open open open” very slowly.
It was at that time I thought, “Why am I doing this? I’ll never do this again!” But it was a fleeting thought because I began using what I’d learned from Hypnobabies. During every pressure wave I replaced my brief negative thoughts with an image from Hypnobabies: “My cervix is as soft as melting butter.” And I repeated to myself some key things from Hypnobabies: The more intense each pressure wave is, the more productive it is, and I was that much closer to meeting my baby. Because I’d given birth before, I knew that the baby would be here probably faster than I expected. I kept repeating these things to myself during every pressure wave and it made them so much more bearable. At that point the pressure waves were coming just a couple minutes apart.
My water broke at 4 am while I was holding on to my doula’s shoulders. Every pressure wave thereafter was stronger than the last and a big gush of water would rush out with each one. There was talk of filling the water birth tub around 5 am, but at 4:30 I told my husband and doula that they needed to get the staff to fill it right away. The midwife came in and checked me because she wanted me to be at least 5 cm before I got into the tub. After the cervix check Blanche announced quickly, “Oh yeah, she’s at least 5 or 6 cm, get that tub filled!” She instructed Julia how to fill the tub. The lining of the tub hadn’t been placed correctly but no one noticed until after it was filled, so the nurse and my husband had to pull strenuously on the liner and get it set up correctly before I could get in.
The birth report says I got into the tub at 4:55 am with my husband. My doula was sitting outside the tub. It was a weird experience getting into the water… it didn’t get rid of the discomfort, but it augmented it somehow. It felt very different and more relaxing. I faced my husband for one pressure wave, and then turned around and sat in his lap for the remaining pressure waves. The pressure waves began to intensify and I was having three and four in a row with no real break, just a very slight loosening of the tightness in between. I wasn’t able to talk, or hear, or focus on anything but the pressure waves when they were going on. After about 20 minutes, I had a wave that suddenly felt very intense and I had pressure in my bottom. Prior to that, I breathed the word “open” repeatedly during every contraction – but when things got intense I began to say “OPEN OPEN OPEN” much louder. I yelled to the nurse and midwife across the room, “I’m feeling pressure – it’s not time to push yet but it’s really close!” The nurse said, “OK, breathe through them, you don’t have to push, you can breathe your baby out. Let’s do two more of those contractions and then we’ll be right back to help you push.” They left the room.
With that first really intense pressure wave I began floating up into the water because I had no energy to hold myself down. Then another wave hit and I began to yell “OPEN OPEN OPEN” during it, then I couldn’t breathe at all. I yelled, “I can’t breathe!” My whole body was completely consumed in this pressure wave that was pressing hard against my bottom – I had no control over what was happening and I was floating at the top of the water. My husband asked, “What does Hypnobabies tell you to do?” And I yelled back, “I don’t know – I didn’t get to listen to that track!” My husband said, “Breathe faster!” and he began demonstrating a rapid breathing, which I copied. It was exactly what I needed to get through the pressure wave. Meanwhile my husband and the doula were saying they saw lots of little bubbles, like soda, bubbling up from the birth canal during the wave.
I was feeling scared at this point because I felt like the baby was coming immediately and the nurse and midwife had left the room. With my first birth, I had a small tear even though the midwife tried to apply pressure and protect my perineum. Now I felt like things were moving so fast that there was nothing to protect my perineum and I was afraid of tearing badly. Within a minute or two another pressure wave started just like the last one and I began the rapid breathing. The pressure against my bottom was more intense than ever, there were more bubbles coming up, and the doula yelled, “She’s crowning!” My husband desperately reached for the nurse call button on the wall next to the tub. Almost immediately the doula yelled, “The head’s out!” And then I felt a huge whoosh that I knew was an entire baby. My doula pulled the baby’s head out of the water and I immediately reached down and scooped up the baby’s body and brought it to my chest.
At this point I was completely shocked. I was floating in the water, panting, holding the baby while two nurses and the midwife came running in and announced, “5:30 on the dot.” I wanted to know what the baby’s gender was, but I was too shocked and exhausted to look. One of the nurses helped me hold the baby’s head above water because I was having trouble functioning. My husband eagerly said, “What is it???” The midwife took a peek at the baby and announced, “It’s a boy!” I slumped down in my husband’s lap, amazed that I was right in predicting our baby’s gender for the second time. Julia asked if she could take pictures and I said yes. The pictures are very revealing (besides the fact that I’m stark naked in them) – I look completely shocked and exhausted by what happened over the last few days.
After the cord stopped pulsating, my husband gingerly cut it and a nurse took the baby so I could get out of the tub. I practically collapsed on the delivery bed because I was so tired. They handed the baby to me and Blanche went to work to encourage the placenta out. I never saw the placenta, but it felt HUGE when I pushed it out. She said it looked great. Then she examined me for any tears and said I had a little skid mark, which she defined as being similar to road rash, and a very tiny tear that needed no stitching. I was relieved. I figure the 35 minutes I spent soaking in the warm tub softened up my tissues so I didn’t tear.
I’d gotten very little sleep in four days and I was truly exhausted. I gave the baby time to latch on to both nipples, which he did like a pro. Julia left around that time. Then I gave the baby to Patrick so I could rest for a while. I slept for an hour or two while my husband held the baby and called all the relatives with the news. During that time the baby was weighed and measured. I predicted he would be at least 8 lbs. before he was born, and he was! 8 lbs. 4 oz. and 21 inches long. After I was able to nap for a short while, Patrick went home to sleep a few hours and then went to pick up our daughter Laurel and bring her over to the hospital for a quick visit in the afternoon.
Just like my first birth, I was really nauseous for a few hours afterward as my uterus contracted. Breastfeeding aggravated it because it encouraged pressure waves. But when I was moved to my postpartum room, I took a shower and felt much better. Our baby boy was very drowsy the rest of the day and didn’t nurse much, but when he did he still had a great latch. When Patrick returned later that day he asked me what we should name our new little boy. I told him I really felt that “William” fit him, and I was fine with any number of middle names we’d discussed. Patrick chose “Zane” as a middle name for its unique sound and the creative reference to famous western author Zane Grey.
It was truly an exhilarating experience! While I felt some fear at the end during the pushing phase, my birth partners helped me maintain control and I remained calm enough to let my body do all the work. And miraculously, my body always knew exactly what to do. I wouldn’t change the experience at all!
mama to Laurel & baby Will