On a Friday evening, my “nightly contractions” began.  Even though
they were pretty regular, I did not allow myself to believe I was in
early labor because I had been having contractions each day for
several weeks that would get regular for a few hours and then taper
off.  In fact, I had pre-term labor contractions at 32-34 weeks that
ended up with me off work early and on bed-rest.  So, I fully expected
to go into labor soon after hitting 36 weeks when I was allowed to be
more active again, but here I was six days away from my due date of
11/04 and completely surprised to find I would likely have a November
baby after all.

I went to bed telling myself that if it were the “real thing” then the
contractions would continue during the night and not be gone in the
morning as had happened several times in the previous weeks.  Each
time I woke up to use the restroom, the contractions were still there,
but I was able to go back to sleep.  I had stayed up all night in
early labor with my first pregnancy, and ended up being exhausted by
the time I delivered, so I was determined this time to get sleep early
on if I could.  On Saturday morning, the contractions were still
coming, but they were not really painful, so I was not convinced I was
in labor.  S planned, we took our 2-year-old to get a haircut and then
to McDonalds for lunch as a treat (my one regret, if I had truly
believed I was in labor, I would not have eaten McDonalds J ).  We
decided to take our son kite flying since the weather was so pretty.
We debated a little, but I told my husband that we should go since
this could be our last weekend together as just the three of us.  We
stopped at home to get the kite and I told him we should put my
hospital bags in the car “just in case.”  They had been packed since
the pre-term labor scares in September, so my instinct to actually put
them in the car on this day should have told me this was the real thing.

We drove up to a local plateau that is good for kite flying and I
relaxed in a folding chair, listening to my birthing affirmations CD,
enjoying the breezy day and watching my husband and son playing with
rocks and flying their kite.  Oddly, our dog wasn’t running and
playing with the guys, but mostly laid near me- did she know something
was up?  After listening to a few CDs and relaxing through my
contractions, I suddenly felt the need to start timing them.  All day
long, the contractions had been coming regularly, but I felt they were
not lasting very long and did not consider them to be painful.
Nevertheless, I timed several and was surprised to find they were
actually lasting about 60-70 seconds and were coming only 4-5 minutes
apart.  I was not sure what to think because the contractions were
quite regular but not painful.  So my husband suggested I call my
midwife and ask what she thought.

I called the midwife and told her I didn’t know if this was the real
thing, but wanted to get her feel.  I really expected that she would
tell me to go home and relax and call back because I know they judge
by how you sound on the phone, and I was really relaxed and not in
pain.  But apparently the timing and consistency of my contractions
told her something was going on, so she said, “Don’t rush, take care
of whatever you need to, but come on in to the hospital.”  She said
she would call and make the arrangements for our water birth (only a
few labor rooms could accommodate them) and she’d meet us at the
hospital in a few hours.  I was a bit shocked as I hung up and told my
husband that we probably should head out.  It was quite surreal and I
listened to my hypnosis CDs as we headed down the mountain.  My
husband was impressed at how much I “checked out” during each
contraction.  We dropped our dog off at my grandparent’s house and I
told my grandma it might be tonight, that I was going to the hospital
and would call her if they wanted me to stay.  We then dropped our son
off with my parents and got some last minute stuff together.  I had
planned to make some goodies to bring for the nurses and midwife while
in early labor, but instead asked my mom to do it for me and to bring
them if I called them to come to the hospital (I still wasn’t
convinced I’d be staying).

Once we got to the hospital, as I had been warned to expect, the
nurses did not take me too seriously at first because I did not appear
to be in pain.  We asked about the water birthing room, and the nurse
replied that we would worry about that after we determined whether I
was even staying.  She hooked me up to the monitors and fortunately my
contractions were registering strongly and consistently.  My blood
pressure was a little high, but I believe it was because I was nervous
about whether I would be told to go home.  Only 20 minutes later, my
midwife showed up, took me off the monitors and checked my dilation.
I was at a 4-5 and she said, “Let’s go to your room!”  That was the
only time I was on monitors for my entire labor.  She wanted me to
labor for a bit more before getting into the tub.  I labored for an
hour or two, walking, using the birthing ball, and listening to my
Hypnobabies CDs.  It was a wonderful experience- I remained in my own
comfy clothes and had no IV or monitoring (just an occasional
heartbeat check).

Then I got into the tub and it was just heavenly.  The floating
sensation was so comforting and the warm water soothing.  I spent a
lot of the time on my knees, leaning forward onto the wall of the tub.
We alternated playing my birthing day hypnosis with an ocean sounds
CD that reminded me of my special place.  Switching them out worked
well for me, because I found that if I listened to the same thing over
and over, I would start to tune it out completely and lose focus.
During this time, I would describe my labor as intense, like a hard
workout.  In fact, for this reason, referring to it as “labor” did not
bother me, because I felt like it required a lot of effort and
concentration, just like competing in a sporting event or
participating in a difficult project would require.  But at no point
did I find the effort or intensity to be unmanageable.  This was BIG
for me, and a complete difference from my previous delivery.  During
that labor, my pressure waves were pitocin-augmented and were very
irregular and uncomfortable, so despite my desire for a natural
childbirth, I found myself longing for pain-relief with each wave.  In
contrast, this time I never even considered asking for drugs- it would
have been completely unnecessary.  Since this had been my biggest fear
prior to the birth, I was relieved to find myself so in control and
allowing my body to do exactly as it was meant to do.

At one point, I felt the urge to push, and my midwife trusted my
instincts, without even checking my dilation.  I remained on my hands
and knees and tried to push there, but started to get jittery and to
feel a little out of control and scared.  My midwife suggested that I
switch positions and not actively try to push for a while, but just
see what my body wanted to do.  So I laid back in the tub and relaxed
against my husband and regained my focus.  As intense as everything
was just moments before, I suddenly felt mellow and even sleepy.  This
was the “rest and be thankful” stage that I had read might happen, and
it really was great.  I actually dozed for a while between pressure
waves.  Then a little while later, I have no idea how long, suddenly
the pushing urge returned with a much greater vengeance.  It was
amazing, almost like a freight train roaring through my body that I
could not have stopped if I had even wanted to try.  I pushed for a
while in a supported squat, but after a bit, my midwife felt that the
baby’s head was not crowning because my bag of waters were still
intact.  She suggested that she break them and allow him to fully
descend and I agreed.  In order to give her access to break the
membranes, I leaned back onto my pelvis, still in the tub.  As soon as
the waters released, the baby’s head crowned.  It was incredible.  My
midwife tried to get me to switch positions, but at that point I
refused to move and just wanted to push my baby out.

I won’t lie.  The last few minutes of pushing hurt.  But, I could feel
my baby’s head- he was right there and I didn’t care at that point if
it hurt some.  I felt like a powerful she-cat, bearing my young,
pushing when the urge hit me, screaming with the intensity of it all,
and collapsing to rest in the moments of reprieve.  No one yelled
“Push” at me or told me when to push, they just completely supported
me and my own timing.  And suddenly, the baby’s head was out and we
could all see him there under the water.  The midwife unwrapped his
cord a bit and with one more push he floated out.  I pulled him up to
my chest crying and felt so relieved and blessed to finally have him
in my arms.  He didn’t even cry, just looked around a bit with his
big, dark eyes and snuggled in close to my chest.  I had no tearing at
all, even with a meaty 8 lb, 10 oz baby.  My little water baby was so
mellow and peaceful, and didn’t even squeal until the nurse rubbed him
a bit to stimulate him.  Then he latched right on and nursed while his
cord finished pulsing and I birthed the placenta.  My little guy was
born in the night on Halloween, exactly as my grandma had predicted
the previous spring. He was also born on the night of the time change,
so although it should have been 3:59am, we “fell back” and I only got
credit for laboring until 2:59am 🙂

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t done it myself.  I know what
painful labor is, having gone through it with my first son, so I know
firsthand what a difference being prepared through hypnosis can make.
I also later learned that because of the way I was positioned in the
birthing tub, the baby’s head actually broke my tailbone as it passed
by.  No wonder it hurt!  This time, I know better how to avoid this
and expect to have a completely manageable labor, pushing and all.  It
really helps to know I have actually done it, and childbirth with
hypnosis really works.

Aimee
baby boy #3 due sometime in May

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