This was my fourth pregnancy and my first real attempt to have a natural birth.
Seven years ago with my first baby I thought I would go “as long as possible” without an epidural. This of course set me up to fail. I had no idea what I was going to do or what to expect. This first pregnancy ended with my water breaking spontaneously and contractions starting immediately with an intensity that really surprised me and that I wanted to stop. I got to the Women’s Center and was told that I had pre-eclampsia, was given a narcotic to get me through the ambulance ride to the larger hospital in the area and was then given Magnesium sulfate and then Pitocin and an epidural. I remember very little of that birth. 12 hours of labor and about 15 minutes pushing.
My second birth was induced the day after Christmas at the added urging of my husband to be able to have the tax deduction and had an epidural just after my water broke. It was very relaxed and there were no complications. 10 hours of labor and 10 minutes of pushing.
My third birth was also induced after reaching a point of tiredness and exhaustion and just wanting to be done. I was placed on Pitocin and had an epidural timed for when my water broke. This labor was 8 hours and about 5-10 minutes of pushing. It probably would have been faster but I was told to try and wait for the doctor to show up and catch. She barely made it.
My fourth pregnancy was a surprise. My husband and I thought we were finished having children and had to change our mindset back to a newborn and all that comes with them. It was very weird for me because it became very important to me to have this baby naturally. This was not because of horror stories of previous births. My last two were very pleasant births but I knew that I wanted something different. A friend of mine had recently done HypnoBirthing for her birth and it sounded right to me. I did more research and came across Hypnobabies. It talked of everything that seemed right to me. I wanted to have a peaceful pregnancy and birth for me and my new baby.
I took the Hypnobabies course from a local instructor and really enjoyed the classes. I ended up in maintenance for about two and half months. My estimated due date was set as August 28th. At 30 weeks I was diagnosed with insulin dependent gestational diabetes. I had just recently switched from an OB to a midwife in another city and was looking at having to be transferred to their OB in the clinic. I met with him for 5 minutes and have never had a more violent reaction to someone. I knew that he would not be allowed to touch me or my baby when my birthing time came. I talked with the midwife and she knew how I felt about the OB and luckily enough they had just had a second OB join the group and he was someone who could listen to my concerns. He agreed that if an OB became necessary that he would be on call for me regardless of their rotations.
Then I was diagnosed as Group B strep positive and this changed my plans of laboring at home as long as possible. Starting at 36 weeks I was having non-stress tests twice a week and ultrasounds every other week. During my visit the day before my 39 th week the baby was measuring at 4000 grams on the ultrasound and the OB talked about the old recommendations would call for a C-section at this point for insulin dependent gestational diabetes but with the new recommendations being set at 4500 grams that would could wait longer.
I had declined internal exams up to this point knowing that it would either get my hopes up or completely dash them. But because of the “estimated” size and the hopes of doing this without the OB I agreed to have the midwife check me and I was a solid 4 cm and she could stretch me to a 5. She stripped my membranes hoping to get things started and sent me home.
I cramped all the way home and told my husband to pack everything up for us and our children just in case.
Nothing seemed to materialize that evening. I went to bed at 9 and woke up at 11:30 when my husband came to bed and couldn’t get to sleep because I was cramping pretty regularly. I probably went to the bathroom every 5-6 minutes. At 1 I finally woke my husband up and told him that we should probably consider this as it and get ourselves together. The contractions were consistent but would stop for about 10 minutes every time I got up to go anywhere. They would always start up again and so we called family to let them know that we were going to the hospital and we got the kids up and took them to my sister’s house. We got to the hospital at about 2:30. We were put in the exam room and waited. The nurse said that I was at a 4-5 cm and she called the midwife. Since I hadn’t changed since the office visit the day before the midwife wanted us to walk for two hours (from 3 to 5 am) and then get checked again.
We were in a very small hospital that has absolutely no room to walk and did our best. By the time 5 o’clock rolled around I was very mad and upset and wanted to just get our stuff out of the exam room and just go home and have my baby without them. My poor husband tried to make me laugh but almost got put in the hospital for his efforts.
Back in the exam room I measured no differently and they called the midwife. She offered to either have us go home (this really made me mad…hello, I was in labor that wasn’t going to change) or to start the antibiotics for the GBS+ now (5 o’clock) and she would come in and rupture my membranes at 7. Since she was the one I wanted delivering my baby and was only on call officially until 8, I decided to go for the antibiotics and having my water broken.
We were transferred to a labor and delivery room. We were settled in and then the nurse had to leave to help with another delivery and did not get the antibiotics started until 6:30. Up to this point the contractions have only been felt as cramps and were constant but completely bearable. My midwife and the midwife in training arrived to break my water. They checked me and while I was still a 4-5 cm the midwife said that my cervix was much more malleable and ready to go. They broke may water at 7:50. We had been in contact with my doula throughout the night and called her now to have her come up to the hospital. She lives about 3 minutes away and is the also the instructor from my Hypnobabies class.
Once my water was broken the contractions became much stronger and I had to turn my switch off for each one. They finally finished my course of antibiotics and unhooked me from the heplock and I started to move around the room. The midwives stayed in the room with me for quite a bit and talked to me between contractions. This was okay until my doula came and they watched as she and my wonderful husband helped me get through each contraction. The mood in the room changed to one of quiet and peace. My doula started talking me through each contraction while I was in the off position.
My husband would keep his hand on my shoulder helping me with the relax cue and his other hand was in mine. The doula instructed me to count down from 10 to 1 during each contraction and while I definitely felt discomfort with my contractions they were manageable. I spent most of my time laboring in the glider this gave me the most support and allowed me to relax with the least amount of intensity. Periodically the midwife would have me move to the bed to monitor the baby during a contraction. She always used the Doppler to get the baby’s heart beat and every time my baby was fine. The second or third time that they had me in the bed to check the heartbeat during a contraction the midwife leaned over the bed and whispered (everyone was whispering at this point) that she needed me to tell her when I started a contraction because she could not tell. The doula then prompted me that the next time I started a contraction to signal with my finger using the fingerdrop to show the midwife when it starts.
Whenever I was in the bed the contractions became much more intense and I always wanted out as fast as possible. I only wanted to be in the rocker but had to go into the bathroom twice and while this was manageable the first time the contractions had become so intense that I had to be in the off position to handle them and I couldn’t do this on the toilet. I got back to the rocking chair as fast as I could. I started to feel nauseous and made a point after the next contraction to say this out loud for my doula and my midwife to know what was going on. My doula said that the only way she could know that a contraction had started was my eyelids would flutter a bit. I thought it was very obvious due to my breathing and going limp but I guess I was much more aware of these things than they were. The doula asked if I felt pressure in my bum and while there was some it didn’t feel any different than what I had been experiencing and didn’t want to focus too much on this since it distracted me from my hypnosis. They were really intense and I was starting to feel a little frantic about how I was going to get through them for much longer. I finally told my doula after she asked a third time about the pressure that “I don’t know, maybe.” The midwife at this point wanted me to get on the bed again to check the baby’s heart rate and my cervix and while I got up without complaining to do this inside I was really worried because I felt that I had a slim grip on my control at this point and I knew that it would get worse when I got on the bed. I had been in transition for a while. I thought I might be due to the nausea and how the contractions had changed and I was starting to question whether I keep my control.
I got on the bed and immediately felt that everything hit me at once and had intense and a different type of p**n and I wasn’t sure what to do. Well it turns out my baby was crowning and my change in position had refocused everything to my perineum. I struggled for a second to figure out where I wanted to be. I tried all fours briefly and that didn’t feel right and finally just dropped to my side and lifted my right leg up in the hope that would alleviate the intensity. Everyone jumped at this point because this is the first they realized that my baby was coming and they had to scramble to get on gloves and to make sure the nurse was back in the room. My husband was wonderful throughout this whole ordeal and he was at my side holding my leg up for me and unfortunately didn’t get to see much of the birth because of my leg in his face. I didn’t have much control like I did during the contractions. I was more vocal and I remember asking for someone to help me and that she felt like she was tearing me. The midwives were able to put pressure on me and helped me to know how much pressure to use to get her to move out of the canal. The concern for insulin dependent gestational diabetes babies is that the baby’s trunk can be bigger than the head. So once her head was born we still needed to get her chest and abdomen out. They helped me slowly move both her shoulders out and then her body slipped out. This was so wonderful to feel the pressure ease and to turn onto my back and to see my baby girl for the first time. I was able to reach down to feel her head while she was crowning but for some reason I couldn’t open my eyes because of the intensity and so the first thing I saw after getting on the bed was her purple blue wet body being put on my belly. The cord wasn’t long enough to get to my chest. I was able to tell them to not cut the cord until it stopped pulsing and to let my husband cut the cord (which I have a beautiful picture of). I was also able to tell them to let the placenta detach and to not pull and they were wonderful throughout everything to do as I asked and I was able to not worry about them and to just enjoy my new baby that was squalling on my chest and to look at her beautiful full head of black hair, chubby checks and squished up nose. The midwives checked me and could not find any signs of tearing. As one of them said, “not even a skid!”
Brie Evelyn weighed in at 8 pounds 10 ounces. (The ultrasound the day before estimated her at 9 pounds.) She was 21 inches long. Her head circumference was 14 inches and her chest was 14.2 inches.
My water was broken at 7:50 am and she was born at 10:18 am after 3 minutes of pushing. So just about two and a half hours later. In fact she was born just 20 minutes shy of the full four hours required for the treatment of Group B Strep which requires a 48 hour stay for monitoring. We declined this and went home the following day.
This was an amazing birth for me. It was not p**n-free. But it was perfect for me. I didn’t expect to not feel the cramping and the p**n. So it could be that this was my own fault for not creating a completely comfortable expectation but it was perfect for me as I was able to handle the feelings that I did have and I was able to rely on my own strength and that of my husband and the direction of my doula to get through the labor to get to the joy of my baby’s birth.
After the birth I had the nurse say to me that she was honored to be able to attend me during my birth. That Brie’s birth was what a natural birth should be like. The midwives both were very impressed with the birth and the control that I had. This amazes me because I am a wimp when it comes to pain. I later had to have a shot of Pitocin due to my hemorrhaging and I hated this more than the labor (see, wimp). This birth gave me an understanding of myself and my ability.
I recently talked to my doula to find out her point of view about the birth and according to her my birth looked exactly like the textbook Hypnobabies labor. I was relaxed and looked like I was asleep the whole time. She reminded me that the midwives that attended the birth had a combined catch record of a couple thousand births and they could not tell when I was having a contraction. She also said that it was the most wonderful birth that she had ever seen. I have to say that I am quite proud of that and of myself. I learned a lot about what I can handle and that I do not give up. Doing Hypnobabies involves a lot of commitment and time even before the birth and this is something that I know gave my baby the best possible beginning.
Things I would change:
I would try to prepare more for the pushing. I felt out of control during this time and it felt like forever even though it was only 3 minutes. Perhaps if I had more time I could have refocused myself but it went so fast I didn’t really try. I don’t even remember having any more contractions per se once I began pushing.
I would have my husband in a better position to watch the birth and I would have had my eyes open to watch her come out and to maybe have helped catch her.
Things I would never change:
The midwives were wonderful as was the hospital I chose for my birth. They were on board completely for whatever I needed to do. One of the benefits of living in a small rural area I guess.
I would definitely have my doula by my side. She helped me focus and was able to direct me through the contractions with scripts that she tailored for the moment. This allowed me to know what to do mentally while I relied on my husband for his strength and love to get me through. She in no way took away from my husband’s role but she did enhance my role as the laboring Hypnomom. Even my husband has said that he was grateful she was there to do the vocal direction while he was my rock and reason for continuing.