I have always wanted to give birth naturally (and by naturally, I mean un-medicated, and with the absolute least medical intervention humanly possible).
Miles's birth was pretty much the opposite of that, and to be honest, it left me a little traumatized. I absolutely hate the feeling of being out-of-control (hence my major control issues) and there was maybe an hour during Miles's birth when I felt like me and my body was in control of what was happening. The rest of the time, I was hooked up to every stinking thing I possibly could be and felt very angry and out of control of the whole experience.
Needless to say, I wanted this time to be different. My cousin, Erin, had a little boy several months after Miles was born and had blogged about her use of "hypnobirthing" during his delivery. I didn't know much about hypnobirthing, but when we found out we were pregnant again *surprise!* I decided to do a little more digging to see if it was something I wanted to pursue.
After some research late in the pregnancy game, I settled on HypnoBabies (one specific form of hypnobirthing) and signed up for a class with an instructor who I also decided to use as my doula for the birth. The class was a six week course, once a week, for 3 hours. Wednesday quickly became my favorite day of the week: I got off work a little early, I got to spend a little extra time with Brett and Miles at my doctor's appointment, then I got to enjoy an evening of relaxation and learning things that would help me have the birth I'd always dreamed of.
Not only was HypnoBabies helping me feel prepared for birthing, it was changing the way I looked at things in general. I've mentioned my paralyzing pessimism in many previous posts. While HypnoBabies hasn't necessarily "cured" me of that particular malady, it has opened me up to a different way of viewing the world, and has helped me learn to focus more on what I want, rather than what I don't want (both birthing related, and non birthing related).
I totally give HypnoBabies the credit not only for my amazing birth, but for my Gestational Diabetes being manageable, finding a perfect new car at the absolute perfect time, my negative Group B Strep status, and lower anxiety levels in general.
HypnoBabies had me actually excited to give birth. And not just excited to no longer be pregnant anymore (which I do have to admit, was also the case), but excited and empowered to do something incredible.
Despite my new found optimism, I still struggled a little bit there at the end... The last few weeks of pregnancy are always the hardest for me. I'm a mess of emotions about the upcoming birth. I'm terrified of all the unknowns, excited to finally have my body back to myself, nervous about my capabilities as a mother, and so on. I get really hung up on the timing and I hate that that is one major aspect of birth that I don't have any control over (I told you I was a control freak...). I struggled when February 4 (the day I officially qualified for my FMLA maternity leave at work) came and went. The closer and closer I got to February 17 (my actual "due date"), the more anxious I became.
I finally decided to just let go. I decided to focus on what I wanted. I convinced myself that I was going to have the most kick-ass birth, ever. And in the meantime, I decided to find things to do to keep me as happy and occupied as humanly possible, so I would quit focusing on how much I DIDN'T want to be pregnant anymore. Looking back, those last few days before the birth were actually full of some great final "before baby" bonding moments with Miles. We were able to get out of the house and explore and enjoy the amazing spring weather.
And so the rest of our story begins... Fair warning. If you think this post has been long so far, buckle up. Because although the one word I would use to sum up the birth of Atticus is FAST, my rendition of the story is anything but.
It all started with my first day back after work following my REALLY long weekend.You see, I spent Thursday night having a gall bladder attack and going to the hospital until 1 in the freaking morning. If you've never had a gall bladder attack before, well good for you. Eat right so you don't ever have to deal with one. I was in so much pain I just wanted to die. Being pregnant made it ten times worse...
I called in sick to work on Friday, which meant that I didn't work for 4 whole days because of the holiday on Monday... Going back to work on Tuesday was brutal. I kept telling myself that baby was going to be born before then and I had everything at work finalized to where everyone could pick up right where I left off without issue. I had very few things left to do at work to fill my time, so the hours just seemed to drag on...
When I got home from work, we ate dinner and Miles was excited to finally make the cookies we’d been promising to bake all weekend. This was one of the things on my "pre-baby" to-do list: make cookies to share with the nurses. I had been holding out doing it until we got closer to my due date so they would be more fresh. I joked with Brett and Kelly (my doula) that if I'd have known that all I had to do was bake cookies to begin my birthing time, I would have done it a lot earlier!!
After getting Miles to sleep, Brett and I started an episode of Gilmore Girls in bed while enjoying some cookies. I had some contractions that at times felt a little more serious, but since that had happened consistently for weeks, just to taper off after I fell asleep, I wasn’t about to get my hopes up. After the episode, I listened to my “Special, Safe, Place” HypnoBabies track and fell asleep. I woke up to turn it off, and noticed my clock said 11:08. I remember thinking to myself, that as much as I would love to have the baby tonight, I was pretty dang sleepy. I sent a little shout out to God that if it was going to happen tonight, to at least let me sleep a little bit, first.
I woke up at midnight to the weirdest sensation. I felt like I had peed my pants, but knew that I hadn’t. As I was shuffling to get out of bed, I woke up Brett and told him that I thought my water had just broke, but wasn’t sure. As I got up, a bigger sort of gush happened, so I ran into the bathroom. It was pretty obvious at that point, and I started freaking out a little. I couldn’t stop the gushing, and it was so gross and weird feeling… I had Brett grab a bunch of towels, and after sitting in the bathroom for a few minutes, I finally made my way back into the bedroom.
Even though I hadn’t really noticed any contractions yet, I felt weird, almost “pushy,” and I was so confused. I was all sorts of paranoid that baby was going to be born extremely soon, and at home… I’d never had my water break before I got to the pushing stage, so it felt so foreign. I kept worrying that the umbilical cord or something would come slipping out. I knew that I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, but I hadn’t anticipated my water breaking until long after we were in the hospital. I knew if we called the doctor or hospital, they would tell us to come in right away.
We quickly called Brett’s mom, knowing that regardless of how long we stayed at our house, we needed her to be on her way so she could watch and take care of Miles. She was supposed to go into work at 6 a.m., so she told us she’d have to find someone to cover her shift and she’d call us back soon.
I called Kelly and asked her what I should do. She asked if I’d had any contractions, and since I hadn’t really noticed any since waking up, she suggested I try to sleep and get more rest. Well that wasn't about to happen! But I promised to keep her posted and to call as soon as I wanted her to come over and help.
I seriously felt so out of control, because my water kept consistently leaking, and I couldn’t do anything about it. At one point, I tried changing my underwear and putting on a pad to absorb any more liquid that might come out. Yeah, that wasn’t happening. I just completely leaked through it with one big gush. The most comfortable position I got into was sitting on the edge of my bed (which I covered in towels) and leaning over and letting it drip on more towels on the floor.
In the meantime, I kept asking Brett to bring me things, but the minute he’d go to leave the room to get it, I’d call back for him to stay by me, because I was freaking out. Brett’s mom ended up calling back and saying that she couldn’t find anyone to trade shifts with her, and because others at her work had already called in, she couldn’t just call in sick.
That made me freak out even more, and we quickly called Brett’s grandma to see if she could drive over from Cedar. I just kept worrying and thinking that we needed to get someone to our house ASAP to stay with Miles so we could go to the hospital quickly. I didn’t even really want to go to the hospital, because I wanted to labor at home and didn’t really “feel” like I was in real labor, anyway, but I was so concerned, nonetheless.
After spending a lot of time giving his grandma directions to our house, I decided to call a friend I had just gone to lunch with on Tuesday afternoon to see if she could come sit at our house until Brett’s grandma got there, so we could leave for the hospital. I had felt the baby move a lot before going to sleep, and once briefly right after I woke up, but hadn’t noticed any movement, really, since. It was kind of worrying me, as “lack of fetal movement” was one of the main reasons you should go to the hospital after your water breaks. I wasn’t panicking, but still felt pretty nervous about it, and felt like I wanted to go in to at least get checked out and make sure baby was doing ok.
My friend didn’t answer her phone, so I texted another friend (who just had triplets) because previously she had texted me about getting up around midnight to pump for her babies who are still in the NICU. Luckily, she was awake, and when I asked if she could come sit at our house until Brett’s grandma arrived, she was totally willing.
I spent a few minutes trying to figure out a way to cover myself, while not really having a way to keep my amniotic fluid from leaking besides holding a towel under myself like a diaper, which left no room for wearing pants. I ended up settling on a tube top swimsuit cover up that was just long enough to cover my butt. Brett and I spent several minutes packing the last minute things into our hospital bags (mainly toiletries), and I wanted to put in my contacts, brush my teeth, and touch up my crazy hair, because I’m vain like that. KayLee got to our house at 1 a.m. and by then I was having consistent, though not very strong, contractions, so I started timing them. They were about every 2 minutes and lasted an average of 45 seconds long (some as short as 30 seconds, some as long as a minute).
Brett called Kelly back and asked her to come over, and said that I likely wanted to go in to the hospital soon. We continued to pack the bags. I also tried to figure out the best way to take a last “belly” picture before the big event, which turned out to be pretty difficult sans pants. None of them turned out very good, but I was so anxious about getting to the hospital, that I didn’t stress too much about it, like I normally would have.
I called the hospital to let them know I was coming. I asked if either of their natural birth rooms were available, and I was told that they were both being used. One was almost ready to be cleaned, but the nurse said she didn’t know how long it would be, and they wouldn't let me “call dibs” on it. That made me a little nervous, so I really wanted to get to the hospital soon to guarantee that room! We packed some snacks and finally left for the hospital at 2 a.m.
We got into the car and I put my headphones in to start listening to my HypnoBabies “Fear Clearing” track. I was barely getting into it when Brett’s grandma called. I had to pause it to help Brett direct her to our house. Afterwards, I tried to listen again, but it was extremely hard to focus. The drive to the hospital felt like it took forever, and I was so uncomfortable in the car, crunched into an awkward position so as not to leak anything on the seat. We finally arrived, and Brett was still on the phone with his grandma. I kept telling him to hurry up and get off the phone so he could just be there for me.
We went back to labor and delivery where they took me to triage and hooked me up to the various monitors. The CNA tried finding baby’s heart rate on my right side with no luck. I was trying hard not to freak out, but I was getting a little nervous. She finally checked on the left side and found it right away. I was so relieved.
My nurse, Sherri, came in shortly after. She was a sweet, older lady, who kind of reminded me of my Grandma Parry and Brett’s Grandma Beatty. She sat next to me on the bed and rubbed my leg as she asked me questions about what was going on, and how long it had been since I hadn’t noticed baby’s movement. I felt very safe and comforted. She was extremely patient and waited until my contractions were over to ask me anything or do anything. Every time I had contractions, Kelly read me some of the birth prompts from HypnoBabies while Brett held my hand and tickled me. My contractions weren’t extremely strong at this point, and felt pretty similar to the many “Braxton Hicks” that I’d been having for weeks on end.
I was checked for dilation and I was a 3 and about 80 percent effaced. I remember thinking “Really, I’m only a 3?!” With Miles I was “stuck” at a low number for SO long, and I did not want to spend forever and a day in labor at the hospital again. So when Sherri said they were ready to transfer me to the birthing room, I was tempted to ask if we could go home and labor awhile longer, now that we knew baby was doing well. Sherri let me know that the room they were moving me to was the natural birthing room, so I felt a little comforted and decided not to make a big fuss about going home just yet.
Once we got to the birthing room, I had to wait for the phlebotomist to come do some labs that the doctor had ordered. Meanwhile, Sherri hooked me up to the telemetry monitors so I could get in the bathtub immediately after. She said that due to my gestational diabetes, they wanted me to test my blood sugar every two hours, starting now. It was so nice the way she approached me about it. She asked if I was okay with doing it (making me feel like I could decline if I really wanted to) and she didn’t pressure me to use the hospital’s equipment—she said I could use my own meter if I wanted. That was one thing I had stressed about… that the hospital would want to do all sorts of (expensive) interventions because of my gestational diabetes. We told her the reading I got when I tested it at home after waking up, and then I took it again and got another normal reading.
While waiting for the labs, Brett went to the car and brought some of our bags in, including all my HypnoBabies stuff, the cookies we had made for the nurses, and my birth preferences. We gave our birth preferences to Sherri, taped our HypnoBabies sign on the door, and started up the relaxing music. For a few minutes, it was just me, Brett, and Kelly in the room, chatting it up. I looked up at the clock and commented about how it was already almost 4 in the morning. Brett said something about being a little tired, and I was like, “Not me! I’m wide awake!” After they drew my blood, Sherri started filling the tub. I was so excited to get in and quickly changed into my swimsuit. The water felt AMAZING and it was so much more relaxing to be in the tub during contractions.
I remember being somewhat annoyed at how slow the tub was filling up. It seemed to take FOREVER. I just wanted to finally feel settled so I could relax and start my “Fear Clearing” track over again, then listen to my other favorite track: “Deepening.”
There were moments that I started feeling a little overheated, so Kelly went and got me some cold washcloths to put on my forehead. At some point, she also put some lavender essential oils on a washcloth to hold under my nose. It made me feel like I was just at home taking a relaxing bath before bed. She and Brett also brought me my ice water to keep me hydrated.
After a little while, Sherri came back in to adjust the baby’s heart rate monitor because it had slipped around during contractions. She was having trouble getting it to stay on my belly with the straps that were on it, so she left to get some new ones. Around that time, my contractions started getting much stronger and I even had a couple that were back to back. I made a comment to Brett and Kelly at some point about not getting a break to rest in between.
I even thought to myself during a few contractions “I can’t do this… it's too much.... maybe I should just get an epidural so I can lay down and relax…” But then, with all of my HypnoBabies positive affirmations training, I changed my mind. “I CAN do this!”
My contractions were definitely starting to feel painful. I kept asking Brett and Kelly to push down hard on my shoulders as they used my “relax” cue, and I became really vocal and loud through my contractions. At that point, Kelly had used a lot of cues about my “birthing waves being very powerful” and I kept thinking, “Man, I don’t want to think about them being powerful! I don’t even want to think about them at all, I just want to freaking relax, already!” As my contractions kept getting more intense, I finally was able to vocalize that I needed something different. I changed positions and got onto my knees with my arms over the edge of the back of the tub where Brett was. I asked Kelly to use the cues that counted me down deeper into hypnosis during my contractions. I also asked her and Brett to start using counter pressure on my back.
After a couple minutes, I was still uncomfortable in that position, so I stayed on my knees and moved over to face the wider part of the tub by the little “door.” After a few minutes of contractions this way, I started feeling like I was pushing involuntarily and told Brett and Kelly that I felt like I was pooping. Kelly reassured me that it was just baby moving lower and getting ready. Brett asked if he should go get the nurse and I kept telling him no. I remember thinking there was no way I was getting out of the tub to be checked for dilation, because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting back into the tub afterward (and I knew I felt most comfortable being in the water at that point). I thought there was no way I was fully dilated that fast (it really hadn’t been long at all that I had been having the more intense contractions, even).
After several pressure waves where I felt my body pushing on its own, I finally sort of relaxed and went with it, instead of tensing up. I kept telling Brett and Kelly over and over “I’m pooping! I’m pooping! I’m pretty sure I’m pooping!” After a few minutes, I actually felt a little bit of relief from the pain of the contractions, though they were still pretty intense. I was still pretty vocal and kept asking Brett and Kelly to push on me harder.
I kept trying to use my “peace” cue in my mind (which is all about directing your hypno-anesthesia to the parts of your body that need it), but was still struggling. I finally just started saying “peace” out loud to myself, though it sounded more like an angry and fast “PEACE, PEACE, PEACE, PEACE, PEACE, PEACE, PEACE, PEACE, PEACE!” Brett and I laughed about it later, because even in the moment I knew I sounded absolutely ridiculous, but it was the only thing that was helping me get through each pressure wave. That and biting my own hand.
After a little bit longer of me doing that, Kelly went to go get Sherri because I kept telling her and Brett that I was pushing and didn’t know what to do. Sherri came in and started draining the tub so I could get out. It took forever to drain, and I remember standing up to get out a couple times, only to have pressure waves that were strong enough to get me back down in the water for relief.
The contractions were still strong and kept happening pretty close together, making it really hard to get out. I could tell in her voice that Sherri was concerned about getting me out quickly. She kept saying, “Alright, we have to get you out so I can check you.” I was almost annoyed, and kept thinking, “I’m trying, I’m trying!” As I was getting up and out, I started realizing that even though it felt like I was just pooping, I really was pushing baby, and he was really close to coming out! I had a contraction right after I got out of the tub, and I was fully convinced he was going to pop out before the doctor could even make it. “He’s coming, he’s coming!” I kept saying.
Sherri had me take off my swimsuit bottoms and I crawled onto the hospital bed on all fours, butt in the air for all to see. I'm sure that was a pretty picture. Sherri kept trying to get me to turn over on my back so she could check me and call the doctor. With each contraction and involuntary “push”, I knew baby was literally about there, so I told her I thought she just needed to call the doctor. She was finally able to help me get onto my side to check me. Brett said she put her hand down there, only to quickly whisk it away and run out the door.
Everything after that was really a blur. I stayed on my side and just kept pushing with each of my contractions (not purposefully… there was just nothing I could do to keep my body from doing it on its own). I vaguely remember a few more people coming in and out of the room quickly with things to prepare for the birth. At one point, my contractions stopped completely and I said out loud, “I just want to rest for a minute.” Kelly told me to go ahead and rest, so I just laid there for a minute, trying to relax and catch my breath. After what felt like just a minute, contractions and pushing were back and getting intense. I stayed on my side, my hands completely gripping the rail of the bed, facing Brett who was standing next to me on the right side. I kept saying over and over “He’s coming, he’s coming!”
The doctor came in as I was having a contraction and I remember yelling “Help, help, help!” as I pushed. I felt an intense burning/stinging/pulling sensation as his head was starting to come out. I felt the doctor’s hand (or what I’m assuming was his hand) as I was pushing, which made things down there almost feel worse. I vaguely remember the doctor telling me to keep pushing, and I said something like, “I can’t push right now, and what you are doing really hurts!”
After a minute or two, I heard one of the nurses say, “The head is out.” During another pressure wave, I pushed and the rest of his body followed. It was such a relief to be done with the pushing. I asked if I could hold baby, and I had to adjust and turn onto my back so they could put him on my chest. He was crying a lot and Brett and I were just in awe of everything that just happened. I wasn’t sure what time it was, so I looked at the clock and asked what time he was born, to be told by Brett that it was 5:21. Brett said he had been eying the clock and wondering if this little guy was going to be born the exact same time as Miles. Not quite, but within two minutes of each other! That was kind of funny.
Overall, I was just so incredibly shocked at how fast everything went. It seriously felt like I had only been in the tub for like 20 minutes. I think it took me several hours after the birth to fully be hit with the realization that "I just had a baby!" and that things couldn't have gone any more perfectly.
Looking back at the whole experience, things didn't exactly go according to my "plan." I never expected my water to break before getting to the hospital. I didn't expect to have a hard time getting someone to our house to stay with Miles. I didn't expect spend my entire labor at the hospital. Heck, I didn't expect the nurses and hospital to be so supportive of my birth preferences! Yet, everything ended up falling into place so beautifully. The only thing I was ever hooked up to was the belly monitors (which I didn't mind). No Hep-lock, or anything! Woot woot!
I definitely couldn't have done it without Brett, Kelly, and HypnoBabies. Even though I didn't exactly feel "relaxed" during my entire birthing time (like I was hoping), the tools I had because of HypnoBabies helped me get through the times that became difficult. And in reality, the only two times I felt "pain" during my labor were for a short time when my contractions got intense right before I started pushing (when I momentarily considered an epidural), and during the actual pushing. And to be honest, both of those moments were just that... moments. As intense as they were, they were also over before I knew it.
Brett asked me later, if I had the chance to try and do it naturally again, if I would. My answer: Absolutely! HypnoBabies made a believer out of me. I seriously wish I would have had it with Miles. I just want to scream from the rooftops about how much I love it. In fact, even after the birth, I've told Brett that I've had moments where I want to keep listening to my relaxing tracks at night.
So there you have it. The birth of greatness... aka Atticus.