I woke up the morning of Thursday January 17th with the thought I had been having for weeks, “Yup, still pregnant”. One difference on this day was that I knew I had a big appointment with my Nurse Midwife, Sharon. Today we were going to check and make sure the Baby was still happy and healthy. I had been nervous the day of these appointments since 36 weeks because my blood pressure had begun to increase, but today I was less nervous because I knew we were checking on the Baby. We arrived at the appointment, the ultrasound tech called me back shortly and we started the biophysical profile and non-stress test. I remember feeling the Baby move a lot, and we could hear the movements and heartbeat at the same time, I knew everything was fine. Our baby passed with flying colors, a perfect 10 out of 10.
We then headed in for my regular exam. My blood pressure continued to be fairly elevated. Sharon came in, was very happy with the results of the biophysical profile, and asked if I would like to be checked. I told her yes, and we were happy to discover I was 4 cm dilated already. When she came back in after I got dressed, she was much more serious and told us there were now other symptoms. Sharon sat down and I could tell she was getting more concerned. She explained that she hated to intervene, but that the blood pressure problems can get bad quickly and that she would be comfortable with two options. First, to either induce labor later that day, or second, to have me go do a Pregnancy Induced Hypertension blood test immediately, and find out the results the next morning. If there were any problems with the blood work she would then also encourage induction. She said she really just did not want me to get sick and then be too sick to enjoy my Baby. She then left the room, and let Tim and I discuss the decision.
I knew immediately that what I had worried about for a few weeks was true, that my blood pressure was a real problem and in my heart knew that if I continued to wait now I would be stressed and anxious. I told Tim my feelings, and he was so understanding and supportive. We decided that the best option for us would be to begin induction while the Baby and I were both healthy and I was rested and ready to meet this challenge. I expressed my real concern to Sharon that I was okay with Pitocin if needed, but that I really wanted to avoid pain medications or anesthesia and any path that would lead to an unnecessary Cesarean Section. She was very supportive and expressed confidence in my ability to still have an otherwise natural vaginal birth. She called the hospital and told us to go take our time, but to head to the hospital and she would be there after the office closed or when we needed her.
As we headed to the hospital, I noticed some pressure and aching in my lower back. I hoped that this would continue to help me dilate and move along. The hospital was very busy that day so they asked if we could wait a little while for a room to open. I used some HypnoBirthing visualizations and affirmations to help dilate more and to calm down. It was around 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon, when we were admitted to a room. One of my friends arrived around this time, and she was a great support because she was just glowing happy for me. The nurse was also very supportive of my Birth Plan aside from the necessary changes due to induction. They were still getting the room changed from the patient before me and another nurse came in to remove epidural anesthesia medication from the pump in my room. When she took the pump down I told her she could take the whole thing because I would not need it. She responded “Well, you HOPE you won’t”. I wanted to stick my tongue out at her and it was at this point that my resolve to use HypnoBirthing was renewed and I remembered what I was there to do.
Around 5:30pm my nurse came in, told me the plan for the Pitocin; they would start with the lowest dose and increase it slowly - it was time to get the IV going. I remember just chatting with everyone as I sat on a birthing ball and moved my hips in a circle. I still felt the tightening sensation and some pressure in my lower back, but I could not distinguish individual surges. I still felt like I was trying to mentally prepare for my birth. I also felt like I would not really be comfortable until Sharon arrived. I think I felt this way because it seemed she was the only stable thing there was in this whole experience. I remember when Sharon walked in the room and it seemed like, “Yes, now I feel better”. As I expected she took control of the room by dimming the lights, untangling cords and unhooking unnecessary ones - she also began increasing my Pitocin drip calmly. I was feeling much more relaxed, and like I was getting ready to be in labor, but not like it had really started yet. Around 7pm, Sharon asked me how I was feeling and if I thought any changes were happening. I told her honestly that it felt stronger than earlier, but not anything I felt like I needed to breathe through yet. She mentioned that my Pitocin level was getting close to the maximum and to let her know how I was doing, and also commented that I would probably be a harder Mommy for her to “read”. She was so calm about everything that I finally felt ready for things to begin, and I decided to try to start going into relaxation to see if I could help move things forward.
I do not think anything really started until I reached this readiness and acceptance. I turned around on the ball and leaned my head against the bed and began listening to my CD and doing the breathing. I felt myself relax immediately, and it seemed that time suspended as I focused inward visualizing opening and focusing on affirmations. Shortly thereafter I felt like I needed to lie down and I decided to try the side lying position. At this point I began to feel regular surges and to breathe through them. I do remember being concerned for a moment that this could be just the beginning and it would be a long road after this if it was, but I pushed these negative thoughts from my head and focused on the affirmations I had memorized. I continued to listen to the CD, my husband also performed light touch massage, and I used visualization. I got up to use the rest room and change positions. I looked at the clock and it was 8:30, and I was amazed how it had only seemed like it had been 10 minutes, but had actually been an hour and a half. I then sat reclining and allowed my legs to fall to the sides. I immediately felt more in control, and that the surges were more effective in this position, and I remember smiling after one of the surges because I knew it was working.
I lost track of time at this point, I think it was around 10:00 or 10:30 when Sharon came back into the room and asked how I was doing. I told her things were more intense. My sister and friend said they knew things were happening because I kept taking clothes off more urgently. Sharon asked gently if I would like to be checked. I agreed and stayed in relaxation as she checked me. I clearly remember when she said “You are amazing, you’re 9 cm!” I smiled to myself and felt an amazing sense of happiness, relief, and pride because I knew right then that I was doing this successfully. Sharon also mentioned to my sister that she might take a picture at this point because I looked so peaceful and beautiful. I relaxed again into hypnosis, and before long I started to feel like I needed to breathe the Baby down. I began birth breathing but was not comfortable and had the strong sensation that I needed to get off my bottom. A nurse brought in a birth bar to go over the bed that I could lean on, and I began to breathe my Baby down.
With each surge I squatted, leaning on the bar and breathed down into my birth canal. I found myself using sounding from yoga class at this point. This part of labor for me was the most intense. The urge to bring my baby into the world was overwhelming and at the same time extremely physical. I remember looking at Sharon at one point during this time because I felt a little overwhelmed, and her face was so supportive and in tune with me that I knew everything was going fine and I refocused on the task at hand. I changed positions once more so that I could lean back but still have my bottom unpressured, and at this point I focused on breathing down through the birth canal. My water still had not broken and I remember someone telling me they could see it bulge out every time I had a contraction. I knew the Baby was crowning and there was a mirror for me to watch in, but Sharon had to hold a towel up each time I contracted. She said, “Either I have to hold this towel up each time in case your water breaks and goes everywhere, or I help rupture the membranes. I know you did not want that from your birth plan.” I was thinking “If you can, go for it. I don’t think labor will be prolonged at this point and I just did not want to risk infection if my membranes were ruptured too early in labor”, but what I was able to say was “I don’t care”. Sharon interpreted correctly and broke the water, it splashed up on my legs and I remember how warm it felt. Then I remember Sharon saying “Meconium”, I knew this meant they would be more worried about my Baby and I was determined to get the Baby out soon and my focus doubled. I felt like each surge was more effective and I could now see the Baby’s head in the mirror and I breathed and worked until I felt the release and knew the head was out. I looked down and saw wet hair, and Sharon suck the Baby’s nose and mouth to remove meconium. With one more surge I felt the slipping and bumping as the rest of our Baby came through the Birth Canal. I do not remember how many surges it took to birth our Baby, but I know the nurse said it took only about half an hour from when she brought the birthing bar in. Sharon immediately handed our Baby up to my chest, and Tim announced “It’s a Girl!” at the same time as I could see that she was definitely a girl. At 11:20 pm on January 17th my daughter was there, warm, wiggling, and wailing on my chest. I will never forget that moment.
The nurses began rubbing Laura off and checking her. I remember being so amazed by this little being that could move and cry, and who was so warm against me. Sharon let the cord pulse as we had asked, and after about five minutes they clamped the cord and Tim cut it. I was just so thrilled with what I had just been able to do and with our Baby that I could finally hold in my arms that everything seemed perfect. They took Laura over to the warmer at this point, and I realized that Sharon was getting ready to deliver the Placenta. This was simple, and afterwards she began pushing on my stomach as I expected. Then, though, I could see she was a little concerned. She kept checking me, then pushing, and checking, and then she shook her head. I knew I was bleeding, and I at that point was so glad to be in Sharon’s hands because I trusted her so much. She ended up giving me a medication and soon everything calmed down and my attention turned back to Laura.
The neonatal nurse practitioner was concerned about some abdominal distension that was causing Laura to have to work a little hard to breathe because her diaphragm was pushed up. I immediately thought, “Do what you need to, just make sure she is okay, but I did not really worry. I knew deep down she was okay”. They took her to the nursery to have an x-ray, and Tim went with her. At this point I was shivering uncontrollably from the change in hormones in my body and I was so relieved to have Tim to take care of our daughter while my body recovered. The nurses took great care of me and Sharon came back in to check on me and bring me a sandwich. My nurse told me at the point that my labor was “the best natural childbirth she had ever seen”. Sharon just kept telling me how amazing I was. I was so happy with my birth experience and so grateful to my HypnoBirthing. It took a long time for them to bring Laura back in the room to me, but Tim kept me updated. When they brought her back to me we worked on breastfeeding for the first time. Finally, around 5:30 am I fell asleep with my daughter next to me in the room, and our life together began.
A Note from Katie six years later:
When I read my baby's birth story again, it brought tears to my eyes. Not just for how real and amazing this experience was, but also because of how I see now that my beginnings with my daughter have impacted our relationship even today. That squirmy, warm little baby is now a busy, warm-hearted little 6 year old, and I love her more deeply than ever. I am constantly complimented on her in so many ways, but especially the way that she interacts with and treats others. I know that the seeds of the way I would parent her were sown during my pregnancy as I focused on the healthy physical and emotional development of my baby. It has been a road of blessings, challenges, rewards, sacrifices and love right from the very beginning. I could not ask for more.
How did the difficulty level meet your expectations?
I tried to keep an open mind with my expectations, I had seen a lot of different births from what looks very easy, to incredibly difficult and I wanted to just let my birth be my own, although it wouldn't be so bad if it was on the easier end. My birth blew away my expectations, it was one of the pinnacles of my physicality as a woman but was do-able at the same time in a way that changed my deep down. I did not expect it, but was so pleasantly surprised by this empowerment.
What was the best thing you did to prepare?
Yoga and HypnoBirthing, period.
What was your most effective form of pain control?
Deep relaxations, positive affirmations, and position changes I learned in HypnoBirthing class.
Would you do anything differently?
I would try to avoid induction, both by taking care of myself throughout pregnancy better and by trying more natural techniques to put my body into labor.
Do you have any advice for pregnant moms?
Positive support, where ever and how ever that works. Avoid people who constantly scare you about it and instead focus on all the amazing things that are happening as you grow your baby. Find support in preparing for childbirth, for going through childbirth, and for becoming a mother. Family, friends, professionals, online, surround yourself with this support that encourages a positive expectation. "When we change the way we view birth, the way we birth will change" ~Marie Mongan