I know I have been seriously MIA for a few weeks. We just moved into a new house, and we had a baby last Sunday. So that’s pretty much my excuse for everything falling to the wayside these last couple of months! Our home is so beautiful, and we keep walking around, amazed that it’s ours. It’s the perfect place to raise a family. I’ll share more of that story in bits and pieces later on. It’s a project house, so I expect I’ll have more than a few home improvement posts coming up!
But today I wanted to share my birth story for Little P. I have had both of my boys without drugs, and have had two very different but equally beautiful births. My husband and I found Hypnobabies when I was in my third trimester with our first. It’s childbirth hypnosis, and it has been an amazing tool for me during both of my labors.
When people first hear about childbirth hypnosis, they either think of my husband swinging a pendulum back and forth in front of me saying, “You’re getting veeeeery sleeeeeepy,” or of the kind of thing you see at the state fair with people acting like chickens at the whim of the hypnotist. Neither is accurate. All the method is is a way to very deeply relax. They teach you in Hypnobabies classes that a big part of what causes pain in labor and delivery is fear. When you feel the contractions begin, you think of all the negative ways you’ve seen birth portrayed in movies or tv, and all the horror stories people like to tell pregnant ladies about how much they tore or bled, and you become fearful. The fear causes you to clench up with the contraction and become very tense. The tension causes excruciating pain. They teach you to reprogram your thoughts about birth, to trust that everything is ok, and to relax with the contractions, imagining each one bringing that sweet baby closer to being in your arms.
In the beginning of the course, they have you create a “special place” to go to in your mind. For me, my special place has been different for each baby, but it has also been a very spiritual, prayerful place to go. It’s a peaceful spot that I imagine. My husband has verbal and physical cues to give me to help keep me relaxed and go deeper relaxed when I need extra help, but I am always in control of my own relaxation. I am always present, and I can always choose to come up out of it on my own.
So that’s the background, just to give you some context. On to the birth story…
I had a terrible time sleeping last Friday night. Something was nagging at me. I knew that our baby could come any time, but something was telling me that it was very close, and that something was off.
I got up early and desperately wanted eggs benedict, so I hopped in my car and bought the ingredients, then headed home to make them for my toddler, husband, and in-laws before they got up.
We had planned to make a special “go into labor” lunch of Labor Cake and Prego Pizza. It’s kind of a tradition that we do that now the weekend before my due date, more as a way to pass the time in good fun, and both recipes are delicious and much too calorically dense to justify making any other time that in the third trimester of pregnancy! I was so hungry all day that I devoured our amazing lunch.
But I still felt off. I cleaned the bathroom, picked up our bedroom, unpacked a few boxes, and all the while I had this nagging feeling that my water had partially broken. It wasn’t really coming out much, but just enough to tell me I needed to go in and get checked. I didn’t want to cause a big hoopla if this wasn’t it, so I just whispered to my hubby that I was going to the hospital to get checked and left.
Sure enough, it was broken, and I was 5cm, 90% effaced. I wasn’t having any contractions at all. They admitted me, but I wanted to go home to get my husband and walk around a bunch, hoping to get things moving. So I just kind of told the nurses I was going for a walk for a bit and would be back in an hour and went home.
We came back in an hour and I had progressed to 6cm. From there, it was just a waiting game. A long, long waiting game. We got in for good at 5pm, and nothing happened. I did jumping jacks. I walked the halls. I had a few good contractions, but no pattern. Finally, I asked the midwife to finish breaking my water at 2:30 am, hoping to get things moving. They did, but not much, and my birth team was starting to get worried about the baby. He was a quiet baby in the womb the whole pregnancy, but they couldn’t get a good reading on him on the monitors. He just wasn’t moving much. And as my contractions got harder, his heart rate was dropping. I could tell that the midwife and nurse were both concerned, but trying not to alarm us.
They told me at 4:00am that they were very worried about the baby and needed to have me stay in bed to keep monitoring us both. And I was not drugged.
That was when it got really hard.
Before, I could get up and move with the contractions. If I wanted to feel them, I could breathe with them and feel them. If I wanted to relax into hypnosis, I could do that. Now, the only option I had was to stay still, and it was HARD. If we hadn’t practiced the hypnosis, I know I would have given in at this point. My hubby was a rock star and used the physical and verbal cues to help me relax, and I put on my headphones with a hypnosis script and used every ounce of concentration to will my body to relax, release, relax, release….
An hour later and still no progress. SO FRUSTRATING. I was wiped out from being up all night, and from staying in bed to work through contractions. My nurse got down to my level and said, “Crystal, I’ve spent my whole shift with you. I want to meet this baby, and I’m off at 7, so….” Which gave us a bit of a laugh.
Then the midwife came in and said the baby’s heart rate continued to concern her and we needed to try to get the baby out sooner. She wanted to encourage Pitocin. I told my hubby that after staying up all night, I was too tired to try to work through artificially enhanced contractions, and that I needed help. I asked for an epidural, and my nurse ordered one, but I could see that she was disappointed for me that things weren’t going the way I had so hoped they would.
I asked to be unhooked from the monitors one more time so I could use the bathroom while we waited for anesthesiology, and they let me.
When I crawled back in bed, suddenly an intense contraction came on me so fast that it knocked the breath out of me! I had no time to prepare for it. I looked at my nurse, gasping for air, and said, “I’m pushing!!!!” She got eye level and calmly breathed with me through it, then said she needed to check my progress. In that short trip to the bathroom, I had suddenly become fully dilated!
She left to go get the midwife and told my husband to breathe with me and help me not push. She passed the anesthesiologist on the way out the door and told him, “Never mind! She doesn’t need you. She decided to have the baby instead.” She quickly came back with our midwife and not even 15 minutes later, our baby was in my arms.
It was immediately clear why his heart rate had been dropping- he was born with the cord around his neck. But, thankfully, he came out pink, screaming, and perfect.
The relief I felt with that final push was incredible, and the rush when they placed his tiny body on me completely swept me away. Our little boy was born with the sunrise at 6:27am- we watched the sky turn pink outside our window. Our midwife told me as she placed Little P in my arms, “Whenever I deliver a baby at this time of day, I always think of Psalm 30:5, “There is pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
We have had him home for a week now, and Little P truly is our sunshine and our joy. He is a really easy baby (fingers crossed! Knock on wood!), and he already gives us the most darling smiles in his sleep.