- This is very long and detailed, mostly for me so I don’t forget the little details of the birth.
- My birth experience was about as opposite from my birth visualization as it could be, and anyone taking the Hypnobabies course should probably skip the story, as we had a few complications that interfered with having a comfortable birth.
I am so thrilled to announce that our son Austin was born on Saturday morning, Decmber 14 (his due date!) at 4:30am. He weighed in at a whopping 9 pounds 7 ounces, and was 19 1/2 inches long.
After literally a week of off and on labor, I was exhausted. Every night around dinner time, I would begin to have regular contractions, increasing their intensity every day. Each morning I would wake up and they had slowed down but not really stopped.
Thursday, I had an overwhelming urge to get things done. This wasn’t new for me so I didn’t think anything of it. But I finished Christmas shopping for my husband, ran a bunch of errands, and splurged on a Starbucks latte. Everywhere I went people either stared at me or commented about how I looked like I was ready to pop. One woman who worked at Home Depot asked me when I was due and actually began advising me to just have sex with my husband. Oh and clean some floors.
Thursday night labor started all over again, and Friday morning it calmed, again. I woke up really grumpy and frustrated, but then while I was getting my 7 year old daughter ready for school, she calmly told me she had a dream that the baby would be born today and everyone was SO happy. This sent chills up my spine because she told me I was pregnant with a brother before I even knew I was pregnant (she had no idea we were trying), so I don’t take her little predictions lightly!
Still I was sure nothing was happening. Texts and calls came in all day asking how I was and when the baby would arrive. I told everyone “never”. I was really tired, I assumed because of my excess of activity from the day before, and spent a good portion of the day fighting tears. My husband and I decided to make the best of the weekend and to plan a fun night out with the kids looking at lights. We went to the dollar store and got travel mugs and santa hats for everyone and made plans to see the best neighborhoods in the city.
That afternoon I had an appointment at the birthing center for my 40 week check-up. We were already seeing a midwife we had never met before (she was technically retired but still helped out when needed) and when we showed up, she was upstairs attending to another mom, and we were to see the student midwife. She was perfectly sweet but I was so irritated by everything at this point.
When I weighed in I had lost 2 pounds, which I always seem to do right before labor begins. I also began having regular contractions again in the car on the way but what else is new.
The retired midwife was able to make my appointment just in time to do a cervical check. I was at 3cm dialated and 70% effaced, measuring at 42cm fundal. Because the student was there I actually had two cervical exams, which I wonder now if that had anything to do with getting labor started. The midwife told me I just “looked” like I was in or near active labor and that she didn’t think I would make it through the weekend. Neither my husband or I really paid attention because we had been let down so many times that week.
On the way back home my contractions picked up again, about 12 minutes apart, and I believe this was the beginning of active labor, around 4pm. From here on out I began to go more and more into my own head and have nothing but cerebral memories of the actual events. It was a very surreal feeling.
Active Labor Begins
I remember going home and putting dinner in the oven, but by the time we were actually eating, I was starting to wonder if this was going to be it-I felt really out of it. I was able to eat a full meal including some brown rice, which I think really fueled the rest of the labor. The contractions were getting stronger, still just a feeling of pressure but intense enough that I had to breathe through them. Something just felt different, I think it was that my body really required me to go into myself and I lost an awareness of the outside world. My husband questioned whether or not we should still go look at Christmas lights but I felt good enough still to do one of the local neighborhoods. So I made some homemade cocoa (stopping for the contractions which were about every 5 min standing up and 8 min sitting down) and we piled into the car.
For the rest of my life, I will associate holiday lights with being in labor with my son. In the car, they became very regular and more intense. They lasted about 1:10 each and were 8-10 minutes apart. Everytime I had one, it was as if I was transported somewhere else. I wasn’t in any pain, it just required all of my attention and breathing. I could hear the Christmas music on the radio and my kids chatting, and when a pressure wave was over I would open my eyes and there were gorgeous lights everywhere. It really wasn’t a bad way to spend early labor! By the end of the neighborhood I knew I needed to get back home and asked my husband to go ahead and go. It was about 8pm at this point.
Once home, I think it hit my husband that this was really it, even though neither of us had said it. He packed our bags completely up and had the kids do the same. They all went to bed knowing that it might be tonight. I went into my bedroom as the contractions picked up with intensity even more. They were now coming every 5-6 minutes (a little slower if I laid down) and were feeling like really strong menstrual cramps. I remember having one that just finally made me believe this was it, I told my husband while in his arms, and it hit us both. I moved around from my birthing ball to rocking back and forth with him to laying in bed. My husband would recite Hypnobabies scripts to me sometimes, and I also put in my headphones and listened to some of my tracks. I had absolutely zero concept of time. I do know that at 8:45pm I began texting family and friends to let them know to stay by their phones, and that we made our first call to the midwife at 9pm to let her know we were in labor and at 5 minutes apart, although I could still talk through the waves. She advised me to give it a little longer and see if they got stronger, and that she’d check in again with me in a little bit. At 10pm, she called back, they were 3 minutes apart and I couldn’t talk through the waves so she spoke to my husband and told him we should head on in. I remember that we both started to panic and fumble a little bit, trying to figure out who to call and how to get everyone up and going. My husband woke up the kids, put all the bags in the car, and I grabbed what I could think of in between the waves. We all walked out to our SUV together, the kids excited in the back seat and me in the front with my headphones and Hypnobabies on. I do remember telling them to remember that if they heard me making noises upstairs, that it was just like a tough workout and I was fine. I had several strong waves on the drive in but stayed relaxed with my pillow, not opening my eyes until we pulled up at the birth center. I was so far in my own body at this point that it was strange to open my eyes again and see the world.
Arriving at The Birthing Center
It was foggy and the birthing center looked so surreal when we pulled up. I could see my midwife through the window of the upstairs room getting things ready for us, like something out of a movie. There are 3 midwives at our birth center. One was my absolute favorite to see, she was so loving and warm and sympathetic, and I had hoped she would be the one to attend the birth. I was a little disappointed to find out it wasn’t her who would be attending, but it turned out that I would have the exact midwife I would need.
Once in the home we got the kids settled in downstairs, then headed upstairs to make ourselves comfortable as well. My midwife did a cervical check and I was at 5cm. Our family began arriving almost as soon as we did and there was lots of commotion downstairs. I think even at one point I asked my husband to shush them all because it sounded like a party and I wanted quiet and peaceful. I think it was around 11ish that we settled in and everyone arrived. I laid down for a few waves but my midwife thought I should walk around a bit, maybe even walk up and down the stairs to get things going. I really was still very comfortable and not experiencing pain, just tightness and intensity through each wave. I decided to go downstairs and say hello to everyone. I hugged my parents, kissed my kids again, got to hug my best friend just as she arrived, and would just walk into the other room anytime a wave began again.
Once upstairs I tried a few more positions, sat on the birth ball, walked around, but I most enjoyed standing and swaying with my arms around my husband. He has always been my rock and this labor was absolutely no exception. Just being near him gave me strength.
At some point I remember for some reason my husband was downstairs, I think getting me water, and I felt something change. The waves got sharper. I remember these waves so well that they are almost tangible. I could see them happening in my head if that makes any sense. I felt a sharp pain in my lower front and more sharp pain in my middle back. It didn’t dawn on me that I was experiencing back labor now and when my midwife asked me later she was surprised I hadn’t told her. They would come on VERY suddenly and strong, peak quickly, and then the second half would slowly climb down. I asked to get in the water at this point and they agreed that it was a good idea.
Because it looked like things were progressing my midwife called in her birth assistant, and now there were two people attending to me. The assistant was so awesome, she was very knowledgeable and had lots of suggestions for managing. I was in the tub going back and forth between squatting on my knees and leaning against the side to sitting on my bottom with my legs straight in front of me. Either way, even with the warm water (which did help to relax me), these waves felt like lighting bolts through my body. I was listening to my Hypnobabies “deepening” track to stay relaxed but nothing was making these waves better. I began to complain to my husband and my midwife at this point that I didn’t like what was happening and I started to feel really scared. During each wave I said my hypnobabies cue “Peace” outloud over and over and my husband said it to me too. It didn’t seem to help with the first part of the wave but did help make the second half more comfortable. My wonderful husband would also talk me through each wave by telling me that each one seemed to take about 10 breaths, so he would count my breaths and tell me “only 5 more, you’re halfway through” and this helped so much. The waves were about 3 minutes apart at this point and after I complained my midwife said “You sound like a mama in transition”. They tried warming up the water to help me become more comfortable. I even tried pushing through a wave and found that blowing against the wave did help somewhat with the pains. My midwife decided to check me in the water and found me to be at 8 cm. I went around this time from laughing with my husband in between waves to not being able to even hear what anyone was saying. The last thing I remember about this phase is asking what time it was and them telling me it was 2am.
I was starting to realize that this wasn’t going to be the easy birth I had so imagined, and more like the birth of my first son. I had convinced myself that because my last two births, the girls had practically fallen out of my body and I had only pushed twice for each one, that this would be the same. Even my midwife started to mentally prepare me, saying I was going to have to do some work. She could see me shutting down and becoming fearful. She asked me to get out of the tub and try some different positions to get things moving. I sat on the toilet for awhile with my feet up on a stool. I remember that the waves were hitting my legs so hard and I didn’t think that was fair. I started feeling nauseous and wanted to vomit but never did. Around this time I completely lost control as the pain became unbearable. I started crying and whining and became a completely different person. After the toilet I moved to the bedroom again and tried holding onto the bed and squatting but my legs hurt so much that it felt impossible. I sat on the birth ball and had a good 7 minutes where my body gave me a break and I slept on a pillow and listened to my deepening track. The peace was like the eye of the hurricane but it was so welcome and needed. My poor husband was rubbing my back and encouraging me nonstop but I just cried to him after each wave and told him I couldn’t do it. The birth assistant made me a labor tea and gave me sips in between each wave and I remember it tasting so so good.
At some point the midwife asked me to lay on the bed so she could check me again. To my absolute dismay I was still at an 8. I was very in touch with my inner body at this point and could almost visualize everything that was happening. I felt my body fighting what was happening and just didn’t know how to stop it. She told me my cervix was still up high and I could almost picture the thing being scared. I agreed to let the midwife break my water and was again disheartened to learn that there was meconium present. She assured me that it wasn’t the big deal it used to be and we wouldn’t need any special care for him more than likely. She kept her hand up on my cervix through several contractions and attempted to manipulate it so I could push. She finally said she had gotten it up around baby’s head and that I should start pushing with each one and start moving him down.
And then things got absolutely crazy intense.
Pushing and Losing My Mind
Being on my back was awful and I felt like I was pushing against gravity, just like I would be in a hospital, but I was engulfed in pain and couldn’t move to a better position. The midwives wanted me to hold my knees back and push but moving my legs apart made everything even more painful so for a couple of waves, I refused. I cannot imagine how frustrating of a patient I became at that point for these poor midwives. I started yelling at them to not touch me, yelling at my midwife to JUST TAKE HIM OUT, screaming at them to take me to the hospital, that I was going to die, that I couldn’t do it. I was screaming obscenities at the universe and everyone in the room. People who know me will probably be shocked the most by that, because I am the most unconfrontational, passive person ever. I have never yelled at anyone. Even during my first birth with my son, when I was in the same pain, I was still polite to everyone in the room. The pain made me into someone else and I sort of want to die now thinking about it. But later the birth assistant told me that I was just a birth warrior, and I appreciated that take on it 🙂
My midwife got tougher and tougher with me as I became more and more out of control, and now I realize that the universe gave me maybe not the midwife I wanted but definitely the one I needed. She reminded me over and over that I could do it. She was firm with me when I gave up and said I couldn’t. She told me at one point that this wasn’t going to be the easy, quiet birth I had imagined, that my son was taking a much more difficult entrance into the world, and I needed to realize now that I was going to have to work. I could not have done it without her, or the assistant who stood on my right side and also encouraged me.
My husband was laying right next to me in bed, my one and only source of comfort during the last hour. I would bury my head into him in between the waves, and then grab him, hit him in his shoulder HARD, and scream at the top of my lungs right into his ear. He told me later that he figured out to hold his breath while I was screaming to somewhat plug them up, which makes me giggle now. He told me later that he was a wreck watching the person he loved in so much agony and felt so helpless, but I felt nothing but strength and love coming from him as he held me.
The waves were absolutely relentless at this point. My body seemed to never switch from transition to pushing waves. I never felt the urge to push, and pushing did NOT feel good like it’s supposed to. Each wave, which were probably only a minute or two apart at this point, I had the choice to either let them engulf me and be in pain or to push and be in pain. I spent the first half of the waves screaming at the top of my lungs, then when they would start to come down and I could stand it, I would bear down and push. My midwife kept telling me to not scream and to use all of my energy into pushing, but I just couldn’t most of the time.
Finally the midwife said his head had come down, and she put a mirror up so that I could see, I think she did this to keep me from giving up, because at this point I was just at the end of my rope, thinking it would all go on forever. She had us both reach down and touch his head but I couldn’t feel a head, nothing registered. One more push and she told me to stop pushing and to pant. I screamed “RING OF FIRE” at her and she sweetly said “yes, this is the ring of fire you heard about”. My husband now thinks this was so funny because he had no idea what I was talking about. And then things got crazy again as pushing got me absolutely nowhere. My midwife got very serious and told me I HAD to push hard and we HAD to move him out. More screaming and crying, then everything seemed to happen so fast…my midwife moved my pelvis into some other position, told me to stop because the head was out but the cord was wrapped tightly. I opened my eyes enough to see her struggling with the cord, and then I don’t know where I went in my head…because I didn’t see him come out…but I heard her order her birth assistant to do something, my husband said the assistant then shoved down on my belly and basically pushed him the rest of the way out. And then the pain was GONE. I was so relieved that I forgot WHY the pain would be gone. I heard my husband next to me say something and then my midwife said “Deanna, look! Reach down here and get your baby!” I looked and saw this little chunky thing, but it didn’t register at first WHAT it was. There he was, head up and just a fat little bowling ball of a baby, sitting between my legs. I reached down and pulled him to my chest, I think I said “OH MY GOD! Austin!” and just felt absolute euphoria with him laying on top of me, right on my heart. He didn’t cry at all, just laid there perfectly content, like “what’s the big deal?” I just hugged and hugged him and my husband was laying next to us hugging us both.
I delivered the placenta within minutes, the midwife was shocked at how big it was – a sign of a very healthy diet. And my son, at a whopping 9 pounds 7 ounces, was also evidence of all the healthy eating, with rolls of fat already, a perfect apgar score at 1 minute. Pink and relaxed and just absolute perfection.
The midwife told me as she cleaned me up that it turned out to be a miracle that we did not birth in the tub, because his shoulders got stuck (which is why I couldn’t push him out) and she wouldn’t have been able to get him out as fast as the position I ended up in. It all happened for a reason.
She said as she was leaving that morning that she hoped I didn’t regret my decision to birth the way I did. And I don’t, which I’m sure surprises anyone who reads this or was downstairs listening to my screams. Had I been at a hospital, the baby would have been taken away from me immediately and put on antibiotics just because there was meconium in his water bag. When he got stuck, they would have likely extracted him with forceps or a vaccuum, which would have left both of us with bruises and lacerations; or maybe even performed a c-section. I would have for sure been given an episiotomy (even after all that, I didn’t tear…at all.). He was born with no signs of stress, a strong heartbeat even through pushing, and I don’t know that that would have happened at a hospital.
Another reason I don’t regret it is that I feel like I lived through an almost spiritual experience, one that has been happening since the beginning of time. Being attended by loving women, who deliver babies for the sheer passion and love of other women and the process of birth, in a warm home environment was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I don’t regret one minute of it.
My recovery has been unbelievably easy. Not one can of dermoplast, no sitz baths or warm water bottles have been used, and only a couple of doses of ibuprofen were needed for the afterpains. I didn’t come home all swollen from IV fluids and have felt downright amazing. My baby didn’t have one mark or bruise on him, and came out pink and soft and unphased by the seemingly traumatic entrance into the world. I was able to use the bathroom right away, which I remember in the past with my epidural births was the most excruciating thing for the following week, more than birth itself. Aside from breastfeeding and a tummy that just looks like I ate too much, I am feeling almost back to my old self. This blows my mind when I remember the birth experience, like a freight train came through my body and left no sign of itself.
Austin was born at 4:30am and by 9:15am we were all back home, snuggled up in our bed. My mom had brought our kids home that morning for us, fed them, and cleaned my kitchen. I absolutely LOVED being able to come right home and recover in my own clothes, my own bedroom, my own bed. I cannot sing the praises of my husband enough. He took amazing care of me and still is. He cooked for me this entire week, made my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, took the big kids Christmas shopping, bought groceries for the week, did all the cleaning, brought me water, reminded me to take my vitamins, took the baby so I could sleep, and has just been my absolute rock. Juggling four kids has been a little frustrating and things have slipped through the cracks, but he reminds me everyday that he’s so proud of me and that I’m doing a great job.
As far as Hypnobabies, it certainly worked up until the point that I began to experience back labor. I was managing and comfortable all the way up until 8 cm, laughing between waves, walking around, and just breathing through. I would certainly use it again; even though my birth was far from painless and easy, hypnobabies tracks and cues did nothing but enhance my entire labor up until transition. It made pregnancy more positive and enjoyable, and I still find myself using the affirmations for myself in my own subconscious, whether it’s to remind myself to eat healthy food or to remember that I’m comfortable with my body and accept it.