So It Begins…
I was one day shy of 37 weeks with our second baby when I woke up from a nap at 4:40 PM to discover that my water had broken. I was stunned, since I had had it in my head that this baby wouldn’t come until May (guess date May 17), and that I’d have until the end of April to prepare for him or her. I had in fact been in to my OB’s twice that very day – first for my weekly check-up, and then back later in the day for a thrombosed varicose vein.
My OB had mentioned he’d be out of town for a conference over the next few days, and I confidently reassured him that this baby was nowhere near coming. Hah!
In a state of shock and near panic, I mumbled the news to my husband and immediately called my friend and doula, Angela. As I explained the situation I pretty near started crying. She asked what exactly I was upset about, and I explained that I felt prepared with the Hypnobabies, having just finished the course and used it with my first birth, but that the house was a mess and I didn’t have things set up for the new baby like I wanted them, not to mention I had to finish arranging the schedule for a visiting speaker at my university. She calmly told me that we just needed to take one thing at a time, and that the thing to do now was to make sure the baby was OK (no prolapsed cord or anything). I laid down for 20 minutes to count kicks and try to collect myself, all the while leaking tears (and amniotic fluid). Baby moved at least 4 times so I considered that a success.
I then switched into high gear, all the while having mild pressure waves about 6 – 10 minutes apart, spending the next 3 hours with my husband taking care of our 21 month old (thank God for videos!), frantically making final arrangements for the visiting speaker, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
By 8 PM we had our son in bed, packed hospital bags, a babysitter lined up and a relatively clean house. Pressure waves had been no big deal so far. What to do next? Why, Hypno birth-partner training of course – since we hadn’t got to it yet. Yikes!
My doula came over and after my husband got back from supply gathering, we sat down and did a 1.5 hour crash course. Although I wouldn’t recommend leaving it until last minute like we did, having all the techniques fresh in our minds sure came in handy!!! We also made cheat sheets to tape to the wall in the hospital. This was a very relaxing time for me, and I adjusted my mind to the fact that this baby would be here in the next few days.
Getting Some Rest
After my doula left around 10:30 PM, I laid down to try to sleep (listening to Birth day affirmations), only to realize after an hour that my pressure waves were coming 5-6 minutes apart and lasting over a minute each. This was surprising to me, since while they were noticeable enough to prevent me from sleeping, I was altogether very comfortable.
My first birth (also Hypnobabies) had been a back labour, and things got quite intense fairly fast, with a rhythm of pressure followed by intense pressure followed by pressure, with no break until the baby was born. This time was more what I had been expecting the first time – total comfort followed by some pressure with a peak and then release, truly “waves.”
Realizing I wouldn’t fall asleep, I went to the living room to watch old episodes of The Office. An hour later, around 12:30 AM my pressure waves were still coming 5-6 minutes apart and lasting at least a minute. I checked the book and saw that the guide for 2nd babies for going to the hospital was PWs coming 5-6 minutes apart, lasting over a minute, for at least an hour. Since this had been going on 2 hours, I decided to call the babysitter and my doula and begin the journey to the hospital. I felt kind of silly doing so, since this baby felt nowhere near being born – things being “way too easy” so far as I kept saying – but I knew the hospital wouldn’t turn me away, even if I was only 1 cm dilated, since my water had broken.
To the Hospital
The 20-minute car ride to the hospital was so manageable that I felt even more ridiculous for deciding to check-in. I listened to Easy First Stage. I had one PW and then pretty much nothing for the rest of the ride. My doula met us on the road and we caravanned over.
We arrived in the ER around 1:30 AM and my doula used her tricks to make sure I could skip triage and go straight to the tub room. I pretty much faked the intensity of my PWs by not speaking when I could have spoken, and we exaggerated my nausea. The nurses sure perked up when Angela mentioned the nausea!!!
I spent those ten minutes pacing up and down the ER, and then refused the wheelchair when they came to get us, thinking that if I didn’t get things moving I’d be embarrassed when they discovered I was only – as I was sure I was — 1 or 2 cms along. The standing and walking got the waves going again. I stopped once on the walk up to the birthing room to put my head on a nursing station to manage a wave.
Well, 2:30 AM check–in came, with me feeling ridiculous on the monitor (I was sure my pressure waves would hardly even be measuring). Then a cervical check, and lo and behold – 5 cms! I high-fived my birth partners. We handed over the birth preferences – thank God for birth preferences. Peace and quiet turned out to be very important for my focus when things really got going later on.
My husband pointed out to the nurse that we’d appreciate referring to contractions as pressure waves. She seemed a little nervous about it but tried to comply. Then we all took a nap, with me set-up on the birthing ball (love the birthing ball!!!) from about 3 – 4:30 AM. PWs were between 5 and 10 minutes apart.
I then decided I wanted this baby to come as fast as possible, since I went into this experience sleep-deprived and was feeling really tired. I really still thought the baby could be many hours away. My doula and I left my husband sleeping on the couch and went for a walk. I squatted, lunged, and swayed down the nice and quiet halls.
Near the end of our 45 minute walk, during a squat, I had a really quite intense pressure wave that kind of knocked me off my feet a bit. All the others were extremely manageable. All the while I had been feeling the baby moving and getting into different positions, and I really felt that we were working as a team to get her out.
Getting in the Tub
When we got back to the room I had decided I’d like the tub. I sat on the birthing ball while the nurse tried to monitor the baby, but my uterus, which had been shy of monitoring all night, decided to shut down for over 15 minutes!
Note: I did not like getting monitored, because it slowed down my pressure waves and felt so unnecessary, since I felt the baby moving all the time. I also have doubts about the safety of Doppler for fetuses. She finally gave up, and as soon as she moved away I had two really intense waves in a row that felt different that the previous PWs.
The nurse went to fill the tub and I remember hearing something about there being a problem with the tub, and the nurse insisting we needed to call maintenance. Angela told me afterwards that she had noticed the water was cold and having had experience with this tub before, started to fiddle with the taps in the wall to fix it. The nurse got kind of mad at her for doing this, but luckily Angela stuck to her guns and got the hot water going. Yay for hypno-guardians!!! It would have been distressing to have been deprived of the tub. I went to the bathroom to change into my tub clothes, and had several more intense pressure waves in the process.
The tub was soo nice when I got in at around 5:30 am! They cued the Pushing Baby Out track but didn’t turn it on yet, and my husband read the short scripts to me which was great. Angela used the ‘release’ cue with her perfectly cool hand on my forehead which was also amazing. I had mentioned earlier that I liked how cool her hands were, and (as she told me later) she ended up running them under cold water to keep them cold! 🙂
I didn’t have much patience for my husband’s large, warm and slightly less gentle hands! : ) I told the nurse I thought I was approaching transition, since the PWs were coming so fast and intense. I kept waiting for that moment in my first birthing when I hit transformation – that feeling of doubt about whether or not I could do this – and since it never came I didn’t realize how far along I was. The nurse didn’t either – until she checked my cervix at around 5:45 and realized, to our mutual surprise, that I was 9.5 cms with an anterior lip.
Then things got kind of busy in the room, since the staff was afraid I would deliver before my Dr. got there. I didn’t have my glasses on (and hadn’t got around to refilling my contact lens prescription) so it was kind of surreal seeing people standing around the room looking in my direction, without being able to identify anyone. I thought the on-call doctor, a woman I had met earlier, was a male orderly, and couldn’t figure out why they would let some orderly just stand there staring at me. So weird.
This whole time I was pretty much completely still and silent in the tub; Angela and Rob later said I looked like I was sleeping! I used vocal cues to help me with the non-stop pressure of transformation: ‘open’ to help my body do what it was trying to do, ‘peace’ when I felt that the pressure was starting to turn into pain, and ‘yes’ for when I needed something a little bit more powerful than ‘peace’ to keep my body relaxed. I was really focused on actively assisting my body at this time. I felt my baby pass through my cervix into my birth canal, just like she was going down a slide, as the hypno-tracks had suggested!
Pretty much as soon as the medical staff realized I was so close to 2nd stage, they started to insist that I get out of the tub, since it is against hospital policy to birth in the tub. I was prepared for this, but seriously, Boo hospital! I knew I could get out, but strongly felt it needed to be at my own pace. So I pretty much ignored them.
I also didn’t tell anyone the baby had descended into my birth canal, since I expected it would just make them rush me. Sometime around this point I was told that my doctor had arrived, but he wasn’t yet in the room. So I got out in my own time – it must have been about 6:30?? – and walked over to the bed.
I hadn’t yet felt any urge to push, but I did however have a different pushing urge, ahem. Unfortunately I was a little bit constipated, and this was the one moment when I got a bit grumpy with the staff. I was this close to giving them all a lecture on the shyness of sphincters, and then an additional lecture on how a birthing woman shouldn’t need to lecture the medical staff on the shyness of sphincters.
Anyways, after a few minutes standing next to the bed I crawled onto it, thinking I would then get into some sort of (baby) pushing position. Then WHAM! A totally overwhelming, intense wave to push came as I perched across the bed on all fours.
A slight stinging sensation informed me that the baby had crowned, and my doctor from across the room called out “not yet, not yet!” Apparently no one was aware of how close to birthing I really was, until he saw the baby crown. I tried to stop pushing – I had had some control over this during my 3 hours of pushing with my first birth – but the attempt was a complete failure. The pushing sensation just intensified and whoosh, out she came at 6:41!
My Dr., who was running across the room pulling on his gloves, barely got there in time to catch her. This was the one time I made noise during the birthing process. Angela later told me that I just breathed the baby out, with a very primal sounding groan/exhale.
My husband announced, “It’s a girl!” Yay! The nurses were confused about how to pass her to me, so Angela confidently told them to just “pass her through” my legs, which they did, much to my appreciation.
The whole pushing process took about 8 seconds, and could not be described as painful AT ALL. Just the slight stinging sensation at crowning, which was also not painful. It was just there. I had a 2nd degree tear, just as in my first birth. She weighed in at 6 lbs. 11 ozs.
I felt really tired during third stage, since I had been up all night and had been short of sleep to begin with. I got quite impatient with the PWs and the Dr.’s massaging of my uterus at this point, and just wanted them to be over. This was different from my first birthing experience, when I felt like I could get up and walk home directly after. The first time around it was so great to get relief after 7 hours from the pressure in my back!
After the birthing process I read an article posted by Hypnobabies FB recommending leaving women alone as much as possible for 3rd stage. Boy would I have appreciated just being left alone with my husband and new baby!!! Hopefully next time. But other than having had to pull an all-nighter, I couldn’t have desired anything more of my birthing experience. It was exactly as Hypnobabies had suggested – fast and easy. So easy! I really believe I could have caught her myself in the tub if I had been allowed to stay in it. Indeed I would have preferred that. My recovery has gone much better than it did the first time around, and other than some gas issues, our beautiful daughter Gwendolen Aria Marie is doing great!
Doula Angela’s Thoughts
Your birth story is fantastic! It’s so great to have it all down to look back on. The only differences I remember are that when the nurse checked you in the tub, you were an Anterior Lip (9 1/2 cm) and that we cued up the pushing track, but only pressed play a minute or two before Gwen was born and it was too busy in the room to hear it, and you really didn’t need it.
One thing I’d emphasize was how shocked and amazed all the staff were with how you birthed, especially when you told the nurse you thought you were in transformation. She did not believe you. And the only reason you allowed her to check you (in the tub, which wasn’t what she originally suggested, she wanted you to get out) was that she said it was important that your Dr. start traveling if you really were that far along.
Also, even though there were many people in the room near the end, the Hypnobabies sign on the door was awesome at getting them to be quiet. I think most of them stuck around because your birth was so amazing and rare, I’m thinking especially of the German Doctor here.