Guest Post by Shelly Birger Phillips
Today’s Daily Tip: If your family or life situation changes, give yourself permission to quit a habit or find a new or easier way to do it. You don’t have to be a super person; you have to be realistic.
We had planned a homebirth. We had a midwife, a doula, and a birthing tub all set up in the living room. I had an incredible team of women and my husband all present and supporting me. I had taken a Hypnobabies class and had been doing my hypnosis practice faithfully.
Before I started hypnosis, I was very afraid of ending up at the hospital and getting a C-section. But through my self-hypnosis work, I was able to let go of those fears and enter my birthing time calm and well prepared to go with the flow.
I did get to birth at home for the first 9 hours. I enjoyed my 99 degree hot tub. I listened to my self-hypnosis mp3s on my ipod. I drank lots of water. I breathed and tried to relax. I rode the waves of contractions all through the night. But at a certain point that next morning, my blood pressure shot up.
My midwife got my attention, “Shelly, legally I have to tell you that it’s time to transfer to the hospital.”
I’ve heard stories of women who had planned homebirths and who fought to stay at home. I’ve heard of women who refused to move. But in that moment, the only thought I had was, “I think there must be a reason that she ‘legally’ has to tell me that. OK, let’s go to the hospital.”
And then my next thought was, “How am I going to sit in a car with a seatbelt on?” and after that I thought, “They have drugs at the hospital, I want an epidural. I need some relief.”
Now let me be clear, I never wanted an epidural. I wanted as natural a birth as possible and I knew that an epidural could be a slippery slope into a C-section. But I wasn’t thinking about that at the time. All I knew was that I was incredibly uncomfortable and I didn’t think I could handle much more. And I remembered hearing something about an epidural making you numb, which at the time sounded pretty nice.
Luckily my doula, midwife, and husband were all present and knew my wishes, even as I told everyone I could how much I wanted an epidural. The nurses politely informed me that they would have to get my blood pressure under control first. I continued to complain and ask for relief until they finally gave me a dose of a short-term narcotic. Wow did that help!
After getting me all hooked up to the monitor (which I tried to refuse), and an IV to administer the blood pressure meds, among other things, my mobility was greatly reduced. I knew that could happen in the hospital, and I still tried to get up and move into some new positions occasionally, but I did end up lying on my back to push.
I felt like I pushed forever. It was about three hours of pushing. I did the math and I think it was around 300 pushes. Probably not atypical for a first birth, but I probably shouldn’t have watched all those Youtube videos of women pushing their babies out in three or four pushes.
I wasn’t making much progress, but my OB (luck of the draw) was great. She just kept encouraging me and letting me push. The baby’s heartbeat remained strong and a C-section was never suggested. Luckily my midwife and her team and my doula were all able to stay and help me push. They held my legs, encouraged me, and helped me focus my energy. All that moral support really helped.
At a certain point the baby did seem to be in some trouble and my OB got in my face and said, “Shelly, we’ve got to get this baby out NOW!” With a renewed sense of purpose I pushed like I had never pushed before and finally, my baby emerged pale and limp.
I had planned to have delayed chord clamping, skip the antibiotics, pass on the episiotomy, but none of that was in the cards. I just went with the flow and kept letting go of any preconceived notions or expectations. They immediately whisked my baby over to the warming table where a pediatric team was waiting to assess her. Yikes! I didn’t even know if she was a girl or a boy yet. And she wasn’t crying. My husband looked terribly worried and wasn’t sure whether to stay with me or go to her. I told him to go and be with our baby. I found out she was a girl. The moment before she began to cry seemed to stretch out and my terror began to grow.
Luckily, after some stimulation she pinked up quickly and started to cry. What a relief! She did have some herbs palsy in her arm because at some point in the birth process, her shoulder had suffered some trauma.
Later I wondered if I had been able to push at home in the hands and knees position, maybe she wouldn’t have suffered the palsy, but at the time I was just so relieved to have a healthy baby to hold and snuggle and nurse.
The hospital we were at was wonderful. They asked me if I wanted Julia washed (which I refused) and they never took her from the room, I saw a lactation consultant twice before we left. I was shocked at how much nursing hurt, but that’s a story for another time (I have Raynaud’s phenomenon of the nipple).
To tell you the truth my two favorite things about the hospital were:
- How much sleep I got. I didn’t leave the bed for two days.
- The catheter. Oh, how I loved the catheter. Is that weird? I was so tired of peeing every 2 hours it was AWESOME to get some relief and just be able to lie in bed for days without getting up for any reason.
The biggest lesson I learned in all of my preparations for birth was to go with the flow, open, and be a yes to the moment. And I’m so grateful that I was able to do that, even in the hospital. I had a wonderful birth experience, even though we ended up at the hospital. And I’m definitely planning another homebirth for the next one!
I will always treasure the early birthing time I had in the comfort of my own home. And I can’t even imagine how wonderful it will be to birth my next baby at home with my daughter nearby. Hopefully the pushing will go a bit quicker next time!
Thanks so much for listening to my story. I hope it was helpful and I really enjoyed sharing it!
Warm hugs, Shelly
Shelly Birger Phillips is passionate about being absolutely the best mom she can be and supporting other parents to do the same. She offers Skype video parent coaching to parents all over the world using a connection-based conscious parenting approach. Shelly also has a free weekly blog about conscious parenting at Awake Parent.