What is HypnoBirthing? Read my other article about pain free births: HypnoBirthing, The Mongon Method
Tuesday, April 7. 38 weeks. I attend my second appointment with my new midwifes. I am thanking my lucky stars that they agreed to take us on with only a couple weeks left until my due date. We may just pull off this water birth yet!
We have a great conversation about what we would like to see happen at our birth. I am impressed that my “special” requests” seen to be common practice and I am again at ease…for a few minutes. My midwife then suggests that it may not be possible for us to have Evan at home because of Canadian midwifery guidelines that stress both mother and baby need to be in perfect health. I can totally appreciate this and although our latest ultrasound results state that everything is perfectly healthy with Evans pelvic kidney, it is the fact that we had an issue in the first place that has our potential home birth in question. She goes over what a hospital scenario would look like and I am reassured that a hospital birth in the hands of these midwives while using the HypnoBirthing technique would be noticeably different. She says she will speak with the geneticist, get her recommendation and then get back to me. I cross my fingers. This is just one more obstacle to get past on this bumpy road to the finish line!
On my way out of the office, I decide to grab a birthing pool and liner “just in case.”
That evening, we decide to rent Jim Carrey’s “Yes Man.” I laugh so hard it hurts. It’s a good hurt. I think momentarily that all this laughing will send me into labor.
Wednesday April 8. I wake up and see quite a bit of birth show. Soon after, mild surges (contractions) begin in my lower back. Since this is about 2 weeks earlier than we all expect, I call the midwives to update them and to remind them to confirm with the geneticist so we can have our water birth.
Norb (HealthyGreen Dad) has an important appointment today but I urge him not to go. There’s still quite a lot of supplies we need to have a home birth. We make a list and he heads out while Liv and I hang out at home. By 11 am the surges are about 5 mins apart and 45 seconds long, and mostly in my back.
I am disappointed about the surges in my back. I wonder if HypnoBirthing is going to work because I am already familiar with back labor and it feels like we’re headed in that direction again.
The day rolls on and the surges slow to about 20-30 mins apart. Liv is jumping up and down chanting that her “baby brother is coming.” We have a big dinner and read Liv her bedtime stories while 2 intense surges pass. The labor is rolling again by 7pm. (In hindsight, this is all perfectly coordinated while we get ready.)
I’ve heard you can sleep in early labor but I am too excited to lie down. I toss around watching a movie but think maybe I should stay “in the zone” and get into the bathtub instead. It’s about 9pm and Norb is hustling to get the supplies in one place while inflating the pool. We still don’t know if we have been approved for the home birth.
I’ve been in the bathtub with an essential oil rose scent facecloth draped over my face for about 1.5 hours. It’s totally dark while I listen to a great relaxation CD created by my HypnoBirthing coach. We never did get the time to make a birthing music CD, which is fine because I only feel like the relaxation CD. The surges are coming often. They are still in my back but I am now able to relax pretty deeply and the concept of pain has diminished. The HypnoBirthing breathing is working nicely to keep me focused. I fill up my belly like a big balloon to give space to our baby and slowly exhale all the energy out, relaxing every muscle in my body as much as possible. The surges are intense and the further the labor progresses, the better it feels.
I ask Norb to get the pool ready a few times but he thinks we still have time. I concede, but in the back of my mind I wonder if we are both underestimating how far along I am. He just wants to be sure the pool temperature is right when we actually need it so he instructs me not to use any more hot water for my bath. It’s all very funny to me, watching him warm my bath by running up and down the stairs to get pots of water from the stove. He’s literally been running all day long! The pots of water and stove mitts feel “pioneer.” I’m feeling confident and excited.
Around 11pm, we time a few surges. They are 1-2 minutes apart for about 90 seconds. This continues for about a 1/2 hour so we decide to call my birth coach in. She has a one hour drive. My lingering concern is that the cord does not get wrapped around Evan’s neck. We’ve done a lot of work on imagining the birth the way we want it to happen so I do not want to entertain any worries for long. She asks me to visualize Evan on the left side of my belly for a smooth descent and totally free of the cord.
I want Norb beside me now but I find it more difficult to communicate. I can feel an intense “bearing down” sensation. It is so strong. It feels great although the power of it takes my breath away. My outer body is quite relaxed so I can feel every bit of the immense tightening in my uterus. I remember my coach saying that I’ll know baby is coming when the roundness of the belly starts to flatten out on top. I look at my belly and it is definitely flatter!
I ask norb to call the midwives. I have to get out of the bathtub. I’m ready to get in the birthing pool but it’s not ready yet. While I wait on the futon the surges begin to lengthen out again and I almost feel guilty. I’m hoping we’re not calling the midwife in too early. The sensations confuse me even though I see that my belly is changing. I have just completed the transition phase without realizing and now baby is beginning the descent!
(In hindsight, I love the fact that I was not checked to “see how far along” I was. This practice is so disturbing to “the zone” and I think it leads to disappointment if the progression does not match expectations. The disappointment and perhaps distrust in the birth process can easily shift the labor into the hands of others.)
Our midwife tells us that another client is also in labor and chooses to be in the hospital. Since she cannot be in two places at once, we may need to meet her at the hospital. Argggh! It seems like everyone is underestimating how far along I am so finally I blurt out that “I am ‘pushing’ and there is no way I’m getting in a car right now!” The uncertainty at this point in the labor is just too much.
Norb is rushing to fill the pool. He gets the hose reattached but it’s spraying water all over the room. He’s getting about as flustered as Norb gets (which is not at all) while I’m running through a plan B to have the baby in the bathtub! It’s kinda comical to see the water flying around the bathroom while I’m breathing baby down on the futon. Thankfully, he ditches the hose, grabs 2 buckets and starts hauling the water from the bath tap instead. I’m getting shaky from the hormones and a wet housecoat so I climb into the pool as it’s being filled. I’ve gotta say, a birthing pool is bliss - it really should be the standard!
It’s about 1:00am. I’m laboring in the pool. It’s almost dark except for a candle or two. Even though I have been confident on our own to this point, I am relieved when our midwife finally arrives. Yay…it looks like we get to stay at home! She checks me and says that Evan “right there” and smiling, she says it would be good if we could slow down so she can set up her supplies and so the other midwife can arrive. (we need two attending births in Canada) I figure Evan is about 3 inches away from crowning.
My birth coach has arrives soon after. She gives me delicious drinks of water in between surges but I decline a fruit snack. Even though I know many HypnoBirthing moms snack all the way through, the memory of puking while in labor with Liv turns me off eating. Then she drops me into the deepest relaxation I have ever been in. It’s literally “lights out” as my body floats to the top of the pool. When the surges come, the bearing down is intense yet relaxed and in a most joyful way! I feel happy and totally connected to the process. I don’t have any inclination to “do” anything except relax. Now I understand why me pushing is unnecessary - my body is incredibly powerful right now and already birthing this baby just fine. (It’s as though the lack of tension in my external muscles directs all the power and energy in my body to the uterus)
Soon after, my water finally breaks. It’s a very loud pop and forceful gush into the pool. I had forgotten about my water so it takes me by surprise! The water is immediately checked by my midwife who is so respectful of my space while routinely checking Evans heart rate. I realize that Evan has descended almost all the way through the birth canal in his sac. How amazing to have this gentle protective transition. I also laugh to myself when I realize that had I not been in water, anybody on the other end would have been soaked! (and why my previous doctor would not allow me to have my water in tact.
At about 1:30am I decide to squat with my upper body draped over the side of the pool. I breathe deeply as my body squeezes around Evan, nudging him further down. Norb is already in the pool and ready to catch his son when he emerges. We can feel a tiny patch of hair now. I can also feel the “ring of fire.” I’m not sure how to get around this sensation because I desperately do not want to rip the way I did with Liv. From the videos we watched, I feel confident that I can avoid tearing by taking things more slowly. After an intense surge, my coach quietly asks if I am hesitating to bring him into the world. I cannot communicate what I am doing, only that I do not want to rip. I feel I know exactly what I am doing in this moment so I breathe deeply and wait. (She later said to me that this part of the labor was so amazing for her to watch. I was birthing Evan my way and it was perfect!)
The silence in the room is broken by my midwife suggesting that I cup my hand over my perineum and his emerging crown to ease the pressure. It works like a charm but the downward pressure of surging in a squat is too intense so in between surges, I turn to float on my back again. There is only a small patch of hair showing at this point, but just a I turn, Evans head fully emerges. I do not feel a thing! No pain whatsoever. I gently hold the top of his head and I can feel him kicking inside me, trying to swim the rest of his way out! In this moment, he slips easily into Norb’s hands. We are all shocked at the ease and speed of his arrival.
(In hindsight, lingering a little longer for the crowning allowed Evan’s head to adjust to my size so there was no discomfort apart from the brief initial discomfort. Women are generally encouraged to push baby out at this point. I personally think it should go more slowly.)
Evan Lucas is born at 2:10am. Norb places him on my chest and he takes his first breath of life. Warm towels are placed over both of us. The pool is a little cooler than we’d like so we get out of the pool and on to the futon. A sleepy eyed Liv is immediately brought into the room. She whispers “my baby brother..ohhhh wow!”
Norb cuts the cord while Liv watches. I decline the hormone shot and birth the placenta naturally. Then I am examined and told there is not one single tear! I’m perfectly intact. Yippee!!
The room is dimly lit and peaceful. We sit as a family and soak in the moment. Around 4:30am we retire to the warm comfort of our bed. I feel amazing. I’m so grateful for all the events that have led us to this life changing experience. A water birth at home would have been amazing, but for us using the HypnoBirthing method along with a home water birth is really the icing on the cake. It brought the whole experience together, enabling us to have the most confident, peaceful and joyous experience possible. I’ll treasure this memory forever.
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