If you would have asked me a couple years ago if I would consider doing a natural non-medicated birth I would have without hesitation said no and laughed. I have hardly any pain tolerance and not a lot of confidence in my body. But then I had an emergency c section with Drayson and knew I didn’t want to go through that again. It was not the most pleasant experience for him or me. It wasn’t horrible, but not what I wanted for my baby or my body a second time around.
When we found out I was pregnant with Avi I knew I would be going for a VBAC (Vaginal birth after cesarean), but I didn’t realize I would also be wanting to do it non-medicated. I knew I wanted Doug and I to take a birthing class of some kind and I stumbled across a hypnobirthing class that was here in pleasant grove so I thought, why not? I didn’t know what hypnobirthing was but it was a class close to our home that Doug and I could take together to prepare for birth, so done deal. After our first of five classes though, I was sold and hooked on the idea of a natural birth for Avi. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I was going to go for it.
Hypnobirthing isn’t about someone hypnotizing you and then having a completely painless birth like you might initially think upon hearing “Hypno.” Not at all. We watched a lot of videos with women giving birth in baths and it looked pretty effortless and painless, so I know if you can get into the right mind state, it’s possible to have a painless birth. I am not one of those people who can, or really, who is willing to let myself get to that place. So what hypnobirthing taught me, was to RELAX. To BREATHE. To LISTEN to your body and TRUST its natural urges. To remember that the pain will end and that this kind of pain is your body doing what it should to bring you a baby. And the classes gave Doug and I tools and insights on how to cope with surges (contractions) and to breathe your baby down. Doug and I could probably talk to someone for 3 hours about all the cool things we learned about the uterus and a woman’s body and what it is capable of during labor and delivery. But I won’t get into all of that here. I will say though, sphincters are amazing and a Uterus is God’s crowning creation. Lol…but seriously wow. Learning about it all really empowered me and made me feel confident in myself, my baby, and my body’s abilities.
Avi’s birthday began for me, around 3:30 am February 19th. Her actual “due date” was February 8th. So as you can imagine, I was feeling a lot of anxiety on having to be induced soon. I didn’t want to get induced. Using Pitocin to stimulate contractions on a VBAC patient can often lead to another c section. Me no likey. So on the 17th and 18th I got a prenatal (labor stimulating) massage, ate some eggplant parmesan, and took a clary sage essential oil bath. These tactics either did the trick or Avi was just finally ready to discontinue my excellent “Womb Service” and hang out with us for reals. Who knows. All I know was that the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been feeling since week 25 were beginning to feel much stronger and more intense. I had been experiencing random episodes of these contractions a couple days before too, but they would always fade off pretty quickly. This time they were not fading off. They began to be more consistent. I woke up Doug and told him what was going on and then immediately went to the bathroom to put make up on. Yes I really did that. You gotta do what you gotta do when you have no eyebrows and you know people might be taking pictures of you that day. Don’t judge me. I then started a bath. I wanted to labor as much as I could at home and baths are my absolute favorite way to relax and center myself. During all of this I would have to pause occasionally and breathe through contractions. Doug set up camp next to the tub with essential oils, calming music, trail mix, and our hypnobirthing book, ready to help in any way possible. I put head phones on and listened to a relaxation meditation I had been listening to for weeks.
Oh ignorance is bliss….I remember thinking at this point: if these are contractions this will be a breeze. Guess what dummy, contractions get stronger. Doy.
I texted my mom and she got my birthing entourage informed of the goings on. I felt bad because it was super early in the morning and I didn’t want to get them all up if this wasn’t all really going to go down. My mom was confident this was the real deal though and was, in fact, “going to go down”.
Eventually, my holy sanctuary (the bathtub), just wasn’t cutting it anymore in the comfort department. Every time I felt a surge coming on I felt like I needed back support or something to push against. The tub was not helping me accomplish these needs. So I got up, got dressed, and moved to sitting on the birthing ball (exercise ball) with Doug behind me on the couch. Whenever a surge would happen I would just breathe deeply and push my back into Doug for support.
Did I mention I was dealing with a nasty cold during all of this? My nose was clogged. So when my entourage arrived at my house (mom, dad, Britni, and Mei) my Dad brought a sinus rinse for me as well. I did one of these in between contractions to help me breathe easier. This part isn’t totally necessary for me to write about, I guess I just want extra props for being sick during labor.
The surges were getting closer and stronger so I decided I wanted to go to the hospital and get acclimated in my birthing room and make it feel cozy before things got crazier. We called the midwives at AF Valley OBGYN and they said to come in to the office first to make sure I was dilated enough so the hospital would take me. So there we were, sitting in the lobby area of the OB’s office, breathing heavy and contracting, lots of super pregnant women looking at me with fear in their eyes. I started to have a contraction when the midwife was about to check me so she jumped into doula mode and pushed against my knees (I couldn’t believe how much that helped) while I sat on the examination table and she talked me through it, lots of good stuff about waves. She was so sweet. I was dilated to almost a 4 so she said I was more than welcome to go to the hospital now if I wanted. I wanted. I knew I wouldn’t be getting anything for the pain, I guess I just took comfort in knowing I would be somewhere that people could help me quickly if I needed it. And then my second thought was, dilated to a 4? Only a 4? What does a 6 or 7 or an 8 surge feel like then? Was I going to die? Hush stupid brain. Just BREATHE. Then I remembered that I had never even dilated past a 2 with Drayson and that my body was going into labor all on its own. I did in fact want this to happen. So be happy dang it! Appreciate this! BREATHE. Amidst the pain I was a little excited.
We crossed the road to the hospital and realized we had never been there and weren’t sure where to go. The sweet lobby ladies pointed us in the right direction though. I got up to Labor and Delivery, they got me into a room, and poked the shiz out of me trying to find a vein to insert the tubey thing in, in case they needed to give me an IV at any point. My veins are shy, not their fault they had to poke around a bunch. Anyway, I thought I would try laboring in the tub at the hospital. That lasted about 5 minutes. Shivering while having contractions is not a good idea by the way. So I decided to start trying other positions that we had learned in Hypnobirthing class. I brought my own nightgown to birth in, a pretty little black number from Target. Those hospital gowns are a bit too big for hobit sized me and quite ugly. If I was going to birth a baby I was going to do it in a dress I felt a little less huge in. Just another way to usher in some confidence. I got changed and sat in the hospital bed which had transformed into an upright “princess throne” position. I believe that’s what they called it. I sat there and had Doug push my knees in towards the bed when surges came. This helped a little. After doing that for a while I sat on the birthing ball again with him behind me in a chair. This is weird, but his arm was near my mouth at one point and I had the urge to bite the crap out of him during a surge. I didn’t. But I wanted to. Anyway, I stood up occasionally and leaned over the bed and just rocked side to side. I did all these things for a while. I say awhile because I literally can’t remember how long this went on. Hours and hours probably. I was not allowed to eat anything at the hospital but I snuck in some trail mix once and awhile. Shhh don’t tell. I was also being handed water and pebble ice from my sister.
At this point I made my first mistake and asked to be checked to see how far dilated I was. This began a domino effect of despair. I think I was at a 6 and shocked to only be at a 6 after all those surges and hard work. My midwife could tell I was getting a tad panic-like so she suggested breaking my water to help speed things along. I said yes please. This is a tad frowned upon in hypnobirthing because it is not necessary and can make it easier for bacteria to get up there. But I felt ok about it. After the water breaking, I laid in different positions and had my birthing team pushing my hips and sacrum. This is hard to explain so I will include pictures. Basically my birthing team all took turns putting pressure on my hips and sacrum whenever I breathed through a surge, while I laid over the birthing ball in the hospital bed. When I say Pressure I mean their entire body weight. My birthing team was amazing. They did this for me for probably ten hours by the end of it all. Doug’s mom even helped wipe me down when I urinated all over myself. Gross, but this is the reality of birthing people. And she was an angel to do that for me. The physical pressure they applied helped a little but emotionally, having them right there going through and assisting me through each surge, is what really helped. They got me through each tidal wave.
I will admit at this point the only techniques from hypnobirthing class I could muster to help me was how to breathe. I couldn’t seem to get myself into a calm and relaxed mind frame anymore. I couldn’t remember my affirmations or meditations. I just wanted Avi here and the pain to stop. I remember telling Doug multiple times that I couldn’t do it and that I refused to ever do it again. I felt a bit like a failure but then swiftly remembered that I needed to stay focused, breathe, and that I was totally doing this and could do this. Also I had to do it, because it was too late for an epidural. No turning back now. Doug told me I could go to Hawaii and have anything I wanted around this time. I’m going to hold him to that at some point. **side note: My advice to other hypnobirthing mamas or anyone giving birth without medication is to not get checked every hour to see how far dilated you are. That is what caused my panic and discouragement. You don’t need to know how far you are, your body will let you know when it’s time to push. And boy mine did. And that’s when the weird noises started coming from my mouth.
I was finally dilated to a 9 and wanting desperately to be at a 10 so I could push. My contractions were teaming up with a pushing feeling and I wanted to push. My cervix wanted to stay at a 9 though, yes it sure did. The midwife did something for me to help push it over the edge and turn it into a 10. I literally can’t remember what she did but Heaven thank her. As soon as she said you are at a 10, push if your body wants you to push, I PUSHED. With each contraction and pushing urge I started doing this weird low growl or moaning noise. We talked about this in birthing class. While in classI remember thinking there’s no way I would be making noises like that. But there I was, doing it. I remember thinking before a surge started, “It’ll be ok because you can make that noise again.” I can’t really explain it. It just helped. Doug and a nurse, were helping me hold my legs up to my chest. Britni and my mom were on either side of me. I had their hands and with each surge, push, and growl I dug their hands and arms into the bed. I felt like I was going to break them. The midwife asked me if I wanted to reach down and feel Avi’s head as she started coming out. I said NO and kept pushing. I didn’t want to pause for anything, I wanted her out. The feelings at the end of birth are so bizarre. I was excited, determined, and felt like I was about to take a very very large number two. It literally feels like you are going to poop out a baby. I could feel my body telling me to slow down the pushing or there would be tearing. I could feel the burning. But I kind of ignored that and pushed with crazy red head determination. I can deal with tearing and stitches I thought. **side note: remember how I had a cold through all of this? Well it magically went away during labor and magically came back as soon as it was over. Coughing with stitches in your lady parts sucks and is scary. If I could go back I would tell myself this and sloooooow down.
15 hours of back breaking labor and 30 minutes of pushing and Avi graced us with her presence. I felt my stomach empty, SOOOO weird and cool, and there she was, in my arms, looking up at me. She didn’t cry, they needed her to cry to get gunk out but she just didn’t cry. She was rather peaceful despite everything going on. My family and I did cry though. It was a team effort and we had done it! I felt relief and shock that I had done it. Avi’s heart rate was perfect through the whole thing. She had done wonderfully and here she was, healthy and content. I don’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities, so I felt proud of myself. I felt grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me the opportunity to bring Avi into the world and to my guardian angels and birthing team for helping me through it. It’s all overwhelming in the best ways possible. Everything was worth those first skin to skin moments with my Avi girl. She brought comfort to me while the midwife and nurses stitched my torn parts and took care of everything else going on down there. Shudder. And there’s nothing like a tiny new baby looking up at you with their adorable blue-grey newborn baby eyes. They know who you are and cling to you. It’s a beautiful thing.
So there you have it. Would I do it again? During labor I would have said Hell no, give me the epidural. But looking back at it now, I think it was worth it. I was totally involved and in control of my birthing experience. Was it painful? Yes. But it was also beautiful, empowering, awe inspiring, and something I will never ever forget. Although I feel like I didn’t have as much mental control as I had wanted, I wasn’t behaving like Angie from the movie Baby Mama like I thought I would. Best of all, it was great for Avi. She wasn’t drugged in any way like poor sleepy percoset high Drayson after my c section. Avi and I were a birthing team and that, for me, was worth it. Also Doug treated me like a “Birthing Goddess” for a while after words and was totally impressed with me so that was cool.
I in no way think this is for everyone. I applaud all mommies with whatever decisions they make for the birthing of their babies and how they plan to raise them. Being a mom is the hardest but most rewarding job ever and every mom knows what is best for them and their baby. And if they don’t, they will figure it out. This just happened to work for me. It was not easy but if Doug and I are crazy enough to have more kids I would choose hypnobirthing again and I would try again and harder to apply everything I learned in class. Besides, I get better with practice. I am confident in my body and my babies. My birthing “theme” or mantra was Confidence and Love. I definitely felt both of those things on February 19th, 2015.