*I tried to edit this down to a more blog-friendly length but I just couldn’t part with very much of the story! Also, nothing too graphic here but if you are squeamish about things like the word “cervix” maybe this one’s not for you. Otherwise… enjoy!*
Julius’s due date was Friday April 6th. We were all hoping and wishing for a Wednesday night/Thursday/early Friday baby because that was the longest stretch that Mike had off work before he had to resume 30 hour runs for another week. A small window of opportunity for him to be guaranteed at home for the birth of Julius, but we just tried to stay positive.
On Wednesday morning I had my 40 week OB appointment and my doc told me that I was “definitely four, some would say five” centimeters dilated and 70% effaced already. I knew, and my OB was warning me, that when I started to have pressure waves that were regular and timeable, I shouldn’t wait too late too long to go in to the hospital. I was having waves very sporadically and they were causing me minimal discomfort, but I wasn’t sure if that was because my Hypnobabies training was “working” or that was just how my body was doing things.
Starting on Wednesday afternoon I started listening to tracks that would hopefully help my body get things moving – “Birthing Day Affirmations,” “Easy First Stage,” and “Come Out Baby.” Harder to do this when you already have kid(s) to take care of but I squeezed them in while Miles napped and after he went to bed. Mike got home from work on Wednesday evening.
On Thursday morning I was having quite a few pressure waves, so we went to the zoo so that I could do some walking around. After lunch Mike got Miles down for a late nap and I again listened to “Come Out Baby.” Later, before dinner, we took another walk together. My pressure waves seemed to space out a little when I was walking and move closer together when I was resting. But most of the day the waves were coming about 20 minutes apart and were still feeling very mild.
After dinner I sent Dusti, our doula, a message letting her know what was going on. She suggested I try doing belly lifts – lift and hold my belly through each pressure wave. I started doing this at 7pm and right away the waves moved up to 6-8 minutes apart! They still were not at all uncomfortable, and then around 9pm they began to fizzle once more. I decided that tonight was not the night and I would just go to bed early. I was a little discouraged as our window of opportunity was closing, but Mike said to me, “it’ll happen when it’s time,” and I knew he was right.
I went to bed and listened to “Early Birthing Time” as I fell asleep. I had my phone in bed with me and was still timing pressure waves. The log shows 48 minutes of nothing happening so that’s probably about how much I slept, and then I woke up around quarter past 11 having MUCH more intense pressure waves… and they were coming in at under 4 minutes apart! Yikes! I got out of bed and used the bathroom. Waves jumped up to 2 minutes apart. And they were REALLY intense. I suddenly knew that we didn’t have a lot of time before this baby arrived. There it was: my much longed for “it’s time!” moment!
At 11:50 I woke up Mike – he was actually already awake and wondering if I was about to come get him, because he could hear me walking around. He had his “it’s time!” moment too and I think a bit of a shock since I was telling him my contractions were already 2 minutes apart. We had everything ready to go in the car, so I quickly called Dusti to tell her to meet us at the hospital, and Mike got dressed, called his brother, and loaded Miles into the car.
As we drove to the hospital, my pressure waves kept coming at every 2 minutes or slightly under, and were very strong. I know some Hypnobabies students have no pain and only pressure, but I will say that my pressure waves hurt at this point. However, I was focusing really hard on relaxing and listening to my “Easy First Stage” hypnosis track on an ipod with one earbud in. It reminded me of doing yoga, in that it was physically challenging but I was working hard to keep focusing on relaxing my mind and body. I was completely silent during each pressure wave, shutting my eyes and trying to think about relaxing each of the body parts where I was holding tension. In between waves I kept looking back at Miles, who was smiling around his binky like this was the coolest adventure ever.
We pulled up to the ER at 12:30 am and Mike dropped off Miles and me in the front lobby. We sat down in chairs and I said, “I’m having contractions two minutes apart,” then shut my eyes and focused through another wave. They told me Dusti was already there and brought me a wheelchair. Dusti and Mike joined us and they brought us up to Labor & Delivery. As we went, they were asking me questions like whether I wanted an epidural (!!) and a room with a jacuzzi tub. I knew that they had no idea how far along I was because I was being so quiet and calm, but I also knew that Dusti probably had a good idea, and she just answered for me. She was also using Hypnobabies cues with me, reciting short bits of script and touching my shoulder to help me relax, which I liked a lot better than listening to the ipod, so I pulled it out of my ear.
In the L&D room I had to pee first, and changed into a hospital gown, and then climbed into bed and laid on my side. I never had gotten around to pre-registering, so as I was getting through my pressure waves, a nurse was asking me all sorts of questions that struck me as absurd in the moment. I remember when she asked me how tall I was, I actually chuckled. WHO CARES LADY I’M HAVING THIS BABY! I thought, but then said, “Five two.”
Meanwhile Mike was talking to his brother, who had arrived to collect Miles, and Dusti was still going through Hypnobabies cues with me. She seemed so tuned in to what I was feeling even though I was still not really showing obvious outward signs that I was having pressure waves. Inside I was a little overwhelmed, especially when I had a few double-backed waves, but I also knew that my feeling of uncertainty was part of the process. Dusti’s warm hand and soft voice really helped me to stay focused on relaxing. The other thing I kept thinking of to encourage myself, was imagining Baby Julius doing his hard work on the inside, and in my head I kept saying to him, “You’re doing good, baby!” In fact I almost felt like it was my job to just stay out of his way and let him be born.
When I finally felt ready to handle a cervical check, it was 12:50 and I was 9 cm. At 1 am my water broke in a big gush, and at 1:05 they said I was complete and okay to push. At some point I asked Dusti to tell Mike to please let Miles stay and not leave with his uncle yet. It was all going so quickly that I wanted to be able to hug him once the baby was born, before he had to leave. Mike was kind of in and out of the room, going between me and his brother who was standing in the hall. Miles didn’t want to go with his uncle so Mike was holding him. Dusti was by my side.
My OB had been called but it didn’t look like she was going to make it, unless I wanted to try to hold off. But the one thing I knew I wanted with this birth was to let my body decide when to push, since that was the one thing that hadn’t gone so well when I had Miles, and I was now feeling very pushy. I really really did not care whether my doctor was there to catch the baby or not (sorry doc!). I just felt like my body knew what it was doing and I didn’t need help. There was no time or need to put the “Push Baby Out” track on (in fact we hadn’t brought the ipod player anyway) but Dusti told the hospital staff that I wanted to do mother-directed pushing. The on-call doc came in at 1:10 and I started pushing.
I stayed lying on my side to push, gripping the bed rails for leverage, and while I was pushing I did finally start to make noise. This finally was the thing that scared Miles, unfortunately… so between pressure waves I kept telling him that Mommy was okay. I felt bad that he was getting worried, but we were just all being swept along in this, and Mike didn’t want to put him down or miss the birth, so this is how it played out! My pressure waves and urge to push stayed nice and strong and close together, which I liked, because I did not want it to take forever.
The doctor and nurses kept suggesting that I needed to make more room for the baby, and then finally the doctor told me, “if you roll just a little onto your back I think you can have this baby right now.” NOW, that was the magic word, and I rolled back, and sure enough that did the trick. Amazingly, I could feel every little thing – his head as he descended and then emerged, his shoulders as I gave another push to get them out. That was just the coolest part since I hadn’t had much sensation in pushing out Miles.
And there he was! Miles started crying (awww) and everyone told me, “Look down! Look down!” I think the first thing I said when I saw him was, “He’s so cute!!” They put him on my chest and he pooped on me just like Miles did when he was born. Julius was born at 1:21 am and was 7 lbs 14 oz, 19.5″ long. He made just the littlest cry, like a newborn puppy, and then was so quiet. They let the cord pulse for a few minutes, not something I had specifically requested, but appreciated. My OB arrived just then – the next day she told me she was still a little groggy when she arrived at L&D and went to the wrong room at first; as she headed toward the correct one she heard my baby crying! She delivered the placenta and stitched my small first degree tear.
Miles was still crying and I think just having a meltdown as being up at 1 in the morning caught up with him – finally we sent him off with his uncle to go stay at their house for the night. They later told us he chilled out as soon as he got in the car, and slept great at their house.
And finally all was quiet. I held Julius, and Dusti and Mike sat by me and the three of us chatted for a while about the whole crazy whirlwind of a birth. There was no amazing post-birthing meal for me as I wasn’t really hungry and just had some crackers and juice to settle my stomach. But Julius did have a good post-birthing meal – I tried nursing him and to my surprise he nursed like a pro, like he’d done it before! I was having some weird double vision and sort of shimmery eye floaters, which freaked me out a bit, but my blood pressure was okay and they did a blood panel just to check, which also came back okay – guess I was just tired. Dusti went home and Mike, Julius and I were left alone in the delivery room for a while longer – my hospital lets mothers rest for two hours before moving to the maternity floor, but we were eager to just get in bed and settle in.
It was nice to have one night and morning with just the three of us, which will probably never happen again, but I was missing Miles terribly. Mike got him the next morning and I had to stay in the hospital until Sunday, but they visited me twice every day and we ate dinner together in my room each evening. I was a bit bored in the hospital but in retrospect probably should have appreciated the downtime a little more! Don’t hate me, but my recovery has been amazingly easy. I guess an under-two-hours birth isn’t so hard on the body!
I suppose it’s hard to say objectively how much of this easy, wonderful birth experience I owe to Hypnobabies, but I would absolutely recommend it without hesitation. I do think that listening to the positive messages every day for two months put me in a good frame of mind and trained my subconscious to expect an easy birth. Who knows, maybe that’s why I progressed to 5 cm without even noticing? In the heat of the moment having Dusti there as my trained Hypno-doula was invaluable, so to anyone trying Hypnobabies I would definitely suggest hiring a Hypno-doula or at least having your birth partner learn and practice with you.
Honestly I wasn’t a huge fan of being pregnant the second (well, third, technically) time around, but giving birth is just the coolest. If I could skip the nine months of nausea and fatigue maybe I’d do it again… nah!
Julius on Easter Sunday – going home day!