Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Natural Birth Story Using Hypnosis

Selena’s Birth Story

During my pregnancy I really enjoyed reading birth stories online. Reading other people’s birth stories helped me know what to expect and helped me make decisions on how I wanted my baby’s birth to happen. This story is targeted towards a couple of different audiences including my family and friends, the Hypnobabies and Babycenter online message boards/groups I visit, as well as any other person who, like me, scours the internet for birth stories. So I am going to offer a little background before I get to the actual story.

I am 25 years old and have been married to my husband Floyd for a little over 5 years. Selena is our first child. My pregnancy went fairly well. I am a small person 5’1” and 102 lbs pre-pregnancy so was constantly hearing comments about how it might be hard for me to give birth. I gained 30lbs during my pregnancy. I ran about 15-20 miles a week until I was 6 months pregnant. After 6 months running became very tiring and it seemed to make the baby sink really low which was highly uncomfortable.

I started the pregnancy visiting a family practice doctor and planned on delivering at Good Samaritan hospital in Puyallup. A few months into my pregnancy I decided that I wanted to do a natural, drug-free delivery and thought that the Birthing Inn in Tacoma looked like a really neat place to do that, but since I had already had a relationship with my doctor, I liked her, and she was supportive of my birth choices I figured I would stick with her. A couple months later I learned that my insurance didn’t cover 100% of the hospital visit, and I would save a significant amount of money if I switched to the Birthing Inn, so I did. Switching providers when I was 6 months pregnant was a little stressful, but because visits are more frequent at the end I was able to see all four midwives in the practice before I delivered.

Instead of taking local childbirth classes I purchased the Hypnobabies home study course online. The Hypnobabies course involves putting yourself in a positive mindset about birth and labor, and practicing deep relaxation techniques. The course came with a set of CD’s to listen to every day for a 5 week period. I purchased the course when I was 19 weeks pregnant and listened to it about 2-3 times a week for the rest of my pregnancy.

So on Friday March 9th (3 weeks and 1 day before my due date) I went to work as normal. I was having quite a bit of discharge that day and thought that it could be my mucus plug, but wasn’t sure. I felt really good that day and had quite a bit of energy. Which was kind of odd because usually by the end of the week I was exhausted. I attributed it to the fact that I took my dog for a walk the day before and had jogged a little bit and it felt pretty good.

At 4:30PM I got up to leave work and felt a small gush. I figured it was just a large amount of discharge. Then I took another step and felt another gush. So I grabbed my things and went downstairs to the bathroom. By the time I got there my jeans were all wet. I sat on the toilet and a lot of liquid was pouring out of me and I was pretty sure it wasn’t urine. So I figured it probably was my water. So I caught a little in some toilet paper and smelled it to make sure it wasn’t urine, and if it was my water, that it was clear. Well it definitely wasn’t urine and it was clear. I wasn’t sure if I should call Floyd to come pick me up or if I should just drive home. I hadn’t had any contractions so I figured I would drive myself home real quick, and if I did have contractions I could just pull over and call Floyd.

I drove home and had a two Braxton Hicks contractions but they weren’t any different than the contractions I had been having for previous two months, and I frequently got them at the end of the day when I was tired.

I got home and went straight to the bathroom and yelled for Floyd, telling him that I needed him. He was taking a nap so he was a little bit annoyed at being woken up. He asked me what I wanted and I told him just to come. He comes into the bathroom and I tell him that I think my water is leaking. He asks me what that means. I said that it means I will probably be going into labor soon. We kind of sit there for a second and wonder what to do. I ask him to bring me the piece of paper the midwife gave me at my appointment on Wednesday about when to call. The piece of paper said to call if your water breaks, immediately if you are Group B Strep positive. Well I had just taken the strep test on Wednesday and hadn’t got back the results. So I figured I should call and ask what the results were. The clinic was closed at this time, so I left a message and waited for the midwife to call me back.

Meanwhile Floyd is on the Internet trying to figure out exactly what is going on, while I’m still on the toilet. I’m still in a little bit of denial and figure it will be a while before contractions to start. I know that typically they start soon, but can take up to 24 hours and I figure I’ll be in the latter category. Floyd comes in and is in the same frame of mind as me and tells me it will probably be a while.

The midwife calls back and I tell her about my water breaking, she asks me to describe it, so I do. She figures that my water probably did break. She says that the results of my test aren’t back yet so they have to treat me like I’m positive and because I’m 6 ½ hours from being 37 weeks pregnant, I’m not considered full term, and that means I have to go to Saint Joseph’s hospital (not the Birthing Inn) to get antibiotics. I ask her if there is any way we can do the test again and get an immediate result so we know, or if there is any way we can hold off till midnight since I’m not having any contractions yet. The really ironic thing is that my due date could easily have been March 24th instead of March 31st but I had made a point at the beginning of my pregnancy to have my due date pushed back because my cycle is 5 weeks, not the 4 weeks they usually use to calculate the due date. I had really wanted the later date because I didn’t want to go past my due date and be pressured to get induced. So I asked if we could go back to the original due date. She said no, but that she would try to see if the hospital could do the test or if she could figure something out.

She called me back, by this time it was around 6. I had sent Floyd out to get pads so I could get off the toilet without fear of making a mess. She said that I could come to the Birthing Inn and she could give me some antibiotics to tide me over and then we could leave and come back after midnight when we were ready. We decided to meet her there at 7:30.

So I hung up the phone and told Floyd when he got back. Then I called my mother and told her what was going on. She didn’t quite believe me that my water broke. She said that she had thought her water broke with my sister, but it didn’t really. Everyone was kind of in denial, especially because I had been practicing being very patient and assuming that I was going to go past my due date, so the fact that this was happening 3 weeks early was very disconcerting.

So because it was 3 weeks early I hadn’t packed my bags yet. That was what I was going to do that weekend. So I tell Floyd that we need to pack up our stuff just in case we don’t make it back home. So while I’m telling him this I realize that I’m not feeling so great and I’m on my knees leaning over the couch. I try to get up and do some stuff, but it really isn’t that comfortable. So we head up stairs to pack our bags and I’m still feeling uncomfortable. I try to do some stuff but it really isn’t working. So once again I’m on my knees leaning against the bed. I tell Floyd that I think I’m having contractions and he’ll need to get the bags ready. So I tell him what to put in the bags and he goes and gets everything. Then he pulls out a pair of racing flats out of the closet and tells me how cool they are and how light they are and how I should feel how light they are. And I’m just thinking, “What does this have to do with anything?” But I feel his shoes and agree yes they are cool, and yes they are light. I guess he was a little overwhelmed by the whole situation and was trying to act like everything was normal.

We get the bags packed and head down stairs. Floyd has to take something outside and the door to the garage gets jammed so he has to spend 5 minutes trying to close it, while I’m inside trying to slow down the contractions. We finally get the dog in the house and the door closed and get in the car and head off. So now I have a dilemma. I have been practicing for months to get myself in the frame of mind to have a fast, easy, comfortable birthing, but right now I don’t want it to go fast because I need to wait till midnight. So I’m wondering if I should put in my “birthing day” CD’s or not. I decide to listen to pregnancy affirmations to get relaxed, but not the birthing day ones so I don’t go too fast. I had taken a couple “splits” on my contractions when we were packing, and now that I’m in the car I continue to take them. I’m having contractions about every 2-3 minutes 30-45 seconds long. This is kind of concerning. There wasn’t any period of time where they were far apart. I am not really using my off switch (the cue that relaxes you the most, where your muscles become immobile) because I’m timing my contractions. Instead I’m in “center” (the cue where you are relaxed but can move and talk) and keep repeating “peace” (the cue that allows you to relax no matter what state you are in) throughout the pressure waves.

We get to the Birthing Inn and I tell the midwife that I’m not sure if I’ll make it to midnight. She is surprised that the contractions are so close together but she says they aren’t that long and I’m walking around and coherent so she doesn’t seem too concerned. We go upstairs to get me checked out. This was the first and pretty much the only time I was checked for dilation. I was 2cm and 90% effaced which was a relief. She says its usually takes an hour per centimeter of dilation so I will most likely deliver after midnight and everything will be fine. She feels my belly and guesses that Selena will be about 6.5lbs. She then hooks me up to monitor my contractions for about 15 minutes. My contractions are right on top of each other. She says they won’t get any closer together, just stronger. Floyd does a great job, because any time she asks me a question during a contraction I totally ignore her and do my Hypnobabies thing. Floyd explains to her what I’m doing so that she understands what is going on.

She then asks me if we want to go home and come back, or what we want to do. She has had a long day and really doesn’t want to stay. But we live about 30-40 minutes away and since my contractions are already on top of each other I wasn’t sure how I would know when to come back, so I ask her if we can stay. She says yes, but that she’ll just pretend I’m not there, since I’m technically not supposed to be there. We go downstairs. She hooks up an IV and gives me the antibiotics. The pressure waves are still coming, but are definitely manageable with my center switch and peace cues. She takes my blood pressure and its pretty high 140 over something, but she says that’s normal for the first blood pressure, she figures it will be down again next time she checks it.

So we are in the really lovely birthing suite. Floyd puts the birthing day CD in the CD player and we listen to it out loud. After awhile I ask Floyd to prepare the bathtub and I get in and it feels great. He opens up the lavender scents but it is way too strong so I tell him to close it. Soon my parents arrive and my mom comes in and tries to talk to me while Floyd is out talking to my dad, and I pretty much ignore her. She asks me if she wants me to leave her alone and I say yes, so she leaves the room, but I didn’t mean that I wanted her to leave, just not talk to me. I get a little stressed out, but I call Floyd’s name and he comes back in and fixes the tub’s temperature for me and stays with me.

The midwife periodically comes in and checks the baby’s heartbeat. Selena’s heartbeat stayed between 140-150 throughout the entire thing. She is such a tough baby. It is really cool because the monitor she has can go under water. She takes my blood pressure and it is way down around 110 over something. Around 10:30 the pressure waves are getting stronger. I really have problems being in “off” because when a wave comes I don’t like my butt on the bottom of the tub, so I kind of arch my back, but that makes me a little tense. At this point I’m kind of whimpering during each one. I found it easier to visualize myself relaxing from an external point of view than an internal one, where the internal viewpoint is the way I practiced. Floyd was really good and used the “relax” cues and that helped tremendously. Around 11:30 I tell Floyd to get the midwife.

She comes in and asks me if I’ve been in the tub the whole time and suggests that I get out and go to the bathroom. So I get out and get on the toilet. I don’t have to go, but I start feeling pushy and I start groaning. I get off the toilet and get on my hands and knees. Everyone suggests I move to the bed, but I’m not sure I can. Meanwhile, Floyd decided to call his dad back and is talking on the phone. I tell him to get off and help me. I’m in transition and am getting kind of snappy. I move to the bed and she checks me and says I think she says that I’m not quite all the way dilated but the baby is ready to come.

Meanwhile I’m having really overwhelming pushing urges, but don’t quite know what to do. I ask if it is supposed to feel like I need to poop and she says yes. So I start pushing, but I’m not very effective at it. Sometime during this time, the birth assistant arrives and my mother-in-law. Floyd starts asking his mom questions about her drive up, but I yell at them to be quiet. After a while the midwife and birth assistant start giving me some more direction, reminding me to put my chin down, and to make low sounds instead of just yelling. What finally works is to hold my breath while I push and then breathe really hard while I catch my breath enough to do it again. I usually would get about 3 good pushes in for each contraction. The Hypnobabies birthing CD is in the background and she is telling me to “breathe the baby down ”, “just let the baby slide right out” and I think that it suggests doing this between contractions. What she is saying is totally not what I’m going through. The pushing urges are so overwhelming and tiring that I need the breaks to rest. I do think her voice is soothing though, and helps me rest and relax during the breaks, but I’m not about to push during these breaks. I think the CD annoyed everyone else in the room because it was so opposite of what was happening, but I think it helped me a little. If I had listened to the CD before I went into labor it might have helped more, but I was going to wait till I was 38 weeks before listening to it and since she came early I never go the chance.

The midwife asks me if I want to try pushing in the tub, but this was something we were going to ask about when we made our birth plan at my next appointment in a week, so I hadn’t really thought about it yet, and didn’t know how it would work and where I would get any leverage so I said no. So then she suggests I try lying on my side with my leg in the air. I don’t really like this position and apparently I wasn’t bringing my knee to my chest in the right angle and she keeps telling me to move my leg one way, but I keep doing it wrong. Eventually I start to do it right, and start to get the hang of it. At one point the midwife stretches my perineum and that really didn’t feel good. During this whole time I was really hot and gulping water down. Floyd was fanning me and at one point said his arm was getting tired. The midwife teases him and says that compared to what I was doing he had no right to say he was tired.

After trying this for a while they give me a rope to pull on while I push. This really seems to help and gives me leverage. I keep asking if I’m even doing anything. Everyone keeps encouraging me and telling me I am. They say that they can see her hair. I am still doubting that all this work I am doing is actually accomplishing anything. Most of the birth stories I read, said that pushing was a relief from the dilation stage, and only lasts around 30 min and I’m pretty sure I’ve been pushing longer than that. This is way more intense than anything I went through before transition.

After pulling on the rope they move me to a birth stool, and I try that. The stool really helps. Floyd sits behind me while I’m pushing. Finally her head starts to come out. I keep asking if I’m even doing anything, they put my hand down there so I can feel her head, and I realize that yes, she is coming. I remember thinking that this is the last mile, and then I get kind of depressed because I tend to slow down the last mile. (Yes, I am weird) My mom switches with Floyd so that he can watch her come out. Her head moves down and I feel the ring of fire, I think I even comment on it. Her head is halfway out for about 3 or 4 contractions and all that time I experience the ring of fire. Then her head comes out, and my mom said that the midwife had to move the umbilical cord to the correct side. The next contraction comes and I push really hard, say “ouch” really loud, and she slides right out and is born at 1:02AM. It was such a relief and felt so good for her to be out. I look down but I don’t have my glasses on so I can’t really see anything. Someone gets my glasses and Selena is down on the ground amidst a pool of blood, but she is relatively clean. Her head is very cone shaped and she is very alert and looking around wondering what the heck is going on. After a few seconds she lets out a little wail. I think the midwife brings something over to help her breathe, then they place her in my arms and I hold her. I am so exhausted. After a few minutes Floyd cuts the cord and they take her from me and give her to Floyd. I get off the birth stool and lay on the bed to deal with the after birth stuff.

It was a little while before the placenta came out. I really didn’t want to have to do anything because I was so tired, but I did have to give a couple pushes. Apparently I tore badly, almost all the way to the rectum but fortunately it went off to the side. I didn’t know I tore until the midwife told me. I don’t think I tore, or at least not that bad, until her shoulders came out because her shoulders were bigger than her head, and her head came out pretty slowly. The midwife said she could sew it up, but she didn’t have a lot of drugs, and she would rather me transfer to the hospital to get it done. She said she sewed someone up a few weeks before and felt really bad because it was so awful and uncomfortable for the woman. Unfortunately going to the hospital involved taking an ambulance ride. I was so tired, and was done, so I said going to the hospital was fine. I did make a comment about how expensive the ambulance would be though. Typical me.

I think she needed to get me patched up enough to transfer, so she started doing stuff. She gave me some drugs through my IV, but my mom said it didn’t work and the bag never emptied. She also gave me some local anesthetic. I think I used my hypnosis, but I’m not sure, it might have just been that I was really tired and relaxed anyways, but whatever she was doing didn’t bother me at all, so she ended up sewing me up there, and I didn’t have to go to the hospital. My mom got to play nurse and hand her the tools and hold the light for her. I think she thought that was kind of fun.

After about an hour, hour and a half, I was finally all stitched up and given ice and ready to take care of Selena again. It was kind of a bummer because I missed out on what was going on because of the post birth stuff, and the fact that I was so tired. The birth assistant came and gave me a nipple shield and told me that because Selena came early she might have a weak suck, and because I have inverted nipples it will be hard for her to latch on and I should use the shield. From what I read the experts really hate the nipple shields and said avoid them at all costs, but other people really love them. But I just did what I was told and Selena latched on and sucked. I am still using the nipple shield to nurse and am torn between trying to wean her from it or just keep using it forever.

When they went to weigh Selena, Floyd, of course, starts taking bets on what her weight is. I guessed 6lbs 6oz. Floyd was the closest at 7lbs. She was 7lbs 6oz and 18 ½ inches long. I couldn’t believe it. How could a baby that big fit inside me? The midwife and birth assistant were really confused because she really didn’t show any signs of being pre-term. They ask me if I was sure about my due date, and I assured them I was. We used an ovulation test so I’m 99% sure the due date was correct.

Eventually all of our family left. The midwife and birth assistant came to check on us a few times, they left at 6am and said we were free to stay as long as we wanted, but to know that a pregnancy class would be out in the seating area at 9am. I slept some, but mostly I just stared at my beautiful daughter. My throat was sore from all the yelling I did and I was so exhausted that it was really hard to get out of bed and go to the bathroom, which I had to do frequently. But by the morning I felt okay and we left the birth center at around 9 o’clock. Because she was born at the birth center we had to get her to see a doctor within 48 hours, and because she was born on Saturday at 1am that was kind of a pain because the doctor’s office wasn’t open. We took her to the same-day clinic on Saturday afternoon and it was funny because all the receptionists were asking me, “What are you doing here?” And, “she wasn’t really born today was she?” Unfortunately the doctor who was qualified to see her, got called out to deliver a baby so we had to come back on Sunday. After she saw her, she too said Selena looked great, and asked if my due date was correct.

Overall the experience was really great. The Hypnobabies slogan is an easy, fast, comfortable birthing and mine wasn’t easy or comfortable, but it wasn’t really until the pushing stage where it became really hard. I think the hardest part was not knowing how long it was going to last. I remember after the pressure waves got really strong, thinking that I can do this for another hour or so, but what if it is another 6 hours. But the entire thing was only 8.5 hours from when my water broke till she was born, and the first hour and a half I didn’t have any contractions. The last hour and a half of pushing was definitely the hardest.

I think the fact that I had the midnight “deadline” somewhat hindered the process and made it a little harder to relax. I think it might have gone even faster had I not had it hanging over my head. I don’t really understand how hypnosis is supposed to work during the pushing stage. It is such an intense, overwhelming urge that takes so much energy I’m not sure how, especially as a first time mom, not knowing what to expect, you could be able to mentally anesthetize your midsection, but it did help me relax between contractions.

I really am glad I did transfer to the birth center. I couldn’t handle any conversations going on around me and I’m sure at a hospital I wouldn’t have had any control over that. Overall I was very satisfied with Hypnobabies, the Birthing Inn, and Floyd was awesome as my birth partner. It’s funny because I do think the whole ordeal becomes sort of diminished from your memory, because I remember thinking immediately after that I’m never going to do that again, but two weeks later I know I will.


Kendra Hill said...

Laura, what an amazing story! Such detail, I was tensing up just listening to it. You are such a strong and amazing woman having a natural birth. I'm so proud of you! And you too, Floyd. It takes a lot of patience taking care of a pregnant woman, especially one who is yelling. You are a great husband and a wonderful father for sticking in there! I miss you guys and hope to see you in July! Kendra

Anonymous said...

I had my son at the Birthing Inn, as well. I loved hearing your story and how you switched doctors and decided to go natural!