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July 12, 2010
Weight: 7 lbs., 11 oz.
Length: 20 inches
I had prepared for months for Vincent’s birth by using the Hypnobabies program. I thought I was fully prepared to use self-hypnosis throughout my entire birthing time and I was planning a very calm, comfortable and easy birth. While my training certainly helped me in many ways, I would have to say that Vincent’s birth story is not a Hypnobabies birth story because I didn’t follow the plan I had in place to use that birthing method the entire time. I do strongly believe that it did enable me to have a hospital birth without any pain medications and very few interventions, which is the very end result that I had hoped for.
Vincent’s birthing time began amazingly enough on his due date, Sunday, July 11, 2010. I had been noticing some signs for about the previous 5 days that told me that the time could be near, but with this being my first baby I fully expected to go to and well past my due date before actually going into labor.
Starting about 2 weeks before my due date I began taking Evening Primrose Oil (orally) to help prepare my cervix for labor. A couple of days before I downloaded the Hypnobabies’ Come OUT, Baby audio track and listened to it on July 9th and 10th. I wasn’t trying very many natural induction methods yet and wasn’t even walking very much because I simply figured that he wasn’t ready to make his appearance yet. I was willing to try anything that wouldn’t cause false labor signs though and I had read of a woman instructed that listening to intense music, particularly Gustav Holst’s “Mars, The Bringer of War”, might cause labor to begin. Since I had that on my music player already I decided to listen to it and re-listened several times on July 10. I’m sure it had not affect on the beginning of Vincent’s birth but, man, what a powerful piece of music!! It was just what I needed and looking back I feel its intensity does reflect some of what I was feeling during labor.
Birthing Time Begins
Around 4 AM on Sunday I started feeling very crampy and I woke up and went to the bathroom. The cramps felt like strong menstrual cramps and began coming in waves, maybe a couple each hour. Because the cramps weren’t accompanied by any feelings of pressure or tightening like I had experienced with the Braxton Hicks practice contractions I had been having, I wasn’t entirely sure these were contractions. Eventually as their frequency and intensity gradually began to increase I decided they were in fact true contractions. I was cautiously optimistic, however, as I could be experiencing them for quite a while if I were to be having prodromal or false labor.
However, finding myself unable to sleep after waking up at 4, I decided to get up and straighten up the apartment a bit just in case it was the real deal. I was able to do some laundry and dishes and get things picked up for the most part. I had planned on attending church at 11 AM that morning and for a couple of hours after I awoke I still thought I might, but soon I realized that I needed to stay home in case these contractions progressed quickly. Eventually I got to the point where I realized this is most likely the beginning of my birthing time and little Vincent would be here soon! I called my friend Karen, who had so generously agreed to be an additional labor support for us, to let her know we may need her to come to Louisville very soon. I even made the box of Turtle Cookie Bars that I had planned to give to the nurses at the hospital (but they didn’t really turn out well). I spent the morning trying to relax and listening to some of my Hypnobabies tracks. I began timing my contractions throughout the morning and I think around noon I gave Karen a call and asked her to go ahead and make the trip to Louisville because I thought this was probably it.
That afternoon the contractions kept coming but never really settled into regular intervals. I tried laying in the dark bedroom and listening to my Easy First Stage, Deepening, and Birth Day affirmations tracks. I also tried getting up and moving around and for a while I just watched some episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” with Karen. I was really waiting patiently for the contractions to get into a regular pattern of about 4-5 minutes apart before I would go to the hospital. Well, they never really did. They were pretty consistent in length throughout the day, lasting at least a minute each time, but they never got regular. They just stayed anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart. And it felt like I was in the bathroom for half the day because I had to pee after every contraction and my body was also “cleaning itself out” in preparation for the birth.
Eventually I started doubting that this was real labor because the contractions would not become regular. I was feeling frustrated not knowing if I had made any progress. I think I finally decided to call my OB around 7 that evening and just tell her what was going on and see what she said. She told me I should go to the hospital and at least get checked and monitored since Vincent had been pretty quiet for most of the day. I was admittedly somewhat relieved to hear that as I had been anxious to get to the hospital. By the time we left for the hospital around 8 PM the contractions were getting stronger but still weren’t very close together. I really thought there was a good chance they would send us home until things progressed more.
Going to the Hospital
The ride to the hospital was about 15 minutes and I think I had about 3 contractions on the way there. I had planned on listening to a Hypnobabies track in the car but instead I listened to a couple of John Denver songs. They were incredibly soothing and relaxing for me and I joked that I would just have to listen to John Denver for the rest of delivery. I had another contraction when we were checking in, one while waiting to get a triage room, and several while getting hooked up and answering medical history questions. Before I was examined in triage I used the bathroom and, lo and behold, my bloody show. I thought I had seen a tinge of pink when I first woke up that morning but hadn’t noticed anything since then, except an increase in discharge throughout the day, so I was glad to see it. Contractions were definitely closer together and stronger and now I had another sign. I was beginning to realize we were probably having a baby that night!
I had not had any cervical checks done at my previous doctors’ appointments so I had no idea if I had already been dilated before that point and no idea what to expect when they checked me. Turns out I was already 5 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced! (Perhaps thanks to the Evening Primrose Oil I had been taking?) I had been hoping not to get to the hospital until I was about 7 cm but this was fine too. I had hoped to avoid getting IV fluids, which they said I would need if I had been at the hospital longer than 6 hours, so I wanted to labor at the hospital for as little time as possible and was worried I had gone in too early.
Labor and Delivery
Eventually we were moved to a Labor and Delivery room and they tried to get me one with remote monitoring, since I had requested it. I was hoping to only be on the monitor intermittently for 20 minutes at a time and had put that in my birth plan but for some reason my doctor hadn’t approved that at the time so I was stuck with a telemetry unit that would allow me to walk around. They had a hard time hooking it up though, so by the time I was on it I no longer really felt like walking.
Once in L & D the contractions quickly intensified. While I labored at home I was able to quietly relax and concentrate through each contraction but by the time we got to the hospital and I was in triage I had begun to deal with each contraction by being very vocal, mainly with “Ahhhs” throughout each contraction, and deep breathing. At one point I wanted to listen to my music again and had lost enough of my inhibitions to actually sing a little bit of John Denver, “Sunshine on My Shoulders”, I think. When I had the music on I think it really helped.
I had hoped to be able to be pretty mobile throughout the labor but as the contractions got stronger and stronger, I was getting more and more exhausted and uncomfortable and didn’t even have the desire to get off the bed. By the time I was checked once I was in my Labor and Delivery room I was already 8 cm dilated and stayed there for a little while. Next time I was checked I was 9.5 and it seemed like I stayed at 9.5 for a while. Labor was really taking its toll. Doubts were kicking in. I had several moments where I wondered why I was doing this naturally and wishing I had gotten an epidural. I even asked if it was too late at one point but I knew that really wasn’t what I wanted and was able to come up with several reasons, even in the moment in the midst of extreme discomfort, why I wouldn’t want one. This part of labor, even though it was relatively short, seemed like it was taking forever. In the throes of a contraction I really felt as though it would never end. I remember being so exhausted and thinking about how I hadn’t even really thought about the actual baby that would come at the end, I just wanted it to be over and several times I said I really just couldn’t wait to get some sleep and that was all that I wanted. I think in the last couple of hours I was nearly asleep in between contractions, which I think actually helped me at the end because I was really resting in between and didn’t have time to worry about or anticipate the next one. I really just had to take it one contraction at a time and remember that I would survive and that it really would be over soon.
My membranes still had not ruptured on their own and I kept remembering the nurse telling me that it will hurt even more once they did and I couldn’t imagine how much worse it could get at that point. I had sworn up and down that I wouldn’t consent to an artificial rupture of membranes, but at this point, at 9.5 cm, after almost 22 hours of labor, I easily admitted defeat. Everything had been going smoothly so far and I was so exhausted and ready to push and be done with it and I consented to having them break my water. The main reason I had wanted to avoid it was because it can lead to other interventions and I knew that at this stage in the game the chances of that happening were very unlikely. So they broke my water and, just like everything else, it was not pleasant.
I kept waiting for them to tell me that I would be able to push soon but it seemed like it would never come. My doctor checked me and I still had a bit of a lip on my cervix that seemed like it would never go away. I had to wait out a couple more contractions and then they would check again. I think it was still there. I think they tried having me push while holding it back to see what would happen. I guess that worked or I eventually was complete, because soon it really was time to push.
I remember after I was complete and while I was waiting for a contraction and the urge to push this fear set in. I was completely afraid of having to push this baby out. It literally felt like it was going to be impossible. And when the time came, it was nothing like I had imagined. I ended up pushing in a way I never thought I would or wanted to. I had wanted to push in whatever position was most comfortable, something more natural, perhaps on all fours on the bed or side-lying or something. But nope. There I was, flat on my back, feet in stirrups and holding my breath, doing the dreaded “purple pushing” and not the mother-directed pushing I had hoped for. Fortunately the nurse at least wasn’t making me count to 10 and they allowed me to push as long as I could or felt like it. I basically just took the directions of the doctor and nurses because at that point I was all about getting this baby out as fast as I could. The positive thing about pushing, compared to the contractions in active labor, was that it was something I had some amount of control over. I controlled how fast and hard I pushed, but with the contractions I was at their mercy, never knowing how intense or long they would be or when the next one would come. Everything else about pushing felt not so positive. It really was the most difficult thing I’ve every physically done. I swear it felt like I urinated gallons on the bed, although she had emptied my bladder with a catheter so I suppose it was probably blood I was loosing. I think I may have pooped too. Nobody ever told me and I didn’t ask. It didn’t seem to matter and I definitely didn’t care at the time. I have no idea how long I pushed. It felt like forever but I’m guessing it was probably about 30-45 minutes. I tore pretty badly, second-degree I think, and required stitches. Of course I wonder if my pushing experience had been different if I would have torn so badly, but it is what it is.
But none of that mattered as soon as Vincent was finally out. I remember the first thing I felt immediately was disbelief. I really couldn’t believe that that baby had actually come out of me! I couldn’t believe I had just given birth to a baby without any pain medications!! I had the most unbelievable sense of pride and accomplishment! I had actually felt what it was like to have a baby the way babies are supposed to be born (or as close as you can get to that when birthing in a hospital). And then I just had the biggest rush of relief because it was finally over!
I couldn’t wait to see and hold my baby boy! In my dream birth scenario I would have been able to hold him immediately but I had decided to go with the flow of the hospital policies when it came to newborn procedures and everything happened so quickly after he was born I didn’t really have time to stop and ask for things to be a certain way. So they did place him on me briefly before taking him across the room to do everything they needed to do. Bobby got to hold him while they were stitching me and cleaning me up and then eventually I finally got to take my son in my arms. It was the most amazing thing ever. I just couldn’t wait to get to know this little guy better. We had some skin to skin time and I tried nursing him for a little while. Our family was in and out to see him, although they couldn’t hold him just yet. At one point Vincent and I were alone in the room together and I just sang to him, John Denver’s “Wild Montana Skies”. It’s a song that I loved singing for him when he was still safely inside of me and I thought perhaps it would comfort him. It was just the sweetest moment for me.
My birth story may not have turned out the way I had imagined or hoped that it would, but surely it ended up being the perfect birth for me and Vincent. We successfully avoided all of the things I had most feared and got the outcome that we wanted – a safe, drug-free hospital birth and a beautiful, healthy baby boy!
Congratulations on your baby boy and your beautiful story. I think you did amazing! Not everything happens exactly the way we plan, but you did great. With my NCB my DD was taken away for 4 hours. One thing I know I want to avoid this time. But it was also a wonderful experience and I knew I could do it! You did it!