Julian

While I did have some practice labor (Braxton Hicks) at various points during this pregnancy, going into the last few weeks of the pregnancy, I wasn’t feeling any practice labor.  On Friday, February 26th, I had a pelvic floor PT appointment at 10 am.  We were practicing Pelvic Floor relaxation for various labor positions, to see what would work best for me.  Toward the end of the appointment, as I laid back to try a reclined position, I felt a stream of fluid start to pass.    It was noticeable, but not a ton.   I finished the appointment and even grabbed a sprinkle doughnut at the shop across the street.   When I arrived home, I had more fluid when I stood up from the car, but then the fluid stopped.  Having already had a “false alarm” of my water breaking the prior weekend, I was hesitant to jump the gun, so kept an eye on things for awhile.   About an hour and a half later, around 12:45/1, I lost my mucus plug, and started to feel very light, intermittent contractions – 15 minutes apart or so.   At this point, I called into the midwives, and they advised that I come in to check the fluid, as I was Strep B positive and needed an antibiotic IV if my water had broken.   It was about 1:30pm at this point, and a half an hour drive to the birth center, so we arrived there around 2:30pm.

At my exam, they said that my waters hadn’t ruptured, and sent me home to keep an eye on things, thinking I’d be back perhaps late that evening, if not, definitely over the weekend.   We left the Birth Center at 3 pm, hurrying to pickup our preschool daughter, in Friday rush hour traffic.    My contractions at that point were still light, and only every 10-15 minutes. Nothing that caused me pause or discomfort – I’d just let my husband know that another one was coming.  

By the time we arrived to pickup our daughter at 3:30, they had progressed to every 5-6 minutes apart, and caused pause.  I still walked from the car to pick her up, pausing once to breathe through a short wave.  I was feeling relaxed, and confident in the upcoming birth at this point.  We decided to go to the grocery store to pick up some snacks for labor, and the birth center, but in the car as the waves were becoming more intense, I asked my husband to drop me off at home and he and my daughter could go to the store.   I was home from 3:45-4:15 on my own, and hustled to pack some final items into our go-bags, anticipating that I wouldn’t be in a good position to finish this later. When I arrived home, I could still walk around the house packing last minute items, pausing occasionally to breathe through a wave.  By 4:15 my husband and daughter arrived home, I was stationed next to the couch, leaning over it for contractions, with the Steeldrivers blasting on the radio, each wave required my full attention to breathe through.  I was focusing on positive acceptance of what was coming to my body, changing positions occasionally to see what would work for me.  

My husband quickly asked me how far apart my contractions were, but I wasn’t sure. He placed a timer app next to me, and we saw that they had reached a consistent 3 minutes apart. He called our Doula and told her to head in our direction.   The next 20 minutes are a blur, but he called our friends to take our daughter.  He also called the birth center back (1.5 hours after leaving) and after just hearing me on the phone, they told him to come directly in, I was in active labor. My husband got the bags in the car, and everything ready while I labored next to the couch, trying different positions. Forty five minutes later, at 5pm we were ready to leave, and things were intense. I waited until a contraction passed, then walked to the car and waited for another before getting in quickly to start the drive.  With two car seats in the backseat, I had only the front passenger seat, and little room to maneuver.   I tried kneeling backward and hugging the seat but it was not helpful, and settled into the seat, mostly arching my back during contractions and progressively pounding on the door.  I focused my breathing between contractions, hoping to delay or soften the next wave – which helped some.  Google Maps predicted the drive to be about 45 minutes (it had been a consistent 20 without traffic during the entire pregnancy). My husband managed to make it in 30 minutes.  During that entire drive, I only opened my eyes once, and I would guess I went through 8-10 waves of contractions.   Beyond my breathing and keeping things in the present, I was thinking about two things during the drive.   1.) If this is un-medicated childbirth, maybe I’m not cut out for this?! 2.) It will become more manageable when we get to the birth center.  I’ll be able to walk, use the birth tub, our Doula will be meeting us there, etc.   

My husband pulled into the parking lot around 5:30, in the front row space, and as I stepped out of the car with he and a nurse to support me, I expected a feeling of relief as I was able to move.  When I stood upright, I could feel the weight of the baby drop further into my pelvis, and things only became more intense. I walked into the birth center repeating “I don’t like this. I don’t like this.” to myself like a mantra, looking for a place to stop and be able to return to my “zone”.  At this point, it was just 2.5 hours after I’d been at the birth center and sent home. We entered the closest birthing suite and I saw the bed all made up, as well as papers on the floor next to it.  I immediately went to my knees next to the bed, so that I could lay my upper body over the side of the bed and continue laboring.  At this point, things were VERY intense, and I was beginning to feel a little panicky, thinking that I couldn’t handle this for another 6 hours. The midwives were VERY calm, and quickly got to work.  Within 5 minutes of arriving the primary midwife let me know that the baby’s head was there, and I could start pushing when I was ready.  

WHAT?! This was both shocking and comforting information, to know securely why things had been so intense – I’d essentially gone through transition in the car – but also shocking to know that our baby boy was ready to arrive already.   In the end, it took 12 minutes of pushing for Julian to arrive, though it felt like seconds or minutes to me. The first few pushes were the most intense, it was as if I was pushing to poop, but there was nowhere for the poop to go, just this intense, intense pressure on my anus, an indescribable pressure.  But then, as my baby boy moved further down in the birth canal… it was suddenly gone, entirely, and I could just feel Julian as I pushed.  I could feel him move forward, as I pushed, and then backward slightly as I relaxed.  After about two of these, he just slid out.   In retrospect, I wish I’d reached down to feel his head as he was emerging, but I didn’t even think about it at the time, as things were moving so quickly.  The midwives caught him, and passed him between my legs so that I could bring him to my chest.  I was still in my street clothes, not even having had a chance to change.  I brought him to my chest and began talking to him immediately so that he could hear my voice.  He was talking too – he came into the world crying big healthy cries.    

Julian arrived 17 minutes after arriving at the birth center, and in around 3-4 hours of labor, depending on when you’d count it as starting.  The midwives classified it as a “precipitous birth”.  While our doula ended up being a non-factor at the actual birth, she did get an amazing video of Julian’s arrival.   

Laurel

Laurel was born on January 20, just a day after her due date! 7 lb, 7 oz, and 20.25″. Here’s our birth story, which was not ideal in a lot of ways, but we all made it out healthy and happy in the end, which is the most important thing 🙂 

I first started having spaced out but regular contractions in the early morning of January 19th, our baby’s actual due date, around 3am. They were 12-15 minutes apart and not very strong. I slept through as much as I could, but they were strongest when I tried to lie down, which made sleep difficult. As I got up and started moving around through the day of the 19th, they became less regular and I thought maybe it was just practice labor and I still had some time to wait. I definitely did not anticipate baby arriving on her due date!

Evening of the 19th, we went to sleep, but again the contractions ramped back up as I tried lying down, and I was soon out of bed and pacing the apartment, bouncing on a yoga ball, and spending some time in the shower. Contractions steadily escalated from 12-15 minutes apart to 3-4 minutes apart by about 3am on the 20th. After about an hour of 3-4 minute apart contractions, we decided to go in to the hospital. I was managing really well with my breathing techniques, but felt like I was at the edge of being able to keep it under control during a car ride and wanted to get resettled at the hospital before the contractions got too strong to manage without the aid of being in the shower / Luke’s support. 

At triage, they monitored contractions and watched baby’s heart rate, and the midwife on duty came to consult. She did a cervical check and found I was only 2-3 cm dilated. My blood pressure was slightly elevated, but it went down upon a second reading and so she did not want to admit me. She encouraged me to take a sleeping pill and go back home and try to rest. She said I shouldn’t return until the contractions were more like 2 minutes apart, and I was in enough pain to be “vocalizing more.” (Ugh, too successful with my breathing I guess!) Although I wasn’t super keen on this, I let myself be talked into it, which, in hindsight, was not a good plan. 

Nonetheless, back home we went, me increasingly under the effects of the sleeping pill they gave me. Unfortunately, I could not sleep, as contractions continued to be the most painful when lying down and were only getting increasingly intense. I was also developing some serious back pain along with the contractions. The next 7 hours while under the influence of the sleeping pill were unpleasant, to say the least, as I was SUPER tired and groggy, much more than I had been before, but also less and less able to actually sleep. I tried taking a bath for a while, but ultimately found the most comfort in the shower, where the water could be directed right on my back where I was in the most pain but I could be standing and use the walls to lean against for support. I’m not sure that spending several hours in the shower while under the influence of a sleeping pill was the safest thing, but we all survived. 

Around 10am, the sleeping pill was FINALLY wearing off, and I decided I really needed to go back to the hospital. When Luke called they were not super keen on us coming back since my contractions were still about the same spacing (3-4minutes apart), but I used the excuse of saying I needed help with pain management and they agreed to let us return. 

Back in triage, my blood pressure was again elevated, unsurprisingly as I was now in pretty significant back pain, and felt like I was starting to really lose my control over the labor as a result of both the car ride and now being forced to lie down on the hospital bed for the required check-in monitoring. A new midwife was now on duty and she did another cervical check –THANKFULLY I was about 6-7 cm dilated and so they were happy to admit me this time. 

The admitting process took what felt like FOREVER. First we had to wait in triage for a room to be ready, and then after being formally admitted I had to have several tests. I wanted to try nitrous for pain management before anything else, and ultimately wanted to use an inflatable tub for labor & delivery. The nitrous required a negative COVID test before you could start using it. Also, because my blood pressure was elevated, I had to have preeclampsia labs before they could set up the pool. We had a great nurse who managed to get the testing done fairly efficiently, and I was able finally to at least get back into a shower while waiting on the various lab results. Luke provided amazing support mentally and also by tirelessly putting pressure on my back where I was having the most pain. The covid test took 1-2 hours to come back, but as soon as it was negative, I was able to start using the nitrous. I found that really helpful as the labor progressed, and I’m really glad it was an option. I felt super in control of how much influence I was under, and it was nice that it both worked quickly but also faded away really fast so I didn’t have any lingering drugged up feelings. The shower and nitrous couldn’t be used simultaneously, but I think it was good to just change things up. While using the nitrous I spent some time standing and squatting with the bed as a stabilizer and also some time on a yoga ball both of which were helpful. I started feeling some urge to push around this time, and they did another cervical check finding me to be 9 cm dilated. 

The preeclampsia labs took longer to come through, but I was eventually allowed to get into the pool maybe around 3pm? Honestly, time was such a blur for me at this point. The pool was an amazing relief, especially for my back which was by far the worst of my pain throughout the whole experience, and something I was less mentally prepared for than the contractions themselves. I think that the baby was just in some kind of weird position that was pinching a nerve or something, I am not really sure. I pushed in the pool for an hour or so, but was having a hard time getting any leverage and wasn’t feeling very productive. Also, bizarrely, my water still had not broken! I could feel it bulging out of my cervix and feel the baby’s head through it by this point. Aside: it was really cool to feel my baby so close, and I’m glad the midwives encouraged this 🙂 

Because I was a bit stalled out — and also getting really tired at this point! I’d been mostly awake for over 36 hours at this point — the midwife suggested trying to change it up. I think this was the right call, and I’m glad she was there to state the obvious! I might have just stayed in the pool forever. So, I got out and spent some time in hands and knees on the bed, and a little bit of time on the toilet – where my water finally broke! – and used the bars on the wall in the bathroom to get some leverage for strong squats which felt really good. However, my legs were really starting to wear out at this point. We decided to move back to the bed, and try laboring on my side so that my legs could have a break. Baby arrived soon after at 5:38pm

Baby had a bit of a rough start with lots of fluid in her lungs (maybe because my water broke so late? I was in a total time warp by that point, but Luke says he thinks it was only about 15-20 minutes from water breaking to baby arriving), and ended up needing to be on a CPAP + oxygen for a few hours. They did this first in labor and delivery and then moved her to the NICU. Unfortunately I also lost a lot of blood (a bit over a liter) as my uterus was slow to contract and I had a second degree tear which required quite a few stitches, so I had to stay in the labor and delivery room and couldn’t be with the baby. Luke did stay with her the whole time, which made me feel better that she wasn’t alone, but not being able to really be with the baby right away was the absolute hardest part of the whole experience for me, and something that for all my labor and delivery prep, I was really unprepared for. I had thought a lot about contingencies like considering using medication, or the possibility of needing a c-section, but separation from the baby was not something I had really considered in advance despite also being something that just wasn’t in my control! 

I’m happy to say that Laurel was a very strong baby despite her initial fluid filled lungs, and she was off all oxygen and breathing assistance by 12:30am although she remained in the NICU for monitoring until the next morning. As a result of the NICU stay, we didn’t get started breast feeding until about 12 hours after delivery, and she lost a lot of weight in her initial 24 hours. This prolonged our hospital stay as the hospital pediatricians were extremely alarmed by it and wanted her to gain some weight back before they discharged us. They also halted breast feeding just as it got started, diverting me to pumping and feeding her with bottles of my milk + supplementing with donor milk on a regimented once every 2 hours schedule. Thankfully, Laurel ate like a champ, gained 2 ounces between hours 36-48 of her life, and so we got out of the hospital at the end of the second day. By that time, though, I was in a pretty crappy emotional state, to be honest. The NICU stay was super traumatic for me, I found pumping to be both physically and emotionally painful, I was super distraught about not being able to just breast feed my baby, and I was concerned about Laurel’s weight and health!

But, everything got better quickly after this point 🙂 We had our first pediatrician visit the morning after our discharge. We had chosen our pediatrician before Laurel was born, and due to scheduling availability, ended up seeing the Dr. there on Saturday the 23rd. I am SO THANKFUL FOR HER! She immediately calmed us down from the anxiety that the hospital pediatricians had left us with, saying that she was not actually that concerned about the weight loss given the whole situation, and that while we would monitor Laurel’s weight closely and she wanted us to come back in on the following Monday for a check in, that she also wouldn’t expect any baby to be back to birth weight until 2 weeks old, and there was no reason to think Laurel would not get there. She also helped me relax about the whole feeding situation, and helped us get back on track with breast feeding by suggesting I try to breast feed first at every feeding time, then offer formula in a bottle, and cutting out the pumping if it was making me super miserable. She also set us up with a lactation consultant, who came out to our apartment later in the week. I would so recommend both of these wonderful humans if you need a pediatrician or a lactation consultant!! Following their advice, Laurel is now doing GREAT! She gained back a ton of weight just in our first 2 days at home, and was back to birth weight at only 8 days old. 

Laurel is 3 weeks old today, and we couldn’t be happier. She eats and sleeps and poops a LOT, of course, but also loves looking out the windows, and checking out our faces, and stretching after naps.

Marion

Thank you, Kadie and my fellow hypnobirthing supermoms!

On Monday, we welcomed Marion to our family. Hypnobirthing wasn’t joking when they said statistically hypnobirthing labors happen faster…Marion arrived into the world just under 3 hours after my first contraction! It was an amazing, intervention-free, almost-highway-birth, WILD labor and I left it feeling empowered and so grateful for my mental practice with you all, even though I didn’t have much time to use it.

I’m appreciate this community and for the support I received last week when I was feeling especially anxious.

Best wishes for all of you. I know you’ll be amazing, no matter how it all happens. The mental practice of staying calm and trusting your own process and experience is the best thing we can do for ourselves!

Silvia

My water broke at 12:30pm, while I was at work, approximately a week before I had expected my labor to begin.  I wasn’t having strong or frequent contractions at the time that my water broke, which classified me as a patient with PROM (Premature Release of Membranes).  This is when the amniotic sac breaks before active labor starts.  This placed me on a timeline with my care providers, as the risk of the mother or baby acquiring an infection rises if the baby isn’t born within 12-24 hours after the water breaks.  I went home from work and waited for my husband to be able to join me, and stalled a bit so I could try some more natural methods to progress my labor.  I cleaned the house, went on a walk with my dog and ate some spicy food.  My husband arrived home around 7:30pm, and we set off to the hospital to be triaged and admitted.  

A few hours after we were admitted, my contractions were stronger but were still more than 5 minutes apart on average.  An oral misoprostol tablet (a prostaglandin) was recommended to cause further effacement of my cervix and to hopefully augment my labor enough for me to give birth before our infection risk rose. At that time it had been about 12 hours since my water had broken, and as this was my first child, we didn’t know how long things might take naturally.   Our midwife said that because my labor had already begun naturally, any labor augmentation would be unlikely to cause a cascade of interventions that would lead to a c-section. It felt important at that point to do our best to balance our concern about interventions negatively affecting this natural process and valid medical data about threats to our baby’s safety.  We ideally wanted a completely natural birth, but after discussing it privately, we felt good about saying yes to the misoprostol.

Approximately 1 hour after taking the tablet (around 2am), I felt I was in active labor.  My contractions were occurring every 3-5 minutes, they were powerful, and they were lasting 1.5 up to 4-5 minutes in length. I was breathing through my contractions, listening to my positive Hypnobirthing affirmations and remembering to stay positive and focused when a sense of fear or pain crept into my mind. My husband stayed by my side, helped me adjust my position, assisted me to get to the bathroom and back, used massage techniques and spoke to me with kindness and encouragement to let me know I was doing everything correctly and that I was safe.  I closed my eyes and focused on each surge, knowing that I just needed to get through the intense peak and then it would subside and I could rest before the next one.  

Around 4:30 in the morning, I went through transition.  I didn’t know it was transition at the time as I wasn’t having cervical checks due to my water having broken, so there was no quantitative measure of my effacement or dilation progress.  Looking back, I knew I was in transition as the surges were coming right on top of each other, they were a lot more uncomfortable than they had been, and I felt nauseous.  I powered through this period that now seems like it happened in a dream state, and I remembered that this was my body preparing itself to give birth and that everything was happening as it should.  My husband stayed right with me, talking to me, keeping a hand on me when needed, helping me move around the room and checking in with me nonstop.  

After this intense period, the pain of the surges started to lessen and we were both overcome with fatigue. I laid down on the cot in the room and while the surges continued, they spread out and were a bit more bearable.  I was able to doze off a bit between each one.  I laid on my right side with a birth ball between my knees to keep my pelvis open and my husband held my hand while he sat next to me.  I was aware that the sun was rising but I kept my eyes closed and focused.  Around 6:30am our nurse came back in to check on us.  She took a look at me and my contraction monitor and told us that she didn’t think I was in active labor yet.  She indicated that our midwife might recommend another dose of misoprostol or even starting Pitocin to ramp things up. 

This was so disappointing for me to hear, and my husband and I both felt that something wasn’t right…my surges were strong, close together and had been going for hours.  If I wasn’t even in active labor yet then maybe I had really under-estimated how challenging this would be. I didn’t know if I could make it another 10-12 hours given what we had been through and how tired we were. I felt I might need pain-relieving medication and was upset that given the time, our baby was definitely going to be at a higher risk of infection soon.  I was so worried about what might happen next and discouraged.  The nurse then offered to have the midwife come do a cervical check to see how dilated I was before we discussed or decided on any further interventions. 

While she was out of the room I suddenly had a very different and earth shattering contraction that caused me to vocalize and move without the calm and control I had leading up to it. I felt my pelvic floor open and our baby ratchet downwards.  The nurse came back in just as another of these surges was happening and she called for the midwife.  The midwife was there right away and performed a cervical exam. It seemed like it took forever for her to finish her exam, and I was anxious for the results but also was feeling that things had got to be quite progressed, given these new, powerful surges I was experiencing.  I was exhilarated and had a new sense of energy when she said “You are 10 centimeters dilated! You can push!”  Both she and the nurse acted completely surprised. They said they had no idea I was this far along, as I’d been so calm and collected over the evening. They thought I would be much more painful, would be swearing and upset when I was in active labor, so they didn’t expect this at all.  They got me to the hospital bed and only 20 incredible minutes later after an extremely intense second stage of labor, our baby girl catapulted into the world.  She made a short cry right away, latched on to breast feed within minutes and was just the perfect picture of a healthy baby. I wasn’t aware of much of what was happening in the room at this time, but my husband heard the care providers rounding to each other at the 7am shift change. He said they were all surprised and impressed that I did this without an epidural or any other pain medication, that it was my first baby and that it all happened so quickly and smoothly.  

I credit my mental and physical preparation, the Hypnobirthing techniques we practiced and used during labor, and my wonderful and supportive husband for our successful, calm, quick and almost completely natural birth!

Ellis

Despite me walking around 3-4 cm dilated for weeks, baby was late and I was scheduled for an induction. We welcomed our son, Ellis, into the world on August 12, going into labor naturally mere hours before my scheduled induction – woohoo! He really knew how to make a grand entrance and keep the suspense going until the last possible minute. The birth was beautiful (even the nurses and midwife said so, haha!) and I was able to do it without any medication thanks to all the preparation from your class, my amazing husband/birth partner, and the soothing labor tub. A wonderful experience all around.