By the time we were expecting our third baby, I was beginning to be curious about natural birth. Pregnancy and birth came up along with the other "mommy" topics during play dates and girls' nights. When women shared about their natural births, it wasn't what I had observed in the hospital with Mom screaming and out of control. They spoke of it being empowering and helping them to be closer as a couple. They spoke of the difference they felt in their recoveries and how their babies responded differently. Most of these women became or were close friends---people I knew well and trusted. They weren't the "weird" "crunchy Mama's" I had stereotyped as supporting natural birth.
I was curious. I could not relate to what they shared. I did not even understand how what they spoke of was possible (I did not have the personal experience or seen anything like that during my L&D nursing training). It was enough to draw me in and I think part of it was also setting out to "prove them wrong." I seriously began considering natural birth. As I discussed it with my husband, he supported the idea. We didn't yet know the details of what method we would use or how we would do it, we were just open to strongly considering it.
We were crushed...overwhelmed...scared...
We are religious and we felt we were doing our best to have faith. We prayed for His will to be done whether that meant no baby, or a NICU baby, etc. I even sewed a burial outfit for him because the Dr.'s were that sure. At 20 weeks, we began meeting with a Perinatologist. The best outcome he gave us was for the placenta to hold out until 32 weeks. Either our baby would stop/slow his growth or the rest/more of the placenta would pull away.
We continued to pray and week after week went by. We passed 22 weeks, then 24, 28...by this time we had other bad news with our baby. We were having appointments every other week from 20-26 weeks then weekly from 26 weeks on. We were getting ready for YET another Dr. appointment. For several weeks I had been feeling like we needed to change things, but I had been unsure of how to articulate that to my husband. I knew what I felt, but didn't know how to tell him. We both were so weighed down and I shared with him that I felt like we needed to have more faith. He looked completely baffled as he responded,
"Katy, how can we possibly have more faith? We have completely turned this over to God!"
My response was, "I guess it's just a different kind of faith then. We need to be more positive...we...need to ask for a miracle."
I blurted out the words. THERE. I had said it. You see, at the time, I didn't understand completely the way God works. I didn't want to "step on His toes," so to speak. I felt like for me to ask for a healthy baby and pregnancy was like ordering at a fast food restaurant. I couldn't just "roll down my window" and "ORDER" a full, term healthy pregnancy and baby...could I?
I had hit a point where I KNEW this is what God wanted to give me and my family. He was waiting for me to ask for it. Under our Bible Dictionary for Prayer, it says:
"...The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."
This pregnancy taught me about miracles. I am learning to align my will with God's then ask fearlessly. When I do I am always amazed at what He is able to align vs when I try to do things in my own strength and will.
A healthy and full-term baby was a blessing He was waiting for me to ask for. That day in our walk-in closet, my husband and I took a few minutes before leaving for the Dr. appointment to make each other a promise. We were going to be so positive. We were going to hold onto whatever positive news we received and really focus on that.
We started doing just that around 30 weeks. We changed our prayers and asked fearlessly for a miracle. At this point I had no idea HOW He would perform a miracle, because I understood what "text book" said about placental abruptions...I only knew He would.
Around 32 weeks, we had our next (and last) appointment with the perinatologist. He could not believe what he was seeing. Our baby was THRIVING. We could see the placenta was not attached; however, the bleeding had finally stopped. The ultrasound tech kept zooming into what appeared to be pockets of bleeding, but kept finding over and over again that it was actually blood vessels. I had grown huge, juicy blood vessels to completely compensate by using the portion of the placenta still functioning. These giant vessels were shunting blood flow at a quick enough rate to keep up with my baby's demands. I was amazed! At this point, I was released from bedrest and sent back to the care of my OBGYN for the remainder of the pregnancy.
I felt like I had been given a huge gift. Not only were me and my 2 other little ones able to enjoy a fun summer, but also the options to again consider natural birth had been opened again. Basically up to this point, I had been planning on a c-section because of our circumstances.
I spoke with my Dr. at my next appointment about a natural birth. He said he couldn't promise anything, but as long as I felt good, the Dr. felt good, and our baby looked good, we would be able to pursue it. At this this point I began frantically looking for a method. I pulled up Lamaze, Bradley, Hypno-birthing. I was not convinced this would be deep enough for me. Having had two babies previously, I was not naive as to the intensity birthing time can be. I remembered a friend had mentioned using Hypnobabies during her birthing time. I pulled it up on the internet and laughed out loud. How could it possibly be that easy? Still, left without options, I contacted her. I trusted her. I knew her well and she was very human and even cute and "normal." :)
She brought her materials over and I immediately dove into them. At first I wasn't sure, but after about 2 weeks I hit a point where I knew it would work for me as long as I could avoid Pitocin. In the meantime, our baby was doing very well and I felt at peace and was confident he was healthy and strong.
I do not recommend the following, especially now as an instructor and understanding the course better. I did the course in about 4 weeks. HOWEVER, I spent on average between 1-2 hours per day in my preparation.
|Just a few days before he arrived! I forgot how big my belly was in my joy of being free from bedrest! :)|
As I discussed my desires of avoiding an induction with my OBGYN, he was as accommodating as he could be. As we had our 37 week appointment: baby looked good, I felt good about continuing pregnancy, my Dr. was comfortable to continue the pregnancy. At our 38 week appointment: same as above. A few days before our 39 week appointment, I felt a change. I knew it was time for our little one to come. It didn't feel emergent, just time. As we had our ultrasound that week, it was confirmed that our baby was starting to show signs of stress, again, not to the point that it was emergent, but enough that we needed to bring him into our arms. As they gave me the choice between 2 dates for the induction, I felt very strongly to take the date in just a few days rather than waiting about a week.
|This is what my belly looked like for my last ultrasound. We kept a straight face and did a really good job acting "ordinary," than my belly smiled back at the staff when I bared my belly for the ultrasound and NST. It was so FUNNY!|
I had discussed my birth plan previously with my Dr. and specifically requested to break my water to see if that would kick start birthing time (avoiding piticoin). The night before, I phoned the hospital per protocol and was told that there was still room for me in the morning and to call again early the next morning. I called the next morning and was told to come in at a certain time. I received a call back shortly later and was told my induction had been put on hold due to other moms who came in since we last had spoken. This was truly a tender mercy! Because of the delay, by the time I was nearing the end of my birthing time, it was early in the morning and I was the only Mom left in the unit. That left for very quiet and undisturbed birthing time.
We found out a few hours later that there had been a mistake when my chart was faxed to the hospital. It appeared I was scheduled for an elective induction. All that it had for my history was "history of placenta PREVIA." This is when the placenta covers the cervix. If it was a history, it sounded like it had been resolved, otherwise I would not have been able to birth vaginally. When we discovered this, they phoned our Dr. and he confirmed we did indeed need to have a bed as soon as one became available.
|Last Belly shot|
We were able to spend the morning playing with our little ones and then the call finally came after lunch. We started out by breaking the water. Immediately, I began having pressure waves (what we call "contractions" in Hypnobabies). It was such an amazing feeling to feel a pressure wave come on, then it felt like my belly was raising to the ceiling. NO PAIN, just stretching, pressure, pulling sensations. I was actually ENJOYING the pressure waves and felt so excited that it was just as easy as I had planned for it to be.
The pressure waves started to build and come closer together and become more intense...then they fizzled and stopped. Later, I had another gush of fluid and they started coming again...building again...then fizzled again...then another gush of fluid...etc. It went on like this for about 8 hours.
During this time, I was completely relaxed and entirely comfortable. It gave me good "practice" and really built my confidence in being able to handle my pressure waves with ease. At this point, I recognized I still wasn't in my birthing time. As I considered my options, I felt like Pitocin actually would be a good choice. I knew it would kick start things and by this time, I KNEW I could handle pressure waves on Pitocin. As I discussed it with my Dr. he was open either way to continue and monitor for signs of infection with the water being broken or to start the Pitocin.
We started the Pitocin and we really "hunkered" down in our room. We dimmed the lights, turned on our music out loud, and I sat on the birthing ball/leaning over the bed with pillows to support me with my disc-man and Hypnobabies CD's. The pressure waves began coming regularly now. After about 45 min or so after they started coming, my husband left the room to get something. When he came back he said, "Dr. M. wants to know if you are feeling that."
"I've had a few decent ones, but nothing really major," I replied.
"They are watching your strip on the monitor at the nurse's station and he says they are really coming strong and close together."
That was a good feeling to realize how relaxed and in control I was.
My nurse would come in to check on me frequently. She was watching my strip at the nurse's station too and would poke her head in solemnly, expecting me to be very uncomfortable because of what she was seeing on the strip. Imagine her utter surprise when I was talking and even cracking jokes between pressure waves. She made a comment that she had seen hypnobirth (NOT Hypnobabies) before, but she had never seen anything like this (because Hypnobabies IS VERY DIFFERENT).:) She told of an experience with a hypnobirthing mom where she accidentally dropped her clipboard in the room. The clank had startled the mom out of her hypnotic state and she was unable to get back deep.
She was amazed that I could move around and respond, yet still go very easily and deeply into hypnosis when I had a pressure wave. Finally, after popping in on my several times and me repeatedly rating my p*&#% at 0, she asked to do a vaginal check. I regret allowing for as many vaginal checks as I did and will not choose that with future births.
To her astonishment, I was 7 cm, nearly completely effaced and the baby was descending. The Dr. had asked to be informed when I was 7, so she phone him and set up the room. His instructions were to check me again in 30 min if something didn't happen sooner than that. We phone my mom to come up. We had just called her a few hours ago and let her know I was still only the 3 cm (before starting Pitocin) I had been when I was admitted and that we would call her if anything happened. She was completely surprised too because my previous babies even on Pitocin had taken a long time to progress to 6 cm.
The next 30 min were probably my favorite of the birthing time. I was still on the birthing ball; however, I had turned around. My husband was sitting behind me on the bed. He would rock me gently between pressure waves and whisper encouraging words into my ears. When a pressure wave was starting, I would signal by squeezing his hands and he would help me to fully sit on the ball. I would bounce during the pressure wave, then ease back into his arms for praise for staying so relaxed. The nurse came back in after 30 min. I was still only 7 cm; however, the baby had completely dropped and I was completely effaced.
The next 30 min were the most intense of my birthing time. I began having such powerful pressure waves not only in my tummy, but also extending across my lower back. I remember telling my husband over and over it didn't hurt, it just was so intense. I needed counterpressure and neither my husband nor the nurse were able to get it in just the right spot to alleviate the discomfort. Even with that being said, it was still just pressure, tightening, powerful. No p*&$%. Towards the end of the 30 min, I told my husband I was really feeling pressure and asked how long it had been. I asked for him to call the nurse to come check me.
This is where the power of words and the BOP really showed me how important they are! We are not naturally impervious to negativity, so we much be vigilant and guard against negative beliefs, message, images, and stories! When I shared with my Mom about wanting to try a natural birth, the first thing she said was a story from when she was in her birthing time with ME. She said I turned posterior at 7 cm and she was stuck for 24 hours.
The nurse checked me (again...regret being checked and rechecked!) and said "you are only an 8." IMMEDIATELY this story from my mom came to my mind and I did the math as "logically" I was at this point during birthing time. If I was only 8 cm, that means 2 more cm plus pushing left. It took me an hour to go from 7 to 8, that means 2 more hours like this then still having to push! I began to feel frantic. I still had no p*&$ at this point, but great fear. I knew I couldn't relax with these strong and powerful pressure waves for TWO HOURS! Now looking back, I was in transformation (as we call "transition" in Hypnobabies).
At this point, I yanked my earbuds out and tossed them on the bed. I sternly turned to my nurse and said, "I want something and I want it now...and I'm not just saying it." Silently, she left the room to phone the Dr.
About 30 seconds after she left the room, I literally felt my baby slide into my birth canal. I began saying over and over, "he is coming out right now" to my husband and Mom. My mom looked at my perineum and said, "he isn't yet. You are ok." I continued to tell them he was coming out. My body had completely taken over and it was like a reflex. I was doing nothing to push, yet he was sliding down my birth canal. Finally my husband saved my sanity and said, "we hear you, Katy. We don't see him yet, but we believe you."
The nurse came into the room after the next pressure wave like this and to my "He's coming out right now,"
she responded with, "it's okay, here is your Fentanyl."
By this point, my Mom said to the nurse, "That perineum is bulging. You might want to check her before you administer that."
Indeed I was complete and my baby was near crowning. What encouraging news! (But not a surprise to me because I could feel him coming down). :) If I had only known I was literally one pressure wave away from beginning pushing stage, or had avoided frequent vaginal exams, or used fear clearing to get rid of what my Mom had said, I could have kept it together...I accept that this was the birthing time I needed and recognize it was very revolutionary for where I was as far as beliefs at that point. It was so "out there" for me and my beliefs and thinking, I probably couldn't have handled more change that fast back then.
The lights were suddenly on, my room became the hub of activity. Just a few minutes ago, my nurse had phoned the Dr. asking for medication and now notified him to...never mind, just get here as quick as you can. I was instructed "not to push" and I informed them I wasn't...my baby was just coming out by himself. It was the most incredible and powerful feeling. A feeling I doubt I will forget for the rest of my life!
The room by this point was filled with the other nurses from the floor who had been called to the room frantically to help my nurse who had thought she had more time before pushing stage. The Dr. arrived and a nurse began coaching me in the "purple pushing" as we call it in Hypnobabies. You know, the kind where you take a deep breath and bare down while someone counts to 10, then take a quick breath and bare down again over and over during the pressure wave. Pushing was completely new to me. Although I had 2 babies previously, I had not felt a thing. At this point, I wasn't quite sure what I needed and was no longer deeply in hypnosis.
It was funny to see on the video recording how I had calmly told the nurse to QUIT COUNTING. :) I told her that I needed to push my way. She told me I needed to push (which was true; however, I needed to do it in a way that felt right to me). I calmly said, "My goal is to have an intact perineum." She said, "I want that for you too, but you have to push." After that point, I just tuned her out. :)
Now, I am more confident to try the pushing phase next time around. I understand that "mother directed pushing," as we called it in Hypnobabies is just that: MOTHER directed. Mom can allow the baby to "labor down" (nursing) or "breathe her baby down" (Hypnoabies) and once baby is crowing Mom knows what feels best and how to push her baby out.
I am grateful that I had this baby naturally for many reasons. The pushing phase would have been different if I had been unable to feel. I could tell that I needed to push him hard enough to bring him into my arms, but ease him gently enough to keep my perineum intact. Feeling every sensation really helped to guide this process.
After about 20 minutes getting the hang of things, our beautiful baby was laid freshly on my chest. He was very alert and very calm. He received a little oxygen, but was otherwise healthy and perfect in every way. We were completely in awe by our beautiful baby and BOTH had a sense of empowerment and accomplishment that we had brought him into our arms together rather than me being the only participant during birthing time.
When the placenta was delivered, we realized upon examination that it had grown an extra lobe, again compensating for the earlier pulling away. It also only had about a 3 inch square that was still functioning. The rest had completely calcified off and was hard.
My Mom has worked L&D nursing for over 35 years. She later said she had never seen a placenta that looked that bad with the baby born still alive.
Our baby was 8 lbs 9 oz.
|A big fear had been that the placenta would not be able to sustain him adequately...LOOK AT THOSE FAT ROLLS! :)|
We truly received our miracle!
We not only were blessed with a full-term and healthy baby, but also the best birthing time we could have hoped for. We recognize that because of my pregnancy, I was limited in my choices during birthing time (more in a later post), yet we were very please with the outcome.
Our baby was born at 1:27 am. By the time we took care of everything and were transferred to the recovery side, it was about 3:30-4 am. We were "sleeping" and my mind was racing with excitement. I would sit up and say to my husband..."that part when ___..." and he would say, "Go to sleep, Katy." "and then___..." "Go to sleep, Katy." "I could not believe___..." "Go to sleep, Katy!" :)
I seriously felt like I could hike Mt. Everest after that!