I want to share my natural birth story. I also want to give you a pre-warning: my plan change tremendously, but it is still a beautiful story to me.
I took hynobirthing classes in January through the Gold Coast Doulas in Grand Rapids, MI. At first my husband was not sure what I roped him into, but we both are very glad we did it. The way I describe hynobirthing to people is: A natural way to give birth using positive affirmations and meditation. It really worked for us to! Here is my story:
The Beginning: At around 7 pm on 3/21 my dear husband was trying to show me cat videos. At this point I had been going through practice surges (contractions) for almost a month. I was going through a surge and when it was complete he tried to get my attention to check out the video (he thought it was another practice surge). I bluntly told him I couldn’t focus on that right now. He got slightly upset with me, but I didn’t want to tell him that this surge felt a little different as I wasn’t certain it did, yet. Since I needed to relax and walk away from him, I decided to take my nightly bath. In the bathtub I could not relax. I felt like I just needed to keep moving, which is not at all like me so I was not in there but 20 minutes. I felt no surges in the bath. At the time none of this seemed different even though it is pretty clear as I look back now.
I got out of the bath and told my husband that I don’t want to get his hopes up, but I might be in labor and that is why I couldn’t focus on the videos. (We got a good laugh out of this later, but I was pretty upset at how selfish he was at the time.) I tried to go to bed but again couldn’t relax enough to fall asleep. My dear husband went to bed soon after and since I didn’t want to keep him awake I went upstairs to my quilt room to watch some t.v. This is when I finally decided to count how far apart the surges were. They varied between 4 mins and 6 mins. I was a little confused because the doctors always said to head into the hospital when there were at about 4 minutes apart. No one ever mentioned they would still vary in length slightly. Therefore I called the doctor-on-call and told him how far apart they were. He laughed with me when I told him I wasn’t sure if these were real surges or not. He told me “Stop overthinking it and go in to the hospital.” Boy, I had never met him but he sure had me nailed!
At this point it was 12:30 pm. I woke up my husband, we finished packing the bags and headed into the hospital. I kept having to tell him to slow down as this was not urgent. He was a little panicky and wanted to get me in as quick as possible. I reminded him we have hours before this baby comes.
First hours at the hospital: I chose to have a hospital birth for several reasons. 1) I didn’t have the patience to figure out our insurance with a home birth and a midwife 2) If anything did happen to go wrong, the nearest hospital to deliver babies was 30 minutes away. 3) The hospital I chose, Holland Hospital, seemed to be a pretty good at handling natural births (and this turned out to be true).
When I arrived at the hospital and settled into the room they asked to check me to see where I was. I allowed this as I wanted to gauge it. I was admitted at just over 4 cm at about 1:00 am. I did allow them to check me several other times and I was progressing at just over 1 cm an hour. I was ecstatic about this for the first pregnancy! This meant that by 6:30-7:00 am I would be at 10 cm!
I want to start by explaining how 4 cm to 9 cm went for me. I started by getting into all my cute hospital garb I brought (this quickly got discarded as it was distracting me because I was worried about getting blood on any clothing). The time just flew past! I hardly noticed anything, except when the nurse was in the room every hour to check my babies heartbeat and my contractions with the monitor. My husband told me that I acted completely different when she was trying to monitor me versus when I was not being messed with and I believe it. When she was not there the time flew, during a surge all I remember is my husband’s voice talking me through it (HE WAS AMAZING!!!!!), there was no pain just a vibration of sorts. I moaned my way through the ones at the end which was a huge help as it allowed a release for the energy that was created by the surge. In-between the surges I swear I fell asleep! I could not even tell you how far apart the surges were as it felt like I had fallen asleep forever! I remember holding my husbands hand and apologizing for tightening on his hand too hard. He laughed at me and told me I was barely tightening at all. I couldn’t listen to the Rainbow Relaxation by Marie Mongan (which I had listened to nightly prior to this) as it just did not feel right. Instead I listened to “Relaxing Music for Stress Relief. Soothing Music for Meditation, Healing Therapy, Sleep, Spa” from YouTube. (Later my husband had told me he was so sick of it the third time through. I barely even realized we went though it once and it is 3 hours long). I decided to save this as a backup months prior as it was putting me to sleep when I was trying to do work. It ended up being perfect.
Interesting fact: I knew a surge was coming on because I would start shivering before it started. I could also tell my husband how powerful the surge was going to be based on how much energy the shivering took on. This helped him to help me.
A slight hiccup: Something to keep in mind with a birthing plan is sometimes things do not go as planned, but I am writing this because I want everyone to know that it can still go very well and you can still remain in the right state of mind with the proper support. I will say that next time I would probably hire a doula as my husband was worn out before I was. As long as he was talking me through the surges and I had the music to keep me in an almost hypnotic state then I was good.
My body was trying to tell me that something was not quite right. I had attained 9 cm sometime around 6:30 am and was still at 9 cm around 9:30 am. Sometime near this time I allowed my doctor to check me and see why. My little man was facing sideways. The only discomfort I had was in my back. Later I found out this was a sign of him not facing the right way. My doctor gave me a list of positions to try to get him to turn. I tried sitting on a ball in the shower with hot water going down my back, sitting on the toilet, laying on either side on the bed with a peanut ball between my legs and twisted slightly. After three more hours my doctor checked me again and said he had turned (the wrong direction) and I was still at 9 cm. At this point they asked me to leave the heart rate monitor on as it wasn’t looking completely normal. This last 3 hours was much more difficult (though I would not have changed a thing). Again, it was mostly because I was constantly being interrupted with the staff checking on me and my husband was no longer talking me through the surges as he was worried and had lost his focus and energy (he didn’t realize how much this was actually helping me at the time and felt powerless). Also, some of the positions I was asked to try gave the surges more energy instead of less.
At this point my doctor gave me some choices of what we could do. She would tell me why she thought it was important to change up our plan based on science and our situation (e.g. my babies heart rate, how he needed more oxygen, etc). Due to this I still had options and control over what happened, but also had the facts on our current status. At no point did I feel pressured into a choice or like I had failed.
I decided that the best choice was to listen to my doctor and get an epidural. The reasons were: 1) I was not progressing and my baby was still at station -3; 2) he was facing my back and no positions were turning him to face forward therefore she was suggesting manually turning him 3) If things continued on this route an epidural would be helpful if I did happen to need a c-section.
This was the only moment that I remember was very difficult. Having them try to give me an epidural and put in an IV while I was having very consistent 9 cm surges was not easy, but I would do this all over again given a choice. I do not remember the feel of the surges other the pressure in my back (and I am only 3 weeks out from it). I just remember wanting the pressure on my back to stop (Note: I have been told this pressure is not normal and was only there because he was facing the wrong direction). I will mention that the worst of it only felt like it occurred for 10 minutes. I really do not know how long it took, but I do know it took two tries for the epidural and three tries for the IV, but again I would not change a thing! I had choices and felt like a superhero. This is why I mentioned I would want a doula or someone to trade out with my husband if he got tired. For him, the time did not go as quick as it did for me. I really believe it actually took him more effort than it did me to go through the birthing. If I had someone to talk me through the last bit of it I truly believe it would have been as easy as the first 6 hours at the hospital.
The epidural was odd. It felt like my legs were someone else’s legs and I am very glad I did not get one until I had to. I could still feel the surges, but it felt like they were occurring to someone else. My doctor turned my little man and I progressed to 10 cm, but he still wouldn’t move down. We tried 3 more hours of positions and pushing, but he just did not want to move. I like to joke that he is way too laid back. He decided it was too much work and enjoyed the home he already had. My doctor gave me more choices after the three more hours of trying. My husband took a very good picture of all the women (doctors and nurses) trying to figure out what all the options we had . The decision was still mine in the end and given the facts of how my little man was I decided that the best choice was to have a c-section as I wanted my little man to be safe. On the way to the O.R. he released the his first poop (meconium), which was a another sign that I made the right decision. I truly believe that because I was so calm and had been in a meditative state of mind for so long that I could calmly watch my own c-section (in the refrigerator reflection) and they could barely get my little man to cry when he was born. He was so calm! I actually had to ask them if he was okay because he was so quite. They told me he was more than okay.
Luca Anotnio was born at 2:57 pm on March 22, 2019. He has been an amazing baby and I really believe a lot of it has to do with all the mediation I did while he was in my womb and how calm my labor was.
I wanted to share my experience because I want women to know what a labor is really like. (I never realized how movies and tv shows birth until afterward.) I also wanted to share how an imperfect story can still be perfect. I did not share the details to scare anyone, but more to share that even when things do not go as planned it can be an amazing experience. I would not have changed a thing and if I do not have another child, it will not be because of my birthing experience. The only thing I would change is to have someone to be a backup support person to assist my husband. Other than that I really LOVED my experience.