Welcome Oliver Thomas
I think of my birth, I smile and am PROUD, happy and yes satisfied. Some say “but your birth didn't go as you planned – Hypnobabies didn't work!” and this couldn't be farther from the truth.
Let me start by saying that I ENJOYED my birth! Yes, you read that right – I am already looking forward to doing it all again! Most people reading this (especially if you're familiar with Hypnobabies) are likely thinking “ok, so you had one of those really easy looking births that I've seen on YouTube” and the answer is no actually (although I've seen several of these first hand as a doula and have heard from many students who have had those births!! Read some of their stories here).
But me, no. My birth story in fact is one that has people looking at me with wide eyes and even in disbelief at times when I tell the story. It is a birth story that many people would qualify as “difficult”, but not me. I think of my birth, I smile and am PROUD, happy and yes satisfied. Some say “but your birth didn't go as you planned – Hypnobabies didn't work!” and this couldn't be farther from the truth. You see Hypnobabies doesn't promise any particular birthing OUTCOME (ever). What women do gain is a solid set of tools and education that gives them a pretty darn good chance of having the birth of their dreams but that also empowers them if things change. Hypnobabies allows a woman to feel great about her birth, whatever the outcome.
So here is my story:
Firstly, I did take a full 6 week series with another local Hypnobabies Instructor. I was often asked about this since I basically did teach the classes entirely from memory given that I had taught the course over 100 times (literally) by the time I was pregnant myself. I was so excited to actually BE a hypno-mom, to do all the practice myself, etc. My personality does better in a live class setting and I was excited to see how another Instructor shared the information but the main reason we took a full live 6 week class (rather than me doing the home study) is because of the birth partner involvement.
My husband, like many newly expecting dads, really didn't know much about birth which was especially intimidating for him given this was MY world. One of my favourite things about being a Hypnobabies Instructor is watching the couples go through the program – watching the dads' confidence grow and the couples becoming a team as they prepare to welcome their babies. I think it's so special and LOVE that the babies are getting this attention from both parents! Personally, I especially loved watching this growth of confidence in my own husband. It was so nice connecting with him and feeling my own confidence *IN HIM* grow as well. I was super excited to really feel like he was fully on board and really well-prepared to support me in welcoming our son.
Looking back now, I can see that there were signs that things were about to start...of course I had no idea of this at the time! It was actually 4 days before my Guess Date of May 30 and being my first baby, I had every expectation that I would be waiting at least 1 week to 10 days into June (if not longer) before I met my little prince. So much so that when people asked me when I was 'due', I'm vaguely say "June" or even "mid-June".
My water broke on May 27 around 9:30pm. A couple of days before this, my dog Maggie, had become especially protective and clingy to me. A bit of background about Maggie – she was a stray we adopted when she was nearly a year old and had come into the shelter with a litter of puppies. Having been a mom herself, we think she had some instinctual warning that the baby was coming. She just chose to stay really close to me (even when it came to breakfast which for anyone who has ever adopted a stray, you know that mealtime is the BEST time ever!). My husband and I joked about whether she knew something was going on but I still didn't believe it could even be possible: I didn't want to have any expectations of him arriving earlier than when he was ready...I had been saying “if he comes before mid-June, we'll be ready and just happy to meet him” but I never believed it would actually happen!
The day before my water broke, I also spent the afternoon getting my office organized and a few other small things sorted. I also joked about this – how I might have been “nesting” but again, didn't really believe it!
It wasn't even an hour after our company left when my water (dramatically) broke!
On May 27th, we had friends visiting for the day and actually had a BBQ with a few people over. The last of our friends left around 8:30pm and I told my husband that I was pretty tired so we went to bed to rest & it wasn't even an hour after our company left when my water (dramatically) broke! There was a lot of fluid so there was no mistaking what had happened. I was immediately excited and definitely shocked. I was also grateful that our company had all left since I didn't want anyone to know that my birthing time was happening when it was time – I wanted my team focused on supporting me and staying in our little “birthing bubble” rather than updating others, receiving calls/texts/etc.
I advised my doula and birth photographer in case they got a call in the middle of the night and then went to sleep. I woke up Thursday to nothing happening. During my pregnancy, I had debated testing for GBS (Group B Streptococcus) and in the end decided to test since I was confident in my decision regarding the results and I have to say that I was very grateful that we did test since it had come back negative so there was really no pressure whatsoever to 'get things started' and we just took it easy, resting and waiting for my birthing time to start.
Friday came and one of my midwives came by in the morning to listen to baby and also to do some acupuncture. Finally, that afternoon my pressure waves started! I was taking a nap and was woken up by some mild waves; I remember being SO excited! I texted hubs to let him know what was going on and just continued resting, using my lightswitch and listening to my Hypnobabies tracks for a little longer.
My waves continued into the evening, through the night and then into the next day but every time I thought they were really picking up (they'd progress to 3-4 minutes minutes apart, sometimes even every 2 minutes) and I thought we'd be getting ready to call our team, they would space out again. This is actually a very typical pattern for a posterior baby (not an ideal position).
As a side note, it is funny to me now that having a posterior baby was actually the only fear that I had with regards to my birthing. I was excited about every single other thing about pregnancy and birthing but as a doula had attended some long or more challenging birthings with posterior babies. I was exceptionally diligent throughout my pregnancy with my daily Spinning Babies exercises, rest smart positions, leaning forward constantly, never crossing my legs, etc & I even got the “Turn Your Posterior Baby" hypnosis session as a precaution ... and he STILL ended up in a posterior position! In hindsight, I can look back and see how I actually had been focusing (unconsciously) on what I DIDN'T want! For anyone reading this who has taken a Hypnobabies class, we talk about this and how it's much more powerful to focus on what you DO want. A lesson I knew but obviously still had to learn for myself! :)
Saturday came and went with the same pattern – the waves would pick up and then space out and then pick up again. I was still in good spirits and very comfortable. I rested whenever the waves spaced out and continued using my tools with every wave. I must have listened to every track at least a dozen or more times! I was still happy to wait as long as was needed but was definitely starting to feel ready to meet this baby and also was starting to get pretty tired considering I hadn't really slept since Thursday night.
It was also becoming really difficult keeping the fact that I was in my birthing time from everyone – I had decided before I was even pregnant that I didn't want to spend any time worrying about making sure that other people were being updated on my 'progress'. I have been to births as a doula where the partner has to keep leaving mom (physically or even just emotionally tuning out) to give updates or make phone calls, etc and it can be really distracting. Also since all of our immediate family lives literally thousands of miles away, I knew this would affect me (worrying about them being updated) & might be tough on them so I asked my team to keep the event just to ourselves.
So on Saturday, we decided to see what the night brought and make Sunday the “let's get things going” day. After another sleepless night, I was ready & determined to help this baby make his entrance!
Around 7am on Sunday May 31, I took my first dose of the “induction cocktail” (consisting of fruit juice, almond butter, a tsp of castor oil and lemon verbena). We went for a walk (trying to hide my tired state and the fact that I was having waves from all the neighbours we ran into on the way – not an easy task!), then I proceeded to spend time on my hands and knees, leaning forward, lunging (between AND during the waves), climbing stairs, doing the miles circuit, lots of rebozo-ing with my doula, acupressure, abdominal lift and tucks, etc all in an attempt to get the baby to turn: I knew his position was what was holding things up.
Once things really started ramping up (with really consistent and even stronger waves), I remember bursting into tears of joy...yes, you read that right! I was so thankful and happy that the waves weren't petering off again. My team was assembled and we continued doing everything we could to keep things moving and still encourage the baby to turn. Several hours later (later in the day), my midwife did an internal exam (one of very few) and surprisingly found a bulging bag of waters...you might remember that this journey began with a dramatic gush of my waters. Fluid even continued to leak throughout the days that followed so we were all surprised at this discovery. I agreed to have this bag broken in an attempt to speed things up since it was day 4 of the process! As I already mentioned, I was ready to do everything I could to encourage this baby!
The next several hours as the day became night all seemed to melt together but I distinctly remember being surrounded by my wonderful birth team. I am so glad that we chose to have a birth photographer present to document the process as she caught some pretty amazing moments and it really brings me back to the love and support I felt with everyone surrounding me...even my dogs were close by!
It was sometime before midnight as we were moving into day 5, after about 60 hours of pressure waves and going into my 3rd sleepless night that we had a really frank talk with our midwife. I was progressing (yay) albeit very slowly, and I was still doing really well with the waves, so she was happy to continue supporting me at home: the big considerations at this point were that my baby was still posterior, my bag of waters had been broken for several days and I was exhausted. My waves were powerful and consistent and I distinctly remember thinking that I just needed a rest (I'm pretty sure I even said those words). I was still breathing through the waves, vocalizing deeply and rocking my way through each one but the exhaustion was definitely a growing concern.
We then made the really tough decision to transfer to the hospital. This was tough for me because I really wanted to have my baby at home. The reality though was that my birthing time could have easily continued for several more hours (or even another day) without help & looking back now I honestly don't think that I would have had the energy to push my 9lb 4oz baby out without some rest. I also wanted to continue to enjoy my birthing time and wanted to be able to look back on it as a positive, empowering experience and the exhaustion was simply changing the game for me at this point.
one of the reasons why I LOVE Hypnobabies so much is that the program is super flexible and allows women to experience any kind of birth which can be a successful Hypnobabies birth.
So off we went and I got an epidural so that I could rest while getting oxytocin (a drug form of the body's natural hormone to really ramp up the waves) to help the baby turn and move down. On one hand, I never would have wanted to be the Hypnobabies Instructor who “got an epidural” but one of the reasons why I LOVE Hypnobabies so much is that the program is super flexible and allows women to experience any kind of birth which can be a successful Hypnobabies birth. We talk in class about the benefits of interventions when used as tools (rather than just because they are routine) and I know without a doubt that having the rest and getting my baby lined up allowed me to go on and have an empowering vaginal birth.
I am actually surprised at how calm and accepting I was and still am about the change in my plans (thank you Hypnobabies!!). Going to the hospital certainly wasn't how I envisioned my birth but I also always said that I'd be as flexible as was needed. I arrived at the hospital with my iPod and headset ready to go and actually just listened to a number of different Hypnobabies tracks the entire time I was resting/sleeping (mostly a loop of the Fear Clearing, Deepening, Special Place and Turn Posterior Baby). The visualizations made me super grateful to be so connected with my baby and helped me be open and trust that I was making good decisions. I never once doubted.
By early morning I was fully dilated and my baby had turned (halleluiah!). We then patiently waited another few hours for my body to bring my baby even lower while my team reassembled. The energy was super positive, excited & relaxed. I felt determined and ready to meet my baby. While we were waiting, we also let the epidural wear off so that I could feel my pushing efforts. THIS was such an amazing part of my birth.
I remember distinctly when I started feeling Ollie moving down and was amazed that it really did just feel like lots of pressure! Everyone laughs now about how I spent the entire FOUR HOURS of pushing (after several days in the process) actually smiling!! I loved knowing that my baby was moving down and (finally) coming to me.
I started pushing just before 10am and all 9lbs 4oz of my gorgeous baby (and his 38cm head!) was born into his dady's hands just after 2pm. I had no idea I had pushed for that long. The umbilical cord was left completely alone until after the placenta was born as we had asked (even when babe needed a bit of help after he was born – everything was done calmly on my chest).
My midwife and the nurse were amazing – supportive, relaxed and just encouraging me in the right way. The rest of my team of course was fantastic too. There is one really amazing photograph (a bit too graphic for me to feel comfortable sharing publicly!) where Ollie's head is actually out and you can see this big grin on my face in the background.
I think that sums up my birthing experience really – it was an EPIC journey with a complete change in plans but my Hypnobabies tools still served me through to the end with a big smile on my face!