I had been having sporadic cramping in my lower belly for a couple of days. At 38 weeks + 4 days, I went for acupuncture because my doula said it could help move things along. During the session I felt a few cramping sensations in my lower belly, but they were very similar to Braxton-Hix so I didn’t think much of them.
That night, my body woke me up at 12:40am to clear my bowels. After that, I started to feel cramps which gradually resembled surges. This was how my previous labor started six year ago, so I took pillows into the baby’s room to let my husband sleep, and settled into what I assumed was early labor. I started by downloading a contraction timer app and did my best to sleep in between surges, which were showing to be about 10-15 minutes apart. This went on until about 3am when I emailed my doula to let her know what was happening. I then realized that if I was to use the hypnobirthing skills I had studied, I was going to have to get into a hypnosis state and stop timing contractions altogether. I had learned in class and in the book that the best thing I can do to move labor along is to completely and totally relax, and to trust that my body knew exactly what to do. I played the Rainbow Relaxation followed by Birthing Affirmations, without timing surges, just resting and relaxing as much as possible.
With surges, I remembered to take long slow inhales, up to 20 counts or as high as I could go. I completely lost track of time, and suddenly it was about 6:30am when I felt pressure in my bowels again. I went and sat on the toilet when a huge surge came over me and caused me to moan that I woke up my husband. He came into the bathroom and said, “So this is it?” I said, “I think so.” He went away for a minute to start getting ready, then came back saying, “Are you sure? Should I call out of work?” I told him, “Yes, today is the day. This feels like it did last time.”
I wanted to rest more at that point, so I told John to start timing my contractions and call my doula while I laid on the couch. At 7am I texted my doula to let her know today was the day and John would time surges and be in touch. After just a few minutes of resting on the couch, surges were starting to pick up a lot, so I thought it might be time to get in the bathtub, where I had pictured myself relaxing, hearing my Hypnobirthing recordings, and lighting candles. In the maybe 10 minutes while I bathed, John started running around the house packing our hospital bag, getting our 6-year-old (who had just woken up) ready for school, and texting with the doula. At 7:15am John told her she better head over, as I was asking for counter-pressure on my back and things seemed to be picking up. At an intense surge in the bathtub, I felt a gush of water come out of me. Immediately surges picked up in intensity and frequency. I got nervous because last time, my baby went into distress right after my water was manually broken, which led to my C-section. I got out of the bath because I had heard that after your water breaks, you shouldn’t stay in the bath too long because it could lead to infection. It was all could do to get out of the bath and collapse onto my hands and knees on the floor of the bedroom. Finally at almost 8am my doula arrived, and hearing the moans coming from my bedroom, came rushing in and started rubbing my lower back. She told me I was doing great and hooked up her TENS unit to my back to provide a little bit of pain relief. I kept focusing on long slow breaths. I used surge breathing the whole time, start to
finish. Claudia timed a couple of surges and, noting that they were just 2 minutes apart, she said we had to get to the hospital now.
We piled into the car and dropped my son off at his friend’s house about 8am, while I kneeled on the floor of the back seat and breathed through contractions. When we finally got there I burst out of the car and had my first surge on solid ground, instead of in a moving car. We slowly and carefully made our way up to the 6th floor, where I had 2 surges back-to-back in the elevator. Claudia helped me walk to the delivery room, where I was hooked up to fetal monitors and I was relieved to hear Baby’s heartbeat. My midwife came in and checked me, and she said I was “at an 8 or a 9.”
Surges continued strong, but I didn’t feel any need for pain relief until I was nearing transition. Then I started begging for an epidural but by that time my body was already pushing. Ursula checked me again and said I was at a 10, +2. She told me I needed to get the baby out NOW.
In my mind I knew that I should push on my hands and knees to make more space for the baby to get through, but my body had no more effort to give besides dealing with back-to-back surges, and could only lie inclined on my back. My doula reminded me to “breathe the baby down” and think of “J” breaths. On the next surge, with John and my doula holding my legs, and very little effort from me, my body pushed my baby out clean! I didn’t believe it was over until I saw him on my chest. He was purple, smaller than I had imagined, and covered in vernix. I couldn’t believe what I had done! I saw that I had a son, and cried with joy. I had never felt so accomplished in my life. I’m so grateful that everything seemed to have fallen into place. Thanks to Hypnobirthing, I knew how to handle the different stages of labor and I knew the trust that my body knew what to do. Thanks to my doula, I was able to stay as calm as possible for the trip from home to the hospital. Thanks to my midwife for not calling for a C-section the moment she saw Baby’s irregular heartbeat, and trusting that I would be able to get the baby out in time. Thanks to chiropractic care, the baby was in a good position.
I’m so happy to have been able to have a completely natural, instinctual, drug-free birth with my second son Wesley, despite being a VBAC and being locked into the hospital’s continuous fetal monitoring policy for VBAC patients. I feel so accomplished and I’m recovering quickly. He was 7 pounds 11
ounces at birth. His first few days have been joyful and relaxed, compared to my first son, with whom I spent the first few days of motherhood recovering physically and mentally from that traumatic surgery. We have no plans to have another child, but even this early in the parenting game, I fantasize about having another baby because I wish I could relive that moment again. I’m so thankful to have his amazing, empowering birth etched in my memory forever.
Thanks Rubina for leading your course and educating us on childbirth! I couldn’t be happier with the way it all turned out. It was a very fast and powerful birth but I’m so proud of myself for doing it and finishing the job naturally. Thanks for your help in preparing!