It all started by watching a video by Ricky Lake titled, "The Business of Being Born". The things we learned from that video disgusted and angered us. I immediately started researching natural childbirth and found the waterbirth method, among other things.
With my first child, we read the Hypnobirthing book, but never attended the classes. This time, we attended the Hypnobirthing classes at Woodwinds in May 2011, which gave us 2 months to practice the breathing & relaxation techniques used. Reading the book alone did not equip us the way the classes did. We learned soooo much & got to practice the methods with a trained instructor, as well as build our confidence that we could do this!
We switched from my OBGYN to a midwife clinic, and switched from a hospital 15 minutes from us, to a birthing center 30 minutes from us that did waterbirths. A side note about the location: I was more than willing to travel a longer distance in order to be at a hospital/birth center that was well-known for having great service. I would recommend Woodwinds 100x's over. Every staff person we encountered was respectful of us, our birth plan & what we wanted in the moment. You could tell that each truly cared and that they all loved their jobs. It was beautiful & left us with an amazing experience!
It was not an easy road & took a lot of work to stay with the plan we wanted. We had to maneuver through lots of road blocks along the way.
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 17 weeks pregnant & had to fight every single day to maintain it with my diet & exercise. I was told that if I ever needed to be put on medication for the diabetes, that I would no longer be eligible to be seen at the midwife clinic, which would also force me to forfeit my waterbirth. Many times this was threatened, up until the last week of my pregnancy. But, I started seeing a Kinesiologist and a Diabetes Educator and adjusting my diet until eventually I had it down to a complete science. You can read the complete program that I developed for myself here: http://foodie4healing.blogspot.com/2011/06/10-tips-to-control-gestational-diabetes.html. In the end, I won & never needed to be put on medication (despite high numbers here & there. Praise God!) :)
The week before I went into labor, I was dilated 3cm & 50% effaced. Baby's head was not engaged (meaning, she was floating, still). As my due date neared, there was talk of inducing me at 41 weeks. I fought and fought until I got the midwife to agree that if we made it to 41 weeks, they would just continue to monitor me closer and would not induce me before 42 weeks.
Again, our birth plan was threatened when exactly 1 week before I went into labor, I was diagnosed with Laryngitis. A few days later, we ended up in the ER after I started coughing up green mucus. I was sent home with a prescription for an antibiotic, since the Laryngitis turned into full fledged Bronchitis. I was so mad. I felt horrible and couldn't sleep without taking cough syrup laced with Codeine and even then I still couldn't sleep. How was I going to have a natural waterbirth using Hypnobirthing techniques if I couldn't breathe?! My best friend assured me that my body could handle it, if I went into labor.
A side note about support people: I intentionally chose who was going to be in the room with me this time. My husband, of course, was a key role. We also decided to have my best friend, Jen, because she had had a successful natural Hypnobirthing experience herself. I also knew she'd be supportive of our plan every step of the way (which she was) and would fight right alongside me. She also just knows exactly what to say at exactly the right time, to build me up. I knew she'd be invaluable to me in the labor room. We also hired a Doula, Carlie, who had such a calm & quiet spirit about her. She, too, had had a successful waterbirth at the same birthing center we would be attending. She shared in our Christian values and I knew again, she'd fight alongside us and be that gentle calmness in the birthing room for me. I can honestly say that without any one of these 3 people, I would not have been able to have the birthing experience that I did. They were amazing!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 I was having a hard time sleeping due to the Bronchitis. I would just start to fall asleep and then I'd be awakened by an overwhelming sense of needing to empty my bladder. I would go empty it and look at the clock. I noticed I was getting this sensation about every 6 minutes. It finally hit me around 3AM when the sensation was accompanied by a really strong contraction. I decided to start timing them. Yup, every 6 minutes. Hmm... I called the midwife and said that I thought that I was in labor. She told me to labor at home a little while longer, because they like to see the contractions about every 3-5 minutes apart. I reluctantly agreed. At this point, I started to get a little afraid. I knew this was it & I was all alone (sleeping in the basement, so as not to wake the rest of my family with my coughing fits) & still battling Bronchitis. My body started to shake & the contractions started to hurt. I knew from what I learned in Hypnobirthing, that I needed to get control, gain some confidence and relax. So, I decided to try to get some sleep. I laid back down in bed & turned on my Hypnobirthing cd. After about 15 minutes, I couldn't concentrate through the cd & the contractions were now 3-5 minutes apart. I called the midwife back and said I was coming in.
I went to wake up my husband and daughter. They were so excited! :) My hubby gathered some last minute things together, while I called our friends that would be taking care of our daughter, my mom, Jen & Carlie. My husband was so excited that he ran over the recycle bin at the end of the driveway! Our recycling was everywhere, but he just left it there. Haha! Once in the van & on the way, I was finally able to just relax and start focusing on my breathing. The contractions became so much easier and manageable! My confidence boosted! I can do this!
When we arrived at the hospital, they had me start filling out paperwork, but when a contraction would come, I couldn't focus on the paperwork. I had to walk around and breathe. My hubby finished the paperwork for me & they brought me back to a room. They had me change into a gown (unless I wanted to stay in my own clothes) & put me on the fetal monitoring system. They wanted to make sure that baby's heart rate could tolerate the waterbirthing tub. I ate a few crackers & had some juice to get her moving around. The midwife came in then to check my progress. I was 6cm dilated, 80% effaced and baby was still not engaged! Little stinker! I later learned that the midwife was shocked at my progress at this point, because I was so composed on the phone & while I was on the monitor, that she didn't think I was that far along already! After about an hour on the monitor, it was time to get in the tub.
It was now around 7:00AM or 7:30AM. We actually took the clock off the wall, because I didn't want to be focusing on the time. I only knew the time because the midwife mentioned that she was off at that time & a new midwife, Angela, would be coming on. I'd seen both midwives in clinic before, so I was comfortable with both of them. The second I got in the tub, I began to relax even more. It was heavenly!
As contractions would come, I would grip the tub (so I didn't start floating around), close my eyes and focus on my breathing & on relaxing all my muscles from head to toe. I felt no pain.
In between contractions, I would laugh, smile & giggle with the staff. They kept saying things like, "You're fooling us-You're not really in labor". The midwife even said at one point, "You're making ME look like a wimp!" All my birth companions, the midwife & the nurses all kept encouraging me by saying things like that, boosting my confidence that this really was working!!!
The nurse kept checking on baby, who was doing wonderfully! The staff was always so polite, asking me first, if they could check on baby before actually doing it. She also kept checking my water temp & maintaining it between 95-100 degrees (or something like that). I started to get a little warm, so my birth companions took turns getting me cold washcloths & sips of cold water. I also got a little hungry, so my hubby fed me bites of graham crackers & a muffin.
At this point, the midwife asked if I wanted her to check me. Originally, I wanted to be touched the least amount possible & I did not want to know my progress, because I thought it would discourage me. However, things were going so well, that curiosity got the best of me & I said "yes". 8cm dilated & baby was finally engaged. My water had not yet broken, so Angela asked if I wanted her to break it for me. I asked the risks & at this point, because I was so far along, there weren't many. The one benefit is that they would be able to tell if the amniotic fluid was stained with meconium. If it was, it would be unsafe for baby to be born in the water. I decided I'd wait another half hour & see how my labor progressed on it's own first. Again, they were all amazed (including me) at how "easy" I was laboring at 8cm dilated! It took concentration, but I still felt no pain. They couldn't tell when I was having a contraction by my demeanor, because I would just close my eyes & look as though I were sleeping.
After a half hour, Angela checked me again & said there was very little progress. At this point the contractions had slowed down quite a bit & I was getting a little fearful of my labor stopping completely. So, I agreed to have her break my water. After laboring through a few more contractions, I got out of the tub to sit on the toilet (the position encourages the baby to descend) & see if that would get things moving. Two contractions on the toilet & I was ready to get back in the tub... the contractions were starting to become intense. Ben got in the tub with me & started helping me get through them with light touch & applied pressure to my low back.
It wasn't long and I started feeling the urge to push. I pushed for about an hour & half. In the last 10 minutes of pushing, I started to let fear into my head. "How much longer is this going to take?" "I don't know if I can keep doing this!" These phrases really did not help me and pushing was tougher than it needed to be because of them. I started to panic.
My labor coaches did amazing! I could hear them saying, "You can do this", "Breathe all the way out", "Relax your shoulders", etc. If it weren't for those phrases, I'd have probably lost it. At one point, I reached down and felt her head! I knew she was only moments away & I was impatient & wanted her out now! I started stretching my own perineum & pushing with everything I had when a contraction would come. I was exhausted in between contractions & just wanted to rest.
Eventually, I heard everyone getting very excited that "she [was] right there!" and that gave me the strength to push a little harder & longer with each contraction. When I would relax, breathe & focus on those things, it was much more manageable.
Ben wanted to catch baby as she was being born, but at the very end, I heard the midwife tell me to move onto my hands & knees and I could sense urgency in her voice, so I did was I was told. One or two more pushes & Adelyn Anna was born at 11:50AM.
Ben & I were in shock & awe. Adelyn was pink in the face, but the rest of her body was white. She was limp and lifeless. You could hear her trying to take breaths, but not quite being able to do it on her own.
The plan was to let her stay in my arms as long as possible & not to cut the cord until it stopped pulsating. But, Angela acted quickly and made the decision to have Ben cut the cord immediately & get her over to the warmer to try to get her breathing.
Less than a minute later, after stimulating & suctioning her, we heard that first beautiful cry. She was perfect & going to be fine! We were grateful to our midwife for making the call.
Daddy was sooo proud, he couldn't wait to call people! And Adelyn sure loves her Daddy, too! She was 7 lbs 14 oz & 20.5" long.
Because I was able to relax & let the stretching occur slowly, I only ended up with 4 stitches (as opposed to 15 with my first daughter). Other differences between my natural labor vs my epidural labor...
- I felt an immediate bond/love for Adelyn that I didn't immediately feel for Izzy. Sure, I loved Izzy, but the feeling was more shock than love, at first.
- I felt euphoric/high for days after Adelyn's birth from the natural oxytocin that my body was giving off. My receptors were already filled w/the epidural w/Izzy, so I never experienced this.
- I immediately felt postpartum depression when I birthed Izzy. This time, I had a small cry the day we came home & I've been completely fine ever since.
I feel honored to have the birth story that I do. It was everything I could've hoped for, and then some. If I were to ever have kids again, would I do natural childbirth using waterbirth & Hypnobirthing again? YES! There is no doubt in my mind! We couldn't be happier with our birth story, or with our family of four. :)
Thank you to Carlie Ann Photography for taking the beautiful pictures of our birth! They are priceless & we'll cherish them forever!