For those of you that don’t know, I studied “Hypnobirthing” for this labor and delivery. No, it’s not some crazy cultish approach to labor and delivery, but rather a way to relax and release fear while in labor focusing on a positive mindset. Because hypnobirthing’s main focus is releasing fear and thinking positively, you will notice that the word “contraction(s)” is replaced with “surge(s).” Just a warning to those hypnobirthing moms out there- this is not a typical, pain-free , easy birth story like so many of those we heard about in class. So please stop reading if you think that it might affect you.
I woke up early Friday morning (around 4 AM) to cramping. It was three days past my guess date. A few minutes later I felt tightening, and then another, and then another. I was starting to get excited, but wanted to stay in bed and rest as long as I could just in case this was the real thing. With Luke, I never went into labor on my own, so I was afraid I wouldn't know when the real thing started. I got out my ipod and listened to my relaxation and hypnosis tracks. Around 7 AM, I got up and began timing the surges- they were consistently 5 minutes apart. I could breath through them fine. I told Aaron to go to work, but to be back in the afternoon as I was pretty sure this was the real thing. Luke got up around 7:30 AM. I fed him and tried to play with him between surges. I called my mom and Julie (my mother-in-law) to let them know what was going on and to make arrangements for Luke. My mom picked Luke up around 9:00 AM. I called my doula to let her know what was going on and to ask her opinion on if this was "the real thing" . She said she was pretty confident that it was due to the fact that it started so early in the morning. She said to let her know when I wanted her to come over. I hung up the phone and continued to work through the surges using different laboring positions, breathing techniques, and my relaxation tracks. I was excited because I wasn’t having any back labor- a sign that the baby could be posterior. I had an anterior placenta (my placenta was in the front of my uterus) and since babies often like to face their placentas, having a posterior, or “sunny-side-up” baby was a fear of mine. (Part of the reason I ended up with a c-section with Luke, was b/c he was posterior and could not move down into my pelvis.)
Around 1 PM, the surges got stronger and closer together. My doula called me and I told her I was fine to stay home awhile longer. Aaron arrived home and asked if I needed anything. I was doing fine on my own so I told him to go cut the grass or relax and I would call him when I needed him. Around 3 PM the surges were consistently 3 minutes apart and stronger. I thought it was time to go to the hospital. I was afraid of delivering in the car, or barely making it in time, like so many of the stories I had heard about in hypnobirthing class (little did I know it would be another 24 hours before I actually got to meet Ty). I called my doula and told her to meet us there. We arrived at Bethesda North around 4 PM. The surges were still consistently 3 minutes apart. I got checked into triage and found that I was 4 cm, 75% effaced. I was slightly bummed b/c I really wanted to be at least 5 cm, but looking on the bright side, I never got past 4 cm with Luke so I was excited that my body was doing its job. I had the choice to go home or stay. I decided to stay because I thought I would be able to “let go” and relax more if I wasn’t worried about making it back to the hospital in time. So we got settled in. We gave the nurses our birth vision and they pretty much just left us alone. I continued to work through surges for about another three hours. They were getting stronger, but still very manageable.
Around 7 PM, I noticed the surges started changing from tightening to sharp back pain. I immediately went into panic mode, which caused adrenaline to kick in and stall the labor. I knew from my experience with Luke that Ty had turned into the posterior position. My doula reassured me that I could do this and that we could get him to turn. I calmed down, put my ipod back on and sat on the birthing ball leaning over the hospital bed trying my best to relax and let go. Listening to the birth affirmations really helped. We tried all kinds of laboring positions and techniques to try to get him to turn, but he just wouldn’t! At one point, I think around midnight, I was checked and 5 cm, 100 % effaced. I started to doubt myself and broke down. The surges stopped all together for like an hour. I laid down to rest and again debated going home, but the thought of doing this all over again was overwhelming. The nurse came in and mentioned pitocin or breaking my water. I really wanted to avoid both options. I went ahead and let them put a heplock in me just in case and asked for a breast pump as an alternative. I used the breast pump for 15 minutes every hour for three hours. The surges came on stronger than before and more regular again- but still a lot of pain in my back. At this point I became primal really going into “laborland.” At one point I was sitting on the toilet, vocalizing a deep chant, rocking, and pumping. I’m sure this was super attractive to the hubcap! I continued this pattern for a few hours until finally, I had a TON of mucuousy bloody show. I believe it was around 11:00 AM on Sat. I had the nurse check me again, and I was 6 cm. Something in me just “knew” I somehow needed to figure out how to relax. I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours and my baby was still posterior and not budging.
The thought of the epidural came into my head. Of course the doula tried to talk me out of it, but I just “knew” it was what I needed. So with tears, I asked the nurse for the anesthesiologist and she came in to talk with me. I spoke to her about my fears and how I felt like I was giving in- how I really wanted to “feel” my baby being pushed out, and she reassured me that she could give me a low enough dose to help me relax and rest, but still move my legs and be able to push. I agreed, again through tears, but knew in my heart it had to be done. The next half-hour was hell as I sat in the bed trying to breathe through back labor as she tried to place the epidural just right. She finally got it, and within 10 minutes, I had some relief.
My nurse and doula had me lay on my stomach in bed in hopes that the baby would turn. Within minutes, my water broke, great confirmation that I had down the right thing! I was pleasantly surprised that I could move my legs and still feel the tightening of the contractions, but not the sharp back pain. After another hour or so, I was feeling a ton of pressure and so asked the nurse to check me again. I was 9 cm! In less than 3 hours, my water had broken and I was almost completely dilated. My labor pattern was consistent and so we were all pretty confident that Ty had finally turned. The nurse told me that I had a tiny lip of cervix left on the left side, so the doula suggested that I should lie on my left side to help speed the process. Maybe a half-an-hour later, I was still slightly numb but started feeling the surges again- NO BACK LABOR- yipee! I also felt a TON of weird pressure. (For those of you that have never birthed a child, I don’t mean to be crass, but want you to honestly know that it does not feel like you are birthing from your vagina at all, but that the baby is coming directly from your anal cavity). The pressure was the weirdest feeling and not what I had expected; It didn’t hurt, it was just really uncomfortable.
At this point I asked my doula, “Should it feel like I’m about to have an extremely big bowel movement?” At this, she said we better get the nurse back in to check me and that yes, that was completely normal. So the nurse came back in and confirmed that I was complete. (The irony in all of this is that my beloved OB who NEVER takes vacations just happened to be out of town for the day so I was going to have his back-up, whom I had never met catching my son.) The nurse said she would contact him and that he should be there within 15 min. I hadn’t felt the urge to push yet, so I wasn’t too worried about waiting. I asked the nurse to move my bed into the upright seating position in hopes of “birth breathing” Ty down as much as possible before pushing. I put my headphones back on and began birth breathing for another 45 minutes. About 30 minutes into the waiting period, I felt the urge to push. I went ahead and did small bearing down pushes with each surge even though the OB was not there.
Finally the OB arrived. “Hi nice to meet you. Let’s push this baby out.” He explained to me how I was going to push in the traditional, on your back, legs up position. In my head I always pictured myself delivering on all-fours or squatting, etc. I expressed my concern that this position was anti-gravity, but he came back with the research stating that it puts less pressure on the perineum and told me that if it didn’t work in ten minutes, that we could try another position. So I agreed. I felt a surge, pushed with my breath for 15 minutes, and at LAST my baby boy entered the world at 5:07 PM with his hand holding his cord up by his head! Take that pissy OB that told me I would never be able to have a VBAC after my trial of labor with Luke. Pushing Titus out was the most AMAZING feeling! While I didn’t have an orgasm by any means (there’s a recent documentary out that claims you can), I will say that I wouldn’t trade it for the world- it was an indescribable mix of relief, joy, strength, and triumph! I am so grateful that I wasn’t too numb to feel it! Titus Patrick Sayers was born vaginally after 36 hours of labor, a healthy 7 lbs, 7 oz, 21 inches, and he received apgar scores of 9 and 9! He was immediately placed on my stomach and performed the breast crawl latching on without any assistance.
While my labor and delivery did not go exactly how I wanted or had envisioned it, I will be eternally grateful for having made the most informed choices I could have, and for the experience of a vaginal birth. Not all medical intervention is evil; there is a time and place where the modern medical model of birth can indeed prevent major surgery. Good luck and birth vibes to those mommas out there that will be giving the gift of life in the upcoming months. Trust your body and your instincts and then there will be nothing to fear.