hour’s worth of sleep. I was exactly 10 days past my “guess” date. I calmly reached for my husband and rubbed his shoulder to wake him. I said, “Honey, I need a towel, my water has broken.” Brandon proceeds to get up and start trying to find an outfit. I kept saying, “Honey, I need a towel.” I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t getting me one…later he told me that in his sleepiness he kept thinking he had to start shoveling snow…I could get my own towel! At least he woke up, un-like when I went into labor with our daughter. He did eventually get me a towel. But our son did choose to start coming when we were in the worst snowstorm our city has seen in many years. In the south, we are not well-equipped to handle even a few inches of snow and ice…we already had 4-5 inches at our house.
The good thing was our midwife’s house is very close to ours. Normally it only takes 5-6 minutes to get there. I gave Carolyn (midwife) a call around 4:30 to tell her what was going on. She asked if birthing waves had started yet; they
had not. So she tells me to try to get some sleep and call her when the waves start. Well, when we look outside at the weather conditions, I call her back to tell her we’re going to go ahead and come. My mother and sister had
been camped out at our house all weekend because of the threat of inclement weather. They were a huge part of our support team and lived 40 minutes from us. My friend, Leigh Anne, was another part of our support team - my informal doula. She lived about the same distance away, but has all-wheel drive. I give her a call and she starts making her way toward Carolyn’s house.
It seems to take forever to get the car out of our driveway. Our road has been snow-plowed already, but the driveway is covered in 5-6” of snow and it’s slightly uphill to the road. My mom had gotten salt and kitty litter from the store just in case. It came in handy! I think 30 minutes later we finally got to leave – but wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for the kitty litter! It gave us just enough traction to get out. And boy was it a slow drive to Carolyn’s!
So all of us are finally there: me (Kristen); my husband, Brandon; our 3-year-old daughter, Vivian; my sister, Rachel; my mother, Kelly; my friend, Leigh Anne; my midwife, Carolyn; and her husband, Keith. The first several hours are a bit of a blur to me because I was so exhausted. I know we had some delicious breakfast at some point – brown rice farina with brown sugar. I was kind of waiting around for things to get started, I think, hanging out. When a pressure wave would come, I would close my eyes, and focus to stay in hypnosis. Everyone around me would quiet down when I did this, but it didn’t really matter. I was present, just making sure I kept using my Hypnobabies techniques.
Then I started to get really tired and nauseated when I was laying down. I threw up after drinking a little V8. Then I peacefully napped between birthing waves with Brandon for a long while. I felt human again after that. I
must say Hypnobabies did a wonderful job of keeping me relaxed in the beginning…I listened to Easy First Stage while napping. The pressure waves really did just feel like waves. But they were not getting too regular yet.
When I woke up and Carolyn monitored me and the baby again – she made me get some food. Brandon was doing a good job of reminding me to stay hydrated – but I needed sustenance as well. Carolyn gave me a whole wheat piece of bread with peanut butter and honey. It was difficult to make myself eat it. Then I had to eat a sweet potato. I am sure she felt like a mother making her toddler eat a meal! But I did feel energized after my nap and meal. And up until this point, everyone had been laid-back. It was so nice and calm in the house. Carolyn’s house also has a very good energy. I guess it’s from all of the wonderful births that have happened there – so much life being brought forth in one place in such a peaceful way. Leigh Anne was teaching my sister to knit…and Vivian was “learning” too. There was fellowship, laughter, bonding, playing, talking, and contemplating while I was in the early stages of labor. It was wonderful.
After I was re-energized Carolyn offered a tincture of black and blue cohosh to hopefully get the pressure waves into a more regular pattern. My previous birth was 33 hours long (with pitocin) so she was afraid of me tiring out if it
took too long. So I started taking the tincture every 15 minutes for the first hour and every 30 minutes for the second hour, I believe. I was walking around, walking up the stairs, swaying my hips, and rocking on a birth ball. Things definitely started picking up.
My husband and I took a shower together around 2:00 pm to try to keep the momentum. This I distinctly remember. I brought two things up with me when we took our shower. First, my birthing affirmations I printed out. Second, my picture of my special safe place I envisioned in my head. This was the turning point of the birth for me. This is when I totally surrendered to birth. I completely let go of any remaining fears and let my body do what it was made for. My mind was no longer an obstacle for this birth. Here are the affirmations that most
resonated with me and helped me to let go:
- My body is made to give birth, nice and easy.
- All I need to do is relax and breathe - nothing else.
- My body knows how to have this baby, just as my body knew how to grow this baby.
- Keep my mind on acceptance and surrender.
- I surrender my birthing over to my baby and my body.
- I have the energy and stamina to birth my baby.
- My job is to simply relax and allow the birth to happen.
- My baby will be born healthy, and at the perfect time.
- The power and intensity of my birthing waves cannot be stronger than me, because it is me.
That last one really was profound to me. It alone took away any remaining fears I may have had about the “pain” of birthing. I gained the courage to believe that I really could do this. I didn’t need the drugs I thought I was so thankful for with my first birth. I can handle the pressure waves because it is just my body – it is just me.
I learned that your mind is a very powerful tool in birth. I believe I was mentally blocking myself from really progressing. And I also think the black and blue cohosh gave me just enough push to get things moving. My surrender was ultimately what really got things started, right before the shower. It’s a good thing Brandon was with me because I think I had nine pressure waves during the shower, and I needed to hold onto him for each one. That was pleasant as well. Holding onto my husband and swaying, slow dancing if you will, in the shower through my pressure waves. They were becoming more intense, but it was great to share that experience together – that he and I were on this journey together.
And I have to say, my husband was so amazing. He never left my side (except to scarf down some nachos when things were getting more intense toward the end). He was completely devoted to me the whole time – he was my rock. The whole experience really bonded us – and Hypnobabies gave him tools and knowledge to help me this time around. We were a team – doing the best we could to bring our child peacefully into this world, surrounded by love.
A little while after the shower, Carolyn was checking me and the baby as she had been at least every hour. She asked me if I wanted to a vaginal exam. I agreed, because I wanted to know how things were going…but I also kept in my mind that whatever that “number” was would not tell me when my baby was coming. It was about 4:00 pm – and I was 2-3 cm. I told myself, “Listen to your body. Things are progressing fine – don't worry about the number!” And that’s what I did. Things continued to progress in intensity. My husband was giving me “Peace” and “Relax” cues to help me relax and stay in hypnosis.
The next four hours really seemed to fly by. I think there is a point in one of the Hypnobabies tracks that says something about time going by faster – and it sure did! I really had to focus during each birthing wave to stay in hypnosis and stay calm. Internally things were getting intense. The waves seemed to be coming one on top of the other. Brandon, Leigh Anne, and Rachel were all there with me. Brandon would give me a cue, then Leigh Anne. Rachel was putting her hand on my shoulder. I was on the birthing ball, and then I would change positions. I needed to find a new way to stay comfortable. Then I got on the bed and leaned on the birthing ball. I remember I couldn’t let my pelvis touch anything during a pressure wave – I wouldn't say it “hurt” but I just couldn’t stand it. (Little did I know I was experiencing transformation...)
Before I knew it, Carolyn asked if I wanted another vaginal exam. I had just felt a little pushy, so I said yes. It’s now 8:00 pm. She checks me – and by the way, I don’t recall the exams being uncomfortable. I am now 5-6 cm. WHAT??? Only 5-6???? Great! If things are intense for me at 5-6 what’s 9-10 or transformation going to feel like? Leigh Anne tells me to not worry about it – she knows I’m getting toward the end from the sounds I’m making. I’m doing a lot of low aaaaahhhhh’s to release some of the tension out during pressure waves. She also tells me it’s not unheard of to feel pushy at 6. And I remember that I was SO HAPPY between waves – it felt so good to have a break. So I would enjoy my short heaven – then have another wave.
Carolyn asks me if I want her to get the tub ready – she has this really amazing large jetted birthing tub. I say “YES!” So she goes to get the tub filled up with water. After my last vaginal exam, I simply cannot move. I stay in that position. From what I remember, Brandon had his hand on my left shoulder and Rachel had her hand on my right. Leigh Anne had my head in her lap with her hand on my forehead (for those that don’t know – the shoulders and forehead are all cues from Hypnobabies to relax). I think Leigh Anne was talking to me to encourage me, and Brandon was giving me Relax and Peace cues – but at this point I’m way in "laborland" so I don’t remember exactly. I was making pretty low sounds – mostly aaaahhhhh’s still. I don’t think I ever got loud. I just made whatever sound I felt like I needed to. I just kept it low and kept my mouth relaxed. I relaxed my whole body. I remember how good it felt for Leigh Anne to have her hand on my forehead…it really helped for some reason.
At last the tub is ready! I get in and the water feels wonderful. There is a peaceful green light shining in the water. I try to find what position I’m most comfortable in while someone gets me a sports bra to wear. I decide to lean back
in one of the corners of the tub when all of a sudden I feel like I have to poop (sorry for the TMI – but this is a birth story after all!). I remember you can get this feeling when the baby is coming so I just relax. Here comes a little
poop…and I can feel the baby’s head coming down the birth canal! I say, “I think I’m crowning!” Leigh Anne looks and says, “Yes, you are. Carolyn?” Carolyn doesn’t hear her so we end up sending my sister, Rachel, to get her. She can’t believe I’m crowning because I was just 5-6 cm less than a half hour ago! Everyone looks to see - his head is right there! I have one, maybe two involuntary pushes, and out he comes! I wasn’t doing anything – my body
just took over! Carolyn got her gloves on just in time to catch the baby. He had a nuchal hand – and his umbilical cord was very short. It was barely long enough for him to lay on my chest out of the water. His color was perfect when he came out – but he didn’t cry. Carolyn gives him a tiny puff of oxygen because he’s not alert enough. Then he immediately cries and everything is fine. Carolyn waits until the cord stops pulsing to clamp and cut it. I keep thinking – he’s so small! I know he’s not as big as his sister was, so I can’t wait to see how much he weighs.
But now I’m just in shock. Leigh Anne got a great picture of me during this time! I kept thinking – I really just did that! I had an all-natural home birth! I did it! I felt great, wonderful, fantastic, powerful, elated, peaceful, loved,
and thankful all at once. I just sat there and held my new son in my arms with my husband beside me. Then I immediately wanted my daughter – she needed to meet her new baby brother! My mom had taken her upstairs a few minutes beforehand because she didn’t know how loud I would get at the end. They pretty much came
right back downstairs! Ha! It’s so wonderful to have this time – it’s such a quiet, peaceful time where we all just absorb that a new life came into this world. Surrounded by my closest family, a dear friend, and my wonderful midwife. We give Vivian her big sister gifts – a “big sister” outfit and her own photo album she can put pictures in.
Then I deliver the placenta and get into the bed. At one point I’m stitched up as well – I barely tore – just needed 3-4 stitches. And we all examine the placenta – which was really neat. I didn’t get to see it after Vivian’s birth. Carolyn weighs Evan – he’s 6 lbs 14 oz. That’s 1 lb 3 oz smaller than big sister! He’s a quiet baby. Just content to be held, as long as he’s nice and warm.
After Evan gets his newborn exam and I’ve eaten a nutritious meal, it’s time to get ready to go. It’s so nice by the fire, but we need to get back home…time to battle the snowstorm again! I think it took about 30 minutes and lots of
teamwork to get out of Carolyn and Keith’s driveway – but we finally did it. It is nice to get home, and around 3 am the little guy decides he is hungry enough to give breastfeeding a try. He didn’t want to up until then. It takes a few
tries, but – success! He gets a good latch and he’s been a nursing champ ever since.
This home birth was everything I hoped it would be – and more. This pregnancy lasted 41 weeks and 3 days – Vivian’s was 40 weeks 4 days. So your subsequent pregnancies won’t always be shorter! And if I’d been under an OB’s care like last time, they wouldn’t have wanted to let me go beyond 41 weeks before inducing me. Evan
came at his perfect time – as I knew he would. I would have another all-natural Hypnobabies birth in a heart beat. That is what birth should be.