This is the birth story of Eli! If you are squeamish and don't think you'd like hearing about blood, mucous and perineums then this might not be the read for you. For everyone else, enjoy! I am very proud of this birth.
So Eli William Noel has been born! He was born at 6:53 am on July 9th, a day after our 10th wedding anniversary! He was 6lbs 8 ozs upon arrival. I am writing this up now, only 2 days after birth because I won't be able to take naps during the day until I do! My mind simply keeps playing over the events that I don't want to forget. This birth was done with Hypnobabies hypnosis and was absolutely perfect.
My labor started the morning of July 8th and contractions were about 5 to 7 minutes apart from the very beginning. My mom came over that morning as she and dad are up visiting for about a month. My 'guess' date was July 21st, by the way! All morning, I walked, squatted, laid on the couch, and tried to stay as active as possible. I really wanted to walk outside but it was in the low nineties and the humidity was very high. I ended up just staying inside with our swamp-cooled air.
To say I was excited would be an understatement. I had worked towards this natural birth since the moment we found out we were pregnant. I figured out pretty quickly that if I wanted a completely natural birth I would have to step away from the OB/hospital birth that we initially were signed up for and go with a midwife/free-standing birth center birth and I'm glad that we did. Just to give a little background, my first birth was by C-section and even though at the time I was happy with it, after doing more research I believe my section might have been avoided by doing more walking/activity during labor. My 2nd child was a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) and again, at the time I was thrilled with the outcome but the recovery was made difficult by the epidural/pitocin/episiotomy/vacuum extraction train that I boarded. Just recovering from pain from the episiotomy took a full year!
So as I was laboring at home and looking forward to my 3rd birth, I knew what I was hopefully avoiding. I knew there was a small chance of transfer to a hospital from the birthing clinic but accepted that that might happen and that it would be because of a true emergency. So, midway through the day I started listening to my hypnosis tapes and one of the suggestions was inhaling relaxation and exhaling peace - I took this and ran with it! I would inhale and upon exhaling I would use my peace cue and say 'peeaacce' through the first part of my exhale and 'open-open-open-open' through the last part of my exhale. It allowed me to focus my anesthesia going to my middle and also to visualize my cervix opening. I believe this, along with the abdominal breathing was critical to the superb birth experience that I ended up having. It produced supreme relaxation. (As an aside, I read up on abdominal breathing because exhaling to the count of 8 had always given me trouble. So what I did was inhale first into my abdomen, and then fill up my lungs. My exhale would push the air first out of my lungs and then out of my abdomen. This gave me more to focus on instead of just the counting in to 4 and out to 8.)
By evening my contractions were more intense but I was staying nicely on top of them and was feeling very relaxed. I was listening to my 'easy first stage' CD and my 'deepening' but at times also just using my peace/open exhaling to relax through them. We started watching the Da Vinci Code as mom had never seen it. I watched through about half and then went up to bed to try to rest. At some point I had a contraction that took me by surprise and was a bit difficult to get through and because I wasn't able to feel high enough to see how much I was dilated I decided to go down around midnight and let mom and Noel know that we needed to leave for the birth center.
We arrived at about 1am and upon stepping into the building I immediately had to squat next to the couch and go through a contraction. The midwives were there and everyone stood back respectfully and let me do what I needed to do. I believe at this point I wasn't yet actually saying my peace/open exhale out loud. I was more whispering it to myself. We got set up in their largest birth suite and I proceeded to squat, lay on the bed, toilet sit, and do a variety of positions that I hoped would get him moving down. Danny, the lead midwife checked me and I was a four and suggested we wait a bit before getting into the tub. So after a couple of hours I was checked again and was 5cm and then got into the tub. Holly, the student midwife would some every half hour and check on the heart beat and his heart rate was always wonderful which was a relief. The water felt great with the first contraction but after that my contractions must have heated up because the relief soon left me. I started moaning my peace/open chant out loud and kept on top of the contractions for awhile. The pretty LED colored water helped, too! lol After a bit, probably around 4am, I decided to get out as I was getting too warm and though I was doing great relaxing through the first and last part of the contractions, I started loosing my concentration during the peak and would tense up my body. I decided a change of position might help.
So after getting out of the tub, I tried laying on the bed for awhile. I listened to my hypnobabies a bit more but didn't want to stay in one position too long and so I tried some toilet sitting while hanging from my moms shoulders. This position was really effective with allowing me to relax my abdominal muscles upon inhalation. As I would inhale into my abdomen I would allow my muscles to just droop forward and down and it felt really good! I managed a couple that way before they again got the best of me and I decided I wanted back in the tub. My husband was putting some more hot water into the tub but as I was going from toilet to tub I ended up making a beeline for the bed. I got on my side and grabbed my MP3 player, which was still playing through my playlist, and heard Kerry's voice say "and your pressure waves are SO comfortable". I was in the grip of a tough contraction and I yanked the earbuds out of my ears and tossed the mp3 player on the table and yelled "they are NOT comfortable!". I laugh now about this. Mom told me later she thought that might have been when I entered transition. Anyway, then I had a contractions that was WAY different from the others. It felt like it just kind of took over my body and I didn't like it one bit. I was laying on my side when I felt something pop down through against my perineum. I told mom I felt something so she went and grabbed the midwives. Holly, the student midwife came in first and she looked and said "uhhh, Danny?" Mom said she looked like she didn't quite know what she was seeing. Turns out it was the intact water sac just inside of me! Mom later said that she thought Danny and Holly were surprised that I was moving along so fast. With the next contraction, it popped out of me, still intact and when Danny touched it, it popped. She then was able to check me and said I was at 10cm.
Up until hearing that it was the amniotic sac they saw and that I was at a 10, incredibly, I didn't realize that these new tough contractions were pushing contractions. I remember thinking that it must just be my mucus plug and when I felt it come out I briefly thought, "prolapsed cord!" I just thought they were a new plateau I had arrived at and that I had several more hours to labor through. This was only around 6:45am and at 4am I had been only 5 centimeters!
So I had another contraction while side-lying on the bed and Danny said she saw his head just inside my perineum. I remember thinking, 'that was fast!' because it can take a LONG time sometimes for the head to descent from cervix to perineum and with me it happened in one push! Yay! I reached down and felt his head there but I told Danny I did not want to deliver in a side-lying position, even though it's really a great position for preventing tears. She said, 'well move fast' and I got down and used the birthing stool that was had discussed as a possibility. (The other high possibility was a water birth, but that wasn't going to happen at this point - the water was too cold). Once on the birthing stool, I felt SO much more in control of my contractions. In fact, I barely felt them. I did feel the so called 'ring of fire' but looking back it wasn't that bad. I pushed twice on the birthing stool, once to get his head about 1/3rd out, at which point I reached down to feel it again, and the next push had his head out. His shoulders rotated nicely and he just came down and out into the midwifes arms. His cord was short so I couldn't pull him up too high, so I held him more in my lap while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. It didn't take too long as I had already started some separation bleeding. Noel cut the cord and that was that!
My almost 6-year-old daughter McKenna was at the birth, but as we arrived at 1am at the birth center, she slept in one of the other suites while I did most of my laboring. My mom brought her in when I was pushing a bit on the bed. She and I had talked about birth and had watched a few videos so she was prepared for blood and yelling or possible none of that. When I was on the birth stool, she was on the floor on a pillow kind of turned away but when the midwife said 'here comes the head!' she popped right up and got in there to see. I remember hearing her say a very enthusiastic "WOW" when he came out. I'm glad she was present. I'm hoping it will create a very special bond between them. She liked touching him and then watched his first bath. Danny cleaned off the blood, but left the vernix so he's kept his sweet baby smell for a few days. It's actually all absorbed into his skin by now.
So overall, excellent! I am very happy with how everything went and if this wasn't my 3rd child, I'd be chomping at the bit to do it again. Amazing experience! I credit the hypnosis for keeping me positive and calm during the pregnancy and giving me great cues to help me focus through my contractions. I credit The Bradley Method with the vital abdominal breathing I ended up doing. The midwives at The Baby Place were so kind and respectful and let me lead the show. I am still on a baby high right now! Thank you, thank you!!