Friday, April 23, 2010

My Son's Birth

I did the homestudy program from Hypnobabies to prepare for this birth. I really enjoyed Hypnobabies during my pregnancy. It includes daily relaxation practice, which I often used to help me relax and fall asleep. It helped me bond with my baby and look forward to his birth. It also had tools for helping me get rid of my fears and helped me have more confidence in myself.

For those reading this who are unfamiliar with Hypnobabies, one of the concepts taught in it is that words have power. Many words commonly used in pregnancy and birth have negative associations in many people’s minds. Hypnobababies replaces these words with other words, in an effort to help you be more positive. I will be using these words during my story. Instead of “contraction,” I use “pressure waves.” I also avoid using the words “labor” and “delivery,” calling it “birthing” instead, and I try to avoid using the word “pain” when talking about birth.

For those reading who are studying Hypnobabies, you may or may not need to use your bubble of peace. I would label my birth “mostly comfortable.” Hypnobabies definitely worked for me, but there were times when I got off track and had discomfort, and I really struggled a lot during the pushing phase. Honestly, there were times during my birthing when if someone asked at the time if I was having “pain,” I probably would have said yes, but most of the time I was comfortable and felt very calm and relaxed.

On Friday, March 5, 2010, I woke up around 4:00 a.m. having pressure waves. I tried listening to my Hypnobabies tracks to see if I could fall back asleep, but after about an hour, I decided to get up because if the baby was going to come today, I was going to need to get a few last minute things together for my hospital bag. I found the charger for my digital camera battery, and I sat on my birth ball at the computer, printed out some extra copies of my birth preferences, and plugged in my ipod so it could charge. I got on the internet and did some stuff and tried to time the pressure waves with the “contraction master” website, but they seemed to weaken while I was on the ball and were sort of hard to time.

A couple hours later, my husband Tiatia got up to go to work, and then my 2 year old daughter got up. My pressure waves had pretty much stopped by this point. My daughter and I had breakfast. I think we ate some of the blueberry muffins we had made as a project the day before. I put on a few shows for her on the DVR and I did some cleaning. I loaded the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen, including mopping the floor. Then I felt tired, so I sat down and folded a load of laundry that I’d washed the day before. My daughter and I had some chicken noodle soup for lunch.

Around 1:00 p.m., after starting a load of laundry, I read my daughter some books and then I put a Hypnobabies track on out loud and I laid down with her and we both had a nap. I woke once during the nap to a pressure wave but went back to sleep and then had another one when I woke up around 2:30 and I think one or two more while I was lying down. My pre-birth waves mostly came at night or early in the morning, so having waves during the day was unusual for me. They were also strong enough that I was wondering if hypnosis was going to work. I used my lightswitch and peace cue and it really helped me feel more comfortable during them. I suspected that it would soon be time to meet my baby. I got up and put on my headphones and listened to Birthing Day affirmations while I did some more cleaning and preparing. I moved the load of laundry to the dryer, straightened up the living room, and got together My daughter’s clothes and things she would need for staying with friends while we were at the hospital.

My daughter woke up and I think she played with toys for a little while. I hadn’t had any cervical checks from my doctor, but I had tried to feel my cervix myself. It had felt soft and slightly open about a week before. I decided to check it again and it felt softer and more open now, if I had to guess, I’d say about 3 cm, and I could feel how The baby’s head was now against it. I had noticed that he felt lower on Thursday morning, and at my appointment that day, Dr. I. felt my belly and said that his head was engaged. A piece of brown-tinged mucus plug came out on my fingers when I checked myself. I started to finish packing my hospital bag, but all the stuff I needed would not fit in the bag I had already started to pack. I tried transferring it to another bag, but it wouldn’t all fit in that one either.

I realized the waves were coming pretty frequently, so I decided to time them. I got on the computer on the birth ball. Pressure waves were about every 6 minutes apart. I knew it was the real thing now. My phone rang during a pressure wave and I wasn’t able to answer it. I was Tiatia. He was probably calling to tell me he was getting off work and would be home soon. I called him back, but he didn’t answer. I sent him a text saying I thought we’d be going to the hospital tonight, but I don’t think he got it. The idea of getting in the bath sounded really good to me. I put on a DVD for My daughter (I normally try to limit her TV viewing, but I made an exception that day) and I filled the tub and put in a few drops of lavender oil, which I had been putting in my scent diffuser during my Hypnobabies practice to help with relaxation. I put my laptop in the bathroom so I could play my Hypnobabies tracks while I was in the tub. I put on “Painless Childbirth” (which I think is called “Comfortable Childbirth” in the 6th edition) and lied down in the tub and relaxed.

I’d brought my phone in the bathroom and Tiatia called again. He could tell I sounded different and I told him I was having pressure waves that were pretty intense. He asked when I thought the baby was coming, and I told him either late that night or early the next morning. I told him I was in the tub. It turns out he had stopped at the Redbox on his way home and picked up a movie for us to watch that night. Yeah, that didn’t end up happening. He got home a few minutes later and came in the bathroom to check on me and I told him I was coping fine. He watched Our daughter for a while and I guess he fed her macaroni and cheese and he also got together a bag with clothes and toiletries for himself and packed phone chargers, the video camera, the laptop, and the digital camera with it’s now fully charged battery.

I listened to “Deepening” next, and continued to handle the pressure waves very well. I really wouldn’t describe what I was experiencing as painful, and I felt really in-control. Doing the deep slow breathing and using the “peace” cue while imagining anesthesia going to my lower belly (where I felt the majority of the sensation of the waves) really helped. I got into some different positions in the tub. I sat cross-legged and I also kneeled . After “Deepening” I listened to “Special Place” and I felt my baby move around during it, just like he did the first time I listened to it when I felt so connected to him that I got tears in my eyes.

Towards the end of the track, I lost my focus during a few waves and they started feeling really uncomfortable. I called out that I needed help and Tiatia came in. I told him it was really intense and I didn’t know if I could do it. I almost started crying. I was scared. He asked if I wanted to go to the hospital, and I said I did. He started making phone calls to get our daughter taken care of. I got out of the tub and got dressed. I divided the stuff I needed to take to the hospital between my two bags and put my lavender oil and my phone in one of them. Then I got my ipod and my headphones, and realizing that I needed something more than the regular tracks, I put on the Birth Guide. I regained my focus and was once again able to handle the waves. I sat on the birth ball in the living room and leaned forward on the arm of the couch. I told Tiatia I needed a drink, so he gave me a little bottle of apple juice and I took sips of it between waves.

A friend came to get our daughter who and really did not want to leave. I went over to her and gave her a hug and told her it would be okay, but she didn’t believe me. The friend asked if my water had broken and I told her it hadn’t yet, then a pressure wave started, while I was still kneeling on the kitchen floor, and I had to close my eyes and do my deep breathing. She asked, “How far apart are they?” and I couldn’t answer her, both because I was still having the wave and because I didn’t know, I hadn’t been timing them. Somehow Tiatia got into our friend’s car. He came back and asked me how I was doing and I said I was feeling more in-control now. I told him I wanted him to help me time the waves. We went in the bedroom and I turned on a lamp instead of the light so that it wouldn’t be too bright. I sat on the birth ball and put pillows on the bed and leaned forward on the pillows. Tiatia timed the waves with the stopwatch on his phone. I told him I also wanted him to use the “relax” cue on my shoulder. I once again lost focus during a few of the waves and made some noise, but the “relax” helped me relax and focus and I got back to feeling like the waves were only pressure and my anesthesia was working. We discovered that the waves were between 2 and 3 minutes apart and were all lasting over a minute. I was still able to talk calmly between the waves. We decided it was probably a good time to head to the hospital. I said we needed to call Dr. I. and told Tiatia where her number was. At first, he wanted me to call her, but I told him to do it. He called and told her we were going in and how close together the waves were. She said she’d meet us there.

Tiatia loaded everything into the car, and I made sure we got the extra pillows and the birth ball. I also brought my apple juice. I got in the back seat of our mini SUV and we took the headrest off the front seat put a pillow on top of it and leaned forward. I continued listening to the “Easy First Stage” track. I was actually quite comfortable during the 25 minute car ride, which was amazing because I remembered being very uncomfortable in the car last time. When we left the house it was around 9:00 pm.

We parked and Tiatia carried a bunch of our stuff in. We walked in and Tiatia told the receptionist at the ER admitting desk who we were. She called the maternity center and told us they’d be coming to get us. She asked if I wanted to walk or ride in the wheelchair, and I said I thought I’d be fine walking. She put a hospital bracelet on me, during a wave, of course. While we waited for them to come get us, I was standing there, drinking sips of juice between waves, and during them I’d lean on Tiatia and he’d say “relax” to me. It felt wonderful to feel so relaxed and in control. I remember telling Tiatia that they felt like they were coming right on top of each other now, since they were so close together and lasting so long, but I didn’t say it like I was afraid, it was just an observation. It seemed like it was taking a long time for them to come and we started to wonder what the hold up was. The receptionist called them again.

When they finally came for us, they asked again if I wanted the wheelchair and I decided to get it because I remembered from when we came to preregister that it was a pretty long way and the waves were so close together I’d have to stop a lot. Riding in the chair, I was able to keep doing what I had been doing. We got to the LDRP room (not a triage room like I went to first at the hospital where I had my daughter, which I was glad of), and they already had the lights dimmed for us and Dr. I. was there. Once the pressure wave I was having was over, I got out of the chair and our nurse, Dianne, gave me instructions on giving a urine sample and how to wear the hospital gown. I had another pressure wave and leaned forward on the cabinet that contained the fetal monitor machine. Then I said I brought my own nightgown to wear, and she said that said was fine. I told Tiatia which bag it was in, and he gave the bag to me. I took the cup and my bag and gave the sample and got changed.

Dr. I. had me get in the bed so they could put the monitors on me and she could check me. She said that if I needed to move during waves, I could. It turned out I was able to use my hypnosis to stay comfortable in the bed (with the head of it raised) during pressure waves, which is something I couldn’t do during the unmedicated part of my first birthing. Dr. I. checked me and, drum roll, please…I was 8 centimeters! I looked at Tiatia and said how happy I was to be so far along. He had a big smile on his face. Dr. I. showed me how big that was on the dilation chart. She asked Dianne to get a birth ball (we’d left mine in the car—one man can only carry so much) so I could sit on it, which sounded great to me. I sat on the ball and leaned forward on the bed.

Dr. I. asked what the results of my GBS culture had been and I said she’d never told me, so I’d assumed negative. Someone came to take my blood, and I barely felt it. Then Dr. I. said they were going to need to give me an IV for antibiotics because it turns out I tested positive for GBS . At first I said “okay,” but then I said I wasn’t sure if I wanted the antibiotics because I’d done reading on it and there are risks to the antibiotic use, too. Dr. I. said that the antibiotic they use is mild and that it would be to protect the baby. I agreed to get it, and now I do think that was the right decision because had I known I was positive beforehand, I would have done natural remedies to make it less likely for the baby to be infected. Dr. I. said that it was good that my water hadn't broken yet, since the membranes being intact for longer reduces the risk of infection, and she said it would be best to (as I'd requested) wait until it broke on its own.

It took at least 4 tries and 3 different people to get an IV in me. Apparently the veins in my hands are deceptive—they look great, but when you try to put the needle in, it doesn’t work. They ended up putting it on my left forearm. Getting stuck multiple times was really uncomfortable and quite frustrating, so I was relieved when they got it in.

After that, the memories are not completely clear. I remember Dr. I. suggested some different positions. I know I stood leaning forward for a few waves. Someone was behind me with their hands on my hips, but I have no idea who it was. I think after that she wanted me to try kneeling, so she adjusted the bed so that I could kneel on the foot of it and rest my head and arms on the middle part. I think that when I went to get into that position is when I vomited all over the floor, but I knew that was a good sign, a sign that I was nearing full dilation, and I also had read that the act of throwing up can help your body open up faster. I remember saying that I felt better after throwing up. I also remember saying I felt shaky, and Dianne said that meant I might be in transition. The kneeling position was comfortable, and I was still very focused and relaxed, using my hypnosis, restarting the “Easy First Stage” track on my ipod whenever it ended. I think Dr. I. checked me in this position and I was 9 cm.

Soon I started to say “Ah” at the peaks of the pressure waves, and Dr. I. asked if I was feeling rectal pressure and I wasn’t yet. Then a few waves later I said I was starting to feel it. Sometime around this time, “Easy First Stage” ended again and I let “Pushing Baby Out” start playing. Dr. I. had me get back in the semi-seated position and checked me again, and she said there was a lip on my cervix and the baby’s head needed to rotate a little more. I continued to “Ah” all through the waves, and that felt good. I think Dr. I. had me get on my side. She told me that if I really felt I needed to push at the peaks of the waves, I could.

After a while, she checked again, and the lip was still there, so she tried having me push while she held back the lip. That was very uncomfortable and it didn’t work. It was during this that my water finally broke. She told me to try not to push for a while. Now that I had pushed, I felt like I needed to keep pushing. From this point on, I was never able to really get back in the peaceful place I had been before. It also didn’t help that I had never actually listened to “Pushing Baby Out” all the way through to make sure it was okay and it turns out the track on my iPod was incomplete, so it would just stop in the middle of something. I felt panicked and very out of control and was not comfortable at all. As the waves would peak, I’d yell “I CAN’T NOT PUSH!” and would try to push only as much as I absolutely had to. Dianne had to tell me to slow down my breathing so I wouldn’t hyperventilate. At one point, Tiatia kissed me (if you’re unfamiliar with why this is helpful, read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin), and that did help me relax some. I was touched that he thought to do that, that he actually had paid attention to some of the stuff I’d shared with him from my reading. I also switched from “Pushing Baby Out” to “Deepening” because I wasn’t supposed to push yet, and then I never went back to “Pushing Baby Out.”

Somehow I got past the really intense part of not being able to push and moved on to the really intense part of trying to push. Dr. I. said I could change positions if I wanted (I was now back to semi-seated), but I didn’t want to move. Dianne pulled some handles up from underneath the bed and told me I could hold on to them while I pushed. I started pushing, but the way I was pushing wasn’t working. Dr. I. noticed I was tightening my pelvic floor, so she and Dianne had to tell me to relax that area and focus on pushing with my abdominal muscles. Dianne got right in my face and Dr. I. told me to look at her. She told me to hold my breath and push. She did count to 10 during some of the pushes, but for most of them she didn’t count and I only pushed as long as I felt I could, and for some of them I did breathe out instead of holding my breath. Dianne also told me not to start pushing when the wave started, but to wait until it built. I was not able to relax the rest of my body while pushing, and as a result, I was very sore the next day. I also burst a blood vessel in my eye.

At some point during the pushing phase, Dr. I. said something about wanting to put in an internal fetal monitor because the external one wasn’t doing a good job of tracking his heart rate. At first I said “okay,” but then my inner advocate kicked in and I said I didn’t want the monitor screwed on my baby’s head. Dr. I. told Dianne to adjust the external monitor and it picked his heart rate up better. I was glad I stood up for my baby.

Once I got pushing figured out, it wasn’t too long before I felt him in the birth canal. The feeling when he crowned was very, very intense. It didn’t feel like burning to me, though, it felt like the perineal massage (a gentle version) I had done a few times, only about 10 times more intense. Looking back on it, the feeling was kind of cool, but at the moment I really wanted it to be over. I wanted to keep pushing, but Dr. I. told me that my perineum would stretch better if I waited for the next pressure wave. His head was out with the next wave and I had to keep pushing his body. I remember Tiatia reminding me to breathe in, because I just wanted to keep pushing.

Our son was born at 1:47 am. I reached down and pulled him up onto my own belly, which is something I had wanted to do ever since I’d seen it on a video. They put a towel on him and I talked to him and rubbed is back. He was a little purple and not crying. The other nurse, whose name I didn’t get, told me she was going to have to take him. Dr. I. clamped the cord and Tiatia cut it. Tiatia later told me that the nurse had suctioned The baby and given him oxygen. He took a video and some pictures. Dr. I. had me push out the placenta. Then, she and Dianne started doing uterine massage, and my uterus wasn’t firming up and I was bleeding too much. The baby wasn’t ready to breastfeed yet, so they put pitocin in my IV. Dr. I asked if I wanted it in a shot instead, but since the IV was already running, I said it was fine to do it that way. A little while later, I was still bleeding more than they like to see, so Dianne gave me a shot of methergine in my thigh.

When the baby was ready, the nurse brought him back to me before dressing him so I could hold him skin-to-skin. He latched right on and has done a great job nursing ever since. After we had some time to nurse and bond, the nurse weighed him and he was 7 lbs 10 oz—7 oz bigger than his sister was. She diapered, dressed, and swaddled him. Dr. I. showed me the placenta, which was really cool. She showed the maternal side and the membranes that held my baby as he grew. This was really interesting to me.

I felt amazing after the birth. The hormone rush was really awesome feeling. I was so proud of myself for doing it unmedicated and for feeling so in control for much of the time. I really believe I couldn’t have done it without Hynobabies. Dr. I. told me that she thought I should get certified to teach the program like I had told her I was considering doing if I found it helpful during my birth. I was up taking a shower soon after. It felt really good to be able to shower. It was a little difficult still having the IV attached because I wasn’t wearing a hospital gown, so I had to leave one strap of my nightgown around the IV line, and when I tried to put the nightgown back on, it got all tangled around the line and Dianne had to help me fix it.

Because of my positive GBS status and only getting one dose of antibiotics (you’re supposed to get 2 doses, 4 hours apart, but I wasn’t at the hospital long enough), they wanted to keep The baby in the hospital for 48 hours to watch him for signs of infection, since about 80 percent of newborn GBS infections show up during that time period. I loved that I didn’t have to switch rooms at all during my hospital stay and that, because the same nurses who help with the births also do postpartum care, on our last night we got to see Dianne again.

Dianne said she had read my birth preferences and I could tell she really made an effort to follow them. She told us that the reason she left us in the ER waiting room so long was because my birth preferences said I didn’t want it loud and she wanted to do all the noisy room set up before they brought me in. She also said how surprised she was when Dr. I. said I was 8 centimeters, because I wasn’t acting like it. We talked about how difficult my pushing phase was, and Dianne said that it looked like I was actually pushing right, and The baby just wasn’t coming down. She said normally women don’t need to push with their abdominal muscles. She said she was actually thinking they were going to need to use the vacuum extractor, but she hadn’t suggested it because she knew I wanted minimal intervention. Tiatia mentioned that he’d actually yelled “relax” at me when I was panicking, and Dianne said that caused me to suddenly focus. I don’t even remember that, but I guess my subconscious recognized the cue, so my hypnosis training did help more than I thought it did during pushing.

Our son is a very cute and so far is a good baby. His birth was an amazing experience that taught me so much about the capabilities of my mind and body.

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