Brina & Gus took my HypnoBirthing class in August 2011 on Thursday nights at Seaside Women's Health. They were expecting baby #2 and had a c-section for baby #1. They wanted to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) & researched their options. They chose an OB that was extremely supportive of VBACs, but late in their pregnancy, they decided to have a homebirth with the midwives of San Diego Midwife because Brina really didn't want to go into a hospital at all.
Here's their birth story...it's a wonderful story of how even when birth goes completely off-track, knowing your options & being in control of your choices is so important to help you have the kind of birth experience you want.
October 2, 2011
Wow. Wow, wow, wow. That’s all I can say about the last few days, my darling Willow Bee. As I write this, you are cuddling on your daddy’s lap (and crying a little bit) and I just can’t believe I am at the end of this journey and the beginning of a new one. Writing your birth story might have be done in chapters because it went on so long and honestly, I am already starting to forget the details – as is Mother Nature’s little trick on moms.
So, here’s what I can remember, with the help of your dad, Omi, Mimi, Papa and Grandpa who helped fill in some of my memory gaps as we all reminisced about it today – so we would never forget!
Real labor officially began at 2:00am on Friday morning, September 30, 3011. As I wrote before, surges had been growing in regularity since Tuesday but it wasn’t until 2:00am on Friday that things seemed to be getting more serious. I ate for pretty much the last time – not much, just a banana and some lemon cake – and went upstairs to wake up my birth companion and tell him to get the heck out of bed! He started timing the contractions and they were around 2-4 minutes apart for an hour. We called the midwives around 4am and your grandparents.
Everyone arrived before dawn. They stayed downstairs and waited for Ryder to wake up. When Jamin, our midwife arrived, I was 6 cm dilated and officially in active labor. What a relief! This wasn’t so bad! I still had a sense of humor and now that I knew that I was really in labor and making progress, I felt great. This was manageable.
I’m not sure when that all changed but everything you have heard about natural childbirth is true. Transition, the period of time that your
cervix completely dilates to 10 cm is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. All of my hypnobirthing tools were futile. There was nowhere to go. I had to keep doing this and the only thing that was keeping me going was my midwives, LaShel had joined up at around 8am, telling me that I could do it and this was normal and we were going to have a baby soon.
I made it to 9 cm in the birthing tub and while time was standing still for me, I apparently spent an hour in there, looking for relief from the unrelentless surges. No position was comfortable. Your head was lodged deep in my pelvis and it was causing me amazing back pain during surges – one hip was on fire.
We were almost ready to push at 11:30am or so. LaShel checked my cervix again and I was 9 cm but there was a bit of lip left to go. Disappointed, I went back to work, using the contractions to breath you down and stomping my legs to jiggle your head lower to get rid of the last lip. I alternated using panting breaths to the count of 37 – surges peaked at 22 and subsided at 37 consistently – and screaming my head off to the point that the neighbors on our street will see the large “It’s a Girl!” stork placed on our lawn tomorrow and go, “OH! That’s what that was!” Luckily, our house is such that you couldn’t hear the rebel yells from downstairs, just the stomping apparently, which everyone downstairs started doing in solidarity.
After a half hour of that, LaShel checks me again and now the entire cervix has swelled and I am back to 5 cm dilation during surges. Not good news. My body is feeling the urge to push and apparently, the pressure of not being complete and involuntary pushes have swollen the cervix.
So, at 12pm, I am given a choice – try to relax for an hour and see if the swelling went down or head to the hospital, have an epidural and try to sleep to allow my swollen cervix to fully dilate.
Willow, my biggest fear and anxiety about your birth, besides it ending in a dreaded second c-section, was the car ride to the hospital and here I was, facing this probability at 9 cm dilated with an insatiable urge to push, and having to fight that with everything I had to avoid more swelling. My hip was killing me, the surges were 1 minute apart and 37 counts worth of the most unexplainable torture one could never hope to describe. Your head was stuck and swelling behind my pelvic bone. There was no single body position that provided any relief.
I knew that it was 11.2 miles to the nearest hospital and at least a 15-20 minute drive. I also knew that I would have to be registered, admitted and then wait for the anesthesiologist. It was not an emergency situation – your heart beat was strong. I decided to go to the hospital. I wanted to be put out of my misery. Every moment that passed was another minute I would have to wait.
We took Papa and Mimi’s motorhome. The trip to the hospital was an exercise in self control. Every other minute, a painful contraction would begin along with the uncontrollable urge to push. I closed my eyes and counted while steadily breathing slowly. I concentrated on relaxing my entire body. I went to another world. When the contractions would subside, I returned to my body. The motorhome was quite and no one said a word. Just reassuring smiles from Daddy and Mimi. We arrived in record time and they were waiting for us.
I was admitted in and the labor and delivery room by 12:55pm. I told the nurse I needed help. I pleaded with everyone there to please help me quickly. I put on the gown, I got an IV, I got an oxygen mask. I had blood taken. I signed forms. All between contractions. I had no idea when the anesthesiologist would arrive – he was in surgery. We needed the lab results back first. I was in for a long ride.
The first epidural came at 3:15. It was partially successful. I still felt the surges (I’ll call them surges from now on because that is how they
felt at this point) and I still felt hot pain in my hips and lower back. I hadn’t had any food at all and my sides were cramping with hunger. Food wasn’t an option and I cursed myself for not eating before we left but I just wasn’t thinking straight. There would be no food until you were delivered. Another reason to have you vaginally – I could eat straight away.
The second epidural came at around 6 and it was successful. I finally felt the warm, numbness in my hips, uterus and back. I could finally relax. My legs were totally dead to me – like they belonged to another body. I was happy. I was ready.
Lots of other stuff happened at the same time, of course. But when you are under that much pain and pressure, you don’t really notice. For instance, I had a new doctor to contend with. He was extremely anti-natural birth movement, as they all are it seems, and admitted that he was appalled at the fact that we were attempting a home VBAC. Of course, on the other hand, our new night nurse Tracy had gone and jacked up my pitocin to 8mg and was going to go up to 20mg if needed and the doctor had to chew her out and put me back to 4mg tops. So, with all the talk of how dangerous having you at home was, they were meanwhile increasing the odds of rupture with the pitocin. Pretty ironic I think.
The doctor that delivered you, and despite having an amazing ability to remember all names, was called Dr. Brum-something. He was huge – like 6’6” and when he checked for dilation, which is done so with the checker’s index and middle fingers, he said for him I was at 7cm but
for most, we’ll consider me complete. He would allow me to finally push at around 8pm. It was surreal. I finally got the change to push you out! Of course, I can’t feel anything at all at this point so I am worried that I won’t be able to move any muscles. I am reassured that I will be able to and I am ready. Omi on one side and Mimi on the other side to lift my 500lb legs and Daddy behind me to help hold my head with my chin to my chest, we worked first in cycles of 3 with the surges, pushing and holding my breath for 10 counts and then, we added a 4th as my pitocin induced surges were long and strong. At one point, when sensation began to return, I got up to 6 cycles.
All the while, the Hypnobirthing method of “birth breathing” was in the back of my mind. We aren’t supposed to push you out our bodies, we are supposed to let our bodies do the work and birth breathe you safely down the birth path. When nurse Tracy turned her back, I birth breathed you down. You were coming in at a funny angle. Tracy thought you were sunny side up – that is, instead of facing my spine, facing up to my belly button. But I knew you weren’t. I could feel your spine against the front of my tummy and your body was perfectly straight down. Your swollen little head was somehow stuck under my pelvic bone. There was a heck of a lot of pressure on my hips and back and I was able to get a little more epidural every 10 minutes by pushing a button.
After 2 hours of this, Tracy gave up on me. She told me you would need to be delivered by C-section because your head was developing pressure and it was creating a blister. It was now or never. She walked away from my bed. I turned to one side and visualized you coming down while breathing with my contractions. When Dr. Huge and Imposing returned, he barked, “You can’t sleep through labor, Girl!” Or something equally condescending. To which I replied, “trust me, I am not sleeping; I am working.” And guess what, Willow? In 15 minutes, your mommy had willed you down far enough into the world that even mean-y Doctor had decided that you were ready to come out with just a little help from a vacuum. He gave me 2 choices – I cut him off by the 3rd – c-section if I was too tired to go on (I wasn’t. I would have fought for you forever), deliver you right now with the use of a vacuum – “Stop! We’ll take it!”
So, in comes the Calvary. The nursery nurse, the supporting nurse staff, the tools, the baby bed gets prepared. I can hardly believe that anyone else thinks there is going to be a baby there in a minute or two. He tells me I have to push like I have never pushed before and I am ready. Get your face mask on, Doc, she’s getting shot out of here!
3 big pushes for your head. I feel it coming down. It feels like the biggest relief in history. POP! It’s out!!! One more little push for one shoulder, and another one for the other shoulder. One small push for the rest of you and WAH!!!!!!! You were here, laying all buttery smooth on my chest looking at me questioningly. I introduced myself to you formally and kissed you, calmed you. You knew me and I knew you in a
familiar way that I can’t describe.
Everyone is cheering and before I can stop them, the normal hospital dance begins with the cord cut, you being whisked away to be weighed and tested. Your scores are great. You weigh 8lb 8.3oz and are 21 inches long. You are bigger that your big brother was at birth – and he was born 13 days gestationally longer than you were. You were in the baby warmer with your grandparents protecting you on every side from the assault. I laid on the table watching and being stitched up from a gnarly tear.
Eventually, everything calms down and everyone leaves. I don’t know where they went but it was just you and me in the room. I nursed you. I kissed you. I sang to you. I thanked the universe for you. My own little baby daughter to love, teach, and instill within a strength to stand up for what she believes in and fight the system. No regrets, baby Willow.
The story, of course, just begins there. And there is already so much to tell. Like how you recognized your Daddy when he picked you up for the first time and gently introduced himself. And how your brother sat still on my lap for 20 minutes after a nap and told me he missed me a couple of days after we got home with you. He is going to be such a good big brother to you! He says, “Ryder likes baby Willow!” I came downstairs once without you and he asked if I had put Baby Willow back in my belly button. I explained that there was no going back, you
were here for good. He’s ok with that.
I love you my little darling,
3 Cheers for Hypnobirthing and Class 4 (Birth Preferences Plan) especially. We were able to hit the hospital and know what to ask and what to refuse. I can't thank you enough!
Congratulations to you & Gus! You did an amazing job using your HypnoBirthing techniques to the best of your ability! The knowledge you acquired from class and the support of the amazing midwives gave you the courage to stand up for what you wanted & do what you needed to do in order to have the VBAC you wanted. Even though it wasn't as comfortable & calm as you had hoped, my goal of having you informed & educated was successful. You were able to make the right choices for you & your baby in order to have a safe, successful VBAC birth. You trusted your body, the birthing process & you willed your body to do what it needed to do! I hope you continue enjoying your babymoon! I'm sure you're feeling over the moon!
For more information about San Diego Midwife, please call 760-809-9396 or visit their
website at www.sandiegomidwife.com.
For more information about Carol Yeh-Garner's HypnoBirthing classes in San Diego, CA, please visit her website at www.AWellLivedLife.Net. For other practitioners in your area, please visit www.HypnoBirthing.com to locate a class near you.