Sunday, February 16, 2014

Katrina's Birth Story (AKA "Our Unplanned Homebirth" or "HypnoBirthing Really Works!"

Alanna & Mike took my Tuesday night HypnoBirthing classes in Encinitas (North County San Diego, CA) to prepare for their second birth. They had taken another birthing class for their first birth, but weren't happy with the outcome and decided that they wanted to learn more to be even more prepared for their second birth.

Katrina Eve Peters

Alanna's story:

On Monday and Tuesday (Feb 10 & 11) I started having some mild cramping sensations in my lower abdomen, almost like pre-menstrual cramps. They were infrequent and mainly only started in the afternoon through evening and went away by morning. They weren't uncomfortable at all but I practiced my slow breathing through them just to start preparing for labor, which I assumed was probably a few days away.
On Tuesday (11th) the cramping was becoming a little more intense and by that night I figured we were probably getting close to the start of labor. I researched prodromal labor (false labor), sat on my birth ball for a bit and drank some red raspberry leaf tea in hopes that my cramping would turn into labor surges rather than disappear again in the morning. I was convinced that this was going to drag out over several days.
Sometime between midnight and 1:00 AM on Wednesday morning (12th) I woke up with what I could tell were real uterine surges. I could actually feel everything tightening up and starting to push my baby down. I started listening to my Rainbow Relaxation and HypnoBirthing music playlist on my headphones and slowly breathed through each surge. Mike had fallen asleep in Sammy's room so he had no idea anything was going on. I figured I'd have a long time to go so I didn't want to wake him and bother him yet. One of us might as well get a good night's sleep! Around 3:30 AM I decided I should probably start timing the surges just to be sure that we didn't need to get ready for the hospital yet. I timed them for about an hour but they were all over the place - no rhythm or pattern to them at all. I went back to bed and continued my breathing and relaxation. Around 5:30 AM I noticed Mike was back in our bed and he realized that I was having real contractions. I assured him that nothing serious was happening yet and that we'd see if everything slowed down again in the morning as they had the two days before.
Around 7:30 AM on Wednesday 912th) I got up for the day. I had a cup of coffee, sat at my computer, and took care of some essential business, just in case. I let our friends know that there was a good chance we'd need them to watch Sammy that day. Then I hopped in the bathtub around 8:00 AM where I soaked for about an hour while listening to a podcast about "How to Know if You are in Real Labor" (I decided that it was still practice labor since my surges were still irregular) and then listened to my relaxation music. Getting in the tub slowed down my contractions for a while but eventually they became pretty consistently 5-7 minutes apart.
Mike was still home that morning and was getting Sammy ready for the day while preparing to go out and run some errands. I figured that since my surges were still pretty far apart (real labor would start when they were 4 minutes apart) he had plenty of time to go out and do some things before we had to go to the hospital. I was planning to call my aunt, who was going to be our birth companion at the hospital, and let her know that we would most likely be going to the hospital that afternoon. 
I sat up in the tub and started draining the water when a really strong surge hit me. I breathed through it and continued my process of getting dried and dressed. I did my best to get my hospital bag ready but from that point on, I just kept having surge after surge. I couldn't even properly brush my teeth because they were coming so fast. I started timing them and realized they were consistently 2 minutes apart and about 1 minute each. I was afraid I wasn't going to have time to track them for an hour to see if they fit the 2-1-1 timeframe! It was at this point I realized there was probably no way in hell we were making the 45-60 minute drive to Balboa Hospital down in San Diego.
While Mike made me some eggs for breakfast (so I'd have energy for the day ahead), I sat in my chair and kept breathing through the surges and relaxing. I got about two bites of my eggs and then had another surge. That one was SO intense that I suddenly had a moment of panic and felt like I couldn't take it anymore. I yelled to Mike that I didn't think I could handle this anymore. He came in the room, told me to calm down and relax. (While he was seriously concerned that I was already losing it so early into the labor process!) I relaxed for a minute until the next surge hit. This time I yelled again that I didn't know how long I could do this. 
All of a sudden I felt the urge to push. I thought that it was still way early in my labor so I figured I must just have to poop. I rushed past Mike into the bathroom and told him so. He said "no, I don't think you do" but figured that this pressure was just a part of labor. I sat down on the toilet and started pushing and instantly realized that it was NOT poop baby was ready to be born. Mike checked and at first didn't feel anything, but then I breathed down a little bit and he could feel her crowning. He made me scoot forward so he could see (and catch!) the baby. He handled it so calmly that it was easy for me to get back to my relaxed state. I remembered that I wasn't supposed to "push" and I just needed to bear down a bit with my breath whenever I had a surge. This is what I did, and I think it took about 4-5 breaths before my baby was fully born at 9:35 AM. She was still in her bag of waters, and thankfully we had seen this in a birthing video recently so Mike wasn't freaked out. He knew it was totally fine and once she came out he just broke it open and handed me our baby.
While I held her, Mike called 911 to ask for assistance. The EMT's showed up and helped transfer us to the hospital to deliver the placenta and make sure we were okay. It was pretty crazy and exciting! Meanwhile, Sammy was in the bathtub in the other bathroom, completely oblivious that her sister was being born. After the event, Mike went to get her so she could see her sister before we transferred to the hospital.

Mike’s story:

First let me say “I am the man”! Whoo. That aside, I went to sleep the night before labor with my daughter Sam aound 11, woke up around 2 and crawled into our bed. Alanna was awake and said she was feeling some tremors and I asked if we should get the birthing party started. She said the contractions weren't that strong or consistent yet so I went to sleep. I woke around 7:30 and Alanna was in the rocker recliner in the baby’s room covered in a blanket with her eyes closed and headphones on. She looked asleep. I knew that was part of the hypno-birthing deal so I took a pic when she wasn’t looking and went to my daily routine. After some coffee and some email checking I asked Alanna if she thought I should stay home from work. She said it wasn’t necessary but it would be nice to have someone around the house to help with Sam while she was in the pre-labor stage. While Alanna took a bath it slowly crept into my mind that this was going to be the day so I cleaned, had breakfast with Sam and then put her in the tub. When Alanna got out of the tub she said her contractions were coming hard and fast. I mentioned that maybe they slowed in the tub and now her body is catching up to make up for lost momentum. She agreed and I made some her eggs and an english muffin. 

Sitting in the baby chair again she started eating her breakfast. I went to the kitchen to clean up and I heard her scream, “Miiiiike, I don’t think I can do this anymore!”. I thought Whaaat? We didn’t even get to the hospital yet! Why did we take hypo-birthing lessons for the past month and a half if we’re going to just jump to freak out mode off the bat? I went into her room and reassured her and did some light massage on her legs. Then the next contraction came. She said “I have to poop” and she pushed me out of the way and started walking towards the bathroom. I said “You know you don’t need to poop”. My thinking was based on an anecdote provided by our birthing teacher. Wrong! We went into the bathroom and she said “I think the baby is coming. I feel like I have to push.” I said “The baby’s not coming”. So I told her to lean back and I looked. As I inspected I started to say “See, nothing is coming… Oh yea there’s something there”. I felt to see what it was and since it was so close to crowning I waited to see what it was. At first I thought it was just the bag of water that was coming out on it’s own before the birth actually started. Never saw that before but hey she wasn’t about to have a baby in the bathroom right? Then as I watched I saw hair under the shiny sack. Oh shit! I told her “Okay, were having a baby”. She started to tense and I reassured her that we can do this together. The baby was coming fast with every contraction so I grabbed my shower towel off the wall behind me and got my head together for the next couple rounds of contractions. I held Alanna’s butt up as she leaned back as to not drop the baby in the toilet. After 3-4 contractions the head came out. She was still in the bag of water. I think if I hadn’t seen this in one of the birthing movies we saw I would have freaked out. I knew she was still attached by the cord and that’s what was important, she didn’t need to breathe yet. Another couple of surges and she was out near her shoulders. I then used my finger nails to pop the bag between her head and shoulder. POP! Like a balloon. Another 2 contractions and out she came. She was as beautiful as a new born baby could be. Alanna said “Give her to me” so I did. We got the cord from around her neck and she sneezed and breathed in a couple times. 

I didn’t know what exactly to do at that point. I knew I should cut the cord after it stopped pulsing but I was kind of bewildered so I thought I’d call the pros. I then called 911 and they sent the EMT’s. While waiting for them we got Alanna's shirt off so the baby was skin to skin and the 911 person instructed me to tie a shoe lace around the umbilical cord and knot it. This is where my brain should have thought “I can do this, I saw Crab Man do this on My Name is Earl with some coupon scissors and some chip clips”, but I just followed the person's directions instead. The EMT’s showed up and I heard “Daddy, What’s going on?”, oh man Sammy is still in the tub. I told her to get out and dry herself while I did finally get the chance to cut the cord. I have a crappy iPhone pic that no one will see because my wife is buck naked in the shot, but I do have it. I got Sam dressed and told her she gets to see her baby sister. She looked dumbfounded. I don’t assume to know what a 3 1/2 year old is thinking when she hears that but it seemed to be surprise and excitement. I made room in our bedroom, now with 5 guys and a gurney and Sam got to see her baby sister. She said  “Ooohh, she’s so cute!”. As they moved Alanna and the baby together to the gurney Sam kept saying “Hi baby” and “She’s so cute” and making a happy little squealing sounds. They took Alanna and the now pinker Katrina to the Ambulance, we gave them Alanna’s hospital bag and they were off. Sammy and I followed to the not planned Tri-City hospital.

Alanna was supposed to birth at Balboa hospital in Downtown San Diego. Why? It was free that’s why. But like Alanna said “She wasn’t getting to the car let alone a hospital 45 minutes away”. So we ended up at the Tri-City hospital 5 minutes away. The hospital was not a good experience. Unknown to me while asking for directions to the birth area I met our doctor on the way in and told her our story. Once to the front desk of the baby ward they told me Sam can’t be there because of flu season. Grrrr. 15 min later our friend Joy came and got Sam and took her home for the evening to have her first sleepover with her best friend Audrey. After not seeing my wife or baby for about 45 minutes I finally made it back to the room where Alanna and Kat were. I was super relieved that they were both healthy and happy. Alanna still didn’t birth the placenta yet and the doctor was somewhere else. The nurses wouldn’t let Alanna try to push it out without the doctor so we waited. This is where Alanna would tell the story best but to summarize, the doctor wanted to give an IV & give Pitocin. Alanna refused both. The doctor was kind of pissed, you could tell by her body language while she explained why it was smarter to do what she wanted us to do. We knew everything was going smoothly so again Alanna refused. Alanna passed the placenta naturally by pushing a couple times. She did need to get sewn up a little since the baby came so fast out of the gate. And that was the extent of the medical involvement. Some stitches and catching the placenta. 

I do not recommend Tri-City at all to anyone. Out of the 5 nurses we had 2 that were considerate to our wants, the doctor was pushy, and the building itself… all the furniture was just destroyed, the dust on the bathroom vents and window cills were so thick you couldn’t see the actual metal. The crown jewel was a couch in the birthing room so used that the sitting surfaces were discolored about 10 shades darker than the sides of it. The best thing about Tri-City was the exit door.

We’re now happy and healthy and doing what we do, but now with a new Kat. The experience of helping birth my daughter was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I tried to liken it to something else I’ve done before. It’s pretty impossible, I was excited yet super relaxed, anxious and focused. It was awesome. While our culture doesn’t support it and most dudes would pass, I think dads should have the opportunity to receive their baby and bring them into this world. I would do it again in a second.

Alanna's story:
To make the rest of the story short, everything went fine - baby Katrina and I are both perfectly fine and healthy (even after me being GBS+ and not getting any antibiotics!) with no complications whatsoever. I was a little annoyed that they kept trying to push an IV and medications even after I had a 100% natural home birth, but we just kept refusing everything, to the doctor's annoyance. Like Mike said, the hospital experience was not good at all. If I were to have another birth (which I am NOT planning!) I would totally do it all at home. The labor and birth at home were AMAZING and I can only imagine how much more peaceful and relaxing it would have been to just finish up everything else with a midwife at home. I have no regrets though - this birth experience was absolutely amazing. I will never forget any minute of it!

Side Note: I highly recommend HypnoBirthing to anyone interested in a natural, peaceful birth experience. I am convinced that my labor went so smooth and easy because I was totally relaxed the entire time. My relaxation allowed each contraction to be so effective that I didn't even realize anything was really happening yet! On my contraction timer I started by noting each surge as "Mild", then gradually started marking them as "Moderate". Toward the end a couple of them brought tears to my eyes but I never really considered any of them to be painful. It wasn't until the last two surges (where I yelled out to Mike) that I considered them "Severe". It was just amazing. No words can really describe how awed and amazed I am about this experience. I can hardly believe it, but I did it!

Not sleeping...just totally relaxed.
Not sleeping...just totally relaxed.

From 5-7 minutes apart to 2 minutes apart!
From 5-7 minutes apart to 2 minutes apart!

WOW! Congratulations Alanna & Mike! I'm thrilled to hear that things went so well that you didn't even make it to the hospital...and yet, were still really prepared to handle anything that came your way! Mom, baby, mom's body (& dad) knew exactly what to do once the body is able to relax! So excited for you--thank you for sharing your story!

If you are interested in taking Carol Yeh-Garner's HypnoBirthing classes, please visit her website at www.AWellLivedLife.Net. If her classes do not fit your schedule, feel free to contact her for other local practitioners. If you're outside of the San Diego area, you can visit to find a practitioner near you.


1 comment:

Alanna said...

Thank you, Carol, for helping us feel so prepared for every possible situation! I am SO glad we decided to take your class. :)