It's Your Birthday! Melina's Birth Story
In the months and definitely weeks leading up to giving birth, I became a little obsessive over the thought of how I would go into labor. It was always on my mind and in my dreams. Not having experienced spontaneous labor in my first pregnancy, I felt like a first-timer going into this and was so excited but nervous about how it would all happen. I had vivid dreams of giving birth in the car because we would be stuck in rush hour traffic getting to the hospital! I also worried about how we would handle the arrangements for Totes if we needed to leave for the hospital in the middle of the night and my mom hadn't arrived yet. Or how he would handle being away from me while I was in the hospital for so long?
Now that it's all said and done, it couldn't have gone any better.
My second pregnancy was another great one. Although nothing is as romantic as the first time around. I was very nauseous in my first trimester (more so than with Totes, they say that's what girls bring!) and extremely fatigued throughout most of it, which I contribute to being older and having an energetic toddler to keep up with. Totes also conveniently decided to drop his nap just as I started the third trimester and needed that rest myself. But luckily this time there were no medical complications so I was able to prepare for the natural childbirth I wanted.
On the day before I went into labor (at 38w+5d), I started feeling the old, familiar aches and cramps that usually accompanied my period... I also felt that the baby had dropped very low into my pelvis, causing me to struggle with every move of my body, but I didn't know how much more it could go. I could barely get in and out of bed and although I tried to keep up with my prenatal yoga, so many of the moves were just impossible to do.
A side note, a quote from my aunt that has six beautiful children (she's my go-to for advice on these things!): "I think for me, I know labor is really near if I feel like a bowling ball is resting on my cervix, which it literally is if you're effaced and the skin is thin and the baby's head is right there resting. Think of it like you have a bowling ball resting between a few layers of blankets on your shin bone verses A bowling ball resting between one sheet on your shin. That's akin to the difference I feel. Super heavy. And no padding supporting it. Like moving causes deep pain into your whole womb and back."
That afternoon, I went in for a chiropractic adjustment, my sixth in the last couple of weeks to get my hips in proper alignment to allow the baby to drop and position optimally, then took Totes to a nearby park while we waited for Papa to finish work for the day. By the evening, I was feeling nauseous and felt too much so to eat anything so I skipped dinner. I went to bed early with Totes. By 3am, I woke up, uncomfortable and crampy, and had a hard time falling back asleep. I was starting to feel slight contractions but was too tired to get out of bed. At 4am I decided to get up and go to the couch and concentrate on what my body was doing and practice my HypnoBirthing breathing techniques. I monitored my contractions for the next hour and a half. They were inconsistent, but averaged five minutes apart and one minute long. They tapered off so I decided to lay back down and get some more sleep. Shortly after, my guys were up for the day and our morning routines started as normal. Throughout the morning, I felt different but couldn't quite put into words what I felt, or if it meant anything. But the energy inside was brewing! I was distracted enough by the everyday morning activities to not notice what was going on inside my body and just kept moving. At one point my husband asked if I thought I was going in to labor and after I replied that I honestly didn't know since I didn't know what it felt like, he said "well haven't you read about it on the Internet?" Ha! Right?!
We spent a lot of time talking to Totes about his baby sister, included him in a lot of the Hypnobirthing relaxation techniques I practiced regularly and even did some "sleep-talk" hypnosis to him on a nightly basis to help him get ready for the arrival of his sister and the end of his only child status. I was confident going in to this change that he would be a great big brother. He regularly would kiss my belly and say "Baby Sister, come out!" That morning, I asked Totes if he thought his baby sister should come out today? He said, "Yes! Baby Sister come out today!" OK kid, you got it.
I dropped Totes off at his play-school and headed over to my OB's office for our weekly checkup at 11am. She did a cervical check and I was pleasantly surprised to learn something really had been in the works overnight and that morning... I was dilated to 5cm and about 70% effaced, baby at the -2 station. We confirmed my progress with a 20-minute monitoring sessions, surges were coming regularly enough although I could barely feel them. She suggested a walk around the block and then checking in to triage next door as I was in active labor. I was so excited we would be having the baby that day and that so much progress had already been made! It was a bit surreal as I left her office and went down the elevator, out the door and passing all these people going about their own business. Did they even realize I was in labor? No, because I didn't either! I spent the next 45 minutes walking around the block and made all my necessary phone calls: husband (it really was labor!), Barbara (doula) and Mom/Grandma (hurry! Change your flight!). During the walking and talking, there were several instances that I had to stop and focus on my breathing as the surges were getting intense and really frequent. I knew it was time to get checked in and situated so I could relax and focus on my breathing and body.
I arrived at triage at 1pm. Upon check-in, they monitored baby and gave me another cervical check. 7cm dilated now. A lot of distractions happened over the next couple hours with people arriving and moving us around, but I worked hard to get in my Hypno-zone. Every time I had a big contraction, the baby would move away from the monitor and they would lose tracking of her heart rate. Because it had dipped on the low side a few times, the nurse would immediately push the monitor deeper into my uterus to find her better! It was driving me crazy and was so painful, I couldn't breath properly through the contractions. But otherwise the room was beautifully calm and I kept progressing as I concentrated internally. My husband had to pick up Totes from school and drop him off with family before arriving at the hospital, so he arrived just after 3pm. We waited for him before the doctor broke my water knowing it would speed things up.
As with my first birth, I found a seated position, straddled on the hospital bed, that really allowed me to focus internally and shut out the external distractions. A part of me wanted to move around, knowing that movement and different positions might be more favorable for the baby's decent, but I was also scared to break my focus and get into a position that might be more uncomfortable. With each contraction on the inhale, I envisioned the walls of my cervix coming up, and with each exhale, widening. I also talked to my baby, telling her to push down into the newly opened space with each surge. Barbara massaged my feet and legs and applied pressure on my lower back to ease the discomfort I was feeling during contractions. The cold chills came and went, then the hot flashes started. My husband kept me cool with a damp cloth on my forehead and chest.
Upon completing my last cervical check and determining that I was fully dilated and effaced, I chose not to move and labor on my back as I was now feeling the urges to push. Once my body started fully pushing, all I could do was grab my husband's hand and hold on tight for the rest of the ride. I never forced my body to push... it did it all on its own. It happened so quick with barely a break to catch my breath. Thankfully, Barbara kept reminding me to breath when I could. The doctor at one point said "I can see her hair!" and i thought to myself, "Hair? My babies don't have hair!" But I was relieved in knowing she was that close. The moment my little girl's head and shoulders cleared, all the contractions and sensations stopped and I was able to reach down and help pull her the rest of the way out and up onto my chest. Much to everyone's surprise, she immersed sunny side up (OP) with one hand up by her face, superman style! Perfectly healthy, weighing 7lbs, 7oz and 20" long at 5:30pm and an apgar score of 9. I had no tears and it has been a very quick recovery.
Totes joined us an hour later and was happy to see that "sister came out!" We spent the next hour together before he and my husband went home for the night. I was ready to walk out with her that evening and even tried to walk myself over to the recovery room but the nurse wouldn't allow it and made me sit in a wheelchair. I felt so great immediately after I could have done cartwheels down the hall! But one of the setbacks to delivering at a hospital is how strict they are on your care. I had to beg, and lie!, to get released before the 24 hour period and go home to my family.
I loved reading birth stories! They are all so unique but secretly I was always searching them for the "how did you do it?" signs. While there is no secret 'right way' to induce labor or have a natural delivery if you're after one, here are a few thoughts about my experience. In my first pregnancy, I thought that labor was like a marathon and I needed to be physically fit to have the physical stamina needed to get through it. This time around, however, I realized it was less about the physical, and more about the mental stamina and state needed. They say that the baby will come when he/she is ready. But additionally, it's also when YOU are ready! A team effort, I believe. In my pregnancy, a few things I did that I feel helped:
- my Hypnobirthing practice. I re-read Marie Mongan's book to refresh my memory, listened to the rainbow relaxation and positive affirmations. Practiced my breathing techniques, getting into deep relaxation and shutting out distractions
- PreNatal Bonding from early in my pregnancy. In the last week, I prepped and talked to my baby each night. Told her our game plan. Sent her visuals of what we both needed to do. We visually "practiced" every night before bedtime for the last week
- read only positive birth experiences. A great resource for this is the group Hypnobirthing on FaceBook
- completed several fear release sessions. This time around they mostly centered around Totes, how our lives would change, and what the scenario might be for going in to labor
- followed the exercises outlined from Spinning Babies (even tho she still came out OP, I am fairly certain she was in an optimal position when I went in to labor!)
- perineal massage
- drank raspberry leaf tea and had several chiropractic adjustment and massage therapy in my third trimester
- assembled my team! I think this is the most important thing I did and luckily, I had the same wonderful people with me in this birth as I did with Totes's birth. My doula is so fantastic... I was so grateful to have her there for the birth of both of my babies and the education she brought to me in both of my pregnancies that helped set me up to have these experiences. I also can't say enough wonderful things about the group of doctors at Northwest Women's healthcare. They are constantly praised by other moms when a recommendation for an OB is asked in some of the mom groups I follow. Although I missed my doctor's on-call day by about 12 hours, I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Melville deliver my baby. She had such a calm energy about her, it synced perfectly with me. Our nurses at Swedish First Hill were so great again too. And, of course, my husband ;P
We were able to do placenta encapsulation this time around and I feel that it has helped in this postpartum period immensely in that I'm not crying about everything!
This was our last pregnancy, and with such great experiences both times, I'm a bit sad I won't get to do it again. But I'm so happy to be able to share with anyone wanting to know about Hypnobirthing. It's such a positive and empowering practice that allowed me to have a calm birth and welcome both of my babies to this world with as much joy as possible.