This mama’s birth experience is a shimmering example of Hypnobabies at work. Skeptics, this is a must-read!
And to new mother Michele — all we can say is WOW. Your story is incredible and beautiful, as is your written account of your journey. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your story with Blooma families.
Alisa, Sarah & the women of Blooma
Thursday August 25th – I met Garett at SeaSalt Eatery after work to get our favorite grilled catfish poboy, a treat we had not had all summer. I started having some painless contractions while we were there that came at a frequency that made me sense that something was different than the Braxton Hicks contractions I sometimes had. After we got back home I started assembling and sewing the diaper bag for our baby girl’s impending arrival (nesting?). The contractions continued to come fairly regularly and now were becoming slightly uncomfortable in my lower back.
I put on the Hypnobabies “Birthing Day Affirmations” while I cut fabric and rocked my hips back and forth during contractions. Before bedtime Garett asked me if I had felt the baby move much today. It had been a busy day at work and, after some reflection, I couldn’t remember feeling her move. The previous day she had been an acrobat, but today was different and I started to get scared, especially now that I was having contractions. We ended up calling the midwife, who advised us to come in and get checked. Although our baby girl wasn’t moving around a lot, we passed the non-stress test and were back in our own beds by 3:00 am.
Friday August 26th – Mild, short (15-30 second) contractions continued every 4-7 minutes all day. I went to work anyway to wrap some things up and distract myself. I worked with my ujjayi breath during each contraction, making my breath as smooth and full as possible. Over the next few days I would also practice anuloma viloma pranayama, visualizing light traveling up and down the spine with each alternate nostril inhale and exhale. We had lab meeting over the lunch hour and my co-workers told me later that I was not looking so good.
Saturday August 27th – Contractions woke me during the night, but I was able to sleep in between them. I woke on this morning feeling frustrated and not sure I really wanted to go to Bellyrama anymore. I listened to a Hypnobabies track as I sat in the early morning sunshine on the front porch and then decided it was too lovely outside to skip this special event. I had been looking forward to it for a long time and had imagined myself going if I was still pregnant.
I arrived late, but found a spot on the outskirts next to my friend Brigit and her daughter. It was so good to see Brigit’s smiling face and such a nice surprise to see her! Sarah, Corrine and Jesse led a beautiful practice, accompanied by Suzanne Sterling’s incredible music. Everything was perfect – the practice, the sun shining on my skin, the energy of women everywhere.
Afterwards, Brigit and I sat together on a bench and she placed her hand on my belly as I had a contraction. It was so good to be with her. She reassured me that my body was doing good work and that if contractions continued like this for the next few days that would be great. That was exactly what I needed to hear. I started to see these short, mild contractions not as an annoyance, but as slowly preparing my body for an easier active labor and delivery.
Garett met me at Lake Harriet and we walked to Zumbro’s for some brunch and picked up some sandwiches from Clancey’s for later. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the weather outside, contractions slowing down.
Sunday August 28th – We went to the State Fair, parking literally miles away from the fair (we could see Como Park!). I was still having contractions, but they were fairly sporadic. They didn’t stop me from enjoying 4 hours at the fair: eating lots of terrible (awesome) food, looking at the animals and visiting the horticulture building. We joked in the Miracle of Life barn that if I went into labor I could just pull up a stall and birth right there.
Monday August 29th – I went to work as mild contractions continued. I asked my coworker, Tung, what day he thinks the baby is going to be born. He says “Wednesday.”
Tuesday August 30th – I go to work again, trying to hold onto a shred of normalcy and routine, as I know my world is about to be turned upside down with the inevitable arrival of a baby. We are approaching 40 weeks in a few days and the midwives would like to do a biophysical profile today due to my gestational diabetes. Our baby passes all of the criteria right away (practice breathing, movements, heart rate, etc.) and is still doing well in utero.
In the evening I picked up some groceries at the coop and on the way home contractions started to become more intense, especially in my low back. When I got home my mom called, but we had a bad connection and I was becoming irritated. She wanted to know how things were progressing and I quickly became annoyed and cut the phone conversation short.
Ironically, Garett’s mom called also called shortly thereafter, also wanting to know how things are going. We had not told our families that I had been having contractions the past few days precisely because we didn’t want to be providing “status updates” all of the time. However, it seems that the grandmas must have known that something was going on! Little did we know that we would have our sweet baby in our arms 12 hours later!
Wednesday August 31st- As I went to bed, contractions continued to come at a regular pace and were strong enough to wake me. Luckily I was able to doze in between them, but by 1:00 am I was having trouble sleeping and a warm shower sounded like a good idea. After showering I was able to go back to bed and get some more sleep, but by 4:00 am I was back out of bed.
I surfed the internet, ate some food, fixed my hair and timed contractions, which were 5 minutes apart. I focused on my ujjayi breathing, sending deep breath all of the way down to my pelvic floor with each contraction, becoming a witness to each wave pulsing through my body.
It amazed me that when each contraction ended I felt completely fine, no discomfort. Although each contraction required my full concentration, they were not nearly as bad as I anticipated. I kept thinking back to a birthing lecture we attended where someone reenacted how a woman might behave during the phases of early labor, active labor, transition and pushing. During the active labor/ transition phase the woman was making TONS of crazy noise and acting like she was in agony. I didn’t feel this way, so I doubted I was in active labor, but wasn’t really sure.
At 5:30 I woke Garett up and I told him something was different. He could see that I was quite serious and focused with each contraction. I called our doula, Holly, around this time to tell her that contractions were more intense and quite close together. I got the impression that Holly didn’t really think I was in active labor either, although she did not say that. Perhaps it was because I called between contractions and was very calm on the phone. I told her I had a midwife appointment at 7:00 am that morning and she said I could postpone it if I liked. Something told me I should probably go, in fact, I really WANTED to go.
I spent some more quality time on the toilet before our appointment. Oh how good it felt!! Garett was outside of the bathroom and could hear me saying to him over and over “I love the toilet so much. I just love the toilet.”
We arrived at our midwife appointment a little early and the doors were not open yet. There were two other couples waiting outside and by this point I was pacing the hall and it clearly looked like something was happening. I had to wonder what the other couples were thinking. When I finally checked in I had to do the mandatory pee in the cup, which sounded like the most terrible idea ever. I did it anyway.
As we were waiting in the exam room I turned to Garett and said, “I’m so afraid she is going to check me and tell me I am not even dilated.” I had not had any internal exams up until this point, so I had no idea what the status of my cervix was.
My favorite midwife walked in, could tell I was uncomfortable, and asked if I would like to be checked. “Yes!” I said. I made my way up onto the exam table and after a moment she said very calmly in her lovely British(?) accent, “Well, the baby is very low.”
I laid there wondering what she would say next. “We are going to get you a wheelchair and take you straight to labor and delivery because you are at 9 cm. You are having a baby this morning!”
I couldn’t believe it! I was shocked (and happy!) and I started crying. She gave me a hug and told me to wait for my wheelchair. Honestly, I felt like I could walk across the street to the birthing center, but I got in the wheelchair anyway.
When we arrived at the front desk they were expecting us, but there was also some paperwork to fill out. Our room was not quite ready, but I was ready for the room. We had to wait a few minutes and I remember getting kind of crabby standing there.
By 7:40 am we were in our birthing room and they were strapping the monitors on my belly for the 20 minutes they needed to. I turned on the TV and was glad to see my usual Good Morning America on (although I was disappointed my favorite Robin Roberts was out for the day).
I continued to have contractions and was in very good spirits. Garett called Holly at some point to inform her this baby was coming soon – I think she was surprised! The monitors were on longer than 20 minutes and I didn’t really like just laying there, I wanted to move, so I requested they take them off. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I did I felt “pushy.” The nurse went to get the midwife and I went to sit on the toilet (my favorite!).
The midwife couldn’t get there right that moment, but when the nurse came back and saw me on the toilet she freaked out. She told me I needed to get off of the toilet immediately or I would have my baby in the toilet. I thought this was funny and though to myself “I am not having this baby in the toilet. Just let me be!”
I waddled off of the pot and back towards the bed as the midwife came in the room. She checked me again and I was complete. When she checked me she also broke my water, which came out murky and brown.
The NICU team was called so they could be there when she was born in case she had swallowed meconium and was not doing well. Holly arrived somewhere around this time and told me my Hypnobabies was definitely working for me. I told her I wasn’t doing any of the self-hypnosis. She assured me it was working subconsciously anyway because I did not look like a woman who was about to push a baby out. The midwife and nurse agreed. I guess I knew I was going to have a comfortable, easy childbirth, just like I had trained myself to think for months.
Soon I began pushing when my body felt like it. I liked being on all fours, leaning over the back of the bed. Holly and Garett put cold washcloths on my head and neck and gave me water when I asked. I could usually get three good pushes before the urge to push would subside and I would rest and drink. I remember saying a couple of times “I don’t want to push, I don’t want to push.”
It wasn’t that the pushing was painful (there was a lot of pressure though). I remember being scared to push, fearing that at some point it would become extremely painful. I couldn’t imagine how this baby could possibly come out. The midwife kept saying “the more you push the sooner you will see your baby. This wasn’t terribly motivating because, honestly, I was also scared to meet my baby. Scared to be a mother. Scared of my future. But even if you don’t want to push, you have to push. There are no other options, and life marches on. When you realize you can’t escape it, you embrace it.
And then I became determined. I wanted to switch positions. I tried the squat bar, but started to get hip cramps. Then I was in a semi-reclined position with my knees bent up by my sides. The nurse and midwife commented on how flexible I was. “It’s the yoga,” I said.
After a few more pushes the midwife said, “Reach down and feel your baby! Feel all of that hair on her head!” I reached down and touched the top of her wet, furry head. I retracted my hand and was not comforted by touching just the top of her head because I knew that I still had to push her WHOLE head and body out.
A few more pushes and I could feel some real progress. At this point I was seriously vocal. I was very quiet during contractions, but not while pushing! Vocalizing felt productive and good!
The midwife said, “Imagine pushing your baby up towards the ceiling!” So I did. I imagined baby coming down and out and shooting her up towards the sky. Holly, Garett, the midwife and the nurse were all cheering me on as I gathered all of my power to push.
I became a witness to all of the sensations in my body. The sensations changed as her head was born – I could feel burning and some tearing (although, seriously, this was not terrible, it just was) and then her whole body quickly slid out — what an awesome feeling! It was instant relief – physical and mental. All of the anxiety of wondering how that baby could possibly come out – and then you do it! So empowering!
Garett was there to catch her with his bare hands, what a proud papa!
The NICU team was there just in case, but after a few suctions Elena Ann started crying loudly at 9:39 am and then they left. We wanted to wait to clamp the umbilical cord until it stopped pulsing, but I remember watching them clamp it right away and thinking “No, no, please no!” I think they did it just in case she needed to be taken down to NICU right away. That was really the only thing that did not go according to our wishes.
The placenta delivered a minute later after a small push and we all looked at it as the midwife explained the various parts. Then it was placed in a container for Holly to take to be dehydrated and encapsulated. The nurse then pressed on my belly to help my uterus clamp down. Ugh, this was unpleasant.
We initiated breastfeeding immediately so that Elena could keep her blood sugar up. Breastfeeding was not immediately successful, as we both had to learn. She managed to get a little colostrum right away in the first few minutes as the midwife stitched me up. The nurse once again commented that “she needs to learn yoga” after seeing such a calm birth. It really was a calm and comfortable experience, and I wouldn’t change a thing. My Hypnobabies training and the power of focused breath were invaluable.
When they placed a slippery Elena on my chest right after she was born I remember thinking “Wow, this is my baby. This is it, this is for real.” It was overwhelming.
I wondered throughout my pregnancy what emotions I would feel when they handed my baby to me for the first time – immense love, fear, anxiety? Would I be moved to tears? To my own surprise, no. A large part of me was still acting as a witness to all of the events. I didn’t feel an instant bond or extreme love when they placed her on my chest. It’s a lot to process – this experience of giving birth. However, in the hours and days afterwards my heart felt like it exploded wide open. Everyday I am moved to tears at the beauty of this precious soul in my arms. And everyday I take a moment to appreciate the absolute miracle she truly is. We are so blessed.