Josey shares the story of the conception and birth of her beautiful baby.
“My husband and I were only 27 years old when we decided to try to conceive, and we had no reason to think that we would have any issues. Nearly two years later, Infertility had taken its toll on us – both on our relationship and on my faith in my body. Thankfully, we finally found success with an injectibles IUI cycle done by a Reproductive Endocrinologist who lived six hours away from us.
As the pregnancy progressed, I slowly started to allow myself to dream and prepare for my ideal birth experience. This was the key that really helped me begin to heal and reclaim faith in myself and my body. I know that no birth goes exactly according to plan, but I can tell you that having a husband and a care team around me that supported my wishes 100% while my baby was being born into this world – that was a powerful and healing moment for me.
I truly believe that all women deserve to have nothing but love and respect surrounding them as their child enters their life for the first time – be it through adoption, vaginal birth, or a Cesarean. Birth without fear!
Tuesday night (37w5d), Charlie and I had “relations” in the hope that it would start things moving in the right direction. Maybe it did, I don’t know! I had a tiny bit of spotting throughout the day on Wednesday, but I figured it was probably from an irritated cervix.
Wednesday morning I went to my chiropractor to try to get some relief from the carpal tunnel and lower back pain I’d been having. She got my pelvis and hips aligned, and then massaged and stretched on my lower back. She told me that my lower back pain was actually muscular in origin and not because of any vertebrae being out of place, and she used kinesio tape on it and my forearms to try to alleviate some of the swelling and back pain. (I vaguely remember tearing that tape off my back and arms between contractions that night – I wanted everything touching me OFF and spent the majority of the time naked!)
Wednesday afternoon I still had no indication that my birthing time was anywhere on the horizon. I was carrying really high and feeling normal, and I just hung around the house most of the day and made lists of baby-related things I wanted/needed to get accomplished on Thursday after my 38w midwife appointment (like packing the hospital bag, buying a few last items from the baby registry at Target, making some casseroles to freeze, etc). HAHAHA.
09:00/09:30pm - Charlie falls asleep, but I’m not tired so I decide to watch a little more TV. One of my favorite new shows (Revenge) is on the DVR, and normally I can’t take my eyes off the show. But I’m having what I think are Braxton Hicks contractions that are really aggravating the back pain I’ve been having all week, and by just a few minutes into the show, I have to turn it off in order to listen to a hypnobabies track on my iPod and use my self-anesthesia and “off switch” to help with my back.
09:45 - This is the start of the first PW (pressure wave) I track on my phone app, and I’m really only tracking it because my back is hurting so much and I’m trying to distract myself.
10:00 - I get into the tub downstairs in the guest bathroom in order to help with the back pain. I am listening to my hypnobabies tracks on my iPod and using my release, open, and peace cues to relax through the pressure waves, which I am still thinking are Braxton Hicks. I am only at 38 weeks after all! After 20 minutes, I glance at my “contraction log” on my phone and am surprised to see I am averaging minute-long pressure waves about three minutes apart. They really aren’t hurting, just giving me feelings of intense pressure, and I talk myself into thinking that I must be tracking wrong, because the PW have been happening for less than an hour and that seems really close together, so how can that be right? Denial. What a funny thing.
10:25 - I suddenly have the urge to vomit ASAP. I jump out of the bath and puke between pressure waves. This is the moment I think, Holy crap, is this really happening?! 10:30 - I get into the shower to wash my hair, because I remember reading somewhere that it could help relax me and it might be the last time I shower for awhile. In retrospect, I’m glad I took the few minutes to do this. The whole time I am in my middle-switch position for hypnobabies and just deep breathing through the pressure waves. My back is still hurting me though, and it is definitely interfering with my concentration. In retrospect, I wish I had tried harder to direct the anesthesia to my back instead of just my stomach.
10:45 - I head back upstairs and ride out the next pressure waves while leaning over my birthing ball. I am low moaning through them because it feels better to make noise, and eventually it wakes Charlie up. He asks if I am peeing (um, no?), and then he wakes up a little more and realizes I am on the floor on the ball. He asks if I am in labor, and I tell him I have no idea, I’ve never done this before… but maybe?
11:00 – I call my midwife to see what I should do. Shawna (my favorite midwife!) and I talk for 30-40 minutes. I am pretty calm, though by this point I can’t talk during the pressure waves (or maybe just don’t want to). Things are pretty intense, and Charlie is running around gathering the things on my hospital bag list. He is not a night person and is nervous about the whole birthing time thing to begin with, so he is stressing out. I help him pack the baby stuff between PWs and tell him to just do the best he can with the rest of the list and to quit asking me questions during my pressure waves. Poor guy.
I am spending every pressure wave either on the toilet or on the floor on my hands and knees (with my head on the floor on my open hands). The PWs are still feeling okay, especially when I sit on the toilet, but my back is ripping in two, even between waves, so I have Charlie doing counter pressure, belly lifts, etc., which really helps. Being on all fours is really the best position for my back. Looking back, I suppose because it was getting Miss Stella off my spine and tail bone.
11:25 – Second puke… I don’t want Charlie to touch me anymore, and I am sitting on the toilet, peeing and having runny stools, while I puke into the trash can. in hindsight, this was probably transition. When I wipe, there is more blood, too. I’m not sure if that was when I lost my mucous plug (or if I ever did?), but I am definitely thinking, Whoa. I am still on the line with my midwife and tell her what just happened. She can tell I am getting more nervous, so she tells me to head into town since we have a 30 minute drive.
She told me later she thought I was probably at a three based on how I was talking and breathing and she didn’t want me discouraged when I got to the hospital, so she figured we’d hang out at her practice for a while. I’ve read this is a common “problem” with hypnobabies births – nobody realizes how far along you’ve progressed (or believes you if you’re telling them) because you’re not so anxiously vocal or in pain.
11:45 – I finally get down to the car between PWs and we head to town to meet the midwife at her office, across the street from the hospital. Charlie is doing a great job reminding me to listen to my hypnobabies tracks and to take long, slow breaths.
12:07 – I feel like I have to poop during my pressure waves, and it finally occurres to me that I might be farther along than any of us know. My back is still killing me, and I don’t think I can walk into Shawna’s office and then back out and over to the hospital, so Charlie calls and asks her to meet us at ER instead.
Shawna told me later that at that point, she told Charlie that he needed to drive faster. If you know Charlie, you know how hilarious that is. He is the slowest driver ever. He speeds up to 67 in a 60, being sure to slow down whenever we meet a car in case it’s a cop. I want to lose my mind on him, but I make every effort to concentrate on the hypnobabies track instead.
We miss the turn to the hospital. Oops. Poor Charlie is apologizing and I’m gasping that it’s okay – just take a left HERE and again HERE.
12:15 – We arrive at the hospital. This whole thing has only been going on for maybe three hours max, but the next pressure wave has me drop to my hands and knees in the ER entryway airlock to breathe through it. The staff are worried I’m going to have the baby right there (they actually bring Shawna gloves and lube in case she wants to just check me in the entryway!). She gets me a wheel chair and they rush me to the first possible exam room. She checks me and immediately says “Wow, you’re a 10, I can see your bulging bag of waters, and you’re ready to push, Josey! Good job!”
I’m at a 10? Completely dilated? Ready to push? What?! Wow. Okay. Here we go.
12:15am – They rush me up to the family center, get me into a room, and I spend one pressure wave on the toilet because I have to pee (not to mention it just feels better!). I am trying to poop too, just in case it’s really poop and not baby I am feeling. LOL
By the time my next pressure wave hits, I am on the bed on my hands and knees and just going with it and pushing, making my water break. Holy shit it is a lot of water, and it feels so good to push. I’m guessing this is when Stella finally drops.
As good at it feels to push, my back is still killing me. I have my “Pushing Baby Out” track playing on the iPad (totally missed “Easy First Stage Labor”), and Charlie is next to me, supporting me through every PW. I keep telling Shawna that my back hurts, so she decides to check me quick, thinking the baby is sunny side up. Turns out Miss Stella is completely sideways in there. SIDEWAYS. As in, it’s physically impossible to deliver kiddos sideways, and that generally means Mommas of sideways babies are headed for a c-section. Thankfully, Shawna doesn’t tell me any of this until afterwards – instead she just calmly tells me that we are going to have to do a lot of switching positions to get this baby out, and I need to listen to her.
I am so blessed that Shawna was my midwife that night. My nurse Alisa (also awesome) told me later that with an OB, I’d have been in a c-section at that point. Instead, I have these two wonderful, supportive women helping me turn, checking baby’s heart rate, keeping things calm, reassuring Charlie, etc. It’s awesome.
Every second pressure wave they have me turn, so I push for two waves on my back, two on my left side, two on my hands and knees, two on my right side, and repeat. Charlie helps hold my top leg up and back when I am on my sides, and I pull back on my legs while I am on my back. Being on all fours generally felt the best for my back, but I wasn’t making as much progress when I couldn’t see what was going on. Switching positions is the most painful part (because of my back pain), so Charlie is physically helping to push me into the next position. I’m focusing on the hypnobabies track playing and on taking deep, slow breaths between pressure waves. There is a huge floor mirror rolled over to the foot of the bed. I know that freaks some people out, but I found it so helpful to be able to see what was working. You really do just have to push like you’re taking a shit.
For most of the two hours of pushing, Stella’s heartbeat has been nice and steady. Alisa sticks an external monitor won my belly whenever I switch positions to check the baby’s heart rate before, during, and after the contraction to make sure the new position isn’t affecting her. Kind of annoying, but Alisia is as unobtrusive as possible, and it’s the only monitoring they do the entire time. Thanks to me arriving at a 10, they never even put a hep-lock in!
The final 45 minutes we can see the top of her head, but since she is still pretty sideways, it is slow going. Every time I push around the world, I can tell she is turning a little. They’re giving me oxygen now, so between pressure waves Charlie places that on my face and I have to concentrate on taking in all the oxygen I can for me and for the baby. Then when I toss it off, that signals that the next pressure wave is starting. It helps to have the enforced rest time. Shawna keeps telling me to relax and breathe. Since “relax” is a big cue in hypnobabies training and I am still listening to tracks in the background, it’s a great reminder to bring it all back to center and concentrate on allowing my body to open and get the baby out. The final few pushes I am on my back the whole time, but the bed is tilted up so that I am working with gravity instead of against it. Stella starts having heart rate decelerations, and Shawna tells me it is time to do some serious pushing and get the baby out.
Okay. No pressure there, like I wasn’t seriously pushing before?! What?
Each time a pressure wave starts, she tells me to take a deep breath in, release it, and then take another deep breath in so that I start pushing at the height of the wave and be utilizing its strength with my push. I tuck my chin and usually push to seven (the number I feel comfortable with), take a quick breath, push, quick breath, push. I’m pushing three or four times with each contraction. Every once in awhile she also asks me do a little push between pressure waves to help with the stretching/burning and to keep her down there.
I cannot describe how crazy it is to see her starting to come out.
The midwife asks Charlie if he wants to catch her (he answers something along the lines of “um, NO” and stays up by my head, though he is watching the whole thing in the mirror). So Shawna tells me to get ready to grab my baby. She calmly says that our baby needs to come out now, so the next push I am going to push with EVERYTHING I HAVE and get her head out, then just grab her and pull her up.
I mumble something like, “But I don’t know how” and she just laughs and says, “You just PUSH and then pull her up!”
2:12am I get her head out at the next push, grab it, push her body out, and pull her up onto my chest, all in one quick moment. I will never forget it. She is screaming, Charlie and I are in shock, and I am only thinking how absolutely perfect she is.
Neither of us cry (and oddly, still haven’t). I’m such a crier – for some reason I assumed I’d be bawling, but it is just such a happy, surreal, “calm after the storm” type feeling that washes over us. We are just… happy.
Shawna turns to Charlie and asks, “So what do we have, Daddy?” – and after a split second (and a second glance at the still attached umbilical cord), he exclaims, “It’s a… GIRL!” with the biggest smile on his face.
OH MY GOSH, I am so happy she is a girl. My little Stella.
The midwife told us later that if she had been straight on, that would have created extra pressure on my bag of waters, and we most likely would have had a broken bag of waters and a baby born in the car. As it was, it was just under two hours of pushing at a 10. Hard work but totally doable thanks to my hypnobabies training, my awesomely supportive husband, and the amazing midwife and nurse I had at my side for the entire time.
After her birth, poor Stella had a pretty oblong skull and a hematoma on the top of her head from where she’d been banging against my pelvis for so long, so we opted to do the Vitamin K shot to help with blood coagulation (which they didn’t do immediately, but waited until I needed to give her up for a second so they could switch out the sheets on my bed). Other than that, she was totally healthy and beautiful!
They waited to clamp the cord, skipped the antibiotic eye ointment, and generally followed my birth plan to a T. Thank you, MMH hospital staff! I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling it was to feel so supported by everyone around me and to know they were following my birthing wishes.
I tore on those final two pushes (2nd degree). Shawna said that was because Stella still came out slightly crooked and those extra few millimeters of head circumference make a big difference. She turned just enough to make it possible to get her out, but not quite enough to get her out without tearing.
Let me tell ya, she was 100% worth it!
We got to spend every minute of those first two hours with her, which was beyond wonderful. She was alert and looking around and nursing. I’m incredibly glad that my midwife suggested asking for two hours instead of just one hour with her before any newborn procedures were done. We enjoyed every minute of those precious “firsts” with her!
Right after Stella latched on and started sucking for the first time, I could feel my uterus contracting. WOW. Shawna massaged my abdomen and told me it was time to deliver the placenta. They had given me a shot of Pitocin post delivery (after asking my permission) because I was bleeding pretty heavily, and between that and the natural oxytocin from the breastfeeding, I just pushed a couple of times and out came the placenta. I never did see it – it never occurred to me to ask, but I assume all was well since nothing was ever mentioned about it again.
At about the two hour mark, Charlie’s parents showed up (at 4am!), and my midwife returned from delivering another baby in order to sew me up. The timing worked out great – Charlie got 45 minutes with just his parents and Stella while I got to relax and laugh with the nurse and my midwife.
Shawna warned me that the numbing needle was going to hurt and that it would be followed by a ton of burning. I used my hypnobabies finger drop cue to drop back into self-hypnosis to use my anesthesia, and honestly, the needles weren’t bad at all.
I am so happy about how the entire birth experience went. It wasn’t perfect: she got a little stuck, the back pain was pretty awful, and it was hard work getting her out. But I never felt crazy out of control. I never felt fear. I never felt like every bit of pressure and back pain wasn’t all leading up to the most amazing moment of our lives.
Every single one of our birth preference wishes were respected and followed.
The Hypnobabies birthing method training we did was incredibly helpful and effective.
My support staff (husband, midwife, and nurse) were beyond supportive and amazing.
And above all, our beautiful daughter is healthy and here.
I am so happy and so in love.
Life is good.”