Michelle Brown from There Must Be More to Life Than Dishes and Laundry shares the story of her son Orion’s birth.
“The end of pregnancy was rough for me. Being overjoyed at getting pregnant our first month trying, experiencing no morning sickness, watching my bump grow, and seeing my sweet baby on ultrasound had made first and second trimester a joy. By the end, I was just done being pregnant. My biggest complaint was insomnia. I think my body prepared me well for nursing a newborn 24/7.
My 40 week midwife appointment was on a Friday. Since I had declined to be checked I didn’t know if I had progressed. I was on the fence about having my membranes stripped: I wanted to give the baby time to arrive on his or her own but I wanted to avoid medical induction at all cost. The midwives would let me go to 42 weeks with additional monitoring before being induced. I decided to give the baby a few more days to arrive on his or her own and I made an appointment for Tuesday morning to have my membranes stripped.
I had been doing various home induction techniques: evening primrose oil, raspberry leaf tea, walking, stretches, a local old wives tale about labor inducing spumoni – you get the idea. Walking is good either way so I kept walking. Since it was Friday night I suggested a family-friendly hike in the foothills and dinner out with the kids. The hike ended up being a lot more exciting than anticipated. I almost got bit by a rattle snake. Just what a 40 week pregnant lady needs, right?
It happened so fast that I didn’t have much time to be scared but hubby saw it much better and I think it freaked him out more than me. He said the snake was coiled up and ready to strike – good thing I moved away when I heard its rattle. I had never seen a rattlesnake in the wild and hope never to again. We continued on our hike.
We ended our night with dinner at Red Robin. I started having some contractions, only about 30 seconds long and 15 minutes apart. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks so I didn’t think much of them when they started (of course I hoped this was real labor). We walked around the outdoor mall and then headed home. Contractions kept coming but I wasn’t convinced this was it.
Once we got home I made sure the older kids were in bed and tried to settle down for the night. My midwife had said that if it was the real thing the contractions would not stop when I tried to sleep, so I tried. Around 10pm I went to the bathroom and noticed some bloody show, and I knew this was the real thing. I sent a message to my friend who was taking the older kids, warning her that we may be calling in the middle of the night.
Early labor was slow. Contractions gradually increased in length and intensity but at a snail’s pace. The bloody show continued and I spent a lot of time on the toilet while laboring at home. I just listened to what my body needed. After a few hours I took out my Hypnobabies materials. We listened to some of my favorite tracks, the deepening track, and ‘Easy, Comfortable Childbirth’. Once we were sure this was it, hubby and I did a fear clearing session and I took a shower.
My plan was to labor at home as long as possible and I ended up spending nine hours of early labor at home. Hubby and I had invested a lot of time in learning and practicing the Hypnobabies techniques so I felt prepared. I’ll admit that even the early labor contractions were more painful than I remembered. The videos of other Hypnobabies births showed moms remaining totally calm and relaxed even during transition, which is not what I experienced.
While at home I was able to relax through about 90% of my contractions. The ones I did not relax through were painful and tensing up made it worse. I would take some time to re-focus and get into deeper hypnosis before the next contraction would come. Hubby also helped me relax by using some of the cues we had practiced. I thought I would want to walk or spend a lot of time on the birth ball but when the time came I spent a lot of it just sitting upright in bed. That was most comfortable to me so I went with it.
Around 2am I called the midwife to check in. Contractions were about five minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds at this point. I remained really calm while on the phone and the midwife didn’t sound 100% convinced this was it, though I was. Nate called our friends to come pick up the kids. We weren’t ready to leave for the hospital but I wanted to make sure they were taken care of.
A little before 3am the kids were picked up and my contractions started lasting over a minute each. Around 4am, after an hour of contractions over a minute long and five minutes apart, I was ready to go to the hospital. Hubby tried to remind me that I wanted to labor at home as long as possible and didn’t think we needed to go yet. But I had made up my mind.
The contractions were getting much harder for me to relax through. In addition to my hypnosis I was breathing and vocalizing – if things were already this intense I did not want to do the drive to the hospital and have to check-in while in transition. Nate called the midwife to let her know. She called back so I answered and immediately got a contraction. I told her to hold on and tried to relax and breath through it. I told her we were headed to the hospital and she said she’d meet us there.
By the time we gathered everything, loaded the car, and drove to the hospital, another hour had passed. Since it was after hours we had to enter through the emergency room. They offered me a wheelchair but I declined and just said I would need to stop and focus during contractions as we went up to the third floor. Since my contractions were consistently five minutes apart I had one in the car and then we quickly went in knowing it would likely be five more minutes before another one hit. I continued to listen to Hypnobabies on my ipod and tune everyone else out.
Getting checked into labor and delivery is a slow, annoying process. In the midst of contractions they have a million questions to ask you. My midwife was there and came into the room to help us get settled. One reason we chose a midwife-assisted birth is that they will spend a lot more time with you in labor and it is a more personal experience. The midwives listen to your questions and spend time answering them in a caring, unrushed atmosphere. The nurse started in with her questions and I directed most to Nate. I did not want to be continuously monitored but was willing to accept the hospital policy of 20 minutes on the monitor when you check in and then intermittent monitoring via doppler.
As soon as I was on the monitor Orion had a heart deceleration – so the nurse wanted to keep monitoring me. Hospital policy is to get a 20 minute good strip before removing the mom off the monitor. Every time we’d get close to 20 minutes he’d have a tiny deceleration which kept me on the monitor. When the nurse left the room the midwife flat out told me she was not worried and his decels were small and not of concern. She thought I was fine to get off the monitor but the nurses and hospital policy were pretty strict. I had been there almost an hour and a half and asked to be put on the wireless monitor so I could move around. I had also declined to have an IV put in but consented to a buff cap which is a catheter put into a vein so IV or medication can be started if needed. It’s hospital policy.
The nurse took forever coming back with the wireless monitor. Once she brought it to me I asked to get into the tub. She started to run the water. I continued to listen to my Hypnobabies and relax and put myself into deeper hypnosis with each contraction. Nate was fading fast at this point since neither of us had slept since Thursday night. The midwife suggested he go get a coffee and some breakfast so he could stay awake. I asked her if she would stay with me while he went to the cafeteria and she did. Once he got back, I got in the tub. I immediately felt a sense of relief and was able to relax so much better. The hardest part was remembering to keep my buff cap out of the water.
I had only four contractions in the tub when my water broke and all hell broke loose. I felt a pop and immediately the baby descended and the length and intensity of my contractions skyrocketed. The baby descended so much so quickly I felt like I had to push. I started screaming and wanted Nate to get the midwife or the nurse because no one else was in there. Nate was very calm and told me he’d get someone but he didn’t seem to have the urgency I was feeling. I continued to scream and told him hitting the call button was not enough that he needed to go out to the nurses station and get someone now! My room was the first on the floor and Nate said they could all hear me screaming but didn’t seem concerned.
I was concerned with my lack of control and losing my Hypnobabies techniques now that I had hit transition. The midwife said I had to get out of the tub for her to check me. I had lost all sense of modesty at this point and the midwife and the nurse literally pulled me out of the tub and wrapped blankets around me. My contractions were lasting a minute and a half to two minutes with almost no break between them. They were very intense and I could not relax. The midwife said I was 8cm and not to push yet. She said the pushy feelings were likely from my water breaking and the baby descending.
I’ve heard that the quicker the birth the more intense, and what I experienced was quite… intense. I never asked for pain medicine but I did scream, “I can’t do this” a couple of times. It was 20 minutes from the time my water broke until I was 10cm dilated and ready to push. I pushed for a little over 20 minutes before Orion was in my arms.
In our Hypnobabies course we had talked a lot about mother-directed pushing, listening to your body, and doing what feels right. No coaching or counting from the nurses, no laying on your back. We had talked about and practiced various pushing positions so I had some ideas about what I wanted to try. What I ended up using most was a kneeling position draped over the bed. It allowed me to be supported but still upright, using gravity to help bring the baby down. Once I got to the pushing phase, my contractions were still intense but I had more of a break between them.
I was letting my body do its own work without forcefully pushing. I wasn’t making great progress and could feel the baby’s head get ready to crown and then go back up. I asked the midwife and she said to really bear down and push like you’re having a bowel movement. As the baby’s head crowned there were a lot of burning and stretching sensations. Pushing through them is a weird feeling but the midwife gently encouraged me to continue.
With two more contractions Orion was born. It was an immediate sense of relief. The pain and pressure was gone and my sweet baby was here. The midwife placed him on my chest and I saw he was a boy! Waiting until the birth to find out was such a great experience and I am glad we stuck with it our entire pregnancy.
His cord was around his neck which is somewhat common and accounted for the decelerations he was having earlier. The midwife was good about allowing his cord to stop pulsing before clamping and cutting it. Nate cut his cord and I snuggled him skin to skin. Orion started crying as soon as he came out but took some time to pink up. His nurse said she was a little concerned about his color and that if it didn’t improve she would take him to the warmer. His breathing was quite rapid but the nurse gave us more time because she knew that immediate skin-to-skin and delaying newborn procedures until we had a chance to breastfeed was important to us. Eventually his breathing regulated and he wasn’t taken off my chest until I was ready. That bonding time was so precious and I am so thankful I was able to experience it without interruption.
I had originally requested not to be given routine Pitocin for the delivery of the placenta and asked that the placenta be delivered naturally. I did have some bleeding and after watching and waiting for a bit the midwife said she wanted to give me a little bit of Pitocin to help stop the bleeding. I ended up having a bag of Pitocin but didn’t lose enough blood for any longer term concerns. I had one small first degree tear that needed a few stitches. The midwife said Orion came out with his hand up by his face and if it hadn’t been there I likely wouldn’t have needed stitches at all. The tear and stitches gave me almost no discomfort and I healed so much better than with Brennan, when I was given an episiotomy.
Orion stayed on my chest for two full hours, which was wonderful. Within an hour he was ready to feed and nursed great on both sides. There was a night and day difference between his first and second nursing session – by the second he was really sleepy and not that interested in nursing. This just further proves to me the importance of allowing mom and baby to be together within the first hours after birth. I am so thankful for this time because my earlier experience with Brennan was that he ended up being taken to the nursery and by the time I tried to breastfeed he wasn’t interested.
We all guessed he weighed about 7.5 pounds because he didn’t look that big but Orion was 7 pounds 15oz and 20 1/4 inches. He was born the morning of the super moon and it was a busy morning for deliveries. His nurse got called away to two other births so we spent over three hours in the delivery room after he was born, just finishing things up.
There are many amazing things about natural childbirth: an alert baby ready to nurse, a baby not so full of IV fluids they lose weight, a mom who feels almost back to normal within hours. Soon after Orion was born I was walking around the room and had showered myself and changed into my own clothes. I was hungry and tired but I hadn’t eaten much since dinner (at this point it was lunch the next day) and hadn’t slept in 36 hours. Above all we were thankful that both Orion and I were healthy and that we were able to have the birth experience we wanted in the hospital – all because the midwives and nurses were so caring and respectful of our wishes.
Orion’s birth story is unique to him and I am thankful I have a place to share it. With both of my pregnancies I went into labor on my due date and both of my sons were born the next morning. Despite being 12 years apart they followed the same pattern! Our lives have been so enriched by the new addition to our family.”
This is lovely. It’s true it isn’t always easy to yield to the strength of contractions. I am so grateful for all that I have learned from reading about how relaxing all muscles helps you open faster. Not always easy. But it is a great thing to have floating around in your brain for labor.