This is a book. I apologize. And not only that, but I'll have a few parts to it! There is the overall story of Devin's birth, then I'll post one specifically about the emotional aspects, HypnoBabies, and how it was the most beautiful and spiritual experience of my life. Sappy, I know. (The latter really emphasizing how I made it through such a long birth without any medications and *gasp* lived to tell the tale.) There are only a few pictures because we were a little preoccupied and some are just so personal and too close to my heart.
How does one even begin to write up a birth story? It seems like everything in my life leading up to this point has played a critical role in her birth, so to exclude that feels like I’m excluding everything. Alas, I will try to stick to the days leading up to her birth.
For about a week and a half leading up to the due date, I was having a lot of contractions that weren’t quite Braxton Hicks, but not ‘real’ contractions either. Some would call this ‘pre-labor’, I would call this ‘psych yourself out, be on constant alert, and practice breathing’. I really focused on remaining calm and just allowing things to happen when the time was right, while also feeling like I just really wanted her to be in my arms already. My body was telling me I HAD to clean the house in an extremely unnecessary way (my kitchen cupboards really didn’t need to be washed), but my brain was telling me that this was the time to relax and collect myself for what was ahead and luckily my brain won. I finished up some lose ends with school and day dreamed about what my baby would look like while lazying around watching Netflix and listening to hypnosis tracks.
I went to my weekly prenatal visit on Wednesday the 11th and asked my doctor to check my cervix, hoping there was some kind of progress because of all the pre-labor contractions I’d been having. I was at 2cm and 90% effaced, so she asked me if I wanted my membranes swept because it sounded like I was on the verge of labor for a few days, and this may be what was needed to push me over the edge. Based on my research it seemed like nothing would happen if she wasn’t ready anyways, so I agreed. Definitely an uncomfortable experience that brought tears to my eyes! Vince panicked and asked if I was ok with a nervous look on his face and I then got nervous about how he would react with the whole extreme labor pain thing when the time came. (Spoiler: he did fantastic!) So that night I got excited thinking about the possibility of her being born in the next day or two.
Friday the 13th rolled around and I figured that was going to be the day. All day Thursday I had really strong contractions through all 8 hours of class and my mind was just ready for the real thing to happen. I had the 13th in my mind as a ‘good’ due date and woke up at 3:30am with strong contractions that had been even more different than previously. After the day of contractions that were strong and consistently five minutes apart, we went to labor and delivery when they started getting closer to three-four minutes apart. They weren’t extremely painful though, so I didn’t think much was going on but wanted to be sure even though I swore I wouldn’t be that person that goes in too early. (Though I can swear I won’t with the second baby…you know when it’s time!)
Turns out things weren’t really going on and I was only 3cm, so after walking around for an hour with little progression in dilation, we opted to go home around 11:30pm to see if anything happened. I was adamant that I would be at the hospital for as short of a time as possible. I was still having close contractions that were strong enough to not completely sleep through so I stayed in the living room on the recliner.
When they sent us to walk around the hospital, I pushed Vince in a wheelchair since
his ankle was still injured and he couldn't keep up!
I was cognizant of each contraction as they happened, but was able to be in a kind of dream state so it didn’t feel like it was actually my body. All the sudden at 3:30am (same time as the previous night!) I realized my contractions were getting extremely uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough that it was a little difficult to focus and I needed to get in the shower and even moaned through some of them. They were about seven minutes apart so I thought they weren’t the real thing and that I was just going to continue with all the pre-labor fun. (Spoiler: they were real. This is where I start my ‘clock’ for how long labor was.)
Around 7am, my craniosacral/massage therapist texted me asking how things were and if I wanted to come in for a session at 9. I told her that my contractions were getting pretty intense and that I’d love to come in, so that’s where I headed. I was second-guessing my choice as we drove there because I just really wanted to be in my own home, but as soon as I got to her office I realized that place was also like a home to me. After seeing her often throughout my pregnancy and having a positive experience every time, I was so relaxed and at peace there. She did a lot of craniosacral work to get me and the baby ready, messed with some pressure points to help contractions be strong and effective, and gave me a relaxing massage in between contractions. I walked home and was home by 11am with so much more calmness surrounding me and an increased confidence in my bodies ability to do what it needed to do. The contractions were already much stronger and quickly getting closer together. By 2:30pm they were 3-4 minutes apart again and I had a feeling that these were definitely real, so we headed to the hospital.
Right before we left for the hospital.
When we arrived they had us fill out paperwork again (we had pre-filled out paperwork we gave them the night before, but it didn’t matter because it needed to be done each time and they didn’t keep it) and we had to stand there about 10 minutes while they ‘figured things out’. It seemed like they were trying to decide who was going to help for a c-section that was about to happen, but I didn’t care!
They got us into triage to get me checked out and I voiced my concern about not being anymore dilated and that I’d like to do the check before anything else so that we could just go home if I hadn’t progressed. I was at 5cm, though, so I was staying! During the hospital tour we'd done a few weeks previously the nurse said to ask for a room with a view of the peaks, so I jokingly did, but we got one!
We got checked into the room, I got a saline lock placed (an IV, but nothing attached to it) that was way more painful than contractions because she fished and fished for my vein even though my veins are phenomenal. Luckily she wasn’t my nurse for too long because I really didn’t enjoy her in general and she did not pay attention to the birth ‘preferences’ I’d given her and kept talking about the pain of childbirth, spelled Devin’s name wrong after I literally spelled it out for her, and kept calling her Devine, per the way she spelled her name.
Once we were settled, I headed straight for the bath. On the way to the hospital I was telling Vince I was excited to be there just so that I would have an unlimited supply of hot water to bath and shower with. Except I was wrong. Oh so so wrong. It turned out to be the most frustrating part of my whole labor!
The bath started off with hot water but by the time it was half full, it was cold water coming out. I asked my nurse if it was because there was some kind of temperature control, and she said there was. I just wanted to cry. I got in the bath anyways hoping it was be fine, but it was too cold and made my contractions even worse because I was so tense and shivering. I then opted to get in the shower but the water instantly turned cold as well. I gave up and just labored while walking around my room, listening to the Birthing Day Affirmations hypnosis track.
A few hours went by and there was a change of shift and a new wonderful nurse came on. I thought for sure she was going to be horrible because after introducing herself to me, she asked if I wanted to put on a robe so that I could be modest. MODEST. Granted, I was naked with just a sheet kind of wrapped around me as I walked around my room, but still. Did she not realize a baby was going to be coming out of my vagina at any moment (in the very distant future, it seemed) and would be sucking on my bare boobs? There is nothing modest about childbirth. I calmly said that I was fine and it was never brought up again, and everything she did after that made me forget about my first impression.
She asked if she could start a bath and I told her the water was too cold and she instantly perked up and said there was something wrong and she would try to take care of it right then. Hallelujah!! She called maintenance and there apparently had been some problems with the hot water, but they would try to fix it. In the meantime, she started a bath in another room and it was working great.
The hours that proceeded that are kind of a blur time-wise. I did most of my laboring walking around my room, stopping with each contraction to lean on the wall or chair to moan and sway my hips side to side until it was over. I used the birthing ball during the first few hours and while at home, but at some point the pressure was just way too much and I couldn’t sit anymore. I had always envisioned using Vince a lot for support, having him hold me up, leaning on him, etc, but I just really wanted to walk and focus. I was hyperaware of him being there and wouldn’t let him leave the room at all, but I didn’t physically need him touching me. Knowing he was right there though was an incredible amount of support.
Our nurse was incredibly respectful of my birth ‘preferences’, leaving us to do our thing as needed. I had agreed to have the baby monitored for every 15 minutes of each hour instead of constant, and that was the only time she would come in. When the contractions got really intense I was unable to have the strap that held the monitor on wrapped around me because it made them so much more painful, so she just held it there with her own hands. Even though I had to stand and sway my hips, she just sat on the floor beneath me and moved with me. She always kept the lights how I wanted them, she never asked me my pain level like they are supposed to do with every vitals check, and she never mentioned anything about pain medication. She only checked my dilation when I specifically asked and was overall so kind and peaceful for every interaction.
As I walked I had my Easy First Stage hypnosis track on repeat and it seemed to line up perfectly with what I was feeling. A doubt would creep into my mind about the discomfort I was feeling, and then the track would tell me to take a deep breath and relax my mind. It was perfect!
Sometime after midnight, I think around 2am, I started to have contractions that were just so intense and no matter what I did, they just consumed me. They were increasing closer together, about every two minutes, and sometimes there was no rest in between. I would feel my body just starting to relax and another would start right away. My moaning turned to more of a yell and I would fall to the floor and I would think, ‘I cannot do this,’ and then immediately, ‘But you ARE doing this!’
At this time, an epidural popped into my mind and I considered it, but I also told myself that this could be transition because everyone says it’s always way worse and intense during that point. My nurse came in and I asked, ‘At what point is a person too close to delivery that they can’t get an epidural? I am worried that I will be so tired by the time I’m ready to push that I’ll end up with a c-section.” She said, ‘Honey, you are never too close but you are handling this with you mind more than an epidural could. When it’s time for you to push, you will be able to push. You just have to make it through each contraction one at a time, don’t think about what will happen later.’ The last thing she said would end up being my saving grace for the rest of the birth.
I then asked if there were any other pain control options, knowing morphine was my only other choice. She of course said morphine like I thought, and I knew that was an absolute no. She then asked if I wanted to be checked to see how far along I was and I quickly agreed, hoping I would be at transition and close to 9cm.
Time to do what Vince hates the most...push pause at a critical time! Part 2 will be up tomorrow.