Oliver’s estimated due date was June 26, 2011. My husband and I waited for Oliver’s perfect birthing time as June 26th came and went. No big deal – many women do not birth their babies right on their due date. So we continued to wait and tried really hard to be patient. The month of June slipped past and the beginning of July moved quickly. We found ourselves at 42 weeks and still no sign of birthing. No warm up pressure waves. Nothing. Per my home birth midwives agreement with the OB I was now required to complete a biophysical profile in order to determine that it was in fact safe for me to continue pregnancy. Luckily, my cut-off for home birth wasn’t until week 43. So I had one more week for this baby to come on his own in the comfort of his home.
Monday July 11th we arrived for our biophysical profile. I was incredibly nervous and anxious. While I felt deep down that everything was okay with baby, the idea of completing the biophysical profile caused me to feel anxious. My first blood pressure reading was artificially high due to my anxiety. Luckily the nurse wanted to double check when I informed her that my blood pressure is usually very good. I used my hypnobabies breathing to enter a state of relaxation for a few minutes before she took my blood pressure again. It had dropped close to my usual reading thanks to my ability to relax my body quickly with hypnobabies. After vitals, the next step was the ultrasound. I was told after the ultrasound that my amniotic fluid was low. I wasn’t sure what this meant and we were left to wait for the OB to discuss the meaning of this result. The OB came in and told us that the baby did not score so well on the biophysical profile. The amniotic fluid was low and “this baby needs to be delivered soon” were his exact words. I felt very out of control at that point. Of course my first priority was a healthy baby and I would not sacrifice that even for my dream of a lovely home waterbirth, but I also know that technology is not foolproof and can be misleading. The OB wanted me to go on over to the hospital for the induction. I followed my gut and told him that I wanted one more night to try to enter my birthing time on my own. I knew that I had to try. I had to be sure that if I ended up with an induced hospital birth that it was truly because I had no other choice. He said he wanted to do a non stress test and if that was okay, he would agree to postpone the induction until the next day. He also checked my cervix via vaginal exam and swept my membranes in preparation for an induction. It was my first vaginal exam of this pregnancy. I had chosen to forego all vaginal exams this pregnancy after having bad experiences with them last pregnancy and during my older son’s birth. I immediately tensed up. My husband reminded me to relax and use my hypnobabies. I focused on breathing and relaxing my body. This helped tremendously. I felt slight discomfort as my membranes were swept and when it was over I remember thinking, “That was it? That’s what I was terrified of?” The hypnobabies relaxation helped immensely. I learned that I was dilated to a 2 and 65% effaced. Of course the OB felt that this was clear indication that my body would need the pitocin as my body was “not ready.” Having read up on birthing and other’s stories, I knew that my body was perfectly capable of beginning birthing time at a 2. So I confidently clung to my idea of entering my birthing time on my own at home. The non stress test was next and confirmed what I intuitively knew to be true – that baby was healthy and able to safely handle being born.
After this long and emotional visit at the OB’s office, we went to my midwife’s home. There we informed her of the results. She confirmed that low amniotic fluid was a valid reason to induce rather than allow the pregnancy to continue. However, she remained hopeful with me and supported my plan to use castor oil as a natural induction method in a last ditch effort to get baby to come that night. She gave me a recipe that consisted of castor oil, orange juice, and ice. After visiting with her for awhile I felt significantly calmer because I now had a plan of action. She also sent a breast pump in case I needed to try that as well.
We lived forty five minutes from the midwife’s house and the ride home felt like forever as I wanted to chug my castor oil cocktail as soon as possible. I got even antsier when the doctor’s office called and told me that my induction was scheduled for 5:00am the following morning. It was between 3:00 and 4:00pm, so this left very little time. The castor oil had to work and it had to work quickly. As soon as we got into town we stopped by my mother’s house and borrowed her blender. We left our son with grandma for the night. As much as I wanted him with me, I felt like I needed to really focus and also knew that if the castor oil kicked in and I was dealing with the nasty side effects of it that hubby would not be able to simultaneously run after our three year old and get the birth pool set up. We stopped by the pharmacy, picked up the castor oil, and headed home. Once home I could not get into the house fast enough to make my cocktail.
I have to say that my midwife gave me a great recipe. I didn’t taste the castor oil at all! I chugged it very quickly though, so perhaps that had something to do with it. And now it was time to wait. This was the very hard part. I waited and waited. It was close to 11:00pm and still nothing. My hope was quickly wavering. We were rushing around the house packing a last minute hospital bag. I was half-heartedly writing a birth plan for the hospital and weeping all the while, thinking about the battles that I would now have to fight that wouldn’t be an issue at a home birth. I felt such a deep sense of loss and I felt as though my body had betrayed me. My emotions were in complete disarray and I was feeling very frantic and upset. I pleaded to God to please make this happen. I tried the breast pump for a bit around 11:00pm or so, but it took forever to get a pressure wave. Finally, I decided to head to bed. I knew that if I truly was going to be induced in a hospital the next morning I would need some strength left. So I went to bed.
And this is where the story turns. I woke up at 1:00am with diarrhea. I’ve never been so happier to experience diarrhea in all my life. However, I knew that this alone didn’t mean anything. I went back to bed. I woke up again with more diarrhea. I went downstairs. Pressure waves began. I hunted for my ipod with my hypnobabies tracks. It was now god knows where thanks to our frantic hospital packing. I hollered up the stairs and woke up my husband and told him I needed my ipod. At 1:51am I started timing my pressure waves using an online tracking tool. I could barely believe it – they were between 2 ½ and 4 minutes apart mostly. My husband brought my ipod to me and as I was tracking I found that I had to move out of the computer chair and onto my ball so that I could feel more comfortable. I pulled the computer keyboard out far enough so that I could reach the keyboard and press the proper button at the beginning and end of each pressure wave. I realized that they were harder to manage without complete focus. I knew then that it was time to contact the midwife. Up until that point I had been in denial. I think all of the prior day’s circumstances made me feel like I was dreaming this up and that I wasn’t really going to begin my birthing time. I called my midwife and told her about my pressure waves and how far apart they were. She said she’d contact her assistant and they’d head my way. To be honest, I think she might have thought this was all wishful thinking on my part. I was so nervous that the pressure waves were going to fizzle out and this would all be for nothing. But there was nothing to do except continue to contact my birthing team and hope for the best. I called my sister in law, cousin, and mother who had all been asked to come and help.
With phone calls made and my husband running around getting things ready I moved out into the daycare room where we had previously decided the birth would take place. At some point I moved the ipod onto the dock with speakers and listened to it that way instead of with the ear buds. This was more comfortable for me. I tried several positions while the pressure waves washed over me. Side-lying was by far my favorite position at that time. I wonder if this has to do with the fact that the majority of my hypnobabies practice sessions were done while in a side-lying position. I found that this familiarity gave me optimal relaxation.
I remember people arriving. My mother arrived first and my cousin came shortly afterwards. My sister-in-law was bringing food, so I knew she would likely be last to arrive since she had to make a stop at the grocery store. At this point my ability to speak was pretty compromised. I had my cousin and mom help me head for the bathroom. Upon attempting to leave, I remember having a pressure wave. I leaned over the bathroom counter and worked to relax my face and body. At one point I called out, “Somebody?” I found that there was much comfort in having someone standing close during a pressure wave. After my pressure wave I went back to the couch.
At this point things get kind of fuzzy for me. I don’t know how long I felt pressure waves while lying down. I know at one point I looked at my husband and told him, “Call the midwife. Ask her if I can get in the pool yet.” I heard him describing my pressure waves to her on the phone and I was given the okay to get in the birthing pool. I was very relieved. I somehow sensed that my body was far along enough that getting in the pool was not going to slow things down at this point.
In the pool I sat several different ways, mostly preferring to face the outer edge of the pool and lean my head over. I worked to use my finger drop method and relax through the contractions. I could hear the hypnobabies track which continued to play in the background. Kerry’s voice was soothing and relaxing, reminding me that every pressure wave was bringing me closer to my baby and it was helpful to listen to the track talking about how my cervix was opening. This helped me to allow my pressure waves to do what they needed to rather than tense up and go against them. I really think this is part of the reason my body progressed as quickly as it did. Things really ramped up in intensity once I was in the pool. I remember puking and shaking all over. At one point I lost my hypnobabies focus for a minute and yelled out “I can’t do this!” It hit me that in that moment I was likely in transformation. It’s amazing how aware of that fact I was in the moment. I followed up my negative declaration with a positive “I can do this. I can do this!” I knew I was close and remember feeling very happy about that. Shortly after a few pressure waves that brought on shakiness, I felt a slight urge to push. This wasn’t an all out push urge. It came on the tail end of a pressure wave. I followed what my body wanted me to do. I vaguely remember hearing my hubby on the phone with the midwife describing my pressure waves and telling her that I was pushing. She was of course stuck by a train (a common occurrence in our town), but was very close. Hubby got off the phone and told me to try to hold off on pushing until she got here. This was much easier said than done and I didn’t really succeed. I asked for someone to switch my hypnobabies to the “Pushing baby out” track. However, my voice was muffled and it was hard to speak clearly. I ended up with “Birthing Day Affirmations” instead, but that worked really well. There were plenty of reminders of what I needed to do to help my baby come out during my birthing time. I used the “Ah” exhale method of pushing, which is really just following what your body tells you to do. I remember my midwife and her assistant walking in the door and truly just gave myself over to my body. My midwife checked baby’s heartbeat. This was barely noticeable to me as I was truly in my own little world at this point. She wanted to check dilation since I was ready to push, but instead she saw a head. I switched to a kneeling sort of position with my arms slung over the side of the pool. It didn’t take very many “Ah” pushes (hubby says it was 5 or 6) and all of a sudden I heard my midwife telling me to pick up my baby. My response was “What?” I was so in shock at everything happening so quickly and easily that I didn’t understand that baby had left my body. My midwife pulled baby out of the water as I was just kind of sitting there dumbfounded. She immediately handed baby to me. I held baby close and checked to see what sort of baby he was. “It’s a boy!” It was so neat to be the one to make that announcement! Oliver Felix was born on July 12, 2011 at 4:27am. He weighed 8 lbs and 14 oz and he was 21 inches long. After birthing the placenta I was helped up to my bed with my beautiful little boy. It was the most amazing and intimate experience being able to lie in my own bed and nurse my little man, and he was a beautiful nurser right from the start. There was no rush to weigh him, test him, or remove him from me in any way. After a few hours he began to get sleepy and these procedures were done then. But for those first few hours of alertness he was all mine. I really got a sense of this being the way it should be for moms and babies all the time, barring medical necessity. I feel so lucky that I was able to experience this beautiful hypnobabies home waterbirth. I also felt like I had the perfect birthing team. I was incredibly comforted having my mother, cousin, and sister-in-law present – there was something empowering about having other women there. My husband was of course wonderful also. He was there for me every step of the way and I remember just hanging onto him as I sank into relaxation during many of the more intense moments. It was all just such a beautiful experience. Barring medical necessity to do otherwise, this is what I want for every future birth in our family.