Patience, relaxation, and inner wisdom
The birth of our daughter began at 20 minutes past midnight on a Saturday night in June. We had gone to bed about an hour before, and I was having trouble falling asleep (nothing unusual). We were exactly 42 weeks along, so we were ready! Apart from the stress induced by everyone else's stress about the baby being "late", we felt calm and quite confident that this child would come into our world when s/he was ready. For weeks, I had also been feeling very curious about my pending birth experience. I just couldn't wait to see how it would unfold!
This was our first child, and we were planning a home (and hopefully water) birth. So when my water broke at 12:20, it was so comforting to know that we didn't have to go anywhere! I felt this "pop" inside, like a rubber band snapping, and immediately my heart began to accelerate. There was no water, so I lay there wondering what had just happened. I got up, and sure enough, I felt a small trickle of something run down my leg. My heart was now pounding, and I was shaking with excitement. I woke my husband, and we were underway!
Back pain began right away, and I continued to shiver (I felt cold and excited!). Our midwife encouraged us to go back to bed, to try to get as much sleep as possible, and to call her in the morning. We decided a shower might both warm and calm me, so in I went. The warm water helped, but my back labor was intensifying and mild surges had begun - we soon realized that we probably weren't going to get much sleep at all. My body quickly began to prepare itself; I was on the toilet every few minutes emptying my bowels. We even tried to go for a walk, but only got a half a block away before things felt too intense to continue.
By 2:00 am, I was ready to fill the birthing tub and hop in. By 4:00 am, it was time to call in our support! At 4:30, our midwife arrived, followed by a dear friend who was our labor support person. Shortly thereafter, the assistant midwife arrived, and everyone and everything was in place.
About an hour later, I felt the first urge to push. Our midwife simply said "Go ahead", so I did! I continued to labor in the tub for the next four hours, pushing when my body told me to and resting in between. At about 9:30, the midwife suggested that I get out of the water and try the birthing stool. As I sat on the stool and pushed, I could finally see my baby's head begin to emerge (thank heavens!). It was incredible! I stood up and did some belly dancing, to loosen my pelvis up. More and more of the baby's head appeared with each push. More and more disappeared, too, each time I relaxed! It was hard to understand that this really was progress - I definitely needed encouragement as I saw that head retreat before it would advance again. Our midwife felt that squatting might help, so I climbed up onto our bed (with a lot of help!) and got into a deep squat. The baby's head crowned, and I felt that "ring of fire" for a few seconds. I stood up (again, with help!) and WHOOSH! out she came. Oh! Euphoria!
I'll never forget that feeling... that smell... it was like coming home.
And so... on June 10th at 10:34 our daughter arrived, just 10 hours after she began her journey down the birth canal (I thought it was late afternoon)! She weighed 7 lbs, 12 oz. She did such a remarkable job! I remember so clearly being so connected to her. I pictured her in my mind, making her way down. I spoke to her the whole time, encouraging her and telling her how excited I was to meet her. I also remember feeling her move her way down; there were times when my uterus would contract and my body would want me to push, and there were times when it was her turn and my body would be still.
I also remember how relaxed I became between surges (I think I even dozed off a couple of times for a couple of minutes). This was how I got through 5 hours of pushing! I think this was the best way HypnoBirthing helped to prepare me for childbirth - deep relaxation. Jordan and I practiced together (but not until our 8th month or so!), using the countdown technique as well as some guided imagery (he would guide me down stairs, counting from 10 to 1, and then would quietly talk about how well the baby and I would do together, and would describe a beautiful, positive, fearless and painless birth experience). I also listened to tapes almost every night during my last trimester (I'd fall asleep long before they were over, but would let them play until the end). During labor, I used the phrase "loose, limp and relaxed" a lot, hearing Carolyn's voice in my mind and asking those with me to say it out loud. I especially found this helpful when I needed to relax my inner thighs and pelvic floor to really open up.
I was very vocal, and did a lot of openmouthed moaning and om-ing. I kept my breath very deep, and concentrated on blowing it down and out through the birth canal. My surges didn't hurt, but they were intense! It was the most incredible muscular workout I've ever (or will ever) had! For me, it was about trusting my body, believing in my body, and letting it do it's job. Carolyn and I had a private session a few months before the birth where I got in touch with my inner birthing wisdom. This allayed the fears I was having at the time, and enabled me to be strong, competent and free of fear during labor.
Twelve days after her birth, we named our daughter Lindsy Grace. Six months later, she is thriving at almost 20 lbs! I can hardly wait to do it again!!
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