The weeks leading up to Aksel’s birth I began doing a lot to prepare my body/baby for our birthing time. I spent all of my time focused on getting baby into a good position so as not to have a repeat OP baby like Brevick (or another C-section!) I bounced/rocked on my birth ball, did lots of spinning-babies exercises (rebozo, pelvic rocks, side lying release), ate tons of fresh pineapple, had tons of “hubby time”, and of course practiced my affirmations and Hypnobabies cues.
Around 9:00 AM we dropped Brevick off at my Mom’s and headed to Rosedale for some walking. I was hoping it would encourage good positioning and help bring the baby down some. We walked fairly briskly for about an hour and a half, and then stopped at Big Bowl for some lunch. YUM!! After eating we walked a bit more and left around 2:30. On our way home I noticed a few pressure waves, but nothing strong. I was also feeling quite discouraged as all of my baby movement was out front and that made me think Aksel was definitely posterior. I decided when we got home I would take a quick bath tummy down to see if I could once again encourage him to turn. I put in the “Turn Your Posterior Baby” hypnosis track and focused on relaxing all of my uterine muscles/ligaments. After I got out of the tub James and I got ready to go pick up Brevick. It was around 4:30 and I quickly mentioned we should do a side-lying release before we go just in case he had turned. We grabbed my birth ball so I had something to sit on at my Mom’s and headed out.
As soon as we got inside the house I sat on my ball and had a pressure wave. It felt different than all of the ones I had been having up until this point. I had to concentrate through it a bit. About 5 min later another wave came. I told James to time a couple. After 4 or 5 that were 5 min apart, James decided to text our doula, Nicole just in case. I went to the bathroom and noticed some bloody show, which led me to believe this might actually be it!! Nicole mentioned we might want to head home so we were in an environment that was a little more comfortable for us. We were only at my Mom’s for about 20 minutes, and decided it was definitely best to head home. At this point the pressure waves were starting to feel quite intense. I was unable to ride home sitting in the front seat, so I got in the back on my hands/knees and leaned over Brevick's car seat. On our way home James called Nicole and told her that we thought she should come. She was at another prenatal appointment, so she had to go home first and pick up her doula bag. As soon as she grabbed it she would head our way.
When we got home I immediately went upstairs and got into the shower. It was about 5:15 at this point. I was vocalizing and “ahhing” through the pressure waves and using my peace cue a lot. I stayed on hands/knees in the shower and let the water hit my back. It was the only place I was feeling any pressure/tightness and the hot water felt great! James put on the Easy First Stage track for me to listen to out loud, and then he frantically ran around the house packing our bags! (He had been begging me to pack them for weeks, and I kept assuring him we would have plenty of time to do it in my early labor…boy was I wrong! I had no idea things would start so soon and pick up so quickly!!). At some point while I was in the shower, James also called our midwives to let them know what was up. Mary Sanderlin was on-call that night and told James that it definitely sounded like I was in active labor, and to head in whenever we felt the time was right.
Once the hot water in the shower ran out, I forced myself to get out. James brought me my birthing clothes and then finished packing. I was so calm listening to “Easy First Stage” that I was able to pack up my make-up and blow dry my hair in between pressure waves (I was probably close to transformation at this point!) During a wave I leaned over the bathroom counter and used my peace cues to ease the intensity in my back. I slowly made my way to the bedroom and leaned on my birth ball. James applied counter pressure to my back and whispered “Relax” in my ear which helped a lot!
Around 6:15 Nicole arrived. She came up and helped with the counter pressure. She had me eat some toast in between waves to keep up my energy. Nicole and James were timing my waves which were now about 3 min apart. Around 6:30 Nicole asked if I was ready to head in. SURE! I said - I did not want to do transformation in the car! (I was so glad that she thought I was definitely in my birthing time and not just being dramatic hahaha!) Nicole suggested that we take her van so that I could be on all fours in the back leaning over my ball. It was cold out and snowing lightly. I had a pressure wave just as I was climbing into the van – probably the toughest one for me. The ride wasn’t too horrible. Nicole road in back with me and reminded me to relax and said “Peace” in my ear. About 5 minutes from the hospital my vocalizing became a little deeper (later Nicole mentioned she thought I was bearing down at this point – I had no clue!) When we pulled up to the hospital I made the comment “I better not be at an F&@*&% 2cm still!” I had no idea how far I was.
We got out of the car and I leaned on James as we walked in. When we got inside I had a really strong wave and had to lean over the fountain in the entryway. Onlookers were quite frightened as I was “ahhing” quite loudly. It wasn’t that I was in pain…it was my way of remembering to relax my jaw which helped me relax the rest of my body too. As soon as the wave was over I yelled “My water broke!” and suddenly a group of nurses came running at us with a wheel chair. I declined the ride and waddled my way to L&D. They shouted our room number at us from the nurses' station – of course it was the furthest one away.
We got inside and the nurse mentioned she wanted to check me. I did not want to get in bed at that moment, so I ignored her through a wave or two until I was ready. When she checked she said “I can’t feel anything.” Not knowing what this meant James and I looked at each other confused. Nicole assured us it meant I was complete!! What?!? I seriously didn’t expect to be anything more than a 4, let alone a 10!! It was about 7:15 at this point (just over 2 hours from my first real pressure wave). After a while I started pushing with my waves as I felt some pressure. I was leaning forward over the bed with the back of it propped up. James put in the Pushing Your Baby Out hypnosis track and chanted “open” in my ear. Nicole did hip squeezes through each wave. After pushing for a while I suddenly felt a really weird sensation of pressure and shouted “Oh Shit! He is right there!” A second later my water broke and shot out all over Mary and Nicole! I guess in the hospital entry my forewaters broke, but it was nothing compared to when they really released. Mary checked me after a while and said the baby still had a ways to come down. I felt slightly discouraged at this point because I thought maybe he wouldn’t descend just like Brevick. Mary suggested lying on my side through a few pushes so that I could curl around the baby more.
I climbed into bed and pushed a few times on my left. Then she had me turn and push on my right. At this point I was still quite vocal and Mary suggested using my energy in my pushing rather than my voice. When she said that a light bulb clicked and I was able to push so much more effectively. I could actually feel the baby moving down with each push. After a couple of minutes like this Mary noticed my waves were lasting a really long time, so she decided it was a good idea to get some oxygen. They put the mask on me and had me really try to just rest and breathe in between waves. Not long after, Mary mentioned the baby’s head was right there. I was sooo excited! I reached down to feel it and it was very squishy – very different than I had imagined. Mary was doing perineal massage and warm compresses the whole time which felt awesome! As the baby’s head was crowning she asked me to breathe when she told me to so that we could make sure my perineum stretched slowly. A few more pushes and breaths and his head was out! One more push and his body came sliding out too! Thanks to the slow pushing and perineal support I only suffered a 1st degree tear, which really caused me no discomfort at all.
I will definitely say that I experienced the “ring of fire”, but it was the only real pain I felt during the birth. The rest was just super intense pressure/tightening. Once he was out I started yelling “Oh my God, that was so amazing!” He was brought to my chest and I was able to see him for a minute or two before he was brought to the warmer for respiratory distress. He ended up with a pneumothorax from trying to take his first breaths and he wasn’t able to nurse or do skin-to-skin like we had wanted. Aksel Finn was born at 9:14 pm, just 4 hours and 14 minutes after my first real pressure wave. He was 7lb 11oz, 20 ¾ inches, with a 14 ½ inch head (same head size as Brevick). His birth was perfect and such an amazing (and healing) experience! After having him, I felt like I could do anything! Thank you Aksel for showing me what birth can and should be! You taught me that my body is not broken, and more than capable of birthing a baby (and quite beautifully I might add)!! Your birth was everything I had hoped it would be