Shanna shares her thoughts on why she chose Hypnobabies:
I chose Hypnobabies because I wanted a comprehensive childbirth education course that also offered a variety of ways to manage pain- I wanted more than just the usual breathing and visualization techniques that are offered in other courses. Previously, I had a little bit of experience with hypnosis and knew that I was receptive to it. Also, Hypnobabies is so much more in depth than some of the other childbirth hypnosis courses, which I liked because I wanted to be well prepared. After reading reviews from others who have gone through the Hypnobabies course and finding so many of the women had such positive experiences I knew that I had made the right decision.
I thought I would be one of the lucky ones- no, I knew I was going to be one of those lucky women who went into labor early, early meaning 38 or 39 weeks. How could I not be? Labor patterns typically follow that of the women in your family, right? My sister had both her children at 37.5 weeks and my mom never went past her due date with any of her children. In fact, my midwife even confirmed it for me- at 37 weeks, during one of our routine appointments, Ezra’s head was already engaged at station 0 and I was about 60-70% effaced. She said she didn’t think I would go past my due date. In fact, I was so confident that I was going to go early that I even took a week off work before my due date so I could make sure the house was in order and things were ready to go before we had our baby.
So, low and behold 39 weeks rolled around….. nothing. 40 weeks came and went- and incidentally, so did my birthday. My guess date was August 6 and my birthday is August 7. I remember very well getting a text message from my mom at 6am that read “Happy birthday. Anything happening yet?” During one of our prenatal visits, Liz, our doula, told me to do something special for myself on my guess date because it will come and go and most likely I will still be pregnant. At the time, I blew it off thinking, “I’m so glad that’s not going to be me.”
I was now approaching 41 weeks and starting to get desperate. I tried to keep myself sane by remembering most first time moms go 8-10 days past their guess date. I tried everything: acupuncture, raspberry leaf tea, evening primrose oil, sex, nipple stimulation, pineapple, spicy foods, chiropractic care, pressure point massage, hypnobabies “come out baby” track, daily walks, membranes sweep. Nothing.
At 41 weeks we went in for the standard biophysical/”your running out of time” appointment. Luckily, everything looked good with Ezra. The midwife we saw that day talked about inducing within the next couple of days but we were able to push it out until the 2 week mark. On Sunday, August 19 at 6pm if I didn’t have a baby by then, I’d be going in to have cervidal put in my vagina followed by pitocin. I obviously didn’t want this. I remember leaving the office crying- I felt bad for everyone in the waiting room because they probably thought something terrible happened to my baby. I called Liz that day crying- actually I called her many days during this in limbo time crying. She was great, she was so compassionate and reassuring that nothing was wrong with me or my baby, just that some baby’s like to stay in little longer than others. We talked about going in for induction earlier than Sunday- perhaps on Thursday as the midwife had suggested. It was luring, I was so sick of being pregnant and waiting. Luckily, after discussion with Liz, I was talked out of it knowing that’s not what I really wanted- that I truly wanted a natural childbirth experience. So I went on for several more days- it was such an emotional roller coaster- some days I would think everything is ok and stay calm other days, actually other moments in the hour, I would be bawling wondering if I was making a mistake by waiting so long to have this baby. I was a complete basket case. One thing that did help was listening to the hypnobabies pregnancy affirmation track. Whenever I’d start to get frantic I’d tell myself “pregnancy is natural, normal, healthy and safe for me and my baby” (a direct quote from the track). During those weeks of waiting, I also remember telling time by toilet paper rolls. I would think to myself “by the end of this toilet paper roll maybe I’ll have a baby by then” (I watched many toilet paper rolls come and go). I was desperate.
Finally, Saturday August 18 rolled around, the last day before my induction deadline. I was now at 41 weeks + 6 days. I woke up at 7:30am, ate a good breakfast and called Liz. I called her sobbing saying “I’m going to do it Liz. I’m going to take castor oil.” She asked me how I felt about that, my only response was that I was feeling sad. Liz had told me later that she knew I was going to have a baby that day because I had given up on controlling the outcome and resigned to letting things happen as they may.
So at 8:30am I drank castor oil and orange juice, incidentally it really didn’t taste that bad. A couple hours went by and I didn’t feel any different. Then around 11:30am I started to get diarrhea and cramping. By 12:30pm the diarrhea was gone yet I was still getting cramps. My husband, Frank, and I were trying not to get our hopes up that this was the real deal because for past 3 weeks every time we got our hopes up that we were having a baby, soon nothing would happen. We ordered lunch from Jimmy John’s- just in case it was actually my birthing time so that I would have some food and energy in me. I took 2 bites out of my sandwich and vomited. By this time I figured they might be actual pressure waves rather than just stomach cramps from the castor oil since there was a definite start and stop to them. Frank timed the pressure waves, which were very irregular, and called Liz to let her know how things were progressing. Liz arrived at our house around 3pm. She had us go for a walk- which in my head I was thinking “Is she joking???” Nonetheless, out the door we went, every time I got a pressure wave I’d lean up against a tree or squat down. At one point a car drove by and honked, Liz gave them the thumbs up sign, I’m sure they knew I was in labor. Liz had me do other exercises like step on the curb then off then on again. All these things I did not want to do but they were helping to open up my pelvis and get my pressure waves to become more regular. At 6:50pm I started using the peace cue in the kitchen. The peace cue really helped my whole body to relax. I was also using a yoga ball while Frank was applying constant pressure to my low back with tennis balls. I remember telling him to push as hard as he can against my back with those tennis balls because the counter pressure helped so much. Around 7:25pm, the pressure waves were 2-3 minutes apart and I had lots of bloody show. Then at 8:30pm my water broke when I was on the toilet. Liz said that was a good sign and I’d be definitely having my baby soon. Afterwards, I went to one of our bedrooms and that’s when Liz must have told Frank to get the car ready because I could hear him calmly but quickly running around the house getting all of our last minute things together.
Frank dropped me off at the ER with Liz so I wouldn’t be left alone and also so he could park and bring our belongings up to the labor and delivery unit. Liz reminded me that I needed to put my bubble of peace up at the hospital. We walked into the hospital and staff was asking if I was okay and needed a wheelchair. Liz assured them I was just fine and that I was in my birthing time. We got up to the maternal assessment center at 9:30pm. I remember asking the nurse to not tell me how far dilated I was because I didn’t want to be disappointed if the number was low. In the next breath the nurse said I was at 8cm +1. Even though I requested not to know, I was relieved to find out that I was pretty far along. At 9:46pm staff was filling the tub. By this time I had pretty much blocked out everything that was going on around me. Although I do remember one of the nurses remarking how well I was doing for not having any pain medication. Frank and Liz reminded the staff that I was using hypnosis. Frank had also put up all the signs on the doors, dropped off the treats for the nurses (which they loved!) and got the CD tracks playing. At 10pm I had my first urge to push in the tub. At 10:36pm the nurses checked my dilation and I was still at 8cm and was told to stop pushing until I reached 10cm. This was the hardest part for me. I told Liz that I cannot not push. Liz reassured me and said to do the best I can and that I was doing great. I was started to get very anxious because I was worried about stalling out at 8cm. I asked Liz how much longer. Luckily when we both looked up at the clock, Frank had already covered it with a sign that read “peace” on it. Thank goodness he did that otherwise I’m sure I would have been staring at the clock during the rest of my birthing time. At some point when things got really intense I remember looking up at Liz with puppy dog eyes that begged for help, Liz put her forehead to mine and said I was the only one who could get myself out of this, that although there were all these caregivers around me, I had to go through this experience myself. That meant so much to me; I knew I was safe then.
The nurse checked me again and I was still at 8cm. Liz suggested I get out of the tub and try some other positions. Shortly afterwards, I was on the bed and they could see his head. I got back into the tub and finally began pushing. The nurse got a mirror for me so I could watch my progress. His head came out very slowly, which I didn’t mind because it helped allow my perineum to stretch as much as possible. I was pretty vocal when I was pushing. Finally, Ezra came out. Ezra was 10lbs 2 oz and 22 inches long! (With a head two inches bigger than the national average!) The nurses and midwife could not believe that I was able to birth a child that large un-medicated. In fact, during the rest of my hospital stay, several of the nurses said most women would have had a c-section with a baby so big. I remember reading in the Hypnobabies literature that position of baby matters more than the size of baby when it comes to ease of birth. I am also so glad that I did not get talked into getting induced because I know for certain that I would have had a c-section.
Giving birth the way I wanted has given me so much confidence and self-assurance. I feel happy and fortunate that I am able to reflect back on such a sacred time with so much peace and joy.