Initially I was concerned with the level of commitment Hypnobabies requires, but as we went through the classes and began to listen to the tracks, I found myself looking forward to that time to myself each night. I decided a water birth would be the best option for me and I listened to my tracks in the bath tub several nights a week. This became my 'special, safe place' where I would visualize my birth and practice my finger-drops. I loved all the encouraging, positive messages in these tracks and feel they helped give me a much better attitude throughout my pregnancy. I think the fear-clearing track became my favorite as it really targeted a lot of the stressful thoughts and worries I had about my birth. I look back on those times at night with just me and my baby and I'm grateful that I was proactive in working to overcome my fears!
We decided to hire our Hypno-doula, Laura pretty late in my pregnancy and it was ultimately the best decision we could have made! I was enjoying learning my Hypnobabies cues and tools but realized that we needed someone at the birth who was more familiar and comfortable with the scripts. Jesse wanted to focus completely on being there for me instead of needing to remember the scripts and prompts needed during the birth. We also discovered at 37 weeks that the baby was breech, and because my provider does not perform breech births, a c-section was inevitable if she didn't turn head down. The more I spoke to people about it, the more c-section stories I heard. The more reading and researching I did, the more I felt all my excitement and positive energy slip away.
Thankfully Laura was very helpful and encouraging and she suggested that I get get off the internet (where I'd just worry myself into a frenzy), and try various exercises and stretches instead to encourage the baby to flip on her own. She also recommended listening to the “Turn Your Breech Baby” track from the Hypnobabies website. To be perfectly honest, I was skeptical about this track and if it would actually help. But I decided that in dedication to my birth plan, I would give it a try. I listened to it the night before we were scheduled to go to the hospital where the OBGYN would perform an external cephalic version (ECV) to manually turn the baby.
I got in the bathtub, dimmed the lights, lit some candles and had a wonderful session with my baby! I really enjoyed this track- the imagery and message were so sweet and reassuring. I was told to let the baby tell me if it was safe for her to flip- and if it wasn't, she would be born in the best and safest way she needed. Once I heard that, I really felt at peace with whatever would happen, and that it would be the best possible outcome for my baby. I felt a huge burden lift off of me and when I went to bed and I slept HARD. When we arrived at the hospital the next morning, they discovered by ultrasound that the baby had flipped on her own over night!! We were all SO happy! Everything was back on track and we were sent on our way by the nursing staff who were all so surprised and so happy for us!
On the evening of my 39th week, I picked up my son Tyler from school and that evening we snuggled on the couch watching a movie together. I had drifted off in a nap and woke up with a strange sensation that lead me to jump up and run to the bathroom where my water broke in a big gush. I yelled for Jesse to come and poked my head out of the bathroom to kiss Tyler goodnight. We decided not to tell him that night so he would be able to sleep and let my sister Megan (who lives with us), surprise him with the exciting news in the morning.
I called my midwife and she advised us to come in that night as I had tested positive for Strep B and would need to be administered a few rounds of antibiotics before the baby was born. At this point I hadn't been feeling any waves and just had this overwhelming feeling of joy because I was going to meet my baby soon!! We had a few hours before we needed to go in so we did some last minute packing, I called my mom and made a batch of lemon bars for the nurses. I was even able to get a shower in! I had been so concerned with not getting there fast enough and having to fight to stay in focus during my waves as I was admitted. But it turned out that my visualization exercises really worked to my benefit because I had such an easy, non-chaotic admission to the birth center. I was able to easily chat with Jesse and the nursing staff as they went through the necessary administrative procedures. Such an awesome start!
My waves picked up to about 2-3 per hour; very minimal and very easy. We had decided with Laura that I did want to know how much I was dilated when we arrived, but preferred not to be told after that. I was 3 cm dilated around midnight and was very pleased with that news. I listened to my Deepening and Joyful Birthing Day tracks throughout the night and got some rest in. By the morning however, my waves slowed down and eventually stopped completely by the afternoon. Despite walking, stretching, and bouncing on the birth ball, I stopped progressing.
My midwife came in and checked around 2:30 in the afternoon- she didn't tell me what I was dilated at but I could tell by the look on her face that it wasn't much. After doing a membrane sweep and trying to release the water bag (sometimes it can re-seal under the baby's head), she suggested we start Pitocin to get things going again. This again, was disappointing news to me as it was an intervention I had really wanted to avoid. Discouraged, I looked at Jesse and asked him what he thought. Bless him- he took what we learned in our Hypnobabies classes and suggested taking a few minutes to talk it over and take a walk. As he pulled my hand to help me up out of bed, I felt another big gush of water and a BIG, intense wave followed. Again, we were back in business! I'm so glad he suggested getting out of bed; had I not done that, we may not have realized things were picking back up on their own.
With the waves coming steadily and faster, I turned off the lights, got in the bathtub and began working my way comfortably through the tracks. Laura arrived around 4:30 pm and lit some candles and worked with me by softly reciting the scripts and giving various relax cues. To stay focused, I used my “Bubble of Peace” tool when the nurses needed to touch me to monitor the baby's heart beat. I relied heavily on my Peace cue and visualized sending a soft, metallic anesthesia throughout my body to “cool” my waves as they got more and more intense. I tried getting out of the tub at one point and leaned up over the back of the bed, but I didn't like the pressure on my knees. I don't remember this, but I apparently I fell asleep in between my waves, letting my body rest before things really picked up! Ultimately, after laying, sitting and standing- hanging out in the bath tub with the lights off is what really felt the best, so back in it I went! I sank in as low as I could go with just my face out of the water to breathe and really just focused on my hypno-anethsesia. After all my practice, the bathtub was still my 'special, safe place'.
As I began to go through transformation, I began to feel a little “pushy” in the tub and at this point I was told I needed to get out and get to the birthing tub down the hall. I was covered in warm blankets and we walked down the hall, stopping for some intense waves on the way. The midwife asked to check me as we arrived and while we waited for them to fill the tub. I decided I actually wanted to know- I think I knew I was getting close! She checked and I was at 9 ½ cm! She let me know I was DEFINITELY ready to get in the tub! Laura got the room ready with some LED candles, and set up my Hypnobabies tracks to listen to, and would gently touch my shoulder and forehead, giving me the release and relax cues. As the waves became more intense, I could feel my mind slip out of focus, but those scripts really saved me and brought me back to where I needed to be! Jesse was so helpful and always by my side, covering me in cool washcloths and having me drink water between waves to keep me hydrated. It really helped keep my energy levels up!
It was SO calm and peaceful!! Laura continued reciting the scripts softly in my ear through the waves as the nurses and midwife chatted quietly with each other next to the tub. Megan was also in the room taking photos (she had dropped Tyler off at school that morning), and I was occasionally briefly able to turn on my center switch and say a few words to her and Jesse. Because I had no idea how close I was to meeting my baby (I felt some pain and discomfort, but not unbearable pain), I actually felt a little bored because I thought I still had a long way to go! I told Laura I felt impatient. By this point in my previous birth I was experiencing so much pain and since everything was feeling so manageable, I thought I had so much farther to go!
I decided to move up onto my hands and knees and went through a few very, very strong waves. All of a sudden I could feel my body completely take over and I knew the baby was coming that very moment. NO ONE WAS READY!! I hollered out very loudly (this is the only point where I can say I felt pain- though very brief) and the nurse asked Laura if she could see anything. She responded, “YES, the head is out!!”. Megan told me later that there was a mad scramble, elbows were flying and everyone jumped up into action- trying to get to where they needed to be! The student midwife was the closest and jumped in there to catch the baby just in time at the end of the second big wave and push. The baby shot out like a torpedo and Laura said she had never seen anyone whip on a pair of gloves so fast!
These two waves had taken me by such surprise that I actually sat there in shock for a few moments while the room spun and I completely forgot what we were all doing there! I was brought back to reality with the words, “Tara, I want you to reach down and pull up your baby!” I will never forget that amazing moment, where I reached down and felt my perfectly warm, soft, squishy baby girl and pulled her up to me, realizing that she was the wonderful prize I had just worked so hard for!
I leaned back and put her on my chest. She made one little yelp and then just opened her eyes, so calm and quiet, and blinked up looking at everyone in the room. What an amazing moment!! We all sat there giggling about what a shockingly fast birth that was and marveled at what a calm baby she was. She never cried, just looked at everyone- completely perfect. We waited until the cord stopped pulsing and Jesse cut it and held her skin-to-skin. She reached up and grabbed his necklace and immediately latched on to him! We all laughed again and after I was able to get out of the tub, I snuggled with her and she began nursing right away. Such a sweet memory with my little family and this wonderful group of women who helped us welcome our daughter to the world.
I describe Isabelle's birth as incredibly healing and empowering; it was everything I needed it to be. I am so thrilled that I was able to birth my baby on my own, and that she was born exactly how she was meant to- in her own special way and timing. We have found her birth matches her little personality- she is a sweet, quiet and calm baby full of smiles! Her birth was joyful, peaceful and such a bonding experience for Jesse and I. It was one of those rare moments where I can honestly say that I got exactly what I wanted! I can now say that birth CAN be beautiful and joyful- from start to finish! I'm so happy we used Hypnobabies to achieve our goals for our daughter's birth and that I will always have such sweet memories to cherish.