|Part of my birthing team on Day 2|
David, Chloe (doula), me and Ebba, Carolyn (midwife) and Carolyn's daughter
But now, without further ado, here is Ebba's birth story.
I am going to include as many details as I can in here -- meaning I will not be holding much of my experience back. This might make things long, or even gross, but I feel it was really helpful for me to know a lot of details of what might happen going in. I will try to use as much of the positive Hypnobabies language as possible, but in some parts, I might use words that aren’t “sanctioned” by Hypnobabies, but only when I feel it necessary.
Little Ebba’s estimated due date was December 23, and I have to admit I had been getting a bit antsy by then. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore -- I was definitely comfortable -- but I was getting so tired of everyone asking me if/when the baby was coming! I focused on using my Hypnobabies affirmations to remind myself that Baby would come whenever she was ready, and that that would be the perfect time. Really, my biggest fear was that I would go so long that I would have to make choices about inducing, and that I might not be strong enough to resist doctors telling me what I “should” do. Because, even though we chose midwives, if I went to 42 weeks, it would be suggested I talk to an OB.
Fortunately, the information and Fear Clearing from Hypnobabies, coupled with my Doula and Midwives’ support quelled those fears well enough to allow me to relax and enjoy my last week of pregnancy. After all, my estimated “due date” was December 23, which is 40 weeks gestation exactly. But, the average length of gestation for first time mums who do not get induced is 41 weeks and 1 day. So I don’t know what I was so worried about. :) (See how important being informed can be? :) )
And, that’s exactly when she was born, a week and one day after her estimated due date. On December 30, I went out on a shopping excursion with my husband and brother in law. We strolled around town for about 2 hours, and then, when we were walking home from the bus stop, I stopped at the bottom of the hill and said, “Oh, David, either I have to poo, or I just had a birthing wave (contraction).” As it turned out, both were true. :) The wave passed quickly, but still I knew it was different from the practice waves I’d had on previous days. It was a little bit stronger, a teensy weensy bit longer, and I could feel it moving across my uterus rather than being static.
We came inside and had some food and went about the rest of our day as best we could. We got groceries, watched an episode of Kitchen Nightmares over dinner, and I had a bath. All the while, we intermittently timed my waves. When they were about 4-5 minutes apart, lasting a minute, we called our doula. This was around 6:30 pm. Chloe, our doula, told us to continue as we have been and she would call again around 9. When she called the next time, my waves had intensified to the point where I needed to use my hypnoanesthesia and relaxation techniques. I could feel the pressure waves wrapping to my back now. I tried lying down, but during the waves, the pressure and discomfort increased in that position, and at the end of one, I vomited.
So I sat on my birthing ball, bent over the table while David read some of The Hobbit to me between waves. That’s where I was at 9:30 pm, when Chloe came over to drop off the TENS machine. I cannot recommend the TENS machine enough! It was a lifesaver. After that, the waves were much more manageable and we continued on, dozing and timing intermittently until around 2am. In that time, I threw up 3 more times, and really that was the most annoying or displeasing part of the whole thing up to this point.
David made sure I changed position, had some water and snacks, and went to the washroom regularly. Around 1:35am, I was on the toilet having a wave when I noticed a change. I had been vocalizing through my waves (like a breathy “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”) up to this point but suddenly my vocalization turned to “AhhhhhhhhUGH,” which signaled to me that I might be beginning to feel “pushy.” Sure enough, with the next few waves I found the same pattern, and I felt my uterus pushing down.
I credit my Hypnobabies instructor, Jenn, with teaching me what “feeling pushy” actually sounded like. Because I’m not sure if I would have recognized the feeling. As it was, though, I was able to recognize it right away and call Chloe again.
Chloe came shortly after 2am, and she sat with me. As soon as she realized I was having involuntary pushing (all of, like, 30 seconds in), she told David to start filling the pool and calling the midwives immediately. I tried lying on the bed again, which was better with the TENS machine, and had some more pushy waves. Around 2:15, my water broke. My water breaking was an interesting experience. I was just letting my body do what it needed to do, when a much stronger wave came. I felt a great kind of release inside and suddenly I was soaked!
All the while, I felt a kind of calm excitement. I knew, from the time I started feeling pushy, that I would see my baby in just a few hours. She was definitely coming. David and Chloe gave me enough guidance to help me through some more difficult waves, but also enough space so I could concentrate and control the intensity myself. Often, I was left on my own, or with one of them just placing a hand on my shoulder or lower back and speaking softly.
Just before the midwife arrived, I think there was a slight problem with the pool because I could hear both Chloe and David discussing in the other room. It worried me just a little bit, but I was able to think, “Well, if the pool doesn’t work, we can do it here on the sofabed.” I figured, baby was coming one way or another, pool or no pool, so no use in worrying about it.
My midwife Carolyn arrived promptly, and we pretty much got right into the tub as soon as she talked to me and did a very, very quick exam on the toilet. In the tub, pushing was so, so much easier, and I began to really feel my baby descending. The second midwife, Terri-Lynn of Pacific Midwifery arrived then, and David got in the pool with me.
After what felt like only a short while of pushing (David said it was under an hour) Carolyn told me I could reach a finger in and feel the tip of my baby’s head. I could! And all her hair! That motivated me to keep going. I knew she was only a short way away. I remember commenting that I felt “very full.”
The intensity increased greatly at this point, during the waves, but between waves, I was so happy and excited that I just relaxed back on David or over the side of the pool, just grinning my head off. And, even then, I was still directing everyone around me: “Go get some tea! Have you had enough rest? How are you all doing?” etc etc. I think at one point I might have even asked if they were enjoying themselves. :) The atmosphere was calm and happy, and we joked and smiled the whole time.
The final hour or so of pushing was a bit more difficult. I could feel my body getting tired, but I was still excited and happy. I had completely given control over to my body, because I only had enough energy for that. Only one or two times, the thought entered my head that maybe I couldn’t go on, but then I realized that that was a stupid thought, because I was in it now and only had beauty to look forward to!
There were times when she would move forward with a wave and then slip back a bit after the wave stopped. This was a little bit frustrating to me, and that’s, I think, when my thoughts of not being able to go on cropped up. In these moments, I just remembered that the slower she moved, the more time my tissues had to stretch and open for her. I pictured her head massaging my birth canal and perineum open. And, apparently she descended in record time. :)
Once I saw her head coming more in the mirror and in a photo on the camera, I was quite driven to meet my baby. I was able to push with the waves and then kind of hold her in place with my own muscles so the next wave could push her even further down. I held my hands on her head and my perineum so I could feel the exact amount she moved each time. I also used my fingers to push my perineum slowly open around her head.
Finally, I could feel myself stretching around her head, and it was halfway out! And then, she paused! And I yelled, “heck of a place to pause, baby!” with a laugh. This is the only moment I really would use the word “pain.” And, after watching my video, I could see the change in my vocalizations from pushing to “ouch!” but it was short lived. :)
As I knew it would, she started moving again. And, before I knew what was happening, Carolyn said, “Reach down and pick up your baby, Amanda!” And I was like “Really!?”
So I did, and she was amazing and gorgeous and looked directly at her Daddy (yeah, not mommy), right in the eyes! Her first cries were mostly just little whimpers and snuggles, but eventually she pushed out all the mucous and gave us a good little assurance of her lung capacity. :)
After a few moments, we transitioned (carefully!) from the pool onto the sofabed in the next room, and I birthed the placenta. I hadn’t realized how completely exhausted I was until that point, because Carolyn asked me to give a push for the placenta and try as I might, there wasn’t any push left in me! Somehow, though, the placenta was born, and David cut the cord. (There is a great photo of me making a grossed out face while David cuts it. :) )
Ebba was born at 5:43 am and was 9lb 2oz. She was born without any tearing or stitches, and I credit much of that to my Hypnobabies preparation! And, now, Ebba and Daddy and I are all very happy and healthy.
If you are interested in how we prepared for the birth, please see Part 1 here.
Thank you for reading!
ps - some (decent!) pictures to come once we get them off the cameras!