Our story was different than most of the ones you would hope to hear about after taking a HypnoBirthing class and planning to have a baby naturally….
In the early morning hours of Thursday, November 29th, Adam and I were soundly sleeping. I awoke at 3:20am to use the restroom; when I returned to bed I wasn’t able to go back to sleep right away. So, I just lay there feeling peaceful for the next half hour, when I had a funny feeling – I felt a slight, warm, and wet sensation. I thought it was weird because I knew that I wasn’t peeing myself because I had just used the bathroom not long before. As I got out of bed to go to the bathroom to investigate, when I stood up completely, a small gush of fluid spilled out of me – it was enough to make a splashing sound against our wood floor, and it was loud enough that the sound awoke Adam. He flung the covers off himself and leaped out of bed, asking if everything was alright (he told me later that he thought it sounded like I had thrown up). I said that everything was fine, and that I thought that my membrane must have released; and then I started laughing because it was such a funny feeling to have fluid leave my body without my will or control – and it just kept leaking. I wanted to walk to the bathroom, but I didn’t want to trail it everywhere, so I asked Adam to get me a towel. I quickly soaked through two full size towels. Adam was a little anxious and asked if we needed to get to the hospital right away. I told him that I didn’t think so because I still hadn’t experienced any contractions. It was 3:50am when my “water broke.”
About a half hour later we called the doctor’s office to let the on call doctor know. He said to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to go in because I didn’t feel like I had started labor yet – so I told Adam that I wanted to shower first; so we showered and got everything together at a calm pace and left for the hospital.
We got to the hospital around 5:45am. We got checked in, they checked my cervix to see if I was dilated – the outer was slightly open, the inner was closed. Then, when the nursing staff changed at 6am, I had to be checked again – apparently my cervix is really posterior and very difficult to reach because they had to get a couple of different nurses to try before being able to even get a reading – this was very uncomfortable. We also were not comfortable with the nurse that came on shift at 6am – she was not very sensitive and made a few disparaging comments about natural births, and epidurals being the norm, so Adam cleared it up and got us a different nurse. The new nurse (Amy) was very nice and really supportive. It was one of the best decisions that we made! I began experiencing slight but semi-regular surges. It was mostly just a lot of waiting at first.
At 10am the nurse checked me and I had only progressed to a 1. It was at that point that we decided to start a Pitocin drip (at the doctor’s urging) at the lowest dose and see if that could help. It didn’t. We gradually upped the dose of Pitocin (to the highest allowable dose) and the surges did get stronger and closer together but my cervix didn’t open more. While I was in labor, Adam and I tried to focus on the Hypnobirthing breathing and staying relaxed. I was so glad for the breathing techniques! I was able to stay calm and focused. I did not have any medication for pain. And we even watched The Princess Bride to help pass the time! I was periodically checked and my cervix was still not opening. Toward the end of the evening, whenever I had a surge, the monitors were showing that our baby was having a hard time – her heart rate was erratic whenever I had a surge – which was every 90 seconds or so – so I had to wear an oxygen mask for the last couple of hours. This was a very frustrating part of our birth – because we started the Pitocin, I had to be hooked up to the monitors.
So, walking around and moving were very limited, and then when they threw in an oxygen mask, I was pretty much stuck in the bed. Around 9:30pm, after being checked again and still only being open to a 2, Adam and I decided that if almost 12 hours of being on Pitocin wasn’t helping me have the baby, why should we wait through another six hours of not progressing (because the doctors said that once 24 hours had passed since my water breaking, the chance for infection went up and they would then recommend a C section). I was afraid that we would just go through those six hours and have a C Section regardless, so why not get the baby out sooner rather than later (especially since she was already seeming to have a hard time)? So, the nurse contacted our doctor (Dr. Rees) who said he would come in after he finished with something. Well, we waited for a little over an hour until he got to the hospital at 10:45pm. Dr. Rees was great. He was very respectful and wanted to be supportive of our desires to have a natural birth and he patiently explained what our options were (basically: to wait five more hours and see if I dilated and then have a C section if I hadn’t or to have a C section now). I told him that we were ready to have a C Section since it looked like, for whatever reason, I wasn’t going to be able to have you naturally. The doctor talked with us for awhile and then we started to prepare for the operation.
They took me to a small (and very cold) operating room with a very narrow table shaped like a T. It was about 11:15pm at this point. The anesthesiologist gave me the shots in my lower back, then they had me lie down as the numbness began from my toes up. I had my arms spread out to the sides of my body, and they asked if they thought I could keep them still. I said that I could and then they said that they would have to strap them down otherwise. At this point the anesthetic was making me nauseous, so I told the anesthesiologist and he held a small paper bag next to my cheek as I threw up lying down with my head to one side. Shortly after, I felt a wee bit better, and then Adam came in – he had to get changed into scrubs and wait until I had been medicated to join us. They put up a sheet of blue paper that started at my upper chest and tied to some strings that were above the table, blocking my view of everything that was going on.
Dr. Rees told me to tell him when I was ready and they would get started. I said that I was ready when they were, so to go ahead. (Adam said that while the Dr. was saying that, he was actually pinching my abdomen with some plier-like utensils – to illustrate that I was fully numb and to put Adam at ease before they cut me open.)
Adam stood to my left, just at my shoulder, as they proceeded. I was totally numb; I didn’t feel any pain, just the sensation that I was being kneaded like a loaf of bread. It was very difficult to lay there and feel completely detached from the process – I couldn’t see anything and although I asked Adam to describe to me what was happening, he didn’t. (He told me later that he thought his descriptions would bother me.) After what seemed like a long time of being prodded and kneaded, (and completely and frustratingly detached from my birthing experience) Dr. Gamette (who was assisting) said that I would feel a lot of pressure on my chest and abdomen as he acted as a contraction to help Dr. Rees deliver our daughter. A few moments later our little girl was out and she started to cry.
I watched Adam’s face as he watched, and he began crying. I asked him if she was alright and he said yes (and then I started crying too). They asked if I wanted to see the baby, I of course said yes, and they lowered the blue paper sheet just a few inches and Dr. Gamette held her up so I could see her. She was so beautiful! She was crying and covered in amniotic fluid, but she was, by far, the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. (Adam has since – very cryptically – said that he will never forget the look on my face when I first laid eyes on our new wee daughter. I wish I knew what that meant!) The time of her birth was officially 11:57pm on Thursday, November 29th, 2007. She weighed 6 lbs. 8 oz. and she was 18 ½ inches long. We named her
Audrey McKell Christian.
The nurses took Audrey away to clean her up and Adam went too. So, I just lay there, and I could hear her crying and I wanted nothing more than to hold her and comfort her. (This was probably the most frustrating thing about the whole birth – even though we really didn’t want to have a C section, we were concerned for our baby’s safety, so we agreed to do it – but even more frustrating than having a C section was not being able to hold my baby right after her birth – since the doctors needed to sew me back up.) After a few moments, a nurse came with Audrey all bundled up, and held her near my left shoulder where I could look at her. Audrey was still crying. Then, I said hello and started talking to her and at the sound of my voice, she stopped crying. That made me cry even more and I asked Audrey if she knew me and my voice. And she calmed right down and was very quiet. I still couldn’t touch her because I was on the operating table, but the nurse put her close enough so that I could kiss her cheek. (Which seemed unbelievably inadequate!) Then, they took her away to another room to give her a bath – and Adam went too.
So I was left lying on the table waiting while the doctors closed me up and then they took me back to the room we had been in all day. The anesthesia made my face really itchy and I was very tired but very anxious to see my new baby girl. It was a little after 1am by the time they brought her to see me, and it was so nice to hold her for the first time. Adam returned too and we sat together feeling very blessed to have her here at last. We would’ve loved to experience a
natural birth, but everytime I start to feel concerned about how Igave birth, I stop myself because I’m the most grateful to have had a beautiful, perfect, and healthy baby. I am appreciative of the HypnoBirthing classes, because at the very least they taught us to not
fear the birth process and to trust ourselves. (And I do feel pretty proud of myself that I “labored” for 19 hours – 12 and a half in which I was on Pitocin – without any medication.)