Saturday, April 7, 2012

Vivienne - take II

It was a cool spring morning- the dew on the grass still visible as we walked to our car.

I hope there has been progress, I thought.

I wrapped my coat around me a little closer, and held onto Carl's arm even tighter. And then I did some jumping jacks and out came Vivienne.

birth announcement - message me or leave me a comment if you want one :)

Ok, I'm sorry, I could not continue my dramatic story of Vivienne's birthday. I know so many of you have been asking and asking about my side of the story- how was it really? Did you seriously not use an epidural this time?! Is this hypnosis stuff legit???

Side note: So yes, I utilized a birthing program called Hypnobabies this time. I started the course and practicing self-hypnosis at about 26 weeks- this basically entailed trying to totally relax all my muscles by "turning my light switch off" and then psychologically feeling anything as pain as pressure and stretching instead. I could switch my mental "light switch" to the "center position" which would allow me to be deep in hypnosis as well as creating mental "anesthesia" where needed but also able to move around still. Carl was a big part of keeping me fully relaxed (remember his title of Hypno-guardian? It's really a title the program gives to the birth partner haha) by reading my scripts and cues that helped deepened my hypnosis.

Warning: details include my cervix, pushing a baby out you-know-where, and pictures of a cheesy baby. I'm somewhat modest in the pictures, but if bare shoulders are upsetting, then stop reading now. It is also a long story, so read when you have time.

Here's my account how March 26th went:

I woke up in the morning feeling very pregnant and normal (normal as 38 weeks pregnant goes at least). Maybe even slightly disappointed at being pregnant still. I had two episodes of false labor, once a week and was dilated to 4 cm at my 37 week appointment. My doctor was leaving for a trip to Germany for three weeks in two days and we had both really hoped (and believed) that this baby would come over the weekend. I mean, I had the tell-tale signs of impending labor (bloody show, mucus plug, etc. - yuck, I know), but alas, 4 days of nothing. So, I had my last appointment with my amazing doctor that Monday. She was shocked to tell me I was dilated to almost 5 cm and seemed "so ready" to go into labor. We said goodbye and joked that we would see her once more before she went on vacation.

Carl, Ezra, and I went to Whole Foods to go eat some samples and buy coconut water (mmmmm what an indulgence) and then headed to another grocery store to do some last minute grocery shopping just in case. While at the second store, I accidentally knocked down a step ladder, which caused a loud noise and many stares in my general direction. Carl nicely laughed at me while I picked it up (haha) and that's when I first felt a contraction (this is about 10 or 10:30 am). I figured it was the weekly false labor starting up again, but was thankful it was my day off from work (I had just worked a 5 day stretch and was about to work another 4 days starting Tuesday!). Anyway, while roaming around the store, I told Carl that we should cut our trip short since this could possibly be the real deal. We headed home and the contractions definitely started picking up! But then we got home and they literally seemed to disappear. Boo.

After taking a walk around the apartment complex, they seemed to be regular again so when I got back inside, I tried to time them. They were every 3 to 10 minutes... isn't the usual diagnosis of labor "consistent contractions every 5 minutes, lasting about 1 minute in length and growing with intensity??" They seemed to be happening more frequently every 10 minutes, so I held off calling my doctor. After bouncing on my yoga ball for a good hour, I thought it would be a good idea to bake bread pudding with all our leftover stale french bread, so I went to town doing that (weird last minute pregnant thoughts maybe?). I put the pans in the oven and decided that I should probably take a nap if this was indeed real labor.

While laying down, my contractions finally seemed to be intensifying, but still about every 3-10 minutes. I thought I probably ought to call my doctor now. My doctor's medical assistant didn't really think I was in labor since I was chatting so nicely with her, but she decided to have me talk to my doctor anyway- my doctor said I needed to go to the hospital right away because she was sure it was going to be a quick labor- she was even going to meet me there! Carl quickly made arrangements for Ezra to stay at our friends' house (thank goodness for friends!) and off we went to the hospital. I also called my doula, Michelle, at this time (Another side note: I had the opportunity to have a doula without cost due to our low income. My chiropractor, of all people, hooked me up. Michelle was so helpful and understanding- she took all the pictures and applied counter pressure on my back so that Carl could be right by my side- I will definitely hire a doula for my following births!)

Just in case anyone was wondering, we did pull the bread pudding out of the oven and one of them was conveniently baked in a mini loaf pan, so I snagged that along for the 20 minute drive to the hospital. I scarfed down almost the entire pan outside of the hospital because I was pretty sure I would not have an appetite during labor, though my doctor (who, did I mention, is fabulous?!) encouraged me to eat and drink during labor.

My contractions (or pressure waves as I imagined them to be through the Hypnobabies instruction) were stronger now, but moving around helped so much, so when I got to the birth center, they offered me a wheelchair, but walking was much more effective in getting through each contraction. I did a lot of hip swaying during the initial toco reading (yay i got to skip out on triage and went straight to a room!) and since the staff was great, they had already read my birth plan and had the tub filling before we even got there. My admit time was just after 3:30 pm.

The tub was magnificent for the first hour! I was kneeling first, then switched to floating on my back while Carl made sure I didn't drown haha. He got to climb into the tub too. Like I said, that first hour was great- lots of joking and laughing in between contractions, chatting, etc. My doctor checked me and said I was only 5 cm, close to 6 cm and 90% effaced (that was the only and last cervical check thankfully). After that hour was up, I was beginning to sorely regret the pan of bread pudding I rabidly inhaled and was feeling pretty nauseous. Bread pudding + hot water + labor = blech.

So I climbed out and instantly had jittery jello legs and much more intense contractions. I got dressed in my gown- I highly recommend bringing your own stretchy gown. Blood surprisingly washes out nicely with a spray 'n wash cleaner- and then tried bouncing on a yoga ball. Then leaning on the yoga ball. Then leaning on the bed. Then hands and knees on the bed. Then finally lying down on my left side side with the head of the bed up 30 degrees. I was having trouble resting in between contractions with all the first positions, so side lying was the best, allowing me to rest enough to recollect myself and make sure I was still in "center." I did a lot of "breathing the baby down" by "ahhh-ing" and used the hypnosis cue "peace" (i would say "peeeeaaaaace" a LOT) to maintain my anesthesia in my lower abdomen, where I felt most of the pressure. My doctor and doula were so great at maintaining counter pressure on my lower back too! There were two moments when I felt panicked and gave Carl a frightening look, which apparently combined with my sweaty locks and face made me look like a crazy person escaping from the asylum. Aside from those expressed moments, I had a lot of internal conflict- mostly thinking how nice an epidural would be so that I could just sleep through all this intensity. I was SO tired and I was feeling the intensity of labor both mentally and physically. We had the hypnobabies tracks playing in the background and Carl was so supportive and continued to say the hypnosis cues and have me repeat them as needed.

I started to feel more intense pressure, so I listened to my body and switched to kneeling. We moved the head of the bed to almost 90 degrees and I mostly burrowed my face into the bed, hung onto Carl, or hugged a pillow. My doctor told me to go ahead and start pushing (which surprised me since she didn't check me at all and I didn't have that overwhelming urge to push like many natural birthers report), but I just went ahead pushed when I felt like it- this is called mother-directed pushing according to Hypnobabies. It was really relieving to finally not try and relax every muscle and to focus on pushing! I was afraid of feeling the dreaded "ring of fire" but you know what? The moment I was supposed to feel it and didn't feel it made me realize that this hypnosis stuff really isn't a bunch of lies! Having my water break on its own was weird. I guess there was so much pressure my doula and doctor jumped back in surprise! So after 25 minutes of pushing (barely 3.5 hours at the hospital!), Carl reported that we had a baby girl and she had dark brown hair- remember I was on my knees so I didn't actually see her right away haha. Like Carl said in his post, my doctor let him "catch" Vivienne. They placed her on my back for a moment while they cleared her airway (my doctor said, "skin to skin right away!"), and then I turned around and held onto her. What a precious (and waxy/cheesy) baby! She just snuggled right up to me. We waited until the cord stopped pulsating (didn't do this with Ezra but decided why not? with Viv) and then Carl sawed through the cord. I had a second degree tear and the lidocaine shot was really the first "painful" poke downstairs.

contraction in the tub

"not bad!"

awesome doctor applying counter pressure

trying to relax

"hold me, pillow" and Carl saying a cue to me

The loyal husband and Hypno-guardian (hahaha)

EWWW! but kind of awwww if you're the parents :)

"Hi little girl, I'm your mama"

And I really didn't want to include any of my immediate post-birth photos, but oh well:

My excellent birth team! Dr. Koch, Me and Viv, Carlo, and Michelle
I know this is hard to believe, especially when I've reported my birth experience with Ezra, but I really felt like I was able to psychologically feel my pain as pressure and stretching. It was such an intense feeling though- much of the intensity had to do with how quick I progressed, I'm sure. My doctor said I "breathed the baby down" very well and was glad I could start her off to good vacation haha.

The main reason I wanted to go unmedicated this time was for the recovery- I really felt like moving around would help me have a quicker birth and boy, was it quick. And the recovery has been amazing! An hour after Vivienne was born, they finally weighed her and I got up and showered. Wha-what?! I was bed-bound with Ez for a day. It was nice to not be worried about hemorrhaging (I was pumped with 6 liters of fluids with Ez and given pitocin afterwards) or feeling like I broke my pelvis this time (forceps, anyone?). We wanted to leave the next day, but since Viv was born in the evening, I had to wait 24 hours for the newborn screening to be done and being discharged at Ezra's bedtime didn't sound convenient, so I stayed an extra night haha.

In conclusion to this novel of a blog post, here are my last thoughts regarding birth:

1) Birth the way you want to birth. Visualize your birth frequently and don't be afraid to let your doctor know what you want out of the experience. If they want to do something more convenient for themselves, it's time to find someone else. This is your birth, therefore your terms. I highly recommend a written birth plan.

2) There is absolutely NO SHAME in getting an epidural. Seriously. Though I never asked this time, I frequently thought about how wonderful it would be to sleep and then have a baby. Epidurals are not evil in any way and don't ever let those high and mighty natural birthers tell you otherwise.

3) Unless baby is distressed, I really recommend let your membranes rupture naturally. I really believe that the fluids provided an extra cushion of comfort during labor.

4) If you want to give birth unmedicated, it is truly possible. Some women can do it without practice, while others need some kind of preparation. I fell in the latter category and I'm so glad I practiced! I really didn't think I could do it until I did haha.

5) Self-hypnosis is real and effective. I practiced and practiced, and thought to myself many times that I was too logical and medically minded for this crap. Nonetheless, I tried hard and focused during my daily practice (which was mostly listening to the scripts on my iPhone) and like a soldier training for combat, all my technique and skills kicked in when it was time for war... errr labor. I don't think it was necessarily "painless and comfortable" like many Hypnobabies moms report, but the way I perceived the contractions (and I've said this a few different times) was indescribably intense and strong pressure. Had I not prepared, I would definitely call it pain I'm sure.

I'm glad I could share this experience with you all. This post has been such a good time reflecting on my experience. I know several of my dear readers are pregnant, so feel free to call me any time if you have questions.

Vivienne has been such a dolly. We love her so much and are so grateful for this newborn phase of sleeping all the time haha- it makes the transition to two kids easier than expected! She is such a good eater, smiles ALL the time (very gassy baby), and of course has beautiful brown hair. She has such a gentle girly cry too! Ezra loves to hold her and give her kisses, so I am very grateful with how well he's dealing with our newest addition. Thank you all for your love and support!

PS- about the contest... nobody guessed I'd go at 38 weeks! so no official winner... I'm still trying to determine who guessed closest to Vivienne's birthday... :)


  1. Tracey, I love this! I was told I likely wouldn't ever be able to get an epidural again after Hallie's super speedy birth, and was terrified at having to go through it again without any pain relief whatsoever (with Hallie I has no preparation for natural labor so it was very, VERY painful). We have researched several different natural birthing methods, but this post really makes us want to try Hypnobabies when our next little one comes along. Do you plan on doing it again this way, and would you do anything differently?

    I appreciate you sharing this and am so glad you had a decent birthing experience. Vivienne is adorable and it sounds like Ezra is already an awesome big brother. Hope all is well! Congrats again!

  2. I love reading or hearing birth stories...especially a friends experience that was super positive! Sounded like some work, but a whole lot less work than if you had not been prepared. A lady in our ward is going to let me borrow her hypnobabies program and I am excited to start prepping! We love you guys and can't wait to eventually meet little Viv!

  3. Congrats!!!! She is adoarable. I love reading birth stories. It brings back the special memories of my three births.

  4. Hi! Katie told me to read your experience. I am so super encouraged! This will be my sixth baby and I am so bummed I didn't look into Hypnobabies sooner. I have learned so much and I am loved reading your story. I am a couple of weeks in and love the program if for nothing more than sleeping deeply and conquering fears about birthing.

    I plan to be a successful VBAC -er in six weeks or less!

    Congratulations on your new little darling! She is beautiful!!!

  5. Rachel! I remember reading Hallie's birth story and thinking "holy cow! that's so scary!!" I really do recommend hypnobabies to prepare for birth- it really eased my fears! As much as I loved my epidural with Ezra, I plan on going unmedicated for the rest of my births so that I can have this awesome recovery every time. The only thing different would be to practice even more haha- I feel like with even more practice the intensity would have been less.

    Katy, I'm so glad you'll be able to try out the program (for free especially!)! If anything, it will really help with any negative feelings or experiences from Loreli's birth.

    Audra, thanks! I'm glad that my experience is encouraging! Hypnobabies really helped me fall asleep easily at night and by listening to the scripts and affirmations, my subconcious mind absorbed it all and when labor began, all my practice kicked in so well! Good luck with this birth- 6 babies is quite the accomplishment!