Much to my surprise, my waters broke at 6:00 am, approximately 12 days before my son's "official" expected date of arrival. There was water, but not much else in the way of birthing waves for most of that day. It was somewhat surreal, all the leaking but no other signs that our son was on his way. I wrote thank-you notes for the shower I had had a few weeks before. Then we went out for ice cream. Not much was going on but I was a little worried because I knew the clock was ticking. Every minute that passed without the onset of my birthing time increased the risk that artificial means of induction would be used. We visited my midwife at noon that day to learn that I was only 1 ½ cm dilated and 50% effaced. We agreed to meet at the hospital at 6:00 that night and she explained that we would have to consider pitocin between 12:00 and 2:00 if no further progress had been made.
We hired a doula trained in the hypnobabies process to assist with our birth. Carol arrived at our home about an hour before we needed to leave for the hospital. She brought with her the "Come Out Baby" script to help release my mind from anything that was holding my body back from starting my birthing time. It was an incredible experience. I felt as if all the molecules in my body melted away and I entered a deep state of relaxation. During our drive to the hospital, I listened to the Birth Guide cd with my eyes closed. Our arrival at the hospital was relaxed, peaceful, and stress-free.
Once I was admitted to the hospital, my midwife administered a prostaglandin suppository to help ripen the cervix. Still, progress was slow in coming. When it seemed that nothing much would happen that night, my parents left to go home to sleep, and our doula went with them as she needed to go back to pick up her car. Like magic, the minute the people who were "waiting, waiting, waiting" for me to have the baby left the scene, my birthing waves began in earnest. It seems like my body needed to be in a little cocoon with just Josef and I in order to get truly ready for the birth of our son.
My birthing time began at around 10:30 pm and lasted until 4:45 am the following morning when our son, Jordan, was born. During that time, my doula, midwife and Josef helped me through each birthing wave with a variety of measures such as showering, changing positions, rocking on the birthing ball, warm back compresses, gentle massage, scented fans, and soothing words that helped me stay deeply relaxed throughout each one. During this time, I recall only quiet, loving words and caresses. My eyes were closed mostly the entire time, and I had the feeling of being in a soft safe place. My own method of greeting the waves came from deep within - something not practiced in the class - With each wave, I found that I would instinctively hum. There was something very soothing about certain tonal sounds and I varied these with each wave until I hit the right note to get through to the end. As a regular practitioner of yoga, I also found the "ohm" sound helpful as well. I recall feeling intense pressure, but not "pain".
My pushing phase of labor lasted approximately an hour and a half and was the most difficult part of the journey. Not in terms of "pain" but only in terms of "work." It seemed that with each series of three to four pushes, I felt that I had given it my all, only to find that the baby was still inside. It was frustrating at times in the sense of being physically exhausting, like running a marathon, but not painful. I recall the soothing sensation of warm compresses, but no pain. I had no feelings of discomfort when my midwife reached in to help fully open my cervix. I had no feelings of discomfort when my son crowned. There was no "ring of fire". Nothing. The only "discomfort" I experienced during this time was the work my abdomen was doing to help push the baby out -- kind of like overdoing it on the ab machine at the gym.
When my son was born, he was placed immediately into my hands and I brought him up to my chest. It is a moment I will never forget! His bright little eyes were sparkling and he took to my breast within just minutes of his birth. He was alert and very much engaged in the world. And from the moment of his birth, I felt absolutely nothing but pure joy. All the frustration of the pushing phase vanished and I was giggling. And there was no pain in my body. I had a minor tear that was quickly and painlessly repaired, and from that moment, I did not need anything for pain because I did not feel any pain. It's true. You can give birth without so much as an aspirin. I did it thanks to the loving support of a trained doula and midwife, a supportive and engaged partner, and the mental tools (that came from Hypnobabies practice) to have the birthing I had always hoped for. The biggest gift I feel that I gave to myself and my son in this process was being fully present, in both mind and body, for the incredible experience of his birthing. It is my hope that all women can take back their own innate strength to empower themselves through their birthings, and this is the way to do it!
Valerie and Josef
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