Updated: Jul 7, 2020
If you're anything like me, you LOVE a good birth story. I love them all. Even the hard ones. I cry every time I read one. Sometimes tears of joy, sometimes sadness and sometimes out of sheer empathy for the birthing parent. Birth is powerful, life changing and intense. For years I've been offering hypnobirth lessons to help people feel empowered and excited about giving birth. A few common misconceptions about hypnobirth are that there is no feeling, that you are asleep or unaware of what's happening. Just to set the record straight, you are awake, and aware of the sensations of birth, but you feel capable of handling whatever comes your way. Below is a beautiful birth story written by my friend, yoga student and hypnobirth client, Ann. She's recounting the details of the birth of her third child, Cecelia. Enjoy!
"Cecelia Jean's birth story starts before her birth. As the youngest of three, who were also born at a Birthcenter, her birth was affected as a result of her brother's births. I have a big baby history, it runs on both sides of the family (I weighed 9lbs 15oz, Tom’s brother was 11lbs, his Father was 10lbs, my Mother and her siblings were all over 9lbs). Finn (my first) weighed 11lbs, until they took his newborn hat off and weighed him again at 10lbs 15oz. Dylan weighed 10lbs 13oz, and had shoulder dystocia (his shoulders were stuck as his head was out, restricting oxygen—for a full 3min. His birth was traumatic for Tom and I, since he came into the world blue faced and not breathing. They rang an alarm and Doctors flew in (and as Ina May would say) to help “get him started”. This traumatic birth led me to making the decision to have my membranes gently stripped 3 days prior to Cece’s due date. I felt really emotional making that decision. A lot of fear was coming up, I didn’t feel ready and wanted my baby to come on their own, but also knew my babies came late. I had an intuitive nudge telling me it was time. I had originally been open to a membrane strip around 38 weeks pregnant, but felt that my babies come late for a reason, and research showed that being born after 39 weeks and before 41 weeks and 5 days was pretty much the sweet spot. I also knew membrane stripping could cause birth within a week. So 40 weeks, that was my number to take the initiative. Researching on the website www.evidencebasedbirth.com was such a big help with making major decisions with Cece's birth. My amazing Midwife also gave it to me straight and said "This baby is not small anymore, (s)he is at least 8lbs, probably 9". She did not say it to scare me, she told me the facts. And with my history, together we made the decision to sweep. We knew I could birth big babies, but we also knew I had a history of shoulder dystocia (50% chance of reoccurrence which doesn’t tell you much really— and it can happen with small babies not just big). I had to trust my gut, which all throughout pregnancy told me if there was any red flag, and any way to encourage birth before 42 weeks, to do it. I had gotten one with Finn at 41 weeks + 6 days and had no fears of the actual procedure. I also felt like this baby wasn't going to come today, she and I weren't ready quit yet. So I got the sweep and the Midwife knew I was rattled, and told me to write my fears down and tear up the paper (or burn it and dance around a fire naked—KIDDING!). I called my sister, emotional, and she said the same exact thing—and to write down my ideal birth story. I drove to a park right after the membrane sweep, wrote my fears & my ideal birth. I sat on a grassy hill, overlooking the neighborhood that we live in. The neighborhood where this child was going to live in, and likely grow u p in. I breathed, listened to a hypnotherapy session from my yoga teacher, Stacy, and went home feeling at peace. When I got home, Tom could still sense my emotions and the heaviness of the decision and gave me a huge hug. I gave him a huge "to do" list.
I still knew I wouldn't be ready until the to do list had check marks next to each item, and when my emotions were settled. The day after the sweep, I woke up charged with motivation. Tom and I got a lot done–including taking beautiful maternity photos in front of the baby's bedroom window. We changed the curtain to pink, even though we didn't know the gender. We both felt so confident at that point that the baby was a girl (even though I still would not admit it out loud)! I lost my mucus plug at some point in the day and felt tingles of excitement. The baby was coming within the next day or two.
I woke up feeling really good on April 19th, the baby's due date. It was a beautiful spring day, with flowers blooming everywhere. I requested that we go on a hike/walk/picnic, so we packed up and headed to Forest Park. I had intuition that the baby would come on a beautiful day, after a long walk. The same thing happened with Dylan's birth. I felt ready for the baby. People have asked if you wake up "knowing" the baby is coming that day. I can't explain it really, but I think I knew deep down that this was likely the day. Or that s/he would come overnight that night.
When we arrived at Forest Park I felt like I was in a Spring wonderland! Trees were blooming pink everywhere. The green trees looked so bright and vivid. The sky was so blue with puffy white clouds. Everything was just more intense to me, which I have also read about in some of Ina May's books. We sat under a tree by the water and had our picnic, before the boys ran around playing "sneaky sasquatch" and throwing a baseball. Dylan even made me chase him around at one point. I remember feeling some light cramping, but I had been cramping for days and weeks. We took the long walk back to the car (about 1.5 miles), and headed home. I told Tom he HAD to put the car seat in the car! He cleaned the car like crazy and got that thing installed. Such a typical third child thing to do, wait till the last minute! I went to the bathroom and there was water. Is this my water? Did it break? It is not much! I called the Midwife and talked to someone I didn't know, she was filling in for others on maternity leave.. great. The Midwives I knew would not bring my baby into the world. She told me to watch how much water there was in the next hour. I started timing my contractions but they were all over the place. I never had such random contractions... 8min, 12min, 2min, 7min. I felt really hyper and excited. This reminded me of my previous births. This baby was coming. I also felt super calm.
I told Tom to pack the boys bags and get ready. I showered and the water really broke then. Tom said, "What is priority-- the bags or the snacks?? I don't know what I should be doing". I was laughing at. how frazzled he was. I calmly told him to shower, quickly (I knew it would calm him down and re-set him). I hugged the boys and told them I loved them, and Tom got them over to the neighbors. We grabbed our things. Another neighbor was outside with his son, and Tom and I started talking to him. His eyes about popped out when I told him I was in labor and we were on the way to the hospital. "Wait, right now?!" he asked. I said it wasn't like the movies, well not always! I did feel like this baby was coming fast and we needed to get moving.
On the way I asked if he grabbed masks and he said no. Oh well, too late to go back. The contractions were picking up speed and intensity. We got to the hospital quickly. The roads were empty (Covid on a Sunday night in the Midwest), and arrived around 7:30pm. Tons of parking, again thanks to the pandemic. I didn't feel like the car ride annoyed me as much as it did with the boy's births. Were the odd contractions and smoother car ride thanks to the hypnotherapy with Stacy? She warned me that the pain would likely be less intense, and I may not even realize I was having contractions. Hmm.
We walk into the hospital and are greeted by masked employees who take our temps and asking if we have had any symptoms of the virus. No, no. Off we go. I feel annoyed that I still have to exchange items (a sticker is handed to me). Shouldn't we be avoiding any contact? Another contraction hits as we make the long walk back to the Birth Center wing. I hear a soft voice behind us, "You must be Ann.". I immediately feel relieved as I turn and see a smiling Midwife, Angie. I knew I was in good hands. She had gentle, maternal energy. We head back to the "Spring room" that I chose months before. I start organizing snacks in the kitchen?? Tom is like, what are you doing?? Then I pop my headphones in and turn on my hypnotherapy recording from Stacy, who helped me heal the trauma from Dylan's birth. Hearing her sweet gentle voice calms me right away, and I move into a more comfortable position to handle the next wave. It all moves so fast. I didn't get to listen to the whole audio because one thing led to the next SO quickly. I am on the bed working through transition–shaking, cold (demanding the heat be turned up). I am being poked for an IV (beta strep positive), finally they find a good vein. "Why am I shaking so much?" I ask. Angie says I am in transition. Right, pushing is next. Here we go! I can't believe how fast this is going. She suggests I move onto a yoga mat on the floor to ground myself. I feel panic whenever Tom leaves my side, even if it is to grab a ball or my water in step's reach. I can't imagine the women that have to birth without their partner because of hospital policies due to the virus. Before I know it, I feel that deep pressure. I can't avoid pushing. I feel the head moving and then Angie says, "Keep it up Ann.. you are doing great! I have never felt the head so obviously that far in. Then suddenly the midwife says "I see the head, this baby is NOT bald!" I feel terrified, overwhelmed, empowered and excited. I am going to meet the baby soon! This is how you get through this last, crazy part. The pain is real, but I also feel disconnected. I am allowing my body to do what it needs, to surrender to these waves that come. I couldn't avoid it. Soon it is so powerful that I am shouting a curse and "OUCH", feeling the head and shoulders... then the oh so amazing "WAAAAAA WAAAAAA!" that I never heard with Dylan. There are cheers all around (Doctors came down as backup just in case the shoulders were an issue again)... "Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday!" they all shout. Ann, look at your baby! I am pretty sure I am surrounded by women only. I love the energy that is surrounding this new, beautiful life. I see an umbilical chord and think "Another penis!?"... then I sense something different. Everyone around me is looking at me, waiting with such wide eyes. Throughout my whole pregnancy, all of the midwives kept saying "The baby just might be a girl, since they are so clearly different this time around". The way everyone was smiling and beaming at me made me realize instantly– I looked again and saw Her! I said, welcome to the world Cecelia Jean! We love you so much! They laid her on me and she immediately grabbed my finger. I was in such shock and joy that I couldn't cry if I wanted to."
- Ann White