Our birth story begins on a fall afternoon at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe. My wife Alexis set up a meeting with Julie Byers to discuss a childbirth class called Hypnobabies. I was skeptical at best. Up to this point I assumed my wife would give birth the only way I knew – as medicated and numb as humanly possible. After all, (bubble of peace) childbirth was something awful that happened to women. It means agony, anger, helplessness, and danger – hell, I was taught in church as a child that women were meant to suffer during childbirth as repentance for Eve’s original sin. That’s where my head was at leading up to our meeting with Julie.
After a 30 minute conversation, my perspective had totally shifted. My wife and I knew about options for childbirth, that women were totally capable of giving birth without help, and that the birth of our child could be a joyful experience. Aside from my wife, no one person in my adult life has had such an immediate impact on my thinking, on the power of women, and on the borderline injustice most women face when trying to navigate a health care system that views their pregnancy as a near disease. The next clear step was to sign up for Julie’s January 2015 Hypnobabies class.
Even without the childbirth hypnosis techniques, the class was invaluable. The information from Hypnobabies was great, but coupled with Julie’s personal experiences as a doula I was starting to feel comfortable with Alexis’ decision to go for a natural birth with the GMC Midwives. I never was a fan of reading the hypnosis scripts to my wife, but I did slowly notice myself using the language and we both started to shift our views of what childbirth meant to us. We became excited instead of scared. We looked forward to a joyful, empowering experience instead of one dominated by uncertainty and weakness. That being said, we still felt we were missing a big piece of the puzzle. The universe smiled on us then – Julie was available to be our doula for the birth of our first child. We were ready.
As our guess date of April 22nd came and went we continued to prepare. Alexis began leave and could focus on hypnosis scripts, affirmations, and enjoying this exciting time. I bought her a prenatal massage – she got an awesome henna tattoo on her pregnant belly – purchased lots of fresh flowers. A week and half past our guess date, and the midwives were not concerned. We were amazed, and so relieved that the people assisting in the birth of our child weren’t trying to force us to do anything. “Baby M. will come when he/she is ready.”
Baby M. became ready Friday, May 1st. First thing that morning Alexis told me to stay home from work. I excitedly made our planned waffle breakfast – our last meal as just the two of us. Pressure waves came and went all day long. We walked the neighborhood. Then we hit the swings in the park, and then walked again. Alexis expressed zero pain, just tightening and pressure – just like the scripts said. I secretly thought to myself that birth wasn’t happening any time soon. I was wrong.
That evening things got pretty intense. Alexis asked for the ‘peace’ and ‘relax’ cues more and more often, and I was happy to have a role to play. Hypnobabies made me feel like more than a powerless bystander – I was an active participant. Around 11pm, I think we both got a little frightened of the intensity so we called Julie. Alexis and I probably worked a little too long by ourselves, but just knowing Julie was a phone call away gave us a tremendous amount of confidence. An hour or so after Julie arrived she contacted the midwife on call to let her know we were on our way to the hospital. A quick check at the hospital showed Alexis was ready to push. Our nurse filled the tub in the birthing suite as fast as possible. After Alexis got in the tub, it seemed like only a few minutes before we met our sweet girl! It was crazy – 20 minutes literally felt like 5. We had to let Aspen know that she’d been born, and when she let out her first cry I doubt I’d ever felt such relief. We were at the hospital 63 minutes before my wife gave birth. Our daughter was here, healthy, and we were over the moon.
Without a doubt, this was the singular most positive experience of my life. It seems cliche, but my life changed instantly – seeing Aspen lie on my wife in the tub was unbelievable, incredible, amazing, humbling – I could go on and on. More than that, the physical expression of love that Alexis demonstrated by giving birth naturally has left me in awe of my wife. I’m so thankful to her, Julie, and Kim from Greenville Midwifery Care for helping us craft a positive birth experience. These three women will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I am eternally grateful for their love and support.