I had dreamed of my birth and looked forward to it before I ever got pregnant. It was such a gift to have Julie and the Greenville Midwives, along with all the other families in our class as our support system. They took the fear out of childbirth by giving us a voice in our experience and showing us what was possible. Here is our birth story!
Tuesday night, I barely woke up a couple of times and noticed I was having what felt like menstrual cramps. Since I had these before it didn’t seem odd & I drifted back to sleep. At 5:30am Wednesday, 5 days before my guess date, I woke up to use to bathroom and while sitting on the toilet my water broke! It wasn’t a gush like I expected so I sat there about 20 minutes making sure I wasn’t imagining things and wondering what to do next. I didn’t notice any pressure waves yet so I was a little discouraged. Since I had tested GBS positive, I really hoped my water wouldn’t break before I went into labor. Now that it was happening I tried to think of what I would do if the day went on as normal. I decided to get up and eat some breakfast and listen to my Hypnobabies scripts just in case, until my husband woke up. Since we hadn’t gotten to the last 2 of our Hypnobabies classes I was guessing about what to listen to. I listened to “your birthing time begins” and stopped it when I heard Walker wake up. I was so excited to tell him, but trying to stay calm and collected. I was very aware that this could be a 24 hour process and wanted there to be a peaceful, not fearful, spirit in our home.
At this point, around 7 am, I started to have pressure in my low back and hips but I had no idea these were contractions so I focused on keeping calm. I told my husband to work from home today just in case something starts to happen & then we went on a walk. I needed something to keep my mind busy. We had to stop about every 20 feet while I would breathe through those pressure waves but still didn’t realize I was in labor because, while it was uncomfortable, it wasn’t painful and didn’t feel like what I had imagined. I got Walker to push on my hips for counter-pressure and that helped so much- I was so thankful to have heard that from Julie in class!
When we got home I tried to watch a movie but about 20 minutes in the pressure got so intense that we attempted to time them. This is also when I put on my “birthing day affirmations” which were my absolute favorite. They definitely got me through the rest of the morning. It was a little hard to know when one stopped and one ended, so we gave up, and I began to feel SO nauseous. The nausea was worse than the pressure. I had always known that nausea was a sign of transition, but in the moment it just seemed like a real nuisance! I needed it to go away so I could focus on the pressure in my hips! (Little did I know…)
At 9:30am we decided to call the midwife to let them know, and during our 10 minute conversation I had 5 contractions. Kim had just told me I should take a warm shower and decide what I wanted to do when I felt the urge to push. When she realized I was making a different sound, she asked us to come to the birth center right away. All that time I was having contractions and had no idea thats what it was. I realized the nausea must have been transition, and here I was pushing on my living room floor.
We got to the birth center 15 minutes later and they took me downstairs almost immediately. This part is mostly a blur, but I remember walking in and willing myself not to have a pressure wave in the waiting room in front of everyone. Without being told, I walked right down the hallway because I knew one was coming- thankfully Nildi met me in the room and squatted with me through a pressure wave. In that moment I knew I was going to be taken care of. There was just a feeling of peace and calmness that Walker and I both needed right then.
Downstairs I got on the bed while Walker moved the car, and received one quick dose of the GBS antibiotic and changed into my “birthing bra” as the nurse called it. Later I found out that I was fully dilated by this time (I had decided beforehand I didn’t want to ask or know, but looking back I think I would’ve been encouraged if someone had mentioned this). I immediately got into the tub and everything slowed down significantly. I was relieved when things slowed because I needed the time in between to recharge and remind myself to breathe.
This hour of being in the tub, even though it was the most intense hour of my life, was so sweet. The atmosphere of the room was peaceful. My husband was encouraging me and helping me drink water. The nurses and my friend Allie, the photographer, were affirming me and the fact that everyone seemed calm and happy helped me remember this was something I was created to do. Everything would be over soon and I wanted to enjoy it.
At this point I was feeling pretty comfortable. I had declined getting out of the tub several times because I wanted a water birth, and I wanted to catch my baby more than anything. About an hour in, Kim, the midwife, said very sternly, “here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to stand up right here and have this baby right now, out of the water.”
This wasn’t my hope, but the authority with which she spoke my only response could be, “ok!” and that’s exactly what happened. I sort of stood- my husband put his arms under mine and held my entire body up in the air- and a few pushes (and one loud scream) later I remember holding my baby’s body and sitting down in the tub with her on my chest. It was the most surreal and other-worldly experience. What hadn’t been said was that Kim noticed a drop in the baby’s heart rate and it wasn’t going back up. My photographer later told me the whole staff got more serious and the lights came on in those last moments. There were whispers and an urgency I had missed. The nurse and midwife handled it absolutely perfectly- they got me to have my baby quickly and never alerted me to a problem. I’m so thankful that I was so clueless! And better yet, I still got to catch my baby… it was just in the air and not under water. I couldn’t have cared less in that moment.
Looking back, transition was the worst of it and if I had known I was so far along and recognized the signs I would have been even more encouraged. The entire birth I kept thinking “don’t get too excited we still have a long way to go.” The last couple pushes I didn’t feel like I could physically go on but the midwives and nurses were so encouraging and I knew exactly when I had to push her out.
Walker got in the bed with Eloise while I got out of the tub and I remember looking over and seeing him and feeling the most empowered I had ever felt. In that moment I felt like I could do anything! I had just birthed our little girl and it wasn’t nearly as hard as people had talked about birth being.
I don’t know that I would’ve had the mental energy to do it without Hypnobabies. And not only did it help me during the hardest moments but it helped me feel excited about every part of the process. The affirmations were in my head and I would speak them over myself during labor without even realizing it.
I am so thankful for a supportive husband who was so kind and encouraging through the entire morning. And I couldn’t have asked for a better experience with the midwives.
Overall, my birth didn’t go exactly as planned. I didn’t exactly have a pain-free childbirth. I didn’t calmly and quietly handle each pressure wave with a deep breath as I had imagined. But it was an amazing experience and I will absolutely do it again and encourage other women to use Hypnobabies with their birth!
Julie’s note: One joy of teaching at a birth center is that sometimes we catch a glimpse of “real life birth.” When my students arrived for class on the day Eloise was born, they asked, “Where are Kacie and Walker?” I’m a terrible liar so I was rather vague. Kacie and Walker were actually in a bed nearby snuggling their new baby! Before class ended, these proud new parents casually strolled into class to introduce Eloise. It was marvelous!