Erin’s Birth

Hypnobabies students:  Bubble of peace for Erin’s change of plans.

Alana’s birth story. #notglamorous

Almost 3 weeks before my due date, I had laid down to go to bed Wednesday night and felt an internal pop and had an urge to use the bathroom. On the pot, I had some blood in the toilet and quite a bit of bodily fluid expelled [how do you make that sound pretty]. Turns out my water broke and my mucus plug came out simultaneously, but I wasn’t sure of this at the time. Being my first birth, I didn’t realize my water had broken and assumed it was just my mucus plug per the books. I still thought I had a week to go, but I had cramps and waves of pressure that came within an hour after. I had sat on the toilet for about 30 minutes, texted Caryn, our doula, and explained and she too thought it was just a mucus plug and told me to try and sleep. I tried, but couldn’t with the waves keeping me awake.

In the am, I texted caryn again and told her I had a hunch my water had also broken, so I called the midwives. The midwife on call asked me if i thought this was it, and I said I have no idea. I went in to midwifery to be checked to see if my water had indeed broken and they were pretty sure it had. The midwife said this is early labor so lets see if it goes active in time. If my labor wasn’t active within 24 hours, this put me at risk for infection, and I would have to be admitted to the hospital for Pitocin. This unfortunately also meant I couldn’t use the birthing center.

I took a few walks around the neighborhood, still with some waves oh, about every ten minutes and about a minute long. This lasted all day. Caryn gave me some herbal remedies to try to activate them and was sweet enough to bring me a juice from Southern Pressed too w/ some healthy stuff in it. Nothing seemed to advance my labor. I called to get a massage, couldn’t get in, but reached my chiropractor, Meghan Afshar, and she was able to do some adjustments and show my husband some moves he could do to help me.

In the evening, Caryn and I discussed a cocktail I could drink but we both had mixed reviews on whether it would help and decided it was best for me to go to the hospital. I had bags ready to go but had to add some more clothes. I was admitted around 9pm. When we entered the hospital I signed something, we sat in a small room for a while talking and waiting. They offered me a gown, but I didn’t see the point of changing yet, so I declined it. Caryn provided some calming essential oils in the interim. After about an hour, they moved us to the midwifery suite. I was not happy to be at the hospital, nor was I happy to be denied the birthing tub right away (I was only a little over 3 cm dilated, and needed to be 6cm per the midwife on duty), but the nurse was very nice, the midwifery suite at the hospital was quite large (no queen size bed or mood lighting, I’ll add), but I had Caryn, my husband and a pretty cool nurse. The midwife was attending another more advanced birth, so at this point she was in and out quite a lot. with that, I was ever grateful for hiring Caryn. I don’t feel I could have gotten through my labor without her. We took the classes and had an idea of what to expect, but her guidance was truly the handbook since when we got to the hospital, most of what we learned had been forgotten in the frustration. I zoned out much of the hospital experience talk in the class because mentally I was not going there, but I remembered the epidural discussion and Julie, the best Hypnobabies instructor, wearing all the post-its and shaking my head ‘no’.

When I got hooked up with fluids and Pitocin, I was doing some deep breathing to relieve the stress of the situation. I tried wearing the headphones with the Hypnobabies tracks playing, but I had several interruptions, and with all the frustration with the tubes, etc, I set it aside and just tried my best to calm myself mentally. I’m thankful for my yoga practice in breathing now. I labored on Pitocin for 10 hours. I used every piece of birthing equipment available to me except that damned tub that sat glaring at me across the room. My top two were: sitting on the birthing ball in the shower, and sitting backwards on the toilet with a pillow. I was not a fan of laboring in the bed, so I was grateful to be able to move around, spite the torch of tubes I carried back and forth, over and over again.

Sometime Thursday after 10 hours of labor on Pitocin, I was almost 7cm dilated and could now get in the tub, but I may have drowned from utter exhaustion. I had only a few hours of sleep in 2 days and could only describe it as being deliriously exhausted since I was trying to nod off in between pressure waves. My husband was extremely supportive throughout my entire labor with Caryn’s guidance of counter pressure, wash cloths, warm towels, water, coconut water and encouragement. I didn’t eat any of my packed snacks. Caryn kept him very informed throughout the process of what was happening, what could be expected, and how she would help handle the situation.

I recall the nurse punching up the buttons on the Pitocin about 5 times and saying, “This is where we should be.” I replied assertively with, “I’ll die.” So at this point I accepted the epidural in an effort to rest so I could push later. Much of this time seemed to be due to my baby not turning into position. She was head down, but not facing my back [insert correct terminology I’ve forgotten].

Friday. Paul, my husband, and I slept for almost 2 hours after the epidural and I was able to dilate to 9cm. My baby hadn’t flipped still at this point, so the nurse offered that I lay with the peanut ball for a bit to attempt to flip her. (After my birth, I wondered if I could have done this earlier and maybe it would have offered faster dilation, but alas…) Since it was early, I had yet to meet all the midwives at my appointments, and we had thought the one midwife I hadn’t met was on the schedule next. At this point I thought, of course, why not. Bring it. But, it turns out there was a mix up, and my favorite midwife and most familiar from my centering appointments was scheduled! This was great news in the light of things. I sat with the peanut on both sides and dilated to 10cm and my baby had finally flipped! I was so happy for this peanut because if she had not flipped I may have ended up with a cesarean birth, and after all this fight (nearly 32 hours of labor total, early and Pitocin induced), this would have been ‘all systems fail’ in what I thought was a simple birth plan. But she had flipped, I was rested (you can do a great deal on little sleep) and I was ready to push with my great team.

Paul put on some light music, I think it was Band of Horses, but she wasn’t out yet. We switched it up to James Brown, every one was grooving a bit now, and with the midwife’s gracious mineral oil and my face feeling like it was going to pop off from pushing, she entered the world in my hands as I pulled her to the top of my belly with no tearing! (her umbilical cord was short, so I couldn’t bring her to my chest until after Paul cut the cord) There was a harvest moon Friday and we weren’t decided on a middle name yet, but Moon was one of them and it seemed necessary now – so she is, Alana Moon.

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With my birth plan out the window, not listening to Hypnobabies tracks on repeat and nothing going quite as expected, I had the best team and took the best turn in decisions given the circumstances. The stay in the hospital 3 days after sucked, was cramped and constantly interrupted by personnel, but my baby was born healthy and quite beautiful I might add.

I can only express in tears of joy the feeling of holding your baby in your arms for the first time and the several times after that. It’s the biggest love I have ever felt and you do quickly forget the fight you gave to get her here, and what I do wish to recall is totally worth it.

The day three emotions are real and I cried over anything. Being a new mom and attempting to get rid of overly excited grand parents when you need to rest and adapt is hard work. Alana had high levels of jaundice after we got home from the hospital and we had to return to the children’s hospital overnight for treatment. That wrecked havock on my return home anticipating rest, but it’s over, jaundice is far behind us and I suppose its made us stronger. Maybe get us through that first boo-boo easier.

There is much to let go and equal amounts to take on. Hitting play now on Hypno tracks and making encouragement signage in the here after.

(Editor’s note:  Erin and Paul adapted as their birth plan changed.  They chose a doula with many years of experience who was available to them no matter that their birth location changed.  The doula goes where you go.  And it sounds like their music choices were on point, too.  I had Band of Horses at my daughter’s birth, too. #allbirthsareglamorous).

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