Fox Maximilian Samuel born 4 July 2012

528358_369074916495078_1173226457_n-150x150After having a previous traumatic emergency caesarean, it had been nearly a full ten years since I gave birth to my first child. When my husband and I decided to try for a baby this time around, I have to admit I was terrified at the prospect of giving birth, knowing due to my previous complications all our pregnancies would be caesarian births. Pushing through this fear we fell pregnant within three months and after a pregnancy filled with ups and downs we were well into our third trimester heading for birth. Although we had chosen a reputable obstetrician I wanted something more out of birth, something special, something that would allow me to bond with my child the way I had been denied in my first birth. Not having skin to skin or being able to hold my son for several hours in our first birth contributed (I feel) to the severe postnatal depression I suffered and the failure of my attempts to breastfeed. These fears were things I also felt terrified in facing, even at the start of our third trimester. It was about this time that we found Melissa and started reading about Hypnobirthing. Although much of the research we did promoted non-caesarean birth, I found much hope in the ‘Preparation for Caesarean’ course we discovered on Melissa’s website. I immediately showed my husband and sent off an email trying to book as soon as we could. With only weeks until my caesarean date (which had now been brought forward to baby’s 37th week) we had not much time! Suddenly I felt I could focus on preparation for birth so I began taking positive steps, buying and preparing things for my recovery that I knew would help. My husband booked three weeks leave from work, to be by my side all day, every day and night in hospital and when we came home. We purchased the items we needed for our baby and suddenly everything seemed real, including the date for our course with Melissa coming closer each day. With our hospital bags packed and in the trunk of our car (just in case I went into labour) we drove the hour to the Gold Coast in almost complete silence. I didn’t know whether to be anxious, excited or scared. I was scared to face my fears. The pain of my last birth, the things I felt ashamed about and that I felt I had failed at as a young mother last time, only 17 years old with no voice and no choices in my son’s birth. We arrived at Melissa’s house and immediately I felt at home. With children’s laughter greeting us she opened the door, I realized Melissa and her husband were both trained teachers like myself. It turned out Melissa had done the exact university degree I had completed. I felt this was the first sign we were in the right place at the right time. As our session began, I felt my fears coming up. My heart raced as Melissa talked about a fear release. I was scared to face my fears- would I cry? Would it hurt me too much to go back? I didn’t want to come face to face with new or painful memories I had pushed back for so many years this close to the birth of our new baby. The things we learned that day were not painful, in fact, they helped me release in a gentle and natural way things I didn’t realize I was holding onto. The fear release was not scary, nor upsetting. In fact, it was calm, just like I now realized the birth of my baby was going to be. After what seemed like only minutes but had been in fact hours, we were walking out (floating out!) of Melissa’s home, now armed with many methods of relaxation and calming techniques for what I truly for the first time believed could be an amazing, calm and special caesarean. I had a birth plan ready to show my obstetrician who had previously not taken much time to listen to my concerns and wants for our birth. Overriding me with confirmation that the birth would be fine and very manageable was not what I needed to hear. I wanted more than just a successful operation. I felt confident with our choices Melissa had helped us come to a decision about and felt ready to discuss these with our OB on our next appointment. As weeks turned into days, we practiced our massage techniques and visualizations each day. On my iPod I listened to the affirmations and Surge of the Sea each night, to go to sleep and also as I slept. I believe subconsciously I could hear these words as throughout the day I could hear these tracks almost word for word playing in my mind. I practiced my breathing techniques whenever I felt anxious. Our next appointment with the OB was just a day before our scheduled caesarean. We had decided on a family centered caesarean, something I had previously mentioned to our OB. He had brushed it off and not really discussed it much. I since had found some medical journals and online videos with other obstetricians talking about the method, especially the benefit to mother and baby. I felt confident as we entered our OB’s office. As we ran through the ins and outs of what sounded to be a very surgical caesarean plan, I felt my heart begin to race. I felt our doctor wasn’t hearing what I wanted and knew I needed to speak up.  My husband was supportive and ready to back me in my choices, and so I asked our doctor once again if he would listen to my preferences for birth. A little confused he paused and I went ahead, asking him for the following: For one of my arms to be free of drips etc to hold our baby and for immediate skin to skin after the birth. For our baby not to be washed or cleaned before being placed on my chest. For our baby’s head to be allowed to sit free from the incision until he could breathe and cry, with the rest of his body being gently walked out after this point. This was where our OB stopped us. He was clearly concerned and listed the many dangers including some fatal. He looked bewildered at my husband and asked if he was supporting me in this. My husband stood his ground with a resounding “yes”. I silently handed over the medical journal article I had printed out which outlined the procedure and we sat in silence as he read each of the three pages in silence. He didn’t agree to our ideas. We walked out of his office and as soon as we rounded the corner I buried my face in my husband’s chest and cried. I felt inside a surrender that no matter which way our birth turned out, I could remain calm, and loving, and that this was best for our baby. We went home and I put my iPod on and fell asleep to surge of the sea, imagining myself back in the sunshine on the beach we had found in Thailand during our honeymoon just nine months ago. The morning of our caesarian I woke excited and scared. A little nervous and overwhelmed, we had a full house with my mother and 10 year old son very loud and excited. I needed space to be calm and quiet which I couldn’t get at home. Luckily we were due at hospital at 10am and we were on the road by 9:30am. Arriving at hospital knowing our baby would be in our arms in just a few hours was a surreal feeling. As we took the lift up to our room, we prepared ourselves for the upcoming operation. Not knowing what to expect, or what our OB planned to take from our preferences we put Melissa’s CD on and I sat on my hospital bed, covered by a quilt my grandmother had hand-knitted for our baby. We had chosen our baby’s name- Fox- and had a little fox ear beanie ready for him in my husband’s pocket.

487884_369072839828619_1784273781_n-150x150 As the nurse prepared me, with compression stockings and scrubs for my husband, the first few preferences I had checked with the hospital were crossed off our list. I had asked to wear my own hospital gown which they said was ok, however the nurse discovered my clips had metal, which meant I couldn ’t wear it. Changing in the bathroom, I breathed and let go, knowing that whatever turn our birth took, I could remain calm and filled with love.

As my husband held my hand, we waited for the call to go to theatre. The clock above us ticked away as we listened to Surge of the Sea and my husband gave my the massage Melissa had taught us in our preparation course. Suddenly they called us and my husband took my hand. I gave my mother, my best friend and my son a hug, they gave their wishes to our unborn child and my husband took my hand in his as we walked to the lift and went down to theatre.

Entering the hall of the theatres I felt the strong artificial lights hit my eyes and the smell of hospital disinfectant entering my nose. Almost immediately I started to go deep inside beginning my counting down sequence as I felt my anxieties creeping up. As my husband held my hand the anaethetist came and discussed all the possibilities and side effects of the spinal epidural he would be administering. Blocking out his words I began to go deep within myself, deeply relaxing and trying to remain calm as I felt myself becoming scared and anxious, old memories beginning to surface. I suddenly felt unprepared for what I was about to face. My husband began massaging my neck as we waited for my obstetrician who was running slightly late. They went to check on where he was and we had a few precious minutes alone, waiting to be taken to our operating theatre. Suddenly he was there, and I felt relief to see the face of the man I knew would be bringing our baby into the world. We were on the move again and rounding the corned the starkness of the room bustling with many bodies sent me further inside myself. Holding my husband’s hand I silently followed the instructions and as I laid down on the table I went deep inside, into deeper and deeper relaxation. My husband and I had discussed a sign- me squeezing his hand- as a “yes” answer, so that if I was in relaxation I did not have to talk. I squeezed his had and found myself on our beach, feeling the sun on my skin, my feet in the clear water. I was aware of the voices of the many people talking to me, but in deep relaxation and completely pain and anxiety free. As the anaethetist explained he would be entering my epidural and to expect pain, I didn’t flinch a muscle. I could faintly hear the doctor checking I was ok with my husband and the nurses commenting on my “zen” asking how and what I was doing and how I could be so relaxed and unaffected by the pain of drips being inserted etc. I heard my husband mention Hypnobirthing but then returned to the waves where I was, looking back at the white sand of the beach I had been walking along in my mind.
389071_369072486495321_621388232_n-150x150Before I knew it the doctor was saying my baby would be born in a few minutes. Trying to bring myself out of such deep relaxation was more difficult than I thought. As I opened my eyes, I realized I had no movement or pain in my lower half and my eyes were hurt by the bright lights. I heard my heart beating very slowly on the monitor and felt so pleased my body was completely relaxed. I breathed love deeply down to my baby and took comfort in my husband who was holding my hand and stroking my forehead the way Melissa had taught us. Knowing I could handle which ever way our birth turned out, I still held onto hope my OB had read the journal and would give us the family centered caesarean I so desperately wanted. Suddenly he asked if we wanted the drape lowered, something he had previously said we couldn’t do, due to it being a sterile environment. My heart skipped a beat as my husband and I said yes, and he lowered the drape. He then explained to the midwives and nurses “this is the weird part” as he brought my babies head out and allowed him to breathe. His cries brought tears to my eyes as I realized- he was doing it! He was giving us the birth we so longed for. Slowly walking my son’s body out, my son was born, the cord cut and cut by my husband and my son was quickly placed on my chest for skin to skin as they stitched me up. He remained there until we were moved to recovery, where he was again left on my chest and began to breastfeed. All of our wishes had been carried out and I was absolutely euphoric, having been given the birth of our dreams. My son was beautiful, calm and perfectly healthy, with an APGAR score of 9, and 9 five minutes later.
522144_369075346495035_1413476312_n-150x150Returning to our room, he was surrounded by loved ones, so calm and peaceful, not crying or whimpering at all. He has remained this way since birth. Over our 5 night stay, countless doctors and nurses commented on how calm he is-  I have no doubt it is due to our Hypnobirthing preparation. We had a friend document our birth and her photos made me cry, capturing these moments for us to keep. Melissa, thank you for your non-judgmental and special caesarean preparation. You allowed us the most amazing birth experience.

Click here for a beautiful slideshow of The Birth of Fox



Jessica and Sam, Tingalpa, Brisbane

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