Well it all began on my “due date”. I had been having a few shows for a couple of days so I knew it was all about to begin. At midday the surges started, nice and easy, nothing to worry about, and they were a good 15 mins apart, although the ladies in the cafe where I was having lunch were not looking so convinced when I promised them I would not be delivering on their floor! It is a strange feeling when they begin, not as painful as I imagined but definitely getting everything ready.
By that night I was having them every 10 mins and they were progressively getting stronger. Then they got quite intense so I called the Birth Centre to see what they had to say and the Midwife guessed it immediately. Due to the pain I was having in my back she believed he may be posterior. She advised me to get some rest. This was easier said than done.
In the end I decided to go into the Birth Centre as the surges were now coming two every 12 mins. But once I got to the BC and I asked for an internal I found out that I was only 1cm, how could this be? So off we went home again. You have to be 4cm to be admitted and 5cm to be allowed into the birth pool.
The next evening I was sure it was time to go again to the BC as I was having intense contractions 2 every 10 minutes again…but after the 40 minute drive to be told I was only 2 cm was quite unnerving! Apparently because the baby was posterior my body was working hard to turn him and thus my contractions were coming fast but were not the ones that I needed to be concerned about! I had to wait until I had the ones that went right up the front of my stomach and were more intense than what I was having now. This is one great reason to have a Birth Plan and have already discussed it with your team, now they knew my hopes for my birth they were able to support me at this time because I was so tired from surging for 2 days already quite intensely that I was ready for intervention. Their calm and clear voice of reason helped me to decide to have the Saline injections to stop the back pain (for only about an hour so for me were not worth it). And then I was off home again.
On the third day of multiple surges every 10 minutes and 3 days of no sleep I decided I had had enough and it was time to go back to the BC once again. I didn’t feel as much that the baby was coming, but I had given up on my dreams of a natural birth as I just felt that due to my exhaustion, I could not go on. This is when I met the Midwife they call “The Baby Catcher”. She has such a beautiful calm presence that babies seem to want to jump into her arms! She knew that if she sent me home again I would lose my dreams of a natural birth and so she made the decision that, even though I was only 3 cm, I should stay the night and see what happens.
By midday the next day I was once again completely exhausted and over the whole process so I began to ask what intervention I could have to get this baby out! I was told the choices of breaking waters, morphine injections through to epidural and Caesar. I first decided to phone a retired midwife who I had been working with previously who has a 100% no intervention rate in her 30 years of work. She was working in Cairns at the time and could not attend the birth but was available by phone. She said “You have too much support around you, you need to go within, figure out how to birth this baby because you are the one who has to do it, no one else, find what is blocking you. Remove everyone from the room for 2 hours, get your head down and figure it out, then in 2 hours you will be 8cm! You are a strong capable Woman and you can do this!” It was the boost I needed to go on so I chose to do as she suggested.
Up until this time I was fine with surges and definitely could not have come this far without Hypnobirthing. I was able to silently breathe through all surges no matter how intense they became, the midwives were writing notes and all they wrote was Hypnobirthing, unsure of exactly when contractions are coming but it seems to be…The one thing I had to do with each surge was bend over a table or bench or get onto my hands and knees on the bed to do each surge as they were quite intense through my back and lying down felt almost impossible to deal with…almost!
Once the room was clear I had my first surge and I was lying on the bed, I got up to my hands and knees and went through the motions of surrendering and breathing through. Then I lay back down. On the next surge I went to get up and then decided it was time to “deal with it” so I stayed put in the lying position and breathed through another surge. I am constantly amazed at how far breathing and surrendering can take you as I went to a new depth of peace within my body. This gave me the chance to go within and see what was blocking my baby from coming and also to get some much needed rest. Both were successful and by the time the 2 hours was up and my 2 birth companions came back they saw the peace I was in and were sure that I had said yes to morphine injections while they were gone!
By this time I felt confident and ready to birth this baby on my own without intervention, I felt I had opened somewhat and was ready. So you can imagine my utter disappointment when I was told I was only 4 cm, I barely heard her when she said that the baby had turned slightly. All I could say over and over was “but I did the work, it’s a clear path now, I don’t understand” This is when one of my birth companions told me “You have done the emotional work, now let your body catch up”. I heard her but didn’t believe her as I was gutted at the thought of doing great work with no immediate reward. So I asked for my waters to be broken.
Luckily for me there was something greater than me working on my side as the Midwife had to go and attend a birth next door and said she would break my waters when she returned. It was an hour later when she returned and she saw that I as now 5cm, she asked what I wanted to do and I said “break the waters” I was exhausted and just wanted the show on the road! She had the needle in to break the waters and at the last second she stopped and decided that maybe as I was now 5cm it was best that I just get the bath ready and at least have that experience as it was on my Birth Plan. If she broke the waters and there was Meconium, then I would have to be transferred to the Birth Suite and would lose my dream of a water birth and would likely succumb to further intervention. So I agreed.
Before the bath was filled I also did the technique to turn babies of kneeling on the floor with my head and chest flat on the floor, I did this for 1 hour. This was more uncomfortable than the birth itself! Upon my, what seemed like, 400th trip to the bathroom I had a surge and this noise came out of me that I didn’t recognise. My female birth companion and the midwife looked at each other and discussed the sound as being “the pushing sound”. I came out of the bathroom asking what the hell that was! Another true testament to the Hypnobirthing method, surrender to your body and let it do what is needs to. Mine obviously needed the low guttural sound to bring my baby closer to me.
Once in the bath everything sped up enormously. It may have taken 4 ½ days to get to this point, but my baby was now on his way and nothing was stopping either of us. From here I welcomed the surges as I knew my baby was on his way. They monitored for a heart beat each break in surges and suddenly the heart beat moved position, he had finally turned all the way around and was on his way! There was not ever a lapse in his heart beat after a surge no matter which way he was facing, he was already showing how strong he was. The waters had still not broken.
At one stage I got out of the bath for an internal and was told I was 8cm. Finally some positive news! I tried a surge on the birth pillow on my hands and knees but my hip
s were far too sore from 4 days of kneeling through surges so back into the water I went. The midwife asked me to place a finger inside of my vagina and see if I could feel his head. I was so excited to be the first person to touch my baby’s head as it was right there!
Once his head appeared it was only 30 minutes to his delivery. The midwives were amazed at how a first time mother could bring a baby down so fast and have no retraction at all during this stage. Once again this was thanks to Hypnobirthing and breathing the baby down. Although I was vocal with the guttural sound, I was still breathing the baby down, all of my energy was going to him and his coming into this world, there was no way he was going backwards. But I digress, as first I was told that there may be 1cm more cervix to dilate and that I would have to “stop pushing”. They smiled when I turned and said I am not pushing, my body is, I have absolutely no control over this process, so you try telling my body to stop! On further inspection she decided it may be the way I am made up and let’s see what happens. Thanks goodness she decided his as there was no way I could stop now.
Once Oliver’s head was born I had to stand up immediately as there was meconium so he was no longer allowed in the water, he had the cord around his neck twice and they had to remove this without breaking the shroud. Yes, my little boy was born with the shroud fully intact which really supported him during his posterior stage of the birthing process.
Only one more surge and he was brought into the world. The midwives caught him while my partner was holding me up out of the bath. They did suction and removed the shroud, my partner Tony was saying look at him he is so beautiful. My first words were “He is huge, surely that did not come out of me!” There was my perfect little, or not so little, 8lb 6oz, 55cm long baby, his 36cm head in all its glory. He was, and still is, perfect.
I sat on the birth stool with Oliver in my arms waiting for the placenta to emerge. The midwife said, we may need to intervene if it doesn’t come soon as you only have 1 hour, we only have 5 minutes left. So I asked what she wanted me to do. Have a push and see what happens. So I did, and out came the placenta. She was amazed I could do this…Hypnobirthing I said, it’s all about a great relationship with your body, going within to get things done. We all noticed what a calm and alert baby he was, no crying, just drinking happily and taking the world in, another Hypnobub comes into the world.
It is now almost 10 weeks later and I couldn’t be happier. Ok so maybe some more sleep, but the trade off is definitely worth every dark circle under my eyes! He is a healthy and happy boy and continues to be an “easy baby” which is what most people say when they spend time with him. Even after a 4 day labour and being posterior, he still holds true to the Hypnobirthing philosophy of calm alert babies.
Thank you to Melissa for the wonderful insights and training in Hypnobirthing and the magnificent team at the RBWH Birth Centre and to my partner Tony and birth support Cathie, I couldn’t have done it without you.
Tracy and Tony, Taringa, Brisbane