Wednesday, March 23, 2011

lark's birth story

Round one.

When I was pregnant with my first I half decided to give birth naturally. I started seeing some midwives and attended a hypnobirthing class, but if I am going to be honest I always knew in the back of my mind that I could opt for an epidural since I would be in the hospital - which is why I say half decided. I was scared of the unknown. But I read the book cover to cover, practiced the relaxation techniques almost daily, and kept telling myself I could do it...with that ever-present 'maybe' trailing along behind...

When I finally started having contractions 9 days past my due date I failed miserably at putting into practice everything I had learned. I didn't even bring my relaxation music with me to the hospital. I was excited and scared, but mostly naive. I dilated to about a 5 or 6 before I started seriously thinking about that epidural. I gave in to the fear. Her birth was still a good experience and I didn't make myself feel bad about getting the epidural, but a part of me knew that I had to prove to myself I could do it naturally next time.


Round two.

I started having practice contractions on a Wednesday night 2 days past my due date about 20 minutes apart which got me excited because I knew from my first experience it was only a matter of time now that I was actually feeling something. The next night Husband and I went out to dinner for some spicy Thai food in hopes to get things really started and to have one last date. Once we got home my contractions started getting a little more intense and by 1:30 am I was calling my mom to come over since I had asked her to be my doula. I realized from my first experience that I needed to surround myself with more support. I knew my mom would encourage me to keep going naturally if my resolve started wavering.

(Side story - I called my mom at least 20 times and she didn't answer her phone so I knew she couldn't hear it or it was dead. I had to call my oldest sister who lives in her same town in the dead of night to ask her a favor - would she please drive over to mom's house and wake her up!!! Turns out my mom went to a movie with my aunt that night and forgot to take her phone off vibrate. Of all the nights, ha!)

I couldn't sleep so I started listening to my hypnobirthing relaxation and when my mom arrived at about 3:00 am we started timing my contractions. I sat in a comfy rocker and would say, 'start' and 'stop' when my contractions came and went, all the while doing deep yoga breathing through them and totally relaxing my body. Each contraction felt just a little different and a 3-D mental image would come into my mind of what the contraction "looked" like - the images were bright bursts of light against the darkness of my closed lids. Once there was an image in the form of a butterfly, another time a fish jumping out of the water, but mostly they were just abstract shapes. They would start small and grow as the contraction peaked and then I would blow the images away with my breath. That was something I did not expect but it was pretty incredible and absolutely beautiful what my relaxed state of mind generated. The contractions gradually got stronger and stronger but I never felt any pain, only tightening, a tingling sensation of building intensity, and waves of power surging downward. I began to look forward to the next one.

And then all of a sudden they slowed way down around 7:00 am. This was disappointing but I was very relaxed and didn't feel tired because I had been in a meditative, restful state all night. The slow time ended up being nice because we could freshen up, and walking around and taking a shower got my contractions going again. So back to the rocker it was for another few hours and the contractions continued to get stronger and stronger so I was happy.

Around 3:00 pm we decided to get ready to go to the hospital. On the way I realized I was hungry and got a sudden craving for Subway, so Husband and I ate sandwiches in the car while my mom went shopping for baby clothes. I had some intense contractions in the car that I could tell were making me dilate because the sensation and mental images of those ones were like widening donut rings. It was amazing that I could be that in tune with my body in the midst of labor and still be able to enjoy my sandwich between contractions and chat with Husband.

We got to the hospital at 4:00 pm and first things first I needed the nearest bathroom. I wonder if the lady at the front desk believed Husband when he told her I was in labor because I asked her to direct me to the restroom calmly as if I was just walking by and stopped in to use the facilities. We went up to labor and delivery and they put me in triage. This is when I started getting nervous for the first time and my whole body started shaking - what if I wasn't dilated enough? But best news ever, I was at a six! And then I knew for sure that I was going to do this naturally. It was totally doable. I was more than half way there. I wasn't in any pain. I was relaxed and focused.

They took me to a delivery room and I sat on the bed just like the rocker and breathed through my contractions and two hours later I was at an eight! It was very peaceful and quiet with the lights dim. My mom and Husband took turns rubbing my feet with essential oils and between contractions we chatted with my midwife. I never stopped listening to my relaxation music the entire time and this was key to my staying in control. I could hear everything that was going on around me, but I could slip away whenever I needed. The music easily lead me back into my restful and relaxed state.

Two hours later we hit the first bump in the road - I was stuck at an eight.  Lark's head was at a slight angle so we needed to try some new positions to help align her. My water also hadn't broken yet, so we decided to have my midwife break it to help things along as well. I went from bouncing on my yoga ball, to sitting in the tub, to back on the bed this time laying on my side when out of nowhere I got really uncomfortable. I still can't say it was painful but I couldn't get in a position that felt right. I still did deep breathing through my contractions but I couldn't keep my body totally under control like before - I needed to move. And then I remember saying, "I want to push!" 

Then I really couldn't find a position I liked. Finally after some uncomfortable contractions in positions I didn't like, I settled on squatting with the end of the bed lowered and I wanted my midwife to tell me when to push since I couldn't seem to figure out how to do it productively myself. Hypnobirthing teaches you to breath the baby down but that was not going to work for me at this point. I was ready to be done and hold my baby in my arms. It had been 24 hours of not physical, but mental exhaustion. I reminded myself to stay calm, it would be over soon and I was praying hard for strength.

I pushed her out in four or five contractions. The amazing thing though was that again, it didn't hurt. I didn't even expect it to hurt. I felt the slightest little sting when she crowned, but other than that it felt exactly like when I pushed my oldest daughter out with an epidural - pressure. Except this time I could feel where Lark was so it was more encouraging because I knew she was almost out. And then all of a sudden it was over and they gave me my squished but beautiful little girl! 

In the end I didn't tear, I didn't swell nearly as much as the first time, I wasn't as tired, I wasn't ghostly pale like I was for days with my first, I didn't bleed as much, I wasn't as sore... everything about my recovery was a million times better and easier.

When I compare my two birth experiences it is so apparent to me that the second time around I didn't let fear make my decisions for me and I have never felt more empowered! 

Giving birth is natural and beautiful and truly a miracle. And, amazingly, it doesn't have to hurt.


  1. This was so lovely to read! Thank you for sharing.

    Makes me very excited for when I'll be able to have a baby!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! It is such a beautiful lovely story!! Made me start thinking about another baby! ;)

  3. I love reading birth stories - thanks for sharing yours. You certanly looked very calm in the pic of you in your rocker! I had natural deliveries for both my girls - the second much easier than the first, maybe because I knew what was going on & that I knew I could do it! xx

  4. I had a natural birth with my second baby and while I did experience pain with mine, it was so worth it in the end! Thanks for sharing your birth story.

  5. Way to go Stacy! Sounds like a pretty similar experience to mine. I don't think I ever really felt like I was in pain either. I seriously cannot wait to give birth again. It was the biggest high I've ever had in my life!

  6. thanks for sharing this. i'm due with my second in a few weeks, and, like you, have resolved to do it naturally this time. i think i need to practice my hypnobirthing meditations now.:)


  7. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story! I will be using hypnobirthing for my first birth in two months and can't wait! Which is why I was so excited to read your hypnobirthing story. When you said you listened to the CD's the whole time, did you listen to the Relaxation/Birth rehearsal AND Rainbow Relaxation CDs? Anything that I can add to my birthing experience will be helpful.
    Congratulations on your beautiful bundle!

  8. thanks everyone! and good luck to all the ladies who are about to give birth, you rock! :)

    @kendra - i just listened to the rainbow relaxation on repeat, but after i was in a relaxed state i no longer listened to the words (at least consciously), it was the music in the background that i needed. good luck! let me know how it goes!

  9. This was a really inspirational and helpful story! I really appreciate you sharing. I'm almost at 37 weeks with my first and I don't expect that I'll get this natural birth/hypnobirthing perfect the first time, but I'm still going to try! Seeing you nail it the second time really gives me hope that even if things don't go exactly as I hoped, the result is still beautiful and next time I can try again! Thank you again for sharing, Stacy! <3 All of these lessons were really helpful to me!

  10. Stacy,

    Im so proud of you! I've been wanting to stop over all week and catch up and read your birth story.

    Alrigh - so now you've proven that listening to the hypno prompts without stopping really do have a positive impact - I'm determined to do the same.

    thank you thank you for sharing your beautiful story- I hope I'm just as lucky in May!


  11. Hurrah!
    To be honest i cringed when i first began reading this thinking, here we go another High Drama/ Birth is Awful story...but what a pleasant surprise! :)
    i didn't use any hypno techniques but my homebirths (and especially my last) were just like this!
    what a privilege.

    (ps i found you through pinterest! haha, the webs the internet weave... :) )

  12. I'm featuring natural/home/hospital/birth center births on my blog for the month of April and was wondering if you'd be interested in guest posting over at my blog

    Loved your story & I know my readers would be encouraged by it!


  13. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!

  14. Hey. Would you mind re-sending that email to me?

    I deleted it by accident!


  15. Thank you so much for posting your story! It's really encouraging! I know this is an old post and this may seem like a silly question but would you mind sharing the brand of your big comfy chair? It looks so comfortable and the perfect color! We are setting up the nursery for our first and looking for the perfect chair!

    1. Hi! The chair is just from Babies R Us. I can't remember the brand, but they probably still have something like it. I love mine, it's seriously like sitting on a cloud!