This birth took place three years ago.
It had been a healthy pregnancy for the baby, but hard on me due to depression/anxiety, PUPPP (a horrible itchy pregnancy rash), unimaginably severe restless legs syndrome (RLS), and 1-4 hours of sleep a day for the last 2-3 months of pregnancy. All the physical misery I faced in pregnancy had me feeling very touch with the animal nature of my humanity, but I also felt very resigned and almost peaceful in a way. My CPM even suggested that maybe induction was an option for me, because she was worried I was going to be too tired to give birth if my rash kept spreading and my sleep kept decreasing. But I had been so health-oriented and baby-centric during the pregnancy, refusing to even try antihistamines for my extreme rash that I wasn't about to deprive the baby of any spare moment in my womb. (Also, antihistamines makes RLS worse for me.)
A few nights before the birth, I go outside in the backyard at 2:00am. I have done this often in the lonely, sleepless nights. I am naked because wearing clothes is painful. The moon is big and clear. I have a long talk with the baby. I speak out loud, telling it that no matter what, we are going to help each other, in birth and in life, and that I feel I can endure a few more days of pregnancy if it is best for us.
The night before my due date, I stand in my kitchen brewing an herbal tea supposed to make labor easier. I also read it is good for hemorrhage. Then I have a severe itch crisis, where I hav to wake up my husband to help me not brutally scratch my delicate rashy skin. He has to guard my psyche, too, because the discomfort threatens to take my sanity. My pregnancy depression is deep even though I try to be as perky as I can.
We finally go to bed around 5:30am. I haven't slept in more than 24 hours. A few minutes later, pop! The bed is flowing with water. I jump off the bed (happy that I'd put a waterproof cover on the new bed for just this reason) and yell at my husband "my water just broke! get me some towels!"
Immediately I feel a panicked flush along with very strong "birthing waves" (the hypnobabies term for contractions). I am shocked that more water is gushing out of me with each birthing wave. I feel very messy and exposed and inconvenienced. But what a strange sensation to have warm water gushing out of me, and it is not pee! Later I'd feel something similar with my hemorrhage.
A benefit of my water breaking is that I experience immediate relief from my PUPPP itching and the rash fades a little.
I am surprised that I feel such pain--I've been as faithful as possible with my hypnosis practice. But the severity of my RLS and sleep deprivation and my frequent inability to sit or lay down due to the rash and RLS had affected my ability to practice with very deep relaxation. I worry that having such strong birthing waves mean I might give birth soon, before the midwife arrives. (Silly me!) I am not ready to have a baby in my arms! And I want my hypnosis.
I am short with my husband, yelling at him to get my hypnosis CD. I cower on the couch with a wet blanket between my legs and try to relax. My husband times the birthing pains. At first they are just a few minutes apart. The midwife says these were probably my body/the baby adjusting to the membrane rupture. I am sure she is wrong.
I am so afraid that I had my husband call our hypnobabies doula, a deeply compassionate woman who, like me, had a difficult and painful childhood and knows the feelings becoming a mother brings up. When she arrives, she embraces me and talks with me about how my baby's life will be better than mine and how I will be a good parent. I feel enveloped in her warmth and confidence. Then she spends a while going through hypnosis scripts with me.
As soon as we start the hypnosis together, my pain disappears, though I could still feel the birthing waves flowing through me. They eventually slow down for some time. I am inwardly focused all day. Little talking, no doing anything else but basically meditating. My husband and the doula took care of everything besides what only I can do. I am comfortable
The midwives arrive around dinnertime, but I do not pay attention to any of the conversations that led to this. I don't remember eating or drinking anything, though I guess I must have. The order of things from here on is hazy.
I stay in the birth tub for a while. My doula talks with me more about how the past does not determine the future, and how people with rough backgrounds can thrive. I feel my birthing waves to be very fast and light. Not painful. I ask the doula if something is wrong, because it seemed my contractions are very short. "They don't seem fast to me. Remember the section in the hypnosis where it suggests that your birthing waves will seem to be very fast with lots of time between them? It's working on you."
I am impressed. My midwife says she knows I'm progressing because I am starting to look younger and younger, which is what happens as the baby moves down. I feel so in touch with the basis of life. I feel like part of life in a way I never have before. I want to stay like this forever.
I am in the living room with the midwife who is playing on her smartphone and the midwife's student, who is studying. It seems almost vulgar that people would attend to such stuff during someone's birth, but what else will they do while waiting for hours and hours? My midwife says I needed to eat and drink more. I drink a big glass of water and start throwing up. I keep throwing up for quite a while. They tell me this is normal. I wonder if I'm in transition but I don't ask.
When the sky is dark, I am having back labor. It is excruciating but I am handling it on the outside while feeling an old familiar feeling from childhood, "why doesn't someone save me?" I think I was expressing that I wanted help coping, but I felt that people weren't understanding that now the sensations felt like they were tearing me apart. (I think I remember reading that sometimes hypnobabies doesn't work for back labor.) People didn't seem appropriately concerned. They suggest my husband and I should try to get some sleep, which seems utterly ridiculous to me. I feel sorry for my husband not sleeping and I want to be a good patient.
Laying down, I am feeling the pain even more but I feel that if I get up, I will be admonished. (This is a feeling from childhood, not a reality.) I start feeling very angry that my husband can sleep and I can't. Precious, precious sleep. Me being torn apart. I get up. My doula does some back massage while I kneel against the birthing ball. It brings relief. But then she says too much pressing on my back could be a problem, might slow down labor.
I am sure something is not right. It feels like the baby is stuck. I feel people are not listening to me. In retrospect, I doubt I was communicating very coherently. My lack of communication is not hypnosis related. It's trauma related, but I don't see any of this in the moment.
For the most part, I stay very calm and relaxed, so much so that my midwife feels it is hard to gauge how far along I was. When she insists on an internal exam, my doula reads me a hypnosis script specifically for that purpose, and my midwife says she has never felt inside a woman more relaxed internally than me.
I am so exhausted--not from pain, but just from months of extreme misery. But I don't think too much about that. I am marveling at the changes happening in my body, the sensation of a baby moving down, the hormonal changes washing over me. I wasn't happy or joyful (9 months of pregnancy depression didn't dissipate so fast), but I was in wonder. At first check around 8, I am 4.5cm dilated, and this seems a travesty! But it satisfies my midwife that I am making progress.
The intensity and back labor stay for a very long time. Hypnosis works well as long as my doula is with me reinforcing it, but she can't talk for hours and hours. So whenever she isn't doing it, I am uncomfortable. (This is not typical according to what I've read. I think it's because of my practice problems mentioned earlier, combined with my extreme depression/exhaustion.) My husband doesn't read the scripts well. He irritates me.
The backup midwife arrives. I don't see her come in. Even though I know her, I don't recognize her. "Who is that in my room?" I burst out. She says hello and asks my permission to be there. I say yes.
I am guided toward the birthing room and I feel everyone else's sense of expectancy, but not my own. It feels like this will never end and I am resigned to it. I feel a very persistent pit in my stomach, powerful birthing waves that are intense but I am tired and need so badly to sleep. I start chanting a phrase from my hypnosis CD. It feels so affirming. I am holding onto the truth of these words. But I can't stay awake. I am completely out of it. It doesn't occur to me to push. I fall asleep between waves.
The doula says, "you feel that feeling when you're having a birthing wave? To get it to go away, you have to push. It's time to push." I resist. I am too tired. Later I will find out she was in fact rushing me because she had to go to another birth, and my midwife didn't feel it was urgent that I push, though I could.
I remember the midwife saying, "You are so strong. So strong." She says it as if she is in awe.
I don't know how to push. My doula tells me to pretend I am pooping and grunt really loud. I make my first primal noise of the entire birthing time. At first I feel I can't do it because I am too tired. My doula keeps waking me up. So I keep pushing. It is painless and comforting to be so active. I am surprised by how much effort it is, how I can literally feel that I am pushing the baby down, millimeter by millimeter. There is no one else pushing besides me.
I push for 45 minutes in all. Crowning is painless. What hurts is my midwife pushing on my perineum during the pushing. That is awful but I don't want to complain. I tear anyway. (I had very dry, inelastic skin due as a result of taking Accutane as a child, I think, combined with fatty acid deficiency.) When the baby is near, the midwife's student has me reach down and feel the baby's head. She shows me a picture of my hand on the baby's head. I am not that interested because I still dread motherhood. But it is motivating to know I'm making progress. Soon the head is out but the shoulders aren't. The midwife tells me I need to keep pushing to birth the shoulders. I am indignant because I'd thought that once the head was birthed, the rest of the baby would slide out. (My baby did have broad shoulders, like my husband's.)
Finally the baby is out. I don't care that much, am just glad to be done. But I'm not done--it's just beginning. When they try to hand the baby to me, I am afraid of holding it. I just want to sleep and be alone. My husband helps me put the baby on my chest. The midwife asks if we are ready to see whether it is a boy or girl. I don't care--too tired to figure out how to lift the baby up to check. My husband checks. A girl! Pictures are taken, and in most of them I am so out of it my tongue is sticking out of my mouth even though I'm trying to smile. The doula helps the baby latch on to my breast. Everyone says what a perfect, peaceful birth this has been, and my midwife who has never seen hypnosis in action says she is impressed. My doula leaves.
Soon after, blood begins gushing out of me. Retained placenta. My husband is standing at the foot of bed, his face afraid and incredulous. I am unconcerned. I say to get the tea I'd made the night before and I drink a huge amount of it.
Still gushing. They discuss transfer or pitocin. I beg them not to and say it will stop on it's own. I think how my hypnosis training includes the idea that a woman can stop her own hemorrhage by remembering this is possible. I trust my midwife. I trust my body and my mind. The backup midwife tells me she is going to push very hard on my stomach and it will be over very soon. She does and it is painless. Still bleeding.
I don't remember how, but my placenta comes out in one piece and the hemorrhagic bleeding stops. It turns out that the umbilical cord, while not velamentous, was attached to the very edge of the placenta, which is likely a cause of the hemorrhage.
Then I can't pee and I start to faint if they even try to prop my head up a little. Transfer seems like the end of the world to me. I have to protect this baby. I beg them not to transfer me. They catheterize me.
I eat a little and I become more lucid. My midwife sews up my tears. It doesn't hurt at all. The baby is born at 8am, more than 24 hours after my water broke. The midwives leave after noon. I spend the next week or so mainly in bed and my husband does everything but breastfeed the baby. I can't sleep despite being exhausted, even when the baby is sleeping.
I feel oppressed by and anxious about my new responsibility and I feel guilty because I feel I can't protect her beautiful innocence. I wish I had never gotten married. I wish I didn't exist! I have severe breastfeeding pain and dysphoric milk ejection reflex and spend 6 weeks trying to figure it out. (Never figured it out--it just slowly got better. Still breastfeeding 3 years later!) I stay very depressed for a long time. I don't give up. It gets better. Slowly.
In retrospect, I wish I had had more blood tests in early pregnancy. If I had, I would have discovered a vitamin D deficiency which contributed to my mental anguish and fatigue. And if I was even luckier, I would have discovered Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his recommendations that people with mental problems or severe skin problems get tested for fatty acid deficiencies. I also wish I had sought more professional help for my depression.
Correcting all these and following Dr. Fuhrman's dietary recommendations have changed my life in the past 3 months, and now I'm a changed person, newly pregnant and thrilled about it. I know this experience will be much different even if I face some of the same challenges, because I am different now.
My little girl is now 3 and despite being in my anxious, depressed womb and at my anxious, depressed breast, is an uncommonly peaceful and joyful person.
I hope this story helps someone!
Edited by sky_and_lavender - 10/2/12 at 8:15am