As a Doula and a Hypnobabies Childbirth Hypnosis Instructor who had an incredible unmedicated birth with my first baby, I envisioned what my daughter’s birth would look like. As a birth worker, you know the importance of preparing for your birth by researching your options, creating your birth preferences to make informed decisions, and envisioning your birth, but you also know that no two births are the same and nothing goes according to plan in birth. Still, I envisioned Alexandra’s birth looking much like my first where I would go into birthing time naturally, ride the pressure waves of birth at home, and show up to the hospital ready to push her out, which is ironic because while that is what Elijah’s beautiful birth looked like, that was not actually what we had envisioned for him either. Everyone told me things I could expect for a second birth like second babies could come early and birthing time could be half the time, but just like the old wives’ tale of lots of baby hair equals heartburn in pregnancy wasn’t true for me, none of those other things were true for me either.
One thing that was true for me was that my blood pressure would once again play a role in this birth. I won’t get into too much detail for this story, but for healthy women with high blood pressure, I know how you feel and how frustrating it can be, especially during pregnancy and preparing for birthing time. Similar to my first pregnancy, while everything was going great and Alexandra looked perfect, my blood pressure numbers were once again rising in the weeks leading up to her guess date. I remember Michelle telling me to “just do today” to help me remember to take it one day at a time and as I prayed, God reminding me to trust him and he put on my heart Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Pregnancy itself can be a very emotional time, so adding on hypertension, it can make for even more emotional turmoil. I knew with hypertension the recommendation from my providers was induction at 40 weeks. And even though I knew that, I very much did not want an induction, so by 39 weeks, with the support of my providers I was doing all of the natural birth induction methods. All of them. Even with the induction scheduled, I was still determined to make sure I tried everything I could to encourage her to come on her own. Elijah came the day before his scheduled induction, so in my mind Alexandra would do the same. My entire birth team was supportive, encouraging, and hopeful for me, but every baby and every birth is different and while my body was showing all the signs that my birthing time was near, my body wasn’t quite ready with the timeline we had and my birthing time pressure waves just weren’t kicking in yet. The night before the scheduled induction, Alex and I had a tearful conversation and we decided we would go in for the induction the next morning. Knowing my cervix was ready (days before we were at about 4cm with a soft cervix and a bulging bag of waters) we knew my body probably just needed a little kickstart to get things going to encourage my birthing time to start and we had very good chances for the unmedicated vaginal birth we wanted, so on the morning of July 6th we went into the hospital ready for the induction. I used my Hypnobabies tracks like Change of Plans, Fear Clearing, and Visualize Your Birth to prepare myself mentally for what her birthing time would look like and we were ready for a beautiful birth.
We got checked into the hospital, met our amazing nurse Michelle, and talked through our induction plan with Midwife Lauren. After Lauren did a cervix check, we agreed that starting a low dose of pitocin and the antibiotics for being GBS + was how we were going to start, and planned to have Lauren break my water, if needed, at noon after getting the second round of antibiotics. We all thought based on my first birth experience that once my water was broken Alexandra would come flying out, so my Doula, Michelle, photographer, Erin, and my mom all planned to arrive around 11am. Alex set up our room by hanging the twinkle lights and my birthing day affirmations that a dear friend of mine painted, set up the battery operated candles, put up a picture of Elijah and a picture from his birth, and laid out Alexandra’s baby book for her footprints, as well as an outfit and swaddle for her. It looked perfect. I decided to get comfortable in the bed and listened to my Deepening Your Hypnosis and Your Birthing Time Begins Hypnobabies tracks to rest and prepare for when things would get more intense.
Before we knew it, my mom and birth team were all starting to arrive and we were all excited knowing we’d be meeting Alexandra that day. Noon came and went, so we broke my water and had gotten up to a 5 on the pitocin administration. At some point we thought my body had taken over creating the pressure waves so we decided to come off of the pitocin, however, my body still wasn’t quite ready and things began to stall. By then I had been enjoying feeling the consistent pressure waves and the progress we were making, so I asked to be put back on the pitocin at a 3 until we knew my body kicked in, which we did eventually come off of altogether. Throughout this time, we just enjoyed being together. We all talked, laughed, walked the halls, bounced on the ball, swayed, changed positions, and just rode the pressure waves as they came and went. Never once throughout my birthing time did I not have Alex or Michelle supporting me, encouraging me with words of affirmations, having at least one of their hands on me to remind me to relax and release, and using the peace cue to help me sink deeper into hypnosis. The amount of support and love I was surrounded by made all the difference.
Eventually around 4pm my mom had to leave to go pick up Elijah from daycare and we were all sad to see her go, myself especially since she missed Elijah’s birth because he came too fast for her to get there. Not long after she left though, things started to get more intense so we were all very focused on the task at hand, birthing our baby girl. Around 5pm, I went to the restroom to empty my bladder. During Elijah’s birth I learned how effective sitting on the toilet was for increasing the intensity of my pressure waves, but I had no clue what I was about to experience during this trip to the bathroom. As soon as I went to sit on the toilet, I started shaking uncontrollably. My teeth were chattering. I was shivering. I felt like I couldn’t move or speak. It. Was. Intense. Thankfully Alex came to check on me and quickly wrapped me in a towel to help me relax my body and eventually make my way back into the room. I remember feeling nauseous, and cold, then hot, and just being so confused since I didn’t experience this with Elijah’s birth. When I asked if the pitocin was causing all of this, my incredible birth team excitedly reminded me that I was experiencing all of the classic symptoms of transformation and we would be meeting our baby very soon.
Despite my disbelief, they were right. Over the next hour or so, my pressure waves continued to grow longer, much stronger, and closer together and before I knew it I felt like I needed to push. In the side-lying position, Midwife Lauren did one last cervix check where she felt a little bit of a lip where she used an essential oil from Michelle’s Doula bag to help melt it away. All of this was a blur to me. Alex was preparing to catch Alexandra so I know he was getting a crash course from Lauren reminding him about how Alexandra would come out and what to do. I remember looking at Michelle asking her if this was really about to happen. She so calmly with love in her eyes told me it was and I was about to meet Alexandra. Looking back now, this was my “rest and be thankful” phase. Michelle being the amazing Doula she is, asked me if I wanted to change positions one more time to push her out. I was so thankful to be able to move onto all fours facing the back of the hospital bed the same way I birthed Elijah. I remember feeling so strong, more in control, and more effective when I would breathe down with each pressure wave. I remember feeling Alexandra crowning slowly and hearing Lauren remind me she was just stretching me. I remember feeling like I was so much more vocal than I was in Elijah’s birth and how much more intense this was. But after only a few minutes of pushing, at 6:57pm Alex caught our sweet baby girl and Lauren handed her to me between my legs. Alexandra was here and she was in my arms.
From that moment on, the intensity was gone. We immediately did skin to skin. The oxytocin was flowing and we all were crying tears of joy. Alexandra was so alert and aware. She even lifted her head and looked up at the sound of Alex’s voice. We soaked in every moment. We hugged our wonderful nurse Michelle goodbye as she had stayed past shift change to be there with us. We were so thankful for her. Alexandra was sucking her hands pretty soon after birth so I got her latched on and in an instant our breastfeeding journey had begun. Breastfeeding and soaking in every inch of Alexandra was my own welcomed distraction from birthing the placenta, which much like Alexandra also took its time. I was thankful to not have any tearing and after delaying the cord clamping, Alex cut the umbilical cord and he was able to enjoy his own skin to skin time with her. Eventually we said our goodbyes to Michelle, who I still don’t think I could ever birth without, and then Erin, who we have to thank for these incredible photos and videos. As the night came to a close, it was just Alex and I and our new perfect baby girl.
Alexandra’s birth story is unique to her and I’m so thankful for it. I learned a lot during this pregnancy and birth and am so grateful for the entire experience. I know now that I will be able to better relate to so many other women who are faced with difficult decisions during pregnancy, inductions for health reasons, and changes of plans to better serve them as a Doula and Childbirth Educator. My first birth taught me what I was capable of and how beautiful birth is and this birth further solidified how incredible our minds and bodies are and the importance of being supported by an incredible team.
Speaking of our birth team, none of this could be possible without them. Many I’ve mentioned in this story, but just like any pregnancy and birth story there are many layers and many people that play a role in welcoming a new baby to this world, so I also want to say thank you to the entire Full Circle staff, especially Midwife Carol who graciously walked through the hard parts of managing hypertension with me, my amazing acupuncturist, Andrea, the wonderful chiropractor Dr. Alterman, and most importantly my incredible family and dearest friends who prayed for me and Alexandra throughout this entire journey. God is so good and I am so blessed.