Veya's birth didn't go exactly as planned. But it was its own version of wonderful.
The night after Christmas, I was awakened by some knarly surges (that's hypno speak for contractions). I had been having them all week, but these were much more intense. Still 20 minutes apart though. I woke Chris and let him know I thought something was happening, and he should be alert just in case.
He'd been hearing that for weeks though, so I don't think he took me very seriously. Until he heard me moan through a surge. Normally I'm composed and breathing and focusing. Not with these ones. I found it nearly impossible to relax. Still, I did my best to snooze between surges and held off doing anything big. Chris decided to start timing them.
They went from 20 minutes apart to 2-3 minutes apart very suddenly. Like in one surge. The midwives said to come in once they were 2 minutes apart, and we live 45 minutes from the hospital, so you can imagine there was a little urgency in the room at that point.
Chris reminded me to stay calm and focused and to keep listening to my hypnobirthing recordings. We gathered our last minute stuff and headed downstairs. As I was slipping on my shoes in the kitchen, suddenly a gush of fluid puddled up at my feet. My water broke and I was baffled.
Normally the water doesn't break till the baby is coming and you've labored for hours. Or sometimes not at all. I was puzzled, but excited because that meant I was going to have the quick easy birth I'd hoped for. I felt serious pressure between my legs like baby was moving down to the birth canal FAST. I wondered if she'd come in the car, which I really wouldn't have minded.
The drive was intense. I lost focus because the surges were coming so frequently and so strong. I thought to myself this is it. I don't need to go into hypnosis because baby is coming now.
Once we arrived, the hospital staff seemed unphased by my dramatics...that is until Chris let them know my water had already broken 45 minutes earlier. They rushed me into a birthing room and hooked up the baby monitors to check veya's heart rate. She looked good. The midwife came in to check my dilation.
I let her know that I was sure baby was coming very soon so I was fine hearing my progress. I was shocked when she told me I was at a 4. I was positive she'd lift the sheet, see the baby crowning, then deliver her right then. Not the case. Although a 4 is pretty far for just arriving and not laboring for long. I was still confident things would move quickly. At this point it was 2 a.m. Friday morning.
I was flailing and screaming and throwing up. It was terrible. Not the calm hypnobirthing atmosphere I'd spent so many months practicing. I couldn't find myself. Couldn't center and focus. The pain was too much. At that point I decided to get into the water to see if that'd help.
Big mistake. It seemed to make it worse. I pinched Chris hard. It was crazy and just awful. I got outta the tub and moved to my birth ball. Still uncomfortable. I got into the bed and Chris started applying pressure to my knees during each surge. That seemed to provide a teensy bit of relief, so we did that for a while.
Soon I could tell he was exhausted. It takes an insane amount of pushing pressure on his part to counteract a surge. He was wearing slippers and his feet were sliding too, making it harder for him to be effective.
I decided to let him take a quick break, telling myself I was strong enough to deal with the next surge by myself. There was no point in both of us being tired and miserable.
I could feel it coming. Instead of bracing myself and tensing up, this time I welcomed the surge and remembered that each one was bringing me closer to my baby. I did it.
Not only did I get through it alone, I owned it. It didn't hurt. I'd found my focus and quietly slipped into hypnosis. Chris slept. The lights were low. Nature sounds were playing. It was wonderful.
Chris said he looked up at one point and I was smiling during a surge. I was honestly over-the-moon thrilled at how it was going. Now that I was no longer fighting my body, but working with it, I was feeling empowered. I wasn't depending on help from Chris, or the nurse or anyone. I'd found a way to do it alone and that felt great. I was getting very excited to meet our daughter.
The next time the midwife came in to check me (it must have been hours later, but im not sure because I wasn't watching a clock), I made sure she knew I didn't want to know my progress. She agreed and just said with a huge smile "keep up the good work." Her reaction told me I was moving right along like I thought.
So I kept going. For a long time. I came out of hypnosis only to eat and drink. Chris and I didn't speak. He knew to leave me alone and let me focus. When Deedee came in again, she checked me, and her demeanor changed a little. At my request she didn't tell me how many centimeters dilated I was. She left the room and came back a little bit later, then things took a turn.
She checked me then said "This is what I was afraid of. We have to talk." I immediately tensed up and got scared. Deedee said that I was getting a fever, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, and my water had been broken too long. Also, I'd been dilated to a seven for three hours. Stuck. This combination of circumstances put the birth into a higher risk category. She mentioned the words "c-section" if things didn't progress quickly. She wanted me to get patocin to move things along.
I started crying and told her I needed to talk with Chris in private.
There is a chapter in my Hypnobirthing book about resting labor with suggestions on how to move things along should you get stuck. When Deedee came back in a short time later, we let her know we did not want the patin, or any drugs. We chose to try these natural methods to get things moving (nipple stimulation, changing positions, etc.) She said she'd give us one hour.
During that hour, the surges became much more intense and closer together. I could feel things progressing. I just knew we'd be ok and wouldn't need the drugs. I re-focused and worked hard. We were back on the right track, moving right along.
Deedee actually gave us two hours. She said she could hear my moans and hoped that meant things were progressing on our own. She really wanted us to have the birth that we hoped and practiced for. When she came in, the news was detrimental. After all of that laboring, still stuck at a 7. I was 7 centimeters dilated for five hours. The midwife let us know that nothing was happening and now they had no choice but to intervene.
I wanted to do everything possible to avoid a c-section, so I told her to go ahead and move forward with the patocin. She warned me that the surges would get closer together and intensely stronger, very quickly. By this point, I was terrified, exhausted, tense, hungry and worried about my baby. I had been there laboring for 19 hours. "I can't handle stronger contractions. Please don't make me," I told her.
She explained the benefits of the epidural and that the drugs used wouldn't get to my baby, or affect my thinking. It would simply numb my body from the waist down, making the surges easier to deal with. I said ok.
Forty minutes later, Veya was born. (I got to watch her be born via giant mirror!)
Because of the meconium, we couldn't have immediate skin to skin or delayed cord clamping. The NICU people had to come in our room and suction her (get the goopy mess out of her lungs through her mouth and nose) immediately. That really sucked. I was terrified.
As I was being stitched and Veya was being suctioned, Chris went over and held her hand. What a traumatic entry into the world. Poor little one. About 15 minutes later I finally got to hold her. Her breathing then settled. She was awake and alert and looking deep into my eyes. Best moment ever. She weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces and was 20 inches long. Just perfect, thank god.