My guess date for our second baby – we didn’t know boy or girl –  was July 1, 2010. With our first baby, Seth, I had to be induced at 39 weeks because of severe asthma issues that were also leading to blood pressure issues for me. The Pitocin gave me piggy-backing contractions (one would start before the previous one fully ended) that were incredibly hard to deal with, so I had an epidural at 2 cm. They also gave me a shot of Stadol to help manage the discomfort, and in retrospect I can see just how groggy and “out of it” that made me feel.  I’ll be honest, my goal with Hypnobabies (HB) wasn’t necessarily to be completely medication-free, but rather to manage the process on my own until the point where the baby was born or I decided I’d had enough.

This can be a little TMI for some, so the rest is after the jump … 🙂

I didn’t have the asthma issues this time around, and I actually felt so much better than I did with my son’s pregnancy that I couldn’t believe we really were at the end of the pregnancy! I canceled the “just in case” induction on June 24, but did schedule a “okay, I’m really over this” induction date on July 6 just in case I was really over it and very uncomfortable at that point. My OB was great about letting me schedule and then cancel if I felt it wasn’t right. I had practice contractions for a couple of weeks, I kept losing chunks of the mucus plug, and I was 2/almost 3 cm dilated at my 39.5 week appointment on June 28, but never had bloody show. The night of July 5, I started having more regular contractions around 8pm. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, so I tried to just breathe and “release” through them as I needed. Well, they kept waking me up all night. I’d have 40 minutes of regular, intense contractions, then I’d go back to sleep for a little bit. I started timing them around midnight, and though I must be doing something wrong because my timer kept saying they each lasted a minute and a half. I decided that since I was already scheduled for the induction at 7am, I wasn’t waking up my husband unless my water broke or I felt like the baby was about to fall out!

We went ahead and kept to the induction schedule, and I kept having my long, about 8-10 minute apart contractions the whole time. We went to the hospital, got settled, and the nurse checked me – I was at a 4, so those contractions were definitely doing something! I was still doing my Hypnobabies thing and everything was still manageable. I asked the nurse if we could keep the Pitocin low and back off the gradual increases if it got too uncomfortable, and she assured me we could. I was okay with starting the Pit to help things along a bit; I was starting to reach the “Okay, enough of this” stage after the weeks of contractions and the almost 12 hours of mostly regular contractions the night before. They started the Pit, and the contractions settled into a much more regular pattern. I put on the iPod with headphones and listened to the “Easy First Stage” I don’t know how many times! It really did help, and it amazed my dazed brain how every time I had a contraction, the cues seemed to be exactly timed to help me breathe through it.

My husband was watching the external fetal monitor strips and said that I was right, my contractions were actually 90 seconds long, and they were coming about 2 – 3 minutes apart. They were getting more and more intense, and I kept reminding myself that they were doing a job, that I could get through it, and it’d be okay. My OB – who I absolutely love and adore – came at some point to check and encourage me, and she went ahead and broke my water. There was meconium in the water, but she said we’d keep an eye on the baby and hopefully all we’d need would be some extra-thorough suctioning.

An hour or so after that, I was having contractions that were topping out my threshold for managing them. (My husband told me they also topped out on the monitor strip, too, and he had to keep moving his wedding ring from hand-to-hand because I was crushing his hand. Oops.) Will kept encouraging me and helping me release and breathe. At this point it was 9 or 10 am, and I really had reached the “I am DONE” point. I looked at Will, told him that I was finished with this, and that I wanted the epidural so I could get some rest and try to be really present for our baby’s birth. He supported my decision and kept encouraging me by telling me what a great job I’d done so far.

Within an hour of the epidural, I was at 10 cm and we all thought this baby was coming out fast; my son had only taken 4 pushes to come out!  Well, this baby had different plans … turns out the baby was sunny-side-up and had his/her head angled to the side so that s/he wasn’t dropping down far enough for the OB to assist with turning to the correct position. All the baby nurses filed out, my OB brought in the head nurse to confer, and they started a 2.5 hour program of different positions for me to try that might help the baby move into a better position. I was on my back, on my side, squatting, facing the back of the raised bed – everything. Everything was going okay for a while, and then the baby’s heart rate started dropping and I started getting light-headed. I think part of my issue was simply low blood sugar (got some popsicles and it helped) but I also think the asthma issues started coming back a bit, particularly when I started pushing, trying to get the baby to move down the canal a bit. They put me on oxygen – which was such a relief, I hadn’t realized how much I needed help – and we kept trying to move the baby around. They also turned the epidural down for me so I could feel better where the baby was and where/how to push. They put the baby on an internal monitor to keep an eye on him/her. The nurses let me determine when to push as I felt the contractions, and coached me through each pushing session. They actually had to tell me to slow down because I was so determined to get the baby down that I was getting too out of breath and not helping anything!

Finally, after 2.5 hours of this, the baby started to get into a place where my OB could reach and help move the baby around. They could see the baby’s head and said, “Looks like a thick head of hair!” so we decided the baby MUST be a girl since the boys in our families tend to be almost bald. However, the baby’s heartbeat kept dropping with each contraction. My OB told me that we were going to do everything we could, but that if the baby didn’t come out soon and still had the heart issues, we’d have to look at a section. She told me she really didn’t want to do that, so we were going to try really hard to get this baby out!

Finally, finally, the baby moved down and the OB moved the baby into a better position. I felt the baby crowning and pretty much couldn’t control the pushing. My HB kept kicking in here, and I had this voice in my head telling me to release and let the baby flow out of me. Just like with my son, once the baby was down it was short work to get the baby out! A few more pushes and the OB said, “You were right – It’s a girl!”

Eleanor Rebekah was born at 1:59 p.m., weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and 19 inches tall. She came out screaming, which was a huge relief because of the meconium in the sac. She got the extra-suctioning, but didn’t need any other respiratory intervention. They immediately put Nora on my chest while they rubbed her with towels, letting me hold her while my husband cut the cord. They got her cleaned up while the placenta was delivered (hurray for HB again there) and the OB stitched the tear I got from the fast crowning and arrival. Then they gave us the baby, saw that Nora latched on to the breast, and left us alone for about an hour! I totally didn’t even remember that part with our son – I knew they gave him to me to nurse, but I had forgotten about the alone time. Overall, I felt so much more alert and aware with Nora than I did after Seth’s birth. I’m sure a lot of that was due to the first-time “shock and awe” factor with Seth, but I know a lot of it had to do with that one shot of Stadol I had with Seth.

If anyone is interested in Hypnobabies, I highly recommend it. Even though I got an epidural, I used HB so many ways during my pregnancy, the birth, and now postpartum with the healing and initial stages of breastfeeding. I wanted a way to manage and cope with any discomfort I might have, and that’s exactly what I got. I did get an epidural, but the HB helped me get through so many various stages of labor up to that point, and mentally got me ready for the work of bringing Nora into the world. I can’t tell you how often I’ve told myself to “release” as she struggles with getting a better latch (her tiny little mouth is more of a challenge than her brother’s big mouth was!), those first days of postpartum healing, etc.

If anyone else is a Hypnomom worried about their husband’s support, I have to tell you this: Will read the Birth Partner guide the week before we had the baby. He was silent/passive support while I listened to my tracks and did the weeks of preparation, but he would just start laughing if he listened to them himself. But when the time came near, he read the material, he did what I needed him to do, and it WORKED. It worked because *I* was ready for his cues, no matter when he learned them, because of the preparation I had done. He’s very supportive anyway, and the Birth Partner guide helped him focus that support to what I needed when the time came.