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My baby girl is a whole two months old, y’all and now that she’s FINALLY sleeping outside of my arms for longer than two minutes, it’s time to share her birth story.
Melanie's Birth :: My (Natural and Nearly Pain-free) Hypnobirthing Birth Story
I debated whether or not to do this but had people ask me to write about it so… here we are.
This is a no holding back, all the details account of how Melanie Jocelyn came into this world.
I should start all this off by saying that I’m super happy with how my labor and delivery went. Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way but, all in all, not only did everything happen almost exactly how I wanted but I also learned how strong I am, too.
Reflecting on my birth story makes me feel all kinds of proud and accomplished – and that’s a great thing. I should also warn you that it involved all kinds of “hippy-dippy crap” – this isn’t The Way for everyone and that’s okay. It worked for me and it might work for you.
If not, however you choose to bring your baby into the world is your choice. Okay? Okay.
My Birth Story Begins
My birth story begins on Monday the 8th of July when I went into San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) for a false alarm.
My mucus plug was detached and leaking and I thought it was amniotic fluid. I was wrong and the staff let me know. Pointedly.
Basically, I was told that amniotic fluid never just leaks – it always gushes (“like in a movie” said one of the nurses) and to not come back unless I was gushing. Um, okay.
Well, that goes against EVERYTHING I had read in every book or online but, hey, I’m not a medical professional – what do I know?
Fast forward to Thursday the 11th and I wake up at 3AM leaking. “Oh, it’s just the mucus plug again”, I thought. So I put on a pad and went back to sleep.
All day, every few hours, I had to change the soaked pad but it was just a steady leak with no gushing so I thought nothing of it. Later that night I went grocery shopping with my mom and started having Braxton-Hicks.
They hurt (enough to make me wince and tense up) but were so irregular and isolated in the front that I didn’t worry about them being real contractions. Went home, did some work on the computer, and felt blah so I took a bath.
During my bath, the Braxton-Hicks got more intense and more frequent but they were still pretty random and there was definitely no back pain.
Dr. Google Was Not Helpful
Out of curiosity, when I got out of the tub, I Googled “contractions or Braxton-Hicks”. I read up on the difference between the two on several OB-GYN websites and found out that yes, I was having false labor pains.
Why? Because I would have a few that wouldn’t hurt and then one that would, there was no back pain, and they weren’t getting closer.
Real contractions consistently hurt the same, involve lower back pain, and get closer together. SIGH. No baby yet – I went to bed.
Middle Of The Night
Around 12AM Friday morning, the Braxton-Hicks seriously woke me up. I remember thinking, “If these are just false labor pains what are the real ones going to feel like?!?!”
I went to the bathroom and changed my soaked pad AGAIN. I went back to bed but the Braxton-Hicks were hurting me enough that I decided to practice some of the HypnoBirthing techniques I learned.
I turned on my iPod and listened to my relaxation playlist while focusing on relaxing my entire body and breathing through the pain. Within minutes, I was relaxed enough to fall back asleep.
Still In Pain
An hour later, I woke up again and the pains were stronger. I was starting to get really pissed off that these stupid Braxton-Hicks were keeping me from a good night’s sleep.
I was exhausted from the day before and just wanted to sleep already! After changing my pad and doing the relaxation thing again, I fell right back to sleep.
Maybe This Is Happening
Fast forward another hour and I started to think that maaaybe this wasn’t false labor. The “contractions” were closer together now and hurting more but I still wasn’t feeling anything in my back and they were still irregular (a few easy ones followed by one that would kick my ass).
Since it worked before, I flipped on the relaxation playlist again and started my advanced breathing (in through the nose, move the air down through the diaphragm, and visualize the pain exiting through my vagina).
It really helped me relax and manage the pain. For the next hour, I was able to lie on my side and relax through each contraction. I think I even dozed a bit in between each one.
Around 4AM, things got more intense and I was no longer able to lie down and manage the pain. I tried getting on my hands and knees and rocking back and forth but that only woke my husband up (and I wanted him to sleep for as long as possible so that one of us would be completely coherent for the labor and delivery).
I ended up going into the living room and just walking around. When a contraction would come, I would stop and lean forward so my hands rested on the couch or a wall. I would relax my whole body and breathe the energy through me.
Once again, I was able to manage the pain; so much so, that I downloaded this contraction counter app and started recording the times. From the start of one until the start of another, was a little over 3 minutes.
I figured that couldn’t be right – I wasn’t in enough pain to be that far along! So, I stopped recording the times and just focused on relaxing.
I'm Definitely In Labor
Around 5AM, I finally convinced myself that I was DEFINITELY in labor (took me long enough, right?) and went to wake up my mom. I told her what was happening and she confirmed that I was really laboring but that I couldn’t be too far along since I wasn’t in a ton of pain.
I asked if I should call SAMMC and see if they wanted me there (I was also concerned about breaking a promise to The Boy that I had made – that I wouldn’t have the baby in the car.) and she told me to go ahead. The phone call was less than helpful.
The lady I talked to was more concerned that I hadn’t seen a physician in the last week than about how my contractions were going.
She ended up telling me to stay at home until the contractions were all the same length and pain degree and 5 minutes apart. I went back to my mom and told her we were hanging out at the house for a while.
Laboring At Home
We both went out to the living room and mom hung out with me while I labored through each contraction. She didn’t seem too concerned and just made sure that I had water to drink.
Since I was doing well laboring standing up, she suggested that I continue to do that and tried timing them for me. She also had a difficult time with that since it wasn’t obvious when a contraction would start and stop (I only did low moans during the apex of the contractions to help release energy).
But, she wasn’t concerned since she didn’t think that I had made it to my second transition. She said that my voice would change when that happens and I was still able to speak normally. I told her that I’d just keep laboring and not to wake up The Boy.
The Stand And Lean Labor
By now, I was completely exhausted. I was so tired and really wanted to lie down but that made the contractions hurt. So instead, I discovered that if I sat on a chair between contractions, I could completely rest my body and relax.
Then, when a contraction would come, I would stand up and lean down on the coffee table. This allowed me to continue to relax my legs and lower body while breathing through the contraction.
At one point, my mom got me a cool, wet washcloth which was fantastic to use on my face during the downtime between contractions. We did this until around 7:30AM when one of my moans woke up The Boy.
My Husband Wakes Up
My bleary-eyed husband came out into the living room to a laboring wife and a mother-in-law confirming that it was probably time. My mom went off to pack and I told The Boy to go ahead and take a shower since I wasn’t that far along (after all, it wasn’t hurting too bad yet!).
Apparently, that was the wrong call – my mom told me to get my things together because we needed to get on the road! I called to The Boy to hurry up and started pulling together the last of my things for the hospital bag (and yes, I did use my checklist!).
We put the dog in the kennel and headed to the car (where I promptly had a contraction while leaning on the hood).
The Worst Part
This is when the crappy part of this whole thing occurred. I had been laboring SO great standing up and now I had to labor sitting down. Oh. My. GAH.
Those first couple of contractions in the car kicked my ass. I know that my mom and husband were trying to accurately time my contractions but I finally had to completely ignore them and really, really focus on relaxing through my contractions.
In hindsight, I should have insisted on plugging my iPod into the car’s sound system so I could listen to my relaxation playlist but… I didn’t want to bother anyone (I am also an idiot).
After a few contractions though, I was able to figure out how to use my HypnoBirthing techniques while in the car and started relaxing again. And since I figured that once we got to SAMMC, I would have hours of labor left, I tried really hard to doze off between contractions.
At The Hospital
We got to SAMMC in record time (thanks, honey!) and mom and I got out at the main entrance so my husband could park the car and meet us inside. I had a contraction in the parking area and a woman offered to get me a wheelchair but I didn’t want one.
I made it into the lobby and had another contraction against the wall. Several more SAMMC employees offered me wheelchairs but I declined (one woman did push one over “just in case!”) and continued to labor in the lobby and wait for my husband.
I have NO idea WHY it was so important for me to wait for The Boy in the lobby (after all, he knew where the labor and delivery wing was) but it was and I refused to let a few contractions get in my way.
The funny thing is SAMMC is a major medical center for soldiers injured in Iraq and several (who had been injured by IEDs) where in the lobby with me. They looked completely freaked out by my laboring.
Idiot In The Elevator
Seriously, people who had been blown up/burned by bombs were scared of a fat lady moaning and leaning against the wall. Ha!
When The Boy got there we headed to the elevators for our trip up to the labor and delivery wing (I mean, after The Boy asked me why I decided to wait for him instead of heading upstairs immediately…).
Other people were in the elevator so it stopped at several floors on the way there. For some odd reason, I was super concerned about not having a contraction in front of them. I KNOW! So stupid.
So, I tensed all up and held one in. Um, BAD idea. When we finally got to our floor I flat out had a killer contraction as I was trying to leave the elevator and ended up on hands and knees on the floor.
I literally stopped the elevator doors from closing because I was blocking them. My husband had to help me up – I was so embarrassed.
Checking Into The Hospital
By the time we walked into the L&D wing, I was having contractions about 2-3 minutes apart. And yes, I STILL didn’t realize how far along I was (dumb + ass = me).
The woman in admitting called the back and my mom overheard her telling the people that “there’s a woman in the waiting room having a baby right now!”
Within a few seconds, a SWARM of people in scrubs descended on me (like so many locusts) and everyone started talking all at once. It was totally overwhelming. They kept offering me a wheelchair but I asked to be allowed to walk.
One of the nurses grabbed my hand and walked with me, stopping when I needed to labor through a contraction and not interfering. She was awesome – just let me do my thing and be there if I needed support.
In The Room (Finally)
We got into my private delivery room (yep, I skipped the whole triage room thing – I guess it was pretty obvious that I was in full on labor) and they asked me to remove my clothes and put on a gown for a pelvic exam (WHY do they call it a pelvic exam? Shouldn’t they call it an “all up in your ladyparts” exam?
Everyone left the room except one nurse, my mom, and The Boy. My husband helped me get undressed, into the gown, and on the table/bed thing. The doctor came in and looked Down Under… and suddenly asked me if I felt like pushing.
I told her that I didn’t think so (!) and had another contraction. The doctor asked me a few legal-type type questions and I had another contraction.
I Had To Push
A few more questions and… I HAD TO PUSH. The books and websites aren’t joking, y’all. When you have to push – you’ll know.
A Room Full Of People
Suddenly, the room was filled with people again (my mom counted 13 at one point) and everyone was suddenly very busy and very rushed. Lots of people were asking me questions and trying to talk to me about legal stuff.
They kept asking as I was contracting and I finally had to tell everyone to stop talking to me while I was having a contraction. I also punted a bunch of the decisions to my husband (see, letting him sleep in so he could be my totally awake advocate was a good idea).
They hooked me up to an IV. I didn’t want it but my mom (gently) overrode me on that one.
The Doctor Was Kind Of An Asshole
The doctor asked me if I wanted drugs or an epidural. Actually, she asked me three times over the course of about 30 minutes.
I politely declined the first time she asked and told her “no” a bit more aggressively the second time.
The third time, I said “no” AGAIN and my husband had to step in. That was a bit frustrating.
They also slapped an oxygen mask on me. I know it helped but damn, I hated that thing. It fit weird and smelled funny and I just HATED it. It also slipped all over the place while I was pushing and people had to readjust it. Very distracting.
Pushing Is Not Easy
Also, pushing is NOT as easy as the books and blogs would lead you to believe. Everything I read said, “Oh, you’ll feel like pushing and push”. Um, y’all – it’s more complicated than that. LOTS more complicated.
There’s a certain way you have to push and several options for positioning. I’ll write up a whole post about that but needless to say, I started to feel a bit of pain during my first few pushes because I was SUPER overwhelmed and didn’t understand what they wanted me to do.
However, after a few tries, I finally got it and went back to being able to relax between contractions. I also was really able to relax during the pushing phases so I didn’t feel any pain at all (no, really) – just very intense pressure.
Additionally, I never felt “the ring of fire” (when the baby stretches the vaginal opening) which weirded out the doctor and nurses. Ask me if I cared.
P.S. I also pooped a couple of times while I was pushing. Again, ask me if I cared.
Still Freaking Pushing
It felt like I pushed forever but it was really only 20 minutes or so. Oddly enough, the baby’s head would start to come out but then go back in! The doctor told me that and I got a bit frustrated.
I had really wanted to reach down and feel her crowning but didn’t because I wasn’t sure WHEN her head was crowning. This happened several times so I just focused on getting her freaking head out already.
The next thing I knew – I pushed and head came out… along with her ENTIRE body. Yep, instead of the traditional three pushes (the head, one shoulder, and then the other shoulder + the body); she came out all at once!
The funny thing though? I didn’t know she came out! Seriously. I was so relaxed and focused on pushing her head out that I didn’t even know I had given birth.
I pushed, heard cheering, and asked my husband “Is she out?” He confirmed that she was so I lay back on the table, opened my eyes, and the nurse immediately put her on my chest.
After checking to be sure that she was actually a girl, I took a long look at her. She looked EXACTLY like the face in my last ultrasound. And that did it, I adored her. After all, I had had nearly two whole weeks to fall in love with that little face.
I held on to her and told The Boy “Look at what we made!”
I spent the next hour (during which she was tested a bunch, I had my afterbirth, and was stitched up) loving my little girl. She was so content to lie on my chest and just look at me (so content in fact that the nurses had to keep nudging her so that she’d cry and clear out her lungs).
The staff was great and left her there on my chest for nearly the entire hour I was in post-delivery. They did every single test and measurement they could while she was there and only took her at the very end to her official weight, length, and head measurements.
All The Babies Cuddles
That ended up being the best drug ever. I know that many people find the afterbirth to be worse than the actual birth but, thanks to my baby drug, I didn’t feel a thing (I refused intravenous drugs for the post-delivery stuff).
I felt the placenta release but it just felt like a pulling sensation – no pain. I did tear during the birth (mostly due to her coming out all at once) so they had to stitch me up. Again, no drugs other than a topical spray. I didn’t feel anything except a couple of HARD pinches a few times.
I did accept Oxycontin and I also had Melanie latch on as soon as possible to encourage uterine contractions all of which help with the bleeding. I really didn’t feel any pain, my legs were REALLY shaky and I remember focusing on Melanie and on keeping my legs propped up so they could finish up.
Right before they wheeled me away to my room in the postpartum wing, they let my mom cut Melanie’s umbilical cord and give her a bath (The Boy wanted to stay by me and make sure I was okay).
They also allowed us a few moments so that The Boy and mom could hold her. During that time, they wiped down the worst of the blood off my body with some wet wipes and gave me lots of sips from my water glass.