Ann & Chad Klein-Morgenstern with baby Rosalie, Vernon, BC
Rosalie’s Smooth Arrival
My little girl, Rosalie, arrived on Thursday afternoon, February 28, 2013, at 39 1/2 weeks. I think she must've been listening to me throughout the pregnancy, as I've been saying all along that I hoped she would arrive a smidge early to have a February birthday.
I'm a second time mom, and my first labour was of a long duration and very challenging. I felt so much more confident going into this labour and birth having an idea of what was ahead, but with the addition of the hypnobirthing knowledge and practice that I had, even though I didn't get in quite as much practice as I would've hoped.
I woke up through the night 3 or 4 times with some period crampy sensations, but was able to simply go back to sleep. The presence of these, which I hadn’t really had before, made me think that perhaps things were really going to happen today. When I woke up after 7, I noticed what felt as the familiar feeling of a mild surge. I monitored the timing of these to make sure they weren't just one-offs, and by 8am it looked like they were coming roughly every 8 minutes. I told my husband when he went to work that I thought today might really be the day... but was comfortable letting him go to work and just keeping him in the loop. I wasn’t in any kind of discomfort or pain and felt fine carrying on as I normally would at home with my 3 year old daughter. By 10am I called the midwife to let her know what was happening, as they had been consistent enough that I knew for certain I really was in labour, but still figured things were a long ways off. She said she would come in and check on me over lunch.
I was using the breathing techniques at this point, but was managing more than well and considered myself comfortable and content. My midwife was surprised and impressed just after noon to find out that I was already 4+ cm dilated, and my cervix was 100% thinned out! I was thrilled. I did still think we were many hours off from meeting our baby, though, and was hoping that my baby would arrive at some point during this last day of the month (but wasn't certain whether that would really happen). By the end of her visit, around 1 o’clock, my surges had started getting noticeable stronger and required more focus as I breathed and walked through them.
My husband and I needed to take my daughter to preschool for the afternoon, as we didn't have any family in town at this point to watch her while I laboured. Our daycare centre is just a few blocks away, and at about 1pm I actually walked with her and my husband to go drop her off! I figured the walk would be good for my labouring process and I still felt fairly decent. I did hook up the TENS machine before we left, though (only using 2 pads -and forgetting to add the other 2 later), which wound up be a wonderful tool through my labour! (I can’t recommend it enough; I had heard of it before my first labour, but didn’t think much of it. I highly recommend renting one!) While I did slow down my pace when walking through surges, there was just one really strong/intense surge on the way to the daycare. By the time we dropped off my daughter, the surges were lasting quite a bit longer and were consistently quite strong, so I decided that when we got home we should just go to the hospital rather than having our doula come to our house. Our midwife, who must've had a feeling during her visit, said she'd head up there anyway and grab a coffee and read a book, so she was already there waiting for us. When I texted our doula to head to the hospital instead of our house, she seemed surprised and uncertain that we would need to go there already, thinking that if I was handling the surges well I should likely just stay at home. I just texted back to say they're strong and close. I knew where I needed and wanted to be.
We got to the hospital around 2 pm. My surges were strong. The TENS was helping, I had started listening to the rainbow relaxation track on my iPod shortly after our arrival, and I kept up with my surge (counting) breathing through all of it. (As a recommendation, I found that listening to the relaxation track on my earbuds, which I alone could hear, enhanced the feeling, and need, to be in my own personal head space during this time. I think if it had been playing on my docking station for everyone to hear, it wouldn’t have helped me as much). I mostly stood leaning over and against the hospital bed during that time, but briefly sat on an exercise ball too. I really didn't do much of the other relaxation or deepening techniques at all, but I was in my own head and my husband and other labour support partners just let me do as and what I needed to. Around 3pm I was ready for something else to help with the discomfort due to the strength of the surges. Water was so key to my labour process in my first birth, so I headed to the giant deep tub in my birthing room. It wasn't as big of a relief as I had hoped, but it still helped and I was reasonably comfortable in there (and not up for moving elsewhere –and while I did consider going into the shower, I never wanted to disrupt what I had working for me well enough in the tub just then). I was still listening to the rainbow relaxation on my iPod in the tub, while my husband or doula poured or sprayed water on me. My husband kept telling me what a great job I was doing.
Not having any medical interventions up to this point, I was aware of all the different sensations my body was feeling. I was pleased and intrigued by the fact that not all of my surges were as 'overwhelming'/powerful (though I didn't feel overwhelmed) as others, and it was only during the ones that were most challenging that I found myself moaning strongly as I breathed out (using the technique I'd learned in the class and book). Not having felt all of the sensations during my first daughter's birth, as I’d had to have an epidural after many hours of labour, I had no idea just how much all the pressure and movement felt like it was coming from my bowels rather than from the birth canal. When there had been an earlier release into the water, I thought I had passed gas - and later found out it was actually my membranes releasing. So when I felt that same pressure again, I didn't think it was related to the baby being so close to making her debut. Having not been checked since the first time around noon, I also didn't know the status of my cervix. There weren’t any updates from my midwife, and I didn’t vocalize any inquiries as I mostly just went through the surges breathing, trying to relax, and having my eyes closed most of the time. I think it would have helped and been nice, for my husband and doula, too, to know that the baby really was almost here, for my excitement and morale, and so they could adjust the encouraging words they were saying. No one quite realized just how close I was to birthing due to how well I was handling each surge and how internal my whole process was. My husband said he couldn't even tell a lot of the time when I was in surge.
Wasn't everyone surprised then, when with one push my daughter's head literally popped out! What a surprise and a joy to me, too, to know that I was so close to meeting my baby (as well as to know that my labouring process was nearly over). My midwife told me that she wanted the baby out in the next breath (I found out later that her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck fairly tightly), so at the next surge that started right afterwards I breathed and moaned her out, and my sweet little Rosalie was born and placed up on my tummy!! What elation and joy! She was here and... and I felt SUCH pride and overwhelming happiness that "I did it! I did it!". I laboured and birthed my darling daughter, all on my own and without any medical interventions! My girl is healthy and beautiful and wonderful, and weighed 6lbs 3oz at birth! I felt so invigorated and energetic and vibrant right away, and was just in awe of how I felt and how things went, and of my new beautiful daughter.
All tolled, my labour was pretty much just 8 hours (a far cry from the 27 hours for my first birth), and only the last 3 hours are what I would call challenging or at times uncomfortable. I felt so much more in control and confident this time, and it really was my birthing process from start to finish. I managed the sensations from my surges through the labour breathing techniques as well as the TENS machine, and then through water too. Such joy and pride I feel to be able to say that I had a natural, and water, birth!! What a gift to be able to give to my daughter, and myself too. My husband and I were elated and couldn't believe throughout the evening that our baby was already here, even though I'd just started labour that morning! I was energetic, lively even!, afterwards and throughout the afternoon and evening, not exhausted like the first time. I had a hard time going to sleep the night after my daughter was born, reviewing the day's events, as well as comparing them to my first labour and birth. SO many great feelings from this experience, and I definitely feel like the practice and knowledge I learned in the Hypnobirthing course helped to set me up for having the kind of birthing story I only previously could have dreamed of. And Julia, who was 3 when little Rosalie was born, is a very proud big sister!
Proud Mama of two amazing little girls,