Doula or husband? OBGYN or midwife? Birthing center or hospital? Epidural or natural?
These are all things I thought about, asked people, and researched when I was pregnant. Once I made my decisions, I found that people have strong opinions on these topics. I never felt like I was being judged for the decisions I was making, but I did feel like people did not believe I would go through with my plan in the end. Maybe that was their wisdom in knowing that the baby will ultimately decide the birth story or maybe they just thought I was crazy.
From the beginning my OBGYN told me that she would support my birth plan, whatever it turned out to be. Once I told her I had decided on hypnobirthing and attempting a natural childbirth, she again pledged her support but told me that she would ultimately do what was best for me and the baby at the time. I committed to that plan as well.
In studying hypnobirthing I found it interesting that the main focus is on overcoming the fear of the unknown, the fear of pain, and the fear that something is going terribly wrong. It made sense that if you could overcome those fears through self-relaxation and self-hypnosis then you could effectively manage the labor and delivery. I will say that once I committed to hypnobirthing I was fully committed, all in. I practiced my self-relaxation and hypnosis techniques almost every night throughout my second and third trimester. I did it on airplanes traveling for work, I did it on my babymoon, I did it in short breaks on the couch on the weekends, and I put myself to sleep with it at night in bed. I was so afraid that if I did not practice then I would not be ready when the time came.
I started having contractions and went into labor around nine in the evening five days before my due date. I felt a lot of pressure and could not sit down. I looked at my husband and told him something felt different and I was kind of freaking out inside. He said not to worry about it and that I was probably just starting to have contractions and they could go on for several days. I did not believe him. I decided to sit on my birthing ball for a while. Then I decided I would get into the bathtub, because in hypnobirthing class we went through a lot of scenarios where you could be in the bathtub, on the birthing ball, in the shower, on hands and knees, etc. while laboring. I wanted to experiment to see what felt best.
The bath was a bust, after my husband ran all the water and had it ready I went to get in and could not sit down because of the pressure. I decided on a shower instead, then hands and knees in the shower, then birthing ball, then toilet, and then finally bed. I put on my headphones with my relaxation music and hypnosis tracks and decided to lay down. It was midnight by this point and I was so tired. My contractions were not consistent, five minutes apart, one minute apart, three minutes apart, five, etc. I could see my husband timing them with his phone.
Finally I even dozed off a bit in my self-hypnosis state and then would just tense for the contractions and breathed them down and out as they came. It became almost rhythmic and peaceful. If I felt fear creeping in or pain then I would just breathe deeply, calm my mind, immerse myself in the soundtrack and start again.
I popped out of bed around three in the morning because I felt like something was coming! I barely made it to the bathroom before my water broke. My husband had the bright idea that it was now finally time to go to the hospital. When we arrived the place was a ghost town. We were living in Park City, Utah at the time and it was summer so the ER was dead, not a person in sight. My husband pulled up front, went in and got a wheelchair, came back to get me, and then we went inside to find someone who could let us in so we could go up to the labor and delivery floor. When we arrived there was only one nurse and no doctor. The nurse came in to check me, asked if I needed to push, and then asked us to wait while she went to call the doctor.
I decided that my husband could check us in because at this point I needed to stay immersed in the relaxation and hypnosis to be successful. I asked that they not bother me until the doctor was there and ready. When the doctor finally came in I told him that I wanted to push. We did three breaths in then three hard pushes and I could feel the baby was stuck. We did it again and the doctor said if he cut me a tiny bit the next push would have the baby out. My husband and I said in unison for him to do it and out came the baby with the next push!
We did not learn the sex of the baby so we both yelled, “What is it?” When they answered “boy” my husband was crying tears of joy. The baby was immediately on my chest, skin to skin, while they waited for the cord to stop pulsing. It was all so miraculous and spiritual and amazing. Once the baby was out there was no pain, just immediate relief and immediate euphoria.
We were blessed with a beautiful, natural birth and a beautiful, perfect baby boy. We had him at seven that morning and we spent the day and one night in the hospital and then left the next morning around eleven. We stopped and ate Mexican food on a patio on our way home with my mom in tow. We then went home and rested a bit before putting the baby in the Joovy sling and going to an outdoor concert to see the Indigo Girls on the side of a mountain. It was so beautiful and perfect. We all felt like something amazing happened that day and we celebrated. A natural birth was possible for me and I can only hope that I am lucky to do it a second time.
People will ask me now about my birth story and whether or not I would do it again. My answer is absolutely. Would I also be okay if I ended up with a c-section like my mom and sister? Yes. Would I be disappointed? Yes. A natural birth is not for everyone. A natural birth in a hospital is also not for everyone who desires a natural birth. I feel like I took the middle of the road approach.
So, did you opt for the epidural or not? Did your birth plan go as planned? And if not, how did you deal with that?