Birth Story for Baby Girl Alina, born 2/13/2012 at 8:19 a.m.
by Happy Poppa Lucas
Just after 1 a.m., Cyndie nudged me in bed. Quickly I got the message that something had started, and she seemed confident that this was it. There was a brief period in which we were strategizing whether or not either of us could get back to sleep to conserve energy for the upcoming ordeal, but that didn’t last long. We were up and going and there was no going back.
Cyndie asked me to check the sheet that listed the order people often used the Hypnobabies tracks when their birthing time began. That helped ground us, getting going on the first resources we would employ in this process. I gathered my other Hypnobabies materials, primarily the “Quick Reference Guide” in which we had tabbed the page with mini-scripts I read to her to keep her focused and “in the zone” with her hypnosis. This page was probably the most valuable tool I had throughout the birthing time. It turned out that Cyndie valued my speaking to her and being right with her more than listening to the tracks on iPod. With Zander’s birth, she had done a lot more iPod listening and not as much direct support from me. With Alina, I would estimate I was physically with her on at least 90% of the contractions (birthing waves). By her account, this was a big help, as well as a very intimate connection between us. I felt this too — especially looking back. At the time I was in more of a pragmatic space, trying to always think of what was most needed.
We used the “Relax” with a firm hand on the shoulder a lot. She changed positions many times, seeming to find being on all fours or leaning on me most helpful. Every so often we would use the iPad to time contractions (I had downloaded an app which made the timing very easy) and gauge how far along we might be in this process. The hot tub was another key resource! Went in twice, at maybe 2:30 and 4:30 a.m.? for maybe a half hour each time. Around 3:30 a.m. Marti (Cyndie’s mother, who was staying with us) had awakened to go to the bathroom, and I spoke to her and let her know what was going on. She was very respectful, wanting to give us space to follow the plan and strategies we had been practicing.
I don’t remember feeling anything close to stress or panic. Really – overall I would describe the birthing time at home with words like focused, calm, intentional, quiet, precious, pragmatic, strategic. I think really we thought we were in the initial phases, not aware of how much of the birthing process we were getting through at home! The contraction timings varied, sometimes 3-4 mins apart, sometimes 7, but I do recall pretty much all of them lasting a minute to two. After the second trip to the hot tub, I recall us thinking that heading to the shower would be good as we might be going to the hospital soon. We did this, and then timed another set of birthing waves which averaged 3-4 min. apart and were quite strong. It must have been 6:30 a.m. by now, and I remember Cyndie pretty much deciding it’s just time to go to the hospital. No reason to call the L&D line at that point, we’ve already decided to go (they can’t stop us) and I’ll just call them on the way to let them know we’re coming.
I remember Cyndie was ready to go – I had to stop her from heading straight to the car. “Wait, I need to load the car, make sure we have our things, etc. – going to the car faster isn’t going to get you the baby any faster!” J So she got through a few more waves on her own while I loaded everything up, talked to Marti, and made sure we were ready for her to just walk out, saying goodbye to Zander (who was awake by now) between waves. Which she did! Marti was so impressed with how calmly she spoke to Zander, almost like her normal self, and how collected she seemed (Not like a woman in transition, Marti later said!). By this point it was just after 7 a.m., and Zander was playing with Nonna like a normal morning. What a help it was to have her there, already having been there for so many days.
The Hypnobabies tracks on iPod helped Cyndie through the car ride, although she says this is when it started getting more difficult. Having to sit in a car seat, then into a triage room… at this point in the birthing process, is, as some friends would call it, suboptimal. This is the one complaint/suggestion I would consider sharing with Kaiser (and I imagine it applies to hospitals in general) is how can we make the entry into the hospital for laboring moms smoother and more conducive to natural laboring? We are not checking in for a medical procedure here folks – we just would like you to help us deliver this baby! The birthing process is an intense one, in which the mom might be trying to stay focused – can we minimize the questions, uninviting, bright rooms, and waiting around, and get us to the room where we will carry this process to completion? After all, you know who we are, you have all of our info, you’ve been EXPECTING us. For both of our births, the check-in and triage room exams were probably the only bad tastes left in the mouth after overall wonderful care and support from all of the hospital staff.
And I digress. So we pulled into the last available “mothers in labor” parking spot, leaving our bags in the car so that I could support Cyndie on the way into the hospital. The plan was for me to return for our bags once we were checked in – little did we know! She continued to be amazingly calm considering her situation, and we paused a couple of times to get through waves on the way up. First stop, a small office for initial check-in. As with Zander, it felt surreal to me to be in such a benign, normal office, sitting in a normal chair across a desk from a nurse in front of a computer, while going through such an intense and special experience. Sort of like receiving a spiritual epiphany in your life in a business envelope, on a memo with standard letterhead. One battery of questions (“Do you have a prime directive?” I mean, what the heck is that?) and 5-10 minutes, and we were into the triage room for exam. Some more questions from the nurse who took us there (Again the “prime directive” question? Didn’t you just ask us that 3 minutes ago??), then we waited 5-10 minutes for the midwife to show up, which felt like a long time. During this time Cyndie shared with me that she was really considering getting an epidural. We discussed it briefly, and I remember feeling very open to it – whatever she felt was right. I contrast this from the experience with Zander, when I think I advocated/pushed to hold off on the epidural as long as possible, trying to stay true to our birth plan as a couple to have a natural birth.
It ended up being a moot point. Two jovial nurses/midwives came into the room to examine Cyndie. I think we will both never forget the question: “Well, since you’re past 41 weeks, can I keep you here even if you’re not in labor?” I literally did not know how to respond. “Are you kidding me??” pretty quickly came into my head, but my superego filtered that one out. I think we got away with not answering it, and soon she was examining Cyndie’s cervix – 8 cm dilated and her bag of waters was bulging, about to burst! The nurses’ actions and words quickly switched to “Let’s get you into the delivery room, this will likely happen fast when your water breaks.” Not in labor! Hah! They did say that if we wanted the epidural we had to get it NOW, but Cyndie decided to get through a few more pressure waves and see how things went.
We were led to the L&D room. Barely enough time to set our one bag of stuff down, get through maybe two more waves, a couple of initial pleas from the nurses for Cyndie to get onto the delivery bed, and her water broke right there on the floor as she stood with her arms draped around my neck. Several nurses were busily readying things, encouraging Cyndie to get on the bed, but she wanted no part of that. She felt the desire to go to the bathroom, which we did and she sat briefly on the toilet. She soon dropped down to all fours on the floor, wanting to get through her waves there. Things were very intense by this point. I got my first inklings of this feeling like a point of no return. A nurse knocked on the bathroom door, asking if everything was OK and strongly recommending that we get Cyndie to the bed. There was a theme to the nurses’ instructions! I managed to get her up and out of the bathroom, but getting on the bed did not feel right to Cyndie. I felt pressured by the nurses, but loyal to my wife and trusting her process and what her body wanted to do. This was not the experience we’d had with Zander, of a single, caring, supportive nurse (Nurse Kathy) who acted much like a doula and tried to help Cyndie with whatever she needed. This was a team of people in action mode, trying to keep us from having this baby on the hard floor! Cyndie squatted next to the bed on some towels they had laid down, then announced “I feel a need to push!” The next nurse’s statement wasn’t so much of a suggestion as a command – “Let’s get her on the bed!” That was enough to urge me to help Cyndie onto the bed and into delivery position. Alina was born within what could not have been more than a few minutes. I looked down to see her head crowning – “Wow, this is happening!” went through my head. A rush of emotions. This all carried out much faster than either of us had expected. I tried to stay with Cyndie, holding her hand and sometimes speaking into her ear. Her body had taken over and this was out of our control. I felt reassurance from the confidence and experience of the nurses and doctor, Dr. Homer who had just walked in and introduced himself. “I don’t know what to do!” Cyndie said frantically at one point, but the nurses stayed calm and gave some instructions, which helped. One nurse put pressure on Alina’s head to keep her from coming out too quickly, I imagine to reduce tearing. Soon her head was out, and after a little bit the doctor asked for one more good push, and out she came! Another flood of emotions. We had done it! SHE had done it! Amazing to behold. It was not a point of ego, for myself or Cyndie, but it did feel good to have done it with no medications or interventions, to witness what that process can be like as nature created it.
From there things proceeded fairly normally, I think. Skin to skin time, cutting the umbilical cord (I got to do), toweling off the baby while on Cyndie’s chest, kisses, pictures, elation and relief. Alina’s APGAR score was excellent. The nurses, who I first experienced as pushy and somewhat cold, I now felt were friendly and very helpful. I now understood better why they were pushing so hard to get her on the bed! I liked the doctor a lot (looked like he couldn’t be over 30!), and felt genuine appreciation as I shook his hand and thanked him. What a blessed experience to share with my lovely, amazing wife.