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Madeline's Birth Story - An unexpected, unassisted Hypno/Home birth

Posted by Bethany McCarey-Hammond on August 31, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Madeline's Birth Story

We had planned to spend the day in Corning/Elmira with Bethany, our Hypnobirthing instructor. It would serve as a crash course for my Mom and a refresher for Randy. In addition to having any last-minute questions answered, Mom and Randy would have a chance to role-play being my advocates as Bethany pretended to be various hospital personnel while I practiced relaxing. The baby, however, had other ideas.


Labor began sometime early morning—2 or 3 am (I didn't put my glasses on to check). I honestly didn't remember what labor felt like with Miyanna so I couldn't say for sure, “This is it.” I was also nervous because it was uncomfortable—not painful, but not painless like I was really hoping it would be. That is not as crazy as it may sound because we learned in our Hypnobirthing class that it does not have to be excruciating. The question, “In what other circumstances does it hurt for a muscle to function normally?” really struck me. The uterus is a muscle, after all, and contracting to expel a baby is what it was designed to do. In addition, reading the stories of women who were not afraid and accepted the natural birth process for what it was—a natural process!—and subsequently had relatively comfortable labors was very encouraging. So when the sensations began and I didn't like them I started to worry. I worried it would be another traumatic birth. I worried I hadn't practiced relaxing and breathing enough (which is all Hypnobirthing really is). I shared my concerns with Randy when he woke up. We determined that even if it was unpleasant, it was natural and good and what needed to happen to bring our baby into this world. We prayed, accepted the surges (contractions) for what they were, and released the fear.


We already had planned for Miyanna to spend the day with Gramma and Grampa so we proceeded with those plans, also packing an overnight bag for the next couple days. I let Sherry know what was up and she alerted the rest of my Bible study so we were quite covered with prayer from early on. We let Bethany know we weren't coming down after all, and arranged to talk with her on Skype instead. It wasn't quite the same, but was still encouraging for us all.


Now the oddest thing about all this was that I was not 100% positive I was in labor until much later in the afternoon. As I said I did not remember what labor felt like with Miyanna so I was looking online and at a little “cheat sheet” that contrasted false labor and true labor. In spite of the fact that I met four out of five conditions for true labor I was so paranoid about showing up at the hospital too early that I wasn't sure if I believed it. It was also hard to say whether the surges were getting consistently longer and stronger, a key indication of true labor.


We puttered about the house all morning and afternoon. I got caught up on finances, only pausing to lean back and breathe when a surge came on. We ate the leftovers from our delicious Thai dinner out the night before. Finally, around 3pm, my Mom wisely insisted I go lay down to rest, since we still had no idea what the rest of the day would bring. As I got up to go to the bedroom I remarked it felt like there was a baby in my pelvis and they concurred that the “baby bump” was markedly lower than it had been earlier in the day.


I laid down and Mom came in to read a visualization to me. She was sure I was asleep but I wasn't—I was just very relaxed. During each surge I breathed in slowly and out slowly, repeating to myself and God things like, “You made me to do this,” and “This is good.” About 4pm I called Randy in to spoon with me and time the length of and distance between surges. They were getting more intense. I almost became afraid again because I was managing OK but didn't know how much more I could handle. (Fortunately that turned out to be the transition phase so there wasn't anything other than the delivery that I had to bear, pun fully intended!) As the surges intensified and my breaths were very shaky (but still controlled) I laughed softly and said, “I suppose I shouldn't feel incompetent if my breathing isn't perfectly smooth.” By 4:55 contractions had been at least 60-90 seconds long and 4-5 minutes apart for about 25 minutes. We were literally just about to conclude that yes, this was real labor and yes we should call Linda, the midwife, when there was an audible “pop” and my pants felt warm, then wet. I chuckled and said, “There goes the water!” Then, “Is it lame if the thing most on my mind right now is 'I don't want to get the bed wet'?”


I got up to use the restroom and take off the wet jeans (everyone knows few things are less comfortable than wet jeans!) Randy called Linda to let her know we would be heading out as soon as we got ourselves together. Sitting on the toilet another couple surges came and I found I couldn't reach down to remove my pants so I called my Mom in, who had been dozing on the sofa. When she arrived I suddenly had the irresistible urge to push. As I did remember from Miyanna, it felt like I was being split in half. My composure was gone—I am not sure at all how one relaxes through those urges!! (Maybe I'll figure that out for next time?!) I was no longer quietly breathing and relaxing—I was definitely screaming. “I don't want this baby to be born on the toilet! I feel so dirty!” I kept telling my Mom. She calmly kept encouraging me to relax and helped me onto my knees, arms draped over the side of the bathtub. Randy came in from being on the phone with Linda. “You're not pushing yet are you?” he asked. “Oh I'm definitely pushing,” I said. My Mom was trying to figure out how to get me covered up to get down to the car when I announced, “There is no way I am going anywhere.” “Are you serious about not going anywhere?” Randy asked next. “I'm dead serious,” I replied, “I'm not having this baby in the car. I want to do it on the bed. If you want medical assistance you better call an EMT.”


Between contractions that were coming fast and hard they helped me back into our bedroom. Randy called Linda to tell her that the only one “heading out” right now was the baby (i.e. we were not coming yet). Randy had the foresight to put some spare chux pads (leftover from Miyanna's birth) on the bed. I laid on my side with Mom holding the top leg up for me. I had seen that position in a video and thought it looked just right. Pretty much every contraction I asked, “Can you see her yet? The baby has to be right there!” Finally the answer was yes and I reached down to feel what was there. Oddly, what I felt was oblong in shape and maybe an inch and a half wide. I knew it wasn't part of me so I asked what it was. “Uh...it must be some presenting part of the baby,” Mom said, unsure herself. The next contraction we found out-- “Here she is! I guess that was the head!” This baby had come so fast her head was totally squished but then popped right back into a round shape! They had never seen anything like that, and didn't even know it could happen! Mom started to move the baby a little and only when she did, did it hurt, so I asked her to stop and let it happen naturally. She obliged and the next push allowed Mom to catch her second grand-baby whom she promptly placed up on my chest! Soon thereafter I had the presence of mind to say, “Hey it's 5:25. We should note that as the time of birth.”


We have amazing video of those first moments on my chest (even though they were a little too preoccupied to record the birth!) It took several minutes for us to verify that the ultrasound had been correct and this was our second little girl—Madeline Annette. She was still totally covered in the waxy vernix that kept her skin from getting wrinkly in the amniotic fluid. I knew I wanted to let it absorb into her skin but it was really sticky and I can understand why many people want it cleaned off right away. Someone threw my fuzzy purple bathrobe over both of us as the cessation of adrenaline flow caused me to shiver uncontrollably. I wanted her to find my breast on her own and latch on like all the cool videos but it wasn't seeming to work—I probably just wasn't patient enough—so I helped her find it and she took some sucks.


Madeline and I continued resting, waiting for the placenta to come out. We were planning to let the umbilical cord stop pulsing before it was cut anyway so we were in no rush. We let Linda know she had been born and that she and I seemed fine, the blood loss totally normal as far as we could tell. Linda was quite concerned about the placenta coming out in a timely fashion, and actually called us about 5:45 to see how we were doing. (I found out later that if it doesn't come within a half hour it can sometimes mean there is serious trouble.) At the half hour mark with the cord finally done pulsing, sensing Linda was too freaked out to talk us through naturally encouraging the placenta to come out and still intuitively knowing we didn't need EMTs we pulled out the phone number of the midwife who delivered Miyanna. (Linda most likely would have been perfectly capable of talking us through the placenta delivery and cord cutting, but most likely would have just asked us to get straight to the hospital, which we didn't think was necessary. We knew Kate, on the other hand, was well versed in home remedies for this situation.)


We identified ourselves to Kate and said that not only had we psychologically healed from Miyanna's birth to a point of wanting another baby, we had gotten pregnant and just had our second. “And we do mean JUST had,” and Randy explained our situation. Kate congratulated us and thanked us for thinking to call her. She told me to get up on my hands and knees and massage my uterus. No sooner had I done that, than another contraction came, and out came a fully intact placenta. Then she directed us on how to cut the cord. Mom got some water boiling to sterilize our Cutco kitchen scissors and some string. Randy tied two pieces, one two inches from Madeline's belly button, one two inches beyond that, and then cut in between. Mom double-bagged the placenta and put in in the fridge to process into tablets for me later. (Because of all the nutrients in the placenta, research is just beginning on the benefits of the mother ingesting it one way or another. Mom made some of it into a fruit smoothie for me and the rest was combined with herbs and I took one a day as energy/mood required.)


At 6:10 pm we called Linda to tell her the placenta was out and we'd be heading in to the hospital very soon. Next we called Mom and Dad Pittman to tell them we wouldn't be joining them for dinner because we had a baby! (We neglected to mention at that time where we were because we didn't want them to freak out!) Slowly but surely Randy and Mom got our hospital gear together. It is really funny to think of them trying to grab it all in the throes of labor because it took almost an hour, and most of it had been packed ahead of time! Finally, by 7:20 we were heading for the hospital. It was a really relaxed drive that I again cannot imagine making while in labor. On the drive we made several fun phone calls to the gist of, “Well we're on our way to the hospital...with our new baby girl!” How awesome! In retrospect, I think I was so freaked out about how the transition from home to hospital would work while in labor (especially the prospect of showing up at the hospital too early) that I was in denial that I was actually in labor until it was “too late” to make the transition.


It was also hilarious checking in at the hospital-- “I'm here to have a baby...but I already did...” Poor reception guy was so confused! Especially since Randy dropped my mom and I off, went to park and then brought Madeline in with him, so I wasn't carrying a baby! The staff up in the Birth Place was great and got us settled in. Madeline was just fine (as I already knew—mom's know this stuff) and I had torn again so Linda stitched me up. It was wonderful to have the professional care and assistance when we did get to the Birth Place, but next time we will definitely plan to do it all at home and get the aftercare we need in the comfort of our own place, our own bed.

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