When I got pregnant with our oldest son, Cy, back in 2009, I knew immediately that I wanted a natural unmedicated child birth. I still wanted to go the hospital/OB route, but I wanted to do everything in my power to skip that “cascade of interventions” and avoid drugs and possible complications from said interventions. Chris and I signed up for Bradley Method classes and I was very hopeful for a positive outcome. I had some issues with my doctor and at 34 weeks, after a really awful appointment full of no’s, I decided to switch to a new OBGYN. She seemed a lot better but still was pushing for induction if I hit my due date. I was so anxious at the arrival of said due date, and possible induction was the only thing on my mind. Long story short, I went into labor on my own the night before Cy’s due date, labored for about 17 hours and freaked out. The pain became too much and the anxiety of the situation over took me. I caved and got the epidural. I ended up going from 5 cm to 10 cm in a matter of an hour and pushed out Cy in a few contractions. I knew I did what I had to do, with what I was given, and with my current knowledge, but I did feel pretty disappointed in myself. My recovery was pretty slow and painful and involved more drugs, lots of sitz baths, and a lot more time than I expected.
Fast forward to May 2011, Cy was 9 months old and we found out we were having another baby. I was over the moon and before the pee could dry on that stick, I was researching like a mad woman, trying to figure out how I could get that birth I had dreamed of with Cy…the kind of birth you read about and think “wow, she got lucky.” But, in the back of mind, I knew that luck had nothing to do with it. I was still not very confident in my “abilities” but I knew I had to at least do everything I could to educate myself, to give myself and my baby the best possible options I could.I got to talking with an old friend: It just so happened that my friend from high school, Kelly, who had had her first baby just a couple of months after I had Cy, was teaching HypnoBirthing classes now. She really made me think that it was possible for me to have the birth I desired. I also switched OB’s and ended up with Dr. Cobb, who is pretty much amazing. I walked out of that first appointment with him feeling like I was on top of the world. He said something to the effect of, “I’m not sure how you picture your pregnancy and birth to go, but I am pretty hands off. We don’t do a lot of unnecessary tests and we won’t induce without medical reason before 42 weeks.” I was sold. I started reading birth stories and watching videos and obsessively talking about birth with my mom friends. This birth became a mission of mine. I am positive my husband thought I was looney but I didn’t care….and he obliged me by reading the stories and books and info I was constantly throwing at him.
We started our HypnoBirthing classes with Kelly when I was about 29 weeks. I say “we” loosely as Chris had started a second job and was working like a mad man – but I would come home and regurgitate everything and make him read the parts of our book that “really” mattered. We had gone through a birth before, so we kinda knew what to expect, but I have to say, this hypnobirthing stuff was a serious game changer. Through reading more and more, I realized that so much of Cy’s birth had to do with my anxiety and fear and less to do with searing pain and contractions that just wouldn’t stop. I started listening to my “Rainbow Relaxation” track every night and enjoyed hearing the birth affirmations over and over, to embed everything into my brain for “go time”. Slowly but surely, I started to believe what the tracks were telling me….”my body was made to give birth”…”I am confident and will accept whatever turns my labor takes”….I will have an easy birth because I am so relaxed.”
The end of my pregnancy was a little rocky and I started to have doubts about being able to go through with everything.
I kept repeating my affirmations and talked to anyone who would listen and could reassure me, and finally, started having that prodromal labor. I swear I must have had 6 “false alarms” and was wondering if I would ever know for sure if I was really in labor or just getting ready for the big day. Baby’s guess date was January 25th, and my brother’s birthday is January 23rd. Throughout my pregnancy, I kept thinking about how amazing it would be to have my baby be able to share a birthday with someone so special to me. When I woke up at 3 am on January 23rd with some strong “surges” (what we call them in HypnoBirthing but for some reason I never got the hang of!) I said a little prayer and repeated “I am ready to meet my baby” in my head over and over, before finally waking up Chris at around 4 am to tell him that I had been timing the contractions for an hour and they were about 3 minutes apart. He said “ok” and rolled back over. I shook him up and said “no, I think this is it”. We both got up and showered and made sure we had a bag packed. I breathed through each contraction and found it increasingly easier and easier to snap in and out of my state of relaxation. It honestly amazed me, but I have to admit there was that little voice that kept saying “its gonna get worse”….which I tried to fend off with “My birth will be easy because I am so relaxed”. We got a hold of Kelly, who offered, so amazingly, to come be there for us, and my mom who was coming for Cy. They were both here around 6 am, I think…time seemed to be slipping away at this point.
I was feeling really energetic between each contraction and was able to snap into relaxation during each one, despite their increased intensity and shortening span of time between each one. We hung out, watched TV, and I just kept on breathing. I decided to get in the bath, we turned on Rainbow Relaxation and I let the shower hit me while I laid in a tub of water. Contractions got more intense, but the warm water made it easier to get through them calmly. Kelly started pouring warm water over my belly during contractions and that was a HUGE help. It felt like the pressure was just melting away. By now, it was about 11:00 am or so and I decided that when I got out, it would be time to head to the hospital and get comfy there. I knew that it would not be as easy to relax without the water, so I wanted to head to another source of water at the hospital and hunker down there until baby got here. So, I got out, got dressed, got everything together, was still very strong and focused in between contractions and the ride to the hospital (which I was secretly dreading) was not that bad. I just remember thinking “your body is opening up and baby is moving down”. It was raining lightly and I rolled down the windows and let my body get nice and cool and just put all of my focus into relaxation.
We arrived and checked in at the hospital at noon. We got into a room right away and at some point I think Chris talked to Dr. Cobb to let him know what was going on. I wanted to get into the jacuzzi immediately….and was really disappointed when Chris read a large sign out loud “Do not use jacuzzi tubs”. Oh f*@#. I was bummed….Chris said he was certain I would blow up right there, but I kept it together and said – eh its alright – but I am getting in that shower asap. They had to take some blood, and were insisting on a heparin lock, which I declined. But they insisted. Alright…go for it. They tried twice and omigod, I am certain it was worse than contractions at that point. I wanted to hit the nurse. They ended up calling an anesthesiologist to get it in for me….he seemed pretty stoked to be called in for that – ha – poor guy. Then they still needed to draw some blood. Four pokes later and I was still hooked up to the monitors. Dr. Cobb asked for a cervical check at admission, so I said alright but told everyone in the room to not utter one word about how far along I was. I totally feel like knowing the centimeters while in labor with Cy really had a huge effect on me and how I could handle things mentally. I did not want to know how “far along” I was and wanted to just trust my body and know that I would know when baby was coming and that my baby and my body were doing their job and everything would move along at its own pace.
They finally unhooked me and I hopped in the shower fast. It had a little seat and a removable shower head, so during every surge (it was around this time I started accepting that terminology haha) I just swirled the shower head over my belly and in my head I was repeating “melt away melt away melt away” and sure enough each surge would melt away and I would snap back into reality. I started to get a little bit tired, but remember thinking “yea, I can do this for a few more hours”. The thought of getting something to help the pain never even entered my head. I was in such a good place. I definitely started working harder and needing more focus at this point, but it was all very tolerable. I was so focused and in tune with everything.
I guess I had been in there about 40 minutes when the nurse came in and was asking if I felt “different” and told me to tell her if I felt anything “different”. I remember thinking – SHOULD I be feeling something different?! I asked Kelly and she said…..”Chelle, you were far along when we got here. You’re so close, you are doing so good”. I said “I’m far?…do you know how dilated I was?” She said yes. So I asked her to tell me…..apparently I was at 8 cm at check in! I was shocked. I kinda burst into tears and thought “omigod its working…I’m doing it! My body is doing it”. Then Chris told me that maybe I should think about getting out of the shower soon. They had to do some more monitoring, but apparently Chris says the look on my face could tell him I was getting really close.
So I hopped out, made a pit stop (with Chris’ help) to go pee. I sat down, had a surge, and felt a pop. Chris had to jump out of the way as my water broke a little bit. I stood right up and said something to the effect of “I need to push…baby is right here”. I am not sure if they thought I was getting hysterical or what, but this was the only part of the birth in which I can say I kinda freaked out. It was just Chris, Kelly, and I in the room (no nurses, no doctor yet) and I sprawled out onto that bed fast. I remember Kelly telling me I should get into the position I wanted to birth in, and I remember thinking – ha - this baby is CHARGING out NOW. The nurse rushed in, I think she was a bit surprised since she just saw me hanging out in the shower a couple minutes before. Baby was crowning. Dr. Cobb came rushing in as I kept saying “HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME” It was my one irrational, fleeting moment during labor and I think it was because everything happened so quickly and I was so shocked that it was happening and that it was happening so fast- and that no one “qualified” to receive my baby had been in the room just seconds before! I barely had time to catch my breath….although everyone was trying to get me to. I remember Dr. Cobb saying “Chelle!! You need to breathe.” I took some breaths and according to Chris, “baby came out on a wave”. He literally, for lack of a better term, slipped right out. I don’t remember really pushing or breathing baby down…he just came right out.
Rook Drace Roman was born at 1:53 pm on January 23rd, his uncle Ryan’s birthday, less than two hours after we got to the hospital. Dr. Cobb said he took a gulp of fluid on the way out, so he was a little purple, but he got to come right onto my chest and hung out for a long time before he was checked out. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before Chris cut it and the baby started nursing like a champ at his first try.
I think I am still in shock. I can’t believe I did it and it was so “easy”. It was seriously a dream birth. Everything went so wonderfully and happened better than I could have imagined.
Being able to not only make it through an unmedicated birth, but also having such an easy recovery, and being able to say I actually enjoyed my labor and delivery was not something I really thought was possible for me. Kelly told us in class that there is nothing"special" about the women we saw in the videos and that I had read or heard about, and they don’t just get lucky and have this easy birth by chance. They are regular women who accept birth as a normal, natural, wonderful process that as women, our bodies are made to go through. I can easily say that giving birth to Rook was hard work, but I wouldn’t describe it as painful, just uncomfortable at times. I never thought I could say that about something that, having already been through it with Cy, could only be described as excruciating and unmanageable.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Chelle- both of your stories actually, there is so much wisdom in both of your birthing experiences! I am thankful I was able to walk along this journey with you, as we have known each other for so long! It was an absolute joy and honor to witness Rook’s birth and your amazing, relaxed state for your entire labor and birth (you were totally calm even in the end, promise!). I am so happy that the HypnoBirthing techniques worked so well for you, and that you were able to experience the birth you truly desired.
If you are interested in Chelle and Chris' care provider, Dr. Damon Cobb: Poway Women's Care: (858) 618-1156
If you are interested in taking HypnoBirthing classes in the San Diego area, please feel free to contact us for class schedules and more information at: A Well Lived Life . If our schedules do not work with yours we would love to refer you to other local instructors as well. If you aren’t in the San Diego area but are still interested in utilizing all that HypnoBirthing has to offer, check out The HypnoBirthing Institute and find a Local Practitioner for you!