Here's the full story of Keris & Jeff's HypnoBirthing experience
The Story of Grayson’s Birth
Carving time to sit down and write out Grayson’s birth story has not been easy while I spend most of my time tending to or gazing at my little boy, and the hours and days seem to melt into each other. But, I want to make sure that I write down as many details as possible from this amazing experience before they feel like a dream.
On Tuesday, January 11th, I felt a strong desire to go out to dinner with my husband, Jeff. I hadn’t wanted to do much of anything the last two weeks of my pregnancy, but suddenly I wanted a date night, knowing that it would be our last chance to go out before our baby was born. While we were at dinner, I noticed some mild contractions. They were very subtle, and because I was at 40 weeks and to the point where every little sensation made me anxiously wonder, “Could this be it?”, I simply mentioned them to Jeff and then tried to put it out of my mind. We enjoyed a lovely dinner and then went home to relax on the couch. As we sat and watched TV, the surges became more noticeable, yet still mild. They were, however, different from anything I had felt up to that point in the pregnancy, so I began to feel more and more excited that something significant was taking place. Jeff went to bed and I stayed on the couch, hoping that the TV would be a nice distraction. I dozed off for about an hour, only to be awoken by stronger surges. It was 1:00 am, and I tried to get into bed and sleep it off. It soon became apparent that it was nothing I could sleep through. I told Jeff what was going on and then got into the shower to relax. The surges felt pretty strong but were very irregular, happening anywhere from every 5-10 minutes. After the shower, I tried to go to bed, but the contractions and the excitement kept me wide awake.
By sunrise, the surges were getting stronger, but still irregular. Jeff and I called our parents and told them what was happening, assuming that the baby would be born some time that day- and on his due date to boot! We spent the morning moving through the contractions at a leisurely pace. We took a walk down the block to the lagoon and sat on our favorite bench. We spent time taking in the beauty around us, giving thanks for our many blessings, and saying prayers for a healthy birth. As the day went on, the surges got stronger, but were still not forming a pattern. So we waited...took more showers, listened to music, and waited. As the surges became stronger, Jeff and I found our rhythm as laborer and birth partner. Through each surge, he would apply counter pressure to my hips, which really brought me relief. He kept me focused and breathing, using key terms and cues that we learned in our Hypnobirthing course. Finally, we got to the point where the surges were finding some regularity and we began to time them. Over the next couple of hours they increased and at about 5:00 they were coming on every 4 minutes and lasting for at least a minute. We rode this out for another hour and then called the midwives at the UCSD Birth Center. They told us to come down and we were thrilled to be moving on to the next phase!
During our 30-minute drive to UCSD, I put on my headphones and listened to the relaxation CD that we had been given in our Hypnobirthing class. Up until that point, I had only wanted to hear Jeff’s voice, but since he was driving I knew that would be difficult. The meditation relaxed me and made working through the surges easy. But, I noticed on the drive that the surges seemed to be slowing down. We got to the hospital and went to check in at the birth center. We were told that at that moment the rooms were full but that someone was about to be discharged, and that I would briefly have to go down to the regular labor and delivery floor to be checked and admitted. This threw me for a loop, but I tried to breathe through the glitch and focus on the surges. Arriving on the labor and delivery floor, they had no idea why I was there and had to track down the midwife to see what was going on. Eventually, they put me in a tiny triage room where I changed into my nightgown and had my vitals taken. Through all of this, I was aware that my surges were again irregular and not nearly as strong. I did not like this feeling at all, and was really concerned that my labor had just regressed a few hours. The midwife came in to check me and I was at 4 cm and 80% effaced, but it was obvious to everyone that I was hardly contracting anymore. I felt so confused.
Meanwhile, the room upstairs opened up and they moved me into the more comfortable space that I had been expecting. Also, while this was happening, my dear friend, Julie, and my parents arrived at the hospital, and we went upstairs together. Upstairs, the midwife explained to us that she was not going to admit me until she saw that my labor was picking up, but that I could hang out and walk around to try and get it moving again. So, we did just that. I moved around the room, having stronger but again irregular surges. My brother and sister-in-law arrived and soon the room felt very full of loving, but staring eyes, and I started to feel extremely self-conscious that they had all come to witness the birth, and here I was barely even having contractions. We finally had to ask everyone to leave so that I could really focus on my labor. Julie stayed, however, acting as a doula to both Jeff and me. We spent the next few hours pacing the hospital and working through surges, but they never did resume their strength or pattern. I felt so sad and frustrated, and very, very tired.
At 11:00 pm, the midwife came in and told us that I was in, what she called, ‘early labor hell.’ Essentially, my labor had stalled out and I was only becoming more and more exhausted, having now been up for 24 hours. She offered us two choices. She said that I could go home and take a Benadryl to try and get some rest, or that I could stay in the birth center and receive an IV of sleep medication, of which she referred to as Therapeutic Sleep. I was torn. I cried. I felt so confused. I had really thought that I was having my baby that day. I knew that the surges were too strong to sleep through, but I had never had an IV of anything before, and I didn’t want it to interfere with my natural birth experience. Jeff, Julie, the midwife and I all talked it over and eventually decided that if I wanted to have the strength to have my natural birth experience, then the best choice would be to induce sleep through the IV and hope that I woke up in active labor. And so we slept...for about 6 hours, and although I did not wake up in active labor and was actually still quite groggy, I felt so much better and stronger after having had some sleep.
After a quick breakfast, the midwife came in and checked my progress. I was still at 4 cm and having only mild surges. So, as hard was it was, we packed up our things and headed home. The nurses and midwives were all so sweet, telling me that I would be back it no time at all. But, emotionally, it was rough. I got home and sat on the couch, still very heavy lidded from the sleep medication. I felt so sad and so discouraged. All I could do was sit there. I dozed between mild surges and found my mind wandering to places that I didn’t want it to go. Jeff encouraged me to get up and move around, but I couldn’t. I began to cry and told him that I didn’t even feel like myself. My head wasn’t in the game anymore. I felt like I would be having surges every 10 minutes for the rest of my life! By this point, it was 3:00, and my labor was still stalled. Jeff was concerned and he called Julie for support and advice. Together they decided that they needed to do whatever it took to get me moving. And, at the same time, I had decided that I needed to do whatever Jeff told me to do, no matter how difficult it seemed. So, when Jeff turned on the shower and told me I had to get in it, I did. I stood in the shower crying. Jeff told me that he was going to read me a Hypnobirthing script. He chose the balloon script, which is one about letting go of fear, anxiety, and anything else that you might be holding on to that could interfere with your birth. I sat down in the shower and he read. It was hard to focus and hard to feel positive, but, subconsciously, something shifted. After the script, my surges began to pick up. I got out of the shower and Jeff told me to eat. He fed me yogurt and coconut water and noticed that my face was coming to life again. The surges were becoming stronger and more frequent and all of a sudden I was back in the game!
The surges increased with such strength and frequency that it was only a couple of hours before they were 2-3 minutes apart and we were ready to head back to the birth center. Again, I listened to my relaxation CD in the car, but this time the surges stayed strong and consistent. Leaving for the hospital at 5:00 pm put us in the middle of rush hour traffic, but I didn’t notice. Jeff, on the other hand, was saying prayers to all of those who passed before us, calling on them to get us quickly through traffic...and they did! By the time we arrived, I couldn’t even make it through the lobby without stopping to breathe through three surges. When we got to the 4th floor, our room was ready for us and we were greeted by smiles from everyone who had seen us leave earlier that day. I quickly changed into my gown, put the relaxation CD on the speakers, and Jeff and I continued moving through surges together. By this point, Jeff and I were so in sync, and he was such an amazing support, that when I was offered the doula service that I had thought I wanted (the hospital has a volunteer doula program), I decided against it. I knew that Jeff and I could handle it. Jeff was my chair, literally, and through each surge, I would squat down on his lap as he pressed counter pressure into my hips. I was very focused and breathing hard, using a range of breathing techniques, sighs, sounds, grunts, and moans. It was not a quiet labor. As the relaxation track played on repeat in the background, I would tune in every so often and use whatever part I heard to keep focused. All the while, Jeff was behind me offerings encouraging words and Hypnobirthing cues to help me stay motivated. The midwife came in and checked on my every so often and every 30 minutes the nurse would check the baby’s heartbeat. Finally, I reached a point where my surges were on top of each other with no break at all. The midwife told Jeff that I was “double peaking,” and that she would get the birth tub ready for me. Wow! The double peaks took my breath away. This is when I wanted out. No more. No, thank you. I was done. Silently, I was cursing natural birth and all my Hypnobirthing training. If I could have jumped out of my own skin, I would have. I don’t know what came out of my mouth at that time, but I know that what was being said in my head would have to be censored! Just when I thought I couldn’t handle the double peaks anymore, the voice of my HypnoBirthing instructor, Carol, echoed in my head. I remembered her telling us that we might get to a point of wanting to throw in the towel. That there might be a moment when we would want out of the situation and want to get the drugs, and, that when this time came, we had to hold on, because it meant that the end was near. She explained that soon after, the surges would slow down and give you a break again. So, I rallied and worked though it, and after a little while I was getting a break between surges once again. By then, I was in the tub, which offered some relief and a welcomed change of position. As the surges slowed down a bit, I felt a shift and became very aware of feeling the baby move down the birth canal. I knew I was getting very close. My breathing changed and became more of a deep moan followed by a yoga lion’s breath to clear my throat. Again, this was definitely not a quiet labor! The nurse was keeping both Jeff and me hydrated with coconut water between each surge. Soon I began to feel like I needed to push. It was not as strong as the urge would later become, but an urge nonetheless. I began to use my birth breath at this point, very gently breathing the baby down. The midwife came in to observe me and could tell I was close. She put a mirror under me but could not see much, so she asked me turn over so that she could check my progress. I actually remember feeling quite annoyed at this point because I was already so aware of my own progress and I didn’t want my focus to be disturbed. I knew that I was fully dilated and the midwife confirmed not only that, but also that she could feel the baby’s head right there!
The UCSD Birth Center does not yet allow for water births, so they moved me from the tub onto the queen-sized bed that we could later sleep in as a family for the first time. Unbeknownst to me, at the same time that all of this was happening, there was a woman next door who was fully dilated and also ready to give birth, so the back up midwife had been called in to tend to my birth. As I was getting situated on the bed, she walked in, and I could not have been happier to see that it was our own midwife, Rebecca, the one that we had been seeing through all of our appointments. As soon as she got there, my need to push became incredibly strong. I no longer felt like I could breathe the baby down and had to succumb to my urge to push. Jeff sat next to me on the bed, but I didn’t want any more cues at that point and asked him to turn off the relaxation CD. I was completely inside my head and needed to focus. Rebecca led me through a few different positions, trying to find the best one to help move the baby along. He was having a hard time moving over my pelvic bone and I ended up having the most luck laying on my right side. It was about 10:30 when I really started to push, the room was quiet and dark and the midwife and nurse were using nothing but a flashlight to watch my progress. Rebecca gently encouraged my pushing, quietly saying things like, “You’ve got it sweetie, that’s it. You’re doing it.” She was fantastic. I pushed hard for about an hour. In the last few minutes, Rebecca asked me nudge the baby gently, and again I found myself practicing the birth breath. I wasn’t sure why she asked me to do that at the time, but later Jeff told me that she was trying to keep me from tearing by gently working the baby’s head out. After a few nudges, the baby’s head was out and looking right at Jeff! Rebecca instructed me to give one more gentle nudge and that the baby would do the rest. She told Jeff to put his hands on either side of the baby’s head and, with one more nudge, the baby was out and Jeff was holding
him in his arms! He announced to us all that we had a baby boy and quickly put him on my chest. Amazing! He was healthy, had beautiful color, and was crying to clear his lungs on his own. He lay on my chest and settled down as the midwife watched carefully for the cord to stop pulsing. When it did, Jeff cut the cord. The three of us laid there together for a while, taking it all in, as the midwife and nurse quietly gave me 2 quick stitches (after his head cleared, the baby nicked me with his elbow and gave me the slightest tear) and cleaned up around us. When all of this was done I sat up in bed and was finally able to get a good look at his little face. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous he was and that this tiny little person had been inside me all those months. It was instant love.
In the hours following his birth, our baby boy was greeted by his grandparents, took to breastfeeding beautifully, and took turns sleeping on Mommy and Daddy’s chest through the night. It was so special to be able to sleep together as a family in the birth center bed and to wake up to his sweet little face nuzzled up to mine.
In the morning, Jeff and I decided on the name Grayson. We had come in with two possible names, and Grayson seemed to fit him perfectly. We spent the entirety of the next day lounging in bed as the nurses came in to check on us only when we called for them. They were so respectful of our time to rest and bond. More family and friends came to visit that afternoon and again that night we slept together as a family. In fact, Grayson slept for five hours straight, curled up next to me on the bed, exhausted from his grand entrance into the world. It was hard to get any sleep, because all I wanted to do was stare at my beautiful baby boy.
Slowly it began sinking in that he is my son and I am his Mommy, forever and ever.
What a gift. What a blessing. What an honor.
Wow Keris! I didn't expect you to finish writing up your birth story so quickly! I really appreciate it! I'm sure your birth story will inspire others.
For anyone considering a natural birth, UCSD's Birth Center is a great option. They have tubs to labor in, midwives that support natural birth & the availability of the regular hospital in case of a special circumstance.
For information about my HypnoBirthing classes, please visit my website at www.AWellLivedLife.Net or if you're outside of San Diego, CA, please visit www.HypnoBirthing.com to find a practitioner near you.