This is the story of the birth of our littlest spoon, Aspen. This was a planned Hypnobabies home birth turned hospital c-section.
It was around 3:30 a.m. on Monday, November 5, 2018. I was awaken by unusual warm sensations running up my back. Could this be it? None of my Braxton Hicks felt this way. Matt and I had gone to my midwife the afternoon before. I was a week overdue, and upon a cervical check had been dilated a whopping 0 centimeters; Although, the baby was in a good position, and the non stress test was normal. I had wished and hoped I’d go into labor that night, otherwise Matt would be going into work another day, and I’d be alone with my thoughts and no baby.
I couldn’t let myself get too excited, I didn’t want to suffer any disappointment if today wasn’t the day. I followed my midwife’s advice and tried to sleep through the early contractions, but the excitement and curiosity of these foreign sensations kept me awake and restless. I casually checked the time on my phone between the contractions; They ranged anywhere from 15-20 minutes apart. I still wasn’t convinced, but a part of me still hoped, and I continued to count the minutes they were apart.
Around 5:45 a.m., Matt’s work alarm went off. “Ugh, I don’t want to go to work!” he mumbled. “Well, you may not have to.” I replied. He shot up, eyes wide with that “Are you serious??” look. He texted our birth photographer and midwife, just to keep them in the loop. Matt was thrilled, but I was still guarded about whether or not this was really happening.
I turned on my hypnosis tracks and got in a warm bath. My Braxton Hicks had always gone away after a bath, so I figured this was a good test. I had followed the Hypnobabies program religiously, and if I had any indication I might be in labor, I was to start my tracks immediately. The tracks relaxed me, and reminded me of my cues that helped my mind go into hypnosis. The contractions were subtle in the bath, but still present and regular. This HAD to be it, today has to be our daughter’s birthday!
We planned for a home birth. It hadn’t been either of our’s first choice from the beginning, but the idea of giving birth in the comfort of our own home drew me to the idea. After looking through the research and data, and coming to the agreement to hire a Certified Nurse Midwife who specialized in home births, Matt and I felt 100% comfortable with our decision. Side note: planned home births for low risk women attended by a midwife are proven to have no adverse effects on mother and baby. The cesarean rate for home births is about 5% and emergency transfer to hospital only about 1%.
Matt started to get everything ready as I relaxed in early labor. He grabbed all of the supplies, applied protective covering to the floor, and continued to time contractions while keeping the midwife updated. It was mid morning, and I decided to throw on some makeup as Matt hopped in the shower and threw on his “Papa Bear” shirt. At this point, I started to lose my mucous plug. This was definitely it!
By lunchtime, my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. I didn’t have much of an appetite, but knew I needed to eat something to keep my energy up. After a short walk around the neighborhood, we took a drive to my favorite ice cream shop, and Matt grabbed some fried chicken to get him through the day. I continued listening to my hypnosis tracks, and closed my eyes as I relaxed through each wave. So far, this day was going perfectly.
By 8 p.m., the contractions were more intense, and getting closer together. I decided to take another bath. I needed Matt to massage my back during contractions to help stay relaxed and comfortable. They were about 5 minutes apart, so at this point we called our midwife, Janet. We were thrilled with the thoughts of meeting our baby girl soon!
Matt put the dogs away, and soon Janet and our birth photographer, Monet, arrived. At this point, the contractions started to get further apart. By 10 p.m., Janet urged me to get some rest to help progress. I had been in labor for almost 19 hours with only about 4 hours of sleep. With regular contractions it was difficult to get some rest, and my body started to tremble uncontrollably from the exhaustion. Janet placed a fetal doppler on me during a contraction as she had been doing every hour. Only, this time her face crinkled, and she let out a concerned “hmm.” She mentioned that the baby’s heart decelerated toward the end of the contraction. This was the first time this had happened, so she wanted to continue to monitor, but wasn’t overly concerned with it yet.
A few contractions later, she checked again. Her heart decelerated. I was trying to remain relaxed and focused on my hypnosis, so she recommended a cervical check for progress and to check baby’s position. I didn’t want to know the number, so afterward, her and Matt had a discussion.
Matt came back to talk to me, “We still have some ways to go.” I was only 3 cm, and the baby was in a posterior position, which isn’t ideal. This could be what’s causing the baby stress, and posterior babies are consistent with a long and hard labor. After another deceleration, our midwife looked at me deeply and recommended we go to the hospital. Currently, it wasn’t emergent, but we didn’t want to wait for it to get emergent.
This is why we hired Janet. We trusted her. She’s delivered over 5,000 babies, and over 600 of those were home births. She had admitting rights at Swedish Medical Center, so she would continue to be with us every step of the way. Matt and I never wanted to be that stubborn couple that no matter what HAD to have our baby naturally at home. We always opted to do what was best for me and Aspen’s health. I nodded in agreement. We’re going to the hospital.
My contractions definitely picked up again. Hell, we didn’t even have a hospital bag packed…this was supposed to be a home birth! We scrambled to grab things last minute. Janet was going to get us registered and meet us at the hospital. We texted our neighbor to help with the dogs, and headed to the hospital around 11:30 p.m. I’m not going to lie, the car ride was tough.
The hospital was about 25 minutes away, the uncomfortable car ride made it difficult to focus on my hypnosis tracks. I was thankful for the freedom of movement again once we arrived at the hospital. I initially denied the wheelchair ride up to my delivery room, but quickly surrendered that thought after a few more contractions that grew closer and closer together.
The “birthing suite” was NICE. More like a hotel than a hospital, and a huge jetted tub too! I changed back into my robe, and started to feel like I was in control of my contractions again. Unfortunately, I had to be strapped to constant monitoring for Aspen’s heart rate, and had to lay in a very specific position to alleviate her stress. It was like the car ride all over again. Everything got more difficult. After almost 2 hours, I was permitted to go into the tub since her heart rate remained stable. It had been almost 24 hours with no rest, and the tub provided no relief. My tremors became worse, and no amount of massage, walking, or breathing could help me relax. If I couldn’t get any rest, this baby would never come. I finally opted to get an epidural. What a relief. I was 5 c.m. and Aspen was still in a posterior position. WHAT?! I’m only halfway there?! My hypnosis tracks are still on repeat.
Janet had me lay on my side with a peanut ball between my legs. This was to help get baby girl into a better position. Aspen wasn’t thrilled. Shortly after, her heart decelerated as low as 70-80 bpm for a solid 7 minutes. The OB on call was rushed in. Since it regulated, she wasn’t jumping to any conclusions, but was honest in recommending a cesarean if it happened again to avoid further complications. With my consent, she proceeded to break my water. I was now 7 c.m. Progress is happening! Finally, time for some sleep…
Two hours later (7:30 a.m.), Janet checks my cervix and baby’s position. NINE centimeters and 100% effaced, AND baby is in a more ideal position! WOO HOO! Because the epidural works with gravity, I was urged to lay on my other side. Here we go again…baby girl’s heart decelerated. After another fiasco, Matt and I knew what we had to do. We looked at each other and nodded when the OB made the recommendation. If this turned into an emergency cesarean, Matt wouldn’t be able to be in the room. That would be unbearable. Matt squeezed my hand as a single tear fell down my cheek. I’m getting a c-section.
Matt is dressed to the nines, and our hands remained interlocked as they wheeled me to the operating room. This was the hardest part: those final kisses and feeling his fingers slip away while we were briefly separated as I got prepped. Janet went with me, Monet stayed with Matt. “It’s okay,” I thought, we get to meet Aspen soon!
It’s about 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 6th. For me, it wasn’t long before Matt was by my side again. I don’t remember the final words we exchanged, if any. I think we both just held our breath, waiting for those first cries that signaled the arrival of our baby girl. The nurse next to me mentioned her full head of dark hair. YES! Matt peeks over the curtain, and we both quietly cry simultaneously as those marvelous cries fill the room.
Matt went over to talk to her, and she stopped immediately. Upon brief exam, Aspen is deemed healthy, and brought to me for skin to skin. This was the moment we waited for. Twenty-nine hours of pure, raw emotion so we could see, feel, and hear our baby girl. Nothing can prepare you for it. There’s nothing in the world like it.
Welcome to the world, our world, baby girl.