When I was first married, I was terrified of childbirth. After hearing all of the horror stories, and simply knowing what having a baby entailed, I questioned whether I’d ever want to go through that. I figured that Cory and I would just adopt and that would be that.
In the years since then, I’ve learned so much about childbirth and all of the wonderful options available. Midwifery, home birth, water birth, Hypnobabies, and Supernatural Childbirth were all things I learned about that made me feel that I could do it. I didn’t have to experience pregnancy and birth the way that most people in our culture do—I could have a beautiful, easy, comfortable, safe, short, and even painless birth if I wanted to. After discovering this new view of birth, I was no longer afraid of having a baby, and I wanted to have one more than ever.
When we became pregnant with Cody, we had plans for an awesome birth. We would use Hypnobabies and our faith in a Supernatural Childbirth to achieve a painless, safe, easy, and quick birth. We hired a midwife and planned a home water birth. I planned on not needing a doctor, hospital, epidural, or any labor augmentation such as Pitocin, because I believed that everything was going to go perfectly according to plan.
After all was said and done, the birth of my son was not at all what I expected. I ended up with a non-emergency transfer to the hospital, where I immediately was given an epidural and Pitocin. I pushed my baby out on a hospital bed, on my back, which was the one way I’d planned to never, ever have a baby. I was attended by a male doctor, who showed up for perhaps the final 30 minutes of me pushing. It was the epitome of a traditional hospital birth, and I’d planned on anything but that. Yet, despite these facts, I still had my baby with no pain (well, very little pain—most of what I experienced is what I would call discomfort). More importantly, I had a pregnancy completely free of complications, and a vaginal birth that was safe for both me and the baby. We are both healthy and happy!
Even though I didn’t get to have my dream birth, I can still say that my experience was wonderful. It may not have been the Supernatural Childbirth that I’d envisioned, but it was supernatural in its own way. The enemy tried to intervene and turn one of the greatest days of my life into a bad one, but God was there with me and he turned it around for the good, as he always does. The next time around, I’m going to believe and try for my dream birth once again—but for now, I am so very grateful to God for the experience I had and for the birth of my precious son.
Cody was born on October 16th, 2014 at 6:55 AM. He weighed 7 pounds and 4 ounces and was 20 ¼ inches long. This is the story of how it all happened.
For your reference: In Hypnobabies, we use different vocabulary for childbirth. For example, contractions are called pressure waves and labor is called birthing time.
On Monday, October 6th, I was 39 weeks and one day pregnant. I’d been feeling Braxton Hicks pressure waves for a few weeks, but that evening I started to feel them coming about every 10 minutes. We were excited and thought that perhaps we would be having a baby that night! Little did we know we were still far from that, and the pressure waves continued in the same pattern throughout that entire week. We did our best to stay patient and wait for Cody’s birthday to come.
On the night of Friday, October 10th, my pressure waves finally started to come closer together, about every 6-8 minutes. As the hours passed, they started coming closer and closer together, and I really began to believe that it was time, and we’d be meeting our son soon. Cory and I called our moms to come over, and we waited. By 3 AM, my pressure waves were 2-4 minutes apart so we finally called our midwife, Kate. She came to our house and checked to see how dilated I was. To our dismay, I was only about one centimeter dilated. I was really upset by this news—I thought that I would be holding my baby by the next day, and hearing that we were so far away from that was emotionally devastating, especially after four days of patiently waiting through my early birthing time.
Kate reassured me that her clients almost always call her before it’s really time, and that there was nothing to feel bad about. I felt less guilty about calling her with a false alarm, but I still felt embarrassed and stupid, and most of all, crushingly disappointed. That was when Kate said something then that I’ll never forget—“Birth takes you to the end of yourself.” It’s as simple as that; birth takes you to a place emotionally and physically where you feel you can’t go on. It felt so true at that moment. I tried to keep it together while we told our moms the news and sent everybody home. When everyone had left, I finally let myself cry while Cory held me and comforted me. We went to bed, although my heart was heavy that night.
That weekend we finally saw some progress as my pressure waves became more intense. They were still coming approximately every 5 to 20 minutes, but at times they seemed to stop and the pattern wasn’t particularly regular. At night the pressure waves became especially intense around bedtime and I had trouble sleeping through them. I made it through the night by alternating between an hour in bed resting (or trying to rest), and then an hour sitting on the couch listening to my Hypnobabies track and practicing my hypnosis. In the morning, when my pressure waves started to let up just a bit, I would catch up on sleep as much as possible. By then I felt more patient about meeting Cody and I accepted that he would come when he was ready, but the nights were so difficult that I worried about how I would get through the next one.
On Monday and Tuesday, my pressure waves were intense enough that I didn’t want to be home alone. Fortunately, Cory was able to work from home for half of the day on both days. During the nights, I hardly slept at all because of how intense and, I’ll admit, painful, my pressure waves had become. The hours crept by as I waited for the sun to come up. Somehow, the night passed and I finally felt some relief. On Wednesday morning, though, it was taking longer for my pressure waves to decrease in intensity and frequency. We decided to time them and found that they were coming about every 6 minutes. We called our midwife at around 7:00 AM, and then we called our moms, and they all headed over.
When Kate arrived, she checked me for dilation and said that I was at about 8 to 9 centimeters. It was exciting news! I was also shaking a little, which is often a sign of going into transition (AKA transformation, in Hypnobabies language), which is the final stage before pushing begins. We all thought that Cody would be arriving soon, but I still tried not to get my hopes up because I knew that things could still take a long time. My midwife’s assistants arrived, and everybody was amazed at how calm and comfortable I was at that point. I just felt that it was exactly as it should be, because God was taking care of me.
Although it seemed as if I were very close to the pushing stage at that point, the morning went by and nothing changed. I spent some time in the birth pool, where I planned to push the baby out. I spent time resting, lightly snacking, listening to worship music, listening to my Hypnobabies tracks, and I remained in hypnosis all the while.
Around 2:00 PM, I was about 7 centimeters dilated and Cody was in a non-optimal position, with his back toward my right side instead of toward my left. We began to feel concerned about getting him turned back into the optimal position, so we tried some natural remedies (belly sifting, essential oils, lunges, and pelvic tilts). Unfortunately, none of our efforts seemed to be doing much to correct Cody’s position. At 5:00 PM Cory and I decided to try to nap or at least get some rest. I couldn’t fall asleep, but Cory napped for a little while. Eventually I got up, and the midwives suggested another check for dilation and baby’s position. To our dismay, I was dilated even less, about 5 centimeters. Cody also was moving back up, and was in a posterior position at that point. It was not looking good!
Kate regretfully told me that if things didn’t start progressing soon, we would have to consider transferring care to the hospital. I felt oddly calm as I took in this bad news. The midwives explained that in a normal uncomplicated birth I would have most likely had the baby hours ago rather than moving backwards, and so it would be best for my safety and the baby’s to go to the hospital if I didn’t start progressing soon. It wouldn’t be an emergency transfer, but I knew that if I went to the hospital, I would be given Pitocin to restart and increase the intensity of my pressure waves. I also knew that at that point, after such a long birthing time, I would have a difficult time managing the Pitocin-induced pressure waves and so I would choose to get an epidural. Birthing in the hospital, particularly with Pitocin and an epidural, had always been my absolute worst case scenario other than a cesarean section. Yet I knew that what was important was that Cody was safe, and I felt oddly calm as I accepted the likely possibility.
I went into the room to wake Cory up and let him know what was happening. Cory was very upset and I comforted him as he tried to be okay with it. He said that he was upset because he really didn’t want to have a typical hospital birth, and it wasn’t supposed to go that way. We hugged for a while and then called our close friend to pray with us. She gave us encouragement and reminded us that God was with us, and then we prayed together.
At around 8:00 PM, I was checked once again and unfortunately, I hadn’t progressed, so we made the decision to go to the hospital. We re-packed our hospital bags and went on our way. On the drive there, Cory and I talked about how strange it was that it was really happening. Although we’d always known that in an emergency (or other unusual situation) we would have to go to the hospital, we’d never ever actually believed it would happen. Cory still felt upset and I told him that I was upset too, but that this was what we had to do. I told him that I was really worried about everything I would have to experience at the hospital, from the IV to the blood draws to the epidural, because of my severe needle phobia. I tried to put it out of my mind, and overall, I felt a sense of peace and ease about the whole thing. God was there by my side, keeping me calm.
When we arrived, we went inside and waited in the urgent care waiting room while paperwork was filled out. They brought me a wheelchair to sit in, which made me feel silly since I wasn’t sick or injured, and I was perfectly capable of walking. My support team was still amazed at how calm I was. Next, we went to triage, where I was hooked up to a machine to monitor my pressure waves and the baby’s heartbeat. I was checked for dilation (with me using hypnosis, as usual) and found to be somewhere around 6 centimeters. My mom, Marsha, Cory, Kate, and her assisting midwife Cherish were all in the room with me and we waited. I’d gained a lot of confidence in my hypnosis by then, and was able to explain it to all of the nurses that examined me or performed other procedures on me. They always seemed interested in what I was doing and impressed at how well it worked.
After waiting in the triage area for a while, I was moved to a private LDR room (labor, delivery, and recovery room). It was roomy and comfortable, which was nice. At that point, the procedures I’d been avoiding thinking about began. First, I was given an IV and had blood drawn. For both, I used hypnosis and was able to stay completely calm and comfortable. I felt so grateful to God for helping me through it. Next, I requested to have my epidural placed before being given Pitocin, since they were preparing to start the drip. When the anesthesiologist arrived, we explained my hypnosis to him and then I shut myself off while sitting on the edge of the bed (Cory would always let people know when I was ready). I went as deeply into hypnosis that time as I possibly could, and mentally went to be with Jesus. I imagined him holding me and I told myself I was safe and completely at peace. The doctor was extremely fast—my support team later told me how amazing it was to watch him work. I felt no pain or discomfort, and before I knew it, he said he was done and I came out of hypnosis. I thanked him for his excellent work and was grateful as the comfortable numbness began to spread.
Finally, the Pitocin was administered and a catheter was placed. I didn’t have to use my hypnosis anymore at that point because of the epidural. After that, I was finally able to relax completely after a very long 24 hours of very little rest. It was honestly the most comfortable I’d felt in nine months! I got some sleep while we all waited for my pressure waves to dilate me completely. Finally, at 2:30 AM, my water broke.
After that, we started doing practice pushes to move the baby down a little further. Since I had the epidural, I wasn’t able to feel my pressure waves or know when to push on my own, and needed to be coached. My nurses were all very helpful and encouraging. Around 4:30 AM, we started pushing in earnest and the doctor came to check on our progress. He came back again when the baby was further down, and helped me push him the rest of the way out. It felt like forever and no time at all while I pushed Cody out.
There were a lot of people in the room at that time, including the doctor, two nurses for me, several nurses/specialists for Cody, my midwife Kate, my mom, my stepmom, Cory’s mom, and Cory. Each time a pressure wave would come, everybody would cheer me on with shouts like “Push! Harder, harder! Everything you’ve got! Go, go, go!” I took a lot of encouragement from my support team in those moments. Near the end, I started to worry about how much longer I could last. Every push felt like the last I could possibly do, but then another pressure wave would come and I would push again, as hard as I could, which was somehow harder than the hardest I could manage. It was intense!
Finally, at 6:58 AM, (although his birth certificate says 6:55), Cody was born. When he came out, everybody applauded and cheered and it was an incredible feeling of accomplishment. They put him on my chest for a few very short moments. I held him close and started sobbing “he’s real!” as I stared in wonder at my child. I was so relieved and happy to finally be holding him. It felt like the blink of an eye before they took him away, because they wanted to suction his nose and mouth. They took him to the other side of the room and started working on him—I was completely in awe of the fact that he was real and finally here and that I’d done it, so I wasn’t really aware of what was happening. Cory stood close to where the nurses were taking care of our baby; later he told me that Cody had some trouble breathing at first and there were concerns about a possible problem with his trachea. Fortunately, all turned out to be fine—he just needed to adjust to breathing air instead of fluid!
While we were waiting, Kim held my hand and we just looked at each other and cried about how amazing and beautiful he was. We were both so happy! After what seemed like a very long time, they finally brought my baby back to me and put him on my chest. I closed my eyes and rested, savoring the feeling of his tiny warm body against my skin. A nurse helped me breastfeed him for the first time then. I was still so tired and overwhelmed from all that had happened that I can hardly remember what it felt like, but I know that I was perfectly happy in that moment.
We spent the rest of that day, which was Thursday October 16th, in the hospital, as well as Friday and most of Saturday. We were discharged on Saturday evening, and finally got to go home. Our experience in the hospital was really nice. We had excellent nurses and a helpful lactation consultant. Other than the friendly staff, I was also grateful for the comfortable accommodations and the delicious food. Even though I hadn’t wanted a hospital birth, the experience that we had was really great, and I am thankful for that.
Looking back at my birth experience overall, I can definitely say that I had a difficult birth. Yet despite this fact, I think birth is an amazing achievement and I know that I will gladly do it again. I give God the glory for saving me from a terrible, painful, life-threatening birth that our culture seems to believe is the norm. I may have used Hypnobabies, and I believe the tools I gained from that program were instrumental in my experience, but it’s God who enabled me and ultimately saved me. Since Cody’s birth, everybody on my support team has told me how amazed and impressed they were at how calm and peaceful I was during my birthing time. They couldn’t believe how well Hypnobabies worked for me, and they’ve even encouraged me to become a Hypnobabies instructor so I can help others learn as well, which I plan to do! This is something that I am passionate about and I’m excited to pursue it. It’s just one more gift that God has given me through this experience!
From my experience now, I can say that Kate was definitely right when she said that birth takes you to the end of yourself—the week leading up to Cody’s arrival was one of the hardest weeks of my life emotionally, and those nights of intense birthing waves were incredibly challenging physically. Facing my fears of the hospital and all of the procedures I had there was a huge psychological challenge, and pushing my baby out in my state of exhaustion was a physical feat I am proud to say I accomplished. Yes, all of it truly did take me to the end of myself, and at the end of myself is where I found God, my sustenance and my hope in every situation. Though the enemy tried to steer Cody’s birth in a negative direction, God kept me in perfect peace and he protected me from fear and pain. Excepting those few nights of intense birthing waves, I had a pain-free birth. No, it wasn’t without the help of drugs and medical intervention, but it was miraculous nonetheless. In the end, we won. It wasn’t perfect, but we always have next time to aspire for that. In the meantime, we have what really matters—our healthy, happy family together and thriving. God is so, so good!