Friday morning at 6:30, 11 days after my due date, I walked to the bathroom and felt two large gushes of liquid leave me. I woke up Dad to tell him my water had broken, and he called my midwife (Meredith, who was not our midwife, answered and let us know she would be present along with Rose, one of our regular midwives). No contractions though, so we waited awhile then decided to start natural induction methods. By noon we went to the Bella Vie birth center and we were greeted by Rose and Dana, the midwife apprentice who had been to almost every appointment of our pregnancy. We loved Dana, and were so glad she would be there for the birth. They told us the plan — herbal doses every half hour, and use the pump for 20 minutes at a time to get the contractions going. So, first dose of the herbal treatment went in, and I put on the pump. Oh boy, that started a 20 minute contraction right away. I did not enjoy it, and my great mood faltered a bit. I took the herbs and put on the pump for a few hours, becoming less and less comfortable each time. After four hours, I got to take a break and Dad and I walked around the property. I was still getting contractions, but they weren’t super regular. Rose and Dana began to think that my water might not have actually broken after all. We had some dinner made by Dana (a great pasta with meat sauce and feta, and some broccoli), and continued on the process. At this point Dad was helping me through the contractions by reading some prompts from our Hypnobirthing class, or just talking calmly while stroking my hair. He helped immensely as the pain continued to build. At about 6pm, Rose let me know that she wasn’t sure that today would be the day, and maybe I might need to go home and try again tomorrow. Oh boy, I wasn’t happy about that idea. I kept thinking of the long drive home with my sporadic contractions, and coming back again tomorrow. Nope, not going to happen! Within an hour, however, things got real. Contractions became more regular, and I didn’t have much of a break between them. The tub started to look like a better and better idea, so I asked Dana to draw up the water for me. Until then I had alternated between lying on the bed, sitting on the exercise ball, and sitting on the toilet. Dad was filling me with water every chance he got, so there were many many trips to the bathroom that afternoon and evening. The second I got in the tub, I felt immediate relief. And then I had a contraction, and it really wasn’t that much different. But overall I enjoyed being in the tub. I think I stayed in the tub for an hour or so before deciding it was just too hot in there, so I got out and went back to the bed. While I was lying in bed, Rose came to me to talk. She was concerned about my progress…at that point they had no idea how far I had progressed. They could tell something was happening, but didn’t know if I had an extremely low pain tolerance and was closer to 2cm dilated, or perhaps I had a really high pain tolerance and was really close to a 10. They said Dad and the hypnosis was clearly helping me, enough to confuse them about what was actually happening with me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know or not, because I would be so frustrated if I was still less than 5 cm dilated. (Because GBS, part of my plan was to not be checked unless absolutely necessary…foreign objects like midwives’ fingers would potentially introduce the GBS to the amniotic fluid.) But finally I told her to go ahead and check me — and I was about 8cm dilated! She was actually quite surprised. And it turns out my water hadn’t broken after all! The fluid I had seen this morning could have been a leak, or could have been some other discharge that’s relatively normal in late pregnancy. After this news I got back in the tub to continue laboring. I really can’t remember much of this time, only that I HAD to have Dad next to me for each and every contraction. Once when a contraction was starting, I looked up and saw him on the phone. My pain level skyrocketed and I basically begged him to put it down and get over to me. Poor guy, he was just trying to respond to the many text messages we’d gotten that day. (And really, my poor family! I had texted them about the water breaking, but never sent another message all day. They had no idea what was happening that whole time!) I can’t stress enough how important it was for me to have Dad there during each contraction. I honestly can’t remember a word he said now, but I can remember how much I needed him there. When the midwives came in he wouldn’t talk but would be present by my side…but at least twice I said to him “Talk to me!” during a contraction. And so from then on he did, regardless of who was in the room or what they were saying. All through this, Dana kept bringing the doppler to hear the baby’s heartbeat. I got progressively more and more annoyed with her, because it was always a challenge to hear his heartbeat. We had been using a fetoscope instead of the doppler at all previous appointments, but this time I told her to just use the doppler and get out as quickly as possible. Thankfully he had a strong heartbeat through the whole delivery. Toward the end of active labor I started saying things like “Let’s just stay pregnant,” or “I changed my mind, let’s not do this.” As the baby’s head started to descend, I felt immense pressure down there, and started shouting “I feel like my butt is going to explode!” And then finally I begged “I can do this right? Tell me I can do this!” That was the transition my midwives were looking for, and when pushing was about to begin. I did not push, but felt my body take over and begin to push. It was not pleasant, but a huge wave that took over my whole body to push him down and eventually out. I began shouting at this point, and Dana kept reminding me to use low tones as my pitch would rise. I tried my hardest to keep to a low moan, but usually I was making high-pitch shouts. I remember thinking about the kids that lived in the house behind the birth center — worried I would give them bad dreams. My midwives assured me later that I was not actually that loud, and the kids were totally used to hearing all sorts of things from the birth center. At one point I opened my eyes enough to look around. I saw Dad on the edge of the tub, in ready position to stroke my hair or give me water, and all three midwives were sitting on the floor, just watching. The light was dim and we were all hushed…it felt almost magical. I knew, from the way everyone was quietly sitting around watching, that everything was ok, and this was a beautiful thing we were doing. Slowly but surely, he descended, up and over my pelvis, and eventually to my perineum. Though I was told it was only about three inches down the birth canal, that was a long three inches! I had heard of the dreaded “ring of fire” when his head pushes through the perineum, but I was nothing but excited to feel it — it meant he was almost here! In fact, I remember shouting, “I feel it, the ring of fire! Yes!!” The midwives were so impressed when my cries changed from “No no no” during contractions to “Yes yes yes!” during the pushing. Then the head began to emerge, and I could hear Dad shouting “I see the head!” Oh, I was so excited to see the baby, and so excited to be done with the delivery. But his head would come forward, and then back again, and on and on. It was so frustrating to be able to push it part way out and then it would go back again. I remember trying to push him out more in between contractions, but that did absolutely nothing. It really is amazing how my body just completely took over. I did not do anything, it was all the body. Finally, FINALLY, his head popped out. Rose twisted him around and checked for the cord around the neck (which did NOT feel good), and we waited for the next contraction. I can’t imagine what it looked like to have a tiny head sticking out of me like that! Finally, I felt a contraction come on, and within a few seconds he popped right out! Well, something popped, which turned out to be me to a small extent. Needed two stitches for that… At 1:26 am, July 12th, 2014, Dad caught the baby in the water and lifted him onto my belly. Oh what a crazy exciting feeling! I can’t even describe the elation I felt at that point. The babe on my belly was looking around, completely calm, but completely healthy. So big, bright eyed, I couldn’t believe we had created something so amazing. Dad was so quick to put the baby on me that we had no idea what we had — boy or girl?!? Eventually I worked up the nerve to pick up the baby and find out what we had (though I was certain it would be a girl). But no, right away I could see we had a boy! I kept shouting “A boy!! We have a boy!!”

Hypnobirthing Baby in Oregon

-EK, Jefferson