I am beginning to write Claire’s birth story at 7 weeks and 3 days after it occurred. I’ve had it on my list for weeks to document the details, but with a newborn and a toddler its more challenging (in all the best ways) to find time to sit down to blog for pleasure.
In the months and weeks leading up to Claire’s birth I found myself replaying Marie’s birth over and over in my head, wondering what I could have done differently to have had a better outcome. I did not feel supported by the OB that assisted in the birth of Marie (I now realize this was the biggest issue in me feeling dissatisfied with the outcome) and I felt that my body underwent an excessive amount of stress due to a third degree tear that maybe possibly could have been avoided had the birthing team listened to some of my requests. That being said, I knew that I was going to have a doula present at Claire’s birth, I did pelvic floor physical therapy leading up to the birthing day, worked with a chiropractor, and was very intentional with my workouts making sure to work with someone who specialized in prenatal fitness.
All of this was very different than my physical preparation for Marie’s birth. Prior to having Marie, I completed my regular workouts with some modifications for pregnancy (which probably did a number on my pelvic floor), and because of the uncertainty surrounding the start of the global pandemic my labor doula was only able to support us virtually.
For both births, I used hypnobabies as a tool to stay as calm and mentally strong as possible during the birthing time. I also had an epidural with both births, but I still feel like I benefited greatly from the mental clarity I was able to achieve by using hypnobabies’ self hypnosis techniques.
I feel like Marie’s birth and Claire’s birth were night and day! After Marie’s birth I felt unsupported and frustrated, after Claire’s birth I felt empowered and so happy with the end result. Leading up to Claire’s birth, there were two things on my mind that I think really helped with her birthing experience.
First, I was really hoping that the physician that assisted in Marie’s birth would NOT be on call when I went into labor. I hadn’t seen her since my six week follow up appointment after Marie’s birth and didn’t really want to see her again. As fate would have it, due to a schedule change, I ended up having her for a prenatal checkup about a month before Claire was born. While I was in that appointment, I tactfully informed her about my less than stellar experience by using specific examples such as I not wanting pitocin at all and wanting to start as low as possible on pitocin if necessary and they started me at a much higher dose, I wanted to change pushing positions after making zero progress with three hours of pushing and she wouldn’t let me, and because we ultimately needed to use a vacuum to have Marie the NICU team whisked Marie away for quite some time and we were not informed this was going to happen so we couldn’t do immediate skin to skin (when the NICU team had Marie we had to continually ask what was going on and still received minimal information). After explaining these things to her, she apologized and did not get defensive in any way, which I appreciated. It felt very empowering to have a conversation with her about this. I was so happy to get all of this off my chest and clear the air!
The second thing was that when I practiced my self-hypnosis I visualized and thought about my body going through the labor process all on its own (which was not the case last time). In the hypnobabies training they say “that which you dwell upon most will come to pass.” So, I think that me putting energy and thought into my labor journey possibly helped my body do what it needed to do (who really knows!!).
With Marie, I wanted my water to break so I would know it was birthing time, but this time I did NOT want it to break because I knew that without my water breaking would leave me with more options and allow me to labor at home for as long as I wanted.
Claire’s guess date was Wednesday, September 22, and while I didn’t have any work projects taking up mental space, I had committed to singing at a dear friend’s wedding on Saturday, September 18. I was able to sing at the wedding with no pregnancy issues and I am so thankful for that!!
Sunday, September 19 I woke up feeling pretty good and a little more energetic than usual. Throughout this entire pregnancy, I felt extremely exhausted, nauseas (and had to take zofran to stop vomiting), and just overall pretty crummy. Any energy I had was dedicated to Marie. Even so, looking back at this summer I was not my fun, energetic self and I am a little sad about that for Marie. Waking up Sunday with a little energy was a really nice change! Brian and I decided we would do what we could to try to naturally get this birthing process started. We went on a long walk that morning, and then I came home and listened to the hypnobabies track “Come Out Baby”, which is a track used to start birthing. Because I was at 39 weeks and 4 days, Claire was full term and it was safe for her to come at any time. We then ordered spicy Chipotle for lunch, which was the same thing I had right before my water broke with Marie. We went on another walk in the afternoon and I bounced on the birthing ball quite a bit.
We went through the entire day, and we were laying in bed at around 7:30pm watching TV. We had just put Marie to bed and after such an active day, I was ready to relax. As we were watching TV, I noticed my stomach starting to tighten in the lower area and started to make note of what was happening. I casually checked my phone whenever I felt it tighten again and made an actual note in my phone saying “Sept 19, tightening of stomach started around 7:30pm every 5-7 minutes.” I wasn’t sure if these were Braxton Hicks contractions or if it was just Claire moving, but it seemed like it may be something more. That being said, I did not mention it to Brian because I wanted him to get as much rest as possible just in case this was the real deal.
I fell asleep around 8:30pm and woke again around 12:30am feeling more of the stomach tightening and I had some loose stools. I laid in bed and watched the clock as I made note of the contractions happening every 5-7 minutes and decided it was time to notify our doula and Brian. Things were very manageable at this point and I wanted to rest as much as possible because I know how physically taxing having a baby is. I told Brian at around 1am and we both didn’t really get any sleep after that! Thank goodness we went to bed early.
Around 1am we made a game plan with our doula and she suggested we call the hospital to notify them that we were going to be coming in at some point. When we were talking with the physician on call, Brian asked what he should literally do right then. Things seemed very calm, I was resting in bed listening to hypnobabies and trying to sleep (although sleep wasn’t really happening because I was pretty excited), and based on our last birth experience we thought this is what our day would look like for the next 12-24 hours. The physician we spoke with on the phone recommended that while things were calm, Brian put our bags in the car and make sure everything was ready to go. This also meant, calling Brian’s parents to come over to care for Marie. Thankfully, I made a list of “things to do on birthing day” so Brian could make sure everything was taken care of without having to ask me too many questions.
From 1:30am until 3:30am I was timing my contractions with an app called Full Term and they were all around 5-6 minutes apart and 1 minute long.
Around 3:30am it started to get harder for me to get comfortable and I noticed that if I got up to go to the bathroom, the sensation of the contraction intensified (my doula assured me that this was normal). My doula suggested that I take a bath and try to find comfort that way, so Brian got the bathtub ready complete with candles to keep the lights dim and create ambiance. I continued to listen to hypnobabies to stay calm and I also continued to record the timing of my contractions. I got into the bath around 4am and the contractions started to get much closer together. Some were 2 and 3 minutes apart, but I still felt like I had things under control. It was just hard to get comfortable. Our doula then suggested taking a shower (I felt like my belly was barely covered by water in the bath tub!), so I had Brian help me get a shower going. As we were heading to the shower, I suddenly felt very sick. Thankfully, Brian was able to grab a garbage can for me, so I could also sit on the toilet because I also felt like I had to use the restroom. I started to get very sick and when I went to wipe after using the restroom, it was bloody (this article explains a little more about bloody show). Things escalated quickly here and I told Brian to skip the shower, we needed to head to the hospital!
I threw on the first clothes I could find in my closet along with some slide on sandals and we were out the door as quickly as we could be. We left the house around 5am in the dark and pouring rain. The car ride was extremely uncomfortable and literally felt like it took forever, when in reality it took less than 15 minutes. Up until this point, I was considering not having an epidural but while I was in the car I texted our doula that I was pretty sure I wanted one. She reminded me that the car was the LEAST comfortable place to labor in, so I tried to keep that in mind.
We got to the hospital around 5:15am and Brian was so panicked he drove to the wrong entrance. When we had Marie, we were supposed to enter the hospital in a different area from the spot for birthing mothers because of COVID protocols, but this time we were supposed to enter near the labor and delivery wing and he forgot (completely understandable). We finally got to the correct door, and Brian just left the car under the awning at the door as we got ourselves inside as quickly as possible. Our doula was also on her way to the hospital to begin supporting us in person.
When we got inside the hospital, there was almost no one to be found because it was so early in the morning, so Brian wasn’t quite sure where to go to find the labor and delivery triage (we never had a hospital tour because of COVID and flu season before Marie was born and everything was different this time because they changed COVID protocols). This entire time, I was either in the car or in the wheel chair just closing my eyes and listening to my hypnosis tracks trying to stay as relaxed as possible. Things were starting to feel pretty intense.
When we got into the triage area, the nurses could tell just by looking at me that this was in fact our birthing time but they needed to check me to see how far I had progressed. Thankfully, I was 5.5 centimeters dilated! Over halfway there!
We got into our room, and shortly after we got settled our doula arrived. She was able to give me physical support to help with the discomfort, and I also decided I was getting an epidural. I was so thankful that our doula was there because she was able to remind me of things I had told her were important to me (when you are in the midst of labor it’s hard to remember all of those details on your own!). It felt like I had to wait forever for the anesthesiologist to arrive and give me an epidural (after looking at the time stamp on photos I think I waited just under an hour), and I’m sure the wait is probably a typical amount of time. Once that was taken care of, I was able to relax a little bit more and get into some different positions to help Claire move down lower in the birth canal. Even with the epidural, I was able to move my lower body, feel contractions and lift my hips up and down as needed. It was just enough to take the edge off.
Once we were in the delivery room, everything seemed to go really fast! I was very much in my own world and not paying attention to too many details happening in the room, but at one point Brian said he was going to go move the car to a proper parking spot. While he was gone to complete this task, the doctor came in and said she wanted to break my bag of waters (the doula reminded her to ASK me if it was ok to break my water) and I asked that they wait until my husband was there. When they did break my water, there was some meconium (baby’s first poop) in the water and I thought the doctor did a great job of explaining that meant the NICU team would be present for the birth because of this. It ended up being no big deal, but I was glad they explained what was going to happen. At another point after things had calmed down and I was resting, our doula left to go get a coffee for her and Brian. And in my memory (which maybe isn’t that accurate!) it seems like shortly after she returned we started pushing to have the baby. I want point out that Brian and our doula both left because it felt like things were calm and we were going to be hanging out for a while, but as soon as I started the practice pushes they said it was time for the real pushes and they predicted things would be moving fast.
I used a mirror this time to see what was happening during Claire’s birth, which I did not do with Marie, and while it seems like a weird thing to do, it really did help me see where to focus when pushing. I started pushing at 8:46am and after 3 rounds of pushing Claire was born at 9:01am! I couldn’t (and still can’t!) believe how FAST it all happened, especially compared to Marie’s birth (which was over 24 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing).
Another happy surprise was that they were able to immediately put Claire right on my chest. They took her for maybe a minute to have the NICU give her a quick check, but she was back on my chest in no time and we were able to lay there together for what seemed like forever. It was wonderful, but as we were enjoying this time we realized that we missed out on this part with Marie. I thought I had a lot of skin to skin time with Marie right after birth, but comparing it to Claire it seems like I had minimal skin to skin time with Marie because the NICU team took a long time to check her after being vacuumed out.
After the birth when the nurses gave me a fundal massage, I had a little more bleeding than the nurses and doctors like to see, so they gave me pitocin to help with this (I was thankful to only need pitocin for the birth of the placenta and to stop the bleeding). This caused some nausea and vomiting as we transferred down to our postpartum care room, but that thankfully went away by the afternoon. I learned my lesson after Marie’s birth and took the pain medication recommended for me and continued to take it very easy by having Brian and the nurses hand me Claire when she needed to eat or when I wanted to cuddle and do skin to skin time. With Marie’s birth, I had a third degree tear and with Claire’s birth I had a second degree tear and the recovery from the second degree tear has been much faster and so much easier. I was still very cautious with the amount of activity I completed (including picking up Marie), but by about 5 weeks after the birth I was able to go on normal distance walks at a pretty normal pace. Thank goodness! We love going on family walks.
Being a mother of two under two is no joke! We had Brian’s mom, my mom, and my sister come help us for about the first month after Claire joined the family and I am so thankful for that! Marie was 17 months old when Claire was born and full of energy. Because we had family with us to help prepare meals and give Marie a ton of love and attention, it made the transition to a family of four relatively smooth. I have so much respect for all of the other mothers out there! This is no easy job.
I am so thankful that I had such a healing birth experience this time, because I know that not everyone gets that opportunity.
Just like I did with Marie, I am taking an extended maternity leave, and plan to come back to regular posting and other projects in the spring. I don’t have any scheduled posts this time, but as I have free time I plan on sharing posts like the details of Claire’s nursery and some of our favorite spots to purchase baby girl clothes (due to many requests!). Right now, I am trying to soak up all of the newborn love from Claire and be the best mom to Marie and Claire as I possibly can.