Wyatt’s arrival: a birth story

On Thursday, October 22, I had my 41 week OB appointment. I was 2-3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. We discussed the possibility of induction and I was added to the list for Sunday, October 25 if I didn’t go into labour on my own before then. The OB did another membrane sweep. Immediately after I noticed less spotting compared to previous sweeps and just assumed it didn’t work. A few hours later, I had some cramping but also didn’t read into it as I’d had it on and off over the previous 2 weeks.

Mike and I went for a walk that night, but I cut it short compared to our usual route. I was feeling extra tired and wanted to go to bed early. As I went to sleep, I noticed an increase in cramping and hoped it would turn into real labour.

Throughout the night, I woke up to contractions. At 4am, I decided to start timing them and they were about 10 minutes apart. I got up to pee at 4:30am and my water broke. I woke Mike up and cleaned up the mess. Let’s just say I had one of those stereotypical water breaking moments. It was EVERYWHERE. In fact, it continued to gush/flow throughout the entire morning. As my contractions grew in strength and timing, I moved to the living room to my birth ball. At one point, I stood up and had another massive flow. Mike just stood there staring which made me laugh. I told him to get some towels. Before we left for the hospital, I had already soaked through 3 pairs of panties and 2 pairs of pants. I decided to wear a skirt and put a towel on the seat of the car.

We left for the hospital around 7:20 am. My contractions were about 3.5-4 minutes apart. On the drive to the hospital, they decreased in intensity and timing – averaging about 6-7 minutes apart. In triage on Labour and Delivery, they offered me the option of going home and seeing if they increased, or being admitted. I didn’t want to risk the chance of something happening at home, so we opted to stay. My OB was in agreement with our choice.

Our doula met us at the hospital and we were moved into our labour and delivery room. Throughout the morning, my contractions followed an inconsistent pattern. Sometimes they were 4 minutes apart, other times 8 minutes apart. I found more consistency if I maintained standing or walking positions. I alternated between pacing the room and bouncing/rotating on the birthing ball.

Up until this point, I had been labouring without pain medication using a combination of breathing techniques and visualizations. This was the most magical part of my birth story. Each time I experienced a strong contraction, I took myself to my “happy place” in my mind’s eye. While there, I was greeted by my children and our animals. With each new contraction, we engaged in a new activity – chasing butterflies in the meadow, watching waves roll in on the beach, climbing a big Oak tree, chasing the dogs through the field. With each contraction, I knew I that I would make it through it. I knew there was something special waiting for me. I knew my children would encourage me to get through it, “Come on Mom! You can do it! Let’s get another butterfly“. So far, labour wasn’t pain-free but it was manageable. I just took it one contraction at a time.

My OB decided to let me labour on my own and didn’t check me until early afternoon. At that point, I was only 3-4 cms dilated. They decided to give me another 2 hours before my next check which would be close to 10 hours after my membranes had ruptured.

2 hours later, I had only progressed to 4 cm. My labour nurse forewarned me that my OB was going to suggest an augment – the pitocin drip – due to the length of time it had been since my water broke and the fact that my contractions were moving further apart rather than closer together. They kept reiterating the fact that there was a risk of infection the longer we wait. Even though my preference was to have a natural birth, my husband and I agreed to the drip. We had already been at it for almost 12 hours and hoped it would bring our son to us sooner.

Every thing they say about induction contractions being 100x worse than regular labour contractions is completely true. Within minutes, the intensity and timing had increased. I lost my ability to get to my happy place. I moved into the tub hoping the warm water would help. My husband held my hand as I moaned and breathed through each contraction. The natural flow of labour was lost. It was forced, it was fast and it wasn’t pleasant.

I got out of the tub and moved to the bed. At that point, I starting asking how long I had to make a decision on pain meds. I decided to try the gas and air, but it didn’t work for me. My exhales were too forceful for the hose and it felt like I couldn’t use my breathing to get through it. I made it 14 hours without pain medication before deciding to get an epidural. My doula and my husband ensured me that the deviation from my preferences was well warranted. I still used hypnobirthing for most of my labour. I had always said I would be open to alternate choices if my birth experience required it.

The epidural offered much needed relief. At first, I still had quite a bit of pain on the right side. They had me lay on my right for a while until it dispersed enough that each contraction was numb. My nurse did another check and I was about 5-6 cms dilated around 7pm. When I was labouring without pain meds, I was really inside myself – quiet and calm. With the epidural, I finally felt like myself again. I was talking, attentive and asking lots of questions of my nurse.

She did another check around 9pm and I had rapidly progressed to 9 cm dilated. She said there was only a small ridge left and she suggested we do some practise pushing to see if we could move it. I found pushing to be difficult. When you can’t feel much in your pelvis, it’s bizarre to be told where and how to push. We decided to take a bit of a break and I managed to nap for almost an hour.

Following that, the nurse suggested I relieve my bladder. I had been peeing consistently between contractions all afternoon, but had yet to go since the epidural. I was not able to get anything to come out, so they decided to use a catheter on me. Turns out baby’s head was blocking ability to pee. It took two nurses and multiple attempts to even get the catheter in.

Around 11:30pm, I was 10 cm dilated and it was time to officially start pushing. Over the next 3 hours, I tried a variety of pushing positions, but our little guy was not progressing much. He seemed to be suck at station +2. I did experience some back labour pains even with the epidural. At one point, he was crooked and facing into the right side of my pelvis. We changed positions and they thought he moved into sunny side up. Once again, I changed positions in an attempt to get him in the right position. We succeeded both times, but he still wouldn’t come farther down in the birth canal.

The charge nurse came in and explained that we needed to use additional intervention. I was getting close to 24 hours since my membranes ruptured increasing the risk of infection again. Also, with the amount of pushing I had been doing, I was at risk of haemorrhaging. My OB was doing a c-section but once he was done, we would be proceeding with a forceps delivery. At this point, my husband and I were in agreement as we just wanted our baby boy in our arms safely. We thought a vaginal delivery with intervention would be a better option than a c-section. In fact, a c-section wasn’t even discussed. Throughout the entire labour, our little man had a consistent heart rate. The nurses kept joking that he was happy and comfortable in there. He made us laugh each time they did a check as he squirmed and kicked me.

Once the OB was ready, it was go time. He instructed me to continue pushing through contractions while he pulled with the forceps. He made a small episiotomy incision to help with the forceps. It took 3 big yanks for our not-so-little man to join us. He arrived calm and content requiring some vigorous rubbing before he let out his first cry. He also peed and pooped on his Momma immediately after they put him on my chest. He squirmed and gnawed at his hands as if he was already hungry. We did skin to skin on my chest for an hour before the nurse took his vitals and weighed him.

Wyatt Linden John Bast arrived at 2:47 am on October 24, 2015. He was 21 inches long and weighed 9 lbs.

We were moved to the mother baby unit to settle in for the night – 26 hours after my labour had begun. It was a long, yet rewarding day.

Was it close to the ideal labour I envisioned? No, yet it contained elements of what I desired. I used hypnobirthing. I had my husband’s constant support, along with that of my doula and my amazing nurses.  I felt like we made educated decisions when required. Basically, the lesson learned is that you can be aware of your birth preferences, but you can never control the outcome. In retrospect, I do wonder if we had returned home if things would have been different. Each time a medical intervention was mentioned earlier in labour, it seemed to affect the regularity of my contractions. I progressed very fast once I had the epidural and was able to relax again. This is very interesting if you think about the mind-body connection during the labouring process.

Overall, I think my birth story turned out exactly as it was meant to. I learned to trust in the process and my medical providers. Most of all, we attained our goal: a healthy Momma (minus some tears and swelling) and a beautiful healthy baby boy.

There is only one way to describe the moment you meet your child for the first time: surreal. I found myself crying yesterday morning – tears of joy. I can’t believe he’s here. He’s finally arrived. Our miracle rainbow unicorn. I love my baby so much ❤

Prenatal class fail

We took hypnobirthing classes back before the summer, but we also registered for a prenatal class that our local health region puts on. I originally just wanted to take their breastfeeding class, but they had recently combined it into one program. Another perk was that your partner would be able to get the Tdap vaccine at the class.

Our class was scheduled to run from 6:30-8:30pm tonight and 10:00 am – 4:00 pm tomorrow.

Let’s just say…. we won’t be going back tomorrow. :/

Tonight we focused on how to know when you are in labour and labour coping techniques. A lot of the course content contradicted what we learned in hypnobirthing (i.e. hold your breath to push vs. using your breath to move the baby down). There were also inconsistencies between what the instructor said, what the book said and what was shown in the videos. I was also surprised that the course manual was borrowed from another province!

I feel like the Western medicine’s (or maybe it’s just my old school province) approach to birthing is definitely fear-based. The word “pain” was used quite frequently.

The instructor also made one comment that completely shocked me. She was taking about pre-term labour and how some infants would need a shot to help their lungs develop if they are born too soon. She said the majority of infants will do fine, but some could die. SAY WHAT!?!?!  She could have at least backed this up with the reassurance that the survival rate is between 90-95% for babies that arrive between 28-34 weeks. But nope, she didn’t.

I will give the instructor credit for being inclusive. All of tonight’s course participants were male-female couples, but she used the term “birth coach” instead of “Daddy”. She also did encourage women to trust that their bodies know what to do.

We also discovered that they recently (as in sometime in the past month) stopped giving the birth partner their vaccinations at the course. This contradicted the registration form that we received which asked for my husband’s health card number and whether or not he would be receiving the vaccine. Now, we have to call the Health Region to schedule another appointment.

Tomorrow’s topics are pain management, breastfeeding and taking baby home. Since we already have our birth preferences defined and took a taking baby home class through hypnobirthing, we’ve opted to ditch the course. I have a good friend who is a nurse. She has offered to give me additional breast feeding support if it’s needed beyond our hospital stay. Or else, I’ll go to a breastfeeding clinic or call a Lactation Consultant.

Overall, that prenatal class was an epic fail. If we hadn’t taken hypnobirthing and had very minimal knowledge of birthing practises, it would have offered some value. We were just beyond it and the material didn’t align with our values.

In the end, I would have been better off scheduling my husband in for his immunization and spending my 2 hours at home tonight continuing my nesting.

My experience with Hypnobirthing classes

Last week, we finished our hypnobirthing classes. I wrote about our 1st hypnobirthing class, but this covers my overall experience with the course. It was a 5-class series (one night a week for 2.5 hours) followed by an optional 6th class on bringing baby home.

What is the focus of hypnobirthing? 

The focus of hypnobirthing is empowering women to have positive birthing experiences: The course focuses on teaching hypnosis, visualization, breathing and deep relaxation techniques to use during birth. Women are encouraged to trust the natural movement of labour and the power of their female bodies. The birthing partner is taught ways to offer support during labour on both emotional and physical levels.

What were the classes like? 

Each class started off with a check-in. The instructor asked each couple to speak about their experience completing last week’s homework.

Following that, we watched 2 hypnobirthing videos.

Then, the instructor walked us through the concept we were covering that week. We wrapped each class up with a visualization or deep relaxation exercise – done individually or as a couple.

What materials came with the class?  

Did I enjoy my experience? 

Overall, I would say hypnobirthing was a very positive experience for both my husband and I.

Going into the class, I had a ton of fears around my pregnancy and brining my son into this world. Being a rainbow pregnancy, I was scared of what could go wrong. One class actually focused on releasing any fears associated with pregnancy and labour which was a much needed experience for me.

My husband definitely got more out of the visualisation and deep relaxation techniques than I did. I enjoyed being able to share this side of my world with him though. I have a lot of previous experience with subconscious release techniques, energy healing and intuition. I found this part of the class was super easy for me. For most of the participants, it was all new.

Each week, we went home with a set of relaxation techniques to practise as a couple. Although I found the concept of homework to be overwhelming as it was a busy time of the year for us, it was nice to connect on an intimate (yet non-sexual) level.

The last class was the most interesting for me. During this class, we focused on labour end-to-end and discussed how each technique we had learned fit into the overall birthing process. It was also helpful to discuss options for less intervention during birth... which is something I will be discussing with my doula tonight when we meet to discuss our birth preferences.

How was this experience like as woman who has experienced infertility and pregnancy loss? 

I found I stood out in the class, but that may have been more of my personality. I tend to be open and vocal, but I started sharing less when I realized not many people “got” what I was saying.

I definitely had the most fears out of the entire class. As far as I know, no one else dealt with infertility, IVF or pregnancy loss. I had initially thought 2 other women did IVF, but I ended up being wrong. 

At times, I did feel like some issues/concepts were trigger points for me. Realizing this helped me to understand that I will always be triggered in my life. Just because we are expecting does not mean that everything we have experienced to get here has gone away.

Overall, I feel like the concepts I learned in hypnobirthing meld nicely with the concepts I learned in my Yoga Goddess program. There is so much that can be said for relaxation and mind-body healing.

What was my biggest takeaway? 

My biggest takeaway was realizing how empowering birth can be. I found it fascinating how fear impacts the natural labour movements of the body and how with mind-body focus, a woman can actually have an enjoyable birthing experience. Using hypnobirthing does not mean that there is no pain. Hypnobirthing gives a woman techniques to better focus, relax and let her body go through the natural rhythms of labour that it was designed to do.

Do I plan to use hypnobirthing during my labour? 

I definitely plan to use hypnobirthing during my labour. Even if we require medical intervention, I know that hypnobirthing has given me a tool set that I can use leading up to labour, during labour and even after. It also makes me feel reassured that my husband will be a strong support for me.

I can’t wait to let you know how it all works out for us in the end. 🙂

Our 1st hypnobirthing class

Last night, we attended our 1st hypnobirthing class with 6 other couples. I was surprised to find out that 2 other couples also did IVF. This made me feel reassured that some of my fears/worries about birth may be understood better. I’m still curious to know if there are any other pregnancy loss couples in the class though.

Right now, I feel way too advanced. I regularly practise breathing, meditation and visualization exercises – essentially, what hypnobirthing is based on. Most of the people there were total newbies who didn’t even know what hypnotherapy is. Although this shocked me, I can appreciate the fact that they are looking into alternative birthing options.

The instructor used different terminology than what is commonly used in the energy healing and spirituality communities (i.e. use your imagination over use your 3rd eye). I get why she did this to appeal to those who may be skeptic or unfamiliar, but it was weird for me. My husband seemed to really resonate with her approach. I’m glad that this course is showing my husband what I’m into in a less “woo-woo” environment. 🙂

The first class was super basic. We covered what hypnobirthing is, the history of birth and why our culture focuses on pain/fear. We also did one breathing and one visualization exercise. The night ended with watching some videos of women giving birth using the techniques taught in the class. My husband didn’t cringe at the sight of a baby exiting the vagina, so that has got to be a good thing!

Overall, I’m looking forward to seeing what we learn and take away with us over the next 6 weeks. I’m especially interested to see how this class affects my husband. I hired a doula as I know he can be high-strung and/or shut down during stressful situations. I hope that he embraces the techniques offered to him and surprises me during our birth. I already know this will happen though as he continuously surprises me with his strength and support on this journey.

Combatting nausea and realizing fears

I finally got my Zofran refilled by my GP. Seeing her was a bit ironic as my OB is her Dad! She was super excited for us though. She gave me a 1 year refill (knowing I won’t need that much) and also one for Ranitidine (Zantac) to curb my heartburn. If you have the prescription, you can get it covered by your benefits instead of buying it over the counter.

So far, I’m feeling much better. I tried to skip my night time dose last night, but that proved to be a wrong decision. Things seem to work well if I take 1 pill at night and 1 pill at noon. I’ve realized that I need to stop being so stubborn and take the damn meds. I need some quality of life during this pregnancy. Self-care is important and in this case, taking the meds is caring for myself. This whole medicated versus natural debate keeps coming up in my life though.

In two weeks, my husband and I are starting hypnobirthing classes. I’ve always desired to have a natural birth. Although, I am open to an alternate birth plan if complications arise.

Last night, I had a bath and began to read the Hypnobirthing manual. A few chapters in, I realized that I have SO MUCH FEAR around medical intervention during birth. I have heard many stories lately about full episiotomies, vaccums, foreceps, etc. It almost seems more traumatizing when they intervene while a mother is trying to have a vaginal birth versus simply wheeling you in for a c-section.

I find this fear to be ironic as clearly medical intervention has been a good thing for us. Without it, we would not have conceived our children. As a mother who has experienced pregnancy loss, medical intervention also eases my worries. Every ultrasound and OB appointment gives me validation that my baby is ok.

Still, I long for some control on this journey. I desire one thing to go as I planned… Perhaps that’s the issue? Do I need to let go of ALL need to control?

Either way, I don’t have the answer. I hope to work through it and get to the root cause as we prepare for baby’s arrival.

I’m officially 16 weeks today. 🙂 ❤

Planning for pregnancy, delivery and beyond

As I am quickly approaching 12 weeks, I have the urge to sort out some pregnancy preparations.

In the past week, I’ve accomplished the following:

Registered for hypnobirthing

I’ve always wanted to take hypnobirthing as I hope to achieve a natural childbirth. I registered my husband and I for a local session running from mid-May to mid-June.

I’m also really looking forward to using this session as a chance to connect deeper with my baby and myself. I’ve been a bit “out of tune” since our loss. I’m gradually working on getting back to my regular meditation routine.

Found an amazing doula!

We met last night for tea and had lots in common – reiki, cards, birthing views, etc. I sent her an email this evening letting her know we are interested in hiring her. I hope she works out. 🙂

She is working on her placenta encapsulation certification. I’m hoping to be one of the first ones she does this Fall.

I’m also interested in getting her for a Blessingway ceremony. I have a large group of intuitive/spiritual friends. I feel like this ceremony is much more “me” than a traditional baby shower (although I assume I will end up having both).

Started researching newborn photographers

WOW! I am seriously grateful for the friends who did our wedding photography. They were amazing and charged me way under fair market value. Ever since then, I’ve struggled with the cost of professional photography. My husband feels that the cost is worth it for capturing priceless memories of our newborn baby.

We looked through a few local newborn photographers to chose the style of photography we prefer. Right now, we are leaning towards studio shots with posed newborn (as opposed to family shots or natural light photography). We’ll see if we have it in the budget to pull it off. Right now, the estimate is looking at anywhere between $600-1000 depending on which photographer we choose. YIKES! 

I don’t think we will finalize this decision until after we have budgeted for baby necessities (crib, stroller, etc…).

Next up on my list is to look into: 

Additional child birth preparation classes. There are a few others offered in our region besides hypnobirthing. For those of you who have taken additional classes, would you recommend them? I’m so confused as to whether or not they are necessary since we are already taking hypnobirthing and will have a doula.

Setting a budget. Living in Canada means I have the benefit of a year-long maternity leave. However, I do not have any employer top-up. Living off the max Employment Insurance (EI) amount will be a huge financial strain for us – especially since I make more money than my husband does and we’ve spent our savings on IVF. We have a savings goal we hope to obtain before baby comes, but I also need to figure out how much we will need to spend to prepare for baby. I need to weigh the necessities vs. the nice to haves. I pre-ordered the 2015 Baby Bargains book and hope this may help with some decisions. Thanks My Perfect Breakdown for the recommendation. 🙂  I haven’t done much in terms of baby shopping. I’m really holding off on nursery planning until we have confirmation that our baby is a boy.

Child care. Originally, my husband and I thought we would split the leave with 6 months each. We didn’t time this pregnancy very well (which is ironic because we totally timed it!). If I were to only take 6 months, I’d return to work right at the start of farming season which would leave 2-3 months of additional required child-care while my husband is at the farm. It doesn’t make sense to do that, so I’ll most likely take the full year off. Either way, we will have to secure child-care for when I return to work in Fall 2016. Sometimes, you need to get yourself on a wait list months ahead of time. I’d like to look into my options now – private daycare vs. public daycare vs. daytime nanny.

If you have any advice on any of the above mentioned items, I’d love to hear it!