My pressure waves began around 11:30 on Sunday morning. I casually mentioned it to Dan, not wanting to get my hopes up too much, although I had been walking a lot to try to move him down so I could avoid the induction my doctor had scheduled for me on Tuesday night. We went to lunch at friend’s house after church, and I rested that afternoon, as the pressure waves continued to come every 15 minutes. By evening services, they were coming every ten minutes. I timed them all through services on a contraction timer program on Dan’s iPod, but had to flip it over every time we stood up to sing a song because I didn’t want a certain person sitting behind me to notice what I was doing and get too excited. Dan’s parents were coming through Columbia on their way back to Chicago from Texas and we met them at their hotel after services. We went out to dinner at Olive Garden. By then, the waves were coming every five minutes. We didn’t tell his parents about it and made plans to have breakfast together at Cracker Barrel before they left town. Dan and I contemplated going to OB triage because the waves were every five minutes, lasting about 90 seconds each, and had been doing this for over two hours. I decided instead to try to get some sleep and to continue listening to Hypnobabies tracks on my iPod.
I woke up for almost every wave on Sunday night, although I didn’t consider them to be painful. Part of my Hypnobabies training was to train my mind that they were not painful but just pressure (hence the term pressure waves). It worked, and I wasn’t in pain, but I did feel the pressure. I moved around the house all night long. I would listen to my affirmation track in bed, then I would get up and go to the rocking chair to listen to another, then to the recliner, the birthing ball, etc. I tried to stay hydrated and change positions every hour. I even snacked in the middle of the night because I knew giving birth would be hard work and they wouldn’t let me eat anything in the hospital before he was born. When Dan’s alarm went off at 0700, I told him I wanted to go to OB triage to get checked, even if I wasn’t ready to stay because his parents would need to stay in town if Silas was going to be born soon.
We checked into triage at 0730. I was not able keep my iPod on the whole time because there was just too much going on, but now that I think about it, I think I had turned my light switch to center, allowing me to continue in hypnosis with my eyes open. I maintained my focus and the waves continued to feel like only pressure. The resident came and checked me and I was at 3cm and 90%. He suggested I take a walk around the hospital for at least an hour and come back. I put on the hospital gown and matching robe and we walked laps around the hospital. Unfortunately, Columbia Regional isn’t a very big hospital, so there wasn’t much to see. After an hour, we went back to triage to be checked, but I hadn’t changed, so we went home. You have to either be five centimeters dilated or have broken your water to be considered in active birthing time and to be admitted. The nurse was very nice and she said, “I’m sure you’ll be back to have that baby later today.”
We called Dan’s parents and told them we wouldn’t be at breakfast, but they should stay in town because we would probably have the baby within the next 24 hours. We went home and I went back into deep hypnosis. I don’t remember much about Monday. I think I spent most of it in my bedroom with the lights down low and in deep hypnosis. The waves progressed up to every three minutes, lasting about 90 seconds each. Dan’s parents brought dinner over to the house and I managed to eat, but then went back into my hypnosis. The Alamo Bowl game was on, but I wasn’t interested in watching it. Good thing we DVR-ed it! By that point, I needed lots of concentration for my hypnosis. We went to our bedroom and lied on the bed. My ears were sore from wearing my earbuds for 24 hours, so Dan hooked the iPod up to speakers so I could listen to the Hypnobabies tracks while he rubbed my back and watched the game with the TV muted.
After about three hours of doing that, the waves increased in intensity and were coming every two minutes apart, lasting more than 90 seconds. I only had 15-30 seconds of break between waves. I remember whispering to Dan, “I don’t want to do this much longer.” Assuming this was transition, we went back to OB triage. I think I was in center switch still, because I don’t remember being in pain, just feeling like the waves were very powerful. I kept whispering one of my affirmations over and over “I am safe and my baby is safe no matter how much power flows through my body.” That kept me focused and pain free. When the nurse asked what my pain level was, I still only rated it at 4 out of 10. The resident came to see me and he was very nice (not that the last one wasn’t, but this one whispered when he spoke to me and he was very gentle). I was still at 3 cm and 90% effaced and a -2 station, so he called the attending I had seen earlier. The attending suggested walking some more, so that’s what we did. They didn’t want to do too much since I had my induction scheduled for the next day. We walked, having to stop frequently for me to lean on Dan and focus through each wave.
When we went back to the triage area, they checked me and I still hadn’t progressed. The doctor gave me Visteril, a medicine to help me relax and get some sleep. He told me I would need to get some rest if I were going to make progress. We left the hospital and I lost my focus in the car and started crying. The pressure waves almost immediately became painful once I lost my focus and I began moaning. The more I felt like I’d lost focus, the more upset I became, and then the discomfort would increase. This was the fear-pain-tension cycle I had learned about in my Hypnobabies course.
Dan was great and he kept rubbing me, trying to get me to regain my focus. He wasn’t giving me the right cue word, but bless his heart for trying. We went back to our bedroom and he put on a track for me. I was trying to tell him it was the wrong one for what I needed at the time, but I couldn’t make coherent conversation at that point. He rubbed my back until he fell asleep to the hypnosis track playing. I don’t think I slept at all. Even though it was the wrong track, it helped me regain some semblance of focus. Rather than moaning through the waves, I began humming in a low tone, sort of like one would do in yoga. The humming gave me something to focus on and I felt a little better in control. The waves were still uncomfortable, but very manageable.
Around 0400, I began feeling the urge to push. It was so strong, and not where I thought I would feel it. I was later told I had back labor (I had no idea at the time that’s what it was) and that’s why my pushing sensations were a little off. The urge to push scared me because I assumed I was probably still at three centimeters. I didn’t realize how much time had passed since we’d gone to bed. I knew pushing at any point when you’re not completely dilated could cause tearing to the cervix, so I again lost focus and started fighting my waves. The fear-pain-tension cycle kicked in again and I could barely walk to the car for the almost continuous pressure wave and the strong urge to push.
I don’t remember the drive to the hospital at all, all I know was that I felt like I had lost control. I vocalized loudly with each wave and continued fighting the urge to push. Dan went inside to get me a wheelchair and I went straight to labor and delivery. The same resident from my second OB triage visit was there and he told me I was six centimeters dilated. They hooked me up to the fetal monitor and I was loudly vocalizing and panicking. Choosing to remain in hypnosis requires focus, but the fuzziness caused by exhaustion and the Visteril I’d been given earlier made it impossible for me to focus on anything but the intensity and urge to push. I felt crazy. I hated feeling crazy and I kept apologizing to everyone in the room. My doctor came in from home and I remember yelling at her and my nurse, “I’m so sorry! This is not me! I AM A CALM PERSON!” At another point in time, I could hear Dan talking to someone on his cell phone and I guess I didn’t think he should be doing that because I started yelling at him to get off the phone.
During all of this, my blood pressure was high, my heart rate was high, and poor baby Silas’s heart rate was very high. They started giving me fluid boluses and oxygen to help his heart rate but nothing was working. Finally, my doctor told me that she needed to get him out because she was worried about his heart rate and my blood pressure. She said she was afraid I was going to end up in the OR because we’d been at this for so long, I was exhausted, and our vital signs were not looking good..She asked me to please consider an epidural. I told her I would take an epidural if it would get him out faster. Luckily, the anesthesia attending was right there and I got my epidural shortly after six.
I remember her putting the epidural in and injecting, and I don’t remember much else because I fell asleep sitting on the edge of the bed. I had been awake at that point almost 36 hours and had been having pressure waves for almost 48. I was thoroughly exhausted. I think that’s why I went crazy there at the end when I was fighting the urge to push. The nurses put me back down and I’m told I slept for about fifteen minutes before it was time to push. I guess they checked right before the epidural and again right after and I went from 6.5 to 10 in less than fifteen minutes. Apparently the intense, back-to-back pressure waves with pushing sensations were transformation. I had no way to know that at the time, though.
They woke me up and I pushed him out in about an hour. When they held him up for me to see, I remember telling the nurse, “He’s a chunk!” He weighed 9 lbs even and was 22 3/4 inches long. He has the biggest newborn baby feet I think I’ve ever seen! Because I had lost a lot of blood and my blood pressure was low, I didn’t get to hold him for almost an hour. I had to lie flat on my back with my feet up and got some Pitocin to help stop the bleeding. I got to watch Dan hold him and it was cute. Dan had probably only held a baby for a total of five minutes in his life leading up to that.
Even though things didn’t go exactly as planned, I still consider my Hypnobabies program to have been successful. I didn’t anticipate 44 hours of labor. More than 36 of those 44 hours of my birthing time were free of discomfort, and I know now what I could have done differently to have made the last eight hours better.