I can remember so vividly the morning I wrote my first "birth story." It was two days after your big sister died and was born. I was laying in bed, tears streaming down my face, as I tried to put into words the emotions of that sad, sad day.
Ever since, I've been dreaming of the day I'd be able to write a birth story with a happy ending. And tonight, as I'm sitting here typing, with your warm little body snuggled up against my chest, listening to you breathe and make sweet baby noises in your sleep, the tears are falling once again. Only this time they are tears of joy and such happiness. I am so excited to share with you the story of your birth, Baby Boy. Here we go.
My last morning being pregnant began like it often did during early days of my pregnancy: with a nice big puke. I didn't really feel nervous (excited, definitely!), but apparently I was. Our induction was scheduled for 6AM, so Dad and I were up and getting ready in the wee hours of the morning, when it was still pitch dark outside. As I was brushing my teeth, doing my hair, and getting dressed, I kept thinking, "the next time I do this, he will be here." Then as I put on my shoes, said goodbye to the dogs, and got ready to walk out the door, "when I come back home, he will be with me."
The drive to the hospital was totally surreal. It felt like we were the only car on the road (guess not many people are out and about at 5:30 in the morning!). I just stared out the window thinking to myself over and over again, "we're going to have a baby today."
When we got to the hospital, it felt as empty as the roads. We lugged our bags through the long halls and up the elevator to the Labor and Delivery floor. Since we'd been there just a few times the week leading up to our induction, we knew right where to go. We walked up to the admissions area and I said, "hi, I'm here to have a baby today." We got all checked in and were taken to our room.
I changed into a lovely hospital gown (which I ripped off pretty much as soon as the contractions began a couple hours later!), and they started me on a Pitocin IV right away.
At about 7:15, my doctor came in and broke my bag of waters. For some reason, I expected there to just be one big gush and that's it, but it just kept coming and coming!
Over the next hour or so, I started to feel pretty crampy, but nothing too uncomfortable. My mom got to the hospital and I was able to hang out and talk with her and Dad for awhile.
At around 8:15, my doula, Jo, arrived and quickly began 'relaxifying' the room. She dimmed the lights, got some aromatherapy scents going, turned on music, and started doing some light touch massage while I was laying on my side. Her presence alone made everything feel so much more relaxed, calm, and peaceful.
Shortly after Jo started doing the massage, I started to notice the cramping was now coming in waves. At this point, I mainly felt it in my back. As the pressure waves/contractions got stronger, I began using some of the breathing techniques I learned through the Hypnobabies program. With every breath I took in through my nose, I imagined I was breathing in relaxation. Then as I exhaled, I directed that relaxation to my back. It sounds strange I'm sure, but I was literally picturing a stream of relaxation going directly into my back, where the contractions were happening, and it was working.
I could start to feel my body really getting into a rhythm. Every couple of minutes, another wave would come. At some point, as they got more intense, Jo began applying counter pressure on my back as they came. That felt seriously amazing.
At about 10:00, my nurse came in to check on how things were progressing. I told her I was having pretty strong contractions, but I don't think she really believed I could be making much progress yet. She said, "well you're still smiling through everything. I'll be able to tell once the contractions really begin because you're face will change," or something like that. I think she assumed that because I had no epidural or pain meds, that I would be crying out in pain once I was truly in labor.
I got up to go to the bathroom and the contractions started to intensify. I got through a couple of them on the toilet, then decided to try the birth ball for awhile.
Jo continued to help me through each contraction by massaging my back and applying that counter-pressure right where I needed it.
Using my self-hypnosis techniques, I was able to stay in such a relaxed state. I have no idea how long I was on the birth ball for because I was so focused on directing my breathing and keeping my body nice and limp.
At some point being in an upright position was no longer comfortable for me and I returned to the bed. Being on my side, supported by about a million pillows was my favorite position by far. The next time I got up to use the bathroom, I threw up. From that point on, things got pretty intense. I won't lie, the last couple hours or so of labor were hard. Really hard. BUT I got through it.
My mom told me she would have sworn I was on drugs at this point, I was just so in 'the zone.' Everything that was going on around me is a blur, but I know I went from 5 to 8cm in about an hour (I think), and then from 8 to 10cm in like 20 minutes. During this time, the contractions were permeating through my entire body. It's really hard to put into words how they felt, but I guess I'd describe them as incredibly strong pressure sensations that would rise in intensity, peak, then fall, every minute or so. As Jo kept massaging my back, I started getting louder and more vocal with my breathing. As I exhaled I would let out a long "Ohhhh," saying the word "Ohhhpen" in my head, picturing my cervix opening wider and wider with each breath.
If I didn't completely relax my body, the contractions were almost unbearable. There were a couple points where I started to try and 'fight' them by tensing up, and it hurt so, so bad, to the point where I cried out, "I can't do this anymore!!!" Thank God I had Jo to remind me to continue breathing and relaxing. Because I was in a state of self-hypnosis, when she would say "relax" or "keep breathing," my body would just automatically respond and comply. I really can't believe how well it all worked!
Somewhere during all of this, my nurse realized things were progressing a lot faster than she had thought. All of a sudden people were in the room, turning on lights and setting things up for delivery. I found out later the nurse had to call my doctor back and tell her to hurry up and get to the hospital because the "few hours" she thought we had before delivery had turned into "any minute now!"I remember feeing a sense of excitement in the room, then looking up at her and saying, "how much longer?" She smiled and said, "honey, you're about to push that baby out!"
Before my doctor arrived, I felt the sudden urge to push. Like, I had to start pushing, there was no doubt about it. I had always assumed that the pushing phase was the most painful, but it was actually more of a relief. I think I yelled out, "I need to push!" and the nurse told me to go ahead. I was still on my side at this point. I began pushing as I exhaled during each contraction. And it felt so good. I was trying to stay focused but I was definitely getting excited. I could feel you moving farther and farther down and I remember thinking, "oh my God, this is really happening. He's almost here!"
As I kept breathing, pushing, and feeling you moving down, I would quietly breathe out, "is he still okay?" every minute or so. It was like I just couldn't believe you were still alive and about to be born that way.
Finally, at around 1:30, my doctor arrived and they began taking off the end of the bed and setting everything up for delivery. "I hear you've done amazing, Kristin," my doctor said as she got into position. I think I attempted a half-smile and a quiet "thanks. Is he almost out?"
I turned over onto my back and pushed really hard for about 15 minutes, I think, but it felt like seconds. My doctor told me to bring my hand down to touch your head, which was now starting to poke out. She said, "baby's got a big head!" to which I replied, "must have a big brain from all that DHA I've been taking."
"Kristin, I need you to give me just a couple more big pushes, okay?" my doctor said. I bared down as hard and as long as I could, and felt your head push through my body. Then, immediately after, the rest of you came slipping out.
And then, the most amazing, wonderful sound I've ever heard in my entire life. My baby boy screaming.
As you left my body, I could feel all the fear, all the sadness, all the anxiety I'd been carrying around for the last nine months--no, almost two years--leave with you. In that one moment, the huge weight that had been laying on my chest melted away. I could finally breathe again.
Grandma (my mom) was sobbing. Tears of pure joy. "you're rainbow baby is here!" she kept saying.
I can't even express how I felt as they placed you on my chest. Happiness, relief, disbelief. Overwhelming love.
I held you close and kept repeating, "I did it. I can't believe he's here. I can't believe he's mine." I have no clue what was going on around me; time, and the rest of the world, seemed to stop the moment I met you.
Dad was able to cut your umbilical cord.
Then he came over to meet you. I hadn't seen that look on his face since the day he first saw your sister. A look of such awe, such pride, such love.
After awhile, you latched on to eat for the first time. Amazing, amazing feeling.
Eventually they took you to check your vitals and your weight while my doctor stitched me up (I had a third degree tear). Dad followed you over to the other side of room and I watched from my bed. I continued to say, "I just can't believe he's really here" over and over again.
8 pounds, 9 ounces, 21 3/4 inches long. Just perfect.
I never imagined that when I finally got my 'happy ending' it could be quite this happy.
Dad and I love you more than words can say, little Elliot. Thank you for coming into our world and giving us the honor of being your mom and dad.
All my love,
PS. A huge thank you to my friend Danii for taking these beautiful birth photos, my amazing Doula, Jo, for her invaluable support and encouragement, and my awesome Hypnobabies instructor (and friend!), Lindsey for helping me get the natural birth I was hoping for. You guys are all incredible!