Dustin and Heather's HypnoBirthing Journey
Two things that I do not like:
1. Asking a postpartum family to do anything at all
So it felt awkward for me to reach out to my past students and ask them to share a written birth story. I didn't know what else to do though because there are still so many misconceptions about HypnoBirthing rampant in the Richmond VA birth community and everyone knows that I am bias. My hope is that some family perspectives will shed light on the benefits that HypnoBirthing lends to all families and all types of births. One thing that I hear from almost every single family that attends HypnoBirthing is "this is not what I thought it would be" so my immediate goal is to get a more accurate perception of the program out to the community.
Here is the first one. My hope is that I will have more to share in the coming weeks and months. I am so grateful that this family trusted me first to have a role in their preparation and now to share this very personal and beautiful story so that everyone (including myself) can gain a better understanding of how HypnoBirthing helps growing families.
Photography and doula support is from Laura Stevens of Sunshine Birth.
My husband and I chose Hypnobirthing to prepare for our labor and delivery after lots of research on different birth techniques. We both loved the classes, and my husband really enjoyed connecting with other people with similar thoughts on pregnancy, birth, and child rearing. Joy made the classes comfortable, inviting, and calming. She even connected us with our perfect doula! We both felt very prepared for our daughter's impending birth.
On election night 2016 we were both quite sure our baby would be coming soon. There were no specific signs, but we both had the feeling. I went to sleep around 10pm listening to my hypnobirthing tracks as I had done for months. I woke up to surges around 2:30am. At 3:30am I was sure they weren't going away, so I took a shower. I spent the next several hours painting my nails, watching The Aristocats, and texting my doula to let her know it was almost time. I am a teacher, and at 5:30am I woke my husband and I told him to take me by the school because I wanted to tie up loose ends before having the baby. It was an hour drive, and I listened to the hypnobirthing tracks the entire way. I was able to stay completely relaxed and breathe through each surge. By 9am we were at my husband's grandmother's house where we planned to stay as long as possible. I was still able to talk between surges, but I was ready to be away from Grammy and my husband's uncle. I soaked in her jacuzzi tub with my birthing necklace on, LED candles lit, and hypnobirthing tracks playing. We decided to call our amazing OB, Dr. Keith Berkle, to make sure we could get a room with a tub at St. Francis. It turned out he was leaving early that day for his child's dance recital, so we decided to book it to his office to see him just in case he missed the birth. The car ride was a bit intense, and by that point I had the hypnobirthing track playing in earbuds. I left it in one ear while we were in Dr. Berkle's office. I wasn't sure if the trickle I had been feeling for hours was my waters, so he checked. My waters had released and I was 4 centimeters. We were given the option to go back to Grammy's or to St. Francis. We chose to go to the hospital because I wasn't ready for another 25 minute car ride. We didn't know they had valet parking, so my husband dropped me at the door so he could park. I walked to check in, and with each surge I rested my weight on the counter and breathed. The girls at the check in desk commented on how calm I was and how well I was doing. I was brought to a room. The nurse asked me if I was going for an "all natural" delivery, and I said I was going to go with the flow. I never wanted to say exactly what I expected from my birth because I knew I did not want to set myself up for any disappointment in the end. My birth plan specified no IV unless medically necessary, so she left and told me she would be back in two hours. My husband helped me change into my rainbow nighty, closed the blinds, put my hypnobirthing tracks on a speaker, hung our birthing affirmation banner with Command hooks, and spent time waiting on my doula rocking my hips on a birthing ball with my hands on the bed. When my doula arrived she put the LED candles around the room, twinkle lights in the bathroom, and helped me walk around a bit. This ended up going on for many more hours than expected, but the hypnobirthing techniques and tracks helped me to stay relaxed and feel calm and "in the zone". I spent hours walking the halls and my room, stopping to lean on the wall or my husband and doula for surges, and sipping on smoothie. All of the staff at the hospital were commenting on how lovely the room was with the dim lights, birthing affirmations hung, and twinkle lights in the bathroom. After 10 more hours of different positions, the birthing tub, affirmations being repeated to me, and my lovely doula and husband rubbing my thighs (where I felt discomfort during surges) I was beginning to become tense. Looking back on it I think I was worried the hospital might be considering c-section because I was coming close to the 24 hour mark of my waters releasing. I found out the next day that wasn't even considered, but I didn't realize that. I was also getting very tired. I asked to be checked, and I was now at 5 centimeters. I decided to opt for the epidural so I would relax again. When the anesthesiologist entered the room he commented how the room was so great and all births should be set up like that. I spent the next few hours changing positions on the bed and working on breathing my baby down with the surges. I had the epidural, but I could still feel what was happened and use the Hypnobirthing techniques to help bring my baby down. By 4:30am our little girl was brought Earthside in a beautifully set up and peaceful room with my husband and doula by my sides. Dr. Berkle told the nurses to call him when I was close, and he was in the room to catch our baby. He asked me if I wanted to, but I wanted him to do it after all the help he gave us over three years of trying to have a successful pregnancy. It was a beautiful and perfect moment, and our doula put Jack Johnson on as I had requested in my birth plan. We spent the next "magic hour" skin to skin and learning to latch our precious rainbow. It was absolutely beautiful and perfect.
My entire labor and delivery was 26.5 hours, but the whole thing felt like three hours because I found such a peaceful place in my mind and stayed there for most of the experience. What nobody told me about Hypnobirthing was that I would be able to use the relaxation techniques for the discomfort while the nurses massaged my uterus, the contractions of my uterus caused by nursing for the next several days, and the other discomforts of healing after birth. Five months after having our daughter my husband still says my cue word, "Violet", to me if I am acting tense and I immediately relax. Hypnobirthing was not just a set of classes to help prepare for birth for me. It has changed my life in many ways, and I am more calm and peaceful. Our five month old daughter is also calm and peaceful. This was my number one affirmation during my pregnancy, and I feel repeating it and meditating during Hypnobirthing tracks every night for so many months were major factors in keeping me relaxed and helping our baby be relaxed. My husband and I both highly recommend Hypnobirthing to any expecting parents.
I am occasionally available for travel outside of my regular service area and I always enjoy collaborating with other birth professionals so please never hesitate to get in touch!