This beautiful image is the work of Courtney Taylor Bowles
Zayn Abree was born on 8/20/2016. To have you fully understand my birth story and what thoughts were running through my head, I must give you a little bit of my background. Zayn was my first pregnancy. I am a nurse anesthetist and one of the most important things I do on a daily basis is to make sure that people are not in pain, whether it be for a procedure, surgery or a birth.
Since this child was possibly going to be my only, I wanted to make sure that I experienced everything to the fullest degree. I wanted to experience childbirth and not be numb to any of the sensations that it would bring. I wanted to connect with my child and work together as I brought her into this world. However, my logical brain reminded me of how many women come into the hospital and state they want to have natural childbirth and how quickly they change their minds as labor ramps up. How was I going to prepare myself for this scenario? How was I going to be different and be able to have the birth that I had pictured in my head?
I was educated on childbirth because of my medical background; however, I wanted to practice being the patient. I also wanted my non-medical husband to be 100% prepared and rehearse scenarios in which I would need his assistance so we took a childbirth class from the very beginning. We also interviewed a doula because I wanted an outsider presence available coaching my husband while being our advocate so that I could completely shut off and just focus on laboring. I didn’t want to be the healthcare worker, I didn’t want to be my own advocate, and I didn’t want to have to tell anyone what I needed in a particular moment. I just wanted to connect with my baby and labor.
Starting to exhaust all other avenues of preparation, breastfeeding classes and prenatal yoga, there was one left that kept surfacing to my thoughts; hypnobirthing. I approached my doula about it and thank goodness she had done it before and told me very clearly, “why not have another set of tools available to you while laboring.” I honestly did not want to have to pay more money for additional preparation and find more time to take another class. Also, my logical brain was saying this is really touchy-feely, “granola”; does this actually work? My doula connected me with Joy Kraynak and she quickly got us in for an expedited private classes approximately six weeks prior to delivery.
I am not going to lie. The class was nothing like I had ever done before. I will say though that I am always one to try something new and go along with the process. Some of the exercises felt awkward, but I did every single one of them and I trusted the course. I showed up to class, I went through all the exercises with Joy, I listened to the CDs every day, I performed the exercises with my husband, I made my own mantras, and my husband and I both wrote down what we were most afraid about and released it in a fear releasing session with Joy.
You know, women are told all their life about how terrible childbirth will be. I realized that there were certain people that I did not want to be a part of my birth and I also came to the realization that I was afraid of medical intervention; I wrote all these things down and released them. There are some things that we just have to let go because often times if we hold on to them and dwell on them too long that is what ends up actually happening. Is the dwelling on the negative hurting you? My mantras quickly became I will have a labor that is supposed to go just the way it is supposed to go rather than running through my head all the scenarios that I didn’t want to happen.
Friday, August 19th, 2016, I woke up to go to work and felt like I was having a little bit of gastrointestinal upset. I figured it might be little contractions, but I wasn’t really bothered by them so I decided to go to work. By 7 a.m., I realized that this GI upset was happening about every 20 minutes, but again thought that if I contacted everyone they would probably just go away and if it truly was the first stages of labor; I didn’t want it to go away. By 2 p.m. I had one pretty strong contraction that made me hold my breath a little bit and thought that I should start making my way home. However, I had a nail appointment at 3 p.m. that I wasn’t willing to miss. I went and got my nails done and had the best massage and manicure a gal could ask for; thanks Jon at Fusion Nail Salon!
However, by the time I got home post manicure massage, I was having contractions every 10 minutes. Quickly remembering everything I learned in my childbirth class, I called my doula gave her a heads up as well as my husband and decided to take a quick nap. I abruptly woke up at 5:30 p.m. mid the strongest contraction I had to date. I asked my husband to get me something to eat, but took one bite and knew that this was real labor. From 5:30 p.m. I went into internal instinctual mode. I turned on my hypnobirthing CD and had it playing in the background. My husband later informed me about how impressed he was with the Hypnobirthing process as well in that when things would begin to escalate he would do a few of the exercises with me and I would calm right down while reconnecting my peaceful state.
My husband helped me labor like a rock star from 5:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. all by himself with what we learned in birth class, from our doula and with the hypnobirthing resources. I was most comfortable sitting forward and backwards on the toilet or on all fours in the shower. My doula arrived at 10:30 p.m. and encouraged me to walk around the house. It only took a couple of laps around my house before I started having a different sensation between my legs. I sat down on the toilet and my water broke at 1030 p.m. One more time in the shower before I started saying that I was beginning to have the desire to push.
Both my husband and doula encouraged me to begin making the trek to the hospital. I was admitted to the hospital at 1105 p.m. and was already 10 cm, 100% effaced and at a 2+ station. I had my baby girl at 1:38 a.m. on Saturday morning. Looking back on this experience, it was the ultimate inner dialogue between my mental and physical self. I am thankful that I had all this hypnobirthing training because I had so many positive mantras running through my head as I was birthing my child; I never once thought that I can’t do this or that I wanted to give up. I don’t even remember being in pain. Don’t get me wrong it was hard work; it was definitely labor, but unquestionably doable. I am so grateful to my support team and to hypnobirthing for helping me obtain the birth experience that I had hoped for; it truly surpassed all my expectations. Even when returning to work and walking by the room I delivered in, it was a sentimental feeling of “I could do that again” rather than a sentiment of fear. In a way I wish I could relive all those feelings again. A woman’s body is capable of amazing things we could just calm our thoughts and allow our bodies to do what they were designed to do, the amazing happens.