CHANELLE, GERRIT AND BABY HECTOR
My All Natural Hypnobirth
I am extremely happy and grateful for the Hypnobirthing course with Positive Birth Jersey that my husband and I attended. It gave us so much confidence & a sense of peacefulness regarding the birth.
A little back story (you can skip this if you’re just here for the birth experience):
I hit 39 weeks on the Sunday. My hubby and I went to the beach that day in St. Brelade. It was 14th July 2019 summer in Jersey so we HAD to get out and enjoy the sun and water.
We went out on his stand up paddle board together. Well, why not? I felt adventurous and could (quite) easily move around still. I sat and he paddled. Very easily we flowed with the water. People coming back towards the beach side while paddling or rowing past us just looked at us and smiled; I thought to myself is this weird or strange to do this at 39 weeks pregnant? I mean, I could go into labour any time or what if my waters break? Would I even know? All these thoughts ran through my mind. At the same time I just felt really brave and ‘in the moment’ trying to enjoy some last memorable time with my husband. But I brushed off those thoughts and smiled back at everyone.
When we decided to turn around and paddle towards the beach again we realised how strong the wind was and we were not moving at all whilst paddling quite hard. To keep it short, we ended up launching around the corner of the pier on a little stranded piece of beach and my husband and I had to climb up and down a few rocks to get to a place where we could get into the water again. This would help us get back to the beach as we would move close around the contour. Me climbing and balancing myself with my big bump and the long paddle, and him carrying the board. I timed the waves splashing against the rocks to get in the water and jump up on the board. It was very adventurous and a bit scary at the same time. Luckily, I managed to get on the board the first time round and Gerrit, my husband, followed. The Holy Spirit was with us and I knew Hector and I are perfectly safe. I trusted God through everything.
I sat on the board holding the paddle and rowing. Gerrit was at the back in the water holding onto the board and kicking us back to safety. We came close to the pier and a kind, young boy showed us the way to some much less steep steps for me to get on to climb out of the water. Gerrit managed back quite easily now. On the pier, our friends we were with at the beach that day, came searching for us as this whole escapade went on for over an hour! They got a bit worried. But safe at last! And such a fun memorable story to have.
For some reason my body craved the cold fresh water of the ocean and I can now laugh about that day because nothing happened and we had a good time filled with some “good” adrenaline. I still believe that this experience had an effect on the start of my labour and the whole birthing experience, which was on Wednesday morning - 17th of July 2019. As soon as I opened my eyes, around 7 or 8 am, I felt a light period-like cramp. My words to my husband & first thing I said that morning was “I just felt a light cramp in my stomach and it feels a bit different”. I felt wondered. I say different because you get a lot of cramps and twitches during pregnancy but you start to get used to it so I could easily tell the difference that morning.
I don’t really remember much of what we said after that sentence. But I know that we both just thought in our minds, today could possibly be the day. And we just went about our normal days activities. Gerrit went to work. I continued getting these light surges but did not want to make a big deal out of them as I had read up on so many birth stories and advice. I wanted to keep the good hormones coming and stay in a calm state of mind. So I showered got ready and took a few photos of myself and my 39 week 3 days bump, because if you know me you will know I want EVERYTHING captured on camera. And what if it was the last day of pregnancy for me? So I captured that mornings moments. So special, just me and little Hector inside of me.
My friend,Nadine, asked to have her nails done that day so we arranged earlier that week for me to go to her place at 1pm and invited our other friend, Marijcke, to join and have a coffee catch-up session at the same time. We all live in the same building. So I went on and decided to take my FREYA app on my phone with and start to time my surges (contractions). I tried to do this secretly but quickly they realised something was up. I remember them looking at each other and thinking, “Sh*t, this is it. It is happening”. As I am, I just minded my own thoughts and felt strongly about words and things being said. We had a bit of a laugh, and I paused every now and then to flow with the surge and carried on doing her nails when it passed.
When I was done and got back to my place at around 3.30pm, I could feel my surges getting stronger (I can’t remember what I did in that hour before my husband got back from work at 4.30/5pm). I just know I got a strong surge and I knew I did not want to be alone anymore. My hubby was scheduled to play softball after work that day. But after that strong surge I messaged him and said “can you please not go to softball tonight and come home after work, I don’t want to be alone and I am getting stronger surges now so I need you and this is really happening now!” We didn’t share it with any friends or family until we arrived at hospital. Gerrit messaged both our parents and siblings. They live in abroad and so I knew I would have the intimacy and privacy with just my husband. I am sad that I did not document that day with a video recording so I would try and do that if there is a next time. Because you forget so much!
My husband got home and saw that things were happening and had progressed a lot since that morning. We tried to think of everything we have learnt at Hypnobirthing and implemented some of the things, which I think helped immensely. It helped me stay calm and confident in the whole experience. I had something to eat, I drank water and ate a protein energy bar. I think I drank two paracetamols and went to lie down so that I can get some rest in-between the surges. After a bit we called the hospital after tracking the surges and they asked if I could still cope for a while at home. So I said yes, and I continued having surges at home. Gerrit filled a warm bath for me with lavender essential oils and I enjoyed that so much! My muscles felt relaxed and I just felt nice. The surges slowed down a bit but I didn’t get too worried; I rather used that time to relax more and get a few minutes rest.
So I got out of the bath and this was around 7/7.30 pm. I went to lie on our bed with my towel on and dimmed lights. My husband sat next to me and held my phone with the app open to track the time of my surges. Every time I started to get one, I would say ‘okay’ he would press start, and at the end I would say ‘okay’ again and he would press stop. I could not and did not want to speak any more than that, and tried to just focus on the waves coming & going. We did that for an hour and my surges were very regular. We phoned the hospital again gave them my surges timing and they said to come in. Quite excited but also a bit nervous, I quickly got dressed.
My husband called a taxi and got all our hospital gear ready to go. I remember the man from the taxi calling saying he was waiting and Gerrit just replied saying “My wife is just getting dressed!” When we got down to the taxi, the driver asked my husband so where to; he turned around saw me and said, ‘OH, this is going to be a fun night!” I just smiled and thought this drive has to be a good one and a quick one. I had about 2 or 3 surges in the taxi. Luckily the hospital was nearby. And the taxi driver was so nice! I constantly tried to focus on myself and the surges, and not get fearful of anything.
We got admitted and I stood in the hallway for about 5 minutes. We took a last selfie of just the two of us - the midwives must of thought “she can’t be far along if she is taking selfies with her husband” – haha! Back to the facts. At this point no waters breaking and no mucus plug yet. They gave us a room. I wanted to lay on the bed on my side just feeling the linen on my skin. It soothed me somehow. I wanted to go to the loo so I went, struggling to walk there and back as the surges got really really intense just a few minutes after we have arrived.
My mucus plug came out and I was amazed at how I was already ‘opening up’. I wanted the midwife to check how far I had dilated, but she advised I wait a bit longer. I agreed as I did not want to be discouraged if I was not past 5cm dilated. We moved to a different room. We turned off the lights and brought our own battery operated tea light candles. Gerrit displayed them and also put on our essential oil diffuser with lavender and played my Hypnobirthing music playlist. This consisted of a few Hypnobirthing instrumental tracks as well as a few stories and, of course, my favourite praise and worship songs. My surges just kept on and on. I got into a state of where I just completely focused on myself. Knowing my husband was right beside me. The midwife came in every now and then to check on me and take my blood pressure.
I tried gas and air, but didn’t like it at all. It disturbed my own rhythm of breathing and coping so after probably 2 minutes I said no thank you. At this stage I really wanted the midwife to do one examination and so she checked, and I was 6 cm. I was so happy and excited and a bit relieved! We then asked if they could please prepare the birthing pool because I needed some comfort and wanted to be in a different position and, most of all, this was my dream birth (besides us both just being healthy and alive!).
It took another 30 minutes or longer to prepare and fill the pool and I was so keen to get into the warm water. I LOVED the feeling of the warm water on my skin and body. It relaxed and comforted me so much. Again the room had dimmed lights and Gerrit brought all our things from the other room. Tea light candles, and my playlist which I am sure the midwives and Gerrit were sick of already - listening to it over and over and over. It really helped me though. I heard one or two chorusses and that would be just enough to keep me strong and get me through yet another surge. I had a lovely midwife and a student midwife. I felt so lucky to have two lovely calm women there with me. They respected all my birth preferences and were very professional at the same time.
I had my red nightie on which was super comfy and stretchy, and something familiar and pretty so I felt like me in it. My positions would consist mostly of a type of squat and range to me hanging over the side of the pool. I took sips of water in-between surges. And my two midwives would take my & Hectors heart rate frequently. My surges got really intense. I didn’t want to talk and I just wanted it to get over with. I think I may have gotten a little impatient at a point and thought to myself “well, I just have to do this now and stick through. I need to birth my baby, and I am going to.” I kept on repeating one of the birth affirmations that really meant something to me. It was: “the surges are not happening to me, my surges cannot be stronger than me, they are me” and also: “the surges are real but it is not dangerous, just breathe through them.”
My husband sat with me in the pool for a while. I did not want any touch or massage just wanted him close. I was very quiet and calm, although no one knew in that room just what I was feeling. I was so tired and felt like I couldn’t do it much longer. I asked my midwife. “when will I know I have to start pushing?” She replied, “your body will tell you, you will know.” Seconds after that I experienced an intense and uncontrollable urge to push. It is really so freaking amazing actually. I didn’t want to scream, I just felt so amazed and a bit surprised. I had no words. I remember now, I couldn’t speak. I did not tell that I was pushing. Obviously, the midwife saw and she came to explain that I should stay down in the water for the birth; when you get these urges to push you naturally quite want to move or stand up a bit.
I was tired of squatting on my feet and being on my knees, but knew I had to push through now. My husband helped to keep me down at times. I remember when I felt the head coming out slightly and going back in again. It made me a bit scared as at this point as I was not sure if I was doing things correctly and I don’t know why, but I did not ask or speak up. So I just stayed calm and in my mind said ‘okay, I have to push hard with the next surge’ and then pop, the head came out! I could feel his head and little hair. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before. Still a part of me was unsure if this is his head or not. My urges to push paused. I also thought, ‘wow, his head is out, it wasn’t that hard!’A rollercoaster of emotions. I really was so exhausted and I might have been a bit stressed because of the uncertainty about whether I was doing it right and wondering when the next urge to push would be.
The midwives checked again and they saw my baby boy with his hand and arm next to his head. So they asked me to stand up and give them one strong push. So I did, and Hector was birthed quick and easy at 1.52am Thursday 18th July. The reason I had to stand up was for the midwives to make sure our little Superman was fine when he came out due to his slight change of his position. I was a little bit sad that I could not catch my baby myself in the water and bring him up to my chest with the cord still attached. But hey, it was pretty close and I knew these were just preferences. Giving birth is unpredictable and I had the chance of having the birth that I dreamed of, so for that I am so thankful.
I did not get the longer delayed cord clamping that I wanted. But Gerrit could do the cutting of the cord so I was okay with that. The reason was precaution. If they had to act fast on Hector after the birth the cord clamping had to be fast. But just a few seconds and he gave us the most beautiful crying sound I would ever hear and we held him close in our arms. With a feeling of love, achievement & totally in awe. I birthed our son in the water halfway then stood up and birthed his body. It was the most intense and heartfelt experience of my life. A moment my husband and I will share forever. Not your typical water birth, but for sure a special one I will cherish. Birth is unpredictable, that is what makes it so special, unique and extremely amazing. I am so fortunate to have had a positive first time birth experience. Having the option to do a water birth at a hospital was perfect for me. A bit less ‘medicated’ but still in arms reach if necessary, so I felt safe.
No one ever really talk about the placenta. I birthed the placenta in a squat position. After sitting on towels on the floor in like our own little love nest together with my husband and holding my son for a while I started getting surges again. I looked at my husband and said ‘no, Can’t this be done now. I didn’t think the surges would be this strong again!’ So the midwife advised me to squat low and then the placenta was out! So much blood too. I just remember me apologising for all the blood on the white towels – haha!
Then we were taken to one of the delivery rooms. While my beautiful baby boy was lying on my chest, I let him breastfeed and the midwife did a check ‘down there’. It turned out I needed to go in to surgery because I had quite a bad tear. So this was my big turning point from having the ‘ideal birth’ at that stage. I was too high on oxytocin to show how disappointed I was then. But I was. I really hoped and prayed I could go home at the end of that day and that everything would be just fine.
My husband was so supportive. I loved that he had a calmness around him and sureness when we had to make decisions. They prepped me for theatre. Gerrit had to put scrubs on and looked super cute. And Hector lied safely in his arms sleeping for the whole duration of the surgery. It was about three hours, a spinal block and catheter later and then I could hold Hector again and breastfeed him while chatting away. I felt good. Just extremely tired. But no pain that day. The doctors were amazing!
I was in the hospital for four nights! The first night was quite terrifying. I didn’t want my husband to leave. I wasn’t sure how to do this. I am now fully responsible for this tiny human being. Not the midwives - I can’t just sleep. I can’t remember but I don’t know how much I slept that night. If I was awake I’m sure I was asleep at the same time. I counted the hours until Gerrit came again. He stayed until late and would come back early every morning. He brought snacks and cold drinks each time he came. My first shower was so strange. There is still blood everywhere and I had a catheter I had to take with me. But I felt amazing after washing my hair and put cream and mascara on.
I felt so grateful for how I birthed my baby boy and that I could do it naturally, with no painkillers and in the birthing pool which was all part of my dream birth. It was only the afterwards that I was not prepared for.
The next day Sunday 21st of July, we got all our things ready to go back home. By lunchtime we had waited for my iron level results to return and they were normal. Happy and excited, my husband, Hector & I left the hospital and WALKED back home that afternoon. The moment was honestly too big to describe. Literally, I cannot describe it! OUR baby in his bassinet stroller, sleeping, on our way back home. My legs felt heavy and light at the same time. But my heart felt fuller.
And so, the adventure began…