Slow and Steady:  Rocking my baby down

Leo’s birth

by Heather & Alex Swinney

Heather’s notes (mom)

Alex’s notes (dad)

My birthing waves began late at night and slowly became stronger & more frequent.  They were waking me, keeping me from sleeping…but, they were not too strong.  I was wondering if this was going to be my birthing time for real.

I was relaxing in between waves & sending my peace cue when the waves came.  Alex was timing the waves & they were coming about every 5 minutes–that is when you are supposed to maybe go in.  We called the baby line & the nurse suggested we go in!

Really, I did not feel like my baby was coming anytime soon, but we went into the Mother Baby Center. The ride there was terrible, on one of the bumpiest roads around, not fun when having birthing waves!  The drive & going into the center made me feel like my waves & the process had somewhat weakened.  A nurse checked me & told us that I was not ready to stay…  Disappointed….

We were both tired and decided to go home and try to rest. Even though I shouldn’t have, I felt a little silly for sort of jumping the gun and being overly excited about coming to the birth center. We got so many people riled up and now it was time to go home. The cookies I brought with us as directed by our Hypnobabies instructor I gave to the morning nurses and they were thrilled. If anything we got a great dress rehearsal out of going to there, so it would be smoother the next time.

When we got home, I was exhausted. I hadn’t really slept all night so I took a nap. It was a perfectly beautiful day and riding on highs of sleep deprivation things seemed pretty good.

Catherine came over. She was incredibly calm and gentle assuring us that everything is going great. It was reassuring to just have her at our house to guide us through what was happening & what we should do next.  My birthing waves had really subsided from how they felt during the night & I was ready to get them going again & have my baby!

We started to get the birthing time active again. Catherine gave us ideas on positions and movements to try.  We stayed busy, birthing waves were still going and my main job was timing them. Everything fell into a 5 minute rhythm and times in between were the only rest we would be getting for a while.  We used the rebozo to “sift” my belly a lot, and I did side lunges. I walked up & down the stairs.  I knelt on the couch with my head upside down (I hated the way this position felt!  But Catherine thought it was an important one to maneuver the baby down & it probably was).  Catherine & Alex encouraged me to eat & drink although I had very little appetite.  Catherine had us all take naps.

When I woke up, I took a shower again–it felt so good.  My birthing waves were stronger–not unbearable, but quite uncomfortable.  I was using my Hypnobabies a bit–sending peace to where I felt uncomfortable.

As day turned into evening & my time was progressing, we turned on our Hypnobabies tracks on the iPad.  Catherine offered suggestions for new movements & encouragement.  When I woke up from my Catherine directed nap, Heather just seemed in the zone, making different sounds than before and swaying around. Catherine suggested we considert going in soon. A sudden jolt made me more awake and I started to get us ready.

Alex supported me in different positions, brought me water and food, and timed my birthing waves.  As it continued to get later, I was less eager to move around.  My birthing waves were pretty strong & I felt a bit more “out of it”.  We took a less bumpy road, and it was dark, so Heather could relax more and stay in the zone. We were incredibly lucky for this drive, as everywhere was quiet and peaceful, traffic lights were changing in our favor. It was an easy smooth and confident ride there. Even at the birthing center there was no commotion at all, we walked in like pros at this point and headed straight up, a quite unlikely thing as we found out because the next day the baby center filled up and people were being turned away.

Repeat at the center.  I walked in with sunglasses (so bright in there) & listening to my Hypnobabies tracks on an iPad with earbuds.  The nurse said I could stay or go at this point again→ so I knew I was not very dilated.  This was a little disappointing to hear.  I was hoping to be far along in the process. I figured I was at 4 or less based on what she said!  They told us that we qualify for admission if we wanted to stay. I wanted to stay. I really wanted to get into a birthing tub!   Alex gave them a copy of our plan.

I was trying to stay relaxed, but then I found out they wanted to take some of my blood!  This is one of my least favorite things in the world & something I did not want to do & hadn’t expected.  Catherine was helpful in making me feel like I could decide & what I decided was going to be OK. Ultimately I decided to go ahead & do it once we were in the birthing room of the hospital. The woman who took my blood got it the first time & without any trouble (thank goodness!).

It was great–the room was big & the birthing tub was huge!  Catherine helped to set up the room physically, low lights, LED candles, etc. Throughout out stay at the birthing center we went the extra mile to keep the lights down low and insisting on quiet voices, whispers almost. It was just more comfortable that way, it felt cozy and relaxing.

Summer slumberWe also worked extremely hard to keep everything positive, and Hypnobabies tracks playing on the iPad were essential to that. The whole experience was a lot like a trip. Once it starts there is no stopping it, you just have to roll with it. You can have a good trip or a bad trip and it’s the tiniest of things that could influence your mind and break your concentration. Only focusing on the Hypnobabies really got us through this, a lot like a book on tape during a long drive.

The small things that were important, yet I wasn’t going to do or even think about.  As soon as I could I took off all my clothes & got into that tub. Heather stayed naked the rest of the time, at this point there were no concerns for covering up and feeling private about her body. It felt so good.  I think I stayed in there floating & napping or super relaxing between waves for hours.  Catherine or Alex was at the tub’s side encouraging me & playing our Hypnobabies tracks the whole time.   As the waves became stronger, just visualizing peace to the places where it hurt wasn’t enough, I started to vocalize a “shh, shhh, shhh”.  As I did this I was sending it down & out with the pressure.

Eventually the nurse & midwife suggested I get out of the tub & try something else.  At this point Catherine suggested more positions & movements for me to do.  We did more with the rebozo, I used the birthing ball & a stool seat a bit, I leaned on Alex. I started to feel pressure in my butt–like the baby was going to come out there!  It was very uncomfortable! I was starting to feel pushy.  The midwife checked me & said that seemed logical…but that she didn’t think the baby was coming very soon.I got back into the tub at some point.

The hours kept going by, not fast not slow, but surely. We fell a routine between the Hypnobabies tracks and the nurse checking with a fetal monitor how the baby was doing and where he was. Eventually I could tell that she would hear the heart beat lower and lower on Heathers belly and pretty much on her crotch area. It was middle of the night and Heather was rolling around in the bath tub and going on the birthing ball.

It was all like a surreal dream; we were awake but sleeping. I remember clearly watching Heather in the tub with her big belly outline of a child and seeing him make big turns and movements. He kept moving around and that was really good.

I had a lot of pressure in my butt area & on my bladder b/c during every pressure wave it felt like I had to pee so bad, but I didn’t really have to.  This led to me getting through the peak of my pressure waves & then quickly moving into the bathroom where I could sit on the toilet.  I sat in there during many waves. I repeated this back & forth from the room to the bathroom so many times!

It was a routine at this point, we moved from the bed to the toilet with the birthing ball. I would sit across from Heather with the ball on my knees so she could rest her shoulders and head on it, our midwife and doula would pass the iPad that was playing our tracks back and forth from bedside to the bathroom counter. They were so helpful. At one point I thought I saw something come down as Heather was sitting and called the midwife, but she looked and assured me it was just normal and we were not ready yet.

Even as things were difficult or painful, I never doubted that I was going to have my baby without interventions. My whole birthing time was slow & steady.  I think that slow & steady made it easier for me.  I was also able to keep up my energy somehow.  Even as time went on and on, I felt like I could keep going.  I didn’t look at the clock (advice from our hypnobabies instructor) at all or have any sense of what time it was or how much time was passing.

Then the nurse suggested that I get on the bed to push.  Catherine & the Hypnobabies track Push Baby Out were so helpful.  They reminded me to breathe baby out.  To focus on an Ahhh to push baby so I didn’t push too hard & tear.  Baby was coming soon.  I tried lying on my side to push–nope.  At some point during this period the original midwife & nurse left & new ones took over.

As we kept going Heather was drinking lots and lots of water during every break in the pressure waves we were offering her water through a straw.  The midwife suggested I squat at the end of the bed, but this put pressure on my butt & I did not need more of that!  Heather was getting a little bit tired and frustrated she asked if there is anything we could do to speed this up and Midwife said, no and asked how much energy Heather had left in her, the reply was 50%. We kept going.

I ended up preferring to face backwards the bed in a side lunge position (similar to a position we’d done earlier at home).  Catherine was on one side & Alex on the other near my head, constantly reminding me slow & steady.  This was the time, my pushing time, that I really needed these constant reminders.  It was difficult to use restraint when my pushing waves came through but I did.

We studiously kept playing the Pushing the baby out track and dealing with a skip in the middle of it at around 9 minute mark, just fast forward and it was ok again. Heather at this point was focused more on breathing and telling the baby to come out. Down, Out!

I was stroking her back and doing everything to make her comfortable. At this point there were more sounds and more light coming through the window, the birth center was waking up, we had 3 nurses charting away and getting everything ready. The midwife was focused and ready like a sprinter. Heather’s Aahs and Oohs were louder and louder.Big guy Latino R

I remember opening my mouth & jaw to help open for my baby.  I remember asking my baby to come on.  As the baby came down & the head dropped down, it was a crazy feeling.  When the head is there stretching you wide open it is like nothing else. I wanted that part to move on quickly.  It was uncomfortable, but at the same time welcome since I knew baby was coming very soon! I was hot!

Catherine & Alex were putting wet wash cloths on me & offering me water.  The nurses were checking baby’s heart beat very frequently.  The midwife & nurses were looking with flashlights.  Everyone was encouraging me.  My instincts had taken over.  In my side lunge I was moving back & forth, rocking the baby down.  We knew this was it, everyone was ready.

I have to admit that through out the process I only was looking at Heather’s face and avoiding to stare at where the baby was coming out, I had no clue how far along we were. Just remember saying to her, “You are doing so good! You are doing so good!” In an instant hands reached under Heather and caught the baby. Finally, the head came out & the rest of his body just seemed to fall out after.

It was huge gush of built up liquid, blood, emotions, and most importantly Baby! Everyone was saying “Heather Heather, reach down, take the baby, take your baby!” I was crying because it was so beautiful and felt like pure joy. Nurses lurking in the dark sprang forward and quickly cleaned everything up, midwife waited for the cord to stop pulsating, clamped it and offered me the scissors. I politely declined and without hesitation she cut that thing. 

I sat down on the bed.  Everyone helped to get me turned around to face out & hold my baby.  I was holding my baby skin to skin.  He was crying.  I was in a surreal state & was just dazed, but awake.  He was good. I was good.  The nurse sucked some stuff out of his nose & mouth.

Catherine now took the ipad and snapped our very first photos. Our baby was a little funny bundle of skin wrinkles and long finger nails covered in fluids and looking all around. Heather was incredibly awake and lucid now, she seemed fully awake and energized. Must be a maternal mechanism.

Within minutes (it seemed), my placenta was coming out.  The midwife made sure it was out & gave me two stitches. I was happy with only needing two stitches.  My vagina area felt sore, but not crazy. Eventually the nurses were pushing on my uterus to get blood out, they helped me to the bathroom for the first time.  The nurses were very encouraging and positive.

As Heather was going to the bathroom for the first time it was my turn to meet the baby! My shirt was off so I could have skin to skin with him right away. The only thing he could do besides play around with his little hands and fingers is lay flat on my chest and breathe as I spoke to him in Russian so that he gets to know his Papa’s voice and native language. We were ready to spend more time meeting our baby and seeing him through his next baby steps in life.

We all felt good.  We called our parents with the news. Our baby was here! Our birthing preferences all had come true! Most importantly, our baby boy was born vaginally without any interventions and he and I were healthy. I am content with how everything worked out: a big thank you to Alex, Hypnobabies, Catherine, our baby and the Mother Baby Center staff for making my birth what I hoped and planned it would be.