After watching and supporting the documentary The Business of Being Born, I have reservations about hospitals and their agenda. I typically go into a hospital with my walls up and ready to fight if given the signal. My formed belief is that hospitals are a great place to have surgery and be sick, but not an ideal place to welcome a new and precious life. After helping with this birth, I have formed new ideas about hospitals and taken some of my walls down, but not all of them. I still believe that childbirth is a natural process and people should educate themselves before choosing interventions.
On Tuesday night I sat in the hospital waiting room with tears in my eyes because my plane was leaving the next day and Hazel hadn't come. Becky was laboring all of Monday night, on and off throughout the day, and very strongly that night. I had the feeling she wasn't as dilated as we had hoped. If that were the case, we were prepared to sign a waiver to go home and labor there. As suspected, Becky was only at a three and we were going home to continue to labor. In the car ride home, we established that I wasn't going to get on any planes tomorrow. That relieved a lot of anxiety.
That night (Tuesday) was extra intense. I felt like Becky was really starting to open. Labor slowed during the day on Wednesday, but not as much as it had on Tuesday. Come nightfall, surges were very strong and uncomfortable. We went to the hospital Wednesday night and were admitted.
To give a brief background, Becky and Johnny took Hypno-birthing classes and were planning on approaching childbirth with those ideals and practices. Hypno-birthing challenges the idea that childbirth is a painful traumatic experience. It teaches people to release the fear associated with childbirth and allow the body to open easily and comfortably. This method is actually very scientifically and anatomically factual. Fear creates tension in the muscles, thus shortening and tightening the muscles. Breath, visualization, affirmations, and hypnosis are used during childbirth to relax the mind and muscles and create a comfortable birth.
Imagine if you will, Becky, Johnny and I working together to ease Becky thru a surge. At the start of a surge, Becky starts breathing deeply, then Johnny or myself begin repeating affirmations and painting a visual image for Becky. Also, Johnny and I were doing counter-pressure on her hips and massage. What a dream team! These techniques kept Becky laboring on her own for the first 50 hours of labor.
After we were admitted, there was no rush to get a vaginal examination or pressure from the staff. Instead, they wanted to know Becky and Johnny's birth plans. They were incredibly supportive. In fact, we were left to ourselves most of the time with the exception of intermittent monitoring and vitals. We called the shots, just as it should be. After all, people who have babies at a hospital are hiring the hospital.
There was steady progression until there wasn't. Becky was stuck at a 7 centimeters for over 10 hours and still contracting regularly. The staff was great to inform us of our options. Each time we opted for no interventions, until we didn't. We decided to give Pitocin a try. Once she was on 'the pit', surges were impossible. Keep in mind that this is the third night for all of us without sleep. There was no improvement on pitocin, so we agreed to an internal monitor that measured the strength of each contraction- that way they could know if we needed to up the dosage of Pitocin. When they concluded that the dosage needed to be increased, we opted for an epidural.
After this procedure, I had a mini melt down. I was in tears because I was relieved, because I couldn't handle seeing Becky in anymore pain, because I was exhausted, and because I didn't know if we (including baby) were all going to make it out alive.
There were a few complications with the epidural, like it was only numbing the right side and she could still feel surges. Rather than re-doing the whole procedure, we made a few alterations. In what seemed like no time at all, we were ready to push. Pushing lasted for 7 hours. We could not seem to get Hazel out. Choices were slim after 80 hours of labor and no strength left. We chose vaginal delivery with the help of forceps. This is where I had another mini melt down. More mini than the first, because it was all happening so fast. After a few really hard tugs Hazel was ripped out of Becky and placed onto her chest. If you are confused about the length of labor, don't be! You are estimating correctly, Becky was in labor for about 85 hours.
There were several miracles that took place throughout this experience: We had fun, we had enough energy to continue to support each other, Marianne was updating everyone which led to everyone praying on our behalf, Hazel's heart rate stayed constant, Becky had a vaginal delivery, the staff was supportive and encouraging, baby and mamma are healthy, despite any physical trauma- Becky is open and eager to re-count what happened and does so with joy and satisfaction, we used hypno-birthing techniques and saw results, and we are immensely satisfied with what happened.
This is what I see in my head: Becky holding up Hazel, Johnny and I holding up Becky, legions of angels holding up Johnny and me. I feel so much love for and empathy for Becky and Johnny. My time here has been invaluable and I wish it were everlasting. Hazel is perfect. She is healthy, precious, and very beautiful. Becky's mom has been here cooking, cleaning, and showering us all with love and support. I am amazed at the outcome and I feel genuinely confident that everything is as it ought to be. I am over-joyed. And like Karen Carpenter says, "We've only just begun."