Our son Asher
Video of our ideal birth of our son, Asher, born on October 9, 2010.
Asher’s Birth Story - written Friday, October 15, 2010
To start, I want to give a quick summary of my birth, of when I was born. My mom recently retold this story to me, and I think it’s pretty incredible. I was my mom’s 7th child. The night I was born was after a long day at the new house my parents were building. They had been painting tar on the foundation of the house and had let the older kids join in the fun. My mom went home that night to wash the tar off the kids in the tub and my dad was still at the new house working when things started to happen. My mom said at first it was hard to tell if she was having contractions or if she was just feeling tightness because of the position and physical exertion of leaning over the tub scrubbing tar off of my siblings. Within 20 minutes of feeling these contractions, I was born. Yep, that’s all there is to it. I think they tried to call my dad, but with no phone at the house yet and no cell phones back then, I think it consisted of calling a neighbor who walked up the street and probably got the news to him after I had already come. So, I was born on my parents’ bed, with no one but a neighbor attending (who later became a midwife, I like to think because of this experience).
Not that I’ve ever had a birthing that was 20 minutes, start to finish, I do think I take after my mother, having birthing times ranging from about 3-6 hours long. But the real significance of that story will become apparent at the end of mine.
So, this being my 6th birth, I couldn’t help but assume that I knew how a lot of things were going to go. Certain things have been consistent with my other 5 births, and though I try to be flexible, it is hard, with those kinds of odds, not to expect things to be the same. So, though I have always thought it would be cool to have a baby in the middle of the night, when everyone is sleeping, and everything just feels more surreal and magical, all 5 of mine have come in the middle of the day. People tell me I’m lucky and should be grateful for that, and I am grateful that I’ve always been able to be well rested for each of my births. In fact, with 3 or 4 of my 5, pressure waves began in the evening, and then stopped at around bedtime, then started again the next morning an hour or so after I got up ending with a mid-day birth. With my first 3 hospital births, my water never broke on its own; the doctor broke it not long before I began pushing. And with my two midwife (Rebecca specifically) births, my water broke one push before the babies’ heads emerged. Pushing with all 5 births never lasted more than a few pressure waves, like really 3 or 4 at the most. I’ve also had each of my first 5 between 1-2 weeks before my due date. I had a fairly irregular period before I conceived Asher, so my due date (October 23rd) wasn’t terribly reliable, and was a week and a half later than the one they gave me based on the ultrasound measurements (October 13th), but I expected that the ultrasound date was probably pretty close to when he would actually arrive. So these were some things I just expected would be the same this time.
Having recently built our house that we live in, Tyson and I had a list I had typed up of things we’d like to get done before our baby was born. These were things like caulking the guest bathroom tub (for visitors who may come stay after he was born), and hanging the door between our master bedroom and bathroom. I wanted to make and freeze a bunch of meals for after the baby came, since although Tyson makes a mean spaghetti, I didn’t think the kids would enjoy that too many nights in a row. Somehow, finding our baby clothes and cradle in the basement didn’t make it on the list (did you know that they’ve actually done studies that have shown that a woman loses about 5% of her brain cells when she’s pregnant?). So I wasn’t in a huge hurry for the baby to come until we’d crossed, at least a few things, off of our list.
I did, however, take some time one evening to listen to the Visualize Your Birth CD while relaxing in my tub. It was one of the more incredible hypnosis experiences I have had. The visualization was so vivid to me and at some point it changed from something I was consciously creating in my mind to something that was creating itself. I think what surprised me most was that as the birth unfolded in my mind, it was not the middle of the day, like it always is for me, but it was middle of the night to early morning. I guess this was significant because one thing I had regretted with previous births is that no matter who else is there to help watch my kids, they (usually the youngest) always seem to take Tyson’s attention and involvement away from me more than I would like. With this being in the middle of the night, of course, the kids were all asleep. Not that I really believed I had that much control over it, but from that point on, I decided I wanted to have this baby in the wee hours of the morning, before anyone else in the house was awake. I know, I could send the kids away while I have my baby at home, but it’s not that easy to find someone, on short notice, who can take 5 kids, and more importantly, I really want them there, I like them to feel welcome to come in at any point during the birth that they want to, and I really like them to come meet their sibling immediately once he’s born.
Thursday evening, September 30th was a not-so-organized night at the Phalp household. I think it was about 9 o-clock and our kids were still eating dinner (for the second or third time) and the kitchen was not terribly clean (which I have learned is necessary for me to be able to fully relax). Since I wasn’t feeling ready for things to start, I think I didn’t notice the consistent pressure waves I was having until they’d been going for a while, but sometime around 10pm I told my husband that these weren’t stopping when I sat down and could he please get the kids to bed and finish cleaning the kitchen while I went up to our bedroom to listen to a script. I had learned with my previous birth that I need to listen to a script that will get me deep into hypnosis at the first signs of possible birthing time, rather than cleaning the house then trying to relax once the more intense pressure waves of transformation start.
So I listened first to my fear clearing script, then to my early first stage track. I took a shower, and at some point Tyson came in and joined me. At around midnight, when I decided that maybe these weren’t going to stop (and begin again the next morning like they often do) we decided to call the midwife and my mom. My pressure waves were about 5 minutes apart or less and seemed to be getting more intense, though I felt absolutely comfortable and relaxed. At first I was relaxing and listening to the script lying on my side in my bed, with Tyson next to me, rubbing or stroking my back. Rebecca and my mom both showed up together at around 1am. A little after they got there I decided to sit on my ball leaning over the bed. This also felt really good and I was able to relax completely as the pressure waves got closer to 3 minutes apart. At about 2 am, as I was relaxing, listening to my script, turning off for each pressure wave, I noticed that I hadn’t had a pressure wave in a little while. Then I think it was another 15 minutes until I had another. At about 2:30, I decided that things must have stopped. I was so confused. My midwife asked if I would like her to do any kohosh or strip my membranes to keep things going. I decided that maybe my baby was deciding to let us cross a few more things off our list before he came and that I would gratefully accept his gesture. So, Rebecca went home and my mom went downstairs to sleep in the guest room, probably both expecting to hear from me in the morning, though in the back of my mind, I think I knew that it wouldn’t be so soon.
Nothing did happen the rest of Friday. So, I made a list of a bunch of meals I could make and freeze, and I compiled a grocery list, and went to the store and bought what ended up being ingredients for about 36 meals (of about 16 different kinds, making at least 2 of each). I know, that seems a bit extreme, I tend to overdo things. So Saturday I began chopping. The thing that was really great about this project was that I think it was a really efficient way to make that many meals since I could cut up all the onions for all those meals at once. (I think I peeled and chopped close to 40 onions, the most common ingredient in all of the meals). And it ended up being much cheaper since I could do things like buy a huge bag of onions for $5. It ended up taking over a week to finish this project, which is funny, because in my optimistic, unrealistic mind, I imagined it taking 2 days. But it was incredibly rewarding to see all of those meals stacked up in my freezer, and any mom could tell you the sense of security it brings to know that dinner is done.
I don’t think it was the specific tasks as much as the quantity that I needed to feel were checked off before I would feel ready for the baby to come. Because, although making and freezing meals was only one of many on the list (and like I said, I had completely forgotten to include some of the more important ones) having these meals done made me feel quite ready by the time things started to happen again the next Friday.
So, much like before, Friday evening, October 8th, I started to feel some consistent pressure waves, which did not stop with a change in activity. Whenever I had looked at our calendar for things Friday night and Saturday, I always wondered in the back of my mind if the baby would come then, I think I kind of knew. I first noticed them when I drove to Emma’s gym at about 7 that evening. She had just finished practice and was getting ready to go to a haunted house with her team and wanted me to bring her some underwear to change into and some other things she needed. On the way there I had a few pressure waves (which is common in the car) but these felt different. I’m not sure how to describe it other than the main thing I notice is that they make me feel excited, because I can tell they are different, and they really feel to me like a nice hug or massage, and I really love that feeling. After I got home, and was no longer in the car, they weren’t as frequent. We had some friends who had moved to Arizona, planning to come visit us that night. When they told us a week before that they were coming that night, I almost told them that they may be there just in time to see a new baby, but I didn’t. They weren’t sure what time they would be there, and as my pressure waves began to be more frequent and consistent, I told Tyson I would go upstairs and listen to a script while he cleaned up (isn’t he wonderful?). So, this time I started with the Deepening CD. Soon after it ended, at about 10pm our friends came. Tyson told them I “wasn’t feeling well.” I don’t think he expected that I would come downstairs. I knew that although I could try to stay in hypnosis (using the virtual tool we call our mental lightswitch, with it in center so I can walk and talk), I also knew that I was running the risk of not staying deep enough if things did continue. But I chose to go downstairs and visit with our friends because 1-Part of me was afraid that this could all just stop like it had a week before, 2-These were really good friends who I hadn’t seen in a long time and they were right downstairs and 3-I’ve always had a hard time with feeling like I’m missing out on something (left over from being one of the youngest in a family I believe). As I sat and visited with our friends, I didn’t notice my pressure waves for much of the time, though I could tell they were still there. I knew our friends would stay for a while, since they really wanted to see Emma, who would not likely get home from the haunted house until late. She ended up getting home at about 11pm, and our friends left around 12am. For the last 15 or 20 minutes they were there, my pressure waves were harder to ignore and smile and talk through, so when they left, I was more than ready to go back to my room and do my thing. My husband put all the kids to bed (who all amazingly were still awake) while I showered.
The shower was wonderful. I had the body jets spraying right on my lower back while I did the belly lift and swayed side to side during each pressure wave, it felt perfect. I stayed in the shower until Tyson came in. Then I had him turn on the easy first stage script and I laid on my side in the bed. Once that was no longer comfortable, I used the bathroom and then sat on the ball next to the bed. It was about then, at about 1am that we finally called my mom and the midwife. I would have called them earlier had things not stopped the week before.
I felt good on the ball, at first, but the last 15 minutes of transformation, I needed a little extra support from my husband. I don’t think I was able to get as deep as I would have liked, but the combination of turning my switch off and having Tyson squeeze the top of my pelvis in on both sides was the perfect combination and I felt comfortable.
I remember distinctly the first pressure wave that told me I might be able to push soon, I was very excited. I told Tyson and I don’t think he wanted to believe me yet, since no one else had come yet. I had wanted to wait for Rebecca to get there before I got into the tub, mostly because I wanted Tyson to get into the tub with me, and I didn’t want him to have to get out to go let her in. But at that point I could tell I had better get in so I told Tyson to go unlock the door while I used the bathroom one more time. I got in the tub and had one pressure wave before Tyson was back. I kinda test-pushed a little through and it felt good. The next pressure wave was not for about 3 minutes after the previous one began (in fact, all of the pressure waves during transformation never were closer than 3 minutes apart). Tyson was back by then but I couldn’t get him to get in the tub, he kept looking out the window to see if they were there yet, and calling them on his phone (though he wasn’t getting through to Rebecca, I think her phone was in a spot without signal). He asked me at one point “do we need one of those clip things?” By the next pressure wave, Tyson was straddling over the tub while continuing to call Rebecca. I told him not to worry about it, that it was all going to be fine, but I don’t think he was ready to have that kind of responsibility all on himself.
I remember feeling excited when I realized that no one else was going to make it. Though I’ve never wanted a planned, unassisted birth, I knew the ones that happen by accident, always seem to happen without incident, and I was really feeling good about things. So with this pressure wave I pushed once and the water broke, I pushed again and his head came out. When I said “there’s his head” Tyson said “are you serious?!” and finally put his phone down, then as I took another breath Tyson said “is he out?” (I’m not sure why he couldn’t see at this point, I guess I was blocking him, I was in a part kneel, part squat), and I said “not yet” then pushed the rest of him out. It was so incredible, feeling his head after the water broke, then seeing his head when I pushed it out, then holding his whole body as it came out. What an incredible way to be totally and completely connected to my baby and my body, and doing it all completely by myself was so incredible! I just really can’t describe how it felt other than completely natural and right! From the minute I stepped in the tub not a single fear or doubt even entered my mind, I was so assured and confident. It was like someone else stepped into my body, someone who had done this hundreds of times. It was so perfect, so amazing, truly such a miracle!
We had a video camera sitting on the bathroom counter filming the whole thing. My dad is really easily grossed out by any kind of blood or even mention of anything “biological” as he puts it, and never wants to watch an actual birth. I knew he’d be fine watching the video of this birth since the side of the tub hid everything except my face and shoulders. After he watched it he said “wow, that looked so easy, I think I could do it!”
After watching the video later and putting all the facts together in my mind I realized he must have come out posterior. I’m not sure why I wasn’t aware of it at the time except that I had so much on my mind doing it alone like that. He had been in a posterior position every time my midwife had checked up until the birth. I just always assumed he would turn. But I don’t remember him ever turning and I do seem to remember seeing his face pretty quickly either after he came out, or it may have been as he was coming out. And that would explain the discomfort I felt in my back at the end when I had Tyson squeezing my hips.
I had Tyson wake up Emma to come in and see her brother, I had wanted her to be there for the birth (she had been there for most of the others and had said that she wanted to), but things happened too fast for me to think of waking her up before he came. She was so cute, I think she was still really asleep for a little while, she was kind of wandering around, confused at first. She told me later that she thought she was dreaming. My mom and the midwife both showed up at the same time again, about 5 minutes after he was born.
It was about 2:05am when he was born. We didn’t have a clock nearby and didn’t think of checking for about a minute after he was born. Just like I had imagined it when I did the Visualize Your Birth script in my tub, it was surreal and magical in the middle of the night. I loved that it was so intimate, with just Tyson and me. I couldn’t imagine a better, more incredible birth experience.
I think it was around 4:30 or 5am by the time my midwife and mom left. My mom had a funeral to go to that day so she decided not to stay and sleep this time.
As each of the kids came in throughout the night and morning, it was like Christmas morning, seeing the looks on their faces. I’m so grateful for Hypnobabies® and all of the support of my family, friends, and Hypnobabies® friends whose support helped give me the confidence to have this most incredible experience!