Towards the end of pregnancy we universally ache. We toss, we turn, we start to obsess over the calendar days as our due date approaches (sometimes too fast, usually way too slow)…
I was tired of dragging myself into work every morning on five hours of sleep. I was longing for a bottle of wine and a deli sandwich. UGH! I just wanted to go 1 hour without having to pee! And of course, my husband and I were incredibly anxious to meet our first child -- a daughter. But, rather than dwell on things out of my control, I followed Holly’s guidance from both her Intuitive Birth Class and her prenatal yoga series, Embryoga. I began to make a conscious decision to be mindful of every day of that last trimester. Instead, I found contentedness by being fully present and aware of how special and fleeting those final weeks and days were. When people would say “Aren’t you SO ready to be done being pregnant and get that baby out?” I didn’t let myself buy in to the negative thoughts and impatience. I would say, I was excited to meet her, but she could take her time so I could clean out one more closet or make that batch of lasagna to freeze. Rather than complaining about not being able to reach my toes, I got a pedicure and relished sitting in a massage chair. I took slow walks with my old dog and for once didn’t find irritation in his snail pace. I quit missing forbidden sushi and instead savored ANOTHER milkshake (without guilt).
These examples may seem trivial, but they weren’t. They helped train my mind to focus on a positive larger picture and to relinquish control. To be present and aware and accepting.
From a physical perspective, the yoga class hit on the importance of cat cow and keeping myself limber in general. During the second half of pregnancy I spent many evenings on my yoga mat. My baby positioned herself just right, perhaps in part because of Holly emphasizing the importance of spending time in forward leaning positions as I neared my due date. I also practiced deep breathing and releasing tension whenever I had a headache, a calf cramp (OUCH!) or insomnia. Practicing using these tools throughout pregnancy really helped me find them during labor when I needed them most.
When I went into labor I didn’t feel panic, fear or stress. My water broke at home in the middle of the night. In the wee hours of the morning, contractions started. I reminded myself what Holly taught – trust my body; my body was made to do this. I laid in bed and relaxed every inch of my body, one breath at a time, until I was able to fall back to sleep for a couple more hours.
Once at the hospital, my husband (who also attended Intuitive Birth with me) and I set up an area where I could labor on my hands and knees. He covered a footstool with a soft blanket so that I could relax my head and neck by resting it on the footstool in between contractions. We deemed it “Labor Fort”. Using the techniques we learned, he eased the pressure on my hips by squeezing and saved my lower back with a massage roller ball ($15 on amazon - GET ONE!). This was not only a huge help for me, but it also gave him an important role and a way to be involved in each contraction.
An incredibly powerful tool from Holly’s class came during transition and caught me by surprise. To cope with the pain, I exhaled and used low loud moans. It came somewhat instinctively to me that I needed to make noise to help relax my muscles and ride the wave of pain. HOWEVER, typically when in pain I am silent. Without the class and the encouragement to make noise and be loud during labor, I KNOW I would have tried to hold it in. Fighting my instinct would have made labor exponentially more difficult.
My birth plan was fairly simple: natural birth (nitrous oxide and a tub to help with pain), dim lighting in the room, birth stool for delivering, and the birth crawl. That said, we appreciated the class emphasis to be flexible and open to the experience. We thought of our birth plan as directions for my husband, my midwife, the nurse and myself to use to start down the same route together. My husband and I knew that in the moment we may need to detour or change vehicles altogether. Ultimately, my full trust was with my husband and midwife to get us the end destination safe and sound. Leading up to labor I was very excited about using the birth stool. In the moment, I completely forgot about it even though it was 4 feet from the bed. My legs were shot, my back was weak -- I was exhausted. I ended up giving birth on my side in bed – and it was perfect. The birth crawl also went out the window because my daughter was very petite. It was more important to get her warm and nursing right away, so we ditched the birth crawl on the spot with zero reservations. Holly’s focus on being flexible really helped us not get hung up on wishing things had been different – both in the moment and afterwards.
Moral? I love my birth story.