A Birth Story: Poppy Leigh

Poppy's birth was really different than my first baby! Even though they were both natural, unmedicated births, and both water births, the experiences were just so incredibly different. With my first baby I did The Bradley Method, and had a great experience, but wanted to try Hypnobabies this time.

With Poppy, I had prodromal labor for weeks before she was born. Every night I would start having contractions. They were sometimes pretty uncomfortable, waking me up from sleep several times over about 3 weeks. The first and second night, I thought she was ready to meet us. After that, I just started dismissing them. It was confusing to me because she was in a good position, and towards the end of my pregnancy I was definitely hydrated and rested, but every night it still kept happening. 

October 2nd, I went to bed around 1130pm, with my same, typical contractions like every other night. I woke up more uncomfortable at 100am, except this time, I couldn't go back to sleep. Instead I paced the house, bounced on my exercise ball, and tried to rest and do some of my hypnosis tracks. A couple hours later, Austin was up with me. We spent about an hour doing things around the house, getting ready for baby, and making Austin some coffee. Zula kept sleeping for a little while, waking up around 430am, immediately wide awake and ready to go, excited that "Tiny" was finally coming.

We let our friend doing birth photos and our child doula know they could start making their way over. What's a child doula? A doula that is primarily responsible for caring for a sibling, helping them translate the experience, and supporting the family as needed. One of the best decisions I think we made for this birth, since Zula really wanted to be there, and Austin wanted to be able to support me. Both our photographer and doula came around 530am. I didn't feel like I needed my midwife yet, and waited on that. The waves were starting to get more intense, so I laid down to do some more of my hypnosis tracks. A little before 700am I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes, and Austin gave my midwife a call to let her know.

Around this time I started to lose track of everything. It felt like 5 minutes and 5 days all at the same time. Austin got the birth pool set up and turned on the Hypnobabies Birth Day Affirmations. The warm water was helpful to relax. About 900am I remember feeling really strange, confused, disoriented, and having contractions on top of each other. I asked my midwife to check me, and she said I was 4cm, +1, and 100% effaced. Then I was even more confused! I was only checked once during my labor with Zula, was at 6cm, and had felt a lot different. I felt like this labor was much further along at that point than it appeared to be. I was also struggling with not being able to easily move around. Every time I did I had intense, shooting nerve pains going down my legs, and it intensified my contractions even more. I just wanted to be still.  

At that point I recall feeling like I just had to hang on, and give into the experience that I had no control over. All I could do was stay calm and relax through it. For almost the next hour and a half I had frequent and powerful contractions, and then ended up fully dilated and ready for baby about 1025am. Looking back, it's no wonder everything felt so intense! I remember Zula coming in the room several times, usually with a huge smile on her face, a thumbs up sign, saying "You can do it mama, you are awesome!" How lucky I am to have her.

During most of my labor I was so, so tired - I had only had an hour and a half of sleep. With the intensity of my labor I wasn't able to eat anything at all, and I had minimal to drink with the exception of very early in the morning when everything started. I remember feeling just exhausted. As anyone that has had a natural birth will tell you, pushing waves are much more manageable than the waves that get you to that point. I pushed just a few times over about 20 minutes, and then we had a baby! 

While "the head is the hardest part" is usually true, I actually had a harder time delivering her shoulders. Fortunately everything went well and there were no complications. I didn't tear at all, and Poppy didn't have any problems. Immediately when picking her up I remember thinking she was SO big! She cried, and started pinking up right away. And she was just so, so sweet. We moved out of the tub, and after a little while Austin and Zula cut her cord together. 

Midwifery care is amazing for many reasons. One of the best being that they will just let you BE with your baby after birth. I held her for about 2 hours before they did her measurements and examined her. When they did - 8 pounds, 13 ounces, and 21 and 1/4 inches! A full 2 pounds and 3+ inches bigger than Zula. I'm glad I didn't know before, I think I would have been scared! I was expecting another 6-7 pound baby. She was born at 1046am, on October 3rd, her due date!

Hypnobabies - did it work?! I would say so. I was happy with my choice, and for the intensity of my labor and quick progression, I feel that I was pretty comfortable. Not that it wasn't hard - it was! But I can honestly say it was tolerable, and I don't think I ever hurt as much as I was prepared for. I did notice that as I was in and out of hypnosis, my physical comfort definitely changed. The further I got into labor and got off track from my hypnosis, the harder it was to get back there. It was much easier for me to do if I could close my eyes and just "check out". It was harder when I had to answer questions, or if anyone was touching me. Looking back, I think it was also harder because of having so little sleep! I remember struggling with exhaustion during my labor and my midwife telling me I had just as much energy as I needed to bring my baby here. So helpful:) 

Poppy is 10 days old now, and I'm so in love. We all are! She is such a sweetheart. I am so happy and thankful for her amazing, safe birth. And, so happy that we chose home this time.

There is a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.
— Laura Stavoe Harm