Sunday, December 16, 2007

Any Given Sunday...

Tellingly, it was with those words that Scott and I wrapped up our evening last Saturday. He was, of course, referring to the improbable possibility that the Steelers would beat our undefeated Patriots in Sunday's game, and not to the possibility of an early arrival of our baby girl. But there you have it, our first lesson learned in parenting --any given Sunday life comes at you fast. In our case, it was Sunday December 9th when Ms. Willa Maclaren (Willa Mac) made her way into the world.

The second lesson we learned during childbirth itself, and this is both relevant to a previous post about our hippie dippie childbirthing preparations, and folks' inquiries about the efficacy of hypnobirthing. The lesson is that you do the best with the tools you have, and no one tool set is going to be a magic bullet for anyone. Or maybe other folks' have that experience. Something tells me no.

Despite our rigorous preparations, Scott and I were open to what would be. We wanted to give natural childbirthing a go -- primiarly so that we had a baby born into the world without drugs in her system, but also because working with your body, eliminating fear and tension, and incorporating deep breathing and relaxation, all seemed like sensible strategies. But if I ended up with an epidural or c-section, that was the way of the world.

In the end, we did have our natural childbirth -- and the hypnobirthing helped. Here's how. Contractions started at 3:45 am, and by 7 am, they were 5 minutes apart. I started listening to birthing day affirmations, eliminating any last fears I had. When I spoke to the doctor at 8, she told me I was the only patient she'd talk to who was giggling during contractions. When we got to the hospital, we were already halfway there in terms of dialation and I was feeling pretty good. The photo should speak for itself.

Ashley, the nurse who worked with us through the delivery, was a hypno Mom herself, and worked with Scott to incorporate her actions (i.e. moving me into new positions) into the hypnosis. The hypnosis kept me calm through the transition into full labor, and the next five hours of pushing. At the very end, when the doctor was telling me I should really consider an epidural or csection soon because I was exhausted, but when I wanted to keep going, the hypnosis and deep breathing allowed me to fall asleep between fairly rapid sets of contractions, giving me the strength I needed to push through the final stages.

There were two challenges -- unrelated to hypnobirthing. Willa was, as they say, "sunny-side up." The back of her head (the hard part) was positioned against my back bone. Normally, the soft (malleable) part of a baby's head is positioned against the back bone which allows them to squeeze on by. Its a different level of effort and discomfort to push the back of a head past the backbone. The second challenge is that my contractions stalled and I could push all I wanted, but without my body pushing as well, she really wouldn't go any where fast and she certainly wouldn't move past a back bone. The one disservice of our classes is that there is some fear of God when it comes to Pitocin -- a drug that will increase your contractions, but is also associated with harder, more painful contractions. I said no to Pitocin upon first offer, but when we really needed help, we said OK. Because of the IV, Ashley was able to begin me on low-level Pitocin and increase it as needed. I felt no ill-effects from the Pitocin at all, in fact, I felt nothing other than an increase in the contractions tht enabled me to push through till the end.

My point here is only that the Pitocin helped ME, didn't hinder me, which might not be true for EVERYONE.

We do the best with the tools we have, but no one tool set will serve everyone the same way and I think that any childbirth or childrearing "method" should start considering itself a guiding framework, rather than a method, to keep participants open to what may be.

That said, I think that we are both committed to using hypnobirtihng in any other Stefanski births.