Part one of a TWO week video series! For Vanessa and Eva, having solid education was important for planning what kind of birth they wanted for their daughter. As classes progressed, Vanessa and Eva’s confidence in their bodies’ ability to birth grew solid. It was that confidence that allowed the birth process to play out as it should, even with medical push back. They along with their doula, became a solid team, both at home, and then at the hospital. As you listen to them speak about their birth, you will begin to understand why CHOICE is so important in a birth experience. When a laboring person feels supported and heard – magical things happen. Stay tuned for next weeks video from Vanessa and Eva on “Be Your Best Advocate”!
To find out more about Hypnobirthing Classes…
– Our bodies have hundreds and thousands of years of evolution and wisdom and know how to do this thing called birth. Why in the world would I use my conditioned mind instead of the knowledge of my body to do this incredible, incredible process called birthing a child?
– I am Vanessa, and this is my wife.
– And we are a two mom family and–
– With our little girl, baby Bryce.
– Yeah, and we’re here today to share our birth story and how we prepared for the best birth we could have imagined. At five months pregnant, we were introduced to the Birth Education Center and hypnobirthing, and we had discussed wanting a natural birth. So as we did some research on the Birth Education Center, we realized that hypnobirthing would be a good fit and we signed up. And it was a five week class on Saturdays where we had the opportunity to go in with a couple, a small group of other couples which we were a little nervous at first being in a same sex marriage and how people would respond to us being in the class.
– We definitely wanted to practice breathing in a safe place that accepted us and our new family as equal to any heterosexual couple. So that was a concern in picking how we wanted to birth and what method that we chose that we and our new family would be honored as much as any other family. And hypnobirthing and the Birth Education Center was definitely a good fit for us.
– As we went throughout the course, we learned so much knowledge. I think one of the most powerful things for me was learning so much about my body and what it was built to do naturally. And all these views from society, from doctors, from hospitals, all these birth stories of pain and agony, and, oh my gosh, you better get an epidural. I learned through taking this class very quickly that that was not the case and we could indeed have a painful, calm, peaceful delivery.
– Painless. Did I say painful?
– And we’re so conditioned. Yeah, yeah. But as a society of women, we’re so conditioned to have these ideas from our mothers, from our grandmothers of what birth is like. And from the time that we’re babies, we start getting conditioned as to what it is, what childbirth looks like. And this conditioning is all in the brain and that’s where we end up living for most of our lives. And the way that hypnobirthing teaches is wait a minute, wait a minute. Our bodies have hundreds and thousands of years of evolution and wisdom and know how to do this thing called birth. Why in the world would I use my conditioned mind instead of the knowledge of my body to do this incredible, incredible process called birthing a child? And I think hypnobirthing really helps to help trust our bodies and trust what it can do. Being a woman to my female partner, it was awesome to also learn about what my body can do. And I felt a very deep resonance with this knowledge and what I knew that she could do, which–
– Which was why I think we made such a good team during labor and birth. At this point, we also saw the importance of hiring a doula. We had such an amazing, loving, caring doula Connie. We think about her often and–
– Connie Kirksey.
– Yeah. She did a few home visits with us to prepare. She sent us resources and she actually provided us with some exercises from spinning babies that I believe really, really helped in the birthing process. And one of my favorites was the handstand off the couch. So I think that provided a few seconds of relaxation during the day for me.
– Connie was just, we’ve never done this before. And we were learning all this knowledge and learning how to trust our bodies through this process and to have someone like Connie a very experienced and well educated woman teacher, doula, just totally allowed me to be in the process of birth with her. And I just was able to breathe, keep calm myself, keep my nervous system deactivated, knowing that she was on our team. And I just think that’s so valuable. I can’t speak highly enough of getting a doula and we’re not getting paid to say that. I really truly believe that.
– And you’ll hear later in our birth plan something special that she made our dreams and dream of a peaceful birth come to fruition. An exercise that stuck out in our minds during our hypnobirthing class was the fear release worksheet, where we got to release fears about birth, about what our relationship might look like after the birth. And this just really allowed us to get out of our brains, which we humans are born kind of getting crazy up in our brains, and allowed us to really tune into our body and what our body was made to do.
– Just the imagery, the visualization was another big one to be able to see, to visualize the type of birth that we wanted to have, to visualize us doing the practices, to visualize our baby and her process. The imagery of what it would be like to have her come out and look it us and be with us. These are all things that released a huge endorphin release that helped us stay focused on the positive and help us keep fears at bay, which was huge. The other part was just learning how to touch, learning how to touch her and being able to practice and the very physiological response that her body has to touch in the places that she wants. And we practiced with this daily. Sometimes we would laugh and joke about it. And even as we were kind of thinking about how we wanted to talk about this, we were having these fun little moments with yes touch here, touch there and places she didn’t wanna be touched at all. Like I don’t like that. All of those things helped us through every single minute of the labor.
– My whole entire labor, she did not take her hands off of me for one second. And it was amazing.
– Well probably for one second, but.
– The birth story begins. My wife and I ran to Kohl’s one evening to buy a birthday gift. And while my wife was in the jewelry section, I felt a tightening in my stomach which I have been feeling for a couple of days. But I felt a weird pop down there as well. And I looked at her and said, “Well, that felt weird. “I haven’t felt that before.”
– And I’m like, “But look at this, honey.”
– “Check out these earnings.”
– And she goes, “No Eva, really?” And I said, “Oh, okay. “Let’s go.”
– So we went home and contacted Connie who immediately calmed us down like she did so many times during this process and explained to us that this was normal, to check our temperature, to get some sleep. She was always reminding us to get our sleep, get our rest, and just continue to monitor contractions and other symptoms.
– Make sure baby was moving. If there were any painful things, let her know, but otherwise just do what you’re doing.
– Get sleep and eat. And relax and eat and sleep. And so yeah.
– So this was Tuesday. And finally Friday night I looked at Eva and I’m like just for peace of mind, let’s, if the baby doesn’t come tonight, let’s go into Mary Birch in the morning and just have her heartbeat checked. Just so that I could get out of my head. So we slept Friday night, woke up Saturday morning, went into Mary Birch, headed up to triage, got hooked up to the heart rate machine and everything was fine. They tested my fluids and determined that my water had in deed broke and immediately threw a gown on top of me and said, “You’re heading upstairs. “We’re admitting you.” At that point Eva and I looked at each other and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on. “This is not what we wanna do. “I do not wanna be induced, how long–”
– Well, we asked at that point, yeah, sorry babe, how long could we labor before they would induce. And they told us six hours, you can walk the halls. And we looked at each other like six hours? And talk about the pressure, right? We would have been walking the halls six hours, hoping and praying that Bryce would decide to come and forcing this process that didn’t need to be forced. So at that point we asked for some time. The nurse and the doctor left and we called Connie and we asked her and consulted with her and she still very much left it in our hands, but also calmed us down that Vanessa didn’t have a fever, the baby was moving, heart rate was good. Did we feel like we could continue laboring at home for a little while?
– At that point we told the nurse that we were gonna go home and she told us that we were not going to be able to leave until the doctor came and spoke to us. So the doctor came in and pretty much told us that if we left the hospital, our baby could catch an infection and she would die. So at that point we were feeling like we were being forced to stay, but through our preparation, through Connie’s experience, we felt that we were gonna be okay and we left the hospital.
– And don’t get us wrong. We deliberated for a while those words coming from the doctor did inspire fear in us and we sat there for a while and it was probably one of the hardest decisions that we have ever had to make. And we had to make some pretty hard decisions in our lives because we wanted to have this baby be safe and we didn’t wanna do anything to hurt the baby or her, Vanessa. We decided, well, wait a minute.
– We had a birth plan. We had a plan.
– We knew
– We knew she was safe. this was coming.
– The hospital was right there if we needed. We just needed a little bit more time at home. And we had to sign paperwork to say that we released to the hospital from any responsibility if our baby was hurt and we walked out. And the minute we got to our car, we felt so relieved. We went to Whole Foods, bought a pizza, and some lunch.
– I think as I reflect now, when we got to the car, it made us feel like our voice was heard. We had a voice, we had a plan. It’s not always what the doctor wants it to look like. And at that point, we were heard and we felt powerful and we felt that, okay we have our birth plan, we’re sticking to it. And we are having the birth that we want to have.
– And it’s empowering. But it’s also just about the learning experience. Like I think one of the things that I feel really strongly about telling people, telling women and their partners is that you will run up against some pushback. And I think just knowing that, just knowing that, ’cause we were told, hey, you know what? You might have to fight, not fight, but you might have to hold your ground. You might have to stand firm. You might have to have some courage and bravery through this process of maintaining what you want for your birth. People tell you that, but then you think, no it’ll be okay. I’m not gonna have to fight during this process. And I think one thing to know is that like be a mama bear, we’re gonna have to be a little mama bears if we’re gonna have to advocate and kind of speak what we want for ourselves. And at the end of the day, nobody else is gonna look in the mirror except yourself. And I didn’t want, I wanted this for us, for our baby, for her health. We didn’t want to interfere with this natural process that we knew could happen very, very well. And so I think just knowing that you might have some pushback and to be prepared for it is huge.
– So we left the hospital, went to Whole Foods, got a big pizza, came home and Connie had provided us with a midwife’s shake that you can take to help induce labor. So finally after days of leaking and contractions, I decided, you know what, blend up that shake. Let’s do this. So we ate our pizza. I drank the shake. And about an hour later, we were in full on labor. And we labored here at home for about three and a half hours.
– Alone without Connie. We consulted with Connie and Connie was not in any rush, which was nice because it helped calm us down and just go through the process. I was able to be with her and support her. And I was busy. I was just by her side, whatever she needed, doing a lot of this.
– But we were prepared and we were focused and we were connected. We were connected eye to eye, we’re looking in each other’s eyes visualizing. We had some music playing and it was just a very calm, calm environment. At one point Connie determined that it was time for her to head over.
– Actually what happened was I was on the phone with Connie and she just said, “Let me listen to her.” I said, and I was starting to get like, “Connie, I think maybe you should come over now.” And she said, “Let me listen to her,” and she said, “okay, I’ll be over in 30, 45 minutes.” I said, “Great.” Which again, gave me another boost that I was gonna have my team here to support Vanessa and Bryce.
– [Vanessa] Yeah and she showed up
– All calm. calm and look, this is what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna stay here. I’m gonna watch your contractions. I have some exercises I can do to help you out. And it was about two hours more that we labored here at home. And at that point, Connie said, “Okay, we have two choices. “We can head into the hospital now “and have time to walk in, “get checked in, “get up to your room, “or we can stay here a little longer “and go running into the hospital “when this baby’s ready to come out sliding.” So for me, I was ready to get to the hospital. I didn’t wanna go running in that kinda defeated the peaceful part of it for me. So we went ahead and loaded up in the car. They somehow got me in the back seat.
– Well, we had prepared the car, pillows, put the backseat down, got her in and drove the speed limit with Connie behind us.
– Connie was taking pictures of my head going up and down–
– Behind the scene up behind scene.
– She knew when the contractions were coming by how she was situated in the car.
– And we’ll never forget. There was a beautiful, beautiful sunset that night. And we were coming from Lamesa at Mary Birch. And as we were coming down the hill, Connie was taking pictures of our car and the sunset and later gave them to us, which was pretty sweet.
– It was pretty magical. Yeah.
– So we get to the hospital. Connie says, “No, we are not doing a drop off at the front door.”
– Don’t need to.
– We are parking in the parking structure and we are gonna walk into Mary Birch. So that’s what we did all the while my contractions were, I think two minutes apart at this point or not even closer together.
– So I was bent over in the elevator, bent over the fountain in front of Mary Birch. And they tried to put me in a wheelchair. Connie said, “Nope, she’s walking in the elevator “and she’s going up to triage.” Made it up to triage. They checked my dilation and the doctor was very excited and we were at six centimeters. So things were moving along. They quickly moved us up to our birthing room where I would not get out of the wheelchair because it was such a comfortable position. So I labored in that wheelchair for the next two hours. And at one point I looked into Eva’s eyes and I said, “I cannot do this anymore.” And behind me, I hear from Connie, “Yes, that is what I’ve been waiting for you to say. “It’s time to start pushing.” So they got me up onto the hospital bed into a comfortable position. And at that point–
– Well, and by the way we still only had our nurse at Mary Birch, who is absolutely awesome, Connie, our doula, myself and Vanessa in the room. And so we even in the birth room, it was just us doing our thing. It was calm, the lights were dim. It was okay.
– We were safe. We were connected.
– At this point, we pushed for 43 minutes. And at one point the nurse just before Bryce made her appearance into this world, the nurse said, “Hold on, don’t push.” And I was like, “Say what? “What do you mean don’t push? “This baby’s coming out of me.” And so she was in the process of changing her gloves
– And also calling the doctor. and calling the doctor.
– ‘Cause the doctor was not there wasn’t there yet.
– So she had one glove half on and no glove on the other hand. And she looks over at Eva.
– And says, “Do you wanna catch your baby?” And I said, “Yes.” We had written it in the birth plan that I wanted to catch the baby. But we knew that the chances were low at sharp Mary Birch, that I would actually be able to catch the baby. And it was a moment that just turned out for us. And I put my hands in there and I saw her little head come in and I took my hand and I put her little head in my hand and… This may be a little bit graphic, but I’ll never forget the feeling of two gallons of just warm, amniotic fluid coming out and Bryce just flying out.
– She was ready.
– Literally having to catch her and us–
– And how amazing that the first person to look into her eyes and the first person to touch her little body was her mommy.
– Yeah. Her eyes were open, they were so wide. And she just looked right at me. And I tear up thinking about it now, but I could not unlock my eyes from her eyes. And so I remember just staring at her and my jaw was dropped and I had this cry face on, the real ugly cry face, but it was a mom cry face I guess. And I remember pulling her around and I was so excited, but like so in touch with this little being. I just wanted to put her right on Vanessa’s chest, and wait a minute, she still attached. Hold on a second. And eventually got Bryce up to the Vanessa’s chest.
– Yeah, and we did our skin to skin and… She immediately latched on and was breastfeeding and she was
– She was so healthy,
– happy, healthy, ready to go.
– She was so like tuned in and it was just, we were also attuned. And it was just, yeah. Perfect.
– It was awesome.
– So some advice that we would offer to new parents is number one, get educated. I feel like for me, that was the most powerful part of this process was getting educated, knowing that it was my birth, our baby’s birth, and then it was only gonna happen once. And she’s only gonna enter this world once, and we have the power to make it how we wanted it to. And that leads to my second point is have a birth plan. Come up with a birth plan with your partner and know that you can stick to it. And it does not matter what the doctors say. But you can have the perfect birth.
– The education part too is also has to do with kinda knowing some of the reasons why hospitals make the decisions that they do, why they push in a certain direction, the knowledge of what the body is doing at certain points, how drug interactions interfere with those processes. I happen to be a marriage and family therapist that focuses on trauma. And I work with trauma through somatic experiencing therapy and which is all about processing trauma through the body. And a lot of the people that I work with, a lot of their very first traumas in life is birth. And you can tell through movements that are made, all sorts of things. So just knowing what the nervous system is doing, that baby knows exactly what to do. It’s just the most miraculous thing. That baby is not some dumb little lump on a log. Mama isn’t, even though she’s never done the birth before, she knows exactly what to do. These two know exactly what to do. And to understand that through science, to understand that through knowledge based, not just somebody saying, “Hey, they know what to do “and all is just gonna go great.” No, this is actually a process that has been happening and these cells and that baby knows exactly what to do. We just need to get out of the way and do whatever we can in the early stages to help that process be as smooth as possible and not interfere with nature’s timeline, with nature’s ability and our body. And just the knowledge to know, like this thing is miraculous. It’s amazing. It is the most miraculous creation that is here on this earth and let it do its job. Let baby who knows. She knew. Bryce knew what she was doing, and she’s kinda still showing us what she knows now, that she knows what she’s doing. But yeah, the education part is huge. And our classes gave us that. It gave us resources to research further, to look into it further, to talk to people more. It was just really good experience.
– Hire a doula. That’s my next piece of advice. And I think some advice for parents after the birthing process is you have to work as a team. You can’t do it alone. Split up the responsibilities. If mom is breastfeeding, then partner’s changing diapers in the middle of the night. You have to do it together. Skin to skin I think one of the reasons why Bryce is so happy and joyful were those first several months where we were just home and skin to skin and just giving love. We love on your baby. Love on your baby.
– Eye contact.
– We look in her eyes all the time. As far as some advice after the birth goes is we’re both in the sports. We’re both athletes. We both come from athletic background and we just always envision this process as being a team, of being a team together, being a team with Bryce. We have our roles to play and you figure out what the role is and what works, what doesn’t. I think patience with each other, but we were really fortunate. We kinda are just a natural team. When she needs something I can attend to it. But communication is important too. We’ve gotten into situations where we assume where we know what the other needs and the reality is we need to ask and we need to be clear and communicate with, hey, I need help with this. There’s been times when she’s looked at me and she has tears in her eyes, like I’m done, I’m tired. And I have a little extra and I can come in. So just communicating is huge. And it’s a constant journey. It’s a constant process. It’s not like one day we wake up and we’ve figured it out. I think that’s one of the things that we kinda have to work through continuously is that the minute that you think you’ve got it, something else changes. And so we figure it out. We figure out how to move in journey and continue to grow and learn through the process, so.
– That’s our sexy birth story.