Birth Story: Josie

Josephine Marie Schneider was born at 5:25pm on Saturday, August 11th, 2007 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. The story of her birth begins on Wednesday, August 8th.

After more than a week of early labor including a few hours off and on of regular surges, we were all convinced that I was finally moving into active labor Wednesday afternoon. By Wednesday evening, I began to have surges every 4 – 5 minutes apart & they were lasting about a minute or so each. We called our doula who decided it would be best for her to go ahead and come to our home. I felt great and began to use the birth ball & my hypnobirthing cds to get into a relaxed frame of mind. It was beginning to get late and my surges were getting closer together, so the three of us decided that it was a good time to go to the hospital. I had planned on staying at home longer, but since it was about 11pm, we thought it would be best to go ahead and get checked in and settled so I could try to get some rest. Before leaving for the hospital, I called my parents and sister who left right away to meet us at Good Sam. My parents were an hour away and my sister was coming from Chicago. We were all very excited!

When I arrived at the hospital Wednesday night, I was told by the triage nurse that they were very overcrowded and that I needed to go into the waiting room. After about 15 uncomfortable minutes in the crowded room, they called me back to triage. The nurses were in terrible moods. They wouldn’t let Lou come back with me. They left me alone in the room for about 45 minutes. They would not tell Lou or doula what was going on. The nurse then came in to examine me & started by asking me to rate my pain. I explained that I was using hypnosis for pain management and she looked down at me and said “Well is your hypnosis thing working, because you don’t seem to be in labor to me.” I was starting to get very upset. The nurse was rude; I wanted to talk to Lou; and I was feeling very disempowered. To make matters worse, my surges had really slowed down.

The nurse hooked me up to the monitor to measure the length and strength of my surges, and then did a pelvic exam to check my progress. My contractions had slowed down considerably and I only had two or three small, short ones while I was on the monitor. I was also dilated just 2-3 cm but was 70% effaced. The nurse told me that she didn’t think I was really in labor & that’s why I wasn’t in a lot of pain. She advised me to walk for an hour and come back to be checked again. During my time in triage, there was a lot of complaining by the nurses and everyone was on edge. I later found out that it was the first night of a completely new computer system and many people were working over-time. This, on top of the overcrowded conditions, made for a very stressful environment. I started experiencing a lot of anxiety and things just didn’t feel right. After an hour of walking, my surges slowed down even more. When I was re-examined by the nurse, she determined that I had not dilated any farther. She gave me two options: 1) Stay in the hospital and take sleeping medication and reassess my labor in the morning or 2) Go home & return to the hospital when I knew it was “for real.” Needless to say, I opted to go back home. It was very late at night we were all exhausted. My sister had arrived from Chicago & my parents were there as well. We all went back to our house, convinced that my labor would progress and we’d be back in the hospital soon enough.

The reason I have included this part of the story is because I know in my heart that my body and my baby knew that the time wasn’t right when we got to the hospital that night. My labor completely stalled out because the environment was not comfortable and supportive. There was just something in the air there that night that didn’t feel quite right. I honestly believe that, had I chosen to stay in the hospital that night, I would’ve ended up with intervention after intervention. I’m very glad I trusted my intuition and went home.

The next day was Thursday. My family was still staying at my house and for the entire next day I felt like we were trying to will my body into labor. I was still having surges, but nothing regular or consistent. It was frustrating because they had all taken off of work & were literally there waiting for the baby. It was very important to me that my family be there for the delivery, and I knew that if I didn’t have the baby by the weekend, that they would all have to return to work and would not be able to take off again until well after she was born. It was no one’s fault, but this also created a very stressful environment for us. By Thursday evening, my surges had stopped completely. Lou & I talked and decided that they had to go home. On Friday morning, my mom, dad and sister all headed back to Xenia. I was relieved and also a bit disappointed, but I knew the baby would come when she was ready. Lou also went back to work on Friday.

I was only alone about a half-hour before my surges began again! As soon as I relaxed and reclaimed my space, my labor picked back up! I kept the news to myself this time, but started keeping track of the pattern. It was my due date, so I already had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for that afternoon. When I went to the doctor, he checked me and found that I was still 2-3 cm dilated & about 75-80% effaced. He hooked me up for a non-stress test, and we watched the surges print out on the paper. He said I was in early active labor and that she would be coming soon. We went to our favorite restaurants for cheeseburgers and then headed home to rest. Throughout the evening, we continued to track everything. I spent a lot of time on the birth ball and did some walking around the house and up and down the stairs to get things moving. I started having a bit of bloody show at about 10pm. My sister was back at our house for the night to pick up her husband who was coming in town to meet her. We stayed up until about 11:30 watching a Reds Game and then headed to bed. I had four really strong surges & remember thinking to myself that I wasn’t sure I would be able to sleep through these. I went to the bathroom and on my way back to the bed my water broke! It was about 11:45pm.

At first, Lou didn’t believe that my water had really broken. But, after a few minutes and several towels, there was no doubt. We woke up my sister who then called my doula and our family and off to the hospital we went (again)…

There was no doubt this time that I was in active labor. They didn’t even want to see me in triage; they just sent me straight back to the birthing room. I changed into a gown and got all settled in. It wasn’t long until my parents arrived.

When our nurse came in, I explained first thing that I was planning on an unmedicated birth using hypnosis and handed her a copy of our birth vision. She reviewed the plan and then said, “I don’t care if you want to stand on your head to give birth. Please do whatever is best for you. I love natural births.” She had a great attitude, and we felt confident that she would support us. Later on, when her shift ended, she assigned us to the nurse that she felt would be best for our natural birth. She chose a nurse who doesn’t need to work, but only does so a couple of days each month because she “loves birth so much.” That nurse was absolutely wonderful throughout the process.

The first few hours were good. I spent a lot of time walking the halls and stopped for each surge to have one of my “birth team members” press firmly into my lower back where I was having a lot of pain. I also used the birth ball and various positions in the bed. I used deep breathing and visualizations through each surge. Since it was the middle of the night, we were all very tired, but things were moving along pretty easily. By very early in the morning, my brother in law had also arrived. Everyone was pretty much napping around me as I moved through my labor with Louie and my doula.

The hypnosis worked very well. I didn’t use the headphones as much as I anticipated that I would. I had practiced the scripts, affirmations, and visualizations so much that I really didn’t need to. Instead, I just closed my eyes and turned completely within. I could hear the people talking around me, but nothing really registered. At times, I sort of felt out of my body. At one point, I was sitting in the big rocking chair, very deep into my self-hypnosis. The surges were getting much stronger, and I began to use toning to get me through them. For over an hour, I just sat and rocked and moaned deeply. My family said it was like I was in a trance or something. They said I was “so far gone” that they were worried. I should mention that Louie wasn’t worried, nor was I. We knew this was what hypnobirthing was all about.

As the sun started to come up, my surges were getting increasingly uncomfortable and the pain in my back was getting very intense. With the coaching of my doula and constant support of everyone in the room, we took each surge as it came. We moved through several different positions on the ball, in the bed, around the room, and even in the bathroom. The surges were getting very close together and very strong. It was clear that I was moving into transition.

When I was checked by the doctor, I was at 7cm and almost fully effaced. I was very excited to know that the baby would be coming soon. We were all exhausted, and I was definitely running out of steam. I continued to use deep breathing and visualizations to get me through this difficult time. I knew from class that this part was a challenge, but that I would be on to pushing very soon.

However, this phase of my labor went on for over five hours! I was “stuck” at 7cm and the doctor was beginning to worry about the baby’s position. However, it was clear from the monitoring that the baby was handling labor very well. There was no need to medically intervene, but the doctor advised me that if something didn’t happen soon we were going to need to have a conversation that I probably didn’t want to have.

The baby was posterior and needed to move in order for my labor to advance. This explained the back pain and the fact that I hadn’t moved past 7 cm for several hours. Our doula had me try various positions, but nothing was working. She called some of her fellow doula friends to get more advice on positioning.

After about six hours of being stuck with the baby facing the wrong direction, Carrie had me lay almost completely on my stomach. It was very painful. I shook violently. I continued to breathe and try to stay focused and relaxed. I visualized the baby turning. After a few minutes, I felt the baby turn!

We were now over 12 hours into the labor and the baby was now in the proper position. I was fully effaced and my cervix began to dilate again. The baby was moving down the birth canal and was sitting very low in my pelvis. I began to feel pressure.

Over the next couple of hours, the surges continued to build in intensity and moved even closer together. With the encouragement and support of everyone around me, plus everything I had learned in the hypnobirthing classes, I was able to keep going even though I was exhausted after no sleep and very little to eat. In the moments when things were the hardest, I just kept reminding myself what a gift I was giving my child by birthing her naturally. That was all I needed to hang in there. The fact that I had my whole family and Carrie there was also very meaningful and encouraging. However, the biggest motivator was definitely Louie who literally did not leave my side for the entire duration of the labor. He was a constant source of strength, even when I thought I was going to give up. Had it not been for his constant physical and emotional support, I know that I wouldn’t have made it without medication. Many people have congratulated me for having a natural birth, but Louie deserves just as much of the praise.

It was now Saturday afternoon. As my body continued to surge, the labor progressed. I moved in and out of several different positions which really helped. When the doctor checked me the next couple of times, I was getting closer to full dilation. I started to feel more and more pressure and began to bear down automatically. I stayed at 9cm through two exams and then called for the doctor with authority when I knew it was time to push! He did one final exam and confirmed what I already knew. After about 16 hours, the baby was finally coming!

When the doctor did the final exam, he explained that the baby was positioned “ear first” and that I would need to work a little harder than usual to get her out. I was absolutely exhausted and felt discouraged by the fact that he told me it may still be three or four hours until she was born.

Then, I turned inward into hypnosis again and resolved to birth my baby quickly and easily. I moved onto my hands and knees and began to push. I pushed strongly and with intention. Everyone was encouraging me and cheering me on. It was funny, because I actually began to “dedicate” each push to someone as a way to work with them. For example, I’d say to myself, “This next push is for my grandparents” or “The next one is for Louie.” As I pushed, the baby crowned very quickly. In just over an hour, I was only a couple of pushes from her birth. I moved on to my back so that I could place her directly to my chest once she was born.

Once I got on my back, I was able to see her coming out in the mirror above the bed. I was also able to touch her warm head and feel her wet hair. It was amazing and perfect! My daughter was being born!

After a few more strong pushes, Josephine Marie Schneider came into the world at 5:25pm. I pulled her up on to my chest. She let out a little cry and then calmed down immediately. I kissed and kissed her and repeated “we did it!” over and over again. Everyone was crying and smiling – even the nurse.

Josie was pink, healthy, and perfect. We delayed all of the newborn procedures, so we were able just to enjoy each other. After several minutes, Lou cut the cord. My family left the room and Lou, Josie and I just spent some time experiencing our first moments as a family. It was the most incredible moment of my life, and I will never forget the feeling of holding my brand new baby girl in my arms. She was 8 pounds and 15 ounces and 20 inches of absolute perfection!

After a few more minutes, the nurse helped me to breastfeed our baby for the first time. She latched right on and began to suck comfortably. I’ve never been happier than I was in these moments. All of the classes, practicing, and hard work had finally paid off.

We had the birth we always wanted.