The Birth of Caroline Faye | Birth Photography

This is really long for such a short birth, but here is my birth story at last! {As written by Sunny Schaffer}

I sat on the toilet and leaned in to my husband, trying not to cry. “I can’t do this. I need to go to the hospital. I need them to take this baby out right now.”
I was tired and frustrated. This is not how I wanted my birthing time to go. This is not what I expected. I was getting angry. I’d had easy, straightforward, painless births before using hypnosis. Why weren’t my Hypnobabies tools working for me?!

The hours leading up to this are blurry at best. I’d had prodromal labor for weeks and several false starts that were intense but never brought us a baby. Wednesday night I went to bed with regular waves expecting to wake up and call my birth team at some point. Instead I woke up tired and frustrated at yet another false alarm. We decided to go to the zoo. I didn’t have the intention of trying to make baby come, I knew she would on her own time, but I had a sense that I needed to be out and walking. The entire pregnancy I’d been extremely in tune to my body and I knew exactly what my body was needing. So we walked and walked and by the end of the day I felt better than ever.

Friday morning I woke up with more waves and noticed I was having some bleeding (show). I’d never had any blood until I was pushing before, so I knew something Was happening. I went about my day with frequent but inconsistent waves. I did the grocery shopping for the week and settled in for bed, still half expecting to wake up in full blown labor. Nothing. By Saturday I decided it was all a fluke and I would be pregnant forever. And I was angry. I turned my phone off because if one more person called or text “just to check in”, I might have lost it. I had a lot of intermittent discomfort in my pelvic area and knew I needed to see a chiropractor, but they were all closed, or the ones with Saturday hours were at a conference. I spent the day resting and decided to grill hamburgers for dinner.

While cooking dinner my waves really intensified but were still very infrequent- maybe every 10-15 minutes. They had a different feel to them- different than my last two labors, less pressure and more discomfort right at my pubic bone. Several times I had to hang off the refrigerator. Still, I didn’t think it was “time”. We tucked the girls in bed and I sent Seth off to work. I sent a text to my midwife, doula, and photographer that waves were longer and stronger but not closer together and went to bed.

Alyvia woke up around 11:45pm and was wired. It wasn’t like her. I sat in her room to nurse and rock her to sleep but just as she’d start to drift off a strong wave would hit and I would wake her up. Soon, Evelyn was awake too and it was clear we were not going back to sleep. I was texting with Seth who suggested I call my sister (who was our child care person). I said that was ridiculous because, I wasn’t in labor and didn’t want to use anyone too soon! I tried to busy myself for a while and scrubbed the floor in my bathroom, but the girls needed me. I took them downstairs to our room and put on a movie and laid down with them.

For a couple hours I dozed lightly and woke up to strong, infrequent waves. The sensation was still centered right on my pubic bone and I can only describe it as a shredding feeling. I didn’t have the all over pressure I recognized as contractions, the only hint I had was their timing- lasting one minute long. The only slight relief I could get was rocking my pelvis back and forth laying on my side and moaning through them. The girls started to get scared. We talked about the videos of babies being born and the sounds mommies make, but they were tired and worried. Seth insisted I call someone (it was a huge ordeal for him to leave work so we needed to save it for when we knew baby was coming). I insisted again it was silly to call anyone with such infrequent waves, but just then the strongest one yet knocked me to the ground and my girls started sobbing.

I messaged my doula (and business partner) Mallory to see if she was awake. I decided if she didn’t wake up from my message, I wouldn’t bother her, but she responded right away. I told her I wasn’t sure if anything was really happening but that I was tired and uncomfortable, the girls were a mess, and I needed support. I figured I’d send her home later when Seth could come home. The 30 minute wait for her to get to my house was unending. I called my midwife, Cheryl, to let her know what was happening. She encouraged me to rest and update her once Mallory arrived.

By the time Mallory walked in I was sure something was wrong. I was no longer uncomfortable… I was in pain. I couldn’t get on top of my waves, my cues weren’t working, I was overwhelmed… But, waves were still infrequent- 10-15 minutes at most. “This wasn’t active labor”, my doula brain told me. “These are going to get closer together”, my doula brain told me. “We’ve got a long time to go”, my doula brain told me. But my mom brain told me something was going on. As Mallory walked in I dashed to the shower with my Birthing Day Affirmation cd. The water helped relax me some and I spent some time getting in tune with my body. This baby had always told my spirit what she needed (her heart arrhythmia was discovered because I just KNEW something was wrong with her and went to my midwife). I asked baby if today was her birth day and what she needed for us to work together. I got the sense that she was not in an optimal position. I decided to try Miles Circuit.

I stepped out of the shower and in to peace: my house had been cleaned, my kids were tucked in to bed, and there was a hot mug of tea waiting on me. It was around 3:30am and Seth was on his way home. (What they didn’t tell me was it was snowing and icy!) I settled in on a deflated birth ball with my bottom high in the air to move baby off my cervix and shortly after Seth arrived home (all I heard was “sorry it took so long, I came all the way from Atlantic City”- HIMYM fans may get the reference) After a while I laid down with the peanut ball on a mattress Seth had drug in to the living room so I could watch tv. I dozed in between waves as Mallory napped on the couch timing the contractions and Seth napped with the girls. I’d wake up at the peak of each wave so it was difficult to get on top of them. After each one ended I’d ask Mallory how long and felt deflated at her answers: 12 minutes, 15 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes…

I knew I couldn’t go on like this. I called my midwife again,frustrated, to update her. At that point I couldn’t lay down any more and each wave I told Mallory I was done. I decided to fill my birth tub and see if I could get some relief- in our comfort measures class we always teach that there is a sweet spot to using hydrotherapy- if you get in too soon it can slow your labor down. That was my intention- to make it stop. While I was waiting for the tub to fill I felt baby go absolutely insane. Mallory came to tell me the tub was ready and I climbed in. We’d run out of hot water so they began boiling pot after pot of water to warm the tub. Immediately, two things happened. My waves were more tolerable and the pressure/“warm hug” I was so accustomed to with Hypnobabies… And they started coming more consistent. Mallory texted Cheryl an update and she said she’d head our way, then called my birth photographer. Mallory suddenly asked if I was pushing and I said no, but I needed to poop. I headed to the bathroom where I had several very quick waves. Seth stood in front of me and I told him I couldn’t do it and wanted to go to the hospital but another wave cut me short with sudden clarity.

“Get Mallory. I’m pushing.”
I felt like baby was coming right there on the toilet, but by gosh, I wanted a water birth! I hopped up and hurdled over the side of the tub.

When Alyvia was born I could not stand listening to my Hypnobabies tracks, but this time, that was all I wanted to hear. I settled in to the tub and asked where Cheryl was… This baby was coming. Mallory said she was 35 minutes away. I heard Seth talking about going to Quick Trip to get donuts. I told Mallory not to let him leave. Time seemed to fly, but go ever so slowly all at once. Each wave I had I breathed through, feeling baby move lower, and talking my body out of pushing her out right then. I kept repeating my hypnosis cues “Peace” over and over, then switched to my “Relax” and “Release” cues, then occasionally I’d just say STOP IT… There was nothing in Hypnobabies that told me keep a baby in!

At one point I looked at Mallory and told her I needed her to call Lauren, my dear friend and Hypnobabies instructor, and put her on speaker phone. “I need (breathe) her to tell me (breathe) how to not push.” Mallory started to dial Lauren as another wave hit and I told her never mind. This continued and I wondered with each wave if it would be the one to bring baby in to the world. A few felt unstoppable and I considered letting my body just push, but after having a complication with my last birth that required midwife intervention and having hired my midwife specifically for that reason, I decided to wait if I could. I would have thought I would be panicked at the prospect of baby coming with no medical help but I was strangely calm and at peace. I could think clearly and remembered my midwife’s words so many appointments leading up to that when I expressed fears about delivering alone (I have a history of quick-ish births) “It’s already written, God has this, everyone who is supposed to be there will get there.”

Soon I heard the door open and Mallory told me Cheryl was here. I was relieved and ready to just get it over with, but instead walked in Stacie, my photographer. I was so glad to see her! I tried to relax more in the tub- the seat at the bottom was placed perfectly for me to brace my back against for counter pressure.

A few minutes later Cheryl walked in. I immediately asked her to check me. For some reason, pushing and all, I was still terrified I was barely dilated. She said yes and quickly set up supplies “in case baby comes sliding out while I check you!” I thought there was no way, but she laughed as she checked me and told me to reach down. I could feel her head! “So… I can push if I want to?” (Isn’t it funny the irrational thoughts you have during this moments? I was still unsure if I was dilated enough to push!) I heard Cheryl tell someone “if I ask for oxygen, it’s right here.” For some reason, that was incredibly reassuring to me. We spent so much time in prenatals talking about the possibility of another dystocia and the plan of action if it happened. Those words reaffirmed I was safe, baby was safe, and I could bring her into the world without fear.

I breathed through a few more waves trying to get the courage to go for it. I could hear my “Pushing Baby Out” track in the background and it sounded so comforting. Suddenly I felt intense pressure and knew there was no more holding back. I yelled for Seth, who was downstairs with the girls, and in just a couple pushes felt her head and the familiar sting. My last un-medicated birth pushing was really scary and uncomfortable (I had fetal ejection reflex) so I was surprised that it felt good and that I was in control of how much and how hard I pushed, and how quiet I was this time around. I felt so calm and confident, and it was silent.

Soon I felt her head slide out and I started to relax, but felt another wave right away, then out came her shoulder- the best feeling in the world- that meant we were in the clear. No one was coaching me and the only hands on me were Seth holding me from behind. I reached down and caught my baby and pulled her to the surface of the water in the most surreal moment ever. I immediately smiled.

We did it.

Caroline Faye came Earthside at 8:04am 1/17/16- on her guess date. She weighed 8lbs and was 22inches.

The first couple of days afterwards I was frustrated that it didn’t go exactly how I wanted… I’d imagined a laid back early labor with plenty of time to work in to the tough part. I certainly never expected to question my pain tolerance or capabilities. I was in “active” labor about an hour, a lot of that was pushing. I questioned if my Hypnobabies practice had been lacking, but then I realized… There were so many suggestions in my hypnosis practice that my body and my baby knew what we needed. Had I had a totally comfortable early stage and didn’t have the (yes, I’m going to say it!) pain, I would have never called Mallory, or Seth, or my team. I needed the discomfort to get everyone there.

Once everyone was on their way and I felt safe, I had a comfortable, easy birthing time, that was perfect for me.

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