A Cesarean HypnoBirth

From the moment I found out I was pregnant I was sure of two things: I didn’t want an epidural and I didn’t want a c-section. Not only was I terrified of needles and surgery, I knew I wanted to be in full control of my body and desperately wanted to experience the entire birth journey with my son. And selfishly, I didn’t want to be part of the one third of women in the US who have a cesarean.

So after some research, I decided to transfer offices and go for a birth center birth. I could tell my mom was nervous, but I had full faith in my body. The previous fall I suffered a miscarriage and I knew that if I could go through that painful experience, I could do anything.

At one of my prenatal appointments, the midwife handed me Carly’s business card. Doula? What the heck was a doula? I didn’t think we needed a doula and I doubted we could afford one. So for months Carly’s card sat in a pile of papers.

Somewhere along the pregnancy we decided to take Carly’s Hypnobirthing class. It was quite literally the best money we ever spent. Not only did we learn breathing techniques and birthing positions but we also learned about the birthing process, interventions, and what rights we had as patients. Dave and I ended up learning so much from Carly, we couldn’t imagine not having her as our doula. And even though we were close to the 8 month mark, she didn’t hesitate to help us. Between the Hypnobirthing class and Carly, there was no stone left unturned. We listened to our Hypnobirthing tracks daily and talked over our birth plan frequently. Dave and I felt 110% prepared for our son’s birth — even when that meant having a c-section.

At around the same time we hired Carly, we found out James was breech. I was about 35 weeks pregnant. The midwives told me that for every week he stayed breech, he would be less likely to turn and that I would need a c-section. I cried. and cried. Honestly, I think I cried for the remainder of my pregnancy. This was the complete opposite of what I wanted. I spent almost 8 months imagining what my body was capable of doing; what I was capable of doing; what we were capable of doing. 

Needless to say, I was crushed.

I quickly became obsessed with getting James head down. If there was a glimmer of hope, I tried it: peppermint oil, frozen peas, Spinning Babies exercises, reflexology, reiki, moxibustion, doing flips in the pool, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, external version. I know I sound like a crazy lady, but there was no way in hell I was getting a c-section.

And then I did.

It felt like I was being robbed of the birth we planned on and had such high hopes for. I was angry and sad. There was a sliver of a chance that James could still turn but Carly encouraged me to start planning the details of our c-section so I could enjoy the last week of my pregnacy. I didn’t realize it, but we still had options left. Thanks to Carly I was able begin thinking more level-headed and eventually found the peace I lost a few weeks prior. I needed to trust my instincts and my body and be okay with things not working out as planned. 

I quickly learned that cesareans can be beautiful and peaceful births too.

I’ve never felt so much peace as the day we drove to the hospital. To think that only a month before I was frightened and hysterical. Even though I couldn’t use all of the techniques we learned in Hypnobirthing, I was able to use imagery and breathing to help me relax. Carly and Dave were with me in triage and talked me through the prep. Carly even gave me some essential oils to calm my nerves. She would later be waiting for me in recovery to help me with anything I needed.

As I was wheeled into the OR, the doctors and nurses were smiling. The room felt light. Not sure if we just got lucky, but their confidence reassured me. During the spinal tap, Dave talked me through the breathing techniques we practiced. I was no longer scared.  We had a family-centered cesarean which meant we could watch James be born through a clear curtain and had other options like playing our favorite Pandora station and getting to hold our new love with little delay. Dave was able to cut James’s umbilical cord and we were still able to take the placenta home.

I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. We laughed and cried, and James was brought earth side peacefully. Carly helped me get breastfeeding off to a great start and was the support Dave needed as a new father.  Although it wasn’t the Hypnobirth I thought it would be, it was indeed a Hypnobirth in my eyes. There is no doubt in my mind that Carly made this possible for us and we are forever grateful.

I realize a peaceful cesarean is not everyone’s experience, but I wanted to share my story to tell you that it is possible. Please don’t ever be ashamed of a cesarean birth – you are no less of a mom. You are just as strong and amazing, and as a bonus, you have a love wound.