In the running for the highlight of Eloise’s birth: chowing down on a tuna sub and sipping iced coffee in the backseat on the way to the birth center, only to discover on arriving that I was almost completely dilated. Truly the best moment, though, was meeting our baby girl only a couple hours later, caught completely off guard by her head of dark hair and an altogether unexpected reason for my tears.
From the beginning, I had high hopes for our second baby’s birth. Evan’s birth had been one change in plans after another. This time, I hoped to spend our early birthing time at home, in peace, followed by the uneventful birth center birth that never came to pass for Evan. I wavered for weeks over whether Hypnobabies birth method was worth the investment of time and money. Our doula, who specializes in Hypnobabies, never pressured us, but I’m so glad I pursued it in the end, and I pretty much owe sole credit to Hypnobabies for enjoying that tuna sub in such comfort.
My terminology follows the Hypnobabies course language–it might sound a little funny, but it’s not hard to follow, and is totally worth using to reflect the natural event that childbirth is.
I had baby fever as soon as I forgot the discomfort of Evan’s birth. I wanted SO badly to be ovulating, and I would take embarrassingly frequent pregnancy tests on the fluke that we’d gotten so lucky without trying. That was never the case (a blessing in hindsight for our family), and when my period returned at 16 months postpartum, we got right to work! Easier said than done when a nursing toddler is keeping you up at night more than he did as a newborn. On our third wedding anniversary, I surprised Steve with the news of a positive pregnancy test. We were a bit stunned and so excited that it was finally time to add to our family. A couple weeks later, I called him on his work trip in Dallas, with the news that I wouldn’t get the chance to share a birthday with this baby, after all. I had started spotting, then bleeding, over a couple of days. Steve came back as soon as he could catch a flight so we could process this early loss, a chemical pregnancy, together.
It was tough, but not devastating. We knew we wanted to keep trying, and I felt so fortunate that we conceived my very next cycle. I had a crippling case of “food poisoning” in early December, during some round of tainted salad greens in the news. Steve had to take over mid-diaper change at bedtime while I curled myself around the toilet, calling my mom in tears to see if she could bring Saltines. The incident came and went, but when we pieced together the timeline, positive test in hand not much later, we realized that it must have been a case of some strong implantation!
And so it began. I was slow to call for the first appointment, and took several more tests to confirm, I think waiting to see if this one would “stick”. I was hesitant to even state factually that I was pregnant for a few weeks. It didn’t feel like it counted yet, given what we had just been through. But it began to count, and quickly, as my belly popped right out and–I hate to even recall it–I lost my taste for cheese. Or really much food at all. As we shared the news, and how sick I was feeling compared to my first pregnancy, we got a few it-must-be-a-girl’s, and the wives’ tale holds true this time. We opted not to find out the gender until the birth again (it’s the best surprise), and the nausea came and went and eventually faded, giving way to some unsightly and painful varicose veins, a maybe-real case of gestational diabetes, and much less rest than I got while pregnant with Evan. I otherwise took my health much more seriously this time around, not willing to give up our birth center birth for ANY reason that I could control. I ate as best I could, I took my blood sugar faithfully, I lifted weights, and when I didn’t feel up to strength workouts anymore I walked…and walked…and walked. Usually upwards of two or three miles a day.
We bought a house, we took Evan to the beach in Florida with a few days planning, and as home renovations progressed, we decided baby would join us in our temporary apartment near my parents, baby’s Nana and Papa.
And Papa–before he got his new grandbaby girl, he got a diagnosis of stage 4 kidney cancer. It put this new little life into glaring perspective, but Papa got to see her in person often, and we hope he’s somewhere watching with a smile as we celebrate Eloise’s birth every year. Eloise will carry a little Papa wherever she goes: Eloise Scot, whose name she got from mama Tessa Scot, whose name I got from Papa Scott.
So basically the pregnancy was super eventful but entirely normal. The tracks I listened to daily as part of Hypnobabies made it impossible to picture anything BUT a beautiful, natural birth at the birth center. They put my mind in charge and gave me an incredible calm about the birth. I KNEW I would have the right birth for our baby, and although I took on Hypnobabies to equip me in the case of an intense birth like Evan’s, I was intent that the right birth would indeed be the one we planned.
I told myself, I envisioned, all through this pregnancy that baby would come in week 39. It was just a thing for me. Kind of like the thing where, on my nightly walks in the last trimester, I’d look at the sunset that night for a sign of whether it contained boy or girl colors, running an unofficial, and ultimately inconclusive, tally in my head to determine my baby’s gender.
Although Eloise wasn’t born until I was 40 weeks and 2 days, I believe she began her entrance right “on time”, according to Mama’s wishes. At this point, when even I, who love being pregnant, just wanted this baby out, my daily Hypnobabies listening helped me stay really positive that the right birth for this baby would unfold on time. The tracks helped me to stay inwardly focused and remain patient when I had unrelenting diarrhea, lost some of my mucus plug every day, was cramping on and off, and couldn’t even muster the appetite for a breakfast sandwich. Normally, all these positive signs would have had me making plans and letting everyone know it was sure to happen soon. But, as I learned with Evan’s birth, I didn’t need that pressure, even from my family. I needed to nest, to enjoy my family as we knew it before adding our newest member.
Evan and I got one last memorable “date” that week before he became a big brother. All toddler moms know that outings can sometimes be torture, but we had a really pleasant trip to Ikea to pick out a few last minute furnishings for our makeshift nursery and eat ALL the meatballs. I’ll remember that trip to Ikea for a long time—I just wish Evan could remember it, too (unlikely)!
Just before the 40 week mark, I started listening to the “Baby Come Out” Hypnobabies track on my nightly walks, getting really into it, maybe a little too relaxed. With Hypnobabies, you’re supposed to listen to your tracks relaxing in a fully supported position. But sometimes it worked best for me to listen while out walking–not ideal, but it was one of the few times I could stay awake and actually hear what was said. In the end, that track really primed my mind and body for birth, helping me to let go of anxiety and allow baby to come.
On Sunday, at 40 weeks, 1 day, either my subconscious mind or my body were softly confirming to me that the birth was imminent, that progress had indeed been underway all week. Probably THE only food that sounded good at that point was a burger, fries, and shake, so we had what would otherwise be a normal early dinner outing to Convention Grill. It’s so bittersweet to think that was our last outing as a family of three. Evan slurped his milkshake with pure delight, I changed a toddler diaper on the bathroom counter, and we filled our bellies.
On the way home, in a near carb and meat coma, I suggested we listen to “Your Birthing Time Begins”. It’s one of the few non-hypnotic tracks which reminds you of all the hypnosis tools and techniques that you’ll want fresh in your mind once you’re certain it’s your birthing time. After Evan went to bed, I had a minor outburst at Steve about everything I needed to get done around the apartment that night (undeniable nesting), and I made him bring all the birth bags in from the car so I could reorganize them and check our list again. If I wasn’t admitting yet that I was about to birth a baby, I was definitely in denial.
We changed things up that night, and instead of sleeping alone (in comfort) in the new “nursery”, Steve took that bed and I slept with Evan. If only I would have known how I would yearn for those nights cuddled up with my baby boy, once our little girl arrived on the scene, I probably would have stayed up all night savoring it. But–it’s a good thing I didn’t! Instead I drifted off to my hypnosis playlist, as usual, getting the rest I didn’t know I would need for tomorrow.
The beautiful professional maternity pics below are by North Photo Collective.