Birth Story: Letting Go

Mama Sune & Baby Anya
Mama Sune & Baby Anya

Anya’s Birth Story as told by Mama Sune Palladay

This is a story about a planned natural birth at a progressive hospital in San Francisco with a midwife. Not all went according to plan, but Sune caught onto the mantra of “letting go” early in the pregnancy and still was able to enjoy her unexpectedly early delivery with a regular doc.

I wanted to be married for 5 years before I had a baby. I wanted to be around 32 when I had a baby. I wanted an at home birth with a midwife in a birthing tub.  What you want, you sometimes have to let go of.

When I became pregnant, my boyfriend was my ex boyfriend. I had no medical insurance and no money to pay for a midwife. I was able to get state medical insurance, but that meant I had to deliver at a hospital.  NOOOOOOOOOO! Those were the first of many things I learned to let go of during my journey into motherhood.

I  decided to look at things from a new perspective. How can I make the best of this?  Step one was when I decided to let go of a few things that were keeping my man and I apart (and so did he).  Over the next 9 months, we went to counseling and worked things out.  I guess we just had to make room for each other!

I also decided to take a mindfulness based childbirth and parenting course. There, I met the director and teacher of the 9 week course, a well known midwife in San Francisco. She wanted to know about the type of birth I was planning. I told her that I wasn’t able to have the type of birth that I was planning and was sad about it. She gave me hope when she suggested that I go to St. Lukes, a local hospital that has midwives on call 24/7 (except for 2 days out of the month……) who also has centering group for pre-natal care (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) where you can share what you are going through with other women who are due the same month as you are. The centering group ended up being a wonderful thing and had I been able to have my baby at home, I wouldn’t have had a chance to meet all of the other pregnant ladies in my centering program.

St. Lukes also had a low intervention rate (C-section/pitossin and episiotomys), they let you labor and deliver in the same private room, they supply a birthing tub and birthing balls, and they have a free volunteer doula service! Oh they also let your baby room in with you.

So, my newly revised birthing plan was to have a baby at 28, with my BOYFRIEND who I am getting along with again and rebuilding a loving relationship, while we are living in a studio apartment looking for a new place with more space and to deliver in a hospital with midwives who will let you labor in a birthing tub, but not deliver in it. Ok, this could work. I can accept this.

More letting go…………..

Our birthing class was great, but my boyfriend didn’t really like it. I had planned for us to go and it be this amazing experience that we both enjoyed and that brought us closer together……. he hated it. He would go and sit quietly and seem to be listening, but felt that it was usless information and that she didn’t really focus on the right things (in hindsight, I now conncure) like what to expect.  As soon as we would get in the car, he would complain about it the whole way home. Ok, at least he went.  I can handle that, I guess. Ok, so my class wasn’t all I hoped it would be, so what?

Even MORE letting go…….

Its March 12th, I’m not due to have the baby for another 3 1/2 weeks.  We finally found a nice place to live. Its a quiet place in the Berkeley hills, with hardwood floors, skylights, 2 bdrms and tons of trees (near a regional park!).  I couldn’t wait to move in and FINALLY get the baby’s space set up (we are sharing a room with the baby, but I wanted to get things in order and prepared for when we came home. You know, to make an easy transition?) That day, we load the Uhaul and I go off to finish my last day of work (I was to work the second half of the day).  At 2pm, I sit down to listen to my Hypnobabies CD and guess what happens?  My water breaks!

Ok, let go of the fact that you’re not moved in yet. Let go of the fact that you couldn’t spend a few more weeks relaxing and enjoying the last bit of your pregnancy. Let go of the fact that everything will be in boxes and the bed won’t be set up or the bassinet or anything baby related when you come home from the hospital (again, glad I didn’t have the baby at home this time!)  Ok, I can handle it.

We sent our friend to deal with the movers and unload our truck while we went to have our baby.

What?! Even MORE @#$% letting go?!

When we arrive at the hospital, they are surprised to see us so early.  They tell me that my midwife is off duty and can not be called because she is with her dad who is having open heart surgery.  😦  She sadly went on to say that actually that was one of the 2 days where there will no midwives on call, but a resident OBGYN from another hospital (a hospital who has a high rate of C-sections) will deliver my baby, and that HE is really good (no offense to guys, but I really wanted a woman to deliver my baby. Its like having a yoga instructor who has never done yoga. How can a man possibly understand what I need and what I am going through?)

Ok, guess I will have to do this! I spoke with the male OBGYN and gave him my birthing “PLAN” (ha-ha. I now laugh at this word)
I requested a natural childbirth, I wanted no episiotomy, I wanted my boyfriend to “catch” the baby. I wanted my baby to be placed directly on my chest, I wanted the umbilical cord to stop pulsating before it was to be cut (this gives your baby the last bit of nutrients she needs and isn’t so abrupt for the baby) I wanted my placenta to deliver naturally.
Three hours into labor he suggested that I get pitossin, because since my baby is early and my water broke already, if labor is delayed she could get an infection and it could cause serious problems.  Thankfully, I wasn’t affraid to take charge of MY birth and I declined the pitosin. All 3 times he suggested it. I told him that I trusted my body to do what it needed to do in the time it needed to do it.  He sulked at my statement, but knew that he had to respect it.

Its now 11pm and I am dealing with some intense contractions every 3 minutes. Damnit, every 3 minutes? Can’t I just have a 15 minute break please?  (let go of that, for sure!)

The LPN checks me to see if I am dialated…nope, barely open she says.  Mind takes over; “Nothing I practiced or planned is helping the pain and its only going to get worse and I probably have so many more hours to go…………….I can’t do it. I can’t do it! GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL!!!!   NOW!!!!” By this point, it was easy to let go of my wanting a natural childbirth.  (It was afterwords and maybe a still a little bit today that I have problems letting of this. Maybe next time.)

Once the epidural kicked in, it was smooth sailing. I really was able to enjoy my birthing experience. They set up a mirror and I was able to see my sweet baby’s head and finally touch it (at the time I didn’t know what the gender was) I pushed for two hours and had the most wonderful easy delivery. I didn’t tear, her 🙂 head wasn’t cone shaped, it went amazingly. But then, he pulled her out, layed her on my belly (not my chest) then the pediatrician said that she needed to take her to check her out. My baby is all the way over on the other side of the room with daddy, while I’m checking out the doctor pumping my belly to speed up the delivery of the placenta (a facinating organ, by the way. If your midwife lets you, have her do a placenta print on paper. My friend did this and the imprint of the veins on the paper look like a tree!). Five minutes after she was born I finally got to gaze into my baby’s eyes and attach her to my breast.

I had to let go of a lot of things during the delivery, but I am glad I didn’t have to let go of not wanting pitossin, a C-section,  or an episiotomy (one of the women in my birthing class had planned a homebirth and had to get a C-section. Talk about having to let go!).
All in all, I am grateful for my pregancy and birthing experience and now my motherhood experience (the letting go continues!) and I don’t think that I would have made room for these things in my life if I wasn’t able to let go of so many things.  I think I am a much happy person when I just let go.

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2 thoughts on “Birth Story: Letting Go

  1. Talk about having to let go, indeed.

    I keep revisiting the image of that labyrinth from Birthing from Within; I’d always thought of childbirth as the ultimate goal of my pregnancy. I now know my baby had other plans. She was very much alive in me, and had the wisdom to carry herself the way she needed to in order to keep us both safe.

    She was born by c-section (after many years of dreaming up a perfect home birth experience), and just minutes after she was born, the doctors discovered she had craniosynostosis: early fusing of the plates in her skull… a condition that could have proven difficult, if not impossible for a normal delivery — and one that would have been absolutely disastrous in a homebirth setting.

    The night before she was born, I sat down with a Hypnobabies “turning your breech baby” recording, to try to convince her to flip. Two portions of the hypnosis, however, were devoted to my “letting go”: first, by granting her freedom — that if there were some important reason she couldn’t turn, that I understood, and second, that I was absolutely ready for her to come out and be in my arms, no matter how she came. Hours later, I was in the hospital, the start of a 24 hour process that would lead to her delivery, and my discovery that she knew all along what she was doing.

    Babies are absolutely miraculous. The moment she was born and picked up by her father, she stopped crying. We were her parents, and she knew she had arrived safely. Everything has been absolutely perfect since.

    She is an angel, no doubt, and we share an amazing connection. I had no idea how hard life was for a baby until she “explained” it to me. She is so innocent and so wise; perfect, despite her physical imperfection.

    Despite all our best intentions, we can only hope that Nature guides us with care. She is due for surgery to separate the plates in her skull next week — and I feel like I’ve been dragged into the same conundrum again… I want to tear myself away from the medical community at large and never return, but the only way she can be safe is by me letting go again, and allowing my precious angel to undergo surgery as an infant.

    Bizarre and wonderful how the universe presents us with so many opportunities to face our worst possible fears. The best we can hope for is to emerge with the given lessons as a more complete human being, with a better understanding of how to let go and let go and let go again.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Melanie – your little lovely certainly did know what she was doing! Amazing how this whole thing works! Good luck with the surgery, I cannot imagine what that will be like for all of you, but I do know your bond will only be strengthened and the love in your new family will see you through. My prayers for healing are with all of you!

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