I was determined to have a 100% natural birth. I wanted to be strong enough to refuse an epidural, but didn’t know what the pain level would be like. I wanted more than anything to be in full control of my birth, and not leave anything to chance. I took a six week HypnoBabies course with my husband, Soomin, and I felt happy, positive, and prepared, but of course I knew that when it came to something I had never done before, it would be unpredictable.
I was two weeks past my due date. Soomin and I had gone to all the extra doctors visits and done all the exams required when you’re two weeks past due. Everything was looking great, but my doc insisted on checking my cervix. Up to this point I had refused all checkups for fear of having my birthing time triggered by something the doctor did and not by natural means. I learned at our Hypnobabies classes that birth begins the moment the baby secrets a special enzyme from it’s lungs into the Placenta which gives the mommy’s body the signal that babies lungs are ready to breath and the baby is ready to come out. I had also learned that I could be a centimeter dilated and still give birth the next day, so I was scared of what the doctor would say.
However, he insisted so much I finally gave in, and when he checked me he said “you’re barely a centimeter dilated and at this point I can’t risk something going wrong. I need to induce you or else you risk the placenta aging and your baby possibly dying inside.”
His words were sharp and stung so deep I left his office in inconsolable tears. I agreed to schedule an induction for Monday, it was Thursday so I still had the hope that baby would come on the weekend.
That same night my doc called to let me know he was only looking out for my best interest when he said baby could die, and he had “seen too much,” in his long career and cared too much about us to let anything happen. I knew he was sincere, nonetheless I felt discouraged and a bit scared so I told him to change the induction to Sunday. I hung up the phone and began a long and deep prayer connecting to my belly and the baby inside, my daughter.
“Baby it’s time, baby come out. I love you so much and although I’m not perfect I’ll be the perfect mother for you. I’m ready, papa is ready. Come out baby, come out baby.” I fell asleep praying, I remember.
The next day I called my friend Kerri who’s a Reiki practitioner and I asked if she would come to my house and do a session on me. That evening, around 5pm, she came and in the hour she did Reiki on me I had contractions every 5 mins on the clock. Could it be that something was starting?
That night I spent all night listening to my Hypnosis tapes and kicking the bed trying to get through the intense pressure I felt along my belly. I wedged myself up with pillows and gave in to the low instinctive grunting. I would fall asleep between contractions and wake up kicking and moaning. This went on for hours, but I was so ready, so excited, and felt so prepared that I felt I should try and get through the night and rest as much as I could. Besides, the Hypnosis was keeping me calm and positive.
But that morning around 7am I couldn’t take it anymore. I woke my husband in tears. “I don’t know if I can do this. It’s so strong and it feels so intense. I’m in so much pain.” I was kneeling on the floor with my head on the bed. I was so tired from the night before. I suddenly felt weak and unable.
Soomin immediately got to his feet, placed his hands around me, and reminded me why I had married him in the first place – “babe, this is what you wanted, a natural birth, let’s go, we can do this. I’m here with you and we’ll get through this together.” Something about his certainty got me to my feet and I stood in a full straddle, with my head on my hands against the bed, while he massaged my back. I placed my earphones back in with the Hypnosis tapes on repeat, and once again I felt like I could do it.
Around 9am the pressure was enough to keep me hunched over, so we called our doula and ran the tub with hot water. The moment I went in the tub everything seemed to stop and I wondered if maybe it wasn’t really “go time.” But when she arrived she said the water was helping relive the pressure of the baby’s head on my pelvis, and not to worry because the contractions were still occurring pretty rhythmically. I remember hearing from other women that at one point during your birthing time you “get in the zone.” I didn’t know what that meant until I found it – The Zone. Wow. It was like I lost tract of time. My mind was so focused on the hypnosis, deep breathing, moving, and getting through each wave of pressure, that I didn’t even feel pain or discomfort, I was in a deep meditative state.
I remember Soomin brought up some strawberries and other snacks which I ate inside the tub between contractions, and apple juice tasted so good at that time. I still remember how crisp, sweet, and refreshing it felt in the contrast of my hot and sweaty body and dry mouth. I was grinding through and chipping away at the minutes.
I suddenly felt the urge to stand up out of the water. I was feeling hot and uncomfortable. I’d been on all fours with my head against a towel for a few hours and my knees were hurting. It must have been around noon. The moment my body emerged from the tub I felt a deep pressure in my lower back. I held on to the railing of the bath door and instinctively swayed my hips side to side. I told my doula it was hurting and with her hands on my lower back she applied pressure. After what seemed like a year she asked “Are you still having a contraction?”
“It’s been five minutes.” She said and I turned to look at her surprised.
“What does that mean?” I said to her, but before she could answer I felt a very strong pressure on my rectum, got down on my knees, and in an “almost” scream I said, “I have to go to the bathroom right now!”The next few moments were hectic. I had transitioned from 3cm to 9cm in 5 minutes. My doula yelled for my husband to come upstairs (he had been packing the car downstairs) and asked if we should call 911 because “that baby is coming now.” We finally decided to take the risk and get in the car so I could deliver at Kaiser in Irvine where I had planned to all along. I had a vision and it did not involve staining my bathroom rug with blood.
For 42 weeks I was anxious to meet my daughter and now, on my birthing day, here I was sitting on my left hip in the car, with my legs crossed, asking out loud for baby to “stay in!” My husband encouraged me to listen to my Hypnosis track and take deep breaths, we got to Irvine from Huntington Beach in 10mins, a trek that usually takes 25mins. He was going 90 miles an hour. Thank goodness it was a Saturday and there was no traffic on the freeway, and apparently no cops either.
When we were around the corner from the hospital we called and they said to enter through ER. The moment we parked I felt a “pop,” and I knew my water broke. I leaked a little on the floor as I got out of the car, got on a wheel chair, and headed inside. They signaled us up to the third floor, we took the elevator, and my husband drove me down the long hallways to the Maternity Ward, there too he went 90-miles-an-hour. I remember hanging on to the wheelchair for dear life, and thinking “this is kinda fun.”
When we entered they were already expecting us, a room was ready, and a bed was made. The Midwife on staff asked wasted no time, she instructed I get undressed (no time for birthing robes or cover ups), get on the bed, and spread my legs. I did. I asked if I could get on all fours because I had read it would be easier to birth, but the midwife said “honey, you’re baby is almost out, lay on your back so I can assist you better and so you won’t tear.” I felt a sense of trust and decided right then and there, like a player at a big game, I was going to listen to my coach. I got on my side, she held a leg up, I pushed once. Then she said, baby is so close get on your back.
I surrendered to the experience and the next thirty minutes were unforgettable.
My doula arrived shortly after I had laid on the bed. She drove at the speed limit. She held my hair back and my hand and said “remember your hypnosis.” I closed my eyes as the next big push was nearing, the midwife pushed my legs up, knees bent and towards my armpits (good thing I did yoga through my pregnancy because it came in quite handy right then and there), and my husband was instructed to place a pillow behind my head to lift me up. I was like a little caterpillar curled into a ball.
My water had not fully broken and the midwife said “I’m going to pop your water so we can get this going,” and I felt a warm relief when she did. I also felt the contractions become instantly stronger. I knew my daughter was soon to arrive.
Oddly enough, and I have to share this, there were a few other people in the birthing room. Because I had gone straight in I wasn’t able to fill out all the standard paperwork. So as I rested between contractions, a nurse would ask me questions like “have you ever smoked?” Or “Is this your first child?” But as I neared one of my last pushes she asked “have you ever had suicidal thoughts?” And I remember turning my head and saying “Is this the twilight zone?! I’m having a baby! No!” And my husband jumped after me and said “Don’t bother her, I’ll answer those.” Hospitals need a lesson in tact.
After that minor interruption to my mental flow I continued pushing. I pushed so hard I felt like my insides were coming out. I literally thought for a moment I would birth a baby, my intestines, and my lungs. I pushed every time I was instructed to push, but surprisingly it was also when I felt it happening. It’s like everyone was in rhythm and I felt so safe. I was breathing deeply and sweating. It felt so raw and exciting. There was zero fear, there was no time for it. This was the moment when I remembered what one of the Hypnosis tracks said – to hold on to my baby, and when the time came for her to come, tell her mommy was ready to meet her, and let go of her hand – and I visualized just that. What amazed me was that in that very moment the midwife said “I see the head, here she is!”
She asked if I wanted to touch her, but I squirmed and said “no, no, get her out,” as I felt another intense pressure thrusting my body into a rhythmic motion. The midwife grabbed my hands anyways and made me feel my daughters head. I’m so glad she did because it encouraged me to give her that last important push that she asked for. I took a deep breath and couldn’t help but grunt and scream as I pushed my heart out. Literally. I felt it, baby’s head, shoulders, hips, all twisting and squirming through the exit hole. My hands were on her little body and I pulled her out of my body for good.
She swam, covered in a jelly slippery gew onto my chest. I held her so tight and repeated out loud over and over again “mama’s here, mama’s here, mama’s here.” I looked at my husband who kissed me and reassured me and I said “I did it babe! I did it!”
“You did babe, you did” He said.
Olive Hannah Kim was born at 1:53pm that Saturday, weighing in at 8.2lbs. She was swollen and perfect and she changed my life forever.
Giving birth to Olive was the most empowering experience of my life. More so than walking on hot coals at a Tony Robbins Event. It’s like, there was a fire within me, a need for expression, to prove to myself that I was capable, and to feel life in its fullest form. Besides that I truly believed from the start, and am confident of this now: women are meant to do this. Women were designed to give birth, it’s an organic experience, and there’s no room for fear – although at times it’s very intense – because love is the predominant feeling all throughout and it is enough to get you through it. Was there pain? Sure. Was it manageable? 100% Yes. Do you have to be prepared? Yes!