A Birth Photographer's Hypnobabies Birth Center Water Birth in Tulsa | The Birth Story of Silas John
This birth story, my birth story, shares the intimate moments of the arrival of my youngest son Silas, born January 2nd of last year. It was a prayer and Hypnobabies fueled water birth at Special Delivery Birth Center in Tulsa that serves as one of the most peaceful, joy-filled days of my life... and it is my honor to share it with you!
On January 1st, 2017, I woke up like it was any other day. Only it was my due date, to me know as "guess date," and I had zero expectation of baby making his arrival that day. My oldest son had waited until closer to 41 weeks to come... and I still felt very comfortable, so I figured it would still be a bit. I went about my day, and that evening decided to pull through Panda Express to satisfy a pregnancy craving (yum!). Upon arriving home, I let my belly sway as I leaned over the kitchen counter to eat my orange chicken as I chatted with my husband Jake, only to find out he had gotten a text message from the physician he was working with on surgery that month, and he was unexpectedly going to have the next day off.
I had spent much of my pregnancy slightly anxious about Jake being stuck out of the hospital and out of cell range when I went into labor, so quickly realized that the next day would be IDEAL for this babe to come. I soon after retreated to the bath tub to listen to some of my favorite scripture affirmations from A Heavenly Welcome while Jake put our oldest little man down for bed; but not before shooting a text message to some close friends and my mama to ask them to pray that this baby would come tomorrow. I sank into the bathtub expectant and at peace, tenderly holding my belly and having a little heart-to-heart with my in-utero son that I was ready to meet him.
I woke the next morning around 6:50am to a mild pressure wave (aka contraction - but my childbirth preparation method of choice prefers the phrase "pressure wave" for its more positive connotation. I know it sounds silly, but seriously, Hypnobabies is legit. Check it out). It was completely painless, but something about the way it wrapped around my belly gradually, as opposed to the more general tightening I had felt with Braxton Hicks told me this was different. About 7 minutes later, another came. And then another. Each between 60-90 seconds. They truly felt like warm, repetitive "hugs" - so I stuck my earbuds in with one of my Hypnobabies tracks (Birthing Day Affirmation and Your Birthing Time Begins) and simply rested while welcoming them. Around 7:30, our son Rhys woke up and toddled into our bedroom. I smiled and said hi, and then woke my husband and asked him to take Rhys into the living room because I was having mild pressure waves and wanted to just rest and see what happened.
An hour or so after that, I timed a few more and noticed that were closer to 5 minutes apart now, and texted my blessing of a midwife Ruth just to let her know that I was having consistent waves... but that because of how mild they were, I still wasn't sure it really "time." She encouraged me to call my chiropractor to get in for an adjustment, and grab some food (I was craving bagels) after and then see where things went. As I got up and around, the pressure waves continued to come anywhere from 4-6 minutes apart, and a little shorter at 40-50 seconds long... but still were so mild that I was in total denial that my baby would arrive that day. (I think after waking up in labor with my oldest son Rhys and announcing it was "baby day" only to have him 31 hours later on the following day made me extra cautious of speaking too soon.)
Getting ready took a little bit longer than I thought, so I ate a Larabar on the way out the door (that Rhys insisted I share with him) and called my mom and other birth team members and let them know what was up, but told them I didn't know if they should head this way yet... as I'd feel bad if things petered out and they had to go home since the majority had at least a 2 hour drive. Because they're smart, they agreed they should come up anyways, and if all else failed we'd just have a fun girls' day. In the car, I turned the seat heaters on high, and kept my earbuds in as I listened to the Hypnobabies "Easy First Stage" as I felt the warmth spread across my back. I was reassured by my tracks that "I was safe, and my baby was safe, no matter how much power flows through me" - and felt completely at ease and just genuinely joyful in the car as we made our way to the chiro's office.
In the waiting room, I tailor sat and continued to relax through waves (which were still coming about 4 minutes apart) until they called me back. Sonda, my chiro, adjusted me - and I remember laughing to myself at how different I felt this time, versus the crazy shakiness I felt when she had come to my house to adjust me during Rhys' birth. Sonda assured me baby was in a good position and nice and low - and told me to keep her updated if I needed her again. On my way out of her office, I had a few more waves - so would just pause wherever I was and melt my forehead into a nearby wall as I welcomed it. I will never forget pausing against a giant glass window wall in the entryway of the building as we were leaving, only to emerge from my self-hypnosis to find a stranger standing in the entry next to me a little freaked out. He quickly diverted his gaze and hurried out, but I'm pretty sure he saw how pregnant I was and was worried I might squat down and have a baby right there on the cold tile. Hilarious.
It was around 12:30pm and a little late for bagels at this point, so we decided to head to the mall for pho and bubble tea. However, since the birth center was so close, Jake suggested we stop there first (smart man) to check me (benefits to having a doctor for a husband) so we would know if I needed to do the antibiotic shot first (I was GBS+). As soon as we arrived at the birth center, the waves almost immediately got stronger, but I still felt completely comfortable. Jake grabbed a sterile glove and checked me, and seemed surprised by what he found, but I had asked not to know my dilation (the numbers totally messed with my head during Rhys' birth) so had him go to the other room to call/confer with my midwife. When he returned, he let me know Ruth was on her way up to check in on me, and that they'd likely give me the shot then.
"So you really think today is the day, babe?" I asked.
"Uh yes," he laughed. "You are definitely having that baby today."
I was still a little in disbelief. But as the waves had gotten stronger, I was honestly a little relieved not to head to the mall and have to deal with strangers like the one earlier getting weirded out at the preggo with the giant belly having consistent pressure waves. (I later found out I was at 5-6 cm at this point). I asked Jake to go ahead and call his mom to come help with Rhys, and he informed me that she was already on her way. (Love that man!) I also noticed the waves seemed to be closer together at this point, so had Jake time a few, and sure enough, they were 3-4 minutes apart, lasting 60-90 seconds again. I moved to the birth room, and relaxed in "Off" (a hypnobabies light switch technique) through each wave while leaning over a birth ball, still listening to my "Easy First Stage" track. In between, I switched to "center" and would play and laugh with Rhys and Jake. We gave Rhys his big brother present, a Daniel Tiger trolley, to play with, and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere as we waited for the rest of our birth team to arrive. Taylor got there first, followed soon after by my midwife Ruth, her assistant Marlita, and my parents as well as Jake's parents. We ate some lunch (my parents had brought Jersey Mike's) before Ruth checked me, confirmed I was far enough along for the shot (I later found out I was a good 6) and prepped me for what I had been told would be a very uncomfortable shot, as this particular antibiotic had a reputation for really burning. I switched to "off" as she administered it into my hip around 2:30pm, and was pleasantly surprised by the complete lack of pain associated. Which was also similar to my surprise at the lack of discomfort during cervical checks (which had been excruciating during my first labor)... This Hypnobabies stuff was really working!
After the shot, I retreated back into the birth room, and labored on the toilet (the dilation station) for a bit in the bathroom. Something about sitting straight up on the toilet with my back supported by the tank felt SOOO good. I really just wanted to be alone at this point, which I could tell made my birth team a little concerned... but I assured them I'd leave the door unlocked and yell if I needed them. ;) A little bit later, I moved to sitting on the step of the bathtub with my back supported by the outside of the tub itself while Jake sat across from me on the birth ball.
"Could you turn your hat around so I can lead my forehead against yours if I want to?" I asked him. Something about the idea of leaning my forehead to his seemed irresistible in that moment, and as soon as he got that hat out of the way, I melted into him. As the next wave built, I felt tears well into my eyes, not of pain, but of pure joy because in that moment I couldn't think of anywhere else I would rather be. The sudden surge of emotion made me wonder, "Is this what transition is like with Hypnobabies?" But since I still didn't know what dilation I was at (I guessed about a 4 at this point) - I blew it off and instead focused in on working with my little one to arrive in his own timing. A little while later, I switched to sitting on the birth ball to move my hips a bit, saying the Hypnobabies cue "peace" as each wave came, while Jake and my mom took terms traveling on my back/belly - and reheating the rice bag that I had wrapped around hips (which when tucked into my yoga pants made me look like I had the biggest rear ever, ha!)
Ruth sat nearby for a bit and observed before asking if I was ready to get into the tub.
"Are you sure?" I asked. "I really don't want to get in too early."
Ruth assured me that she didn't think I was too early at all, but offered to check me first to confirm. I was a little reluctant, but agreed before retreating to labor again in the bathroom for a bit before the check. When it came time to check me, I closed me eyes and switched to off. However, when she was done, I made the mistake of opening my eyes a bit too early to see her mouth the word "eight" to Jake. I quickly shut my eyes, a little shocked, and tried to pretend I didn't see, but then finally admitted with a chuckle that I had accidentally discovered my dilation. Ruth apologized, as she had done her best to hide it, but I assured her that it was fine... "8" was a REALLY ENCOURAGING number, and told her I was definitely ready for the tub. They ran the water as I rode the waves on the ball again for a bit... and then I sunk into the warm embrace of the birth tub.
In the tub, I tailor sat for a while, rocking my beloved bass notes by channeling Avi from Pentatonix, while Rhys did his best with the pre-pubescent voice to join in. I'll never forget the sweetness of him playing with the little ducky thermometer and singing with me through the waves. Having him there was truly pure joy. A little while later, Ruth suggested I lean over the side of the tub to change positions, and there I felt the intensity ramp up again (including with a bit of nausea that my mom used some peppermint oil on a rag to curb) and started to feel a little "pushy" during waves - but I continued to "release" (another Hypnobabies cue) waiting for the clock to hit 6:30pm, as I knew the antibiotics took about 4 hours to take full effect. As the waves intensified, I really began fighting the urge to push for this reason, which Ruth sensed and called me out on it around 6pm.
"Brittany, are you feeling an urge to push?" she asked. As if my guttural grunts during bass note weren't enough to give it away.'
"Yes," I said through an exhale.
"Are you fighting it because you're afraid to push before 6:30?" I was amazed she had sensed this so clearly when this wasn't something we had discussed as a fear of mine.
"Maybe," I reluctantly answered.
"Mama, 30 minutes on the grand scale of things is not going to make that big of a difference. If your baby wants out... Let him out."
Hearing those words was such a relief. But then I tried to push, and after an hour-ish of fighting it, I suddenly couldn't figure out how. To be honest, it was a little jarring, as pushing with Rhys had been the easiest part of the birth process. My water still hadn't broken at this point either, so I had a bulging bag of waters to push against, as opposed to a nice hard little noggin. Also, I had forgotten my wireless earbuds, so had left my hypnobabies tracks out during this time because they had been repeatedly falling out of my ears as I was moving around the tub. (All things that I think contributed to the slight loss of control/composure I felt during this phase of birth). After about 20 minutes of no pushing progress, including attempts to get my water to break during pushing, I agreed to let Ruth break my water because the pressure at this point was getting more overwhelming than I had remember with Rhys and I wanted that baby OUT. After she broke my water, I reached down and felt baby's head to get a gauge of where he was at, and felt that he had quite a bit of hair!
When the next wave hit, it was business time as Ruth encouraged me to push into the pressure and immediately my body took over. The freight train was coming, and I was just along for the ride.
(Again, I'm still amazed that at this point it wasn't really pain I was experiencing but just intense pressure as Hypnobabies had trained me to. So amazing how our brains can process things!) Baby was crowning almost immediately, and I reached down to feel his face and couldn't help but say "Hi" to the squishy little cheeks I felt against my finger tips. He rotated, and Ruth asked me to give another push as she helped to release his shoulder. As soon as she was done, she told me I could reach down and lift up my baby.
Never have more surreal words been spoken.
I tenderly grabbed underneath his armpits and literally pulled my sweet Silas John out of my body, above the water, and onto my chest. I'll never forget that sensation of complete relief and disbelief that he was really here. I spent the next few minutes completely high on love and oxytocin, amazed at this head full of dark hair and copious amounts of vernix (aka: "birthday frosting"... surprising for a baby who was technically "overdue.") The true icing on the cake was the absolute joy of watching Rhys immediately fall in love with his little brother as he snuck in a tender first touch before his daddy even had the chance to. Minutes later, he exclaimed to the room, "Mommy, we have to sing him his song!" before belting out the first words to "Blessed Assurance," the hymn I had chosen for Silas during my pregnancy. The rest of the room joined in as we told the latest addition to our family the vision that we had for his life through song "this is your story, this is your song. Praising your Savior all the day long." Silas John. A name inspired by the littles lives of so many angel babies whose lives while short, had big impact on mine, and so many around them. A hope that he would reflect the values of Paul's companion who rejoiced in all circumstance. And a tribute to two men in our families who had demonstrated hard work, sacrificial love, and a peaceful demeanor that was a beautiful example to both Jake and I growing up.
And goodness gracious, has that little one lived up to his name. He is laid-back, full of joy and quiet strength, and brings a sense of calm to just about anyone he encounters. He has this way of inviting people into his world with a duck faced "ooh" or a scrunch-nosed smile, and making people feel important as he showers kisses and affection anywhere he can. The Lord knew exactly what I needed when He gave me Silas John, both in his delivery and his countenance... and I am forever grateful. Happy birthday, little man. Mama loves you.
Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. This is your story, this is your song. Praising our Savior all the day long. This is your story, this is your song. Praising our Savior all the day long.
Enjoy some more of my faves from his birth story below (click to enlarge, and then stay tuned for the full birth film at the bottom!) And shout out to my amazing birth team:
Ruth Cobb & Marlita Camacho with Special Delivery Birth Center | Sonda Powell and Amanda Trosky with Powell Chiropractic | Sarah Lowe (photographer) | Taylor Voth (videographer) | My sweet mother-in-love who kept an eye on Rhys | My amazing should-be-a-doula mama | and my supportive husband and baby-daddy <3