I had just ordered my tea at Café Was where my friend, Dhana Taprogge, was about to sing, when Alisha called to tell me that Shiva was in early labor. Shiva, was a first time mom in her late 30s and was pregnant with twin girls. She became pregnant without fertility treatments and very quickly. She planned on birthing her daughters naturally, un-medicated, using HypnoBirthing® and having a great birthing team by her side; Dr. Paul Crane (her OBGYN), Alisha Tamburri (her Hypnotherapist/Doula), her husband, and myself (filming the birth).
I left the Café and drove home, changed, packed my video equipment and headed out to meet them at Dr. Crane’s office. It was about 11pm, the streets of LA were empty, what a pleasure. Dr. Crane monitored the twins’ heartbeat and checked their positions. Shiva was about 1cm dilated at this time. Baby A was vertex (head down), and baby B was transverse (horizontal above baby A). He explained the possibilities and options about what might happen and sent Shiva home to continue her process, as she wanted to labor at home for as long as she could.
At their home, Alisha sent Shiva’s husband, Sean, to sleep in the living room (he would need his energy later on!) while she helped Shiva go into deep hypnosis. Shiva would fall asleep between surges, and Alisha laid by her side whispering mantras and visualizations that helped Shiva stay focused, relaxed and deep in the zone.
At some point, Shiva got up and started dancing in the dim room. The only light came from the hallway. She was like a graceful flowing goddess in a sensual tantric dance, moving to the faint sound of beautiful Persian music.
Then she returned to bed with Alisha by her one side, helping her go deeper into hypnosis, and me at her back, massaging her shoulders. She threw up, she showered, she ate, she drank, she moved around, she sat in a big orange rocking chair, and lost herself in long moments of deep relaxation.
Dr. Crane returned during the night to check on her, and then again in the morning.
I think I may have slept for about 2 hours in their guest room. We had breakfast, gathered our belongings, and headed out to Dr. Crane’s office around 11am. On her way out, Shiva knocked on her neighbor’s door. Out came a little old lady, who was so excited to see Shiva and showered her with blessings and prayers. Dr. Crane checked her again at his office. Shiva was 8cm dilated!!! It was now time to head to the hospital.
We were placed in a temporary room where we waited for Shiva to be fully dilated. Alisha posted a HypnoBirthing® sign on the door, so that when the medical crew entered the room, they would respect and honor the quiet and calm environment of HypnoBirthing®.
The facts were sinking in, and the emotions were pouring out. “Jodie! Did I tell you that I just realized I’m having twin girls!!!???” Shiva said to me teary eyed. She was overjoyed, and shared a beautiful moment with Sean; a moment of bonding, acceptance, gratitude and love. They were going to be a family soon.
As Shiva was being prepared to transfer to the OR (hospital policy is to deliver twins in the OR) her nurse turned to me and said: “You can stay here and watch their belongings.” Alisha and I stared at one-another, wide eyed, and then at Shiva. Luckily, Dr. Crane, who was filling some paperwork in the room, turned and said – “They are all coming in, and that’s just the way it’s gonna be!” (or something to that extent).
Dr. Crane is a saint. He’s calm, patient, and ever so kind. He lets the birthing mom do her thing and supports her choices without forcing hospital policy or regulations, if they are not necessary.
There were about 10 people in the OR including Dr. Crane, pediatricians, nurses and us. Shiva was very clear and vocal about what she wanted and what wasn’t working for her. At some point she asked that the blood pressure cuff be removed from her arm, because it was distracting her from going into hypnosis. Not only did it constantly beep, but also every few minutes it inflated to check her pressure. “I’m not about to die here, so there is really no need for this, I’m taking it off!” was pretty much what she said. She also asked the medical team (politely) to be quiet and not talk to her, to let her push on her own without them supporting her legs, to basically let her birth her own way, in as much of a calm and quiet atmosphere as one could achieve in the OR. Alisha was by her one side helping her go into HypnoBirthing® mode, Sean was on the other side holding her hand lovingly and I was quietly moving about trying to capture it all while not getting in the way of the medical team.
Shiva worked very hard, it was challenging, but she trusted her body, her babies and her doctor. We had no idea what would happen once baby A was born, because when last checked, baby B was still transverse. Dr. Crane would possibly have to manually manipulate the baby into the vertex position, either internally or externally. A Cesarean birth was the last resort. The anesthesiologist administered an epidural catheter into Shiva’s spine, in case any of these procedures were necessary. In time, Shiva pushed her first little girl out to the awe and excitement of all present. In the midst of it all, she whispered the Shma Yisrael prayer, and her words merged with Alisha’s own prayers. Once Raya (baby A) was born and put on Shiva’s chest, and once Shiva’s bladder was emptied, baby B turned head down and made her victorious entrance into the world only 7 minutes after her sister’s. The epidural catheter was never put to use! Leyla was born, the prayers were answered, and the force was with her!
Evidently, most of the medical team had never seen a natural twins birth done at the hospital, ever! It was magical, and Shiva knew all along that Leyla would turn. Call it a mother’s intuition, trust or divine intervention; Shiva birthed her beautiful girls the way she envisioned it all along. Thanks to Dr. Crane, Alisha Tamburri, HypnoBirthing®, her husband’s support and the extremely patient medical team, Shiva had the birth she wanted.
I was so blessed to witness another sacred moment of birth and another birth of a family.
Mazal Tov Mama and Papa!