The Reader's Digest Version:
8:00pm - First Strong Contraction hit, with no previous small contractions.
12:07pm - Was admitted to the hospital.
12:33pm - Lincoln was born.
The hypnosis I learned through Hypnobabies really helped. :)
Here is the full story of Lincoln's Birth - from the perspective of his Mama.
I had my 39 week appointment earlier in the day on Friday (February 25th). I had talked with Roberta, one of the CNM's, if she would suggest any natural induction techniques. I was half-interested in just seeing what she would suggest, and half-considering trying a thing or two she would say. She responded, "I just think you need to be patient." She then mentioned primrose oil and sex as things to try. "But, there is not enough data to confirm these things as truly effective. Babies come when they are ready," she reminded me in a motherly sort of tone. I felt a twinge of guilt at her response, knowing she was right. I left my appointment a little embarrassed and disappointed. I was dilated to 2 centimeters, and was 70% effaced - 10% less than it had been at my previous appointments.
I spent the day, finishing up the last couple of things on my, "Things-to-get-done-before-the-baby-comes" checklist. I met with and picked a pediatrician, turned in some paperwork at Costco, and got my maternity claim started. All I needed now was my baby and his birth date to make it official. I decided that Roberta was right. I needed to just let things be and let him come.
Around 7:00pm I talked to my mom on the phone about how bored and lonely I was. (Squire was working on campus for about another hour or two, and I was getting cabin fever with no place to go.) But my mom had to go because she, my dad and Riley were heading in to the Pioneer Events Center to watch a BYU dance group perform. So, I decided to eat some dinner and to call my brother Jeremy.
Around 8:00pm, during our conversation, I felt one very strong contraction (or, Pressure Wave as they like to call them in the Hypnobabies program). "Oh, that was really strong, Jeremy. I don't think I've felt any contractions that strong before!" Jeremy started getting so frenzied, "You're going to have that baby tonight!!" I responded, "Jer, I've had a few false starts already, so don't get too exc. . ." Another strong contraction hit. Jeremy was going crazy on the other end, sort of cheering that tonight was the night. I knew I had to text Squire and to calm down, so I hung up with Jeremy and texted Squire to let him know that my contractions had started and that were coming pretty strong and close together. I decided to put in a Hypnobabies track and laid down on the bed, trying to soak in the dim lighting and to relax as I listened to Kerry Tuschhoff's voice telling me that "Today is your baby's birth day," and that, "with each pressure wave, you are deeper and deeper relaxed."
After listening to that track, I decided I needed a change of position and scenery, so I headed to the bathroom and started to fill the tub with warm water. I called Squire to see if he was headed home yet. "I don't think I can drive to pick you up." Squire responded, "Well, I will be home in about 20 minutes." "Um, actually you should call McKenzie and have her drive you here so you can get home faster. You need to get home now," I whispered firmly as yet another strong contraction hit. At some point, I think while I was lying in the tub, Squire came in. "McKenzie is here too," he said. "Can she come in?" "No," I whispered, " trying to relax and focus. I didn't want anyone else there, except for Squire. I couldn't handle any distractions at that point.
Squire started to finish packing the hospital bag. Luckily, I had a check list with everything we still needed packed and even a pen to check as he went. :) (Lucky because, I was certainly no help at this point.) Occasionally, Squire would come in and check on me. He would ask calmly where he could find this or that thing, or he would whisper the "Release", "Relax", and "Peace" cues to me to help me stay focused and calm with my hypnosis. He made a call to the midwife on call after timing a few of my contractions. They were a minute long and a minute apart. They were very strong, he told her. "Can she still talk?" the midwife asked. "Yes, she can." "Is this her first baby?" "Yes." "Well, why don't you wait one hour, call me back and then head to the hospital."
All the while, I kept switching back and forth from laying in the warm water in the tub, to sitting on the toilet. The contractions continued to come close together - anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute apart, and they lasted 45 seconds to a minute each. I only let Squire time a couple handfuls of contractions because it made them less bearable to have to focus on each one starting and stopping. I went to our bedroom and tried a couple other labor positions, but the contractions were so strong, it was starting to get difficult. I could feel the contractions starting to overwhelm me a couple times as I struggled to find a position that felt right. But, in my mind I talked to myself through each pressure wave, telling myself that I could do this, that with each one I was getting closer to seeing my baby. I said, "Peace" to myself - one of the relaxation cues - over and over again. This was the one I held on to the most through my laboring. I focused on relaxing during the pressure, and felt so good and relieved as each one would pass.
At some point, Squire told me that the midwife gave him the green light and that we needed to leave to go to the hospital. This was probably the most difficult time - getting dressed and to the car. How does one get dressed when contractions are coming almost nonstop? Don't ask me how I did it, I just know it was difficult and I kept feeling like I had to go to bathroom and sit on the toilet throughout the whole process.
As we were walking to the car, with me pausing every so often to remain relaxed through a pressure wave, I told Squire we had to stop at the grocery store on the way to pick up a treat for the nurses who would be in labor and delivery. So, Squire ran in to Fresh Market and bought some cookies as I laid in the car and listened to the "Birth Day Affirmations" track.
Squire drove, very quickly, to the American Fork hospital which is about 20 minutes away from our home. The parking lot was very full (I later heard that 10 babies were born the night I had Lincoln) so Squire drove up to the hospital entrance and I got out. As Squire was parking the car, I walked very slowly in to the hospital with my eyes half-closed. I passed a security guard who asked where I was going. "Labor and Delivery. It's on the third floor right?" I whispered. "Yep," he said with a sort of amused smile. I got on to the elevator with another girl who was apparently visiting someone else. When she made the call at the doors to be let in, I said out loud, "Oh good. I'll let you handle that for both of us." But, before I knew what was going on, she was in and the door was shut on me. So I picked up the phone and whispered something clumsy like, "Um, I'm having my baby right now." The door beeped and I walked very slowly with a couple stops up to the Labor and Delivery desk where I gave the receptionist my birth date and name - which I had to spell out for her.
I walked down the hall to room 210. The nurse talked with me, "Jami, can you change into this hospital gown?" "I think so," I responded. I went into the bathroom and managed to get my pants off, but then I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom, so I sat on the toilet. It was only a matter of seconds before I realized that I was not needing to go to the bathroom, but that I needed to push the baby out. "Squire!" I called out as heard his low voice talking with the nurses. "Can someone help me? I think I need to push now." The nurses all rushed to the bathroom, got me on the bed and checked me. "She's complete!" In a sort of frenzy, 4 or 5 nurses got me undressed and set up on the bed. I had one putting a saline lock and starting antibiotics in my left wrist (because I was Group B Strep positive), another taking my blood pressure on my right arm, another checking Lincoln's heart rate on my belly. The midwife on call, Jen Krebs came in dressed in her foam green scrubs. "Wow! Jami you are doing great!" "It's my hypnosis," I answered back, smiling and feeling pretty proud of how calm I had remained. "Well, you are doing better than 90% of girls."
The next 20 minutes or so were exciting. "This is too soon. It can't really be time to push him out," I thought in my mind. But Jen kept talking with me. "Jami, I need you to push." Jen and all the nurses were my cheerleaders I felt like. They all kept saying, "You are doing awesome!" I asked Jen, "What color is his hair?" "Red," she said. (Maybe she really thought his hair was red, but I think she also just told me that to continue to get me to push harder.) At one point, they brought in a mirror so I could see Lincoln's head and to give me more incentive to push. It did help a bit, but Lincoln's heart rate was dropping because he wasn't getting enough oxygen. Jen told me, "Alright Jami. I need you to get this baby out in two pushes or I'm going to have to give you an Episiotomy." I took deep breaths from the oxygen mask I had on my face and pushed with two contractions but was unable to push enough. So, Jen cut me (Squire says I winced) and I pushed again and felt relief. All the sudden there was a crying wet baby on my chest! I was laughing and smiling. I was holding my sweet little baby in my arms! What a surreal and awesome feeling that was, just holding him and seeing him for the first time.
The whole experience felt like an intense dream. I was in such a trance-like state the whole time, but I felt everything so deeply as well. I have no doubt that the self-hypnosis I studied through the Hypnobabies program in the months before Lincoln's birth gave me some powerful tools of relaxation, but also an even deeper conviction of the things I have always believed: that birth is a natural, normal, beautiful experience - not something to be feared. Giving birth was an experience unlike any I have ever had. I've never been so inside myself before. I loved the empowering feeling of giving birth without pain medication and of being so connected with my baby. I believe that growing a baby and giving birth is truly one of our superpowers as women. I'm so pleased and grateful that I've finally gotten to experience it for myself. Now on to the next adventure - motherhood! :)
P.S. There will be a blog post on the birth from Squire's perspective soon!
UPDATE 3/14: You can read Lincoln's birth story from Squire's perspective at this link. :)