Birth of Elisabeth-Jane
The Birth Story of Elisabeth-Jane’s Birth
Monday, July 9th, 2007; 4:34 pm; 6lbs. 7 oz, 19 in.
by her mom, April July 16th, 2007
For reference and info to anyone reading this, I am writing this in a very journalistic fashion, including all the details I would want to know in 10 or more years, all details the ladies on the yahoo board for “Hypnobabies” may want to hear, and info for anyone who really wants to know what childbirth is and can be. Also, I will refrain from mentioning pain during the birthing time itself and I use the following terms in order to preserve a positive feeling for the ladies working on their “bubble of peace”: pressure or pressure waves for contractions, transformation for transition, and birthing time for labor, This will be long and often anecdotal at times, so skip stuff you don’t want to read, enjoy, but most of all let your mind forget the American idea that childbirth is scary, painful, and to a lot of people (I feel sorry for them) not quite worth it. It is awesome, miraculous, always worth it (even for my first five which were not as comfortable as this one), and even pain-free without drugs!
Eliza-Jane’s birth was my 6th time birthing a baby, yet is was a time when I learned much more than I feel I did with the first five. I learned so much about the biological and physiological process of giving birth. I learned how the two sets of muscles in the uterus work together yet seperately to do the work of turning baby, regulating the opening of the cervix, and pushing the baby out and down the birth canal. I learned how fully the woman’s body can birth a baby pretty much on it’s own, if mom can relax enough to let it work. I have given birth sans drugs with my first five; I don’t know quantifiably why, except that I truly believe women’s bodies were made to grow and birth babies and they can without needing all the interventions the medical community at large (gross generalization here) claims are so needed. I do concede that these interventions have saved many mom’s and babies’ lives in the event of real emergencies. I am by no means against hospitals, doctors, and such, I simply feel that this is such a natural process that there is no need for medicalization in most cases of healthy mom and baby. I must also add here some background on my other births in order that I remember and you can see the contrast this birth was to my other five. So, from here until the end of the next paragraph, “Bubble of Peace” hypnomoms, or skip this part.
My first 5 births were painful and intense. My first birth was surrounded by mental and emotional angst, yet I was also able to have my mom there who was a great support for me, and who seemed to know exactly what I needed during the entire 8 hours I was “laboring.” I had no idea what I was doing, and I was too young, naive, and feeling guilty to really ask. My second birth was better in many ways, because I had my husband there. However, we chose an early (by ten days) induction which meant no mobility or tub and internal fetal monitoring: a very long six hours in bed! With our next baby we decided against doctors and finally found a midwifery practice. They were great and nice, but there were 7 of them in the practice and we had never even met the the MW who helped us deliver. She did a wonderful job supporting me and I got to be in the tub for a lot of “labor,” it was nicer and shorter, but still painful. My next two pregnancies, the labors were progressively shorter and more intense. I got to do what I wanted, be in the tub (if there was time), move, and whatever. I’ve always been blessed to have no real medical interventions and no complications. But they were all really painful. And I have a very high pain threshold… I truly remember very little about any of my previous pregnancies and births, so I am constantly asking Robert, “Was it like this last time?” or, “Did I do this before?” Robert tells me I was in pain a lot and uncomfortable during each pregnancy. Sometimes I think I keep doing this b/c I don’t remember much, and b/c I feel like it has to get better sometime. I am happy to report that I finally figured out how to make it better! I am also thrilled that I remember so much, which is why this is so long…
This birth story actually starts with my pregnancy with Horatio (my 5th child). About halfway through that pregnancy, I started hearing about “Hypnobirthing (The Mongan Method)” from a good friend (Latisha Hunt) who had used the method with her 1st and 2nd homebirthed daughters. I also discovered one of the midwives at the practice I was seeing taught a class on “Hypnobirthing” at a steep discount to her patients. As Robert and I didn’t have much money to burn, we were excited to be able to take the class and learn more about this intriguing method. Unfortunately, our midwife stopped giving the classes right before we were far enough along to take it, and other options were twice as expensive, so we tried just buying the “Hypnobirthing” book. I was really excited at the philosophy and ideas about birth being such a natural and amazing process; it really clicked with me, and I remember thinking, “This is how it should be, so why isn’t it?” It came with one cd, which was ok, but I felt lost b/c I had so many questions and I didn’t see how I could practice the techniques since I had to read the scripts and things, and it seemed the book was written to be a part of the class, not studied on it’s own. AUGH! I was so frustrated I just gave it up at that point, since we knew I could do it without drugs and time was short before Horatio was due anyway. His birth went fine: quickly and extremely intense, but we were both healthy, and I dropped the idea of “Hypnobirthing” for a while.
When Horatio was just under a year old we found out we were expecting again, and I started wondering about “Hypnobirthing” and other methods of hypnosis for childbirth. The internet and Google were where I looked for information this time. I quickly discovered that there are a handful of complete hypnosis for childbirth methods, including “Hypnobirthing”, “Hypnobabies”, and “Hypbirth”. You can also just go see a hypnotherapist and focus on childbirth in private sessions. I found out that I could take a group class in Provo, but it was “Hypnobabies” and I was worried b/c I was so excited by the ideas in the Mongan book that I was apprehensive at looking at another method, and all my research claimed the methods are all so different (the only “Hypnobirthing” classes were in SLC or farther away). So I turned to my friend Google again and tried to find out more. Well, everything I found claimed “Hypnobabies” to be the superior and more complete method, and it also included many more resources, such as access to the founder directly, a yahoo board for discussion and questions, a ton of cds for home practice, and specific inclusion of “back labor” information. Robert, knowing how excited I was about doing hypnosis for this birth, pushed for us to take the class, so – after deciding on a session of five classes Friday nights in May- we contacted the instructor (Laura Lund), went directly to her house, paid for the class up front, and got my first cd to practice relaxation with. We paid 250$ for the class (which included a 50$ discount, b/c the instructor believes in midwifery so strongly she gives that deal to patients of MWs).
We paid for the class so far in advance, that I had plenty of time to listen to the cd I was given, and to find a babysitter for our four children at home for five Fridays in a row. I enjoyed for the first time in years restful nights sleep and a calmer demeanor during the day, just in listening to the two tracks I was alternating nightly as I went to bed. I was learning by osmosis already and I was even more excited as the class time approached! Class came and overall I felt like about a third of the material covered was childbirth information and a lot of info on interventions and why/how to avoid them. I was politely interested in these parts of class as I knew there had to be some new information I had not learned before, but admittedly, I was impatient for learning the hypnosis techniques themselves. I enjoyed learning the fingerdrop technique and building on it with “eyes open” hypnosis. I practiced the techniques daily, listened to my cds religiously (even restarting them every time I got up to go pee at night, up to 5 times a night), and Robert read scripts to me as a faithful supportive husband three times a week. We grew closer together as Robert wholeheartedly supported and encouraged me and as we did the communication questions and said our “contract” to each other before every script. I also did all my “homework,” reading from the manual and other materials we were given. Our instuctor did a good job presenting the information and teaching us the techniques, as well as hostessing at her home. On a side note, I also started hearing about red raspberry leaf tea and how good it’s supposed to be for shortening labors, helping with ligament pains during pregnancy, and a host of other female concerns. I heard only good things about it (except one which I will share shortly), and I love herbal tea (misnomer, by the way, but I’m used to calling it that), so I started drinking it a lot. I mean, I’d go through a gallon in 2-3 days with the kids’ help.
Around my 28th week of pregnancy I started having “Braxton Hicks” which was a little worriesome since I have never had early pressure waves in a pregnancy before and Horatio had attempted to come at 34 ½ weeks . I started worrying about this baby being too early, and even though I’d read that RRL tea can/may cause these early pressure waves I didn’t stop drinking my tea (except once when I made it too strong I think) because I felt it really helped with the ligament pain I did experience with all my other pregnancies. I prayed a lot for the baby at this point and more specifically that I would know when I was in my birthing time, b/c sometimes I would have pressure waves fairly regularly for hours and I didn’t want to have to rush into the hospital only to be sent home and scare the other kids. And I just really wanted to trust that my body, my baby, and Heavenly Father knew exactly what was happening and when it should/would happen. I know this baby is important to Him and He knew how important she is to me and our family and we would both be safe. In retrospect I feel that with the “Braxton Hicks” I had a lot of practice with the fingerdrop and other techniques that really helped me to do so well during my real birthing time as well as help the baby to be in a good position for the birth. When 34 ½ weeks came and went, I was very relieved. Then I started worrying she would still be unhealthy if she came soon, then I wanted her out by 36 weeks and had to keep telling myself, “one more day, one more day…”
When we hit 37 weeks, I was beyond impatient. I was technically “full term” at this point, and I was unsure of the due date b/c I hadn’t had periods before I got pregnant and the ultrasound might be “off.” Every day I would wake thinking, “It might be today!” and every evening by dinner time I would crash because I was so disappointed. Then the Saturday after I was 37 weeks along I saw a bit of blood and mucus when I went to the bathroom. I got this rush of adrenaline and told Robert what I saw. I went into nesting big time at that point, but nothing happened that night. I did make a chocolate torte for the nurses and froze it on Saturday, so it would be ready to go if this baby was coming soon. The next day I saw a bigger clot of blood and I was pretty sure that it was my mucus plug and bloody show, so I hopped onto the internet and did a quick search for how close is birthing time when you lose your mucus plug? even though I knew the answer. I wanted to find stories telling me it would be soon! The rest of that day I felt still nothing except light pressure off and on just like the last 2 or so months! I was annoyed with Robert the next day for having to go to work. Although, he didn’t actually go in until lunchtime b/c he was working on a project from home. I was really irritable that day, so I was glad he was there to help with the kids. He planned to take his final that day, too (his last ever test in college, to get his BS in Computer Engineering). He finally went to work, and I was not feeling good, so I sent the kids upstairs to play, while I tried to eat something. Turned out I did not want to eat anything!
At that point I realized I was having regular pressure waves. They were more annoying than anything, b/c I had to stop what I was doing and concentrate on relaxing and breathing deeply. Robert and I were on Yahoo IM and I started timing them on the computer about 2:30 and quickly realized they were less than five minutes apart and at a mean length of 1 ½ minutes. After about 10 of them I let Robert know how close they were and he unhesitatingly said, “I’m coming home now.” He called me on the cell and got babysitters before he left work to come over ASAP. I got over to the stairs and called Angel (our oldest son) to help me grab last minute things for my hospital bag. He was worried about me b/c of my demeanor, but I think he understood what was happening fairly quickly. I was not in any pain, but I was really focused and I guess a little scared. For the first time my peace cue was not working as I wanted it, too, but I did find it helpful to repeat, “deeper and deeper” over and over. I was able to go more fully and deeply into self hypnosis using that cue. For the first time I could feel the immense power coursing through me. It was so overwhelming that I realize why it is registered as pain with a lot of women and they fight it. It took everything in me to relax and let it wash over me. I wanted to tense up and push back. I found the most comfortable positions for me were on all fours, leaning over the birthing ball on my knees, or in a chair leaning far forward. I prayed that this was really it, b/c if it got any more intense than this I was scared I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I was probably in transformation at the point where Robert got home. He stayed on the cell with me until he walked in the door, and didn’t leave my side until the ambulance came (tell you in a minute…). I got him to get me my MP3 player, and as soon as I got Kerry on the headphones and was listening to “Easy First Stage” I was ten times calmer and more relaxed (Thank You, Kerry!). I thought at that point, “Why did I not have my MP3 player on sooner?” Michael Jensen (Robert’s awesome cousin, whose birthday was that day, by the way) showed up to babysit a few minutes after Robert got home and tried to talk to me, but I had to stay focused and ignored him (sorry Michael :)).
I got up and headed for the door as soon as I could (amazingly at this point I would have expected to be worried that I would have the baby in the car, but I was focused on my “Hypnobabies” track). I had a good 2-3 pressure waves as we walked to the car. I stopped timing them right before Michael got there, as Robert packed up the laptop, but I knew we were very close. The Orem Community Hospital is only an 8 minute drive on the freeway from our house. Robert was going about 70mph (he told me later), and we heard a rattling noise, then a minute later a flumping noise, then a kind of metallic scraping noise, and we stopped just at the off ramp. We were lucky we didn’t roll over in our Jeep, as we totally lost a tire, the front one where I was sitting! As we stopped I just kept focusing on relaxing and taking the waves as they came. As Kerry repeated, “I am safe and my baby is safe, no matter how much power I feel…” I repeated it over and over. I told myself, “Heavenly Father is watching out for us, we’re almost there, everything is fine.” I could feel all that power coursing through me; it was indescribable. I was reminded that all that power is our Father in Heaven’s and Robert holds His priesthood and is perfectly able and authorized to wield that, just as my body was using it right then. I just knew Robert could protect us if I somehow lost control, and I was so comforted and calmed by that feeling and the overwhelming love I felt right then, when I could have been totally freaked out and lost it all at that point.
Robert called someone (I figured it was the hospital, but he says it was 911), and he told them the situation. Then we just sat there, holding hands for a minute, with the air conditioner still blasting, until we saw two cop cars going the opposite direction (we really were right at the off ramp), then they pulled up behind us as an ambulance pulled up in front of us. Two EMTs got out and came over to my door; I tried to get out but they made me wait while they asked me something. We finally headed for the ambulance (pressure wave as we walked to the ambulance, and another as I got into the back, so I had to stand there for a minute). I sat on the bed/gurney as they pulled away. I needed to know Robert was there, and found him in the front seat, so I could sit. They put a seatbelt over my calves and started an IV; I asked for a hep-lock, and the EMT was nice enough to give me one. I also double-checked with him that it was only fluids, which it was, and I didn’t mind b/c I hadn’t eaten much all day and was afraid I was dehydrated anyway. They also gave me oxygen, which I didn’t question b/c I didn’t care enough and was having pressure waves only 2 minutes apart by then. I started telling them when one started, and the EMT confirmed they were that close. We were at the hospital really fast and I remember the EMT saying to the nurses as we got out that I had a while to go; I think they were discussing whether to take me to the ER or the Women’s Center. We got into the hallway of the Women’s Center and they were apparently very busy, so the nurse took a minute to get us to an empty room; we finally got there and I got into the bed after a minute. I stopped and pulled my pants off so I wouldn’t have to do it later once hooked up to whatever (yes, modesty goes out the window with EMTs and nurses). Robert came around to my left side and a nurse walked in to do prelim stuff and hook up monitors. It was at this time that I started making low moaning sounds with each pressure wave. It helped to make low noises. Robert started asking the nurse for a birthing ball and squat bar when she came in and I remember her saying, “First things first” in a slightly impatient voice. I almost asked for the telemetry model as she put the monitors on, but I started feeling “pushy” and figured it would be moot pretty soon! She finally checked me, which I barely felt at all. I was 9 cm. and fully effaced. Then she realized what we meant when we tried telling everyone how fast I birth. She ran out and started telling people to get baby stuff ready. Robert helped the nurse put up the squat bar and Sue S. (sorry last name impossible to spell w/out looking it up), one of our midwives, showed up just then. She and the nurse later checked the “log” and found out she was there for 11 minutes before Elisabeth-Jane was born. About this time the “Easy First Stage” track ended and the pushing one started, but I don’t remember hearing it at all. The squat bar was apparantly backwards, but that direction worked for me so I told them to leave it. I needed help to reach it still, since I was having pressure right on top of one another, so Robert and the nurse gave me a push on my back and I grabbed hold. It was so nice to pull up on the bar and be off the bed. Sue just sat there comfortably smiling at me while I started to push. I don’t even remember her checking me again to be sure I was complete. I wasn’t hurting at all, it was just really intense; I pushed so fast Sue told me to stop at one point, which I did for all of maybe 15 seconds. Robert leaned over to me a couple of times and kept saying to me, “Let your monkey do it,” a phrase Ina May Gaskin uses in her amazing book I read. I was moaning really low and loud I think. It takes so long to write this down, but it happened so fast. I made noises that the other hypnomoms will understand and only husbands should recognize, if you get my drift. I moaned and “aahed” while pushing, instead of holding my breath. It really was actually enjoyable at that point, and Robert said afterwards that I looked like I was enjoying myself. After 2 -3 pushes Sue asked if she could break my water, which she could see bulging out, and as she asked I felt it break on it’s own with the next push, then Elisabeth-Jane was out completely in the next two. She came out so fast she was purple in the face (instead of me) at 4:34 pm.
They put her on my stomach, as her cord was very short; I was glad b/c my last few babies all had really long cords and were wrapped up in them which was fine but scary. I looked at her and Robert told me we had a little girl and I was so happy. She was breathing fine, but didn’t make any noise, and Sue wanted her to cry. We gave her a few seconds and just as Sue started to say, “OK, we need to get her to…” she wailed a little and Sue told Robert to rub the baby’s back really good, so she would clear her lungs well. I remember thinking how wide and white the cord was. They clamped it and Robert cut it, and I got my little Eliza-Jane up to my chest. She didn’t feel like nursing yet, but she looked around so much I could see she had dark blue-gray eyes! All of our children have dark brown eyes, so I was thrilled, especially since her Aunt Charlotte who shares her middle name was born with dark gray eyes also (Hence her (Charlotte’s) nickname “Charcoal”). Robert and I made love to Elisabeth-Jane and after a little while the nurses weighed and measured her. They had to promise me to just take a minute b/c I didn’t want to let her go (but I did want them to weigh her), while Sue waited for the placenta to come out. It seemed to take forever considering Eliza-Jane only took 5 minutes to come out, but it was probably only 5-10 minutes. I didn’t have any more pressure once the baby was out, so I just waited for the placenta to slide out. Then I got Elisabeth-Jane back and she was all ours. I was dying to get out of bed as soon as the placenta was birthed, b/c I had to pee all of a sudden. Soon the nurse came back and wanted to do all the paperwork we missed b/c it all happened so fast. I waited for them to take out the IV, which Sue wanted to wait on in case my bleeding was heavy and they really wanted us to do pitocin to help it (which I did NOT want, b/c it causes me a lot of pain), then I finally got up, went to the bathroom so they could check my bleeding again, and took a shower after about an hour. I felt so good recovery-wise that I ended up taking three baths (jetted tub and after cramps) and two showers during my two-night stay at the hospital. I didn’t even want the perineal ice packs I usually use b/c they were uncomfortable as I didn’t need them.
Michael and the kids headed to see us soon after 5pm, but then the van broke down (both our cars in one day!) on their way, so they camped out at a Wendy’s somewhere, ate dinner, and waited for Katie (Robert’s older sister, who just had a baby about a month or so ago) to bring them in her huge van. Cell phones are wonderful! We finally saw them about 7 pm, I think: Marissa Jensen (Michael’s sister), Ally (Michael’s Fiancee), Katie, and all the kids wearing their Big(ger/gest) Brother and Big Sister shirts I made for them. They didn’t get to stay long b/c Katie had to get home to her family and newborn, but it was so nice to see them and we were able to have a big family prayer before they left. That was wonderful: to be surrounded by family at such a wonderful time (Thank you so much to Katie and Robb!).
So, overall, my birthing time was about 2 hours, with pushing being about 5 minutes, my shortest so far. I’m thinking homebirth next time, more out of necessity than anything else… and the idea of a water birth has appealed to me since the first time I heard it years ago. One of the things I liked best about doing self hypnosis for this birth was my recovery time. I was up and around within an hour (it could have been even sooner, but they wanted to check my bleeding and stuff), and I didn’t have the shakes at all, like I usually do pretty badly. My bleeding has been so light that I’ve only been using panty liners since my second day home. Elisabeth-Jane is content and a great eater. When she is awake she is so alert and her eyes are constantly darting about taking in everything it seems. My milk came in with minimal discomfort, and no engorgement. The only thing I would request of Kerry is a special section or technique for dealing with the after cramps that us multiparas deal with. Even the strongest narcotics don’t seem to cut it with these cramps, although ice packs are so nice. That said, with my last baby, my cramps were so bad I was on the narcotic drugs afterwards for over two weeks, with this one my cramps were at least more comfortable to deal with by the 3rd day, and seem to be basically gone by a week after the birth. I will use this technique for all my births from now on, and I will try to tell everyone I know. Why “suffer” through childbirth, when it can be so wonderful, empowering, and enjoyable. Funny/sad? note: The day after Eliza-Jane was born we could hear a lady screaming loudly and high-pitched in the room next to ours, and I felt so bad for her. I wished she had someone to let her know it doesn’t have to be like that. Now you know; tell someone you love.
Now we have been home for almost a week. I got to go to church on Sunday (for all three hours) with Eliza-Jane in the sling and all the kids proud to be big siblings. Angel (9) and Oliver (7) are being so helpful with Isabelle (3) and Horatio (1 ½). Isa is enjoying the idea that she has a little sister to teach girly things to, and we all have to work hard to pry Horatio off of Elisabeth-Jane most of the time, as he wants to constantly hug, kiss, and hold her, and he pushes away anyone else who gets too close to her (including all of his older siblings). We are a family of seven now, and we are hoping to only get bigger and better, as we grow closer together. We are truly grateful and feel the windows of heaven have been opened as we have had so many blessings poured out upon us already.