If the words contractions and dilated make you squeamish, then this is not the post for you. (In other words, "little" brothers and other like-minded souls, consider yourselves warned!)
So really this story begins over five years ago, when I was getting some great birthing advice from one of my big sisters, Meredith. She had already been among the women I trust who recommended the HypnoBirthing class (although she'd never taken it since there were no instructors in her area), and then just a day or two before Xander was born, we were chatting and she was giving me even more excellent advice based on the recent natural birth of her second child. It was all great, from recommending a mirror to motivate to relaxing during contractions with a hot shower, but I think the best bit of wisdom she imparted was to wait as long as possible to go to the hospital because it makes labor seem a whole lot shorter and easier when you're not confined by all the, well, hospitalness. So we've done that each time, and have only been at the hospital for a couple hours when each baby was born. Well, we just took that "wait as long as possible to go to the hospital" bit to a new level this time, and boy was it an adventure!
Three weeks ago, it was a get-things-done kind of Tuesday. Aaron had the day off and was madly logging everything from his September rotation into Typhon before the deadline. I went to Xander's school to volunteer in his class, as usual on Tuesdays. While IO ws there, his teacher asked me if I had the sense that it was going to be soon, and I said, "Yeah, kinda, but I'm not too sure." Pretty noncommittal. When I got home, I convinced Aaron to head into the crawl space to pull out the stuff I needed to pack my hospital bag. I decided to pack the overnight bags for the kids while I was at it, not because I thought I was in labor (though I was having the occasional contration like I had been for a few weeks), but just because I was 39 1/2 weeks along and it seemed like it was high time. We had some lunch and I read Elodie her stories before her quiet time/nap. By mid afternoon, my contractions were getting a bit more frequent and regular, but they were still so mild, I didn't really think too much of them. But I did decide that just in case it turned into the real thing, it would be good to get the house clean in case we had a showing while we were in the hospital. As I was vacuuming, I occasionally had to pause for a contraction to breathe deeply, but they were still pretty mild. Aaron noticed and glanced up from his computer screen to give me some soothing words of hypnobirthing encouragement. We were starting to wonder if this might be the day, but "who knows?" we both thought. The mild contractions were coming probably around every 5 minutes, but I was still feeling good so I went about my normal activities and drove to pick up Xander from school to take him to music class. There was no parking at his school parking lot, so I had to park at the park parking lot down the street and walk on over, having mild contractions along the way. I saw Xander's teacher again, and she told me that since I was a bit late, she had been wondering aloud with Xander if maybe I was in the hospital having the baby. I assured her that it was just the lack of parking and slow pregnant waddle that made me late. I dropped Xander and his friend off at music class and went home to make some saucy edamame stir-fry over brown rice for dinner. Yeah, I had contracitons during dinner, but they were mild enough that I still had an appetite. As we were reading family scriptures before bed, the contractions were getting a bit more substantial. Aaron noticed and asked the kids to give me a break because I was doing the hard work of getting the baby to come out. But Aaron had taken over the job of getting the house clean, so I assured him that I could still take care of story time. I just had to make a deal with Xander that if I tapped him on the shoulder, it meant he needed to read that page, whether it was his turn or my turn. He read way more than half of the stories that night as I breathed through the more-freqent contractions. We told the kids that if they woke up in the morning and Grandma was there instead of us, they would know that the baby had come. But the contractions were still so mild, I figured it probably wouldn't turn into the real thing until the morning. I was so tired. I really just wanted to sleep. So I had my local PA student check me (he had his OB/Gyn rotation in August) and he said I was barely dilated. The last thing I wanted was to go to the hospital too early, so I decided to see if I could just sleep through these contractions so I'd have the energy for the big event the next morning. I was pretty sure at that point that these contrations were going somewhere, I just didn't know how soon. I sat in bed and read my scriptures like usual before bed. My dad called at around 9:30 to have me look up a phone number for him, so I went downstairs and got what he needed. When I got off the phone, I asked Aaron if he could tell that I'd had a couple of contractions while I was talking to my dad. When Aaron said he couldn't tell, I figured that if they were mild enough to talk through wihtout anyone noticing, going to the hosspital was a long way off. Aaron finished the rest of the house cleaning and started to fold laundry while I read The Mockingjay to him as we'd previously planned, but we hadn't planned on the frequent deep breathing breaks, so that didn't last too long. When he was ALMOST done folding the laundry, he noticed that I needed his undivided attention, and sat by me to begin the real HypnoBirthing. I got all super comfy in my bed and he did the full relaxation thing with reassurances and encouragement through the contractions. I really got into the zone and murmured to him that if he ever thought it was time for us to go to the hospital, I'd just leave that decision up to him because I really didn't know and just wanted to stay there and sleep. Well, the contractions had gotten intense enough that I wasn't able to sleep through them, even though I was super relaxed. Aaron is amazing and was totally in tune with me. Around 11:00, he said he thought we should head to the hospital. I remember thinking, "That's fine. We'll probably be there longer than we have with any of the other births, but that's fine, whatever." So Aaron called my mom and she was there in about 20 minutes. We gathered our stuff up and headed out. We realized we'd forgotten my purse, which I really wanted sicne it had the phone number of the midwife I like best and she had told me I could call her to come in even if she wasn't the one on call because she is super nice like that. So we went back home and got it. My mom said she looked at the clock as we left for the second time and it was 11:40. I must admit that the ride to the hospital was anything but comfortable. It was getting pretty difficult to relax while sitting up and bumping around, but Aaron kept his soothing voice turned up to high and did a pretty good job of keeping me in the zone. But when we got to the hospital and the security guard said he wasn't allowed to just leave the car in the closed valet parking area, but that he had to park while some dude from the ER wheeled me up to the 4th floor, I was not too calm about it. In fact, I felt pretty agitated. Aaron assured me that he'd hurry, and off we went. I got to 4th floor triage right at midnight and tried to answer the nurse's questions between contractions, but that's what Aaron is for, and he wasn't up there yet. I started signing release forms and what not when Aaron arrived impressively fast and took over that process. I asked them if I could please just skip triage and get settled in a delivery room, but they kinda laughed it off and said they'd be quick. I think at that point my body knew that this baby was coming soon, but my mind hadn't quite wrapped itself around that so I wasn't able to put it into words and be super convincing. I was too in the zone for things like that. They made me switch wheelchairs so the ER guy could have his back, and then they finally took me into a triage room. The nurse asked me the standard question, "How would you rate your pain?" I remember hearing someone say rather forcefully, "Don't say that word!" Aaron tells me that I was the one who said that, and that it sounded a bit rude. Sorry, like I said, I was in the birthing zone. Aaron had to smooth things over with the nurse and explain that we do HypnoBirthing and we avoid the term, "pain." Then the nurse asked me to get up on the bed. I ignored her request while I breathed through a contraction and then I looked at that narrow little bed and again asked if I could please just go straight to a delivery room. No deal. I told them about how weird I was feeling. Like really weird. My left eye was twitching and my left hand was numb and crazy tingly. I didn't know what was wrong with me! (Looking back, I think that was my body's response to being ready to push but not in a position to do so. Holding that baby in was making my eye and hand completely spazz out. That's my theory.) And I felt like I really had to go to the bathroom, like a number 2. (That's another helpful thing Meredith told me about back before Xander was born. How right she was.) The nurse asked me if I wanted to step into the bathroom before I climbed into the bed, but I told her I'd better not. (I remembered that feeling with Xander's delievery, but that nurse was onto me and said it might be the baby's head and didn't let me go to the bathroom before checking me again. At which point I was complete.) I guess I didn't seem like a woman who was in the final stages of labor, because it didn't seem to occur to this nurse that the bathroom might not be the place for me! Anyhow, Aaron helped me up onto the bed and I lay on my side, which was gratefully way more comforable than sitting upright in the wheelchair. The nurse seemed in no hurry to actually check me, and was just getting the bands for the monitors around my giant belly and calling up to the midwife to come check me. Apparently the midwife was doing something and would be down in a couple minutes. I tried to hurry things along and got the nurse to just check me herself instead of waiting for the midwife. She said that I was fully dilated with a bulging water sac. To which I replied that I felt like I wanted to push. She said something that I think no nurse, midwife, or doctor should ever say to a woman in labor, "Don't push yet!" Lucky for me, I have an Aaron, who said, "You can push if you want to." I heard the nurse open the door and shout into the hallway, "I need some help in here, we're having a baby!" I pushed, and my water broke. The nurse called out, "We have mec!" Aaron says that my water didn't just break, it exploded, hitting the opposite wall (which wasn't that far away since triage rooms are tiny), splashing his jeans, the nurse, my new purse that my friends gave me for my birthday, my shorts on the counter, everything. With greenish meconium-laced amniotic fluid. Aaron says he and the nurse looked at each other, stunned, for just a moment before getting back to business. I pushed again and the baby's head crowned. I looked at Aaron and saw that he was still wearing the backpack. We had just gotten there, how was I already pushing? It was surreal. Another push, and her head was out. It was so fast I hardly felt it. How can you not feel a head coming out? Unreal. Fourth push, her body slid out. I heard her screaming and saw her tiny little body and but still couldn't quite beleive it. What, the baby is here already?!? How can that be? We just got here! It was 12:13. Only 13 minutes after we got to the 4th floor. Triage rooms are not fully equipped for birthing. They don't have warmed baby blankets and baby warmers for one thing, so they handed our little baby girl to me while she was still wet so I could warm her with skin-to-skin contact. I was still wearing the shirt I came to the hosptial in, so I yanked that off as they handed her to me. She was wet and squirmy and screaming and totally amazing. Some baby-care nurses came in and took her from me to finish drying her off and warming her up, and I could her her scremaing, but still I kept asking, "Is she OK? Is she healthy?" oh, it was such a relief to hear her cry and and to hear the nurses' affirmations that she was totally healthy! WOW! Aaron said it was the most exciting birth he's ever seen, with the explosive "shrom" and the speed and intensity of it all. The triage nurse got to catch the baby. The on-floor resident came in just after the baby arrrived, and the midwife made it down a few minutes after that. She took care of delivering the placenta , so she didn't totally miss out on the action.
I got back into a wheelchair, they handed me our sweet little girl, and we headed up to get settled in a recovery room. It was so fun to call my mom while it was still 12 something and tell her the news. Crazy that we were saying good-bye to her the second time just 33 minutes before Hazel arrived! Let me tell you, folks, HypnoBirthing works. Maybe a little too well!
(Whoa, that was long! Well, I said it was the whole story, right? Now I'm curious. How many of you actually made it to the end of my overly-detailed story? Comment if you're reading this so I can satisfy my curiosity!)