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Family, Running, Life

Sarah’s Birth Story

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41 Weeks

It was Sunday, February 8, 2015. I was 41 weeks and one day pregnant with my fourth child.  I had prepared for this birth by taking the Hypnobabies class with Nashville Birth and Babies, with Kate Cropp as the instructor. Unlike my three previous births where I had prepared using the Hypnobabies Home Study option, I chose to sit through the class to prepare for my fourth birth. I had great success with the Home Study option, but because I am an aspiring Hypnobabies instructor,  I thought it would be a good idea to attend the class.

HypnobabiesmirroredThursday night classes were like date night to us. We left the other three kids with the baby sitter and enjoyed a quiet dinner together before going to class to learn about turning off my mental light switch and directing my anesthesia. We diligently practiced the scripts at home, with Dan reading to me and guiding me through hypnosis on my nights at home from my job as an ICU nurse. Attending the class ignited a sense of responsibility in Dan he had never had before during my previous pregnancies when I did independent study . He took ownership in ensuring I had a wonderful birth experience by helping me to practice my hypnosis skills.

I had never given birth prior to my guess date before, and I didn’t believe our baby Olive (Sarah’s womb name- we didn’t know her sex prior to birth) would be different. My guess date came on January 31, 2015, and, as expected, we didn’t have a baby. I was actually relieved she was not born yet. Despite my best efforts to keep myself healthy, I came down with a very bad cold. I could not imagine trying to focus on relaxation during my birthing time when I had to continuously blow my nose and coughed to the point of vomiting. That week after my guess date was spent convalescing and by the 41 week mark, I was completely better.

Hypnobabies teaches that thoughts, emotions, and fears are very powerful. Fear can hinder us, and what we believe becomes our reality. The day I was 41 weeks pregnant was a tough one for me. I had many things weighing heavily on my mind that day. Dan understood I was having a tough time emotionally, so he took me out for the day. His parents were in town, so we left the kids with their grandparents and we went out for the day. I got a pedicure, we had a lunch date, and we walked around stores looking at cute baby clothes together. It was a welcome distraction.

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Interstate Closure

Interstate 65 in Williamson County has been in a state of construction for many years now in a much needed road widening project. The overpass at Peytonsville Road was being rebuilt after a tanker truck hauling gasoline had slammed into a support pillar a few months earlier, and the northbound lanes of I-65 were closed that weekend at the Peytonsville Road exit until 1:00 PM on Sunday, February 8, 2015. We live in the southern-most suburb of Nashville, and I had chosen Vanderbilt University Medical Center as my place of birth. Our route to Vanderbilt would take us right up I-65, through a detour at the highway closure. I knew this road closure would create significant traffic delays in an area that already suffered congestion on good days when the highway was not shut down. I told myself that my birthing time simply could not start until after traffic began flowing on I-65 again after 1:00 PM.

We went to church together on Sunday morning and ate lunch out before heading home. As we cleaned up our table, I looked at the clock on my phone and announced that it was 1:00 and it was safe for my birthing time to begin. As I buckled myself into my seat back at the car, I felt my first pressure wave.

Photo Feb 08, 8 58 43 PMWhen we got home, I retreated to our bedroom and did a Fear Clearing session before lying down for a nap. I was only able to actually sleep for a little over an hour before the pressure waves woke me up. At this point, they were coming every five to ten minutes apart. Feeling excited, I texted my friend and doula Julie to let her know what was going on, but not long after proclaiming my pressure waves were five to ten minutes apart, they spread out to 20 minutes apart. I’m a little fuzzy on what happened next. I’m sure we ate dinner, but I have no recollection of that. I do know that my mother-in-law took my father- in-law to the airport so he could fly back to Chicago around 7:00 PM, as he had to work the next day, but she was staying in Tennessee. We didn’t tell them that I was possibly in my birthing time, because my pressure waves were spreading out and we weren’t sure if it was really happening that night or not.

To try to distract myself from watching the clock (and being disappointed by the widening interval in pressure waves) I decided I should start a new show on Netflix. I chose “Chuck” because I vaguely remembered seeing commercials for it when it aired on NBC and thought it looked entertaining. There was a scene in which a ninja dressed entirely in black attempted to steal a computer from Chuck’s apartment. My kids found this scene hilarious, and because it was near their bedtime, they had a seemingly infinite amount of energy. I’ve heard that animals are able to sense when a woman is near her birthing time and behave in strange ways. Perhaps children are like animals in this manner. Hannah came downstairs dressed in black leggings, a black long sleeve t shirt, and had black tights over her head and began reinacting the ninja scene, much to her brothers’ delight. Dan was miraculously able to herd the kids toward bed amdist this scene. I’m not sure what I did while he put them to bed. I probably just watched the show.

20150209-IMG_4584We had asked Dan’s mom to spend the night at our house that night. She had been staying in a little cabin at a farm she had found on Air BnB. I had an appointment with the Vanderbilt Midwives at 9:00 the next morning, and we thought it would be easier for me to get out the door for the appointment if she were already at the house. By that point, I think I had given up on my birthing time. I had one pressure wave at 8:19 PM and then didn’t have another one until 9:38. I didn’t think I would need to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, but having her spend the night was a relief anyway. Our backup people were unavailable to help out that night.

We went to our room and I texted Julie an update. I know I was feeling discouraged at that time. I felt like I was letting people down and I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. Dan assured me I was not letting him down and that I was not an inconvenience. I began to feel a little better and decided to fold a basket of laundry that was sitting in our room. Perhaps it was one last surge of nesting. We had the best time folding that laundry, and I know we laughed a lot, but I can not remember what we found so funny at the time. I think Dan’s pep talk and laughing over the laundry basket jump started my birthing time. I had three pressure waves back to back.

Photo Feb 08, 8 58 46 PMWe went to bed early and practiced the “Visualize Your Birth” script before falling asleep. I slept maybe an hour before the pressure waves woke me up. I lied in bed through three pressure waves before waking Dan up. We timed the pressure waves and found that they were about three minutes apart. I texted Julie at 12:19 AM on Monday, February 9 to tell her we were back in business. I told Dan I wanted to take a quick shower, but he quickly shot down that idea. He was afraid we would have a repeat performance of our third child’s birth, where we arrived in the circle drive to the hospital 11 minutes before he was born, resulting in a wild wheelchair ride through the back hallways of Vanderbilt Medical Center and our son being literally caught by the midwife when I stood from the wheelchair. I agreed that the shower might not be a good idea after all. I could see myself getting so comfortable in the shower that I had an unintentional homebirth.

Julie arrived around 12:45 and we left for the hospital soon afterward. I hugged my pillow and put my ear buds in and listened to the Deepening track for the drive. I switched my mental light switch off and relaxed into my pillow and focused on maintaining my anesthesia. I told myself over and over in my head that I only needed to be four centimeters dilated to be admitted. Anything less, and they would say I wasn’t in my active birthing time.

Although my eyes were closed and I was in deep hypnosis, I knew where we were on the highway at all times. I recognized the on ramp to I-65 off of 840 and I began counting pressure waves. When we pulled into the circle at Vanderbilt, I turned my light switch back up to center switch so I could walk and talk in between pressure waves, and announced to Dan that I had had nine pressure waves between 840 and the circle. It was about a 30 minute period of time between 840 and Vanderbilt.

We parked in the garage, not knowing we could have utilized a free valet at the ER entrance, and Dan pushed me in a wheelchair we found in our parking space. We checked in with the registration clerks in the ER and waited in the hallway with another couple for the labor and delivery nurses to come pick us up. My pressure waves continued to come every three minutes, and I turned my switch off and completely relaxed through each one, then turned back up to center switch when each one was finished.

After waiting a little while in the ER, the OB nurse came and took us upstairs to OB triage. There were several patients in triage that night. The nurses put me on the monitor and were surprised when I told them my pressure waves were every three minutes because I was very calm and relaxed. The nurse checked and I was 4.5 centimeters, 50% effaced, and at a -1 station. The entire ride to the hospital I had told myself I only needed to be four centimeters. I was very pleased and I am still convinced that my hypnosis made the difference.

I only spent about ten minutes in triage before being transferred to labor and delivery. My triage nurse commented as she handed me off to the labor and delivery nurse that I should “teach the class” because I was doing so well with my hypnosis. Once in labor and delivery, I was placed on the monitor for the 20 minute strip before being disconnected for intermittent monitoring or getting into the tub. I was excited about the prospect of being able to relax in the tub.
Before my 20 minutes on the monitor were finished, however, the nurse noticed something abnormal on the strip. I’m not entirely sure what the problem was, but she spoke with the midwife and I was given a bolus of IV fluids. Around this time, my pressure waves became very intense.

Pressure waves, to me, anyway, are like a blood pressure cuff. The cuff gets tighter, and tighter, it peaks for a few seconds, then slowly releases. I’ve always pictured my pressure waves to be like a blood pressure cuff. During the transformational stage of birthing time, it is as though the blood pressure cuff quickly pumps to 180 millimeters of mercury in just a few seconds time, and holds there for several seconds before releasing, only to pump back up again a minute later.

I informed the nurse it wouldn’t be much longer. The midwife came back to check me and I was at seven centimeters and a 0 station. I turned my light switch to off, but used the “Peace” cue through each pressure wave to keep me centered and to help me to relax into each wave.

The nurse noticed another abnormality on the strip, so she had me to turn onto my right side (I had been lying on my left) and she put a non-rebreather oxygen mask on my face. I continued to use the peace cue as I shivered through each wave. I had never shivered so powerfully before. Julie held pressure on my legs, which helped me to relax and to not focus on the shivering. I knew our baby would be born very soon and I needed every ounce of mental energy to focus on relaxing through each pressure wave.

It was around that time someone from anesthesia arrived to ask me questions about my surgical history. I think I remember Dan attempting to get rid of this person, but she was insistent that it would only take a minute and that I had to be the one to answer the questions. Being a nurse, I did not want to be a “bad patient”, so I did my best to answer her inquiries, such as, “Have you ever had malignant hyperthermia from anesthesia?” “Have you ever had a transfusion reaction?”  My eyes were closed the entire time she spoke to me, so I never saw what she looked like. In my mind’s eye, though, she was an over- confident and nerdy first year, with her scrub top tucked into her pants that were hiked halfway up to her armpits.

I should have plugged my ears and declared that I wasn’t listening, like a defiant three year old, but instead I announced I was ready to push. The midwife, standing at the foot of the bed, casually said, “Okay, just push when you feel ready.” So I did. I don’t think she was prepared for me to be such an effective pusher, though, because she told me to slow down. I didn’t do the typical purple pushing that you see on medical dramas, such as TLC’s “A Baby Story.” Instead, I pushed as I felt the need to, and I exhaled, vocalizing as I pushed, but never holding my breath and bearing down.

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Candid, raw, being handed Sarah for the first time

I pushed through just one pressure wave and then she was out at 3:42 AM. I remember feeling surprised that it was so easy. This was the first time I had pushed while lying on my side, and I have to say, it was probably my favorite way to give birth. Dan announced that we had another girl and I rolled onto my back and she was passed up to me. This was the first time I had ever held one of my babies immediately after birth. I was in awe of how quickly and how easily she was born. She was so tiny in comparison to her older siblings, especially considering I was pregnant with her the longest, at 41 weeks and 2 days.

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Skin to skin

We waited for her cord to stop pulsing before Dan cut it. Sarah went from pink to a little blue, so they took her to the warmer for some oxygen for a few minutes, then she was brought right back to me for more skin to skin time. She nursed easily and then settled back to sleep.

Double Knot

Double knot in the cord

Right after she was born, the midwife was astonished to find that Sarah’s cord had a complete double knot in it. She said she had never seen one like it before. She is the only one of our babies to have had a knot in her cord.

Sarah’s birth was vastly different from my other birth experiences. Although I had IV fluids and oxygen, I was very satisfied with her birth. I felt as though our nurse was on top of keeping us safe, while at the same time respecting our choices. While I had never before experienced a birthing time that had several starts and stops like Sarah’s did, I felt very relaxed and rested. I truly enjoyed her birth. While I felt well prepared in using the Home Study option for Hypnobabies for my three previous births, I felt as though taking the class gave Dan a little more ownership. I think nightly practice brought us together as a couple. His only regret about Sarah’s birth is that he didn’t get the chance to do more hypnosis scripts with me during the birthing time. He really enjoyed participating and helping me with my hypnosis!  I have no regrets whatsoever.  I am so blessed and so very, very thankful.

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Elijah’s Birth Story

We learned we were expecting Elijah on a cold morning in January. I had told Dan the night before over dinner at Buca di Beppo that I thought I could be pregnant. I had to run to the bathroom every ten minutes to pee, and that only happened when I’d either consumed large amounts of water, or I was pregnant. Since I hadn’t been pushing fluids on myself, I suspected I was pregnant. We ran by Target to pick up some pregnancy tests, and since I had to pee as we were leaving the store, I went to the restroom and used one of the tests. It was negative. I woke up bright and early the next morning used another test, and that time it was positive.

Because my older two children were born in Missouri, I was faced with the task of choosing a new healthcare provider. I had a fabulous “full service” family practice doctor in Missouri that had taken care of all my prenatal care and the births, in addition to being the kids’ doctor. Family practice doctors in this area of Tennessee do not deliver babies, so that was off the table. I support homebirth, and I like the idea of homebirth. There are an abundant number of homebirth midwives in this area. After considering all the pros and cons for our situation, Dan and I decided a homebirth would not be the best choice for us. I had heard good things about the nurse midwives at Vanderbilt, but Vanderbilt is 45 minutes away from our house. This was slightly troubling, but I liked the midwife model of care. I didn’t have good feelings about the two hospitals that are within 25 minutes of our house, so we chose the Vanderbilt nurse midwives.

We met our midwife Linda and loved her right away. She had a very warm personality and a big smile. She hugged me when she came into and left the room, and she is one of the few people outside of my church I’ve met that understood the Biblical meanings of Silas and Hannah’s names. She quoted scripture to me to encourage me at my last appointment when I expressed some stress I had been feeling. When we discussed my birth preferences, I was happy to learn most of them were routine practice at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

As third trimester approached, I got about the business of choosing a doula. Because I use Hypnobabies to prepare for peaceful and painless births, I knew I wanted a doula familiar with the program. A local business, Nine Months and Beyond ( www.ninemonthsandbeyond.com) offers Hypnobabies classes and doula services. They hold monthly Materni-Tea parties in order to learn more about their services and to meet their doulas. I had chosen not to take the actual Hypnobabies class for this pregnancy because I had prepared for the two previous births by using the Hypnobabies home study program and was confident I could do it again with success. I was able to meet all of the doulas at Nine Months and Beyond and felt a connection with Micky. Thankfully, Micky was available for the time around my guess date and we booked her to be our doula.

A few words about Hypnobabies here… Hypnobabies is a comprehensive birth preparation program. In my home study program, there were six lessons in a workbook, each one with an educational theme about pregnancy. Topics included (but were not limited to) the anatomy and physiology of birth and pregnancy nutrition and exercise. The program teaches one how to do “eyes open hypnosis.” This means that the woman has complete control over her body and complete awareness of her surroundings while under hypnosis, but is able to control and direct her own anesthesia. This is done using the Finger Drop Technique in order to turn off and on a Mental Lightswitch. “On” is when there is no anesthesia at all, and the mom is able to move all extremities. “Off” is complete anesthesia throughout the whole body, including the inability to move. “Center” is when the mom has directed anesthesia to wherever it is needed, but is able to walk, talk, and move around at will. Turning the switch to off is typically most useful during intense pressure waves, such as during transformation. Center switch is very useful during the earlier stage of the birthing time, enabling the mom to stand and sway, or walk, or whatever she finds comfortable during her pressure waves. That leads to the language of Hypnobabies… because words are very important in how we perceive things, Hypnobabies changes the typical words around birthing in order give them a more positive light. Labor is “birthing time” because, that is exactly what it is. “Labor” may be perceived as being very difficult, but Hypnobabies teaches moms that birthing time can be peaceful and painless. It is not a “due date”, but rather a “guess date” because the day the baby will be born is at best, a guess, and there’s no guarantee on the date. Contractions are “pressure waves” because the suggestions given during Hypnobabies practice train the mind to perceive them as warm, tight pressure. Keeping a positive attitude and mindset are very important when doing Hypnobabies preparation. Whatever one puts in the mind will become reality, and this point will become very important later on in this story.

As my guess date approached, I began having daily Braxton Hicks pressure waves. A couple of times, I texted or emailed my doula Micky because I was convinced my birthing time had begun, only to have the pressure waves fizzle out later. I worked a 12 hour night shift the Saturday before my Wednesday guess date. In the last hour of the shift, I began having very realistic pressure waves every five minutes. They were intense enough to require my full concentration to relax through them and to finish my shift. I decided to stay home from church once I got home, because they continued to come every five minutes. I texted Micky to tell her what was going on. I took a shower and crawled into bed, and fell immediately to sleep. When I awoke, the pressure waves were all gone.

Wednesday, September 12 was my guess date. I woke up feeling a bit mopey because it was my guess date and I didn’t think anything would happen. My first two children had been born at 41 weeks, and I was feeling very tired, sore, and anxious. I emailed Dan complaining about how depressed I was and he gently reminded me that babies are born on their birthdays. Shortly after that, I felt a very long, intense pressure wave with strong pressure in my low back. I knelt down, leaning over an arm chair and swayed my hips until it finished. I emailed Dan back and told him to keep an eye on his phone because although I had several false starts before, I felt like it might be the day. I had regular old Braxton Hicks waves the rest of the morning, so I decided to get some work done in case it really was birth day. I vacuumed and mopped and cleaned the kitchen and washed a load of diapers. I fixed lunch for myself and the kids and prepared to put them down for a nap, when a very sharp, abrupt pressure sensation hit either my bladder or my cervix. It seemed to come from nowhere and it took my breath away. It only lasted about a minute, so I emailed my doula to ask her what she thought about it, then put Silas and Hannah down for their afternoon naps. Once they were asleep, feeling exhausted myself, I decided to sit on my ball and listen to the “Special Place” track. I was so exhausted that I went into a very deep hypnosis and fell asleep for nearly two hours while perched on my ball leaning against my bed. I was awoken by one of my kids. I felt terrible when I woke up. I was still exhausted and was then feeling a tad nauseous. Dan came home from work shortly after I woke up and I noticed that pressure waves began again. They were more intense than they had been all day, but I didn’t pay much attention to them because I had had several bouts with prodromal birthing time before.

We sat down for dinner, and I didn’t feel much like eating. Being Wednesday, we had church services. I thought about staying home, but decided to go because I hadn’t been there on Sunday morning and wanted to be there. On the way, Dan and I had a silly argument about something very trivial. Mid-argument, I realized that I had had several pressure waves just in the time we had been in the car and thought that I should probably start timing them. They were about 12 to 15 minutes apart at that point. I continued timing them through church, and by the end of church they were about ten minutes apart. I no longer felt nauseous and I was handling the pressure waves very well, so we decided to go to a friend’s house for ice cream. I sat at my friend’s table, chatting and eating ice cream, timing pressure waves the entire time, and nobody knew it. My facial expression and body language never changed. I just focused on staying completely relaxed through each wave. On the drive home, I noted they were about seven minutes apart.

We pulled up to the house around 9:45 and Dan took the kids into the house. I pulled my phone out of my purse and texted my friend Julie to tell her that my pressure waves had picked up in intensity. Her daughter babysits my kids and I wanted to give her the heads up that I might need her that night. As I got out of the car, I had another pressure wave< then three more between the car and my bedroom. I had to stop and focus through each wave. I texted my doula Micky to update her on my progress,. She offered to come over, but I told her I thought I was still in denial about it actually being my birthing time. I decided to put on my PJs and listen to the Deeping track while in the knee-chest position because I was feeling a lot of pressure in my low back. Dan put the kids to bed while I listened to Deepening. I found it was difficult to completely relax every muscle in my body while in this position because I had never practiced doing hypnosis while in this position. Once the track was over, I told Dan I wanted to put on the “Easy First Stage” track and go to bed to see if the pressure waves went away, because I had been convinced before I was in my birthing time, only to have the pressure waves dissipate with rest.

We were only in bed about thirty minutes when I told Dan that I was pretty sure we were having our baby that night. I changed into my “birthing outfit”, a black nursing tank and black cotton skirt, and put my hair into pigtails while Dan called Julie and texted Micky for me. I was very cold and couldn’t stop shivering, which was unusual for me because I have a very hot nature when pregnant. I put a fleece jacket on over my tank and went downstairs to wait.

Julie and Ally arrived first. It was around 12:30 at that point. They went upstairs and went to bed in the guest room. Micky arrived a few minutes later. My pressure waves had gone back to about seven minutes apart. I was beginning to feel silly, because I was sure that maybe it wasn’t really my birthing time since my pressure waves started to space out again. Micky and I chatted a few minutes while Dan talked to the midwife on call at Vanderbilt and got things ready to go. I was still able to talk through my pressure waves. Micky asked me if that was typical for me, and I told her it was, up until transformation. She thought I was still in pretty early birthing time, and I felt pretty comfortable, so we decided to stay home a little longer. I was still feeling a lot of pressure in my lower back, and fearing another occiput posterior baby (Silas was OP until he was born, and the birthing time lasted for two days), Micky had me do the Miles circuit, a series of positions to encourage a baby into optimal position for birth. I lied on my left side on the couch in the “pretzel position” and continued to listen to “Easy First Stage.” I felt fantastic in that position, and I could feel Elijah turning and moving down with each pressure wave. Dan and Micky hung out, and we all chatted between my pressure waves. After I had lied in the pretzel position for about half an hour, I got up to do some side lunges. I put my foot up on the coffee table with my toes pointed out and lunged to the side. I alternated sides and continued to lunge through pressure waves, leaning for support on Micky. (I did all of this with my light switch in the center.)

Doing side lunges made me tired, so I got back on the couch on my left side. Dan had fixed me some ice water and encouraged me to eat a granola bar, but it didn’t taste good to me. I decided to close my eyes and rest because my pressure waves were getting pretty intense. Dan sat on the floor and rubbed my feet. I felt so calm and relaxed, and in what felt like only a few minutes later, I began to feel like I was ready to leave for the hospital.

I’m not sure who’s idea it was for me to use the bathroom. Dan helped me to the bathroom, and sitting on the toilet caused me to feel a lot of pressure very low. I don’t remember if I said something, or if I made a noise, but Micky was waiting outside the bathroom door and Dan very matter-of-factly said we were leaving for the hospital.

Dan and Micky helped settle me into the front seat with two pillows on my lap. I hugged my pillows, put my earbuds on, and turned my switch off. I did note before turning my switch off that the clock in the car said 3:03 AM. One suggestion I remember from my hypnosis tracks was that every 20 minutes of my birthing time would feel like just five minutes. The trip up to Vanderbilt felt amazingly short. I was very calm and relaxed during the entire car trip. I made a low humming sound to help me focus through my pressure waves. I felt the car leave the interstate and turn onto Wedgewood to take us to Vanderbilt. Within just a few minutes of leaving the interstate, I started feeling very hot and then felt the urge to push. I remained calm, keeping my face, hands, and perineum relaxed. I changed my breathing from long, slow deep breaths out to shorter breaths. Dan could tell I was breathing differently, but he didn’t say anything about it. We pulled up to the ER at Vanderbilt and the clock in the car said 3:46. Dan brought me a wheelchair and both he and Micky helped me into the chair. I remember saying, “I’m about to have this baby” to her. I could feel the amniotic sac bulging as I stood and pivoted into the wheelchair.

They wheeled me through the doors, and security let me come right through the metal detectors, although they did detain Dan and Micky. Somebody pushed me up to the registration desk. I told the women at the desk that I was about to give birth and I needed them to hurry. I was worried because Dan and Micky weren’t right by my side, they were still getting through security. The registration ladies asked me a few questions and put my bracelet on my wrist. I no longer had my earbuds in but was still listening to “Easy First Stage” over the speakers of my iPhone. One of the women asked what I was listening to and Dan gave a quick synopsis of Hypnobabies to them.

“That’s really cool,” she said.

I had several pressure waves while sitting at registration and felt the urge to push each time. I didn’t fight the urge to push, I just focused on remaining calm and relaxed and continued humming through each wave. I know asked them again to hurry, and Micky told them I needed to push. I felt like I was losing my cool, but Dan and Micky both later told me I was very calm and spoke politely. These women at registration are probably used to seeing women come in every night saying they’re about to give birth, but in reality they still have plenty of time left. I can understand why they would be skeptical when a woman comes rolling in, acting very calm and collected, but saying she’s about to push her baby out. They assured me that a nurse from labor and delivery would come down to get me. I think I asked them again to hurry. I’m not sure what convinced the triage nurse, but she popped around the corner and volunteered to take me. Perhaps she heard the entire exchange and didn’t want to risk delivering a baby in the ER.

We headed off in a wheelchair. The valet for the ER was nowhere to be found, so Dan and Micky just left their keys with the registration ladies and followed the ER triage nurse and me to the elevator. The nurse said we’d wait at the elevator bank for the labor and delivery nurse. This is where things get a little fuzzy for me. I know that my pressure waves were almost back to back at this point. I also know that I was no longer able to just breathe and hum my way through the urge to push, and I began involuntarily pushing. I hadn’t completely lost my cool, but I think the ER nurse picked up on the urgency and we ditched the plan to wait for the labor and delivery nurse and we grabbed our own elevator. I think my water broke in the elevator, but I’m not sure. I don’t remember much about the elevator ride, because everything starts running together when I try to remember what happened after we got onto the elevator. Once my water broke, I lost my focus. One of the suggestions given very early on in my Hypnobabies training said that in the event of an emergency, I would turn my light switch back to “on” and I would no longer have anesthesia in my body. I believe my mind interpreted my water breaking and pushing in an elevator as an emergency, and it turned my light switch back on. I don’t remember being in pain, just feeling a lot of energy and being very anxious. I thought Elijah was going to be born in either the elevator or the hallway. I was loudly yelling that I could feel his head coming out. The nurse was running with the wheelchair at that point. After a couple turns and dodging boxes (we took what appeared to be a back hallway), we finally arrived to labor and delivery. I was relieved to see a room full of people waiting for me. Dan put my bags down and Micky tried to help me up from the chair. I told her I couldn’t get up, and she firmly but nicely told me I had to get up out of the chair. With help, I stood from the chair and grabbed the side of the bed. The midwife removed my underwear and I heard her say, “Oh, the head is right there!”

Someone threw a bucket down on the floor beneath me and I heard a lot of commotion behind me as I pushed through each powerful pressure wave. The midwife said, “Your baby is right here, reach down and feel his head.”

Under normal circumstances, I would have gladly reached down to touch his head, but I was in a state of shock. I could not believe the speed at which everything had taken place and I was in disbelief that I had come so close to giving birth in a wheelchair in the elevator.

I pushed again and the midwife said, “Here comes your baby, reach down and grab your baby!” I still couldn’t move, and I felt him slip out. I was still clutching the bed and looking down at the floor.

“Here’s your baby, I’m going to hand him up to you.” I was shaking, partially from exhaustion, partially from shock. I could not reach down and grab him. I heard Dan say behind me, “It’s a boy!” (we didn’t find out the sex before he was born.) and someone else said, “You’re a big little dude!” Another voice said, “3:57.” I just stood there, holding the bed.

My birth preferences stated that I wanted to wait until the cord had stopped pulsing to clamp and cut it (which is actually the standard procedure at Vanderbilt). I was so exhausted and shaken up that I knew I needed to lie down. The midwife asked if I wanted to wait to cut the cord or just go ahead and cut the cord and rest a few minutes while they weighed him, and I gladly accepted the offer. Somebody helped me to the bed, and the nurse took Elijah over to the warmer and the scale to be checked out. He was never more than ten feet away from me. I lied down on the bed and looked over at him. He did look big, and someone said, “9-14!”, meaning he weighed nine pounds and 14 ounces. They diapered and swaddled him and handed him over to Dan, who brought him over to me in the bed. I needed to be sewn up and I was still bleeding pretty heavily, so he put Elijah down on the bed with me with his face against mine. His skin was so soft and warm against mine. He was so content to lie cheek to cheek with me, as I didn’t feel up to trying to get him to nurse right at that moment. After the midwife was finished suturing, I finally felt comfortable enough to sit up and nurse. He had a little trouble latching on, but he eventually caught on and has been a terrific nurser ever since.

We spent one night in the hospital. Elijah never left our sight the entire time we were there. Because of quiet hours, I was able to nap without interruption, and I got the best hospital sleep ever that night.

So remember earlier when I said that whatever one puts into their mind will become their reality? Throughout my pregnancy, when people would ask me where Elijah would be born, I would always answer, “Vanderbilt…IF we make it!” We left the house at 3:03 AM, pulled up to the ER at 3:46 AM, and he was born 11 minutes later at 3:57 AM. We really did just barely make it.

I can’t pick a time when my birthing time actually started, but I do know that I spent all but about two or three minutes feeling very calm and comfortable. I was able to spend most of my birthing time in the comfort of my home, and the car ride to Vanderbilt was not bad at all. We drove right past a hospital on our way into the city and I never once thought to myself, “We need to stop at Williamson (Medical Center)!”

Although I panicked and lost control of my emotions when I nearly gave birth in the elevator, Dan and I both feel that Elijah’s birth was the best out of our three children. I spent a few days feeling embarrassed about the stir I caused, but I’m over that now. It wasn’t the perfect Zen moment I had imagined, but it was very powerful. So although it didn’t happen exactly as I planned, I’m okay with it. Few things in life do go exactly as planned. I don’t have any negative feelings toward the women in the ER. I didn’t look or act like a typical woman about to push out a baby and I don’t think they realized when I asked them to hurry that it was as urgent as it was. I can’t think of a single decision we made that I would go back and change. So although I hope I never nearly give birth in a wheelchair on an elevator again, I’m pleased with how Elijah’s birth went.

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