On Saturday, April 2, I went up to Salt Lake City to watch the morning session of General Conference with my siblings. It was a lot of fun, but on the way home, I was feeling WIPED OUT and really felt like I needed to nap. So I went down for a big, long, luxurious nap and when I woke up, I was feeling a little crampy, which I hoped meant something! (I didn't go into labor with Gulliver, so I didn't really know what to expect.)
I went downstairs, and we soon realized that I was getting contractions if I sat for a while and then stood up. So my mom and I kept experimenting with this to see how long I needed to sit before standing to bring on a contraction. (For example, at the beginning, if I was sitting for 20 minutes and stood up, I'd have a contraction. If I was sitting for 10 minutes and stood up, I wouldn't have a contraction.) This part was actually very fun, and the contractions weren't horrible. It was pretty fun to feel them climb and get more painful, and then fade away. As they got a little more intense, I'd just close my eyes and breathe, and then as they faded out, I'd announce, "I think that was a 6 on the pain scale!!" Since they weren't happening on their own, we sent Murray off to Priesthood session and dinner, and just told him to keep his phone on him.
While he was gone, my mom and I continued to bring on contractions by resting and moving. Gulliver was with Murray's mom, so I was free to just labor. And labor was FUN! In fact, we even went out to get some frozen yogurt, and during that trip, the contractions started to come on their own. Still, it was all very manageable, and definitely fun.
When Murray came home from Priesthood, we put on a movie. Since I was in labor, I got to choose what to watch, so I chose Morning Glory. When one is in labor, one wants to watch frivolous, meaningless, funny, girly movies. Or at least I do. Again, I kept standing up during the movie if contractions didn't come on their own. By the time the movie was done, it was about midnight, and contractions still weren't regular. But we all knew that I wouldn't be sleeping, either. Bummer.
We sent my mom to bed, and then Murray and I tried to get some sleep while still timing the contractions. We used the iPhone's stopwatch, which has a "lap" function. So I was able to press "lap" each time I had a contraction, and it automatically kept a list of the timing between contractions. Brilliant! While I was lying down in bed, they were still irregular, but I felt like they were getting a little more intense, and I felt like if I were up, they'd be more frequent. So I told Murray that we should just go to the hospital. We woke up my mom and took off. This was about 2:00 a.m.
There was a storm that night (that put a lot of women into labor... the hospital was pretty busy when we were there) and it started to get bad as we were driving to the hospital. The rain was turning into snow, and it was pretty messy. But I told everyone that there was no hurry, so we drove calmly to the hospital. (Murray drove calmly. My mom hit a pylon.) It was during the car ride, and during a contraction, that Murray asked me a question. After the contraction, I politely told him that probably he should not ask questions when he can see that I'm in the middle of a contraction.
At the hospital, as we were walking in, I started having a contraction, so I just stopped walking to wait through the contraction. My mom started saying something, and Murray told her, "Cicada needs ABSOLUTE SILENCE during contractions." And then I started laughing in the middle of my contraction. Good times at the hospital!
To be honest, labor up until now was all pretty fun, even though I did prefer not to be asked questions during contractions. AFTER contractions, conversation could totally resume as normal. We did a lot of joking and laughing. We got checked in no problem. I didn't request the jacuzzi room because I didn't really see myself using the jacuzzi anyway. I didn't have to have an IV since I wasn't getting an epidural, but they did do a hep-lock, which was totally fine.
I didn't really use any special laboring positions because I didn't really feel like I needed them. I spent a lot of time in the bed because I was tired and because I was comfortable there, but I did get up and walk around the room a little, and sit in the glider chair in the room. The contractions were still all bearable anyway, so I didn't really see any need to try out any special positions.
At about 5:30, the doctor came in and offered to break my water. She explained that if she did that, things would get really intense, pretty fast. She said that it would be as intense as it would get anyway, but that it would be more intense sooner. So that sounded like a good option. After Murray and I discussed it (because I was just a little bit chicken about the whole "getting intense" part), we decided to have her do it.
She broke my water, and guess what? Things started getting a lot more intense, pretty quickly. While I had been kindof humming through my contractions previously, now my humming got a little more intense. Maybe kindof groaning. A nurse showed Murray how to put counter pressure on my knees, though, and that was a HUGE HELP. As in, I couldn't have done it without him!! And he was working pretty hard, too. I was the one saying, "Push! Push!"
I know because my mom was there that this more intense part was an hour and a half, but it felt more like 30 minutes or 45 at the most. The contractions were right on top of one another, and poor Murray's arms were shaking as he was pushing on my knees.
At least I can say that there was no point that I even considered asking for the epidural. So that I think is a major win for me.
Towards the end, I started to lose it. The doctor was there. They were saying that I was mostly all the way dilated, but that there was a little lip still, that possibly the baby would be able to push past. They were telling me that I could push when I felt the urge, but I wasn't feeling the urge yet. But just for good measure, I started pushing anyway, because I was feeling DONE. I was really worried that for some reason, things would just STALL right there, and I'd be stuck feeling this way for HOURS. And I think maybe when that thought crossed my mind was the first time that I yelled. It was, I thought, uncontrollable, but when the doctor told me, "Stop yelling and focus on your breathing," then I WAS able to stop yelling and I felt like I could control it. Until, of course, the next contraction, and then I was yelling again. Ha. It really felt like I wasn't myself, and I was definitely a little embarrassed, because I was hoping that magically I'd be able to do the whole thing perfectly.
BUT. It was only about 5 minutes of hollering (again, I'm going on my mom's word on this, because if you asked me, I'd tell you that I only yelled twice, and the total duration of yelling was probably just 2 minutes), suddenly I HAD A BABY. It was crazy. I could feel her move down, and then all of a sudden she was out, head first and then shoulders! And then they put her on my chest, and there was my baby!!
I continued making a lot of noise, apparently (thanks, Mom, for letting me know these details) because all I could say was, "Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!" Over and over again. This was at 7:45 in the morning.
Now, I've always heard about the amazing rush, like drugs, that you supposedly get after natural childbirth. Maybe that rush was the Wow Wow Wow part. Because IMMEDIATELY after, there was the CRASH. The I-Haven't-Slept-All-Night-and-I-Just-Had-a-Baby crash. It was during this crash (and while the doctor was sewing up my very little tear, I might add) that my mom took this choice photo.
Thank you, Mom.
When it was all over, I told Murray and my mom that I didn't know if I'd be able to do that again.
Two hours later, when my maternity nurse came to get me, she told me, "I heard you when you were delivering! I thought, oh! That must be the natural mom that I'm getting today!" I told her that even after just two hours, I was already starting to forget just how bad it was, and I was already starting to think, I might be able to do this.
Now, an entire month later, I can tell you, I LOVED it, and I would do it again. Even if it would cost the same (ultimately, between the anesthesiologist and the extra day at the hospital, the epidural would have cost me about $3000), I would choose to go natural. The reason is that I did bounce back very quickly (although I got the shakes, which everyone always said was an epidural side effect, but the doctor explained is just a normal reaction to child birth), and recovered very very well. It's hard to say exactly what was a benefit of going natural or not. I can't say that everything good about this experience was due to natural childbirth, and everything bad about the last experience was due to the epidural. (And for the record, my last experience was a very positive experience. I did have more recovery, but I don't know how much of that was because it was a first baby, and how much of that was because I had an epidural.) But overall, I figure that if what we're really talking about is an hour and a half of pain, I'm happy to forego the epidural. (I TOTALLY would get it if I knew that I'd be experiencing the more intense pain for an extended period of time!!)
So there you have it. My natural childbirth experience! I recommend it, if you're curious! As far as hypnobirthing goes, I think the two big things I got out of it were 1) I didn't go into labor afraid of the pain, so I know that I didn't bring any of that tension into the experience, and 2) the breathing techniques did give me something to focus on during the contractions and definitely helped me to be calm and have an enjoyable labor.
And now for a few photos of the baby at 2 weeks, taken by Nicole Hill Gerulat!