Tuesday, January 1, 2013

hazel's birth day

**If you have no desire to read a very detailed account of my birth, skip this post!**

I woke up on December 3rd, which incidentally was my 31st birthday, with some mild cramping. I had been having it on and off all night, but didn't think much of it, even though my due date had come and passed the previous Friday. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for about a week already, so I was sure these were just a crampy version of those. I had kept telling myself that Hazel probably wouldn't come until closer to 42 weeks (Matilda was born two days after I hit 41 weeks), which would have put me at December 14. 

Jon had decided to go ahead and start his paternity leave, which worked out great, because it meant we got to spend my birthday together. I went about my morning, getting ready, and decided to open my contraction timer on my phone, just to see if the cramping / Braxton Hicks, tapered off at all, or if they kept up the same speed. After timing them for about an hour, I realized that these were potentially real contractions, but I still didn't want to get my hopes up. Matilda's labor & delivery was a VERY long process, so if this was it, I knew I was in for a long day & night. 

My mom and my sister came and met us for mexican food, and some Target shopping. By the time we went to Target at about 2pm, the contractions were about 5-7 minutes apart, 30 seconds long, but still not that painful, though every time I had one, I thought I was going to wet my pants. I think I used that Target bathroom about 8 times in our shopping trip there. It was quite humorous, i'm sure, to see this extremely pregnant woman basically racing for the bathroom. Being as obviously pregnant as I was, I got quite a few comments asking when I was due, and quite a few shocked looks when I answered that I was well past my due date. Two sweet ladies who we ran into a couple of times, told me they would be praying for me and that everything would go well. They seriously made my day. 

We had a midwife appointment the next morning at 8:40am, so we thought it would be best to go ahead and let my mom and sister take Matilda back to Murfreesboro with them, so that we wouldn't have to drag her there. I assumed if I was laboring all night, that I might be dilated enough at that point to go to the hospital, and it would be easier if she was already taken care of.  I'm so thankful we made that call, as the night got pretty interesting. I started crying as Mom & Abby were about to leave with her, knowing this was probably the last time I would be the mama of just one beautiful girl. My mom prayed with me, and I immediately felt peace, knowing that everything would be ok. 

Jon and I had an amazing dinner, prepared for us by a sweet couple from church. At this point, the contractions were getting a little stronger, but still, not painful. I decided to go up to our room, and take a long hot bath, since I knew that if this wasn't real labor, relaxing in a bath would probably stall it. I really wanted to know for sure if this was it or not. That bath was the best decision. There is nothing better than feeling weightless, when you are 40 weeks pregnant. 

I got out of the bath, turned on Netflix, and got a bowl of ice cream (it was my birthday after all!) I was starting to have stronger contractions at this point, ones that I was having to focus through, but still, not overly painful. I started bouncing on my birth ball, and rolling from side to side, which really helped with the pressure. Around 1am, labor well and truly got started. Jon had come up and helped me through some contractions by applying counter pressure to my hips - make your husbands learn what this is ladies!! It seriously makes contractions so much easier to breathe through. Up until this point, I had just wanted to be alone. At 2am, I was really starting to have issues breathing through contractions. They were coming about 3-4 minutes apart, and were all a minute long or longer. I had really started withdrawing into myself, and just picturing my body opening up, and my sweet baby girl moving down. That was the only way I was able to get through some of the harder and longer contractions. Jon paged the on call midwife, who just happened to be the same one who delivered Matilda. I was so excited to find out she would be with us, since my midwife wasn't on call. 

We left our house at around 2:30am. At this point, any time I was up moving around, the contractions would come on pretty quickly. Sitting in the car was miserable. All I wanted to do was squat and moan. Jon helped me keep my voice low and deep, which we knew helped the last time, so that I didn't get hysterical and lose focus.

We made it to labor & delivery about 20 minutes later, at which point we remembered that they close L&D at 9pm. So we really needed to be at the Emergency Room. At this point, I'm starting to crack. My contractions were about 1-2 minutes apart, and were lasting at least a minute long. The ER is across the street from the L&D building, so we decided to walk it. A hospital employee was helping us get there, and offered me a wheel chair, and I was told I snapped at him (I have no real memories of anything at this point). But I knew there was no way I could sit through contractions this strong. So we walked, then I would squat and hold onto whatever I could grab on to and moan my way through contractions (yes, i'm a very vocal laborer - it's what works for me!). I'm sure it was quite comical to anyone who saw me. Luckily, at around 3am, there aren't that many people out walking the streets near Vanderbilt. 

We made it to the ER, and the security lady waved me through the metal detector. I basically ran in, and then stood waiting at the desk to get checked in. A nurse brought me a wheel chair after I squatted and moaned through a few more contractions while answering questions. At this point, I am wondering where the #%$^ (edited to leave this to your imagination) is my husband? I look back and see that he is still trying to get through security. Once he made it through, after what seemed like a good half an hour, he told me he had a pocket knife on him, which they wanted him to walk back to the car. He was finally able to leave it, and fill out a form to go back and get it later. The nurse who brought me the wheel chair had disappeared soon after, and I kept yelling at Jon that I needed to pee. The receptionist said she didn't let laboring women go into the bathroom, so instead, she ran (literally) to go find out where the nurse had gone. She returned pretty quickly, with the nurse in tow, who then started wheeling us up to triage. I REALLY needed to pee, so she let me go. That was maybe the most terrifying bathroom experience of my life. There was someone else in the bathroom (where they let me go in alone), who was moaning and talking about how awful vanderbilt was. The person sounded drunk or high, and it was all I could do to pee, wash my hands, and run back out as I had contraction after contraction. As I was being wheeled on, I mentioned to Jon that I maybe waited too long to come to the hospital. HA. Little did I know how right I was. We made it into triage, and I literally lunged for the bed, as I needed something to hold me up as I squatted into another contraction. I was being told to get on the bed so they could monitor me, but there was no moving me at that point. I felt them start to put the monitors on me, as I had another contraction and felt that magical POP of my water breaking. Unfortunately, I was still wearing underwear. And pants. And my favorite Minnetonka moccasins. Sigh. Needless to say, those went into a bag, and into the trash. 

As soon as my water broke, I felt the strongest urge to poop. I started yelling at this point, because my midwife wasn't in the room yet. As soon as I told them I had to poop, I saw her race in. Jon told me later that as she checked me, she said that I was at a 10 (relief beyond relief) and then said I was a +2 station. At this point, I was still squatting and pushing, but had to get on the bed, because my arms were too tired to hold onto anything any more. I got on the bed, and they rolled me on my side and held my top leg up. I will admit, at this point, I literally went insane and I screamed a few very strong obscenities. Everything we had brought with us (my music, birth ball, CAMERA, lavendar oil, etc.) was still in the car. I thought I would certainly have time to go get it all, and labor in a nice, dimly lit room with soft music playing. I had a plan, and Hazel wasn't adhering to it, and I think the fact that I transitioned so very quickly, pushed me over the edge mentally. 

I kept trying to push my legs shut, but they wouldn't let me - what I didn't realize was that Hazel was already crowning and coming out. They kept telling me to push when I was ready. I took a deep breath, waited for a contraction, and pushed with everything I had. She was literally out in 2 contractions from the time I got on the bed. It was probably the most amazing, primal, mind numbing experience of my life. I literally couldn't believe that our sweet baby girl was already out. (My previous labor with Matilda lasted for over 24 hours - with pitocin, an epidural and 7 hours of pushing. Needless to say, this was ENTIRELY different). 

They handed her to me, and I think I held her for 2 hours straight. She started nursing like a champ within about 30 minutes, and hasn't stopped since. This little one LOVES to eat. 

As insane as this labor and delivery were, I wouldn't trade them for a calm epidural delivery again. I was up and in the shower within 2 hours. I could walk to the bathroom with no help. The recovery has been INCREDIBLE.

I had been praying for months that my body would do what I knew it was created to do, that labor would come naturally, and that i'd be able to get through it, without drugs. I am still in awe that it actually happened the way I wanted it to. My mantra throughout this pregnancy was something I read in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth - 

“Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” 

I also read, in one of the birth stories in the same book, that a woman literally imagined her vagina getting HUGE. (yes, I just said vagina - deal with it.) I literally visualized my cervix and vagina opening through every contraction, and I swear, at one point, I literally could feel my body opening up. It was the strangest feeling - but I truly believe my head was in the right space for this birth. I was more mentally prepared this time around, and I think that made all the difference between my two experiences.