It's funny now to look back now on those days before Hazel was born - all the waiting and wondering and coaxing and worrying. A lot of it seems so silly now - but at the time we were just so anxious to meet her and have her that every moment of waiting seemed like an eternity!
I remember a couple of weeks ago talking about how each of our children were unique and that the Lord had special plans and a different story for each of them. Boy was that ever true! Hazel's birth was nothing like we expected it to be. Nothing at all! But, it was fantastic and wonderful, and best of all, it produced this amazing little creature that we got to take home to live with us and grow with us!
It is my great pleasure to share with you the story of how our Hazel-girl entered the world!
Hazel Wren's Birth Story
Part One: Let's Get This Party Started!
Monday, March 15th
I woke up Monday morning after a solid night of sleep (thank you very much, Tylenol PM!) and felt more energetic and optimistic than I had in days. I knew my family could really benefit from me having energy, so I spent the morning cuddling with Oliver, cleaning the house and just generally being productive.
At around lunch time I went out to meet some girlfriends to walk downtown but the weather was just too cold, so I ended up heading to Target and Kroger instead for some indoor walking. I'd just written a blog post about labor inducing efforts and had seen a few suggestions for (among a lot of hilarious/disgusting/crazy things) eating large amounts of fruits such as pineapple and raspberries to get labor going. Fruit sounded good to me anyway that morning, so while I was at Kroger I picked up a fresh pineapple and 3 pints of strawberries (they were WAY on sale, and raspberries were super expensive, so I went with strawberries instead).
After a good hour or so of walking around Target & Kroger, I went home and fixed myself a big bowl of fruit and enjoyed it with Oliver. (To be honest, it was a great treat, but I have to say I doubt that the fruit was actually a catalyst for my labor to come). After our snack, I was tired from walking and laid down for a while to rest for an hour or so, then went upstairs and made a thumbie for Hazel in the sewing room.
When Ryan finished work at 5 we decided to fix some quick sandwiches for dinner, then take Oliver out for a long walk since the weather was nice. We were hoping that a long walk up and down the curbs of our subdivision might get things going.
We walked a little over 2 miles (I'm sure I looked pretty ridiculous hobbling up and down the curbs, but Oliver thought it was pretty fun!) then decided to drive down the street to Chick-fil-a for a milkshake before putting Oliver to bed. (I'd had a cookie milkshake at Chick-fil-a a week earlier and had really strong contractions afterward -maybe the strong sucking, I don't know!- And since I always love a good excuse for a milkshake, we figured it couldn't hurt!)
As we came in the house from our outing I finished up my shake and Ry took Oliver upstairs to get him settled in for bed. My joints were feeling pretty sore from all the curb walking, so I decided to draw a bath before settling in to bed myself.
Only I never got to take a bath. At 8:00 pm, Just as I started to get Oliver's toys cleared out of the bottom of my tub and turn the water on - wooosh! My water broke! It was pretty unmistakable, but I still somehow couldn't believe that it had actually happened. Ry had just come downstairs and I told him I was pretty sure that was what had happened. A few steps around the bathroom and more fluid confirmed that that was definitely what was going on.
We were so excited! I remember we just looked at each other with big excited faces and said something like, "She's finally coming! We're going to meet her SOON!" We were grateful for this clear sign of labor beginning (we'd really hoped we wouldn't have to question whether or not we were in actual labor because of the false labor like we'd had the previous week).
(Note: My water broke at the onset of Oliver's labor as well, and contractions followed on their own not long after. He was born just under 24 hours after my rupture of membranes.)
So, with my water broken and adrenaline going like crazy, we notified my labor support (my sister Rebecca, my girlfriend Danielle and our photographer Claire) and told them that tonight was the night, so to get some rest and be ready for the call. We also called my midwife and she advised us to get everything in order and in the van, keep hydrated, and try to get some rest if we could. (I was 4cm dilated at my appointment 5 days earlier and we live about 45 minutes from the hospital, so with this being my 3rd delivery, we wanted to be sure to be able to get there quickly once things got going).
We scurried around like excited little puppies for about two hours without any strong contractions. We went up to Oliver's room and got to tell him that Daddy was taking him to Grandma's house for the night because Hazel was coming. His face glowed with excitement when we told him that he'd get to meet Hazel the next day. We loaded the van with our hospital bag and Ry took Oliver to my Mom's. When he got home it was about 10pm and we turned out the lights in an effort to get some rest.
Ry slept surprisingly well and I was surprisingly restless. (I honestly thought it would have been the other way around). Two hours went by and my mind started to get the better of me. I started to worry that 4 hours had passed and the contractions weren't picking up. I also worried about Hazel, that too much fluid had leaked or that her cord was being compressed or something. (It's amazing how you can be such a solid, reassuring, logical labor supporter for other women, but when it comes to your own birth you're an irrational, nervous wreck!)
At midnight I called the midwife on call and she encouraged me to come in to check on Hazel just to put my mind at ease. It's not a quick trip to the hospital for us, so I talked to Ryan and we agreed that it would be fine to go then anyhow because my contractions would likely pick up on the way and once we go there and it might be best to travel comfortably while we could since I was already so far dilated.
I remember laughing with Ryan and Rebecca that it was good that we'd chosen to go when we did since the main road to the hospital was "temporarily blocked" and we had to turn around and drive 20 minutes out of our way to go around the roadblock. We also had to go through the Emergency Room since it was after hours at the hospital and it took FOREVER for them to finally get me up to labor and delivery. I just kept thinking how glad I was to not be in the throes of labor with all of those delays.
We finally got up to a room in labor and delivery (it was evidently a very popular night to have a baby as all the beds were full and we had to wait in the waiting room for a bit as well). The midwife on call checked me and I hadn't progressed since my appointment the week before. It was clear to all of us that I was not in active labor but I had no idea that meant they'd send me home. I just assumed we'd hang out there and that contractions would follow not long after. After running a non-stress strip on Hazel (she performed beautifully!) and talking through our options with the midwives, we decided our only real option was to go home, take something to help me sleep (I knew I wouldn't be able to rest otherwise) and wait for something to happen.
I expressed my initial disappointment about going back to our house without a baby in our arms, but nothing hit me as hard as when it was time to leave the hospital room. In an overwhelming rush all I could think about was checking out of labor and delivery two years earlier without our Evie. I just sat on the edge of the bed and told Ryan I couldn't do it. I couldn't go back to those elevators without a baby in my arms. It just felt like this cruel twist that I'd have to experience that horrible memory all over again. Ryan was quick to remind me that I wasn't leaving without a baby. Hazel was still there and doing great in my tummy. We weren't leaving without a baby.
Still, the ride home from the hospital that night was awful. I was frustrated, disappointed and confused. Fortunately, the Tylenol PM kicked in by the time we were home and I was able to sleep for about 4 hours. I slept in Oliver's bed (since he was at my Mom's) because I just couldn't bear another night in my bed without our girl. (I know, I sound like a total drama queen. Turns out pregnant hormones, painful memories, fear and anticipation are a great recipe for a little drama.)
Part Two: But seriously, let's get this party started!
Tuesday, March 16th
So, I woke up at 8am the next morning (12 hours after my water broke the night before) and still no contractions. I called my midwife and we discussed some options. I was just so sure that this labor would be like Oliver's - that at some point, contractions would pick up and active labor would begin. So, I decided to wait a while longer.
By 10:00 Ryan and I were both a wreck. We were anxious and nervous and frustrated that nothing was happening. (I should note here that Ryan is the best, most patient husband in the world! I know that all along he'd have been happy scheduling a c-section at 37 weeks. But, he knows how important childbirth is to me and never once tried to talk me into doing anything I didn't want to do. He was very supportive of whatever I wanted to do. He is a patient man indeed.)
That said, there came a point that morning where we just looked at each other and agreed that we were making this waaaay harder on ourselves than it needed to be. Perhaps we should cut ourselves a little slack since this was already expected to be a pretty emotional experience for us. We talked with my midwife and decided that since my body wasn't kicking in, we would go to the hospital and start a pitocin drip. It was time to get this baby in our arms!!!
We called Rebecca and Danielle and headed to the hospital, arriving there around noon. (There were still no beds available and we waited a good 45 minutes for a room. Again, so glad I wasn't in active labor during that wait!) They admitted me and by 2:00 they'd started the Pitocin drip (it takes a long time to do anything at a hospital, eh?)
It took a long time for the Pitocin to make things happen (they were upping it by 2 every half an hour), but we called Claire anyhow knowing that labor would get going soon.
(Can I just point out here the true weight of the moment when the nurse strapped TWO monitors onto my belly and the screen not only displayed a graph of my contractions, but also a graph of my baby girl's HEARTBEAT? With Evie, there was just one monitor and only one line to read on the screen. It's something most people take for granted, but having two monitors and two lines was no small matter for us!)
At almost exactly 4:00pm I was laying in my hospital bed chatting with my girls and Ryan when *bam!* Hazel kicked me (and the monitor - so the whole room could hear!) and just like that I was in active labor. It was funny that it started so suddenly, and with a kick from our girl, but sure enough, we went from zero to sixty immediately. They were intense from the get-go and 1-3 minutes apart until she was born.
Rebecca and Danielle were great. If I had to choose two labor companions (and, I guess I did), they'd be the ones to pick. They coached me through some of the most intense pitocin-induced contractions I've ever experienced and managed to help me stay relaxed enough to dilate 3
more centimeters in just 2 hours. Linda (my midwife ) was right there too. She taught us so much! Even though I was tethered to the monitors and couldn't get in the labor tub, she had me up and moving and labor dancing my baby girl down like a pro. The contractions were intense, but I couldn't have asked for better help. Even Ryan was right there helping where he could. He probably felt a little helpless and out of place, but he never let on - he just did what I needed and his presence was just so calming for me.
Part Three: That was fun, but I've had enough :)
So, labor is tough. That's why they call it labor. But after now experiencing natural childbirth (my own body having a baby) versus chemically-induced childbirth (an outside source causing my body to have a baby), I can see that there is a very real difference. It did NOT feel natural! Oliver's labor lasted just under 24 hours, and while it was exhausting and difficult, it was also manageable. Hazel's labor only lasted 6 hours (from onset of active labor to delivery). The speed of the labor combined with the nature of the contractions was more than I had bargained for.
Ryan and I had talked through our options on the way to the hospital that morning and had agreed that, again, it might be a good idea to cut ourselves some slack and prepare ourselves for potentially needing pain relief. While I love natural childbirth with great passion, and really desired that for Hazel's birth, we understood that this was going to be a very intense time and that pain relief in childbirth really is a morally neutral issue. :) We anticipated that labor may be more difficult and agreed that an epidural may be a real option for me under the circumstances.
And so, after 2 hours of active, pitocin-induced labor, I made the call. In fact, as I remember, I made the call again and again and again! (And, as I'm told, not all that quietly or patiently!) :) An hour later, at 8cm, relief finally arrived! (I told you it was a hoppin' time to have a baby - those anesthesiologists were tough to come by!) I remember thinking out loud once the epidural had taken effect that I had probably felt Hazel move inside of me for the last time since I was now numb. I was a little sentimental at the thought, but just a bit later I got to feel her one last time wriggling around in that same spot she'd favored for months. I can't remember if I felt her with my hand or actually in my tummy, but I was grateful for one last wriggle to remember! :)
I don't remember much about the two hours that I had the epidural before pushing. I was able to rest a bit, but I remember that it still hurt quite a lot (seriously, that pitocin is nasty stuff!), and not being able to move around and work with them was really uncomfortable.
Part Four: A Bella Notte for sure!
By 9:15 dilation was complete and it was time to push! Oh, how I'd waited for that moment!
I remember pushing with Oliver - how satisfying it was and how good it felt to be able to do something with all those contractions. Pushing this time around was a little trickier. I couldn't feel to push the way I could with Oliver, so it took a lot more coaching on the part of my midwife. Fortunately, I'd had the previous experience of pushing sans-epidural, so I had some idea of what to do.
Miss Hazel did make things a little trickier than they needed to be, but evidently that's par for the course for my babies. Oliver was born with a compound presentation (I delivered him with his right hand up on the side of his face) and Hazel, believe it or not, followed suit. We couldn't believe our ears when the midwife told us she was not only facing sideways (which makes descent take a little longer), but she had her left hand up on her face! What is it with my children and being born with their hands up?! Is there some sort of symbolism here that I'm just not appreciating?
So, I pushed and pushed and worked hard to get that girl born. I remember being very tired but incredibly determined. I wanted that baby more than life itself!
At 10:16pm on 3.16.10, 26 hours post rupture of membranes, and after 6 hours of active labor, Hazel Wren Myers was born! 8 pounds, 11 ounces; 21 inches long! (Over a pound heavier than we'd estimated based on my tummy size!)
We'd arranged ahead of time for Rebecca to catch her (She is also training to be a birth doula and has a big interest in childbirth. Lauren - the midwife that delivered Hazel- was all about letting her get right in there and help. So cool!),
and she did a great job coaching me along with Lauren as I slowly but surely breathed that precious little (well, little is relative, I guess) head into the world. I remember asking Rebecca the next day how it felt to deliver a baby - what it felt like to get to assist in her niece's birth. She said it was great to be right there and wonderful to be a part, but that catching her was never really an option. As Hazel's body emerged, she said I reached right down and grabbed her up onto myself before anyone else had a chance to do anything! You think I was a little eager to meet my baby girl???
One of the most important things to me about Hazel's birth (apart from having a healthy baby and healthy Mama) was getting to hold her right away and for as long as I wanted. (When Oliver was born he was whisked away and I didn't get to hold him for a good long time.) I got exactly what I wanted with Hazel. I had my precious daughter on my chest in her first moments of life and she was right with her Mama for over an hour
before they even took her to weigh her. Oh, I will never forget those first moments with my daughter! I remember hearing her little gurgley cry and I remember holding my breath as they double checked to make sure she was indeed a Hazel. :) I remember how warm and soft and slippery she was and how good she smelled and how much she looked like her big brother and yet so much like a little girl. I remember falling in love instantly and deeply. She was mine and we were the only two people in the room. Oh, that moment! Few will match it.
Part Five: In Retrospect
I've had some time to reflect on my labor and Hazel's birth. It's taken some processing and that's probably why it's taken me 10 days to feel ready to write about it.
Medically speaking, I'm so grateful now more than ever for modern medicine! Who knows what would have happened to us with my water broken without the aid of pitocin if contractions had never picked up? As it was, both Hazel and I had fevers after she was born. I'm grateful to God for doctors who could help us, who could start labor (however intense) and even ease the pain of labor!
I really do love natural childbirth, and to say that I'm not a little disappointed that I missed out on that experience would be dishonest. Isn't it a little funny though, that such an advocate of natural birth would end up with all these interventions? I remember sitting down with my nurse and my Birth Plan at admission and laughing at how much of it was already out the window!
That said, it's still my story - and Hazel's story. It's a love story, really. And the ending is sweeter and more wonderful than anything I ever could have dreamed up. I have a daughter! WE have a daughter! And I got to meet her and bond with her right away! I've never been so in love with my husband or my children (all of them) as I am now. Hazel brings a sweet sense of wholeness to our large, earthly and heavenly family.
Our girl was born into her Mother's arms, in a peaceful room full of poeple who care deeply for her. We rejoice in her life and give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and mercy.
Our girl is finally here and we are in love!
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the
heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."