As promised, this post comes with baby pictures! It has been a long time coming, but I'll do my best to recount everything surrounding Hazel's birth!
*This post contains all the nitty gritty birth details, so if that stuff grosses you out, enjoy the pictures and move along ;) *
At 41 weeks 1 day, a Sunday, my friend Amanda offered to take me walking in the evening. I gladly accepted, and we power-walked around Wal-Mart for an hour or two. The next day I started getting bloody show, which I experienced two days before all of my other babies were born. Finally, progress! That day at my midwife appointment I was still only 1 cm, but thinning. She swept my membranes which, remarkably, didn't hurt at all. As the week went on, I continued to have bloody show, felt lots of low pressure, had sporadic contractions, and generally felt really crummy (I think malaise is the fancy word)!! On Wednesday night I completely flipped out because I thought that Hazel had changed positions again, but blessedly it turned out that her position was still fine. Thursday I went for another midwife appointment and NST and had progressed to 3 cm! However, I was facing a deadline at that point... I really wanted to deliver Hazel at the Family Beginnings Birth Center where Cece was born, but I could not do so after Friday (I would be 42 weeks on Saturday, and technically high risk). We chose to schedule an induction via foley bulb + breaking my water if necessary at 9 am on Friday.
However, I started experiencing strong timeable contractions on Thursday night around 8. They were about 5 minutes apart and pretty strong. They petered out after a couple hours and we went to bed. Around 3 am I woke up with lots of strong contractions, and after a couple hours they were 2.5 minutes apart so I called the birth center and we headed out. Unfortunately, the contractions again faded.
When we got to the hospital (around 5 or 6 am) we were sent to triage because the birth center had only one nurse on duty at the time. My cervix was dilated to 4 cm. The midwife swept my membranes again. I had an NST and only had mild contractions. During that time, Hazel's heart rate dropped during a couple of the contractions. This, combined with my being almost 42 weeks, concerned the midwife that the placenta could be deteriorating and decided that we should have continuous monitoring... which they cannot do at the birth center. I would have to deliver in the regular maternity ward.
I was crushed. I SO wanted to deliver Hazel at the birth center because I loved it so much when I delivered Cecelia. I was extremely upset, not to mention worried that Hazel could be in distress. The midwife (Neva, the same midwife who was there for Cece's delivery) assured me that they would do everything they could to give me an experience as close to the birth center as possible except for the fact that I would have to have the continuous monitoring (in the birth center they do intermittent heart rate checks with a Doppler instead of using the monitors that are strapped on to the belly). There wasn't anything I could do to change the situation so I just had to come to terms with it, but it was hard. The last couple months of this pregnancy had been such an emotional roller coaster and things were just not going the way I thought they should be. Thankfully, the midwife allowed me to decline an IV (they wanted to insert one just in case)... this seriously made me feel better, and I'm so thankful to her that she let me have that little bit of control over the situation.
We got into the room and they outfitted me with a portable monitor box that I could carry with me while we walked the halls. I was assigned a nurse who usually works in the birth center, so I felt confident that I would be supported in the natural (unmedicated) birth that I wanted. Nathan and I walked a lot and I also spent some time on the birth ball. It was a struggle to get the monitor to consistently pick up Hazel's heart rate... those things are designed for a person who's laying in a bed, not constantly changing positions. My contractions were still pretty mild and sporadic.
Around 9 or so that morning I took a half hour nap, and when I got up Hazel's heart no longer dipped with contractions and my contractions got much stronger and closer together! The midwife came in a bit later and offered to break my water, but we felt like things were speeding up and getting stronger on their own so we decided to wait. I really worked through labor for several more hours and felt like things were really moving forward.
Around 3:30 the midwife checked my cervix, and to my dismay I was still only at 4 cm. I couldn't believe it! I had been laboring pretty hard for a long time. We decided to go ahead and break the bag of waters (I wasn't sure about it because I'd never had that done before, and nervous because I knew labor would get a lot more intense). It felt so weird! They worked at it for a while because they weren't sure whether the bag had ruptured, but I felt some fluid come out so I figured it had (Hazel actually had a couple little scratches on her head when she was born from this procedure!). They outfitted me with basically a diaper, and sure enough, when I got up and started having contractions, aaaall the fluid came out. TMI warning: during the strong contractions over the next half hour or so, I couldn't tell whether I was losing more amniotic fluid or if I was peeing! At that point, I guess it didn't matter. ;) They asked if I would like a birthing pool set up (I did), and started getting it set up and filling with water. It took quite a while and they didn't check back until it was too full and Nathan had turned it off to keep it from overflowing! So they had to drain some back out. I was happy to finally get in when it was done filling. I did miss the awesome tubs in the birth center... this one wasn't quite deep enough or warm enough. But better this than none!!
As I expected from my experience with Cecelia, things really picked up once I got in the water. I had been having super intense contractions for a while before that, but they continued to build. The nurse continued to adjust the belly monitors while I had these contractions... it was torture!! Those monitors were definitely the major negative of this birth... they were a painful, annoying thorn in my side.
When my vocal tones changed from a low hum/sigh to an "ohhh" sound, I thought I was getting really close (again, remembering my last birth), but when the nurse offered to check my progress I declined because I didn't think I could handle the disappointment if I wasn't as far along as I expected!! Not five minutes later my body started pushing and Nathan paged the nurse. The nurses and midwife came and and I focused on relaxing and letting my body do the work. The midwife coached me and reminded me to stay in control when I started bearing down too hard. This stage was harder, longer, and more painful than my previous one, but I was still able to mostly stay in control and keep my body relaxed, though I did actually push a good amount. I think it probably took ten minutes from start to finish. After Hazel's head came out they told me to stop pushing for a moment so they could check for a cord around her neck, but it was clear. Then I pushed her out the rest of the way, and I actually got to feel her body slide out, which I had never experienced before. The midwife caught her and quickly helped me turn around and step over the umbilical cord (which they said was short), and then I got to hold my Hazel Hope. She was born at 4:49 pm on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2017.
I kept saying, "I did it!" and "I'm done!" I was so relieved to be finished. It was a hard delivery, a hard labor, and a hard pregnancy! I had worked HARD and was so glad to be done. Actually, I was still having some very intense contractions because the placenta was ready to be delivered too. Nathan cut the cord. The nurse told Nathan "She needs skin to skin. Take off your shirt." and had him hold Hazel while I finished delivery. It was pretty funny in hindsight. I pushed a couple times to deliver her placenta... it was HUGE! I think that thing was almost as big as Hazel! And definitely not deteriorated or unhealthy.
They cleaned me up and I was thrilled to hear that I had no lacerations. I was incredibly surprised and lucky that I had virtually no discomfort in that area either immediately after the birth or in the following days (nothing short of miraculous, if you ask me). I did have very very strong afterbirth contractions that day and some milder ones the next two days.
Hazel weighed 8 lbs, 1 oz, and was 20 inches long. The nurse who did her newborn assessment that day confirmed that Hazel was really only 41 weeks! Aha! Told you so!
From the get-go Hazel has been a very quiet, sleepy baby. She didn't cry right away when she was born, and only would when the nurse rubbed and agitated her. I could barely get her to wake up to nurse the first night! I didn't get much sleep that night because I was too wound up, but I was so thankful to have a sleepy baby.
She nursed well, but I had a lot of familiar pain that (along with just looking at her) told me she had a tongue tie. No surprise there (been there, done that). Unfortunately, the pediatraitian on call would not diagnose or treat her. The nurses and lactation consultant agreed with me, but there was nothing they could do about it. I ended up taking her to the specialist that released Cece's ties when Hazel was five days old and had her tongue tie released, so at least it's taken care of now.
Robin, Larry, Allie, and Josiah visited the night Hazel was born, and then Robin and Larry brought our other kids the next day (my birthday!). They brought me killer brownies and we enjoyed introducing the kids to their new sister. They were all in love, especially Desy.
Our friends Andy and Cassandra also visited right after our family left. It was nice to spend some time with family and friends on my birthday, and to show off our sweet baby. The hospital kitchen even sent up a little birthday cake with my lunch! Nathan got me dinner from Panera Bread so I would't just have to eat hospital food on my birthday :)
My parents visited the next day, and then we got to take Hazel home. Because of the crazy unexpected late delivery, Nathan had used up the week he was going to take off of work the previous week, so I was on my own the day after we got home! It's absolutely incredible how good I felt right away... I mean, I felt like I had run a marathon... my body was sore and weak. But I had no pain, my mind was clear, I had energy, and I wasn't taking any medications. I could even drive right away! I definitely let the TV babysit that week, but we made it through and that's all we could hope for!
I added this picture because LOOK AT THAT HAIR!
We have definitely had some rough times, but Hazel has really been such an easy baby and such a joy. I think she has her own unique look and I can't wait to see her unique personality come out. I'm so thankful that God has given us another healthy baby and that, despite the bumpy road, a healthy delivery, and even the natural water birth I was hoping for. I'm also incredibly grateful for and proud of my husband for being an AMAZING support during my labor. He was with me every moment during the intense hours of labor, and I can't imagine how I could have made it through without him. I am one lucky mama.
Look at this... I couldn't ask for more.