Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pure Hazel - just another average homebirth story


Hazel turned 1 in June.  I've tried to tell myself it's her status as poor #3 that's the reason I still haven't written down the story of her birth.  Unfortunately the lack of a written birth story holds true for poor #1 and poor #2 as well.  My flakiness is nothing if not reliable.

So . . . Once upon a time (exactly 1 year and 57 days ago at 5:00pm) my family and I were enjoying a nice afternoon swim at our dear Welsh neighbor Auntie Joy's house.  Steve, my mom and the boys were all splashing around, enjoying a reprieve from the afternoon heat.  Being big as a whale, my swim suit options were limited and I parked myself on a lounge chair. 

All of a sudden the urge to pee hit and I ran home. . . at 40 weeks a regular occurrence (about every 5 minutes to be exact).  Until suddenly I was peeing a whole lot more than I commonly do (TMI ahead - proceed with caution). . .Hmm, I thought, "Could that have been my water breaking?"  Since I wasn't having contractions I wandered back over to the pool where I informed my family that my water may have broken but I wasn't sure and I wasn't having contractions, so please don't panic.  

Steve then began to panic.  "Everyone out of the pool.  You (pointing at me) go call the midwife." I calmed him down and reminded him again that I wasn't having contractions so he didn't need to worry. Unfortunately he couldn't stop scenes of #2's birth where we barely made it to the hospital after less than 4 hours of labor from playing over and over in his head.  And this time his imagined scenes ended with him delivering the baby on the floor of our bathroom.  I reminded him that his nightmare wasn't that far off as we were actually going to have this baby at home, but hopefully not on the floor, and hopefully delivered by Peggy and Kim, not Steve.  Don't know if my reminder helped or hurt but eventually everyone got out of the pool and waddled home (oh that was just me).  

Things start to get a little fuzzy at this point -- time blends and minutes converge.  I do know that I finally gave in to Steve's insistence to call Peggy.  On the phone I calmly told her my water had broken but my contractions hadn't started and I didn't want her rushing over to just sit around and wait for this baby (the whole watched pot thing - I'm superstitious) so I'd call her when the contractions really kicked in.

Now admittedly it can be hard for me to tell.  I do this crazy thing called Hypnobabies (cue weird new age music).  Even I laughed at it the first time I heard it.  The thing is, it works.  Like really, truly, you might not know you're in labor works.  Peggy said she thought she ought to get in the car and come over ASAP.  I insisted that I would call her if things swung into full gear.  About 6:00 or 6:30pm with contractions suddenly coming often, I called to tell her that perhaps I'd been hasty telling her to wait and maybe she should leave (STAT) if she wanted to make it to the birth.  She said she'd been waiting with one foot in the car and was on the way.  Peggy lives about 45 minutes from me.  My mom started praying things would slow down.

At 7:00 Steve and I put Nikolai and Luke to bed and told them that tomorrow they would meet their little sister.  People look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them I put my boys in bed at 7 and had Hazel at 8:04, but I'm telling you, no pain, just lots 'o pressure, um constantly.

Next, I got in the shower and there I stayed. . . . for almost the rest of the time.  Peggy showed up at 7:00-7:15ish.  Kim came at 7:30 and Hazel came roaring into the world at 8:04pm.

I finally got out of the shower because I was cold and I'd used up all the hot water.  I laid down, closed my eyes and retreated giving myself over to this overwhelming, primal experience.  The emotions and sensations were crushing.  I could feel her moving through my body -- empowering and wonderfully fear inducing.  I went from lying, to standing, to sitting on the birth stool and then leaning against the bed again.

Over and over through my head replayed the story of my great-grandfather describing his "dear mother who walked through the valley of the shadow of death to give me life." And then the actual scripture, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. . thou art with me" (Psalm 23:4).
In retrospect sometimes it makes me chuckle. . . such morbid romanticism.  But at that time so apropos.

Suddenly I knew this was it -- trying to stop her would have been fighting the tide.  She was coming with or without my help.  I flew to the bed and there she was.  No real first push, only a second to get the rest of her into our world.   Her hand was up next to her face, reaching for us and causing her to come more slowly than she otherwise would have, according to my midwives.  My mom's prayer worked.   Thank heavens since it allowed my midwives time to get there and get set up.

Sometimes I am awed by the knowledge that just 3 hours and 4 minutes changed our family so completely.  We are new, hearts enlarged and expanded. . .11,040 seconds irrevocably altered the fabric of our family.  Pure joy.  Pure Hazel.



  1. Look, no homebirth story is ever average! Doing it natural I can relate to though especially that whole shadow of death thing. My Luke was al-natural and I think that I would do it over again even though it sure felt crazy at the time.

  2. I love reading birth stories. This one was especially fun because it was at home, thanks for sharing!

  3. Amazing story Mary - of course you would rock even the homebirth stories!

  4. There is no such thing as just another home birth story. I just love birth stories. I am expecting my third, and I am using a certified nurse midwife at the hospital this time. I hope it will be my first epidural free birth. Thanks for sharing your awesome experience.

  5. two corrections: you were never as big as a whale, and you never waddled. And you forgot to put in the part about how you FORGOT to tell your own SISTER that you were in labor!

  6. What a lovely tale--made me feel I was there- I haven'tattended a birth, though I was invited to some of my own. I was installing the hospital hat when the OB finally arrived and began washing his hands as I heard little Steve's 1st cry--they wouldn't let me in 'til the doc arrived or after the birth either. I anticipated we would get a discount since Steve arrived b4 the doc got to the delivery room--I should have paid Steve 4 delivering himself! LuLu and Steve were certainly worth waiting for!

    Your Blog is an inspiration.

    Love, Grandad Hales