It's hard to say when my labor really "started." I'd been having good contractions off and on since before Christmas and I think we almost thought that since Ezra was born so early this baby would be too. We joked about it being a girl, her taking her time and making a grand entrance....sorta dramatic!
So on Monday I had a wonderful pregnancy massage. It was my unofficial due date, I had 3 of them, and my massage gal focused on the reflexology points that could help induce labor. Things picked up that evening so I went to bed, and just like several days before then woke up the next morning feeling really good, and not very much 9 months pregnant.
Tuesday was my last scheduled appointment with my midwife. I was dilated to 3 cm, and my cervix had changed since the last time she checked. Anytime! I made another appointment for the next week, just in case for some reason the baby didn't come....but really resented the thought of having to wait another week. I ate Thai food with Susie and Emily and went to knit night. Again, things picked up in the evening and again, the next morning woke up feeling rested and light hearted, still waiting.
On Wednesday night my mom called to let me know my sister-in-law was headed to the hospital. Thursday morning, bright and early my little niece, Penelope, was born 3 weeks early. Neither of us knew ahead of time what we were having, and Nathan and Amy really thought they would have a boy, a big boy! She surprised them all, on a full moon, new years eve and squeaked in just in time for a tax right off baby. She was a tiny little thing, only 7 pounds 3 ounces and I'm pretty sure Hazel would eat her if we leave them alone too long. I'll admit, this threw me for a loop. I think we all thought that my baby would come first, and all the anticipation caught up with me and I got really emotional. It was more about just wanting to meet our little one, feel the healing touch of a newborn and feeling distracted right at the end, when I knew I was on the verge of labor myself.
Thursday morning I was having some good contractions when I woke up so Abe took the day off to stay home with me and regroup. (Thanks Seth!) Sarah took the kids for the morning and Abe scheduled me another pregnancy massage. I really wish I had known about this girl earlier on in my pregnancy! We walked around Manito Park and went to lunch at Gordy's on the south hill. All the while I was having good contractions, just not regular....same ol same ol. We got the boys and went home for the afternoon and I took a really good nap. We headed back over to Seth and Sarah's and at that point I was thinking it was coming, so I threw our bags in the car, just in case. In my mind I had been working all week, and when the time came I didn't think we would have a lot of time based on how I labored with all three of the boys. My contractions stayed sporadic all night, sometimes getting close and other times going completely away. We left the boys at Seth and Sarah's after dinner, I'm pretty sure I knew I was in labor, but didn't want to jinx anything.
Abe and I went home and crashed. I woke up a couple times in the early night, feeling contractions, also feeling tired enough to stay down and wait it out. Around 2 am I started feeling like I might have to get up. I took a shower and rested a little more then started to think about calling mom and dad, still trying to figure out the contractions. By 3 am I was pretty sure I should wake everyone up, and get to the hospital. I didn't really want to pull another Ezra and go blasting in there ready to push. When we got to the hospital the checked me and I was at 4 cm. They had me walk around for an hour and I made it to 5 cm, even still my contractions weren't lining up and staying regular. The midwife came around 8 or 9, I think, and broke my water and almost right away the contractions regulated and I felt like the labor was working.
I always want to try and tell Abe what labor is like. I guess there really aren't words to explain how intense and uncomfortable it is, and at the same time I really welcome it all and embrace it as the pathway to my baby. There is this time toward the end where I start to think about how close I am to my baby, and it's countered by the intensity of my body hard at work, doing something I was created to do. Amazing!
It was quite a dreary morning, I labored close to the window and at times even leaned against the cool glass. I was thinking, at least it's not snowing! As I moved into transitional labor the sun broke and the rays really lit the room up. It was refreshing since at that point I moved to the bed trying to position myself for how I thought the baby wanted to come. As I started to push my mom noticed there was a beautiful FULL rainbow out the window stretching from one side of the city to the other. I turned to look, realized I couldn't move that way and told her I couldn't look....but still aware of it's significance. The midwife asked Abe if he would like to catch the baby, of course he was excited to do, she prepped him and on the next push baby came. I was on my hands and knees, I looked through my legs just as Abe caught her and turned her over and saw, what I thought I saw, and said "IT'S A GIRL!!!!!" As soon as I laid down I looked out the window and the rainbow was gone! It was only there for the short time I was pushing. I haven't really processed it all, but so significant. A promise from God, and a sense that Ezra was there. I really have been so content that Ezra is still a part of all of it. I haven't broken down like I thought I would because I really feel like he collaborated with God to let us know that we are working from our side, and he from his, to let this be a family that lives close to eternity.
The first two hours with baby Hazel were euphoric! The adrenaline of post labor is another miracle I'll never be able to comprehend. A combination of several situations took things south pretty quick. Mom and Dad had just left to go regroup the boys (thanks so much!), and the nurse and my midwife were noticing that again, contractions weren't really staying regular enough to contract my uterus and stop bleeding. I went to the bathroom and they had to clear a huge clot, and thought we had fixed the problem. I'll spare the gross details cause I'm not sure I even really have it all figured out, but it was bloody, and my room number was being blared over the hospital intercom and it got VERY crazy. I lost a significant amount of blood in a really short time, passed out twice and felt like I had been on a carnival ride for several hours when I came to. I couldn't even really hold Hazel for a while, my limbs were heavy and my eyes couldn't focus. I just wanted to be snuggled up next to my baby. It was AWFUL! My midwife was amazing. She handled all with a gentle reassurance that I would be OK. I cannot imagine how this whole experience would have gone without her. Abe and I really have come to appreciate and love her. So what was supposed to be a very short stay at the hospital quickly turned into a catheter and talk of blood transfusions.
From there it was a lot of tests and poking (they need a better system), baby very healthy! Just a very trashed Momma. By the time the let me off of bed rest and there was talk of going home I was ready, just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to pass out any more. I ended up having just over enough blood to avoid transfusion. Thankfully pregnant women start out with PLENTY o' blood, and mine was even on the high side. The significant loss all at once has left me pale and weak, but I'm home now and Hazel is amazingly beautiful and sweet.
Thank you everyone for welcoming her so lovingly into this world.
I should start a new post completely for the reaction of her doting big brothers, but I have to go nurse.
WELCOME HAZEL!!!! We Love you!