Monday, March 9, 2015

The story of Hazel

The story of Hazel begins a year and a half before she was conceived. We already had 5 children and each one has an incredible story of their own but today is her story.  We had moved to a new area and gone through the passing of my mother in-law.  We decided we were ready to move forward and that we were ready for our next child.  We had gone through infertility twice but then had 3 children with no help conceiving.  So we began right away.  It was only a few months in and I had a positive test!  I actually had 5 positive tests!  We were so happy it was so easy again to get pregnant!  It was however short lived as just 5 days later I began to bleed and lost the baby.  I was heart broken but thought for sure I would be able to get pregnant again easily.  After a few months I realized easily was not going to happen.  I started taking herbs and researching all my options.  I looked at the possibility of medicine but just couldn't afford that option.  I started acupuncture and was sure it would help.  A good friend who is very knowledgeable came to visit and we went to the health food store and looked at herbs.  We saw this one herb that I had never heard of and I had read up on all the fertility herbs and it had some phytoestrogens so I wasn't sure about it and decided maybe I would try it the next cycle.  

After a few months I gave up on acupuncture and focused on herbs.  I tried every combination!  However that one silly herb never made it into my regimen.  I just kept saying next month, I will try it next month.  Finally after a year of putting it off I tried the herb.  I went to the store and picked up a bottle of this herb called shatavari I had put off so long and a bottle of dong qui supreme.  I took them both and once I ovulated I stop the dong qui.  It was June and I was working VBS and very busy.  I noticed however that at the end of VBS when I got all the kids ice cream to celebrate I just didn't want it.  I thought hmmmm.. maybe?  I took a test, then another test and another all were positive!  I was so excited!!  In just one cycle on that herb and I was pregnant!  I continued the herb to help hold the pregnancy.  And settled into the delightful feeling of morning sickness.  

Morning sickness wasn't really that bad I just felt awful.  After a few weeks I started having spotting but our insurance was changing soon and I didn't want to screw it up but notifying anyone I was pregnant and I wasn't sure I wanted an ultrasound at all.  So I just rested and waited.  After a few more days of light spotting I decided I needed to be seen.  So I found away to get to the doctors.  I told myself I was being crazy and that it was all fine though deep down I knew something was wrong.  I couldn't connect with the baby.  I kept calling it the pregnancy and never the baby. I told myself it was in my head and that the baby was fine. I should have been 8 weeks pregnant.  I left the kids with a friend  drove myself to the doctor.  All the way there I was so nervous I felt like my heart was in my throat.  Once I was there they treated me like it was a normal prenatal. I was called back and anxiously went with the nurse.  They checked me in and I waited for the doctor.  When she came in I was happily greeted with a very nice doctor who was a homebirther herself!  She started taking all my notes (since it was my first prenatal) but when I told her why I was there and about the spotting she stopped and said that we should take a look for piece of mind before continuing and got the ultrasound machine.

She took out the wand and began to check on the baby.  When I looked at the screen I knew.  I could see a sac but it was empty.  I knew about this kind of pregnancy but never believed it could happen to me!  She looked more. She said to be sure I should go to the bathroom and empty my bladder and hopefully the baby was just hiding. Even though it all added up and made a lot of sense I prayed harder than I have ever prayed in my life that she could find my baby.  I trembled and felt like puking as I went to the bathroom.  When I got back to the room she checked again.  Still nothing.  Just black emptiness.  I was empty.  A year and a half of trying and I have and empty sac or as they call it a blighted ovum.  I was in shock.  She was so sweet and sympathetic.  She said the sac measured 6 weeks and asked if I was sure of my dates and I was positive. I could tell her exactly where I was and what I was doing the moment I ovulated as I have extreme pain when ovulating.   I should have been  8 weeks and there should have been a tiny baby with legs and arms with tiny fingers and toes.  But there was just emptiness.  She reassured me that I should be able to continue to let the loss happen naturally and I did nothing to cause this to happen.  My mind wondered if when I was 6 weeks and we all got the stomach flu and the pest guy came to spray the ants had been the cause.  I felt awful!  My baby I had waited so long for wasn't there!  I left there numb.  I called my husband as I left the building and all I could say is there is no baby.  He didn't understand I all I could do was repeat "there is no baby". I finally got out that there is a sac but there is no baby and I am empty.  I completely lost it.  I was the crazy lady outside of the office building crying hysterically. My husband rushed over (I think someone dropped him off but honestly I can't remember) and he drove me home.  I texted a few people that knew what was up and broke a little more every time I said it.  How did this happen?  Why me? Why now?

I went home and had to tell our kids that the baby was gone.  They kind of understood because we had discussed how sometimes babies don't develop all the way and God takes them home but they had so many questions and I just couldn't answer them because I didn't understand either.  I knew from my midwifery classes but it is another thing completely when it is you going through it.  I spent the next few days broken and waiting for things to proceed all the while feeling pregnant. I did one more ultrasound at the Pregnancy Resource Center and they were incredible and so kind and there was no change. It was still just totally empty.  After seeing this I was able to really let go and the next morning I was in the throws of my hardest miscarriage.  It was so painful!  I was so glad to get it going though and to do it at home.  I needed to get it over with because I was supposed to do two newborn photography session and they were due any day.  I just couldn't be miscarrying and seeing such beautiful babies and newborn bliss.  

God was good and everything went well and I was nearly finished before the babies came. After the miscarriage I started back on the Shatavari.  After my first normal cycle I tried again.  We were also in a position that we were having to look for a new house as our rental had been sold.  It was very stressful and I had gained weight I didn't need from all the depression and stress.  I decided to do a juice fast and give it all to God.  I continued with the herbs and had no clue how long it would take but prayed not too long.  After 2 weeks of juice fasting and packing I decided to take a test and was SHOCKED it was positive!  Why on earth did I take a year to try this herb?!  We were VERY cautious about it this time and only told a few people who would support us.  I called the Pregnancy Resource Center and made an appointment.  They knew what we had just gone through and knew how stressful this was and we so needed piece of mind. We scheduled an ultrasound for 6 weeks and 5 days.  So I just had to wait 2 weeks.  2 very, very long weeks.  Finally the day came and I dropped the kids off at a friends because we didn't want to tell them until we saw a heartbeat.

Nervously I went to the PRC and waited.  I don't think I have ever been so nervous!  First they did the abdominal ultrasound and there was a sack and your could just barely make out a shape in it!  It was tiny but there!  She then did the "other" ultrasound and we could clearly see this little bean with a flickering heartbeat!  There was a baby!!!  There was a heartbeat!!! I was elated!!! I took a video and sent it to my husband!  We both were SO relieved and excited!!!  I picked up my kids and we planned a special dinner to tell them and they were so happy!  All went swimmingly until a few days later and the worst morning sickness I have ever had settled in.  I began feeling awful and started throwing up 3 times a day.  I ended up with a little more spotting and that scared the baloney out of me but it stopped easily and everything continued.  Even with the bad morning sickness I knew I couldn't afford to go to the doctors as our co-pays were just too high. I had to wait until the new year and then pregnancy only medi-cal covered it.  So I waited.

We decided that we would go as soon as I was 16 weeks to a ultrasound place locally to have a peak.  I foolishly thought it would be like the great one I used back home in Sacramento but it wasn't.  I was pretty sure it had to be a boy.  This pregnancy wasn't like any of my other pregnancies but with my three girls I never threw up.  My boys weren't this bad but I did throw up a few times with them.  When they did the ultrasound check it was awful.  She used so much pressure on my belly it was sore for days afterwards.  And the tech said it was a girl even though she couldn't see her parts.  The baby had the cord between the legs and so they proclaimed it was a girl based on the inability to see boy parts.  Having 5 other children I knew this was totally unreliable and that you need to see three stripes for it to be a girl!n So I waited for a level 2 ultrasound with a nice homebirth friendly doctor in town.  

The doctor was very nice and friendly reminded me of a midwife.  She did the ultrasound herself and checked everything and the baby looked very healthy and that we could go ahead with a homebirth and there was no doubt that it was a girl!  We saw the tell tell signs and there was no doubt!  The girls won!  We were nervous but excited!  All my other girls have health issues and food allergies but my boys don't.  So I prayed for a healthy girl.  

We had talked about hiring a midwife or having an unassisted birth.  I had completed my antenatal, labor and postpartum course work as well as most of newborn care so I knew what an unassisted birth would mean and what I needed to prepare for.  I would have liked a safety net though so I called two midwives but while they both sounded kind I just couldn't afford the care through them. I talked to my midwives and mentors back home about my plan and they supported me and understood why I chose to unassist and said they were there if I needed anything.  They believed my ability to birth well like I had done 3 times with them already. I contacted the midwife that was close to me and told her my plans and asked if I needed support if she would be willing to check on us afterwards and she said yes so I had a bit of a safety net.  I then prepared everything for our birth.  

I did all my own prenatal care and watched as she flipped and flipped.  I had never had my babies do this.  I usually have huge babies but this pregnancy was so different.  We planned for a big baby though.  I had a 38 week check with the local midwife who confirmed what I was feeling and that the baby was head down and engaged so she likely wouldn't flip anymore.  I was relieved.  She said that the baby didn't feel huge to her but I said that mine are deceptive but always end up huge!  I kept myself so busy at the end of my pregnancy and was nervous about the whole endeavor.  I think having both the "I am the mom and need to do this big thing" and "I am the midwife and need to keep thing safe" mind sets really impacted my ability to relax and let things happen.  I went passed my due date and while I have gone over twice before I was getting nervous about having a huge baby at home without a midwife.  I just tried to wait and relax. I stopped reading birth stories and tried to just let her know we were ready. I had signed up to work the VBS again that was the week after my due date.  Every day I showed up people smiled  and shook their heads in sympathy. 

It came to Thursday the second to last day of VBS. The men were all nervous around me like I was going to explode with the baby and birth right there like a bad sci-fi movie!  I wish!! I had a back up plan just in case things happened quickly though I knew they wouldn't. But it was Thursday and I had been having some contractions that were no big deal but consistent. I kept it to myself so I didn't set off the alarms and through people into a tizzy. Everyone had been telling me that the kind older gentleman I helped serve the kids water with was a retired OB and jokingly like he could "help" me if I suddenly birthed.  I joked with my friends that if he or anyone interfered I would throw something at them or kick them in the head! Thankfully nothing happened and since it was Thursday my lovely mother's helper, Becky would be coming home with me.  

As we got the kids rounded up and headed home I let her know that it could be starting.  She was excited too since I promised her she could be there for the birth. I sat on my ball and bounced and rocked. I listened to Black Eyed Peas and tried to get things moving more. I knew that these contractions weren't doing anything yet. I took some herbs and finally I called my midwife back home. We had a great talk and I think it was just what I needed! She wanted to be here as much as I wanted as I wanted her here but it just wasn't possible. She reassured me that I was built for this and I would do great. We were both nervous about my history of big babies and I was my latest I have ever been before. My last baby was 10 lbs 3oz!!  We talked about once the baby's head was out that I shouldn't stop and wait for another contraction but to keep pushing until baby was born so she wouldn't get stuck. We talked about using the castor oil to kick things into high gear. Finally we agreed I would keep them updated on my progress.

I went to the store and got that awful stuff and took 2 ounces.  It was as bad as I remembered!  I kept moving things forward and somehow everyone had dinner.  I have no clue how this happened or what was eaten but I remember being in the bathroom a lot and feeling like it wasn't working.  I was tired and crampy and tired of the castor oil effects.  At around 8pm I let Miss Becky go home and promised to call if things picked up.  Around 9:30 I gave up and went to bed. Well at least I tried.  I started having really hard contractions every 30 minutes that I couldn't sleep through.  I tried to rest more and finally at around 11:30 I was done.  I got up and there was bloody show and the contractions while huge felt great cause I knew these would bring the baby.  I tried to check and the first time I was only a 2 or so and very posterior.  I  let my photographer know it would be soon.  I sat on my ball and rolled with them and they were getting pretty good and even called a friend I knew would be up late and then my mom too just to chat through a few contractions.   At about 2 am I decided I was done holding off calling people so I called Miss Becky back and the photographer.  I got my husband up at this time too.  I was ready to admit it was going to happen.

My only problem was I knew I wasn't ready to birth yet but at 2:30 I couldn't find my cervix.  It had slipped too far back behind her head to feel.  It didn't take too long for my support people to start showing up and when Miss Becky got here her wonderful and insightful mother of 6 and fellow homebirther Rebekah asked if I wanted her to stay and I was so happy she offered.   I said yes I would love her there or at least I think I said that.  If I didn't I sure meant to. I knew I needed to trust my body but the whole time I was wondering: Was it was going to be soon?  Did I had a ways to go? When should I break my water? When should I get in the tub? Should I get out of the tub? And oh my word will I even get through this?!?!  I seriously doubted myself!  It was at this point I was in the tub and having so much pressure but knew I wasn't anywhere near ready.  It must have been around 4:30 by this time and I seriously for the first time in my life wanted to go to the hospital and for the first time ever I even wanted to have an epidural!  My husband just kept asking what I wanted to do and reassuring me that he thought I was okay and could do it.  Rebekah heard  me and knew I needed support and to refocus.  She was just who I needed.  I gathered myself up and with so much pressure and so far to go I knew what I needed to do.  I got out of the tub and climbed up in my bed and hung upside down off the end of the bed so that I could get her off my cervix. I must have been a sight and no one understood why I was doing this but I knew that I needed the pressure off my cervix so it could open more.  After 3 contractions like this I laid down on my lefts side for 3 contractions and then on my right side for 3 more and felt like I was ready to get back into the water.  I also needed the heater on as I was cold.  

  I got back into the water feeling like it was going to be forever until she came.  I got into a squat in the tub and checked and I could feel I was opening but still a ways to go.  I figured since I could reach I would pull my cervix forward like my midwives had in my previous labors for a few contractions.  Oh my wow!  That was hard and it hurt but wow did it work!!

 After about 3 contractions I only felt a lip left and decided the best way to keep my cervix forward was to break my water.  I knew once I did it was really going to happen and only a few hours left.  So I got out of the tub again and told them to warm it up while I was breaking my water.  I got to the toilet just a few steps from the tub and sat down and had a huge contraction that halfway through I started pushing with it.  I caught my breath and nervously broke my water.  Her head was right there at least a +2.  I barely had to reach for the bag at all.  I saw that there was some mec and I had better hurry up and get back into the tub and I just barely made it in the tub when the next contraction hit and my body bore down.

 I was in a squat when I began pushing.  Did I mention that my 10lber only took 3 pushes?  So here I was pushing and in a daze of how is  this happening so fast and I here Rebekah telling me to blow and don't push just blow and while I tried a little I couldn't stop and I had my midwife's voice in the back of my head saying "once her head is out don't stop pushing and get her out".  

So after just a  moment there was head and before I knew what happened she shot out like a rocket!  I am glad she had a cord cause it must have been used like a bungee cord!  I reached down in shock and pulled her up wiping the light mec from her and clearing her mouth with my finger and she started crying.  I milked her cord a few times for good measure and she was there!  In my arms!! 

 I took a moment to breathe

 and then I looked at her and then to Miss Becky and said "Well how did you like your first home birth?".  Her mom, Rebekah said "That was less a birth and more watching a torpedo!" So true!  I couldn't believe I had done it!  It was 6:03 am and I was done!  Certainly my hardest homebirth but I did it.  I had great support and I seriously doubted if I could do it but I came through stronger for it!  

We eventually got out of the tub and made our way to the bed and waited for the placenta.  Normally mine come within 20 minutes but we have already proven that this baby and birth was nothing like my others.  I tried pushing and nothing.  I tried gently tugging to see if it was loose and just sitting there but nope.  I finally called my midwife back home and she said to get into a squat and try that.  So I got out of the bed and squatted and that did it.  I lost more blood than normal but was doing okay.  I took some herbs and my support people made me a bunch of protein.  My husband brought me iron and alfalfa to take.  I was weak but I was done and there was this little being trying to nurse.  She was so small!  The kids were all up by this time and I realized I had meant to wake them before it happened but I didn't expect it to happen so quickly!

We got everything and burned her cord to separate her from her placenta.  Then my husband put the placenta in the fridge for me to use and process later.

We measured her and weighed her and my latest baby was only 8lbs 7oz and 21 inches long!  I thought she was going to be 11lbs! We dressed her and Miss Becky and her mom helped get the kids ready for VBS and helped get them there in time and there we were.  Snug in bed and recovering.  My husband decided he couldn't rest yet so he cleaned out the tub while they were gone and Rebekah told me to call on friends for support to help with the kids that day so we could rest and two wonderful friends came to our aid and I even got to show her off a little.

It took about 5 days to decide on her name.  I had wanted to name her Tauriel Eowyn but it didn't fit her at all.  She looked like a little old lady and she was already opinionated!  Harrison kept calling her baby Hazel.  We knew she needed an older name and Ethel was out and Hazel was her great grandma's name.  So Hazel it was.  It fit her so perfectly.  Her middle name took a few days and debate.  I considered Rene after my middle name or Anna after my grandmother or even Mae but in the end Adelaide fit her so perfectly!  She was a sweet special girl.  Long awaited and such a blessing.  Everyone of her sisters and brothers adored her and my husband and I just couldn't keep our eyes off her.  She was just who we needed.

 So far she has a few food issues but she has been so healthy and happy.  Something none of my other girls were.  She is also her momma's girl and I couldn't be happier!  When she was 8 days old I found out (though I should have realized MUCH earlier) that my Magnesium was very low.  I started on some supplements and found out that low magnesium could have contributed to her whole pregnancy from the morning sickness, swelling, bleeding and small (for me) size. Now I know for the future that I must always be on a good bone support.

We are all so thankful that she is here and while I tend to look back on the lack of faith in myself  to get it done I know that I still stuck it out and that I did it.  I have beat myself up over wanting to go to the hospital but I think that it is part of our story.  I think I will have an easier time in the future now that I know that I really can do it myself.  Birth really does happen.  It really is normal.  It will happen without anyone else "helping". I know this because I am sitting here typing this out with a beautiful wiggling baby on my lap trying to climb into my shirt. Thank you Hazel for proving to me that I can do anything I set out to do!

Check out this link for the beautiful video from  Santa Cruz Birth Photography
Check her out at Santa Cruz Birth Photography

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