Monday, May 30, 2011

Absolutely Perfect

That's how I feel about Hazel's birth. It was perfect. It's already been ten days since the birth of our baby girl. I've been thinking pretty hard, processing the experience, and wondering what to write. I don't believe I became a mother the day Hazel was born, but that it was a process. It started the moment Mike and I decided we wanted children, and I am still working on becoming a mother. Like any parent, I only want what is very best for my child, which is what led to our decisions about my prenatal care, and the
birth experience we wanted, not for our benefit, but for Hazel's.

I did so much research. I read so many books, hundreds of birth stories, and we took an amazing birthing class. All of these things led us to believe that the very best choice for us was to switch from our ObGyn, and my plan to "try" to have a natural birth in the hospital, to a midwife, and to plan a natural birth at home.

Hazel was born at home, Saturday, May 21st. I had a feeling on Friday morning that Mike should stay home from work, and we should do some shopping and preparation. I threw up that morning. I said to Mike quite a few times throughout the day, "do you think we'll have a baby tomorrow?"

My water broke at 7 pm on the dot. I was excited, and so was Mike. We actually laughed pretty hard when it happened. I called my midwife Cathy. She said she'd plan on arriving around midnight, and to call her if things progressed more quickly.

My mother and sister arrived around midnight, My midwives around 12:30, and we all proceeded to get plenty of rest. We knew we would need it.
There wasn't a second that I was afraid or uncertain. I was comfortable between contractions, moved around as I pleased, and ate and drank as I pleased. I was in my own space. It was hard, really hard, but it was peaceful. Never frantic. I knew I was being cared for and loved by everyone present, and I felt confident.

I climbed in the birthing pool around 6 AM. I knew that the warm water would make the contractions a little easier, and they were getting hard. My sister woke up, and began taking photos. My mother had to run to work to open, and was worried she would miss it. She arrived back at the house around 8:30. I am so glad that they were both there.

Mike had been loving and comforting me all night, always reminding be to breathe through the pain. The midwives would occasionally check the baby's heart rate. Always fine. They would tell me I was doing wonderful, was beautiful, powerful, and were constantly encouraging me. They held my hands when Mike was busy, and always stared straight into my eyes, as if to say, "we know you can do this." Their Presence was very powerful.

Hazel was born right after the sun came out, at 9:59 AM. the contractions leading up to it were very difficult, but pushing hazel out was not at all what I expected. It was not the horrible pain I imagined. Mostly, I just remember wanting her out so badly. I don't remember burning or pain, just relief that she was almost here. I felt my body pushing on it's own, and I tried really hard to just let it happen. Mike helped me to relax, breathe, and not push on top of it like I had read, heard from other mothers, and been taught in my birthing class. I would hum loud as I breathed through the contraction, and my body would push on it's own, and the pushing was so powerful. Then she was out.

Mike raised her out of the water, and handed her to me. I held her for about 45 minutes, and she cried most of that time. Sometimes she would stop and stare. I just stared back at her, and touched her face and body over and over and fell in love with her. I expected a huge outpouring of emotion, but that isn't what I felt. Just peace, and happiness, and amazement that I had done it. I knew I could all along, but it was over with, and she was there in my arms.

I had no sense of time at all. I thought it was mid-afternoon and was surprised to hear what her time of birth was. I felt no pain at that point, and my body forgot about all the hard work it had just been through. It was amazing. I didn't suffer any tearing or swelling. Of course I felt a little stiff over the next few days, but overall it was just minor discomfort.

I nursed her within an hour after she was born, then took a quick shower. The midwives, Mike, Megan, and my Mom cleaned everything up, and then she was weighed and examined. She was a perfectly healthy newborn baby, weighing in at 7 lbs, 6 oz. and measuring 21 inches long.

The whole time I had a total of 2 cervical checks, no medication, and nothing was done that I didn't ask for,  understand, or consent to. I cannot imagine going through any of this in a hospital. Being forced to submit to protocols and  unwanted procedures. Having strangers in and out of my room, being told what to do and when to do it, being only allowed liquids, maybe crackers, being told what position I had to birth in, and being tied to monitors, even occasionally. That would feel so discouraging, to be so out of control of the situation. All of those things seem ridiculous to me, especially now.

That overwhelming emotion that I expected to feel when she was born slowly appeared over the next few days, as I nursed and stared and cared for and loved my new little baby. Im sure that it will continue to grow throughout my entire life.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the most rewarding. I have no complaints. It was the best experience of my life. I would do it again tomorrow. It was worth the long wait, the weeks of morning sickness, the months of heartburn, the occasional hip and back pain, leg cramps, any sleepless nights, and every contraction.
Hazel has been the most peaceful baby in the world. She hardly cries, she sleeps for long periods, she eats well. Not fussy. I attribute this to the peaceful atmosphere she was born into, and the fact that she suffered no trauma. No bright lights, no shots, no tests, and no rough handling by nurses or doctors. She was welcomed directly into her home, with nothing but love surrounding her. She had nothing to fear. Her first impression of this world wasn't scary.
like I said, it was perfect.


megan said...

love this! great photos!! (;

Jamie said...

So glad the delivery and birth were all you hoped they'd be. Sounds like a really great experience.

Your little Hazel is just beautiful.

Congrats to you and Mike!!!

Ann Marie said...

so so beautiful. i love that you did a home birth. when i give birth someday, i hope to do it at home.

and i love that you live up the weber cabin. my husband and i both spent many summer days up there as his family has a cabin up that way as does my family. we're currently trying to figure out how to move there permanently.

anyway, love, love, love more than anything that you had a home birth.

Janie said...

Welcome baby Hazel! What an amazing and beautiful homebirth story. So glad you experienced the pure joy of birthing at home (and in a birth pool!). Thank you for sharing your story. So many women need to hear it. Enjoy your new-baby-blissful days.