***If birth, breastfeeding, and/or semi-nakedness is not your cup of tea, you’ll want to bypass this post.***
It’s taken me far longer than I intended to sit down and write this post. I guess that’s my life now with five sweet darlings to call my babies.
Hazel’s birth was pretty magnificent, and there is so much I want to say about it.
Let me start about 8 years ago, shortly after Basilio was born. After he was born I dreamt I gave birth in my bathtub, solo. It was very vivid and really stuck with me, even though Jaime had been cut by that point. Eep.
Each baby I’ve had has been quicker than the last. And they’ve all had a fairly predictable schedule. I lose my mucous plug. Contractions start. And then I have a baby in my arms a few hours later. Super easy for the most part.
Well, I assumed the same would be said for our fifth babe. But we all know what they say about assuming.
Baby “Fimito” was due on the 3rd of July, and my only hope was that she didn’t come on the 4th of July. Also, I was 100% convinced that “she” was a “he.”
I attended mass on Sunday, July 7th with my big kids. Half way through I had to pee, so I excused myself to the bathroom to discover I’d lost my mucous plug.
By the time mass had ended I hadn’t had a single contraction. But whatever. I’d always had a baby in my arms at max, 12 hours after the loss of my mucous plug. So by 10:30pm tonight, I’d be meeting my sweet baby.
Nothing was happening.
So we ventured to the playground that hot, hot afternoon where I had maybe two contractions the whole time, but lost more mucous plug. That was weird because I’d never lost it in pieces before.
I had a few sporadic contractions throughout the afternoon/evening, but nothing that told me baby was imminent. I even texted my midwife and let her know, but went to bed in hopes of something happening around 9:30pm.
I awoke a little after midnight with a very mild surge.
Except it was another 20 minutes before anything else happened, and I dozed in and out of sleep, not even needing to get up for the contractions because they were so mild.
By 4:30 I was pretty annoyed because they weren’t remotely close together and I was pretty sure this was going to be the longest labor of my life. I’d never had a labor play out like this before. Essentially just not progress. The contractions were effortless, and there was no bloody show or anything. I was feeling really anxious because this seemed tedious and unmoving; like an event I’d be participating in for the next few days, not hours. And I wasn’t sure if I was up for that.
My back ached so I got in the bath tub for a bit, but nothing changed. The bathtub was too small for my swollen body to provide much relief, though I dozed off and on until the water turned tepid.
The waves still erratic and sporadic, I woke Jaime up and asked him to fill up the birth tub downstairs for me so I could be fully submersed and possibly have some back relief. I remember telling him, “If this is the way it’s going to be, I’m not sure I can do it. It’s not bad, but it’s not progressing. I don’t want to do this for days if nothing is going to happen.”
“Uh…I don’t think you have a choice at this point,” he had replied.
“Yes, I do,” I had told him before heading downstairs.
I called my amazing midwife at about 5:30 and asked if she’d head over. I wanted her to tell me I was making some sort of progress because this was unlike any of my previous labors and I was fairly certain I’d still be doing this by the next nightfall.
Shortly after hanging up with her, I proceeded to get down on my hands and knees, and then laid my head down on the wooden floor. I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing or what was happening in the moment, but in hindsight I think my body was shifting baby into eject position.
Again, I had to pee, so I walked to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. Sitting felt good. I peed, and then felt a pop. I hummed through a surge that came next and then it hit me that my water had just broke.
“Jaime,” I called out softly as he worked in the other room to fill up the birth pool. “My water broke.”
I think he may have said, “okay” at that point, not really aware of what I’d said.
My water breaking was quite odd to me because my water had only ever broken when I was in the throes of pushing a baby out. Sitting on the toilet, I got extra friendly with myself, and then somehow managed to squawk out, “Jaime. I feel the baby’s head.”
He popped his head in then. “Like the baby is coming out now?” he questioned.
“No,” I told him. “He’s still way up there, but I can actually feel his head with my finger, so….about that birth tub.”
I got into the birth tub and Jaime asked if he had time to go to the bathroom. For real. I told him sure, because still I hadn’t had a contraction that seemed intense, any bloody show, or any contractions closer than 13 minutes together. I had plenty of time. I mean, this wasn’t my first rodeo. I knew the succession of signs and progression…
A few minutes later I had a mild surge, but felt the baby’s head move down into the birth canal. This was happening, even though it wasn’t happening by the book. Not the one I followed anyway.
I yelled for Jaime to come back, and for Basilio, who I had heard awaken and scamper across upstairs, to wake up Halloway quick because I was certain I’d never live it down if she missed the birth.
Jaime stood behind me as I squatted in the birth pool. The next push I was crowning, I could feel her mushy head and for a nanosecond wondered if I was maybe feeling a butt instead because it was so soft and I’d never really paid attention to feeling things when my other kids were crowning. But it didn’t matter at this point, there were no backsies, this baby was coming out one way or another.
My butt felt like it was going to rip open so I pushed hard without a contraction, I needed baby to move on out. I felt her head slide out and I reached down into the water. I kept pushing as her shoulders slid out, wrapped like a present with the cord around her shoulders and torso.
Instinctively I unwound the cord and brought her tiny body to my chest. I kept murmuring, “don’t touch me” over and over to Jaime throughout the process. And then when she was in my arms I was in such awe and amazement over what I’d done. I’d brought our child into this world without the aid or need of anyone else. It was extraordinary to me.
I asked for towels as I held her near my chest, and sweet little Morgan came down the stairs to see his new baby sister.
It was beautiful.
It was the most primal, surreal, amazing experience ever. I still can’t wrap my brain around it.
Shortly after my midwife arrived, and my closest friend, Greer. Though I honestly cannot remember in which order. And then my birth photographer. I’d been texting with them all, and had sent them texts when my water broke so baby was coming.
Morgan had the pleasure of helping to cut the baby’s umbilical cord, and then I wanted to go upstairs to my bedroom. Freja woke up at that point.
We still hadn’t picked a name yet. We had a few top contenders for girls, and zero for boys. So a few hours later, sitting on the edge of the bathtub, Jaime and I chatter.
Itzel. Zella. Penelope. Eloise. Elowen. Hazel.
Those were the contenders.
But Jaime wanted Hazel. He’d wanted Hazel from the beginning of my pregnancy. And I’d wanted a Penelope since I was pregnant with Basilio and we’d chosen Lennox Penelope if he’d been a girl. But I also didn’t want people to call her “Penny” so I settled with Penelope as the middle name and not first.
And by golly, she is such a Hazel, that I’m glad I didn’t push for anything else. Because he’d have given me it, but I’d have been so, so very wrong.
And Maru had all ready been chosen, for a boy or girl middle name even though it is technically a “girl” name. It’s the Spanish nickname for the name Eugenia – my paternal grandmother’s name. And only one letter different from the name Mary – my maternal grandmother’s name. A derivative of Eugene, for St. Eugene (the saint of dysfunctional families, which seems a bit humorous). It was a non-nonnegotiable.
And that is how we went from a family of 6 to 7, and I felt like a freaking superhero goddess, because I’d once dreamt I delivered my own baby without help, and then I really did.