Hazel’s estimated due date was July 5 and since I had gone over my “due date” with my 2nd and 3rd child (my first was ON her due date) I just planned on her being born a few days after her due date. Plus one of our kids had been sick the week before she was born and we barely got his negative COVID test results the morning of July 4th so I wasn’t anxious for her to come early. I had contractions on and off throughout the day on the 4th but didn’t pay much attention to them. I figured they were consistent because I was really active helping the kids in the swimming pool, making food, and doing activities in the heat of the summer. They increased into the evening, but slowed down after the kids went to sleep.
On Sunday the 5th we decided to finish everything possible to transition our kids into their new rooms. Because of some parts that were missing, we decided to run down to IKEA to exchange since we didn’t know when we’d be able to make it down there again with Barrett’s work week ahead, plus not knowing when Hazel would be born.
While waiting in the IKEA parking lot, I texted my birth to give an update. I said that I was still having irregular contractions, that I wasn’t in any hurry for the baby to come, but would let them know if we decided to try any natural induction methods in the next couple of days. On the drive home my contractions were stronger and noticeable. I had questioned earlier in the morning if I was losing my mucus plug, but when I went to the bathroom after our long drive home I had some blood too. It started to feel a little more real, but I still thought I was probably a day or two away from labor. I called my midwife, Fara, to tell her I had my “bloody show”, which hadn’t happened with my other pregnancies, and she said to let her know if anything else progressed.
After dinner we continued to put the bedrooms together and decided that we should get our room ready for the upcoming birth too. After our kids went to sleep we spent most the night moving our bed for the birth tub to fit, putting extra sheets on the bed, making sure we had everything out that we needed, etc. I remember looking at the clock at 10:30pm as I was loading garbage up from the basement for Barrett to break down and thinking I was so tired and ready to go to sleep. We went to sleep shortly after and I slept for about an hour when I was woken up because I needed to go to the bathroom. And...I never really went back to sleep after that. I could tell that my contractions were starting to develop somewhat of a pattern, but when I’d look at the clock they were 10-20 minutes apart. I was still in denial I was going into labor and assumed they would stop eventually and I would wake up the next morning not having noticed them stop. But I kept waking up to use the bathroom (clearing my bowels is how all my other labors had started) and was annoyed that it wouldn’t stop. Plus I was cramping which I hadn’t ever experienced before. I was distracted and irritated by these feelings and just wanted to go to sleep. Barrett was mostly asleep, but half woke up a few times when I expressed frustration. Around 1:30am I decided to pull out the contraction timer because it seemed like they were getting closer together. At this point they were around 5-7 minutes apart and I started to believe that labor was real. I didn’t want to disturb anybody yet though, so I didn’t update the birth team and tried to let Barrett sleep longer.
By 3:00am I was pretty uncomfortable and Barrett started waking up a little more. I thought that if it continued like this for another 30 minutes then I would call Fara. Another 30 minutes passed and the contractions were more like 3-5 minutes apart. I asked Barrett to call my midwife to talk about what I was feeling. I thought that was only a few minutes after 3:00am, but looking at the clock it was almost 4:00am when we called her. Barrett tried to explain what was happening, but I kept interrupting, giving more detail and trying to ask why I was cramping so much. While I was talking I had a contraction and had to stop to focus on it; Fara asked if I wasn’t able to talk through contractions anymore, which I nodded was the case. She said she would come and check to see where I was and if it was too early she could leave and come back, which I thought was a good plan. Fara later told me that she could tell I was more progressed in labor and was gathering up all her stuff as we spoke. She didn’t think she would leave our house once she got there.
I just wanted to go back to sleep, which I told Barrett, so he helped set up the pillows so I could lay, but they were coming too frequently for me to get comfortable. At this point I had so many doula thoughts going through my head. I just wanted to be done and I remember distinctly thinking that that was a milestone of transition and there was no way I was that far into labor yet! I worried that I wasn’t going to cope well because I was reaching my limit and I hadn’t even been in labor that long. I got up to go to the bathroom again and told Barrett to call the photographer/videographer and to start getting the tub ready. While I was on the toilet and he was on the phone with our photographer, Andrea, she was gauging when to come and asked if we wanted her to come yet; right then I told Barrett I felt “pushy”. When he said that to Andrea she said she was coming right away and hung up. Then I suddenly realized I had moved from emptying my bowels, to feeling the baby descending. I started grunting with a contraction and told Barrett she was coming. He suddenly sprung into action and asked what he should do. I just told him to get a chux pad down in front of me. He threw a few things on the floor, started filling the tub as quickly as he could, and called Fara to tell her that I was pushing. Fara said she was only a few minutes away and would hurry as fast as she could. Barrett set up his phone to video in case the videographer didn’t get there in time, so we got some awesome raw footage throughout the birth.
I remember hearing the door open and Fara calling out wondering where we were. When she got to the bathroom she said I should get off the toilet. I didn’t want to move, but she gently reminded me that I shouldn’t stay on the toilet. She put more pads on the ground as I moved to my hands and knees while Fara and Barrett made sure the tub was the right temperature. I don’t have a clear memory of my water breaking, but I do remember some of my fluid coming out during a contraction while I was on the floor. Once the tub was ready they helped me get into the tub. I hadn’t planned to birth in the tub, but the warm water felt so nice and I felt more relaxed as the contractions spaced out a little. Then Bonnie, the birth assistant, and Andrea walked in and I could hear the camera start clicking. I was happy to see both of them and I talked with them for a minute. I had a couple contractions with pushing and suddenly Hazel was there! She was born at 4:58 am, only 15 minutes after Fara got to our house, and maybe 7 minutes after Bonnie and Andrea! They barely made it!
Fara pulled Hazel out of the tub and she struggled breathing on her own for a few minutes. When she was breathing fine we realized that there was blood coming from the cord. It had probably torn in the process of lifting Hazel up, but luckily it wasn’t ripped in the connection to her, but had a tear somewhere else. We clamped the cord fairly quickly after since the blood wasn’t getting to Hazel at at that point, and I was able to cut the cord, which I hadn’t ever done before.
During this process I felt my placenta coming and Bonnie put her hand into the water and caught it as it came out. Then Fara handed me Hazel and suddenly I was sitting in the water, with Barrett kneeling behind me, gazing at our new beautiful baby. We were both in shock that she was there. We kept saying that we did not expect her to come that night and laughed about how we were both in denial I was in labor until I was suddenly pushing.
The timing of the birth was exactly what I had wished for though. I was able to labor in the night while they kids were sleeping, and then we got two hours alone with Hazel before Lily woke up on her own and wandered upstairs to find Hazel. Lily kept telling me on Sunday that maybe she would come that day. I told her she probably wouldn’t come just because it was her due date, but Lily was completely right. She was so excited to meet Hazel and got some time alone to hold her. Then Barrett brought Grant in to meet her, and shortly after he woke Oliver up to meet her too. It was so fun watching them hold her right away.
After our family time, Fara did her checkup on Hazel and everything looked great. She weighed 6 lbs 12 ounces (exactly the same as Lily) and 19 inches long. She has blended into our family beautifully and has been such an agreeable, calm baby! We can’t imagine life without her now!
One fun side note: Barrett set his phone up to video in the bathroom while we were waiting for the birth team to arrive. He then moved it out onto the nightstand facing into the room when I got into the tub. He had about an hour and a half of footage. We were watching it the next night and minutes before Hazel was born you can see a split second of Grant looking into the room and then he turns around and walks away! Bonnie had just been in the hall and right as she turns around in the room he appears, sees all the people, and then leaves. It is so funny to watch! We would have had no clue he woke up and came to the room if it weren’t for Barrett’s phone. He was asleep in his bed when Barrett went to get him to meet Hazel a couple hours later. So funny!
Birth Photography by Andrea Alba Photography
Lifestyle Pictures by Morgan Eyring Photography
Midwife: Fara Bitter with Mountain Creek Midwifery