Issue 25: Hazel's birth story | some happy links View in browser
Did someone forward you this email?
Do you like The Hump Day Happy? Share it!
Issue 25: April 1, 2020
Hazel's birth story | some happy links

[8-minute read]

I thought I'd go ahead and share Hazel's birth story with you this week before I forget too many details!

Dear Sisters,

I really wanted to have this baby on March 15. It was a Sunday, the day my favorite midwife is on call each week.  

That morning, we woke up, ate breakfast and listened to our church's podcast—it was the first week church was canceled because of Coronavirus, so it was kind of a sad morning. I have a friend whose birthday is March 15 as well, and I texted her after listening to the sermon and told her happy birthday and that maybe this baby would come today so they could share a birthday!

By noon, I'd pretty much given up on the idea that we'd have a baby that day. I was feeling absolutely zero contractions (other than the strong Braxton-Hicks contractions I'd been having for a week).

After Julia's nap, we watched Space Jam together as a family. Still nothing. 

I texted my doula at 3:11 p.m.:

"OK just calm my mama anxiety a bit - baby is moving way less today and my uterus just seems to be so hard (lots of Braxton-Hicks I guess?). I have felt verrrrry slight movements, just not nearly as much as normal."

She told me to drink some cold water and lie down. I chugged water, took a cold shower and started feeling baby move a bit. She told me if I continued to be concerned to call the on-call midwife and see if they could check everything out.

Just before dinner, I started feeling a little churning in my belly—my period cramps and early contractions often feel much more like a nervous tummy/digestive issues than what you'd think contractions feel like. Could this be it? Surely not. 

At 5:24 p.m., I texted her again:

"Welp, having some contractions now, just be on high alert tonight and I'll holla. Definitely several hours away from anything regular, I think. If this is even labor. Feels like very early stages, but it's been a minute since I experienced this."

In the next hour, I ate dinner, made sure my bag was fully stocked and contacted my local friends who were on standby to watch Julia as well as my mom, who stayed the night with her. I still thought we had several hours until we needed to leave for the birth center, as my last labor was 14 hours and I'd been having light contractions for only an hour. 

Then, around 7 p.m., it was like a switch flipped in my body, and I could no longer speak or sit down through contractions. I was trying desperately to read a few books to Julia, but the intensity of the contractions was suddenly so high I had to get up and do deep vocalization to get through each one. They seemed so close together, too—this could not be! We started timing them, and they were 45 seconds long and 2-3 minutes apart. You're supposed to leave for the birth center when contractions are 4 minutes apart and 1 minute long. 

I alerted our doula that we'd be leaving as soon as our friends arrived to stay with Julia, and I called the on-call midwife (yep, my favorite one!), who was already at the birth center. 

Our friends arrived around 7:45. By this time, Julia was thoroughly freaked out and knew something was happening. I explained to her we were leaving to go to the doctor to get the baby out of my tummy and that we'd be back! She was so sad. Fortunately, she knows and loves our dear friends and they were wonderful with her through all of her big feelings. My mom arrived after she was asleep. 

It's a 20-minute drive to the birth center from our house. By this time, the contractions were coming even more rapidly. I gripped the "Oh Crap" handle and arched my back through each one. I probably had 8-10 contractions in that 20 minute timeframe! 

Upon arrival, we went to the triage room, which had these lovely birth affirmations hanging on the wall. It was time to get my mind in the right place—this all happened so quickly and I had been so worried about Julia, I really hadn't done any mental preparation for the huge feat I was about to perform. These affirmations helped me calm down and feel grounded after such a chaotic hour. 

The midwife hooked me up to the fetal heart rate monitor to track baby's heart rate for 15 minutes just to make sure he/she handling labor well. Then, she checked my dilation—7 centimeters! We made it just in time for transition (the shortest and most difficult part of labor). 

My doula asked about music. I hadn't gotten around to curating a playlist, so I asked her to play Josh Garrels on Spotify. We connected her phone to our bluetooth speaker and the most beautiful music that means so much to me filled the room. I remember one moment singing the song "Colors" softly in between a contraction with Scott:

So let all the creatures sing
Praises over everything
Colors are meant to bring
Glory to the throne

I really wanted to try a water birth with this baby. Something about delivering in the water sounds so romantic and peaceful to me. However, after a few contractions, I realized it just wasn't my thing. I absolutely cannot sit down during contractions, so it was not comfortable at all. It was nice to cool off in between, though. 

Right as I felt baby begin to move down, I asked to get out of the tub. After the next contraction, I felt the urge to push. Just like last time, the position that felt right to me was to get on my knees and lay my body over something. I put my knees on the floor and draped my body over the bed (the birth center has regular queen sized beds rather than hospital beds). Everyone scurried to get into position, placing a towel under my knees and crouching down on the floor to accommodate my preferred pushing position. 

At some point in this process, I yelled back at the midwife, "Protect my perineum, girl! I don't wanna tear this time!" She laughed and said, "I'll treat it like it's mine!"

I pushed for about 30 minutes, maybe 7-8 contractions. This time, I had done a lot more research on protecting my perineum, and I actually had a strategy for pushing that would hopefully reduce or eliminate tearing completely. Last time, I tried to get the pushing phase over as soon as possible—held my breath while pushing, pushed as hard as I could, kept pushing even after contractions were over (all things I did and was encouraged to do by an OB when I gave birth to Julia... resulting in a level 2 tear). 

This time, I focused on working WITH my body to bring baby down. We didn't break my water (such a crazy feeling allowing it to break on its own!), I vocalized during pushing (less productive, but gentler), and my midwife coached me to slow down and rest between contractions ("the baby's head is stretching your perineum—rest and let it stretch... breathe deep, oxygenating breaths"). The result? Zero tearing! 🙌 

I don't find contractions unbearable, but the pushing phase with both babies was incredibly painful. Hazel's birth was definitely more painful than Julia's. I think at one point I literally screamed, "HELP ME PLEASE JESUS! IT HURTS SO BAD!"

However, I knew the pain would be gone instantly once the baby arrived, if I could just remain calm and keep breathing. I had a thought during the pushing phase that birthing a baby is all about letting go and relinquishing control. It's like getting on roller coaster. You've stood in line forever, climbed into the seat, buckled up... and all that's left is to ride the ride. You have zero control, zero ability to stop this incredibly powerful force. You can tense up and rebel against the pain, grasping for some semblance of control, or you can give up and ride the ride, trusting the roller coaster will perform as it was designed and you'll arrive at the end safely. I felt like the theme of my labor with Hazel was letting go and trusting my body to do the work. 

I'm happy to report that it did do its work! After one final push, our 8 pound, 10 ounce baby rushed into the world at 9:25 p.m., just four hours after my contractions began. Scott said she came out so fast the midwife literally caught her. Scott cried "It's a GIRL!" and I said, "NO WAY! I cannot believe it!" I stood up, they passed her to me through my shaky legs (cord still attached—that was crazy) and I sat down on the bed with our sweet Hazel, who didn't cry a bit!

I was worried about her for a minute, but after a few checks, it was determined she was absolutely fine—she was just the most chill (and beautiful) baby ever. We spent a few minutes deliberating over a middle name because we'd been so convinced this child was a boy that we didn't bother choosing a female middle name before the birth! We decided on Grace after our sisters Alana Grace and Haley Grace. 

After you have a baby, you also have to deliver your placenta, the organ that supplies all the baby's nutrients throughout pregnancy. In the hospital, mothers are given a little Pitocin to speed this process up and to guard against a postpartum hemorrhage. At the birth center, they have Pitocin on hand if too much bleeding occurs, but it's not given automatically. 

I delivered the placenta a few minutes after the birth. Even though I did not want to save my placenta (some women have it encapsulated and take it like a vitamin... it supposedly can help balance out hormones), I wanted to see it. The midwife brought it over and showed me all the different parts, including "The Tree of Life," the network of blood vessels on one side that looks exactly like a tree (click here to see a photo of a this... not my placenta FYI 😆). Our bodies are amazing!

Since we gave birth right at bedtime, we decided to stay the night and head home early the next morning. Between adrenaline and anxiety over my brand new baby ("Is she breathing??"), I didn't sleep a wink. 

We got home the next morning around 7:30. My mom and Julia were on the couch, and we introduced Big Sister to her new baby. She knew exactly what was going on and was so excited to meet Hazel. We let her hold the baby, and my heart exploded. 💗 Julia has since alternated between jealousy and intense love for her baby sister, which is to be expected. We've had more potty accidents the past two weeks than we have the past two months, and bedtime has been difficult. But we are all learning and growing as a family.

Sadly, Coronavirus is a part of this beautiful birth story—other than my mom, sister and stepdad, who were there to help us with Julia the first two days after we came home (before everything shut down)—none of our family or friends have met Hazel. It's so disappointing, and it's been a hard pill to swallow that Scott and I will not have any in-person help with these kiddos for the foreseeable future. I was really banking on Julia going to school twice a week, for us to go to fun places and for friends and family visiting and breaking up the long days. Instead, we FaceTime someone every day, take walks and do lots of activities. I'm very tired, but I'm simultaneously so overjoyed to have two healthy babies and a husband who is helpful, encouraging and a great cook. 


How are all of you holding up during these strange times? I'm not sure if some of the ways I'm struggling are because of the 1-2 kids transition or because of the isolation. I would love to hear from you and stay connected in whatever ways we can. This extrovert is also VERY available to FaceTime or chat on the phone. 🤣

Blessings to each of you as we navigate uncharted waters. It's OK to be struggling. It's OK to grieve what you've lost during this time, even if other people have it worse. It's also OK if you're like Scott and are living your very best Enneagram 5 life.

Maybe this season is kind of like birth—literally all we can do is embrace the discomfort until it's over and a beautiful new thing emerges. Just keep breathing and know you are loved. ❤️ Stay safe out there, y'all. 

Above: our doula snapped these photos for us during labor because our photographer couldn't make it in time! I'm so grateful!

Left: Scott had to weigh Hazel by stepping on the scale with her, handing her off and then stepping off the scale—their baby scale broke! 

Center: Our amazing doula, Alycia, provided incredible support before, during and after delivery. 

Right: Scott being an awesome dad ❤️

Left: Our midwife, Nkechi! I learned after the delivery that Hazel was her first delivery at the birth center (she had been a hospital midwife up until recently).

Some happy links to enjoy

✨ Need some good news? You MUST watch this precious video from John Krasinski if you haven't seen it already. He highlights good news amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, and talks to Steve Carell via Zoom to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Office. It was everything I needed today. 

✨  April Fools' Day is canceled this year, so don't even try to be cute. Even Google is taking the year off.

✨ Anyone else feel anxious when coming into contact with the outside world, even if it's just groceries being delivered or opening an Amazon package? This piece from The Washington Post made me feel like I can relax and rest knowing I'm doing all I can to protect our family and community by staying home and not having visitors! 

✨ If you can handle sarcasm and cuss words, this blog post about faith, fear and toxic positivity by Luvvie Ajayi (one of my favorite writers) made me laugh so hard while simultaneously addressing an incredibly important topic. 

✨ In the same vein without the sarcasm and cussing, this article from N.T. Wright discusses the presence of lamentation throughout the Bible and argues that instead of seeking out a narrative that ties all of this craziness up into a nice little bow, we can accept that we don't know why this is happening and take comfort that God is grieving with us. 

Do you like The Hump Day Happy? Share it!
The Hump Day Happy

830 Sycamore St. Apt. A, Decatur
GA 30030 United States

You received this email because you signed up!