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My Birth Story: The Day Hazel Was Born
The time is here – I’m finally sharing my birth story of the day Hazel was born! Do you guys remember when I found out I was pregnant? It feels like forever ago! But now, my life was forever changed April 21. And while the whole experience and my feelings are hard to put into words, I did my best. Enjoy!
3:00 AM Couldn’t Come Fast Enough
Even still, as the alarm went off to head to the hospital to have delivery induced, Brett and I were both sound asleep. Sleep had been elusive the past couple weeks and with what was happening that day, it’s amazing either of us could relax. Over the past 3 days, we’d tried everything to start labor naturally. Long walks, short walks, walks on the sand, up and down curbs, and on stairs. We’d eaten spicy foods, eggplant, pineapple, and I even bought castor oil but then chickened out at the last minute. We distracted ourselves with work (we filmed an episode for HGTV in our courtyard 20 hours before we had our baby), we cooked together, we cleaned toilets. We FaceTimed with friends (we were smack in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic), we did virtual yoga classes, we did a few puzzles. We read books about what to expect during the delivery, installed the car seat, washed the tiniest baby clothes and packed our hospital bags. Still…no baby. Now, in her defense, I was still a week early at 39 weeks but I was DONE. I was just so over being pregnant and the doctor had already set an induction date because she didn’t want the baby getting too big.
Speaking of Doctors – a Quick Backstory
I have a didelphic uterus. This may be TMI but it’s important for the story, so stick with me. My uterus (the thing the baby lives in that’s inside the belly) is shaped like an overexaggerated heart, with the middle septum coming all the way down to basically make two uteruses. I knew since high school that I had this, and I always assumed it would keep me from having children. Luckily, Brett and I got pregnant pretty easily, but the doctor warned us that it might mean pre-term labor or a c-section when it came time to birth. So that’s why the doc scheduled an induction at 39 weeks (the baby was plenty big) and that’s why we packed enough gear to stay at the hospital for 5+ days. Also, remember we were in the middle of a pandemic so no visitors or guests were allowed, Brett couldn’t leave the hospital and come back, and we didn’t feel comfortable with him even venturing out to the commissary to get food. It just felt too close to the ER for COVID exposure! So yeah, we (literally) rolled up to the hospital with a wheelie cooler, like we were at a tailgate. Ha!
It’s Go Time
Once my brain woke up and realized the day was finally here, I elbowed Brett excitedly. “Brett, are you ready?” I asked. “I need a nap,” was his reply. We both laughed and got out of bed to get dressed for the biggest day of our lives.
Arriving at the hospital in the dark, we went to the side door that served as the check-in station during COVID-19. The nurses brought us to the elevator and we went up to the 5th-floor labor and delivery check-in. “Any chance you have an ocean view room?” I only half jokingly asked the nurse checking us in. He laughed and said, “hold on.” Hoag Hospital sits smack in the middle of Newport Beach and has a beautiful view of the harbor and the ocean. As we were shown to our room we looked out at the city lights just as the sun began to rise.
It’s definitely safe to say I wasn’t looking forward to giving birth. Do most women? I mean, obviously I was ready to meet our daughter and not be pregnant anymore, but the actual act of pushing (or cutting if things started to go south) a baby out of my body wasn’t something I was looking forward to. But Brett held my hand and I smiled and tried to be brave. He knew I was nervous and I knew he knew, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and be strong. And just like that, I was in the hospital gown, in the bed, with an IV in my arm. Time to have a baby.
Here’s How it Went Down
Since I was being induced, there was some down time in the beginning. At 5:15am I had a round of antibiotics through my IV, then at 6:15am I took anti-nausea medication (the antibiotics made me nauseous – go figure) and half of a tiny little pill to kickstart my labor. When the nurse handed the pill to me, she said she would check back on me in 4 hours and that, “There’s no turning back now.” I thought that was so funny I wrote it in my birth log. Ain’t that the truth?!
Fast forward to 9:50am when I took the other half of the pill and then 1:45pm when I had another round of antibiotics. As the nurse helped get the room situated and chatted with Brett, I went to use the restroom. As I sat back down on the bed, wondering when everything was going to get started, it happened! MY WATER BROKE! “Uh oh,” I told Brett and the nurse, “I think I’m peeing on the bed…” What a newbie I was! My water breaking didn’t hurt and I was really happy that it happened on its own. From there, we decided to start Pitocin, since I was still only 1cm dilated. (For those of you that are new to this whole birth thing – you have the baby when you’re dilated to 10cm… who knew, right?) We changed the bed, I got cleaned up, and suddenly I started to feel some major contractions.
Contractions. A word I’ve heard my whole life. My mom delivered 3 children all naturally (I was born at home, y’all!), and took graphic photos which she lovingly shared with me every year on my birthday. No wonder I waited until I was 35 years old to feel a contraction! All the birthing classes, the breathing exercises, the focal points, you name it… they all meant nothing about one hour into contractions. I’m not here to scare anyone, but HOLY HELL, THEY HURT! Brett was awesome, he tried to keep me comfortable, but there was nothing he could do. I changed positions, I tried to relax, I sat on the ball… I wasn’t okay. Now, just to be clear, I never intended to forgo an epidural. Not in the slightest. When I asked the nurse (I’m pretty sure it was more like, “GIVE ME AN EPIDURAL!”), she recommended I wait a little longer so I could still walk around and naturally move the baby down the birth canal. She gave me some light painkillers in my IV that did absolutely nothing and made me really sick to my stomach. Writing this, I sorta feel like I’m complaining, and guess what – I am. It really, really hurt!
Finally, at 4:45pm the anesthesiologist came directly from heaven and I got my epidural. THANK GOODNESS! **And just a side note to all of you that have had babies without any drugs – WOW! Mad respect, holy buckets, no way José for me.** As the epidural and anti-nausea medicine started to kick in, the nurses came back to check how far I had dilated. “Oh wow,” the nurse commented as I looked down at her, “no wonder you were in so much pain.” To all you mamas, this will mean something to you: IN 2.5 HOURS I WENT FROM 1CM to 7CM WITHOUT AN EPIDURAL. So yeah, that’s really fast. Speaking of really fast, at 6:30pm, just 12 hours after we started my IV, I was officially starting active labor and ready to PUSH!
Time to Push
PUSH, push, PUSHHHHHHH!!! The nurse (Hi, Tien!) was chanting like a motivational speaker at the end of a 3-hour set. She was on my right side with her right hand in the birth canal. Brett was on my left side. I had a foot on each of their shoulders and as each contraction came, we would all push together as hard as we possibly could. Brett had his left hand on my back, right below my neck and each time we pushed he squeezed my body forward with all his might. We were all sweating profusely through the most intense workout of my life. At this point, it was dark out. The sun had set, unnoticed by us, and our cheerful room had somehow been transformed into a birthing stadium where the periphery was dark and there was a spotlight on the main event. A little blonde girl, her bearded husband, and their nurse were all working together to bring a little human into this world.
Looking back at this moment, I wonder how much I actually remember and how much I “remember” from photos and videos. I was completely clear headed during birth, but the body is amazing and does this thing that makes moms forget everything but that final instant when they get to meet their baby. I’d heard that before, and it’s totally true. Luckily, Brett had set a GoPro on my IV stand and one of the nurses grabbed my phone to take videos.
“Okay Jasmine, you’re close enough, we’re calling the doctor and she’ll be here in 15 minutes to deliver this baby!” Never EVER have sweeter words been spoken…HA! In the meantime, the nurse asked Brett if he wanted to SEE THE BABY’S HEAD. “NO!” was his immediate response. (Brett always said he was well suited to be one of those dads that sits in the waiting room and is handed their newborn baby…ha!) But then she asked him again and he went for it. “Oh wow, she’s right there. So much hair!” and my heart immediately melted. To me, that’s the moment he became a dad and I couldn’t have loved him more.
Suddenly, out of the darkness that was the hospital room, nurses and doctors started appearing. I saw my OB, suited up head to toe in blue scrubs. She had a metal table where a nurse counted out the instruments she was being provided. I remember thinking that 13 sounded like a lot and how interesting that was, and then snapped back into reality as the nurse and Brett yelled “PUSH!!!” and we were back to our workout after a 15-second reprieve. To say I was nervous would be an understatement, but the adrenaline far exceeded my nerves. The doctor took over, her voice was much softer as she counted out the contractions. “Push, two three four five six seven eight. Push, two three four five six seven eight.” I’m not sure how long I pushed with her but with each push I know she said “okay, just one more big push.” I could look back at the video (not sure if I’m ready for that!), but my assumption is it was about 15 minutes. Rhythmic, almost like we were in a trance, sips of water, just my bed under surgical spotlights in an otherwise dark room.
My World Stopped
And then, it really was ONE MORE BIG PUSH and I heard a small cry. IT WAS HER! And she was being lifted straight towards my chest with a nurse wiping her on the way. OH MY GOODNESS, SHE WAS PERFECT! She was real. A little girl that had grown inside of me, now laying on my chest. MY WORLD STOPPED. I cried. I cried so hard. The emotions were overwhelming and she was so warm on my chest. She stopped crying immediately and snuggled into me. SHE WAS HERE. We did it. Wait, where was Brett? I opened my eyes and of course his face was right there. “I just cut the cord,” he said. He was so excited, a little apprehensive, huge tears in his eyes. “We did it babe, she’s all ours, come here, give her a kiss,” I half whispered to him. At that moment, we were the only three people in the world. The nurses (there were probably 10 in the room), the doctor (I was still delivering the afterbirth and she had to give me 3 small stitches from a small episiotomy), the hospital equipment…all of it disappeared as this tiny baby wiggled against my chest.
They say birthing a child changes everything, and I agree. My friends ask me how it was and I can’t even begin to describe it. THERE AREN’T WORDS. I also realize how naive I was until now about what the human body is capable of, what our medical professionals are capable of (so so grateful to the team of doctors and nurses at Hoag Hospital), and how much of a life experience having a baby is. I thought 10 months of pregnancy would prepare me, but in that moment I knew that nothing could have made me ready for this. EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED and it was the best feeling in the world. Welcome to earth little baby Hazel. Mom and dad love you more than you will ever know.
I hope you guys loved reading about my birth story as much as I loved writing and re-living it!