It started early on Sunday morning. But I’ll go back a few days. Thursday afternoon I had my 40 week checkup. My due date was May 27, so I was feeling ready and anxious to meet this baby. Everything was looking great, baby was in a perfect position and I found out I was 3cm dilated! That gave me a lot of hope that by the end of the weekend we would have a baby. Our best friends and neighbours Kir and Andy were leaving on Monday evening for a month, and we really wanted them to meet this baby! Kir is also an amazing photographer and thankfully was still here in time to take these amazing photos of the birth - birth photos are something I was skeptical of at first, but they're so precious to me now.
We spent Friday and Saturday going on long walks, I went for acupuncture, did lots of bouncing on my yoga ball, ate spicy food, pineapples, the works. It was a long few days and we didn’t really know what to do with ourselves, we kept going out to eat our “last meal out,” we had a few too many of those. That weekend was so special. We got to spend the last few long Summer days before meeting Hazel just dreaming and talking about what life with her and our upcoming Summer would look like.
So, back to Sunday morning. Dan stayed up way too late downloading and watching movies because he thought we’d be spending the next few days watching them. I went to bed at a good hour because I knew I would need all the sleep I could get. I woke up at 7:30 to what I thought was a contraction, but wasn’t all too sure, so I slept a bit more, and had one or two more and woke Dan up.
“I think I had a few contractions, let’s go for a walk and see if they go away.”
So we got ready pretty fast, we were full of excitement. I had a shower to see if the contractions would stop, my mom told me that was the best thing to do when they started, and they were still coming. We walked to a café and got donuts and coffee, I was antsy and wanted to move and keep my mind a bit distracted, and they were still coming, but not very strong. Dan started timing them, but some were so weak I’d tell him "I thiiiink I had a contraction?" At this point they were inconsistent, anywhere from 5-18 minutes apart, but by the time we got closer to home they started to get more consistent and more uncomfortable. I was definitely in early labor.
We got home and decided to try and start a movie, after about 20 seconds I made him turn it off, it was too distracting and I knew I had to start focusing. The contractions were getting stronger and I needed to start working with them. I knew they needed my full attention, and if I was going to do this drug-free, I had to listen to my body and be fully in tune with what was happening.
Dan helped massage my back which really helped and we hung out in the living room. Dan lit candles, put on Sister Brother’s 2 albums on repeat and gave our doula (Dan's sister Sarah) a call.
She was amazing. I just remember thinking through my whole labour that she was doing exactly what she needs to be doing, she’s so good at this! She really helped keep me focused, and by using different pressure points, and massaging she really helped me through my contractions, and it gave Dan a break too. She told us to keep doing what we’re doing, eat and get rest.
We spent the next few hours moving from room to room and attempted to get some rest. We tried to lay down for a bit, which helped, I don’t think I slept at all. I ate a yogurt popsicle which tasted like the best thing I’d had in months. The afternoon came and Lindsay came by with some soup and food for Dan, which I slowly managed to get down between contractions that kept progressing stronger and closer together. By about 2pm I was really in a different world. We got in the shower, and the hot water really helped. I was in a zen-like state, something I have never experienced before. I fully surrendered any control and let my body do the work. Looking back it was such an amazing experience. There was a point in the early afternoon when it started intensifying and I really questioned if I'd be able to actually do this. Getting my mind focused and thinking about the end goal, and all of the things I learned from reading birth stories kept me on track.
After an hour or so in the shower (I think, it was all a blur from here) I tried to lay down for a bit, and started to feel really nauseous. Let’s just say the soup ended up all over our bathroom floor, and we knew it was time to give Sarah another call. She came over around 4:30 and by this point contractions were 3-8 minutes apart. She encouraged me to try different positions every so often, and helped me stay calm, relaxed, and hydrated. Always encouraging me through my contractions and reminding me to relax my shoulders, and keep my voice low.
I’m so grateful that I read so many birth stories, I feel like it gave me a lot of different tools that helped me through my labor - things I wouldn’t think of doing or weird noises I made that were a huge part of what got me through it without using any pain medication. We kept the midwives (we had one in training with our midwife) in the loop on where I was at, and by 7 or 8 o’clock my contractions were consistently under 5 minutes apart. So they said at that point we could either go to the hospital to see how dilated I was or they could come check me at home. So they came to our place and did a checkup. I remember hearing the baby’s heartbeat and that gave me a huge burst of momentum, oh man, baby, we're getting so close to meeting you. The midwife checked me and I was 7 or 8 cm dilated. I was SO excited. I knew it wouldn’t be long and we were off to the hospital.
It was about half past 9 and I remember the sun had just set, it was dusk, I was on my way to meet my baby. After a little bit of a detour, and driving a little bit in the wrong direction, we made it there. Sarah was in the backseat calling the family, saying it wouldn’t be long, I was so excited and nervous. The midwives beat us there and got things going, so after a quick check in I got to go straight up to the room. It was about 10pm. I went straight into the tub and was so grateful that we got into a nice room at BC Women’s Hospital. The room was big, quiet, and quite peaceful. The midwives stood back and let everything progress very naturally, only stepping in a few times to suggest different positions to help me be more comfortable and keep dilating those last few centimeters.
The bath was amazing, I really had hoped to be able to do that and am so glad it happened. My water broke while I was in the bath which felt like such a release. The few contractions after I felt the strong urge to push. They suggested I get out of the tub and sit down. So I sat on the toilet and Dan was on a chair across from me. I was humming and moaning and making noises I never knew I could make, he was right there with me doing them too. The midwives were so amazing, telling me “those are safe noises, you’re doing so good.” Not long after they told me it was time to push. I already was, I couldn’t help it, it was so instinctive and my body was just doing it with each contraction.
I moved over to the bed and pushed and pushed. There was much encouragement from the midwives, Dan and Sarah. It kept me going, until I felt like nothing was happening. I was giving it everything I had, but remember thinking that it was never going to end. It wasn’t even for that long; I think about 45 minutes or so from start to finish. I was starting to feel discouraged so the midwives suggested we set up a mirror so I could see the progress being made. A lot of people say they could never do that but it gave me a huge burst of motivation. As soon as I could see her crowning I knew it would be over soon. By 1:21am on June 1 she was born. Dan caught her and placed her on my chest. What a whirlwind of emotions. Kir was snapping photos and yelled “What IS it?!” A GIRL! Oh, of course it’s a girl. We were smitten. She laid on my chest for a while and then straight onto Dan’s. By about 3am the family came in to meet her - my dad, Lindsay, and Dan’s parents. She weighed 7 lbs 2 oz. Our Hazel Marguerite Klenner was here, and she was perfect.
The midwives laughed and said I should definitely have a home birth next time. I feel SO blessed that everything went smoothly. I had a rough birth plan and it really didn't look much different from how it played out, which I know from reading dozens and dozens of birth stories that it is so rarely the case. I did work hard for it and I'm so glad Dan strongly encouraged me to do all of the squats and walking and hip shakin' exercises (quite a sight when you're 9 months preggo) because they SO payed off in the end. We did prenatal classes through the South Community Birth Program, and I would recommend it to anyone. The knowledge and support through them was amazing, we can't imagine having a baby again without them!
Once everyone left, we tried to get some rest and maybe got a few hours, but we just couldn't stop staring and I never wanted to put her down! By the morning, about 6 hours after she was born they gave us the go ahead to leave whenever we wanted to, we stayed until the afternoon, tried again to get some rest, and had a few friends visit, and then took our baby girl home.