Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Hannah!

WOW! Where did this past year go?!?!?!?! I can remember everything about this moment, a year ago, so vividly. Feelings of complete peace and tranquility and strength as Hannah came into this world. I have never written down my birth story of Miss Hanns so I thought, what better time than on her precious, precious one year old birthday.

On Monday, July 26, 2010 I went into my midwife's office where she said I was dilated to a 3 and 80% effaced. Typically for me, that means I will be going into labor quite soon. I felt very encouraged leaving her office with Ben and excited for truly embarking on my first natural labor.

From the moment I found out everything was ok with Hannah's pregnancy I began to prepare mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually for a natural labor. To me, this was extremely important. I would practice making my body completely limp and relaxing every ounce of me, section by section. I had Ben create a "birth music" playlist with Kari Jobe and Hillsong songs that sang of God's provision, faithfulness, strength and power. Hannah's pregnancy was nothing short of a miracle so I wanted to make sure that I felt the Holy Spirit during the entire process.

That afternoon Ben and I went to Logan's. I ate, what I already knew, as my last real meal before welcoming Hannah into the world, tilapia with fruit salsa, steamed vegetables and plenty of yeast rolls. We drove to the bank for a meeting and then came home. The slight cramping had begun but nothing to special so I started moving around like crazy.

My mother in law was in town to help with the kids so as she played with them I made sure my bag was packed, my music on my ipod was set and that my house felt clean. There was an internal excitement welling up inside of me, an almost ultra peace and it was a matter of time. I didn't want to slow down because I knew the contractions might stall so I kept going and going and going.

Finally, that hot July evening we put the kids to bed and I asked my mother in law if she wanted to walk with me. Of course she said yes :) We walked and walked and talked and talked. We walked past the local coffee shop, down the sidewalks that radiated the day's heat off of them. The sun began to set and we continued to walk. I remember walking down a twisty sidewalk and the contractions beginning to increase in intensity but I walked through the contractions praying that they would only become stronger. As we walked in the darkness, sprinklers popped up around us and sprayed us with a cool, refreshing mist. Headlights were now everywhere on the oncoming traffic and we walked back into the quiet neighborhood and headed home.

I sat down, drinking water and felt each and every contraction but now I needed to have the slight pause between them. The kind where you just can't quite talk through them. I focused on the up and the down the release and the build up. I was doing this, I was going to do this natural!! We tried to play a pathetic game of banangrams but then I stopped and asked Ben to walk with me. So, away we went.

We talked and talked and walked and walked. I remember passing our neighbors and them asking , " So, when are you due?" and saying " hopefully tonight!". I remember listening to the quietness of the night and the constant chirping of the crickets. The air was so heavy from the heat of the day yet being outside, in the vast openness of the night gave me a sense of freedom and not confinement that I had felt in the hospital.

The contractions were now at the point where I did need to stop, let it pass but it was " discomfort". I was very careful this time around to label my "pain" with words that gave me strength and not fear, " this hurts" makes you feel 100% different that " this is uncomfortable". We finished our walk, Ben's mom had gone to bed and I decided to transition into our bath tub to relax.

Ben set the bathroom up for me, candles, music and warm water. I relaxed and relaxed. I would get up, and go to the bathroom and then come back and continue to relax. As each contraction would come I simply would let the running water of the faucet relax me, make my body fall completely limp with my head drooping to one side and allow the wave to rise and fall. The strength that I felt during these moments was amazing. I felt the presence of God so strongly in my bathroom. The same bathroom where only months earlier had caused me so much heartache and grief. The song " Stronger" by Hillsong playing " You are stronger, you are stronger, sin is broken you have saved me. It is written, Christ is risen, Jesus you are Lord of all" encouraged me through each contraction and I labored with the Lord- this scene in my mind was the most beautiful experience of I have ever felt.I literally felt as if the Holy Spirit was behind me and breathing through each contraction with me. Breathtaking!

As the water continued to run and I started feeling stronger and stronger waves I knew I was transitioning. I remember this feeling with Jayden- right before I became stuck at an 8 for three hours with him and ended up getting an epidural. However, this time I remained calm, in constant prayer and moved into the bathroom where my body continued to empty out. I do not throw up during my pregnancies however, I knew I was transitioning because I started to feel extremely nauseous and asked Ben for a trashcan where I threw up about 4x.

After that episode, this was around midnight, I got back into the bathtub but my mindset was getting bored of laying and the waves were getting much, much stronger so I told Ben, " one more walk". Walking out into the night with complete stillness under a moon that lights up the sky is a beautiful beautiful sight. However, I had transitioned so I felt the openness and calmness of the night but the low moaning had begun. The crickets were chirping, all the lights were off in the homes around us and it was silent completely silent except for my moaning. We would walk a few steps and I was able to walk through the smaller waves, but then a large wave would form and it would build and build and build until the only thing I could do was become totally dependant on Ben's strong body for support and allow myself to fall limp into his arms and moaning long and loud. Yes, labor is loud , and it is very loud for me!

We rounded the bend, the half way point in our walk near the park and I knew I could not make it any further. If you know me, to stop a walk midway is something I NEVER do. However, I was at the point now where I could hardly walk. Fear started to creep in a little and I prayed, " God give me strength, you know how much I want to do this natural". When you go through something so hard, as I did with Hannah, you want to feel the labor because that is a constant reminder of all the work and prayer that has been associated with bringing a new life into this world. Prayer brings blood, sweat and tears.

We somehow made it back to our home. I honestly canNOT tell you how. I remember the crickets. The darkness. The waves, oh the strong, STRONG waves of contractions coming over me with about 30 seconds between each contraction. To say I felt that we were close to the end was an understatement. Typically, I curl my hair, apply sweet touches of makeup here and there and head off all cute to the hospital. Umm, no, I looked at my pitiful face in the mirror with half wet hair from my bath and the inability to stand upright and thought if we don't have Hannah in the car I will be amazed.

I crawled, literally crawled moaning through my bedroom, living room and kitchen while Ben scurried around putting things into the car, getting the a/c on and backing it out before lifting me up and putting me in the front seat. HAHAHA! I could not even lay down, let alone sit. I moved myself to the back seat on all fours and pretty much moaned, yelled and grunted while he drove all the way to the hospital. I remember streetlights flashing, fear starting to creep in and strength all in the same moment. I remember pushing my face into the back seat cushions and yelling, literally yelling as the contractions came on so strong I could hardly breathe at times.

When we arrived at the hospital, Ben pushed me in the wheelchair and registered me. That was a joke in and of itself. They were asking me for my birthday. " Mam, mam, we need your birthday in order for you to go up and HAVE YOUR BABY!" No, actually you don't need my birthday. I worked in a hospital; this information is simply for insurance reasons so you get PAID. Yes, typically I am a very collected person- at that moment I was not open to a Q & A session. Ben answered the remaining completely frustrating questions as I sat under sterile, fluorescent lights in an ER waiting area with the sounds of heart monitors and the buzz of a tv behind me. Then it hit me, I was in pain and I wanted an epidural. Why, because someone, somewhere in that hospital could take every ounce of this pain away from me and my focus started draining, I was getting tired.

After hearing me moan and yell from the confines of  the wheelchair the nurse came down and said, " Oh, WOW! She is in active labor" and rushed us upstairs. The brought me to triage and quickly scratched that seeing that yes, I was beyond triage stage and brought me into labor and delivery room. Ben called my friend, Angela, who I had asked to be our doula and as I waited for her to come  I tried relentlessly to convince Ben that in between waiting for my midwife, Ramona, or Angela that an epidural was our saving grace. I was completely dehydrated so they hooked me up to an iv and I just kept saying to Ben, over and over, " No, really, its ok I lied, I do want an epidural". Displaying more strength than I could have ever shown someone in that much pain kept saying, "Amanda, you are almost there and will be so mad at me if I let you have one." He even went so far as pushing the "epidural release" form away when they brought it. Finally, Angela and Ramona arrived - those few minutes of being at the hospital felt like a thousand years. I hated being there, yet loved my very supportive team. Ramona, oh Ramona, she came in and I felt like I had a mother there. She was so strong, encouraging and supportive. She kept saying, " you are almost there, you can do this." She put a peanut looking ball between my legs to allow me to relax and continue to dilate. I am literally surprised I did not kick anyone as I kept trying and succeeding at kicking and pushing that thing away from me.

However, when contractions came I went limp. All of my practice was paying off and I kept praying, " God, please I want to do this but I am at my most vulnerable and weakest right now so please, don't let me stall like I did with Jayden"

The amazing thing is, when you have no epidural, you feel the need to push. No one needs to tell you. You feel power and strength amidst your weakness. I feel a spiritual application coming on, Hallelujah. After what felt like an agonizing TEN hours I said, " I need to push, I need to push" and my midwife said, " alright, let's go!". I pushed and pushed. Pain, let me tell you about pain, that my friend is pain. What did the puff fish say on Finding Nemo, " The ring of FIRE!!". Oh yes, my child,  the ring of fire. How can I describe that sensation- nothing less than a bowling ball trying to be pushed through a pin drop opening. I screamed bloody murder, then the contraction would subside for a split second and starting building and I would push and scream bloody murder again.

Now, I am sure there are more " collected" mothers than I - "jolly good" for you. I have never screamed like I did that fateful night never before in my life and never again. That was the LOUDEST labor I have ever had. The nurse from the hospital quietly slipped over and shut the door. Sweet, sweet nurse. I pushed and pushed and screamed and screamed until I felt the most burning sensation and thought I am a gonner and then all of a sudden there was sweet Hannah's head and I pushed again and time stood still. The room was dim, there was no heavy fluorescent lights, everyone's actions around me slowed to a fraction of their pace and the noise dwindled as the most amazing miracle emerged from the warmness of my body and now was being held in my arms.

Do you know what that's like? To hold someone who you never thought you would have the chance to hold, to kiss someone who you never thought you would have the chance to kiss. Tears streaming down my face as I recall that moment of triumph. Kissing, kissing her wet, warm body, her sweet puffy face with a little bruise on it from being pushed out so quickly. Hannah, Hannah, Hannah- God's favor and grace sought with much prayer. I sat there, shaking from adrenaline pumping through every ounce of my veins and clutching her with everything in me, afraid to let go, afraid being woken up from this beautiful dream and thanking God over and over. My precious, precious Hannah.

After time stood still for me, kissing Hannah, kissing Ben, I cannot express the amount of gratitude that I was pushing heavenward. I was in love, with Ben, with Hannah with God. The moment will be forever carved into my mind. I stood up ( which is a huge thing when you are used to epidurals) and used the restroom, WALKED to my recovery room and relaxed. I had no numb legs, no side effects, no tearing just a beautiful, perfect miracle, a supportive husband and an amazing family back home. This is what life is about! This was pure ecstasy. The next few days I sat in the hospital, never once letting Hannah leave my side as she slept on me all night, holding her all day and enjoying the truffles, tea and food all prepared for me while watching the news and TLC - things I do not quite have the time for at home.

Leaving the hospital was an amazing experience. The last time I left, with Riah's birth, I felt robbed. I will tell her story one day. This time I felt deposited. However, I will say these last few things. From the time we arrived at the hospital to the time I had Hannah was only an hour. I am so thankful I did not come earlier because pain is not something, we has humans desire. The option to break down and have an epidural is much higher once you position yourself some place that has them. However, I have had three epidurals and I will tell you that they are amazing- if you get them, I do not judge you. For me, this was my goal and my prayer to God. " I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" Also, my midwife reassured me and said natural labor is loud :)

Hannah, you have grown so much this year and have blessed us beyond words. I love watching you sit and in a high pitch tone try to say "hi" while rotating your wrist with true Miss America fashion. You slept with me for 3/4 of the year which I am so grateful for. You began to crawl in Michigan and developed calluses on your two big toes, you became sick on Christmas Eve and threw up where I prayed and prayed and rocked you over and over. You cruise everywhere and investigate everything by putting it in your mouth. One of your favorite digs is my purse. You enjoy emptying out its content and dumping it all over the kitchen floor.

You are in love with your brothers and sister. You wish you could play legos with them. You enjoy swinging, giving kisses, eating bananas, not a big fan of the ole' bread, frozen peas, applesauce, barley soup and for someone who sputtered and could hardly take a bottle at 9.5 months, you ended up being able to self feed yourself quite well at 10 months when you decided you had lost interested in me, your food source. To say I feel blessed is a " cliche" but I do not know how else to pen words that would describe this past year. I am humbled, "starstruck" , in awe and speechless that God would fulfill the desire in my heart for children and to be a mom. There is no greater joy than this. Happy 1 year old birthday my sweet Hannah Brielle Louise!


Heather@Cultivated Lives said...

What a beautiful birth story. It is making me excited to welcome my little miracle into the oxygen breathing world in another two months...

nancy bouwens said...

with tears in my eyes... and a prayer of worship and praise in my heart... I celebrate with you sweet daughter of mine... little Hannah - a miracle child, an amazing gift with an incredible beginning- it causes me to ponder in my heart.. what oh Lord do you have for this our precious baby girl!!
Love Nana