Happy birthday, Hazel Mae. (My birth story)

I will try to avoid words like “placenta” and “vagina”, but we are talking about birth here.

and birth requires both a placenta and vagina. so, if you aren’t into those words, you should probably read elsewhere.

every time i think about my labor, delivery and experience, i smile. hands down, it was one of the best experiences of my life. coming in right behind my wedding day and learning how to spell “francisco”.

my due date was July 20th. now, since i told everyone it was the 20th, everyone expected her to be born on the 20th. so there I went, passed my due date, and no baby. people should understand that this happens to a lot of people, and I’m not the only person to pass their due date with no signs of a baby coming, right? it is also not helpful to greet someone with, “wow, you’re still pregnant?”

so there I was, in no-baby land, waiting and waiting for a sign. any sign. i tried walking and spicy food, and other stuff.

then, on the morning of July 24th, I began to feel what I believed to be contractions. around 5 am, while laying in bed, I began the long process of timing my contractions. they didn’t feel very regular or constant. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. my mom and I went on a walk, and I only had one or two “mild discomforts”. we got home and got ready for church. all-the-while my mom was watching me from the corner of her eye and asking me “anything? anything now?”

bless her.

worried, (but mostly excited) she asked if I still wanted to go to church, and I thought, what’s the difference between feeling uncomfortable at home rather than at a place of worship? plus, maybe I could send a little prayer up to heaven to help get this party started.

all during the service I kept a little record of my contractions. for an hour, I was averaging a contraction about every 12 minutes or so. but, they only felt slightly uncomfortable.

we ended up going to lunch with friends, and i made it through with no “strong” contractions.

we went through our day, watching movies on the couch and waiting for something to happen. at about 6:30 pm we decided the contractions were strong enough to begin keeping track. i remember it feeling like the beginning of menstrual cramps, and then feeling too uncomfortable to stay seated. each time i would feel one coming on, i had to get up and walk it out. this system progressed for several hours. all-the-while, my mom watched me out of the corner of her eye. the corners of her eyes were getting a mighty big workout.

around 9:30 pm the contractions were so bad that jasen decided to call the advice nurse. she said that if we thought we could wait it out longer, we should. the last thing we wanted to do was make the drive out to the hospital, and then be sent home.

i agreed.

i decided to run a bath in our very small “Jacuzzi” tub. we never use it, and in hindsight it would have been nice to have a pillow or something. however, whenever i had a contraction, i had to get on my hands and knees to help ease the pain. jasen could never be too far away since he was tracking my contractions on his iphone, and had to push the start and stop button for each contraction. in the meantime, he was packing bags, loading the car, and getting things taken care of around the house. my sweet, sweet mom trailed behind us cleaning up after our messes. she even scrubbed my tub when i got out. looking back, i don’t know how i would have done it without my entourage. in our birthing class they talked about the importance of having a good coach, and also mentioned having a backup person to help your coach. that person is key, and my mom was perfect.

so, as jasen ran around getting things ready, then running back every 4 minutes to push “start” on the contraction button, and my mom chasing after him, i labored in our tub for about an hour. i tried to help pack, i mostly had things ready ahead of time, but i was truly useless due to the pain. instead, i tried to verbalize my mental checklists. did the ipod have my laboring music? do we have the ihome? phone charger? jello? juice? strawberry ice pops? breath mints? laboring ball?

(even after all of that effort, half of those items were left at home.)

around 11 pm jasen made the call to the nurse again. my contractions were under 4 minutes apart, about 1 minute long, for about an hour. the nurse said she thinks it would be a good time to come. we loaded the car and off we went. our hospital was about 25 minutes of freeway driving. i am thankful we were heading out at 11 pm on a sunday night. sitting in traffic would have been awful. i contracted about 6 or so times, with that ever-so predictable contraction in front of the hospital as you are walking in the front door.

as i checked myself into triage, i was welcomed by a helpful nurse who found it important that i pee into a cup. 2 contractions later, there i was with barely 2 tablespoons of urine, hoping this would be enough to get me off to the next round.

they placed me in a little room, and had me change into a gown, and hooked me up to a machine to monitor my contractions. all i remember is everyone telling me to scoot over on the bed so i don’t fall off. 1,000 hours later, when the midwife came to check on me, she took a look at the computer screen and said my contractions were about 7 minutes apart, and it may be too early to admit me. never in my life did i believe someone was so wrong. when she said those words, i think my heart broke. and i think i wanted to punch her in the face. however, wisely enough, the midwife decided to check my cervix for dilation. i was dilated to 4.5 centimeters and she pronounced me in “labor”. i was immediately booked into a labor and delivery room.

thank you baby jesus.

when i went to stand up, (after yet another grueling contraction) this huge goop of blood dropped to the floor. i immediately panicked and had jasen telephone the nurse. our nurse, chloe, came in and immediately said, “now why did you have to go and make a mess all over?” instantly, i knew we would get along. she told me it was normal because of the “aggressive” way my cervix was checked.

my poor cervix. i don’t think it knew what it was in for.

we walked down the hallway to our new room, and chloe immediately asked me about my pain management plan.

what was my pain management plan again?

i knew i wanted to do my best for a natural birth. but now, in the moment, i didn’t think i could do it. actually, i think i even said, “i don’t think i can do it.”

since i tested positive for group b strep, i needed to have antibiotics given to me at least 2 times during labor. as chloe set me up with an iv, she also included a low dosage pain medication. i still felt every contraction with full force, but it gave me the ability to “relax” in between the contractions, plus it wore off in an hour. i am not sure how effective it was, but i guess it did help “take the edge off”.

there i was, curled up at the edge of the bed, waiting out contraction to contraction. my big plans of using my birthing ball, walking, repositioning myself, and getting in the shower were all gone. all i wanted to do was lay there on my right side and concentrate with my eyes closed. i could hear the soft voices of my husband, mom and chloe chatting and talking. my mom and jasen were so amazingly helpful throughout. calming, stroking, loving, and helping. at one point, during a very intense contraction, my mom said, “it just means she will be here soon.” which i replied, “I KNOW, MOM!”

that wasn’t very nice. but necessary to my feelings. i couldn’t imagine being in their shoes, watching someone they love, curled into a ball, experiencing the most pain in their life. i don’t know what i would say either.

after about an hour, i could feel the edge coming back, and realized the low dosage medicine must be wearing off. i remember thinking, when chloe comes back to check on me, i am going to ask for the epidural. i don’t know how long this labor could take, and i don’t think i can do it. jasen kept repeating, you can do whatever you need to do, i am proud of you either way. when chloe arrived, she mentioned, “still hanging out on that ride side of yours? let’s try and turn you to the other side, or on your back.” i just remember thinking, “i don’t wanna!” but, obedient as i am, i obliged. after a cervix check, she loudly pronounced, “YOU ARE AT 8 CENTIMETERS! what have you been doing? we are almost ready to have this baby!” this was only about 2.5 hours after arriving at the hospital. chloe told us she would put a call to the midwife, and that there will be several people in and out of the room getting ready for the delivery and arrival of the baby. she said it looks like we would have this baby in a few hours.

so, i took a deep breath and decided against the epidural. i could handle a few more hours. right?


jasen had album leaf playing in the background which was relaxing and soothing. i remember laying there, thinking, wow…this is it. she will be here soon. the midwife came in to check on us, and she was singing our praises for a job well done. she kept saying how proud of me she was, and whatever i was doing to make this labor progress so quickly, to keep it up. their constant encouraging words were just the motivation i needed to keep going. seriously, i had the most amazing laboring team around me. i was 5 days over due for a reason. these were the people i was meant to have with me. without a doubt.

the room was left quiet as the midwife went to deliver another baby, and chloe was checking on other patients on a coffee break. suddenly, a contraction hit, and i felt the most unusual sensation. the baby wanted out, and my body was in agreement. then came a huge gush of warm liquid. my water had broken. jasen called the nurse, and a sweet women (not chloe) came in and asked me a few questions about what i was feeling. she said she thought the “urge” to push wasn’t as strong as it should be yet, but to let her know when i felt like the only thing i could do was push. i think maybe 15 minutes passed, and during a contraction, i remember saying, “i NEED to push! i NEED to push NOW!” jasen was on the phone again, and in came chloe. she went over the instructions on how to push. who knew there were such a thing? she told me to get ready, because we are going to push when the next contraction comes. she even let me stay on my side. when the contraction hit, i remember her telling me the directions. “take a deep breath, and push on the counts of 1-8 and let the air out on 9 and 10. we will get 3 rounds for each contraction.” i had no idea what she was talking about. but i was going to go with it. because you can’t fool a professional, and she immediately knew i was fake pushing. she told me to open my eyes and watch her. this was the first time i remember having my eyes open during the process. i finally figured out the rhythm of the push, but never fully felt comfortable. chloe kept saying, “push like it’s the biggest poop of your life.” which was graphic, yet helpful. after about 3-4 rounds of pushing, i could hear chloe, mom and jasen talking about what they were seeing. i remember chloe asking me if i wanted a mirror to watch, and i remember saying, “nope. i’m good”, and then throwing up in my mouth a little at the thought of it. (maybe some people are into that…good for them…but not me, thank-you-very-much.) someone made mention to a head of dark hair protruding, and how they were surprised it wasn’t blonde like my husband’s. jasen kept telling me, “she is almost here, she is almost here”! the midwife came in and turned her big spotlight on, and we got down to business. she told me to slow down the pushing, which is really hard to do, since i have been working so hard to push with all i had earlier. jasen mentioned that he thought chloe may have dropped the ball a little during the final stages. the midwife asked for some oil to help with the tearing, but she didn’t hear or wasn’t paying attention. jasen told me later that after her head came out, he noticed the umbilical cord was to follow, and it was wrapped loosely around her neck. i am glad i wasn’t made aware of this fact at the time. with the final push i remember feeling like a huge lift of pressure. then i heard a little whimper. it was jasen. then after another (slightly louder) whimper from a different direction, i heard the midwife announce, “amanda! open your eyes, meet your little girl!” i felt jasen emotions next to me, but all i could think about was, thank god. it’s a girl.

only 30 minutes of pushing. another miracle of this labor and delivery.

there was a lot of “repair” work to be done. i won’t go into detail, but i have to tell you, they are very tricky professionals. this is the time they have you do “skin-to-skin” with your baby, and stare into her beautiful eyes and perfect face…all-the-while they are doing reconstructive surgery on your lady parts. later, i asked a nurse how many stitches i needed, and she replied, “enough”.


marie (the midwife) was great at making sure i was comfortable. when chloe asked what we would like to call her, jasen and i looked at each other and knew hazel was her name.

hazel mae ashdown.

chloe sweetly informed us that hazel was the name of her cat.

during all of our classes, people kept saying that giving birth is a lot like running a marathon. i always thought that was an interesting statement. how would you know unless you have ran a marathon? now, after having done both, i would say it is similar. except, in my case, i can labor and deliver faster than run a marathon.

quite sad, really,

when marie came to check on me and to see how breastfeeding was going, she made the mistake of saying “he” instead of “she”. even though i knew what she meant, i still had a moment of panic. but after a quick check, and realizing hazel had delivered her first poop all over my arm, i knew we had our girl.

hazel mae ashdown
born, july 25, 2011
4:09 am
7 pounds 14 ounces
21.5 inches long.

pure perfection.

{last 3 photos were taken by the amazing h and co photography.}


13 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Hazel Mae. (My birth story)

  1. Thanks for sharing! I love birth stories. I laughed at your comment that you can birth faster than you can run a marathon.

    Hazel is beautiful. Congratulations!


  2. trying not to cry. trying not to cry. i love it! such a sweet story and i love your comment “i was 5 days over due for a reason. these were the people i was meant to have with me. without a doubt.” i love how even those little things are perfectly taken care of for us : ) love you guys!!


  3. Congratulations Amanda! Hazel is beautiful! I’m so happy you had such a wonderful birth experience. I can totally relate to having such a wonderful labor team surrounding you. It makes all the difference!

  4. Amanda, you should write a book!!! I’m not kidding that was a fantastic story and thats what writing is. I loved it, I cried because I can see you in this whole story, you write exactly what and who you are. I do love you and you have a beautiful Hazel Mae…..you too Jasen
    ♥Mary Lawrence

  5. This was the next best thing to being there. Thank you for sharing with us and she is a true beauty like her mom and Grandma.Cant forget Dad. Love you all

  6. Happy 1 Month Old, Hazel Mae! We can’t wait to meet you! You are a darling, precious little girl.
    the Phinneys (Kelly, Nate, and Jonas)
    p.s. We miss you guys terribly! Any trips planned to Orange County in the near future?

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