Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wishes Come True: My Journey to Love

{Makena Via my Photo Blog: Umbrella Photography by Kamela}

My Journey to Love

Six years ago I made a wish. I was twenty-nine and rolling into my thirties. I hadn't met Mr. Right, or even Mr. Right-Now. I was training for the Nike San Francisco Women's Marathon and then I was hit with the news that I had third-stage pre-cancerous cell growth on my cervix. Appointments were rushed to get me in the hospital as soon as possible because my doctors were worried that any delay could result in an outbreak of cancer. I was also told that I might not be able to have children or carry to full-term. I remember the day before my surgery I went for a twenty-mile run through the hills of Orange County, California. The air was sweet, my sweat was salty, and I soaked up life step by step. I had been training for the marathon all year long and that dream vanished. It was a hard period of time for me. I would lounge by our community pool and see mothers with their children, and I'd flip on my belly and cry. Gosh... tired of the sob story? All I had was a sweet little dog, named Valentino, that I rescued and my family championing me on to not get caught in the negative what-if's

Six months after the operation, I was given a clean bill of health. My sister insisted we go to Las Vegas that Spring. On the drive from LA to Vegas, she told me that I needed to stop dating lawyers and dentists, and try a guy with a different profession, like a cop or a firefighter. Well, within our first twenty-four hours of being in Vegas, after the craziest mishaps of all time, my sister had accidentially booked our Friday night hotel in Reno! We literally drove to every single hotel on the strip and couldn't find anything less than {now I'm not joking} $2000 for the night. Why? It was the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, and Oscar De la Hoya Fight, and a huge motorcross event. Just our luck! With no place to go, there was only one thing left to do, and we don't gamble...we love to eat! We went and had breakfast for two hours. I came up with a plan that we'd spend the day at a day spa until we could check into our hotel room. Brilliant, right? Yes! We were walking to our car parked at Mandalay Bay when we bumped into a bachelor party filled with guys from Canada. They invited us to hang out with them at the hotel pool, we did, and then guess what? We met a cop from Toronto! I actually didn't believe it and I asked to see his badge. I looked at his badge and well, that didn't mean anything to me, but it seemed official.

{Mr. Hot Cop and I in NYC}

This wasn't anything like The Hang Over, we swam in the pool for a bit and then my sister and I wanted to go hiking in Red Rock Canyon. Mr. Cop actually left the bachelor party and came with us. Which now that I know him, is totally out of character! Mr. Cop loves to party!!  Well...let's make a long story short. My sister and I tried to meet up with him on Sunday before he flew back to Toronto, but it didn't happen. I left him my phone number thinking he'd never call, but he called me the moment he landed in Toronto. I racked up a $1000 phone bill in the first month before he came to LA to visit me.  It was magic then and its magic now. I love him so much. In 2008, we were married on the beach in Maui and our wedding photos were published in Town & Country Magazine.

{Our wedding photo in September 2009 of Town & Country}
As if the story doesn't get better, I worked diligently at eating organic whole foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. November 2009, I ran the NYC Marathon! It was a miracle that I won the lottery ticket into the marathon, of which most runners try to win a lottery ticket into and typically earn admittance to run after the fourth year. I almost wasn't able to complete the marathon because I was injured at Mile 16 with a foot tendinitis. Instead of sweeping on a shuttle to the finish line, my husband and sister walked me on the marathon course with an ice pack on my ankle. It was then I had the courage and faith to prevail and I ran the rest of the course! In three days, I felt much better and didn't sustain any serious injuries. 

{Moments before I finished the NYC Marathon} 
Love creates thousands of miracles, none as amazing as when I learned days before Christmas Eve that I was pregnant. I took three days to create a handmade children's story that surprised my husband with the awesome news. I gave him the gift on Christmas Eve. Watch it happen live!

Our Birth Story

If ever I stumbled along the way and had moments of doubt, my family and friends gave me the courage to keep wishing and believing that good things happen to every person. Our due date was actually August 24, but I had been telling everyone that this baby was going to be early because I was always late! Sure enough, she was ready to go two weeks early. On August 10, 2011, my water broke at 3:45am. I ran to the bathroom and was so excited! We were going to  have a baby and I had made it to week 38, which is considered full-term. I broke the odds. My husband and I did the impossible. It was a miracle. From the first day I knew I was pregnant, I wanted to do a home water birth. The trouble is that we hadn't set anything up for the home birthing suite! My husband's entire family came over the next morning and literally set everything up!

{Thanks to my husband and his family for setting up our home birth suite}

It was also interesting that after 24 hours I had yet to have had a real contraction. A quick trip to the hospital confirmed this.

{A quick check at the hospital to make sure things are okay.}
My midwife asked if I was ready to go to the hospital and be induced. I hesitated. We had just set up the home birthing suite, which had taken weeks to prepare for and I wasn't ready to throw the towel in. I did some research and discovered that it was standard practice to induce after 24 hours, but that there was also an option to wait a bit longer without much risk. I went with the second option.

{Waiting for things to happen on a beautiful August afternoon.}
We turned off all the phones because our family and friends were calling every hour to see if I had gone into labor yet. Nothing was worse than that sensation of racing against the clock. We went to sleep that night and I woke up feeling very rested. My midwife had mentioned that I should try Castor oil that Friday morning. It was the only option I had left. Castor oil is a century old homeopathic remedy that was available to women when labor needed to be jump-started. I had gone 36 hours without contractions and if nothing had still happened after the Castor Oil, then I was headed to the hospital. 

{Castor Oil got my labor started!}
After taking a bottle and half of a second, I suddenly felt something. Cramps. My husband and I thought it was nothing more than that. When my midwife arrived, she wasn't sure if I was having contractions or cramps from the Castor Oil. Things heated up quick. I was pacing our living room and hallway. I headed to the downstairs restroom where I proceeded to experience my first contractions. I felt an intense heat and tightness four fingers below my navel, which my midwife said was due to the Castor oil.

{Laboring Away}
I thought that I was going to have a birth filled with massages from my husband, aromatherapy, relaxing candles, and soft music, like a day at the spa. Boy, did I get that wrong! I didn't want to be touched or hear anything. In fact, I did the one thing I never thought I'd ever do. I vocalized! It really helped to send the tension and intensity of contractions outward. When my midwife measured my cervix at 2:45 or so, I was only 3cm dilated! At a certain point, my midwife gave me the greenlight to hit the birthing pool. I climbed in and it was amazing. It really helped me to relax and be as comfortable as possible during contractions. My midwife was starting to panic at this point, not that I knew this at the time, because my second midwife was caught in traffic and she thought she wouldn't make the birth! Everything happening to my body was intense and fast. I was progressing through the labor like lighting. In fact, when I told her I was ready to push, she told my husband that we were going to have to call 911 as back-up because the second midwife still hadn't arrived. I kept pushing when the second midwife arrived literally ten minutes before our baby was born! It was a miracle she had made it. The ring of fire was just that, intense and painful. The only mantra I had going through my head was one that I learned from the Yogi Gurmukh at Golden Bridge Yoga LA. It is this: Sat Nam. I used my inhalation and meditated on Sat, and exhaled on Nam pushing the intensity and pressure away. If you saw me, you'd never guess that  I was meditating. I will also add that as soon as my contractions were over the pain was instantly gone until the next round. One last push, brought Makena into the world. My midwives were there to catch her as she floated up through the water.

{Makena born at home in a water birth pool. My midwifes are prepping for my husband to cut the cord.}
Makena was born at 4:58pm on Friday August 12, 2011. When she was delivered, she wasn't breathing at first. My husband was instructed to call 911 for an emergency run to the hospital. However, my midwifes were prepared for any hiccup. They quickly cleared her passages and put air on her. When this was happening, I watched from the birth pool and never for one moment had a doubt that anything was wrong. In less than ten seconds, I saw Makena's left hand shoot up in the air and I saw her cough. Her skin went from a blue color to pink instantly and everything was totally fine. The midwifes were impressed how quickly fire and ambulance showed up and I remember giving them a thumbs up and peace sign that things were good. The midwifes went about performing their tests on Makena. 

{Makena getting weighed}
{Makena taking it all in}
At this point, I felt amazing. I was holding our daughter in my arms, and just amazed at the miracle of life. My body was tired but it felt amazing and renewed. I could compare the sensation to an intense hot yoga class. When I came out of that birth pool, I had transformed from the inside out in a blissful and loving way. Everything in my life changed for the better. I really felt as though not only was our daughter born in the water, I was also reborn. It was such a spiritual event and in all Makena took only 2.5 hours to deliver! Thanks be to God, my family, my friends, and every person along the way, the good and the bad, that have helped me to become the person I am today. I have never been happier or been more grateful in my entire life. Makena Monarch Hurley, we will love you for an eternity!


A R M O M M Y said...

congratulations on your beautiful baby girl! what an amazing life story and beautiful birth story.... xo . rae

Stephanie said...

Congrats, lovely lady. I love reading about your experience and I am so happy for you. Sending my love.

hope in high heels said...

Your story gave me goose bumps. Thank you for sharing - your courage and determination are inspiring. And congratulations on your beautiful daughter!