One thing that I couldn't help but think was the possibility that this baby could come early. I was 37 weeks 5 days with Caleb and 38 weeks with Kinley, so it was always in the back of my mind that this baby might come a little early too. I did not want to get my hopes up with that thought, but as my pregnancy progressed and I started to get VERY uncomfortable I couldn't help but hope a little that this baby might make his or her arrival a little early or at least not late. I tried to remind myself that third babies are kind of a crap shoot and that it could be very possible that I might go over my due date.
As the weeks went on I was sure to prepare the very few things I had to prepare. We set up the pack and play in our bedroom, got out a few newborn outfits and pajamas for both genders and picked up a few gender neutral (aka boy) outfits as well. We set up the swing, got out the bouncer, installed the car seat and ordered new bottles for when I return to work, some pacifiers, and breast milk pumping supplies. That was really all we did and all we needed to do. This time was much less stressful all around. I guess by the time you get to the third baby there are way too many other distractions to get caught up in preparation or worry.
On the morning of July 11th I woke up and felt a little bit of fluid. I was 37 weeks 6 days pregnant. I wondered if my water had broken, however, nothing else happened to indicate that it had. The night before I was at a Tupperware party at a friends' house. We were all joking that maybe I would have this baby soon, since with my other two pregnancies I went into labor following some type of "event". With Caleb it was the night of a wedding and with Kinley it was following a gathering at a friends' house. So, back to this morning; I was feeling some contractions that felt more "real" and just had a feeling that this was going to be the day I was going to meet my baby. I asked Eric to stay home with me and the kids since I felt like this could be it. He started to tell me about all the things he needed to do at work and I stopped him and told him that what I needed to hear was "ok" instead. He mentioned that he would have to go into work a day next week if he stayed home and I agreed. I think at this moment he did not think I would be having the baby, but he agreed nonetheless. I decided we needed to take a trip to Target to get diapers since they were having a huge baby sale and I knew we would save a lot. We packed the kids up and headed out after breakfast. I was having consistent contractions and they felt different. This was all new to me since with the other two labor began when my water broke. I was truly excited to think this could be the start of real labor, but I did not want to get my hopes up.
At Target we got a steal of a deal on diapers (four boxes for about $9 each)! Afterward, we headed home. I rested on the couch as Eric played with the kids. I had texted my sister in law earlier and asked what her plans were for the day. She said that she was working from home and that she would be available whenever we needed her. I also let our doula, Sarah, know what was happening. Basically, I labored at home and rested for the majority of the morning and afternoon. We put the kids down for their nap at 1:00 pm and around this time I started to doubt that I was really in labor. It seemed like things had slowed down a bit. Our doula recommended that I take a nap, so I did. While the kids napped so did I. I was occasionally getting woken up from contractions during my nap. I was timing them on and off and they were averaging about 5 minutes apart and lasting up to 90 seconds. I was managing through them well as long as no one talked to me during them. Having someone rub my shoulders as well during the contractions seemed to help a lot. Around 2:30 I called my sister in law and asked if she could come over, just in case. I figured that the worse case scenario would be that we got to spend some time with her. She got to our house around 3:10 pm, just as the kids were waking up. While she was at the house Eric and I were able to go on some walks around the neighborhood while she stayed back with the kids. I had to stop frequently during our walks while having contractions. All of our neighbors were on baby watch and it was fun to tell them that I thought today was the day. I am not sure they believed me. Finally around 5:30 pm I asked our doula to come over. It took her about 40 minutes to get to our house and for some reason I thought we would go to the hospital right away, but we did not. I let her take over the timing of contractions and I just focused on getting through them. It was lovely to be at home and with Eric, the kids, his sister and Sarah. We put the kids to bed and let them know that I was going to be going to the hospital and would not be there when they woke up. I ate something around 7:30 pm, though I did not want to, but needed some food to help my energy level. I was not fearful of what was happening and just embraced each contraction as it came and took solice in the moments between them. It was wonderful to not be timing them and to give that task to someone else as well. Not timing them seemed to help me mentally just go with the flow.
Finally, around 9:00 I decided we should head to the hospital since I felt that if we waited any longer the ride would be unbearable. Eric called them to let them know we were coming and then packed up the car and we headed out. He was so excited and I think enjoyed having a task. We knew we would have to use the emergency room entrance, but were not completely sure how to get to that entrance. The drive to the hospital should have been about 15 minutes, but after several wrong turns I was getting pretty uncomfortable and pretty frustrated and it had taken a lot longer than I wanted. I even asked him to drop me off at the curb so I could walk over to the entrance, but he would not. He finally made it to the entrance and dropped me off to meet Sarah who was waiting there. She and I walked in and were escorted to the midwife wing. We got there and were checked in at 9:43 pm. They hooked me up to check my contractions and the baby's heart rate for 20 minutes. At this time Eric got to Triage from parking the car. Mandy, the midwife came in and checked to see how dialated I was. I was certain they were going to send me home and I swear I heard her say that I was not that dialated. Somehow through this whole process I felt as though it was all in my head and that I was not truly in labor. Of course, I now realize how real it actually was....When she checked me I heard her say I was 6 1/2 centimeters dialated. Huh? I was going to stay!!
We asked to be brought to the room with the tub so I could have a water birth, or at least try. As soon as we got there we settled in. Sarah recommended that I sit on the toilet for a while. She brought in some candles (fake but totally look real) and some lavender scent. I sat there for about 10 minutes when I felt the gush of my water breaking. Sarah had warned me that things would get intense as soon as my water broke. She was right. Right as that happened the tub was ready and I got in right away. Eric and I were so used to my labors taking a VERY long time, that I think we were both surprised with how quickly things seemed to be going. Eric had even drank an energy drink, thinking we were going to be going at this for a long time. The contractions were coming right on top of one another and were quite intense. There was very little reprieve from them, so when the very short breaks came I tried to embrace them. Sarah made sure I was drinking water and she and Eric were doing a wonderful job with rubbing my shoulders and giving me cold wet cloths for my forehead. The contractions were surprisingly manageable and did not feel painful as much as they felt productive. I tried to stay mostly silent, and if I did make noise, Sarah reminded me to keep my voice low. The little reminders helped me stay focused.
For the most part everyone left me alone in the calm of the warm tub and dark room while I labored. I am fairly certain I barely opened my eyes during this time, taking each contraction as it came. I tried to change positions in the tub to hands and knees, but that was not a good plan. It seemed that holding on to the bars and resting the back of my head on the tub was the most comfortable position for me. The worst part of the whole process was the nurse trying to find the baby's heart beat. The monitors they were using were not meant to be in the water so there was a lot of trial and mostly error in getting them to work. At one point I had to stand up, which felt like it would be impossible, but somehow I was able to do it with a lot of help from Eric and Sarah. I do remember being quite frustrated with all the commotion of trying to find the heart beat and recall pushing the nurse away several times. For some reason the very light touch of the monitor on my stomach was excruciating and unbearable. The midwife sat across the room for a while and at one point mentioned that I could start pushing if I felt like it. I was feeling intense pressure, but it felt surreal to be told to push without being "checked". I started to give some small pushes that weren't productive. I was feeling like this couldn't really be it...was I really going to be having this baby?! Around this time Eric did something that annoyed me (not sure what) but I vaguely remember splashing him to get him to stop. With some encouragement I started to really push and quickly felt the baby's head decending. The midwife came over as soon as she saw the baby crowning. The actual act of pushing took about 15 minutes. With just a couple pushes her head was out. I dug deep and gave a few stronger pushes to get her shoulders out. I reached down to feel her head and could not believe it! The cord was wrapped around the baby's neck, so when I reached down, grabbed and brought the baby to my chest she was a little slow to perk up. As soon as the cord stopped pulsing, Eric cut it and they took her to help stimulate her and check her out.
At this point we still did not know what they baby's gender was. After they got her going a little more they brought her over and asked me to look and announce her gender. I spread her legs open to look. I looked and looked and looked for what seemed to be minutes before I realized there was not penis and that we had a baby girl! I was so surprised to see that we had another daughter! My first thoughts after giving birth and finding out that she was a girl was just shock. I was shocked that I had just given birth. I was shocked I had another daughter. I was shocked that I had given birth in the water. I was shocked that I had given birth without any interventions. I was shocked at how everyone involved just trusted me and trusted the birthing process. It was simply amazing.
The next task was to get out of the tub so that I could birth the placenta. Eric helped my up and I walked over to the bed, crawled in and then they brought Hazel over to me. She and I did skin to skin while I waited for the placenta to be able to pushed out. Hazel slept on me, and was just so calm. I tried to nurse her right away but she was not immediately interested, so we just cuddled instead. I asked them how big she was, so they weighed her. She was 8 pounds 13.5 ounces. She beat out the other two by over a pound at 2 weeks early. Luckily there were no tears or anything that needed to be repaired as well. After I delivered the placenta Eric contacted the person who would be encapsulating it for me. We told the midwife we would be keeping it, so she put it in a container and we put it in the fridge while we waited for her to come pick it up. From the time we had arrived at the hospital to the time Hazel was born was 2 hours. Unbelievable! Eric proceeded to call the grandparents to let them know Hazel had arrived and then we moved to our room that we would be staying in for the rest of the time. Eric stayed with us for the first night and headed home in the morning to be with the kids. Our time in the hospital was not very restful of course and staying two nights was hard for me. It was nice though to be with just Hazel and have quiet time. Of course, I think it was hard for Eric because until she and I got home two days later he had barely seen Hazel.
The kids have adjusted well to Hazel and any fears that I had about Caleb not being excited about a girl have since been squashed. He loves his baby sister and dotes on her all the time. He wakes up early and wants to know where she is at all times and is very sweet to her. Kinley has also adjusted well and is very interested in her baby sister. We are working on her learning to be gentle with her and she is figuring that out quickly. The cutest thing is how she says her name. To Kinley she is "baby Basil", and I love it. So far her nicknames are Basil and Hazelnut. We are all in love and feel complete as a family as five. FIVE. Two weeks later I am just riding high with all the love and support and joy we have felt since adding this little nut to our family. Welcome home Hazel, welcome home!