The birth of Alayah definitely was very different from Aubri and Ezra, and gave me a more well rounded experience of birth.
I was so sure I would deliver early, that I was shocked to be overdue. We hadn’t really been able to prepare for her arrival until 37/38 weeks, and I was so worried she would come before we were ready. At 39 weeks, both Jose and I felt like it would be anytime, and were both a little on guard waiting for labor. But by the time our due date came and went, the anxiousness wasn’t as strong and it felt like I’d be pregnant forever. Being overdue actually wasn’t too bad. We made the most of our time enjoying the last bit of summer.
On Sunday night, August 21st, I was feeling some cramping at a special evening church service. I was feeling uncomfortable and of course wondering if labor was starting. I had a few ladies at church pray for me, and everyone said they felt labor was soon. I went home feeling contractions from 9 pm on. Jose and I set up the last of our birth supplies, went around the house cleaning, and went to bed waiting for labor to kick in. I ended up sleeping well, but everytime I woke up contractions were still happening (irregular, not painful, but less than 10 minutes apart). In the morning we texted our moms and the midwife to let them know what was happening. Our midwife Tiffany said great news, real labor would be in the next day or two. Huh?! I was in early labor- I thought. But 30 minutes later, about 9 am everything stopped. For months Tiffany had said 3rd babies have a tendency for start and stop labors, and that it would be likely that labor would go on through the night and stop during the day. I had assured her I was aware of this type of labor, and I would be fine if it happened. But in reality, when this is what exactly happened I was bummed!
So Monday morning we took the kids on a walk to get donuts, went shopping, out to eat…anything to stay busy and active and start labor. Monday night came and went with nothing notable. Tuesday came and went.
Wednesday morning, at 6 days overdue, I woke up feeling a couple of mild contractions and later a little bit of cramping. I didn’t feel much had changed and told Jose he was safe to head to work. We did homeschool in the morning, Jose came home by 11:30 and we went about our day, running errands and shopping. We stopped at the health food store to buy more red raspberry leaf tea, and look for other natural induction remedies (dates). We went to Trader Joes around 2:00, and I thought I felt some more gearing up. As we walked into the store, I imagined what would happen if my water broke inside!
When we got home we let the kids watch cartoons downstairs and Jose and I went upstairs to rest. I had a few strong contractions about 3 minutes apart. Then at 4:18 during a contraction I felt a strong, surprising kick that made me yelp a bit. Jose asked what happened and I said she kicked at the peak of contraction. Then it hit me! It was the same popping sensation I felt when my water broke with Aubri (and with Aubri I had also mistaken it for a kick, and since I was in the bath I had no idea until much later that my water had broke!). I told Jose, “Unless that was my water breaking!” Not really believing it had, but ready to get up, I got out of bed. As soon as I stood water started pouring all over the carpet! I was so excited, and trying to catch it with my hands. Jose grabbed a shirt that was nearby and handed it to me, while he ran to get a towel. I dropped to my hands and knees as it kept pouring, and I couldn’t stop laughing. Jose was immediately in action. At this point the kids just happened to walk up the stairs to come to our room. Aubri swears that they were coming to ask if the baby was coming yet and if my water had broken. They were standing outside our door asking to come in, while Jose and I are laughing and yelling at them to stay out while we cleaned up the mess and I could change. We told them baby was coming and to stay out for a bit. Aubri and Ezra were in the hallway, laughing, shrieking and I assume jumping up and down. I never want to forget how excited we could tell they were. They were practically busting down the door trying to get in. When I was in dry clothes, and Jose had texted our moms and midwife, we let them come in. We had prepped the kids for how to behave during labor, and how I would need to be quiet and focused, but in their excitement that all went out the window. Ezra couldn’t stop asking questions and touching me. He was running around and when we reminded him to calm down he said “I can’t help it! I can’t stop jumping!”
We told Tiffany we would call when things picked up, and she asked us to time contractions to give her an idea of where labor was. We timed them for about 15 minutes and realized they were average 3 minutes apart! Tiffany said she would head over.
By 4:30 I sat in the rocking chair in our room, relaxing through contractions while telling Jose what to do. He got me everything I needed, double sheeted the bed, and we started texting friends.
My parents and Jasen arrived around 5:00. My parents got the kids ready to head to their house for the night . Jasen was snapping pictures of early labor. We headed downstairs, made Aubri a lunch for school the next day, and were all excited that it was finally happening. Tiffany arrived about 5:25 and we updated her on progress and she went to work setting up upstairs. We hadn’t known if we would have the kids hang around for a bit, but with how wound up they were (mostly Ezra) we were ready for them to leave with my dad. I thought Aubri looked a little bummed to be leaving, but we told them they would come back in the morning and probably meet their baby sister by then. They left about 5:45, right before Grammy Silvia arrived.
At 6:00 pm, Silvia arrived with dinner (we had been planning on going to her house for dinner) and even though I was in labor I wanted to eat! Our photographer Christina showed up around this time too. I was changing positions from the birth ball, couch, to recliner trying to relax through contractions and eat my chicken and veggies. Everyone was chatting and watching TV and I remember thinking I liked the distraction of their conversation.
We were timing contractions off and on and the averaged 3-5 minutes apart. I remember wondering if we called the midwife too soon since it seemed like it wasn’t getting much harder. We all sat around watching episode after episode of cupcake wars, and I was really craving a cupcake. Silvia had brought some over (the kids were supposed to decorate them at her house) and at 8:15 I had to eat one! I could have finished the entire cupcake (I wanted to!) but I remember realizing it was getting more intense and a cupcake was probably not the best to be eating. I started noticing a lot of pressure. My Bradley students will be proud to know that for the first time I realized the “got to go” pressure was just the baby. But it was awful! Every contraction started having pressure in my back and butt, and I couldn’t get comfortable! At 8:30 My mom offered me a foot massage, and she and Silvia each massaged a foot while I relaxed on the couch- for a bit getting pressure off my bum! We called the kids to say goodnight, and when I hung up I felt so bad they wouldn’t be here when the baby arrived. So we called right back and asked my dad to bring them home. Aubri was thrilled! My dad and Silvia took them upstairs to go to bed, and we decided I should walk around. We were debating if we should walk in the front yard, outside in the back, or just pace the house. As soon as I stood up contractions felt so much stronger that I opted to stay inside the house. Jose and I started pacing back and forth from the living room to playroom and contractions started coming every 2 minutes. I needed a break and sat back down on the couch. I had a really hard contraction and I was in an awkward arched back position, trying to keep the pressure off my bottom and not able to scrunch my stomach. Of all contractions to double peak, it had to be the one stuck in the worst position. I said “It isn’t stopping and I can’t get comfortable!” and my mom and Jose were able to support me into a better position. I think the contraction lasted about 3 minutes, and when it ended my eyes were watery and I said “That one sucked!” I stood up to support myself on the couch arm, and started crying. As I’m wiping my eyes, I’m thinking why am I crying?? I got this. I’ve never cried before. What the heck. This is just the beginning. Is this transition? Everyone was super supportive but I was a embarrassed. I asked to be checked for the first time because I could tell something was shifting. At 9:45 pm Tiffany, Jose and I went upstairs to our bedroom, and asked everyone to stay downstairs. Climbing the stairs was so tiring, and I knew there was no way I was going back downstairs from this point. We got in bed and I told Tiffany I hoped I was at least 5 cm. I was only 4. I tried not to be disappointed, and reminded myself I’ve been 4 cm the first time I was checked in each of my labors. Tiffany validated the shift in my contractions and said it wouldn’t be long until the number matched the stage of labor. We told Tiffany we wanted to labor alone, and Jose and I stayed in our room for about 15 minutes. Upstairs contractions were so intense. From this point on I didn’t feel like they ever stopped. Jose tried to massage me, but every time I told him where to push I made him stop right away because it didn’t help. He was praying over me, telling me how well I was doing, and so supportive. Meanwhile I think I kept telling him how much harder this was then before. I could NOT get comfortable, and the back labor and bum pressure never went away between contractions. I was also shaking during contractions, so in my head I was thinking I had to be transitioning, despite only being 4 cm. We hobbled to the bathroom and I tried to labor forward and backward facing on the toilet, but couldn’t handle the intensity for long.
Back to bed we went, and I told Jose he could tell everyone downstairs they could come up. I was doing all I could to relax, ride the contractions, vocalize, deep breathe, etc. Despite the pain, I stayed in Bradley teacher mode constantly analyzing and thinking through every part of labor! I knew I needed to try something different, but since I was planning on birthing in the tub, I didn’t want to get in too soon. But at 10:30 I HAD to get in. It felt better, and was definitely a relief, but contractions were relentless. Being in the water was helpful because I could move so easily, and I was continuously moving around searching for a good position (never seemed to find one). I burped a couple of times and was offered a bucket, but I didn’t feel nauseous. But after 20 minutes in the tub, my mouth was watering and I started dry heaving. Even though it had only been an hour since I was last checked, it was the hardest hour of labor I’ve ever been through, and I had to know if I made as much progress as I felt. At 11:00pm I was checked again and Tiffany said I was 7-8ish centimeters. We all we so excited. But I was also nervous. I couldn’t imagine more pressure down below, and couldn’t imagine labor getting harder, so I started to doubt how I would know when I needed to push! I got in a labor zone for a bit, semi squatting and bobbing up and down with the contraction surges. Tiffany reminded me I had to welcome the pressure, and let it happen for baby to come down, so I braced myself and tried to relax even more. A contraction came and I thought I had the urge to push. With Aubri and Ezra I never had a strong urge to push, and never felt my body take over with pushing. I was asking myself what I ask my students- was this just a wishful urge? I beared down a tiny bit with the next contraction and felt a whole new level of pressure. I remember feeling my eyes widen as I looked at Tiffany and said “I think I need to push!” And she called for the assistant that was downstairs (I don’t remember when she got there, and don’t even remember looking at her until after the baby was born). At 11:21 I had the craziest feeling I’ve ever had as my body started pushing on its own. For the next few minutes, I lost every bit of my calm Bradley teacher self. It is kind of a blur from this point, but I remember feeling like I was losing it and asking “Help keep me calm!” I was shrieking a bit, and grunting (Jose says roaring) a lot, and started arching my back until Jose held me back down. 1 contraction like this and Tiffany said she saw her head, and everyone told me she had a lot of dark hair. Another crazy contraction and they said “there’s her head!”. Jose had to tell me her head was out because I didn’t even know. He says I started trying to pull her out when I heard that , and had to be reminded to push. I wanted to be the one to catch her, but with all that was happening, I asked Tiffany to help me catch her. She helped guide, but I was able to reach down and pull Alayah out at 11:26, only 5 minutes since I first felt I had to push! She gave one little cry, but then just looked around, bright eyed and alert. She was so content in the water on my chest. I asked for Aubri to be woken up and she came in so excited. With the commotion, my dad and Ezra woke up and they came in to see her too. We stayed in the tub, covered with a towel while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and to deliver the placenta. With the pain gone, my Bradley skills came back and I asked for a glass of orange juice. It was the best thing I ever drank. Alayah started to nurse in the tub, and about midnight her cord was able to be cut, and she went with Jose into the bedroom while I had to deliver the placenta. I took a quick shower to rinse off, and was in my own bed within minutes watching my kids fall in love with their sister. I felt amazing. No tearing or soreness, and completely comfortable at home. An hour later everyone left (except my parents who wanted to stay and sleep on our couch). We did our best to get sleep, but mostly stared at our new baby and dozed off a bit. In the morning we woke up to breakfast being made.
As hard as labor was, it was amazing. Every wish I had, everything I prayed for, all the details fell into place perfectly. Alayah has been with us a week today, and she is the greatest blessing. We are all so in love with her. She is the most content, chill baby, a champion nurser, a good sleeper, and absolutely beautiful.