When expecting your third child, you think you know exactly how and when the baby is going to come. You’ve had some practice, and this baby can’t be that different. So of course it’s surprising when you realize how untrue that is.
My second child made her appearance after just 4 hours of labor, at 39 weeks and 3 days. I expected my third to come around 39 weeks, and after another quick labor. The “quick labor” part was actually giving me some stress, because I wanted to make sure my husband was able to “be there” via webcam, and if it was too short, that wouldn’t be possible. But baby number 3 had her own plans.
On Sunday, March 27th, around 11:30AM, 37 weeks and 4 days along, I started to notice some regular contractions. They weren’t painful at all -slightly more so than Braxton Hicks- but definitely consistent. I went about my day, thinking it was just practice labor, which I had plenty of during my last pregnancy. We attended a birthday party for a family friend at my parent’s house, where the contractions were starting to get a bit stronger and I pulled up the contraction timer on my phone… 5-7 minutes apart, and about a 4 in intensity.
My mom came over Sunday night to sleep and help me get the house ready. She inflated the birth pool in the dining room, and then we all went to bed. I woke up for 6 or 7 intense contractions during the night, but none actually kept me awake. The kids wake up with the sun, and as soon as we were awake, the contractions were right back at 4-5 minutes apart, and a 4 in intensity. I popped a few thousand milligrams of evening primrose oil (to soften the cervix), we ate breakfast, got the kids dressed, and went for a walk. On our walk, I had a few contractions that made me stop to take a breath, and I lost a bit of mucous plug. The kids were getting tired and hungry after almost an hour of walking, so we went home for lunch and a nap.
Monday night brought things on a bit more: the contractions were getting to 3-4 minutes apart and around a 5 in intensity. My midwife, Jerusha, came to the house with her birthing bag, and checked my cervix for dilation at my request. I was at 2cm. TWO. I couldn’t believe it. A day and a half of active labor and a two. She headed back to the birth center, where 2 other moms were in labor (and had their babies that night), but told me that I was definitely in early labor. Phew.
My sister and mom were at the house with me Monday night and filled up the birthing pool with hot water. I labored in there till I started to overheat, then we stayed up until the wee hours watching “Grey’s Anatomy” on Netflix. I finally fell asleep around 5AM, and slept until about 8, when the kids woke up. That was the last sleep that I got until after the birth. We (the kids and I) got into the birthing tub for a little while; the water was still luke warm from the night before. It didn’t do much for my labor, but we had fun splashing around.
After breakfast on Tuesday, my mom decided she needed to go into work for a bit. I kept watching “Grey’s Anatomy” (we were in the 2nd season already) and cuddled with the kids while they napped. Around 4:30PM, I called my mom, mother-in-law, sister, and husband, and told them I thought it was almost time. The contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, a minute and a half long, and around a 7 in intensity. Everyone gathered, my mother-in-law and her fiance started filling up the tub with hot water, and I got in for just a little while. My sister brought me sushi, and the midwives ran to get some dinner for themselves.
I went up to my bedroom to labor alone for a while, and had my husband on the webcam using a laptop. My back started to ache, so I took a hot shower on my hands and knees, with the water hitting my back. In the shower, I had a few contractions which needed to be handled while squatting, and I started bearing down a bit. The laptop was on the nightstand, and I went back and forth between the bed and bathroom as I was having contractions. Jerusha came up to check me (again, at my request): I was 8cm dilated, with my waters bulging. Finally! Holly, my other midwife, came up to check the heartbeat, which was going a bit fast. I had overheated during my shower, so I chugged some ice water and had a cool rag on my neck and head to quickly cool me down. It did the trick, and her heartbeat went back to normal in just a few minutes.
It was dark when I came back downstairs, though I don’t remember the time. Possibly around 9PM. I was barely able to get a breath in between each contraction, and they were getting quite intense. This is where the details start to get a bit fuzzy. I went into the downstairs bathroom, because every contraction was making me pee a little, and I didn’t want to get it on the floor in the living or dining room. My sister came in to tell me, “No having a baby on the toilet!” so I climbed into the birthing pool. We pulled up my husband on the webcam on the computer downstairs, and pointed it at the pool. He didn’t talk much, nobody did really, and my mom turned on my playlist (Iron & Wine, City and Colour, Death Cab, Priscilla Ahn, Blind Pilot, Regina Spektor, Owl City, John Mayer, and Kings of Leon). All the sound in the room came from the music and my breathing.
I labored in the pool for an hour, maybe two, on my hands and knees. With each contraction, I laid my head on the side of the pool and just breathed through. The only thing I heard was the music and my sister or one of the midwives occasionally telling me that my breathing was perfect. After a while, I just stayed in that position with my head resting on the pool, constantly doing my slow breaths. Jerusha and Holly came up next to the pool, and I started feeling like I needed to push. I was bearing down, still on my hands and knees, and that turned into true pushing, along with some loud moaning with each breath. My waters were still intact, and broke just seconds before the head crowned. I moaned and pushed, then the waters broke. It felt like my skin was on fire, and I heard Jerusha tell me that if it burned, to stop pushing. I didn’t really want to stop, and the next contraction was coming on. I gave a nice long push, along with a nice loud moan, and felt her head slide out. Another big push and her whole body came out. Jerusha just gave her a little push through my legs, I sat back, caught her and pulled her out of the water. Alaina Lauren Christine Hanzlik was born at 11:37PM after 60 hours of completely natural labor, her daddy watching on the computer.
I leaned back against the pool wall while I held baby Alaina against my chest. She gave a little wail just to let us know her lungs were working just fine, then settled against me, eyes wide open. My mother-in-law cut the cord after it finished pulsing, I birthed the placenta, handed Alaina to my sister, and climbed out of the pool. We had prepared a little nest for us on the couch, so I laid down and held my baby. She latched on and nursed, and everyone fell asleep. Around 2AM, I ate a bit of dinner while Jerusha and Holly weighed and measured Alaina. 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and 20.5” long. My smallest baby by over a pound and an inch. She nursed and we fell asleep again after that, and slept till morning.
Alaina’s birth was such an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t change a single thing… except of course to have Daddy here. Perfect is truly the only way to describe it.