An entire MONTH has passed since this little sweetie joined our crew and our family feels more complete than ever. The boys have shown nothing but love and adoration for little Ariya from the very start and she's been such a rockstar baby, totally going with the flow. As long as she doesn't have to wait too long to eat and has a clean diaper, she happily plays on the floor, travels around with me in the sling and falls asleep when she's tired. This third baby thing is the real deal - she's just pure joy.
Although she is an angel baby now, of all 3 of my pregnancies this one was the most uncomfortable for me. My body felt really heavy and achy and with the hot days setting in, I was just so ready for little miss to be here. I was hopeful after hearing from so many people that third babies 'often come early' that this would be the case, but at my last couple of weekly appointments I had progressed - and sadly, stalled - at 2-3 cm dilated, even after having my membranes stripped once. Our girl had plans of her own!
Justin and I convinced ourselves that baby girl was going to come early and come quickly and that left us a bit panicked as to what the boys would do if that were the case. Justin's mom, Jodi, was all packed and ready to come at a moment's notice but seeing as she had a 4+ hour drive from St. Louis, we weren't sure she would make it in time. So when we asked her on Saturday if she was willing to come stay with us early, she made the trip the next day. As it turned out, baby decided not to come until Thursday but we all got some good quality days with grandma and that is never time wasted. While she was here, I wore ruts in the sidewalks around the neighborhood walking laps to help move baby down and entice her to come out. Of course it didn't work, and I was extra exhausted every evening but it gave me something productive to do!
June 16 - baby girl's due date!
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I'd had some crazy Braxton Hicks contractions that had been getting more and more uncomfortable by the day. When I woke up to use the bathroom in the wee hours of the morning, I was really excited to feel what I thought were some real contractions beginning. In the morning I announced to everyone that today WAS going to be the day! (a little positive thinking never hurts, right?) I had an appointment with my midwife at 9:00 and at that point she said I was about 4 cm dilated and baby had moved way down, so finally some progress over the week before! She stripped my membranes really well and said she was sure baby would be here before the next morning. (yay!) During my early labor, which turned out to be most of the day, we hung out around the house, took a few walks and played on the construction equipment in our neighborhood (I had a funny moment of 'wow, how life has changed' as I was leaning up against a huge dirty loader tire to work through a contraction. Ha!)
After dinner, my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and lasting almost a minute at a time. We called Amanda, the midwife on call, and she said she would meet us at the hospital. We left the boys happily playing in the pool with grandma and made the 12 minute trip. At this point, my contractions still weren't very painful and the ride didn't seem very uncomfortable at all so I was a little nervous maybe we were going in too early but I was set on trying for a water birth again and wanted to make sure I had time to labor in the tub for a while before baby was ready to come.
After getting all checked in, we headed up to delivery room 6 (the same room both Avery and Cullen were born in!), I was hooked up to a monitor for 20 minutes and my IV was placed while the tub was being filled. Baby's heartbeat was regular and strong and soon I was able to get out of the bed and into the water.
I have nothing but super positive things to say about laboring in a tub. Somehow the warm water makes contractions so much less intense and being able to sway with the water and lean up against the inflatable sides has proven to be my ideal laboring position. The next hour or so was spent chatting with Justin and Amanda between contractions, listening to Live on Pandora, and focusing on blowing ripples on the water to block out the pain. I was so much more aware, calm and confident this time around and thanks to Justin sticking mint and lemon oils in my face upon request, I'm happy to say I didn't get sick once! (more than I can say for my last two deliveries!)
As contractions became more intense, my water broke and I was ecstatic (as ecstatic as one can be at this point of labor) to find that the fluid was clear so I would be able to stay in the water to deliver! (unlike both Avery and Cullen's deliveries, where I had to get out at this point due to having meconium-stained fluid that meant I was considered higher risk and couldn't continue with a water birth) After my water broke, contractions started to get much more intense and right on top of each other. I started to push a little through each contraction until Amanda checked and announced that baby's head was ready.
I pushed two big pushes, one to deliver her head and one for her body - and she was here! Amanda caught her and handed her over to me under the water and I pulled her up and out onto my chest.
For the next 15-20 minutes or so, I was able to just cuddle sweet Ariya and soak in that post-birth high. I distinctly remember there being such an overwhelming sense of calm and quiet in the room. (except for me saying over and over that "It worked!" I'd hoped and prayed for a water birth - and it finally worked!) Unlike when the boys were born and a team of NICU nurses were crowded in the room, this time it was only Justin and I, our midwife Amanda, one nurse, and another nurse that ran in right as she was born (I'm not even sure she made it in time). It was such a wonderful environment for baby to be welcomed into. Ariya was very alert and looking around right away but I think because of the peaceful, warm spot she was nestled into it took her a few minutes to cry (if that's not a testament to how calm the place was, I don't know what is!). One of the nurses started to rub her back and got her to cry so they could make sure her lungs were good and clear, and a healthy cry it was! She scored a 9 on her first (and second) APGAR and when the cord was done pulsing, Justin was able to cut it.
A few minutes after, they took her to be weighed while I climbed out of the tub to deliver the placenta in the bed. (By far the worst part of delivering baby #3 was the horrendous tummy massaging the nurses had to do afterwards to make my uterus contract - SO MUCH more painful than it was the last two times!)
Ariya is a spitting image of her brothers as newborns (especially Avery) She has Avery's eyes/nose and Cullen's squishy little mouth and chin. Her hair is all her own - it's DARK (darker than either of the boys' was) and pretty long in the back.
When Grandma Jodi brought the boys to visit the next morning, they were SO excited to see her! Cullen kept saying "Just born!" and Avery couldn't stop ogling over her tiny toes and fingers and they BOTH couldn't stop kissing her all over. So much love for this little sister from the very beginning.
We are SO SO SO thankful to Jodi for being with us all week and for keeping the boys so happy while we were gone. It makes the transition much easier knowing that they were having a little mini-vacation of their own at home with grandma, they sure do love having her around!
We are all adjusting well to being a family of five. It was such a treat to have Justin home from work for a couple of weeks, we've never had so much time together at home - ever! It was awesome! We're slowly figuring out logistics and our juggling acts are pretty polished already at four weeks in.
I've taken more photos over the last month than I have in the history of ever. Unfortunately, most of those photos have yet to make it from my camera to my computer. Maybe someday I'll have a few hours to sort through them... although probably not anytime soon. I'm soaking up every minute of this newborn snuggle time and when I'm not, there's playtime to be had with bears. And wolves. There will likely be tractors involved.