While it’s still fresh in my mind (and while the little one is sleeping), I thought I’d share the story of Iris’ birth. My last pregnancy blog post was all about how I was just two days shy of my due date and still no signs of labor. We had another appointment on October 13th (one day after Iris’ October 12th deadline) and still – nothing. I hadn’t dilated or progressed any since one week earlier. Since I was over my due date, the doc hooked me up to a machine to monitor the baby’s movement and heart rate. Only problem was, she didn’t like what she heard. She had us go upstairs to Labor and Delivery to be looked at a little more closely, but not before she explained that unless the baby started to move around more – they would have to deliver that day.
Even though I had wanted nothing more than to deliver that baby, this was not the way I wanted it to happen. I started crying, mostly at the thought that something could be wrong. However, as soon as I was hooked up to the fancy machine upstairs, Iris started dancing around like usual. We passed the test within 10 minutes. Apparently Iris had just been sleeping before. Phew!
We left the hospital feeling a little jolted, but with a choice to make. We could induce labor on Monday, October 17th or Thursday, October 20th. Even though the doctor “preferred” the earlier date, we thought long and hard and decided on the later option in hopes that my body would be more prepared for a natural delivery. If I could avoid a c-section, I would be happy (or so I thought).
The next morning was a Friday, so I called my doctor and made it official before the weekend – “October 20th, please!” It felt really bizarre to make that phone call. It was like placing a reservation for dinner, rather than a baby. Friday was a big day for another reason too. I was still working full time, despite being past my due date, and decided that it would be my last day at the office before I started maternity leave. I was feeling every day of being pregnant by that point, but little did I know I was also feeling the beginnings of labor too…
Despite how I was feeling, I didn’t rest after work that evening. I still wanted to do whatever I could to get my body progressed for labor. Todd and I met up with friends to eat hot wings (I stepped it up and got the spicy level of “Acid Rain”) and then made the long hike to Bud Walton Arena to watch the Razorback basketball team.
Apparently hot sauce and Mike Anderson were the winning combination.
At 5 o’clock the next morning I awoke to a strong abdominal pain, which I quickly realized wasn’t just a stomach ache. Wondering if this was what a contraction felt like, I moved from our bed to the couch as to not wake Todd. Timing the waves of pain with an iPhone app, I realized that these were indeed contractions and that they were instantly five minutes apart, lasting a full minute each. We had been told not to head to Labor and Delivery until the contractions were 5 to 8 minutes apart for at least two hours, so I laid there timing them until about 7:30 am. At that point I woke up Todd and told him we should probably head to the hospital. He had his doubts. I think my mistake was not waking him in the first place, so he had no idea how intense or frequent my pain had been. I had my doubts too. “Surely this is just the beginning of labor and we’ll be sent home, right?” I thought. I grabbed my bags just in case.
Thankfully we live about five minutes away from the hospital, but as soon as we walked through the doors of Labor & Delivery, I burst into tears. They immediately got me situated so that they could check to see how far I had progressed. The doctor on call informed me I was already dilated to a SIX and fully effaced! That’s a major jump for just two hours of contractions. In a way I felt relieved because the entire time I was thinking, if these are just the beginning contractions, I don’t want to know what the real deal feels like. “Well, you’re having a baby today,” the doctor said. Cue tears again. Then cue the freak out after I asked if I would have time for an epidural. Maybe, the nurse said. MAYBE?!
I had progressed so fast that they guessed we would have the baby by noon (and it was almost 9:00 am at that point). I had to get into a room and receive an IV before I could have an epidural. Thankfully the sweet angel nurses hurried me into my own suite and got me situated right away. About an hour later I met my new best friend, the anesthesiologist. I hadn’t thought much about it leading up to delivery and I’m not scared of needles, so getting the epidural was actually no big deal. The hardest part was staying still through contractions, but other than that it didn’t really hurt and I immediately felt the benefits. “How do you feel?” asked the nurse. Pretty good, I responded. “Okay, great because you just had a huge contraction.” I had no idea. I instantly felt better about what was ahead.
As great as I felt, the epidural ended up being one of the best and worst things for me. One of the issues was that it slowed down my labor, so they had to start me on Pitocin to increase the contractions. It still took a while. Noon came and went, but finally at around 5 o’clock I was fully dilated to a ten and ready to start pushing. Unfortunately, that’s where another issue with the epidural came into play. My fear was that maybe it wouldn’t work and I would still feel pain, but I had the opposite problem – it worked too well. I pushed for two full hours with little progression. I couldn’t feel a thing, which hindered me in being able to tell what was working and what wasn’t. After two long, very hard hours, they decided to let me rest for a while. During the entire labor my face had been burning up and my entire body wouldn’t stop shaking. I was told that both of these were completely normal, but still – none of it was pleasant. Waiting an hour, chewing on ice chips (I hadn’t eaten anything since the hot wings the night before) was dreadful, but I needed the rest. Because my face was so hot and red, they checked my temperature and I had a very slight fever, so they treated me with antibiotics and Tylenol. At the time, I didn’t realize the implications this would hold.
Finally, about an hour later the doctor came in and we started pushing again. I have a sneaking suspicion that they turned down my epidural without telling me because this time I could feel pressure, but thankfully still no pain. The difference was immediate. The doctor sat with me for the next 45 minutes as I worked the baby further down. I’m pretty sure I was just a few pushes away from them suggesting a c-section, but the doctor didn’t give up on me and at 9:12 pm Iris Adella Gill was born.
She came out crying and giving a high five, as the doctor called it. Her hand was up by her head, which was probably another reason I had so much trouble. And speaking of her head, everyone immediately started talking about all of the hair she had. I couldn’t believe it either (for all of you who have heard that lots of hair leads to lots of heartburn during pregnancy, I never had any). They immediately put her on my chest and I said hello to my sweet baby girl. I think I asked a million times if she was healthy. My mom and Todd had been in the room for the delivery and reassured me that she was as perfect as she could be.
They were right. All nine pounds and fourteen ounces of her. When the nurse read the weight out loud, I was shocked. I always thought she would be big, but I didn’t anticipate her being just shy of ten pounds and 21 1/4inches long. Once they got us both all cleaned up, I nursed her for the first time before the guests from the waiting room came in to meet her.
It wasn’t long before the nurses were back in the room, needing to take Iris to the nursery to get poked and prodded. Todd and I probably should have used that time to rest, but it was impossible. As exhausted as we were, the excitement that we actually had our very own little baby was just too much. They brought her back in, wrapped up tight like a burrito and we maybe got about half an hour of sleep that night. I kept checking on her, making sure she was breathing (I’ve been assured that this is a new mom thing and completely normal).
The morning came quick, as did the pediatrician to go over everything with us. Expecting to hear all good things (she was perfectly healthy after all), I was not prepared for what the doctor had to say. Because I had been treated for a fever during labor, they wanted to treat Iris too – for SIX days. They already started giving her antibiotics with an IV attached to her tiny little hand. Saddest thing ever. When I realized that I would most likely be discharged withOUT my baby, I lost it. There was no way I was leaving that hospital without her. I would camp out in the lobby if I had to.
Thankfully, it never came to that. Iris was able to see two other pediatricians who both agreed that there was no reason to treat her any further. Apparently if you have a fever during labor, it could be caused by a uterine infection, which could potentially be transmitted to the baby. I never had an infection and just barely had a fever. Three hours of pushing and a 10 pound baby will do that to ya. Turns out, the first pediatrician was brand new and known for being overly cautious. By the time Iris was cleared, she had to stay one extra night. I still had to check out of my room, but they let Todd and I stay in a parent-child room right next to the nursery. As grateful as we were to not have to sleep in the lobby, the room was a serious downgrade from my earlier suite. We’re pretty sure they cleaned out the nurses’ secret nap room for us. It was tiny, with one twin bed and only one small window, which looked into the nursery (where the lights are always on). They told us not to take Iris on one side of the room because it was too close to the exit and an alarm might sound. Too bad that was the side of the room with the BED. The bathroom was dirty, the lights didn’t work, and the television was unwatchable. But we got to be with our baby, so it was all worth it.
I have never wanted to go home so bad in my life and after three nights, we were finally able to do so. Since I had already been discharged, I didn’t get the traditional wheel chair ride to the car, which as silly as it was, I was a little bummed about. The ride home still seems like a very bumpy blur, as were the next few days. The recovery for me was a lot worse than the labor and delivery, but I had a beautiful, healthy baby that made any amount of discomfort seem like an afterthought.
Everything in our lives shifted. There’s life before Iris, and life as it is now. Sleep deprived, yes. But it’s true what they say – I never knew a love like this existed. It’s a love that, despite being so big already, continues to grow with each smile and each fart (we receive plenty of both). I literally just stare at her and wonder how I can love something so much.
Iris Adella, you may be tiny, but you are my world.