Unfortunately, I have to start this one off with a disclaimer. These birth stories are real and honest. I realize that I acted like a complete butt throughout this entire story- I am not proud of that. That is simply how I really acted. Try not to hold it against me, I assure you I do not generally act this way. And to my sweet husband who dealt with this entire pregnancy and labor like it wasn’t a big deal- you are such a gift! Thanks for loving me through everything!
Oh my Iris, my surprise flower and sweet curly girl. This is her story of how she flipped our lives upside down and made us realize- we like them better that way!
After having Isaiah, I swore I was through. You couldn’t pay me to go through labor again. Rafael wanted to have 2 or 3 kids, but I was finished and he accepted that. That must sound crazy since we are about to have number 5, but 7 years ago that is right where we were. Finished. A family of three. Perfectly content. Until Isaiah’s first birthday party…
As I laid out the decorations and pictures from the first year I couldn’t help but feel a sadness that we would never experience baby days again. In passing Rafael and I made some comments about maybe having one more, but Isaiah was still nursing and not yet sleeping through the night. So we decided to wait.
Cheese Wontons and Spilled Emotions
The Fourth of July rolled around and Rafael insisted we spend the day fishing and then go watch fireworks with his family. His mom wanted to eat at Panda Garden first and I’m not one to turn down a meal- literally ever. So we went along.
The thing about being a Mama at a buffet is you never get to really sit down- even with only one kid. After I made Isaiah’s plate and got him settled, I then made one for myself. I sat down and thought, “Wow this is really good. I had no idea I liked this place so much.” The cheese wontons, which I didn’t normally eat, were to die for. But Isaiah was antsy and my nephew was over the restaurant scene, so we left. I had planned to eat more, but it wasn’t like I was hungry. We hopped in the car and buckled up to leave. Immediately tears started pouring.
Rafael stared at me in complete shock, “What’s wrong?”
“I wasn’t done,” I wailed choking on the words and alligator tears.
“Well, why didn’t you say something? We can go back in.”
He was speaking sweetly, but you could see it all over his face that he thought I was losing my mind.
“No, it’s fine, It’s fine. Just go.”
“Yes! Just go!”
He shrugged and drove off.
Later when I cried again after leaving the fireworks display he pulled over and stared at me. This time he was obviously frustrated.
“What is wrong with you?”
I thought about it for a minute and then I realized- “Oh, I might be pregnant!”
He drove off and never said another word.
Learning to Advocate for Myself
As Mamas, we have a really full plate, but learning to advocate for ourselves and our children is one of the most essential skills we can craft. I definitely did not learn that with my first birthing experience. I took everything at face value, sat down the minute there was push back, and cried to myself when the desires I had couldn’t be met.
Mamas, this is your birthing experience. The hospital has its routines and policies, but at the end of the day unless it is a life or death situation, they cannot force you to do anything. Who you choose as your OB or Midwife matters. Your birthing plan matters. Your birthing partner and their ability to advocate for you matters.
With my second pregnancy I bugged my poor midwife to death, but she was patient and thoughtful. She helped me write out my birthing plan, read all my articles I brought in to back up why I didn’t ever want Pitocin again, and listened to every worry and concern I had.
I was terrified to face labor again. The first time around you feel some apprehension, but ultimately you don’t know what to expect. But this time around- I did. I knew exactly what to expect and I dreaded it with every fiber of my being.
The Longest Short Pregnancy Ever
I was emotional my entire pregnancy. Anytime something didn’t go my way, I let it be known. Rafael bought me a wildflower bouquet with 2 Irises poking out the top. We had always said if we had a girl we would name her Iris after our song.
We fought over silly things the entire pregnancy because I was frankly hard to live with. But we were happy and closer than ever.
At 37 weeks we got a big surprise! I hadn’t felt well all week, but I just knew I would go past me due date. My midwife stripped my membranes and I went home miserable. It was a Wednesday so we went to church that night. I sat in the back and never said a word, but I could feel everyone looking at me. Finally someone told Rafael they were pretty sure I was in labor- I; however, was in complete denial.
I got home and immediately had the shakes and well let’s just say my body was cleaning itself out. Rafael runs into the bedroom and starts packing a hospital bag. I walked into the bedroom and dumped the bag Rafael packed on the floor- “I’m not in labor. I’m sleepy and I’m going to bed.” (Again, not proud of how I acted, but I was exhausted and the thought of being up all night in labor made me miserable.)
But the contractions were coming undeniably every five minutes now. I put Isaiah to bed and walked laps around the house. I finally settled on the couch and turned on the TV.
“Well if I’m going to be up all night in labor- at least make me something to eat.”
Rafael, being the sweet guy that he is, went and made me pancakes with chocolate chips and bananas without saying a word. He sat behind me on the couch and rubbed my back while I ate and watched TV.
After a lot of coaxing from Rafael and my mom, I finally agreed to go to the hospital. My mom went and laid down with Isaiah and I went and got in the car. I can still picture Rafael running back and forth through the kitchen, with his polaroid camera around his neck, snatching up anything he could think of that we might need. (We still forgot mostly everything, including clothes for me.)
I was trying to determine how to ride to the hospital. This was the first time I had actually been in active labor in the car and the soft seat was not helping. The dashboard worked great for back labor, but we were afraid we might set the airbag off because I was pushing against it so hard with each contraction. So I leaned against the console and Rafael did his best to push on my back and drive at the same time.
Street signs flew past us in the dark. The breaks between contractions were long, but when they came- they came on hard. Iris was really high up and I could feel tugging down into my knees with each contraction as my body attempted to pull her down.
When we arrived at the hospital, I was dilated to 6. I was determined not to fall into the same trap I did with Isaiah and refuse to move. We walked the halls, the room, bounced on the birthing ball, and rolled side to side every time I had to get in bed for monitoring. I found a corner of the bathroom that I really liked leaning into, but after about an 8 we determined I was making to much noise to keep pushing my head into the corner of another room.
I had the room set the way I wanted it. Lights out, just Rafael and I. The nurse who came in every now and then was new and knew Rafael from school so she gave us our privacy as much as we wanted. Other than me making a rude comment about a nurse who was folding blankets in the room and her apologizing and leaving- it was largely uneventful. (If you are that nurse, I still feel bad about that- and I am truly sorry..)
Labor progressed little by little. Seven, eight, nine. I reminded myself repeatedly that this was all for her. This was the first act of service I got to do to show her how much we loved her, and on that thought we pushed through.
“You’re a nine, but she is up in your lungs.”
How does this keep happening to me?
I refused to sit at a nine for hours again, so we called the midwife to come in and break my water.
I was exhausted. I had never been so tired in my life. Between contractions I was dozing off and then awoken to the pain of a “dilated to nine” contraction. I was starving and thirsty. My lips were dry and cracked from breathing through contractions.
Rafael was falling asleep behind me, I had to wake him with each contraction.
“Wake up! I’m having another.”
“Sorry, you have your pain to keep you awake. I don’t have anything to keep me awake.”
And I’m sorry to say, I hit him.
The midwife finally came in ready to break my water. If you remember from our first birth story my water had only ever broke on its own so I wasn’t quite prepared for what was about to happen. I had thought repeatedly throughout this labor that I knew how much worse it got before you were ready to push but I didn’t realize my water was the cushion protecting me from that feeling.
A gush of water hit the floor and everyone in the room screamed “Don’t Push!”
And to those encouraging screams- I pushed. And Iris rode the wave out- every bit as much of a surprise as she was at the beginning.
My “Preemie” and My Heartfelt Apologies
This entire labor I had feared having this teeny tiny, possibly underdeveloped baby. I was only 37 weeks- but out came these precious cheeks! She was seven pounds, eight ounces. Our earliest and biggest baby so far. Rafael kept cheering “You did it! She’s here! Look at her, you did it!”
Which to this day still makes me tear up to remember how proud he was of me even after all I had put him through.
“I’m sorry I hit you.” was literally the first thing I said after she was born..
This time was so different. It was just the two of us in the hospital. No Pitocin or after birth care I didn’t consent to.
No baby blues or big emotions. Just us.
Isaiah visited the next day and nothing prepared me for how big he would look next to her. But even more than that nothing prepared me for what it would be like to watch my babies meet.
Yes, they fight like cats and dogs being so close in age, but they are also the best of friends.
There is something about that first born that makes you think you are good at this whole parenting thing. And then the second comes along, and you suddenly realize you know absolutely nothing. Having Iris taught me how to pray. She taught me how to trust God when all hope seems lost. Her big personality and fireball attitude has tested me in ways I didn’t know I could be tested. She is sunshine and hurricane. Love and anger. Pure joy and absolute chaos. And we have adored every minute of it.
Having a little girl makes you assess yourself, the woman you are, and ask “would I be happy if she turned out like me?” She pushes me to be better, and I find myself desiring her fearlessness. Her birth story was a beautiful story as I look back on it now. But so much more than that was the story God was writing- where we went from “I don’t know if I can do this again” to “You were worth every painful moment.”
“Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.” John 16:21 NASB