It was a beautiful morning. The weather was perfect and the sun was shining. Indeed, I woke to signs of dilation. We went to church as a family and I would pause every now and then when I felt a stronger contraction. But I knew if I was in early labor, I didn't want to pay too much attention to it just yet.
After church we had lunch together and then decided to buy supplies for a belly cast. I knew this might be my last chance to make one. I've never wanted to do a belly cast in the past. I wondered what I'd do with it. We decided to make one anyway. Dan did the casting while the kids looked on. Our home was buzzing with love, joy, and anticipation. It felt like Christmas morning.
belly cast, not yet painted
Almost as soon as the cast set, I started having more signs of dilation. I called my doula and I started timing my contractions. They were coming every 2- 5 minutes, but still gentle enough that it was hard to tell when they began and ended. Being I had a very fast labor with Indigo, we decided to head to the hospital to see if this was it.
We got to the hospital around 6 pm and found I was at 2 cm. Two! But 90% effaced. We stayed for an hour and I progressed to 3.
Flip flops in case my water broke (!)
With my doula, husband and midwife all there, I felt we were putting far too much attention on early labor. I felt like a watched pot. And, frankly, I was little embarrassed for going in so early. We decided to go home until things picked up. My midwife told me to try to relax as much as possible at home. She was sure she'd be seeing me later that night.
I came home and took a bath while my mom and I talked on the phone. We talked about labor and birth. We re-told our birth stories. It was a lovely conversation. She started timing my contractions. They were coming every three minutes and lasting a full minute. By the time we ended our conversation 45 minutes later, I was having hard time talking through each contraction, so we headed back to the hospital.
We got to the hospital around 9 pm. This time I was at 6 cm. I found both laying down and sitting to be extremely painful. It made my contractions so much more intense. So I stood, I walked, I swayed, but I did not sit down. I was getting tired from standing.
Dan, practically a doula himself after going through three labors with me, suggested I hold onto him for support.
We found our rhythm in this position. I spent the next three hours on my feet. Dan was my primary support person. My doula offered gentle suggestions and words of encouragement while rubbing my back. I felt completely supported.
I asked my midwife to check me around 11:30 pm. I was at 9 cm. I was in transition! We were all surprised because my contractions were so manageable. With the support of Dan and my doula, I didn't once feel like I couldn't cope.
Unlike my other two labors, my contractions never came right on top of each other. I always had a blissful minute or two between each one. During this time we would joke and laugh, right up until pushing.
Around midnight, right before I started to feel like pushing, my water broke. We all thought I would have our baby in no time. Indigo had been born so quickly and pushing was exhilarating. With this birth, however, the urge to push brought with it lots of pain.
It was slow going and everyone was a little perplexed as to why pushing was so difficult. We tried various pushing positions, but the baby was taking her time and each contraction hurt a lot.
We had planned all along for Indigo to be present for her sister's birth. We had done lots of preparation for this in advance. Jude wasn't too interested in being there, but changed his mind at the last minute. The kids came into the room about 10 minutes before the baby was born. My doula said, "Okay, kids, everyone growl when mommy growls." I knew I was absolutely not up for that and asked that they wait outside the door.
As you can see, they didn't mind a bit. They were very excited to meet their new sister.
Finally, after 57 minutes of pushing, Miss Iris Lucia was born... with her eyes looking straight at the ceiling, just like Indigo's picture had depicted. Yes, she was posterior. There was a collective "Aha!" moment in the room as they realized why pushing had been so difficult. Dan was able to catch the baby and place her on my chest.
She was finally here! I saw her face and recognized her immediately. Oh, yes, you look just like my other (bio) babies. It was as if I had known that face all of my life.
She had a lusty cry, no doubt.
The kids came in just moments after her birth.
They were so happy to meet their new sister.
Jude said, "Look, mom, it's like her feet are covered in sugar!"
Jude, who's a little squeamish around blood, left with our babysitter. Indigo wanted to hang around with us. Iris stayed on my chest, skin to skin for the first hour of her life.
After so much excitement, Indigo quickly fell asleep.
A couple of hours later, we moved to our postpartum room, where Dan and Indi camped out together.
Now, 2 1/2 weeks later, the pitter-patter of children's feet has been supplemented with the cries and sounds of a newborn baby, blending together perfectly as they should.
Welcome to the world, Iris Lucia. You are exactly where you should be...in our family. And we're so very happy that you're here!