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June 8, 2013

How Iris arrived

IMG_20130606_104320It really was a very gentle time, the weeks we spent waiting for Iris to come. I spent last Friday evening bouncing on a ball to induce labour, made absolutely miserable, and then my husband discovered that if you bounced on a birthing ball to terrible hiphop ballads, the whole experience was made more fun. Though looking back, I realize it was probably for the best that my labour was not brought on by bouncing to Usher singing Love in this Club. And I absolutely adore the photo of me in my bathing suit from last week, the gloriousness of it all, though it’s all sort of bittersweet when I compare that image to my poor ravaged body today.

Here it is: I am so so happy. I know I am only four days postpartum, and probably hormones have something to do with the happiness as well, but they’re supposed to. “I never imagined it could be like this,” but this means something very different now. And I know the experience of my birth, although it was far from ideal, really has something to do with this. Oh, how much it matters how the baby arrives. I know this for sure now, but in a more nuanced way than when I was ranting a few weeks back.

My labour began on Sunday night after we’d eaten much of Barbara Pym’s Victoria Sponge, although it was not apparent to me that it was labour until Monday around noon. I spent Monday night awake every ten minutes with contractions, but then by morning they were gone. A visit to the midwives on Tuesday showed that things had been progressing, even without the contractions. They started again Tuesday night with a great deal of trouble on my behalf, and we were up all night again, sure that this was it. The midwives arrived with birthing supplies and found me dilated to 6 cm. But the contractions never got stronger and once again were gone in the morning. The midwives came later that morning with the intention of breaking my water, but then the baby’s heart-rate was troubling–she was not responsive enough. And while she was stable, it was scary, and there was no longer very much natural about my “natural” birth. I just wanted the baby out.

We took a cab to the hospital, both of us crying–partly because we knew our birth plans were out the window, because we were scared for the baby, and also because we knew we were leaving Harriet without having prepared her for this. (She was at school at the time, would be cared for by our wonderful friend Erin until my mom arrived to stay with her here.) It was cold and grey outside, and as we drove past a high school, a group of boys threw rocks at our car. The world seemed quite horrible and we kept crying–I have never seen a taxi driver more concerned about his fares (and so maybe the world was not so horrible after all).

En-route to the hospital, I started having contractions again, which continued as we waited in triage. The OB on-call found it odd that someone dilated 6cm was not progressing, and give me the option of induction, which I had no intention of taking. (“It’s going to need a lot of drugs to work,” she said, again, a far cry from natural.) But still, that she give me a choice made the decision to do a repeat c-section one that I could own, and I am grateful for that. Which is not to say that I wasn’t weeping in the OR, so much so that the staff was confused–never had a sadder woman been about to give birth. Situation compounded by an anaesthesiologist who I think forgot I was a human being as she handled my body pre-surgery. The student midwife came over to comfort me with casual conversation though–I think she said, “So what’s the first thing you’re going to eat when you can eat again?” And obviously, the answer was chocolate croissants, and seriously, that woman changed my world around. By the time Stuart was brought in in his scrubs, I was comforted and ready, and knew we had made the best and only choice.

IMG_20130605_154726Iris means rainbow, and Malala is a hero. The midwives knew how troubled I’d been having never seen Harriet until she was wrapped and hatted when she was born, and so when they pulled her out and brought her to the warming bed, I knew just where to look and Stuart snapped a photo. She was amazing, purple, and she was mine, ours. I knew it instantly. Because of Harriet, there is a part of my heart that is mother-love now, and Iris resided there immediately. I cried and cried, like I’ve cried just one time before, at the birth of Iris’s sister. Our girl was finally here. Our family was complete. It meant something that we’d been waiting so hard for her, that I had been supported so much in my intentions for VBAC, and that Iris herself had been trying as hard to come to us–they discovered the cord was wrapped around her neck four times and there was no way she would have made it out on her own, and an induction would have been a disaster.

They didn’t lie, all those people who told me it would be different the second time around. That first night as Iris fed all night long, Stuart having to deliver her from one side to another as I was unable to move, I didn’t sit there wishing we could leave her and run away. I knew already that the objective to such a night wasn’t getting the baby to sleep, that the baby was doing nothing but simply being a baby. The goal of the night, I knew, was to get through it as best we could, which we did, aided by the fact that Iris has breastfed like a champion since being 40 minutes old.

IMG_20130606_151120We left the hospital yesterday–turns out they can boot you out after 2 days now, which is kind of unbelievable, but we were good to go, and eager to get home to Harriet. The surgery has left me brutalized–I think my surgeon 4 years ago was a master of the art, because I was out for walks last time and today I can barely move. Midwives have assured me that my previous experience was the exception to the rule. And I hate that, feeling so badly, but it’s also not so bad being confined to my bed. I’m reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which I love. Stuart is bringing me snacks and meals. We prepared for all of this by buying a queen-sized bed last winter, which is so comfortable, and I also got a smart phone a few weeks ago, knowing it would make this kind of thing easier, still being connected to the world. The postpartum crazies also have yet to arrive–they were knocking at the door last night, but then were followed by the woman I’ve paid to make capsules of my placenta, which are meant to help balance hormones. She dropped off the pills, I started taking them, and I’ve been feeling cool ever since. No weeping even! Maybe it will all kick in tomorrow, but in the meantime, I’m happy to take good days where I find them.

Iris, as we know her so far, is marvellous. She arrived and looked like an elderly frog, the next day like a dinosaur, but now she just looks like Harriet did, but with fairer colouring. She practices smiling in her sleep, and midwives reported today that she’s doing great. Her mood could be assisted by the fact that her mother is not a lunatic. She’s just three ounces down from birth weight and we no longer need to wake to feed! Because of my previous experience, when Harriet lost so much weight, I’ve been breastfeeding with great persistence (which is not so heroic–Iris is content to let me read while doing this) and it seems to have paid off. It’s so good to be home and Stuart is taking such good care of me. Harriet is the big sister beyond my wildest dreams, her bond with Iris already making us swoon, and she is displaying such annoying and atrocious behaviour in addition to this that we know she is in fact fully processing the change in our family and we won’t have to wait for another shoe to drop.

IMG_20130608_065424So there it is. Everything is wonderful. Just four days in, and I know you have to take good times one day at a time just like the trying ones, but it really means something. Four days postpartum with Harriet I was in pieces already. I was so scared to go through all this over again, and I am so relieved and grateful that this is different. That the gentle times continue. Knock wood, of course, and there will be challenges ahead, but I’m pleased that there really is a chance that I’ll be strong enough to meet them.

And thank you to so many friends for support and best wishes. We are a very lucky family.

16 thoughts on “How Iris arrived”

  1. m says:

    So much love to you and your family. I love a good birth story and yours has me weepy-eyed. Iris came as she needed to, safe and loved. I feel so gushy for you and your family right now.

  2. Heidi says:

    Oh, Kerry, I’m so glad to read the story. So glad it has all unfolded beautifully and she is here and you are feeling so amazing. Much love to all four of you. x

  3. Amy says:

    LOVE *YOU,* Iris Malala, and all your loved ones!

    Dinner(s) catering offer still stands — when you’re up to it, let’s talk menu.

  4. Clare says:

    Kerry, this is a lovely birth story. Whatever decisions we have to make, having the chance to make them makes all the difference. I wish you many more good days than bad. Iris Malala is a great, strong name. All the best, Clare

  5. Claire says:

    This is so lovely to read. If only we knew all of these things as first time moms…
    All the best to you and yours. Cx

  6. Nathalie says:

    That is a piece of writing to treasure for ever. Your girls are so, so lucky. I’m sopping up my tears over here.

  7. Sara says:

    Babies that let you read while they nurse are the very best kind to have. Clever you! Glad everyone is doing so well and I wish you a long, happy summer of getting to know each other and having fun.

  8. Cindy says:

    This was a lovely,gentle story. It was very touching and had me misting up:)
    It sounds as though your being very well taken care of, and so you should be. Please kiss Iris and Harriet for me!

  9. sheree says:

    Thank you—-I love your writing. And love love love. Harriet and Iris. I knew you would have another baby. Do you remember me emailing you once and asking if you were pregnant ? I see things sometimes. (:

  10. Susan Telfer says:

    What a wonderful story! Congratulations and thank you for writing about it so I can stop wondering how all the details went. I am so happy for you and your family.

  11. Andrea says:

    Congratulations, a lovely baby and a lovely story! Sorry you didn’t get the birth you planned but glad things are going so well for all of you.

  12. Oh, Kerry. Your story brought tears to my eyes! I’m so happy for you and your family. I hope to meet little Iris one day; perhaps she can hang out with Noa! Much love.

  13. Hollie says:

    Thank you for this beautiful birth story. I am happy everything is going so well. Iris is just gorgeous!! Love to your sweet family 🙂

  14. Kristin says:

    Congratulations! Iris is adorable and that is a great name. What a lovely birth story. I am so glad to hear that everything is going well. I had similar birth experiences with my first and second, and similar post partum feelings–so much better with number 2. Enjoy your beautiful family!

  15. Jen says:

    Congratulations!! Lovely story, and I LOVE little Iris’ names. All the best. 🙂

    – Jen @ Book City

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