This is Iris Mae, born at 5:20 am on March 10th. We feel so blessed to have her here! Her name is important to me: Iris means "Rainbow," and while that in itself is not a terribly profound meaning, God created the rainbow as a promise. Because we felt that God had promised us that despite all of the hubbub around this baby and her well-being, it was all going to be okay, it seemed natural to choose a name that reflected His fulfillment of that promise. I also liked the link with Iris as a part of the eye--and the connection that our baby girl was in God's eye the whole time. Psalm 139:16 says "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." Also, I think the name Iris is simply unique and beautiful. Mae just seemed to go well with Iris--but even more significantly, it is my grandmother's middle name. A lovely heritage.
Here's the story of the delivery, if you're interested. I document it here mostly for posterity's sake.
I started having consistent contractions at about 5 in the afternoon on Wednesday. Strangely, though, they weren't intensifying or increasing in frequency, so I just wasn't really sure what was going on. You'd think that, this being the fourth time around for me, I'd know if I was in labor or not, but I just didn't. They say that every childbirth experience is different, and I can definitely attest to the veracity of that statement. So by about 8:30 or 9 pm, we shuffled off to the hospital, where I was hoping they could tell me definitively if I was in labor. Unfortunately, they were on the fence, too. They had us walk around for an hour (a very boring hour) to see if the contractions would pick up. They did seem to come faster and faster while were were walking, but when we stopped, they slowed down. They rechecked me after that hour, and I hadn't really progressed much. Even so, they decided to keep us for a while to see what was going on.
The next stop was the tub. The tub is great, because no only is it warm and relaxing, it seems to answer the "Am I in labor?" question for you; lounging in a warm bath will either kick your labor into gear if you're really in labor, or shut it down if you're not. I guess that I had progressed enough after an hour or so in the tub that they felt confident this was the real deal. By this point, it was midnight. And while I had progressed "enough," I hadn't progressed a lot. This labor was unlike any of the others because with the others, I seemed to whiz right through those centimeters towards the finish line. This time around, I was moving so slowly that they'd say things like, "Now I'd say you're a GOOD three," or "Let's call it five and a half, okay?" With each check, I'd secretly despair. I was exhausted and the contractions were starting to become very serious indeed. They were contractions that should have had me progressing like a champ, only they didn't. I was mad at my contractions for not getting the job done.
Around about 4am, I started to get really miserable. I was totally wiped out. I'd been able to doze a bit between contractions, but I didn't know how much longer it would be ("You're a VERY NICE 6!!"), and I was ready for some relief. I had a completely natural labor with Charis and Judah, and had had an interthecal (read: one-time dose, and short-lived) epidural with Ruby because of my kidney issues. I had decided that I did not need to be a hero this time. I asked Abe if getting an epidural would make me seem like a wimp, and he looked at me like I was a crazy person. I decided I'd go for it. So, at 4 am, I asked if it was time YET for the epidural. They'd apparently been waiting until I was progressing consistently until they started the process, but the sticky wicket was that I never really did that. But I was measuring around 6 at that point, so she started the saline drip that is apparently a precursor to the epidural. By this point, my contractions were such that I was actually seeing colors and spots before my eyes during them. I asked the nurse if I could have any pain meds at all to take the edge off until my epidural arrived, and she gave me Stadol. It made me incredibly drowsy, which was good--it made it easier for me to doze off between contractions--but it also made me a bit loopy. I started imagining dancing bears and elephants riding the exploding waves of colors that I saw in my head with each contraction. Not normal, I tell you.
At around 5 am, I began to moan. That is also unusual for me. I am a silent laborer, and I manage pain by counting during contractions. Counting not only keeps me from focusing on the pain, it also helps me know that time is passing and that the contraction is nearing its end, and it helps me keep my breathing measured, and not panicky. This time around, near the end, I couldn't even count. The contractions were so intense that I wasn't able to put one number next to another. I knew things were happening when I became snippy with our wonderful nurse. "TELL THAT ANESTHESIOLOGIST TO RUN FASTER!!" I said to her. Then I turned my attention to my husband, who had been dozing on the couch. "At least sit up as a sign of SOLIDARITY!!!" I snapped.
And then, I knew. I knew it was almost over. And I knew I wasn't going to have the chance to have my epidural. "She's coming! You'd better get someone in here!" I said to the nurse. She told me to take deep breaths and not push. Which, YEAH, RIGHT. About a minute later, the midwife was in the room, and I told her she'd better hurry up and get ready, because "SHE'S COMING!!"
"Hold on just a minute," she said. UM, OKAY.
"Now?" I begged.
And approximately 20 seconds later, Iris was born. She was wriggly and purple and slimy, but in her own way, gorgeous.
She does not appear to have Down syndrome. In fact, she appears in every way to be "normal." The pediatricians have mentioned that we may see a geneticist and get some testing done to see if she does indeed have any chromosomal abnormalities, but we're just not feeling rushed to do that. We figure that if she's healthy, we'll just keep on keepin' on. And if someday we have questions about her development, those doors will still be open to us.
Last week, I discovered Iris has a plugged tear duct. Judah and Ruby also had this, so nothing new there. More significantly, Iris didn't pass her hearing test in the hospital, so we're being referred to a hearing center. It may turn out to be nothing, but one never knows. Be in prayer for that little matter if you happen to think about it!
Iris is squirming and starting to wake up from her nap, so I'm going to end this post here. But I'll leave you with some photos of our family all united for the first time in the hospital after Iris' birth.
Charis kissing her "so cute" sister.
Daddy telling Judah that they were going to have to stick together to take care of their girls.
Ruby relinquishing her role as baby of the family and looking so grown-up in the process.
Our family is now complete!