Thursday, July 17, 2014

Iris' Birth Story

Today I am so excited to be sharing my niece's birth story on the blog. Iris was born just three days after Irelyn and my sister Helena and I are just loving having babies so close together. To read more about that you can go here but for now enjoy this beautiful birth story!


To my sweet sweet Iris,

I have always loved hearing the story of my birth, over and over again (even though I caused my mother lots and lots of pain!) so I want to write down your birth story for you to read someday, and also as a way for me to remember everything that made it such a hard but miraculous experience. 

Your due date was April 19th, the Saturday before Easter. The week before I'd had a few nights of Braxton Hicks for a few hours, and my lower back would ache, but your due date came and went with no sign of your coming. Dad and I spent the day at Ma and Pa's with his family to celebrate Easter. I had expected all along for you to be late, so I wasn't too disappointed.

Right around midnight the Wednesday after your due date I started feeling very mild contractions, usually about 5 minutes apart. This was more regular than anything before, so I suspected it was the real thing, but still didn't believe it yet or want to get my hopes up. I woke up my mom to let her know something was happening, and an hour or so later contacted your Gramma Cluff to let her know they were good to head down from Springerville- it looked like you were coming! By 2 am contractions were closer together, but a little shorter. When I wasn't in the bathtub (listening to Benjamin Francis Leftwich) I mostly rocked in my rocking chair, breathing through contractions. By 3 am contractions were strong enough I could talk through them but didn't want to, and the back labor had gotten much worse. Between my legs would ache and shake (the same way I remember them shaking when I went to the dentist when I was younger. So I guess just a nerves thing.) By 5 am my contractions had been consistently 2 minutes apart for a while, although still shorter than in the beginning. We gathered up last-minute things for our hospital bag and headed to the hospital. The whole drive there we listened to “All at Once” by Jack Johnson on repeat, a song that I have always thought is very soothing and relaxing.

At 5:45 in triage they checked me and I was at 4 cm. They suggested I walk the halls for an hour to get me dilated further. It took the whole hour pretty much for my mom and I to walk down the hall and back. I would only get past two doors between contractions, and then I'd have to stop, lean my head against the wall, and sway and breathe through the contraction. Mom would also put pressure on my lower back throughout each contraction to help with the intense back pain. At 7:50 they checked me again- I was at 4.5 cm, you were beginning to move down, and my water was bulging right at the edge of my cervix but had yet to break. They suggested I walk for another hour, and at that point if things hadn't progressed further they would have to send me home. At this point your dad came back in to triage (they'd said at first that only one person could be in there with me), and I spent the next hour sitting on a birthing ball and leaning over the side of the bed, with Mimo and Dad constantly putting pressure on my back, and rubbing my legs to help with the aching and shaking. I didn't feel like my legs could have taken much more walking. At about 9:30 they checked me again, and I (thankfully!) was between 5 and 6 cm dilated. They started me on a round of antibiotics for Group B Strep and I was officially admitted! I remember feeling so relieved that things had progressed enough for them to not send me home. I did NOT want to get back in the car.

At some point they moved me to a delivery room, and I think I spent the next few hours mostly lying on my side on the bed. (My ability to measure the passing of time accurately during labor was a bit skewed, thankfully.) I think I was urged multiple times to labor in more vertical positions, to help you move down, so two or three times I labored in the shower with Dad for a bit, but didn't ever last very long because my legs were exhausted. Over the next few hours I just focused on breathing through increasingly strong contractions, and trying to rest in the two minutes between. At some point your Gramma Cluff arrived (with your aunts Karra, Evie, and Jessie) and joined Dad and Mimo in rubbing my legs and back and giving me verbal encouragement. I don't know what time, but eventually they checked me and I had reached 8 cm. That meant we were getting closer! But also meant time for the most painful contractions as you were making your final descent down the birth canal. After 2 or 3 hours of very intense contractions along with very painful back labor, a part of me wanted to give up. My eyes would water and I wanted to look up at my mom and tell her I couldn't do it anymore. I continued enduring contraction after contraction though, and finally decided to try a technique your aunt Emma had used three days before during her labor with Irelyn, after learning you were posterior (which they had known all along but never told me? Probably a good thing because I think that would have made me worry and made it harder to stay focused). The technique (abdominal lift and tucks) would help get you facing the right direction, which would move things along and relieve most of the back pain.

Dad stood behind me and did the lift and tucks for me (I admittedly was too scared to, knowing it would make contractions even more uncomfortable), while I applied pressure to my back. After a few lift and tucks I began feeling an intense (super super intense) need to go to the bathroom with each contraction. In hindsight I realized this was feeling the urge to push, but at the time I remember just saying, "I HAVE to go to the bathroom. Get me to the bathroom" and thinking they were the most awful contractions yet. As soon as I sat down on the toilet my water broke, and probably 2 or 3 minutes later I was on the bed pushing! It was one of the best feelings I'd yet experienced, knowing very very soon I would be meeting you, my sweet baby girl. 

You were born less than 15 minutes after I started pushing. Those 15 minutes were a blur. I don't remember much, but I almost right away I was told your heart rate had dropped. We needed to get you out as quickly as possible. I think after a few rounds of pushing you were crowning but weren't coming out any further. My midwife gave me an episiotomy, and you were out within seconds. Mimo says you were born with your fist by your cheek, and it looked like the cord was pinched under your arm, explaining your heart rate. I didn't get to hold you right away because you were not yet breathing, but within a minute you were breathing on your own and doing just fine. In retrospect, I realize that I could have/should have been a lot more scared and worried those last few minutes of delivery, but all I remember is feeling calm and knowing everything would be okay. I am very thankful I was able to feel that peace, because I know it wouldn't have helped any for me to freak out. I also remember feeling extremely relieved that you were here and healthy, immensely grateful for your dad and grandmas for helping me through labor, and especially thankful for our Heavenly Father. Being able to give birth to you naturally was an answer to months of prayers, and I felt the Spirit so strongly at your birth. I had never felt so close to heaven. 

After about 10 or 15 minutes (I think?) they brought you over to me to hold, and you cried and cried and cried. I have no idea how long I held you for, but at some point you went back to Dad and other family, while I stayed on my back waiting for my  placenta to come out. We waited for about a half hour with nothing happening, so they started me on Pitocin. A half hour later the placenta still hadn't detached. Because of the risk of hemorrhaging , we couldn't wait much longer for it to detach on its own. They gave me Stadol so I wouldn't feel anything and had the doctor manually detach my placenta. The pain killers made me very loopy, and although it didn't hurt I could still feel pressure and movement, which was really uncomfortable. I remember thinking it was worse than labor, although it definitely was not.

There are a dozen other things I could write about, but most of all I hope you know your birth was a special day for so many people, and you are surrounded by family that loves you very very much :)

Your Momma

Dad helping me do the lift and tucks. This was probably less than 20 minutes before you were born.

Getting cleaned up and measured.
Weight: 6 lb. 6 oz. Height: 19.5 in.

Our first family picture.

You and Gramma Cluff. 

You with your Aunt Evie. I think she may have been the first person to hold you.

You and your Mimo.

One more from the hospital.

And my most recent picture of you- almost 3 months old!


  1. Love the story :) I love writing blog letters/posts to my little lady. Also, my name spelled backwards is Iris so I've always loved Iris flowers. Therefore, I LOVE your daughter's name! Thanks for letting Emma share your story! :)

  2. so sweet! also you sisters look so alike! its beautiful. I love reading birth stories, it brings me back to my experiences and I get so weepy. thanks for sharing, Emma and Helena!