Long before we imagined you, little baby, your Papa came home from work and said, "I took care of a sweet little old lady today... if we have a girl next we should name her Iona." I said... "IF there's another and IF it's a girl.. sure!" I've joked that you were Papa's idea, a twinkle in his eye if it were, sometimes I said it begrudgingly while uncomfortably pregnant, and sometimes I said it sweetly, because... do Papas really get baby fever before Mamas? Yours did, baby.
Anyway, I found out for sure we were pregnant in April after a possible miscarriage in March (or a false positive test?) and we were about to go to North Carolina so we waited to tell our family there. I always feel a little yucky in the first trimester- haven't ever thrown up, but I just feel gross. We had a lovely time there, celebrating aunties Samantha and Demaris' graduations from college and high school. We first told Elliot and Juniper about you. Their reactions weren't viral video worthy, but Elliot said, "There's a baby in your tummy RIGHT now?!" and they were pleased. I was almost twelve weeks when we told everyone at home, and it was fun using Elliot to share our news. I think he got kind of tired of telling everyone!
Elliot told everyone, "My mom is having a new baby, and it's a boy and we're going to name him Little Mister." Unfortunately for him, in July we learned to his disappointment only one of those was true, and Mama's intuition was right: another little sister on the way! We got to have a 3-D ultra sound this time- a first for us- and it was so amazing and special to see your little "familiar" face so soon and so clearly. It made me tear up and right in the room Papa and I looked at each other. Iona? Iona. And there you were, Iona.
Around twenty weeks as is my body's way the ligaments and joints really started acting up. By thirty weeks I was hobbling from couch to chair and crying myself to sleep because I couldn't get on top of the pain no matter how many hot baths or pillows I used, and then being sleep deprived I got even more weepy... which made me irritable and our poor family had to put up with me. It was especially frustrating because I had a nesting list a mile long and it was so irritating not to physically be able to cross things off. I finally went to the chiropractor after getting out of bed at 6 one morning unable to sleep a single minute longer. I hobbled in to see her and walked out a new woman. She adjusted my back, my ribs, my neck, the symphysis pubis, my hips and even did a maneuver to help with the heartburn... which really did. If you're local this is her website. http://www.cloudchiropracticclinic.com/
I started Christmas shopping in September, moved furniture, painted and repaired furniture, knitted countless tiny things and Christmas gifts, stocked the big freezer full and drove Papa crazy with honey do lists and projects. He really is a sweet and patient man, Iona.
I thought for sure I'd go overdue, though the due date: December 14th (or any earlier) would be awfully nice with the close proximity to Christmas. Two weeks before your due date we all got a terrible, lingering cold... the worst part being the lingering. We coughed and sneezed for a good two weeks after the "sick" feeling, and as I was getting over that I started feeling kind of yucky. As I approached the "due" date, I was hopeful it was THE start of SOMETHING. It got worse as the day went on and by four pm- browning sausage and bacon for Zuppa Toscana- I was throwing up. I threw up probably four times every hour and lay on the couch moaning and (very maturely/ longsufferingly) wishing to die. Papa came home from work and took very good care of me, though... he came home from work to do more nursing work! The only silver lining was a sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe this would put me into labor!
Two days later, Saturday, I was feeling much, much better, and we went and finally got our Christmas Tree, went to Christmas at the Fort at Fort Vancouver- trying to walk that baby out- came home, decorated and cleaned. What a great day to go into labor, I told you. The house was spotless, we were all ready for you, for Christmas. What anticipation!
On Monday, (after waking up pregnant on both Sunday and Monday mornings) I took Elliot and Juniper to Portland to finish Christmas shopping for Papa and a few more other gifts. We hit up REI, Powells, Anthropologie, Whole Foods and Winco on the way home. As we got home I realized I'd forgotten to eat lunch, but made dinner. Immediately after eating I got the worst headache of my life.
Papa got home from work to find me (again) laying on the couch crying. I took tylenol, drank a large amount of water and tried to rest and none of the usual remedies would touch it. I called the advice nurse, and the midwife called me back, asking if I knew my blood pressure. Papa thought it was ridiculous to go to the hospital for a blood pressure check when he's a nurse, so we put the big kids to bed, leaving them with Uncle Troy and ran to Wal Mart for a cuff. My blood pressure was 160s/90-100s and the midwife said to come straight in and they were going to induce.
We rushed home and Papa packed his bag (he's always thinking ahead, ha ha) and called Grandma to tell her, and she'd come get Elly and June in the morning before Troy left to work. We were so excited and nervous as most Papas and Mamas are in that moment. We stopped at Dutch Bros to get Papa a coffee since he'd worked that day and he said he'd been hoping for your birthday to be 12/14/2016 and I said, "hey! I don't want to be in labor for 24 hours, don't wish that on me!" When we got to the family birth center, my blood pressure was high, and then normalized. Then, they needed a good reading on your heart beat for 20 minutes, but you kept moving around, 17 minutes, and then... roll over, start all over. Lauren, the midwife came in, saying that she couldn't keep me because I WASN'T preeclamptic (really, a good thing!) but she would strip my membranes as a little parting gift.
We went home only a little bummed and so tired at 1:30 in the morning. Side bar, even at 1:30 in the morning, Dutch Bros had a line of five cars! We got home and settled in, I was contracting pretty regularly, but slept through them.
I had a regularly scheduled Centering appointment the next morning (Centering is group midwifery care) and since Papa had called out of work as we were up all night, we kept the plan of bringing the big kids to Grandma and he came with me to the appointment. We planned on coming home, tidying up since I'd been feeling so awful the night before, dinner dishes were still on the stove, my perfectly manicured house from Saturday was in shambles already- and take naps!
When we got to my appointment, my blood pressure was high again, and my contractions were getting stronger. Still manageable but getting stronger. The midwife suggested a recheck right before I left and if it was still high we would need to go back to the family birth center. My blood pressure *was* high, so after the appointment during which I bounced on a birth ball, we went over to the hospital across the street.
Ten hours after we'd left, we were back in triage. My blood pressure was fine after we got there, and I lay on the narrow bed hooked to monitors for hours as we waited for a broken machine in the lab to be fixed and get results. At one point Papa rested his head on the stretcher and we took a little nap. Finally, around one, the midwife on call came in again and said since I'd been having high blood pressure, maybe we would induce that afternoon (the ones in the clinic counted.. the one Papa got the night before did not since he's not an employee;) go home and sleep and come back for an induction on Wednesday, or go home and wait and see. We decided to go for a walk and see "what" would happen since I was contracting about four minutes apart and they were getting increasingly strong.
Papa and I walked for an hour and got something to eat in the cafeteria. We called both Grandma and Nana, and went back to triage for 2pm. Once we got there, the midwife came in and checked for progress- Lauren had given me credit for 3cm the night before. Christine said... "it's just mush. I can't feel anything... and don't know how Lauren was able to sweep your membranes against anything!" She was worried you were breech, baby, so she grabbed an ultrasound machine. It turned out that your head was buried deep in my left hip maybe why that was the one always out at the chiropractor? Where your head should've been was your shoulder and spine. This was incredibly disheartening to me because here I was in early labor that was doing absolutely NOTHING because there was no head engaged to further dilate the cervix!
Christine grabbed the doctor on call for a consult. She started talking version and possible C-section if it wasn't successful! Before I knew what was happening, I was gowned and an IV site placed while one of the nurses did an ultrasound to measure amniotic fluid. It turned out you had an average amount of fluid and not a ton like we had suspected. A different doctor popped in and she was much more practical- saying since I was in active labor (finally, active labor!) that if the version wasn't successful there would be time to hope you'd pop into place by yourself and or try again and there wasn't an OR prepped and waiting. She also explained that with such strange positioning and a version this late in the game they wouldn't let me go home in case you popped out of the right position and your cord would prolapse if my water broke, since I was in labor. The version hurt a lot more than I thought it would, I'd heard that it was painful, but I thought since you weren't actually breech it wouldn't be too bad... wrong! It was pretty uncomfortable. I could tell it had worked because the contractions were much more painful immediately after!
The midwife who had delivered Juniper came on duty, and she laughed to see us, "You were just waiting for me! We'll just do Juney's birth all over again... but hey, you don't need pit, you're in labor! Let me check you and we'll go down the hall and have a baby!"
She started checking and again with the... "I can't feel anything.. it's just mush!" Why do they keep saying that to me?! And then.. "Wait! You're dilated to a 6! That's a balloon of water before baby's head... Let's go have a baby!"
We walked over with the nurse we were assigned to- one of Brian's old co workers from tower 7- after they asked if it was okay with us. The water birth tub was set up for my water birth, but Kate didn't want me to get in until she knew for sure there wasn't a cord or a hand or anything in the water bag before your head. I labored for awhile until the contractions seemed unbearable and Kate came back in to check things out again. As she did so, she accidentally broke the water and held the top of my belly while doing what felt like pawing around to ensure it was just baby head an nothing else coming down. It hurt so much so I was kind of grunt-yelling right as Rachel and Liv got there, since I'd invited them to be present at the birth. Oops- quite the introduction.
As they got there, another nurse was bringing the baby weight/warmer bed in since you're my third and Juniper went quick from 7 centimeters, and the nurse told them I was dilated to a ten... which wasn't quite true. They were both quite impressed with my coping skills and that I was laughing and talking between contractions. We also sent one out to the van to get our things since we didn't know we were going to stay until I wouldn't let Brian leave me long enough to get our bags and baggage.
Brian threw his swim trunks on because the back labor was hitting me like a sledgehammer again... all three times, and last time it was really awkward for him to reach my back from the edge of the tub. The contractions came one after another and I tried to keep reminding myself that it was just THIS minute that I had to get through, just THIS contraction and to stop thinking ahead. It helped, but after awhile they seemed to stack up before I could collect myself again and they *seemed* longer than a minute though Kate the midwife said they were still only a minute. Kate had me try to lunge during contractions which I remember made me say the F word a few times during Juniper's birth (not a best moment) and I did get my leg out there and tried that a little- it hurt like the dickens.
The water was cooling off and I almost tried pushing a little at the end of each contraction because they were so long and so fierce. I'd never done anything like this at either of the other births, but I reached down and tried to feel if your head was there... and it wasn't... at all, thinking if it was I'd just stay in the tub and push you out. I went over to the bed and had a few horrible contractions. I was so tired and each contraction felt like it was tearing me apart, Papa couldn't push hard enough on my back to keep the pressure at bay. Kate kept saying that baby is in a "weird" position and she didn't know why you weren't coming down.
I lay my head down on the back of the bed and said.
I want an epidural.
Both Kate and Erica thought I was just saying that through transition, and suggested getting back in the tub, and that maybe I could wait an hour and see what happened.
I've had a really hard week, I said, feebly and then, I want an epidural.
"You know you can't go back in the tub if you have an epidural."
I know. I'm just so tired.
And though they'd said it might be an hour before the anesthesiologist could come they started clearing things out for him. I remember the same with Elliot's birth, that once I made up my mind to have the epidural the contractions were the worst. He got there much quicker than I had anticipated but also not as quickly as I would've liked- ha ha. There's quite a process it turns out, and I turned into quite a baby sitting there as he washed my back and they got the IV set up.
It went in so smoothly and he was so nice- I had a bad experience with Elliot's epidural and this one went much better. The strangest part was how the epidural didn't take all the pain like I remembered with Elliot's; the Doc had said maybe I got it "late" and people think the epidural isn't working but it doesn't have time to settle into the pelvis. There was still so much pressure and it felt like my bones were grinding during every contraction. It did take the worst of the crazy pain away though, and it felt weird laying there chit chatting between contractions and rotating on the peanut ball.
Finally, around midnight, after speculating whether Papa would get your perfect, even birthday of 12/14/16 and saying that after all, you're "his" idea, he named you and how perfect, "his" birthday, Kate said I was almost there. At 12:15 I started feeling like I should push the pressure was so incredible, and finally- 10 cm- so put my feet up and started pushing. It was so much hard, hard work. I would grit my teeth and push and push and push and your head would come down and go back up. Liv manned the camera and Rachel played water/ ice chip lady. I had worried it would be weird to have them there, but it was just nice. I pushed and pushed and pushed more and you just wouldn't come down and stay down! Kate had us laughing remembering how I was hitting on Papa during Juniper's birth- I tell you, he was so sweet and handsome both nights. Why will she not come out?? I asked so many times, it reminded me of Elliot's birth, with Juniper I hardly had to push once I realized that's what my body was doing and this was work. Finally, Liv said, "There's lots of black hair, Rosa! you're almost done!" and I couldn't believe that because would I really have a black haired baby?! I reached down to feel- another first, even with a third baby- and it was surprisingly mushy and wet and soft and that really grossed me out (sorry, baby!)
Exactly fourty minutes onto your due date you made your timely appearance baby. And what a surprise! "What a little Helga!"I said... you were so big, baby! Long fingers and long legs and a sweet chubby face and tummy and a head full of black hair. I couldn't believe you were here! I lay my head back and cried and cried- here you were, finally Iona- and I was finally not pregnant anymore! Papa cried and your aunties cried and then we laughed and laughed at how giant you were and started taking bets on how big you actually were. Papa gave you the benefit of the doubt at 8 pounds I said at least 9 and Liv said 9 pounds 2 ounces and Rachel said mid 8s. You were so alert and sweet right away, looking right at me and came out knowing how to nurse!
You weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces and were 21 and half inches long- out weighing both siblings by over a pound and a half, and half and inch longer.
The placenta was huge- but I finally got a good look at one of my own! A little tear like with brother and sister, but it already feels fine only two weeks later, amazing! The shakes set in right after you were born, teeth chattering, uncontrollable I signed a few papers and couldn't recognize my own hand writing!
I have no regrets about this birth. It happened exactly as it should. And oh, how sweet you are and how adored! Thankful to God to you every day, and a little sorry for how much I complained during your pregnancy you're so sweet- worth every minute, baby girl.