Juniper’s Birth Story
Note to Jeremiah: don’t read this if you don’t want to re-experience your distress, haha.
It’s been four weeks since Juniper came into this world! (I guess, a little more than four weeks since she came in the morning and I’m writing this in the evening… but whatever) When we went to the hospital, I told Jeremiah to take notes in my Notion (#notsponsored) so that I could remember the birth story. And now I am writing it here to share!
On Monday January 3 (two days before due date) I got a call from my ob/gyn office at 8:30am – asking if I wanted to get induced that day. After being impatient for our baby to come the weeks prior, you would have thought that I would have jumped at the chance. But.. something felt kind of off, so I decided not to induce. It felt like if I had said yes, it would be like I had decided to have a baby on a whim at 8:30am in the morning.
The next day, I had my 40 week checkup, and my doctor gave me a membrane sweep, which according to her, would bring the baby sooner if the baby was already going to come in a couple of days. Not really sure how that works, but I went back and for the rest of the day kept waiting for more contractions. The previous weeks I had contractions mainly at nighttime, but none that were consistent.
Wednesday January 5 – due date! I kept on waiting for more contractions, and had a little bit of bloody show (although I had already been losing parts of my mucus plug in the previous weeks). I decided that I wanted to try the “prego pizza” at Skipolinis for the weekly dinner that Jeremiah and I have with the Wons. It was basically a Costco combo pizza with even more toppings, haha. That night before I went to bed, I cried to Jeremiah because I felt so frustrated at my body not cooperating with the whole labor process.
I closed my eyes for what felt like 30 minutes, when suddenly I woke up, jumped out of bed, and SPLOOSH – my water broke!! I honestly do not know how I woke up and was able to jump out of bed… I wish I had woken up just maybe one minute earlier so I could have gotten to the bathroom, haha. There was so much fluid… definitely had one of those dramatic gushes. This was around 11:15pm – Jeremiah and I started to gather our things, cleaned up what we could, I changed, and off we went to the hospital!
Our hospital is very close to home, and while we were driving there, I still wasn’t feeling any contractions. We checked in to the hospital a little after midnight on Thursday, January 6. We got into a room, which was a lot bigger than the one we were in when we went for my preterm labor situation. I asked if Jeremiah could have a cot to sleep in, since there was just the one bed. Initial dilation check: 5cm!
While the nurse was starting to ask questions to check us in, I started to feel the contractions. And they were close together and HURT. At first I could still answer her questions and get by with squeezing Jeremiah’s hand, but eventually I had to just yell through the contractions and could barely answer her questions. One of her early questions was, “are you planning to have an epidural?” and my initial answer was “I’m not opposed to it..” but by the time we were done with questions the nurse even suggested I get one, and told us, “I don’t think you’ll need an extra cot!” She called the backup anesthesiologist (there was another issue that the main anesthesiologist was handling) who came and asked me if I had any questions.
I asked him to explain the process since I didn’t really know what was going to happen – but while he was explaining the contractions kept coming faster and faster and stronger and stronger. The anesthesiologist was so nice, so he said “I will just speed through the rest of this explanation” and the epidural was administered. It didn’t hurt (maybe because I’m comparing it to the contractions) and I’m thankful he moved quickly. This was around 1:10am.
The epidural kicked in pretty fast, although my right side was slower to feel it than my left side. I had to push the button to get more of the epidural, and the nurse decided to check me again around 2am – 9cm!
At 2:45ish, the nurse said it was go time!! She decided to call the delivery team and midwife on call to come, since she could tell that things were going to move quickly. She told me for my next child I have to come to the hospital the instant I feel contractions otherwise I might have the baby in the parking lot, haha. She also didn’t want to even do practice pushes with me.
At around 3am, we were still waiting for the midwife, although the nurse was a little concerned because the baby seemed to be coming fast, and she was seeing some “deep variable change” in the baby’s heart rate that she casually said “might be a cord situation.” Looking back, I’m grateful our nurse was so levelheaded even throughout all the quick changes because I remember feeling sort of calm throughout the whole thing. The drugs probably helped.
3:30am – the midwife comes and it’s pushing time! She decided that we would try pushing first before using a vacuum, and to just try and get baby out as soon as possible (because of concern over the heart rate). Pushing was very unintuitive for me – I kept on squeezing in rather than pushing out, and eventually they stopped holding my legs because I think that wasn’t helping me. Eventually, I said yes to a mirror to see what was going on, so that I could have motivation to push – I expected a large mirror, but it was just a handheld one that Jeremiah had to hold, which was so funny to me. I kept on having to tell him, “a little left.. up… too much..” which was, you know, just one more thing to think about in between pushing.
Finally, at 4:29am, Juniper was born! She came out in a couple of big pushes – first the head, then the rest of her in the next two pushes. She only tore a little bit on the way out, thankfully (level 2 tear). At some point in the ten minutes before she was born, a lot of people ended up in the room and I don’t even know when they were called to come in. But right when she was born, that team sprang into action and cleaned her a little, and handed her to me to put on my chest. I teared up when Junie was handed to me for the first time – my baby girl!
Turns out, the variable heart rate reading was due to a knot in her umbilical cord – which is why when I pushed, the heart rate would drop, and would go back to normal when the contractions stopped.
We stayed in the room for a while longer while I got sewed up and cleaned up and Jeremiah and I got to cuddle with Juniper. Birth is super messy, but really, at some point you stop caring about the messiness.
Finally around 7am, we were wheeled over to the mother and baby unit. I was feeling pretty tired, but by the time we got wheeled to our new room I was not feeling well. I told the nurse I needed to throw up, was handed a cup, and immediately vomited. I still remember noticing my vomit was black, thinking that was odd, then remembering I ate a lot of black olives from the pizza the night before, haha. Then I remember the nurse asking if I could move to the bed, me saying “I can’t move” and toppling over onto the bed.
The next thing I can remember is a lot of people in the room, and IVs getting stuck into me and other things getting put onto me. At one point my glasses get taken off so that they can put on an oxygen mask, and I remember asking where Jeremiah and my baby were because I could only see like a foot in front of my face. I learned afterwards that they had called a code blue for me and there was another team outside waiting in case I lost a pulse (which I did not). Honestly, this was the part that was scarier for Jeremiah than for me because I was so out of it that I was just being taken care of by the medical staff. I just remember wanting to make sure that Jeremiah and Juniper were still in the room and okay, and a lot of other people in the room doing various things and saying stuff I couldn’t quite hear or understand. And then I just went to sleep. They told me later that I had lost more blood than originally reported and had a vasovagal syncope (something about blood pressure dropping I think?) I ended up getting blood transfusions later in the morning and by that afternoon felt a lot better!
The rest of our hospital stay was thankfully less eventful! We started breastfeeding (and learning about latching … which could be a whole other post), got sushi (finally!!) and learned that nurses are so good at swaddling. And Saturday we came home!
And now here we are, four weeks later! Looking back on that whole birth process, I’m just thankful we all ended up healthy and well, and thankful for the medical staff that took good care of us through it all. What an eventful couple of hours, haha. I can definitively say nothing else compares to the emotional and physical journey I went through during those hours. And as cliche as it is, it was all worth it for our baby girl!