I have written about both of my first two children’s birth stories and I absolutely love having all the details written down for myself and for my kids to read about the day they were born. And who doesn’t love a good birth story? This was my absolute best and fastest labor, as well as my first unmedicated one, and I don’t think I could have dreamed up a better birth than this. It honestly feels like an answered prayer since it was such a big desire of mine to have a natural birth that brought me closer to my Heavenly Parents, Jesus Christ, and my women ancestors before me. I am so grateful for the birth that I had and I don’t want to forget a single thing. So be ready for a long-winded story.
The Name Juniper & It’s Biblical Meaning
Angels Protecting Us
My due date, April 26th, was the day we planned for my mom to fly in. I decided that if I had any contractions I would order an Uber to bring her up, but I was completely expecting to go overdue and felt absolutely fine so I got Hazel and James into the car and drove down the hour to the San Diego airport. As we were driving there, I was in the second to left lane and a car I had been following for a while was in the very left lane. He/she started slowly veering into my lane, me just assuming they were too lazy to put their blinker on. But then they started veering more and more to the right, which then I assumed they were trying to make it to the exit we were just about to pass but their veer was not fast enough to make it. By then I had realized they must have fallen asleep at the wheel or something and I watched in what felt like slow motion the car hit the edge of the exit sign and then overcorrect into a truck. Debris fell everywhere and I couldn’t decide if I should speed up or slow down. We ran over some debris and I just kept driving as they both pulled over behind me. I have never been in a car crash and this was the closest I have ever been to one and I felt a bubble of protection around me and my family from that moment. If I had been just 15 feet ahead or 15 feet to the right, we would have gotten hit. I didn’t feel too big of a rush of adrenaline but just kept myself very alert for the rest of the drive, forgetting to take sips of my big water bottle along the way and not divert my body or eyes to my two toddlers in the back (they always do great in car rides so I’m grateful for that).
My Water Broke!
We picked up my mother, I picked up an old film camera I had repaired (excited to give that a go in the next few months!!), and we drove back home. About 2 or 3 exits before ours, I was sitting there driving and listening to my mom when I felt a weird bubble sensation. Under my breath I let out a “woah” and then waited to feel a gush of water. I didn’t feel any but it definitely was a sensation I could only assume was the water bag breaking because it definitely wasn’t pee. As we got to the exit and towards home, I could feel enough small leakage that I mentioned to my mom that I was pretty sure my water broke. Sure enough, once I stood up from parking in our driveway, water gushed down my legs to my ankles and I rushed inside to clean up while my mom got the kids out of the car.
I was not expecting to have this baby for another 3-4 days, and all of a sudden my water broke!? I was literally just sitting on my butt for 2 hours, I have no idea why my water would break in that moment. I didn’t even feel like the adrenaline from the crash sighting was enough to induce me into labor. I honestly think that Juniper wanted to be born on this particular day and that God made that happen.
Laboring at Home
My water had broke around 12:35 PM and until about 1:30 PM I wasn’t feeling anything at all. It was the perfect amount of time to get my mom settled in, show her the ropes and where certain things were located. I finished packing up my hospital bag and literally just paced around the house in excitement, my mind whirring of all the things I might need or that my mom might need while we’re gone. Since I was positive for group B strep, I knew we would need to go in somewhat soon, and most hospital policies require you to have the baby within 24 hours of your water breaking. I was determined to labor at home for as long as felt comfortable to me. I had called and then texted my husband Ryan to let him know my water broke but don’t come rushing home yet. I told him you’ll probably need to leave before the end of the work day (since it was Wednesday, they start work late and end late) but no earlier than 4 was my guess. After 20 minutes of waiting for a reply, I reached out to more people and my sister-in-law was able to get ahold of my brother-in-law Jon who Ryan works with.
Ryan told me later the story of how he heard I was in labor. He had forgotten his Apple watch and his phone was in his office so he had not seen my text. Jon got the call and on their staff headphones he started to announce the big news that my water had broke. Because Jon’s announcement came in loudly, and Ryan was with a patient having an important conversation, Ryan had flipped off his earphones and didn’t hear the announcement. All of a sudden, all the staff came rushing into his pod area and then he realized something was up with me. He got to his phone, called me, and I had mentioned to probably come home between 3-4. After he had seen that my time was getting shorter, he felt impressed to leave right away and got home by 2:30.
At this point, my cramps had turned into contractions that were consistent from the very beginning. At 3:00, I started tracking them and for the full hour that I tracked, they were almost to the second always 50 seconds long at 3-4 minutes apart. I was also not expecting this at all, since I believe most people want to get to the hospital once your contractions at 5 minutes apart. I was still able to talk through these contractions, although it was easier not to and just focus on those 50 seconds. Ryan was getting all the supplies into the car while I breathed through the mild contractions on the toilet for about a half hour. We decided at 4:00 we would leave for the hospital.
As we’re getting into the car, my contractions had gotten intense enough that I didn’t want to talk during them. My poor mother tried to give me a hug and talk to me as I sat in the passenger seat and I had to just ignore her as I was going through a surge. She obviously understood and off we went! The timing wasn’t the best since 4:00 on the freeway from Temecula to Murrieta is full of crazy traffic. But I could handle the 50 seconds of contractions, knowing it would end and I’d get a break. The biggest surge ended around 30 seconds each time and then 20 seconds of milder pain. It only took about 15-20 minutes to get to the hospital and I only had to stop once in the parking lot to get through one contraction.
Laboring At the Hospital
We got into the triage room around 4:30 where they started asking all the questions and getting ready to check me to see if my water had indeed broken and where I was dilated to. Luckily, Ryan was able to answer a lot of the questions and I could help during my breaks. It took them a while to get my IV since I was a bit swollen and dehydrated but eventually it worked. Lots of people came in, I had to sign papers, and by now I had to make more noises and moans to get through the contractions. Ryan was helping put counter pressure on my back and that was helping a lot. At one point a resident doctor walked in to introduce himself and as he was asking me questions a surge came in hard and my way of coping was using a shushing sound. It was right when he asked me “so how are you feeling right now?” and the nurse and Ryan couldn’t help but chuckle that my only response was what seemed like shushing right at him.
The nurse Jennifer checked me and I was dilated to 5 cm, 80% effaced, and at station -2. They moved us into room 237 and shortly after, around 5:35 PM, my friend Samantha arrived with flowers and her camera. I had attended her home birth and videoed for her in November and I really wanted her calm energy and expertise in the room. I knew Ryan would be busy helping me and she would be a great advocate for certain things I was hoping to have in my birth space. She took such great video footage and I will forever cherish everything she did. It was a complete tender mercy that she was able to attend at all because only on that particular day was her mother driving into town and her husband wasn’t home yet from work. She fed her 5 month old and got there just in time for the birth!
The contractions were getting more and more intense and I was sitting on the birthing ball while Ryan pushed on my hips. In between two contractions after the nurses had left the room around 5:45, Ryan said a sweet prayer. I finally got my headphones in to listen to some songs and then Ryan and I stood up and rocked back and forth for a bit. Only 2 songs go by and I felt the urge to push, around 6:00. That few minutes of peace and leaning into my husband must have sent a jolt of oxytocin because the urge came strong and I was for sure in transition. Things got real intense and I wasn’t feeling comfortable anywhere but Jennifer helped me get onto the bed facing the back and kneeling.
Pushing Baby Out
The contractions were on top of each other and I could barely get onto the bed, but once I was in that kneeling position, it all happened incredibly fast. I laid my head on the back of the bed and Ryan came to my side and we stared into each other eyes, not even believing what was about to happen. Everything I had wished for in this birth so far — having some intimate romantic-esque moments with my husband, and a moment where time stood still like it did in the celestial room waiting for our sealing on our wedding day — happened and I have so much gratitude about it all. Everything was moving so quickly but we were able to have one of those moments that will be locked into both our memories forever.
They had called the midwife but she was in the very next room with the mom who had just delivered 10 minutes earlier so the on-call midwife was Tanya, who I absolutely loved and the reason I chose the OB practice I did. However, she did not make it in time and my nurses Jennifer and Meghan were the ones to catch the baby when she came out!
Fetal Ejection Reflex
I had heard about the fetal ejection reflex before but obviously never experienced it with two previous epidurals. All I can say now is that it is the wildest, craziest sensation I have ever felt. My body just took over and there was nothing I did to get my baby out. I honestly can’t even say that I “pushed” my baby out, I just felt along for the ride. My body instinctually made low guttural sounds that helped with the contractions to push her down and out. Which is another tender mercy since I knew and trusted that my body was created by a Divine Being who made it perfectly to do exactly this.
Within 2 minutes baby Juniper came right out and was born at 6:07 PM! She was perfect and I turned over to sit down in order to hold her. Samantha was quick to tell them not to cut the cord and to not wipe away her vernix which I was grateful for. I got to hold baby Junie skin-to-skin immediately after and you can see it in my face how happy and shocked I was from it all. How in the world did I just birth a baby! How in the world has it only been 6 hours since I was on that freeway and my water broke?! Total heaven bliss sitting there. Which was very much opposite of my previous two births since Hazel’s I spent an entire hour getting stitched by an unqualified resident and with James, I think my epidural made me extra lethargic, as if my emotions were numb. So this release of energy that emitted from me felt so perfect to the end of what felt like an ideal birth.
Tanya finally rushed in and helped to deliver the placenta and give me a small stitch for a skin-surface tear. Juniper latched on for nursing and after about 30-40 minutes I gave her to the nurses to check her. My hospital room was exactly the atmosphere I had wished for: respect from both parties, a quiet peaceful confidence, and the nurses were so gracious and didn’t push any kind of agenda or policy on me.
Juniper weighed 7 lbs 14 oz, was 19 inches in height, and her head measured at 33.5 cm.
We are over the moon excited to have this sweet spirit join our family and I felt God and angel’s protection around us throughout the entire day. Sweet Junie shares a birthday with our wedding anniversary and also a birthday with her great-great grandmother Eula Lee Smith. A few months prior to giving birth, I had spent a bit of time researching women in our ancestry line to see what I could learn about them. I didn’t have much time and ended up only reading about 1 person, that person coincidentally (although I don’t believe in coincidences) being Eula. One of my favorite parts about her autobiography she wrote was about her very first memory. She remembers being a young child sick with pneumonia and feeling the soft warm peaceful comfort of the pillow in her mother’s arms. As I read that, I felt a tremendous amount of love for the fact that I am a woman who has the privilege to carry, birth, and raise children in this life and I am who they feel most peace and comfort during those early years of their lives. I love this connection Juniper has with her ancestor Eula, and that she is the perfect gift for our 9th anniversary, and that she was as healthy as could be.