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. There are a dozen reasons I chose to go for a natural birth that I am hoping to write in a separate blog post but essentially I wanted to feel that connection to my mind and body and experience in its fullest the privileged gift I have as a woman to birth life given to me from my Creator. 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, all-the-details story.
The Name Juniper & It’s Biblical Meaning
Angels Protecting Us
My due date, April 26th, was the day my mom flew in. I decided that if I had had any contractions, I would order an Uber to bring her up. However, 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. They started veering more and more to the right, which I then 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 as the car hit the edge of the exit sign and overcorrect veered left into a truck. Debris started flying 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 felt this calm bubble of protection around me and my family during those few minutes. If I had been just 15 feet ahead or 15 feet to the right, I’m pretty sure 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 and did 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 mom and I picked up an old film camera I had gotten repaired (excited to give that a go in the next few months!!). We started driving back home. About 2 or 3 exits before ours, I was sitting there driving and listening to my mom talk 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 was definitely a sensation I could only assume was the water bag breaking because I knew it wasn’t pee. As we got to the exit and towards home, I could feel enough small leakage that I mentioned to my mom: “I’m pretty sure my water broke.” Sure enough, once I parked in our driveway and stood up, 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 she and God made that happen.
Laboring at Home
My water had broke around 12:35 PM and for the next hour I didn’t feel anything at all. No cramps or contractions whatsoever. It was the perfect amount of time to get my mom settled in, show her the ropes and where certain things for the kids were located. I finished packing up my hospital bag and literally just paced in circles around the house in excitement, my mind whirring of all the things I might need for the hospital or that my mom might need at home. Since I was positive for group B strep, I knew it was suggested to go in somewhat soon, and most hospital policies want 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 he’d probably need to leave before the end of the work day 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 Finding Out My Water Broke
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 must be 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 request time to come home was getting shorter, he felt impressed to leave right away and was home by 2:30.
Leaving for the Hospital
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 consistently 45-55 seconds long at 3-4 minutes apart. I was not at all expecting this, since most people want to get to the hospital once contractions are about a minute long and 5 minutes apart. I was still able to talk through these contractions, although it was easier not to and to just focus on those 50 seconds. During that time, Ryan was getting all of our supplies into the car and carseat buckled in 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 were 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 PM on the freeway in our area is full of heavy traffic. I could handle the 50 seconds of contractions, knowing it would end and I’d get a break. During those contractions in the car I could feel what people meant by it feeling like riding waves. The biggest surge would end around 30 seconds each time and then it was 20 seconds of milder pain. Even with the traffic, it only took about 20 minutes to get to the hospital and I only had to stop once in the parking lot to get through a contraction.
Laboring At the Hospital
For some reason we were stuck by the front entrance of the second floor for security reasons but they finally walked us into the triage room around 4:30. They started asking all the questions and getting ready to check and see if my water had indeed broken and what I was dilated to. Luckily Ryan was able to answer a lot of the questions and I could help during my breaks. It took a nurse some time to get my IV in 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 helped a lot. At one point, a resident doctor walked in to introduce himself and as he was asking me (what felt like to me) silly 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 response was what seemed like shushing right at his face.
The nurse Jennifer checked me and I was dilated to 5 cm, 80% effaced, and baby was 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 shot video of her in November and I really wanted her calm energy and expertise in the room. I knew Ryan would be busy helping me and that she would be a great advocate for certain things I was hoping to have in my birth space. She took such great video footage (feel free to watch here!) and I will forever cherish everything she did and that she was a part of my birth team. It was a complete tender mercy that she was able to attend at all since on that particular day her mother drove into town and her husband was not 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 had moved to sitting on the birthing ball while Ryan pushed on my hips. Around 5:45, in between two contractions after the nurses had left the room, Ryan gave a sweet prayer, asking for protection and to bring angels into our room. I finally got my headphones in to listen to some songs. Looking back at the video Samantha shot, Ryan was trying to show me how to change to the next song by pressing on the right earphone but another contraction was starting to surge and so I shrugged him off in annoyance and desperately needed him to press on my hips. He and Samantha gave each other a look and chuckle, knowing that I could act however I wanted during my birth!
The contractions were getting more intense and I had been on the birth ball for a while so it was suggested to change positions. Ryan and I stood up and rocked back and forth for a bit. The songs I had chosen for my birth playlist were mostly soft Christian worship songs. When I got to one of my favorites, I felt so happy and peaceful there rocking while Ryan caressed my neck. After that song ended I felt an urge to push, right 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 — having some intimate romantic-esque moment 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 — had 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 on the floor 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 love 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 in the birth books I had read, 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 in my entire life. 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. I had known 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 not wipe away her vernix which I was grateful for. I held 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 and 3 hours of contractions?! Total heaven bliss sitting there. I felt so energetic and completely back to myself immediately, which was not the case with my other two births. With Hazel’s, I spent an entire hour away from my baby getting stitched by an unqualified resident, and with James I think my epidural made me extra lethargic as if my emotions were numb and I could barely smile when he was born. So this release of energy that emitted from me felt like the perfect end to what was an ideal birth.
Tanya finally rushed in, helped to deliver the placenta, and gave me a small stitch for a skin-surface tear. Juniper latched on to nurse 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. A wonderful tender mercy to have nurse Jennifer there who had mentioned she has worked as a labor-and-delivery nurse for 30 years and was passionate about teaching younger coworkers about pushing back on certain hospital policies during healthy births. She was exactly who I needed in my room with the rest of my birth team.
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.