Juniper’s Birth Story

by Kim on January 14, 2016 · 43 comments

It’s been sixteen weeks since Juniper was born and I’ve finally gotten around to writing down her birth story. Apologies now, it is not the most poetic rendition, but I’ve tried to jot down the facts before they slipped my mind (you think you’ll remember forever but so much has already become mush in my new-mom brain). If reading about childbirth is not your thang (and I don’t blame you) here is your warning. For everyone else, and especially for Miss Juniper, here is the story of the day you were born.

I went to bed on 9/22/15 hugely pregnant and hopeful that it would be the night that I’d finally go into labor. My due date had passed 9 days before, but there were still no signs that my daughter was on her way.

40 weeks pregnant

Holy belly! This is two days before my due date and 12 days before Juniper was actually born.

But I woke up at 3 a.m. with contractions. I lay in bed and timed them. They were five minutes apart and almost one minute long. I woke Brian up. “I’m in labor,” I told him. We sat in the dark, excited. We were going to meet our baby.

The contractions grew stronger. At 6:30 a.m. I sent a text to my doula and I called my doctor. He told me to head to the hospital but I was hesitant. I wanted to have an unmedicated birth and part of that plan was to labor at home as long as possible. But by 8:30 a.m. the contractions felt quite strong (clearly I had no idea what active childbirth felt like) and Brian and I headed to the hospital.

I was ushered into a room to be monitored. The nurse hooked me up to a heart rate monitor and an external heart rate monitor for the baby. I was 4 cm. dilated. I was having regular contractions and they felt fairly strong (again, no idea).

I told the nurse that if I wasn’t progressing I’d happily go home to labor and come back when I needed to. But she informed me that my doctor did not want me to leave the hospital because he considered me high risk since my baby was 10 days overdue.

I wanted to get out of bed to move around because I thought it would speed up labor. But then the nurse told me that my doctor wanted me to be continuously monitored, which meant I’d be trapped in bed. This was directly against my wishes. I was mad and stressed and I knew that the stress was causing my labor to stall.

I also knew that the excessive monitoring was completely unnecessary. I felt strong. My baby was healthy. So I told the nurse that if I was going to be strapped to the bed I was leaving. Since I was leaving against medical advice I had to sign a form. “No problem,” I said. I signed it and left.

I was hungry and I thought maybe Brian and I could go out to breakfast. But the second I walked out of the hospital my contractions became much stronger. I told him to just take me home- and hurry.

At home I sat on the couch and Brian made me french toast. As soon as I was done with the meal my contractions picked up again, this time very strongly. I went up to the bedroom to get comfortable but could no longer sit down without pain so I got on my hands and knees on the bedroom floor and rocked back and forth. I couldn’t talk or walk during the contractions and they were coming pretty quickly now, every 3 to 4 minutes. Between them I’d just try to relax or, if I had to go to the bathroom, scramble to the bathroom before the next contraction kicked in.

In a matter of no time I was in serious labor. I realized I needed to get to the hospital when I sat down on the toilet and felt the urge to push. Brian had called our doula and asked her to come to our house. I yelled out from the bathroom that I needed to get to the hospital NOW and that he should call her back and have her meet us there.

Between contractions I made my way to the car. I put the front seat as far back as it would go to try to get comfortable as Brian white-knuckled our 12-minute drive to the hospital. Contractions in the car were excruciating. At one point we were stopped at a red light and a city work crew truck pulled up next to us. I had a contraction and yelled very loudly and when I opened my eyes they were all staring down at me. I gave them something to talk about!

I was half afraid that the baby was going to come in the car. So when we finally reached the hospital Brian pulled directly up to the doors and left the car in a no-parking zone. We took the elevator up to the labor and delivery unit and between contractions, which were now coming every minute or so, I waddled/ran to the intake desk.

At the desk they asked the standard questions. I was having a hard time talking and finally said, “I feel like I need to push!” The nurse’s eyes got wide and she called for a wheelchair.

It was the autumn equinox and the moon was working her juju so all of the babies had decided to come at the same time. There were no free delivery rooms. I sat in a wheelchair in the hall making the loudest sounds you’ve ever heard, probably scaring the crap out of all of the other women giving birth, while they cleaned a room for me.

After what felt like an eternity but was probably only a few minutes the delivery room was clean and they wheeled me in. I stood up out of the wheelchair, pulled on a gown, climbed into bed and shouted WHERE IS THE DOCTOR? I wanted to have this baby NOW. The nurses ignored my question because the doctor clearly wasn’t there and they didn’t want me to push without him. They tried to ask the intake questions but I couldn’t talk so Brian answered them for me. They checked and I was “9 centimeters plus” which of course means 10 which of course means that the baby was coming whether the doctor was there or not.

I want to describe the pain but I’m not sure I even have the words to. The feeling, really, was beyond pain. It was the most intense physical experience of my life. I had a feeling of existing outside of my body. I felt only half in this world.

My doula leaned in and said, “If you need to push, push. Listen to your body.” And so I allowed myself to do it. Brian and my doula were getting me cool washcloths and holding a cup up to my mouth so I could take sips of water. It was very hot in the room and I kept yelling WHERE IS THE DOCTOR?

The doctor finally arrived and announced that it was time to push (no kidding!). But I suddenly felt like I didn’t know how and I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to do it. My doula, who was a radiant being of calm, leaned down and told me to just bear down and so I began pushing. I pushed three times through the first contraction. On the second contraction I pushed again and I heard the doctor say to Brian, “Dad, can you see her head?” and I knew it was close. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening.

My doula asked if I wanted a mirror to see her head and I said NO! On the next contraction I pushed again and she was born.

I could hear my doula telling me to open my eyes and see my daughter, but I couldn’t do it. I knew that when I opened my eyes my life would never be the same again. So I kept them closed, just for a moment. When I opened them they were bringing the baby up to my chest. I looked down at her and said, “Oh my God, she’s perfect.”

I was in shock. Two hours ago I’d been sitting on my couch eating breakfast and now I was holding a baby in my arms. My brain just could not catch up with reality. My strongest feeling in those moments after delivery was pride. I felt proud that I’d made it through pregnancy and labor and delivered this perfect baby into the world.

Everyone cleared out of the room except for me and Brian and the baby and the doula. I felt energized and wanted to jump out of bed and go home. Brian remembered that the car was still parked in the no parking zone and he went to move it. He called family and friends to let them know the baby was here. An hour later we were wheeled into a recovery room. The whole thing felt like an out of body experience.

That night, in the wee hours of the morning I pulled Juniper to my chest to feed her. She looked up at me with these clear, deep eyes and that was when I finally cried. I kept thinking that for all of the transformation I’d just gone through her trip had been much, much wilder. I whispered to her over and over again, “Welcome to the world baby girl.”

We named her Juniper, after the trees that grow in the mountains and Ruth because it is a family name.

She is the love of our lives.

newborn

Juniper, one hour old. 

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Carmel January 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm

What an awesome story. I am so happy that you listened to your own body and didn’t let those people boss you around! I was seriously wondering why you were still with that doctor after the battles you told me about. But it’s good that you had your doula. Sounds like it was worth every penny! I was going to call a doula to see if it was too late to start working with her about a week before Laurel was born. Ha! Well, glad I didn’t waste my money. 🙂
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Kim January 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm

My doula was definitely worth every penny. And I’m still mad that I had to fight my doctor to have the birth I wanted but I’m glad that it all worked out in the end.

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Trish January 14, 2016 at 7:18 pm

Why did this make me tear up? Oh I’m so happy for you guys. Beautiful. I’m glad she will know the story. You are one strong mama!

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Thanks Trish. It’s kind of a relief to finally have it all down on paper (or, an Internet page. Same same these days!)

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Amy January 14, 2016 at 7:21 pm

What you said about keeping your eyes clised… yes. I remember the nurse say to me, “Open your eyes and look at your daughter. ” And I did. 19 years ago and it feels like yesterday. I’m so happy for you all. ❤

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Ah, this makes my heart happy 🙂

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Gillian January 14, 2016 at 7:44 pm

“I knew that when I opened my eyes my life would never be the same again.”

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing Kim.
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Kim January 16, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Thanks Gillian. I know that is one of those moments that I will never, ever forget. That chasm between one life and another.

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budget jan January 14, 2016 at 7:54 pm

That was beautiful and I admit to being a little teary. It is such an emotional roller-coaster – giving birth.
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Kim January 16, 2016 at 1:59 pm

It certainly is an emotional roller-coaster but the ride is worth it!

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galen January 14, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Kim, this is a wonderful gift that you’ve written for Juniper to read. Timely too, before you forget. And, a terrific gift to all of us, your readers, as well, to share those special moments with you. You’re correct~~ there is no way to describe childbirth pain. It’s a miracle that is fraught with unimaginable pain. And then: poof, it’s gone and instead there is baby. Wow! Magic!
She’s beautiful.

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm

It is amazing how the pain is so terrible and then, BAM, it’s gone and you can barely even remember that it was ever there. It really is magic.

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Jodi January 14, 2016 at 11:26 pm

I just love me a good birth story 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing, it’s so true that you think you’ll never forget certain moments… until you do. Dang mom brain. I hope you’ll blog more about Juniper (love her name) in the future, I look forward to “watching” her grow and go on adventures with you guys!

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Juniper will definitely be a part of the blog in the future. Right now I sort of have to stop myself from posting daily pictures of her cuteness (that’s what Instagram is for!)

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Gilda Baxter January 15, 2016 at 12:43 am

Hi Kim, my daughter Chloe was born more than 22 years ago and yet I remember that day so clearly. It is the most excruciating pain and yet I forgot it all as soon as I looked into her eyes. But unlike you I am not brave with pain at all and I had about 3 litres of gas and air and also an epidural. Juniper is gorgeous and she will love to read this story one day.
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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm

It’s amazing how often I go back to the day in my mind. It really was such an amazing experience. And, believe me, there were times when I thought to myself- Why in the world am I doing this without drugs?! Afterwards I told Brian, okay, now that I know what it’s like I’m never doing that again! But the memory of the pain has already faded…

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Tiffiney January 15, 2016 at 1:18 am

Reading this made me cry as it brings back so much of my own two births. When you closed your eyes for just a moment longer because you know everything would be different once you opened them….yeah.

And I remeber just kissing both their little heads and saying your’re here! You made it! I’m so glad you’re I love- I’ve waited my whole life to meet you.

It’s A moment that kind of transcends words. But you’ve done a great job capturing it.

Enjoy!
It is the wildest ride, isn’t it?
Xo
Tiffiney recently posted..Musings on humankind and 48 hours in Athens

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:05 pm

The moment really does transcend words. I have a photo of the moment I opened my eyes and saw Juniper and there is such joy on my face. There is nothing else in the world like that moment.

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Bianca @itsallbee January 15, 2016 at 1:54 am

What a beautiful story. I could almost imagine the picture of you in traffic and thinking get there quick! lol…. I am glad both mother and baby are ok.
Bianca @itsallbee recently posted..Oia Visual Diary + 7 Reasons To Visit Santorini

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Haha, yeah, I think of that car ride and laugh sometimes. Poor Brian! He maintained his cool though.

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Jess January 15, 2016 at 5:31 am

Um. Yeah. I just cried. Can’t wait to meet Little Juniper <3

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:06 pm

I can’t wait for you to meet her either! We’ll be in Asheville for a big chunk of time in April. Will you be around then?

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Alonna January 15, 2016 at 6:45 am

I absolutely love that you left the hospital. Can you imagine if you had stayed? It could have been a completely different birth. Way to go knowing your body and being prepared to stand up for yourself!! Great birth sorry, thanks for sharing!

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Oh man, believe me, I could see the unraveling and that’s why I left. My doctor has already tried so hard to get me to induce… I knew he was going to try to pump me full of Pitocin so I got out of there!

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Les Petits Pas de Juls January 15, 2016 at 7:21 am

What a wonderful story! So glad to read that you left, listened to yourself and your body, felt it coming and trusted yourself.

Enjoy the life together!
Happy 2016!
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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:08 pm

I think so much of childbirth is just trusting your body even though it also feels like the “system” is set up to make you mistrust it. My doula really empowered me and I think she is a big reason why I had the guts to leave.

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Adena January 15, 2016 at 8:12 am

Perfection. I am so glad to read this. I am so proud of you for doing what felt right all along! Especially in a compromised place! More power to you.
Adena recently posted..Maya Abdominal Therapy: My Story Part 2, Conscious Conception

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Thanks Adena. If I have another baby I’ll most likely have it at home like you did. It would have been way more relaxing.

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Stacey Venzel January 16, 2016 at 9:32 am

I love your honesty with the hospital experience. Mad props to you for getting the hell out when they wanted to strap you down (and to your hubby for making you French toast). My friends are all having babies and while I’m nowhere close to being ready, it’s important to have foresight. More mothers are leaning toward natural births and mid-wives/doulas, and it’s enlightening to hear my friends who have gone this route bear the whole truth to me. So thanks to you as well for sharing Juniper’s story with full transparency! And congrats!
Stacey Venzel recently posted..Visit the Gorges in Austria

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Kim January 16, 2016 at 2:10 pm

I think it’s so important that we share these stories and empower each other to make the choices that are best for us. I kept reminded myself that women have been giving birth since the beginning of time and if they could do it I could too.

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Tracy January 20, 2016 at 9:18 pm

Beautiful birth story Kim and you are so brave leaving the hospital and going home when you thought it was the best thing to do – good on you for honouring your mama instincts!! Wishing you all the best in your baby bliss. Juniper is a gorgeous name. 🙂
Tracy recently posted..Raised Good Rebirth: Our New Website Design

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Kim January 23, 2016 at 8:55 am

Thanks Tracy. I’m still annoyed that I had to fight so hard for what was clearly in the best interest of both me and Juniper, but I’m glad that I did (and next time, if there is one, I will use a different doctor!)

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Hung Thai January 24, 2016 at 1:11 am

Congrats on your baby – sounds like a crazy ride but you both made it out okay. Now I’m looking forward to your travel stories with Juniper 🙂
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Kim February 8, 2016 at 4:08 pm

I’m so looking forward to traveling with Juniper. We have a lot of shorter trips planned in the upcoming months and I can’t wait to share them!

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Flora Baker January 25, 2016 at 7:41 am

This is so beautiful – I can’t wait for more wonderfully written stories about your journey with Juniper 🙂 Congratulations!!
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Kim February 8, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Thank you Flora 🙂 I can’t wait until we can really start showing Juniper the world.

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Simone February 2, 2016 at 11:55 pm

What an incredible story! Congratulations, she is a beauty and you look glowing post pregnancy too 🙂
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Kim February 8, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Thanks Simone. If “glowing” is the same as “feeling old and tired” then that is definitely the case 😉

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Amy February 6, 2016 at 4:14 am

Congratulations, she is as beautiful as her name! I don’t have children but I’m fascinated by birth stories, thanks for sharing yours 🙂
Amy recently posted..The Ups and Downs of Adjusting to Spanish Life in the Basque Region

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Kim February 8, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Thanks Amy. I was always kind of fascinated with birth stories too. I’m still surprised that I got to tell my own. Sometimes I look at Juniper and think, ‘you came from my body.’ It’s wild.

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Timothy Ford February 24, 2016 at 9:15 am

“Help, my eyes are leaking !!!!” :O

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Kim March 5, 2016 at 7:46 am

🙂 Hope you are well, Tim!

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