As a pregnant woman, about to give birth any day, I found myself obsessed with reading the labor and delivery stories of other women. I would scour the Internet when I was up late and couldn't sleep (which was often) in search of every story I could find. I'm pretty sure I read every labor story the Internet had to offer. Not only was I interested in how it would all go for myself, as I had never done this before, but they were actually pretty interesting. There were some similarities, but overall the stories were so different that it was amazing. Every single one starting a different way and every single woman's experience different. I couldn't wait to experience my story and I couldn't wait to share Juniper's story, so here it is.
Juniper's Birth Story
I had my 39th week doctor appointment on June 6th. Still no baby. I was hoping the Doctor would be able to speed things along but I would have had to have been dilated some in order for that to happen, and I was not. I was 80% effaced, which meant she was low and ready, but no labor yet. Since it was close to my due date of November 9th, and there was not much progress since my last visit (I'd had zero cramping) the Doctor scheduled a C-section for two weeks later just in case she hadn't come by then. All I could think was 'Oh man I hope she comes before then!'. I did read in some other labor stories that the Doctor visit can sometimes get things moving, so I was hoping when I got home that I would feel something.
Sure enough, late that evening I started to have mild cramping. This was the first cramping I'd had since I'd been pregnant so I was very excited. They got progressively more intense, and I tried timing them but they were so all over the place it was really hard to do. I woke Ryan up around 1am and asked him what I should do. We decided to wait a little longer, so I lay in bed with him as he rubbed my back through contractions. They were starting to hurt pretty bad and I was sure this was it so off to the hospital we went. We checked in at about 2am, and the Doctor said I was .5 cm. dilated. That's POINT FIVE. I couldn't believe all of this pain and for POINT FIVE CENTIMETERS. I can't even see that on a ruler! They gave me some medication for the pain and sent me home. Looking back now, even though I made sure the pain medication was safe for the baby, I would have refused this. I was not thinking clearly and wish that I wouldn't have taken it. It didn't bother the baby, but I don't think it was necessary.
I slept most of that Friday, and by early evening the contractions were back (probably the pain medication wearing off). At 10pm November 7th, I was in so much pain I could barely stand or talk through the contractions. They felt like they kept coming one right after the other. I was barely able to relax before another began. They were like menstrual cramps X 100. I don't know what I was feeling the night before, because THIS, THIS was labor. I didn't want to rush to the hospital and be sent home again so I lay with Ryan in bed again, box of tissues next to me and my head buried in his chest. I cried through every contraction they hurt so bad. Finally, by 11pm I could not stand it any longer and we drove to the hospital. I didn't want to call any family yet because of what happened the night before so we checked in to triage and waited for the Doctor to check my progress. ONE CENTIMETER. ONE! My head was buried in Ryan's chest, hands clenched around his, breathing rapidly through another contraction all for ONE! I was NOT going home. There was no way I was going to be sent home when I was in this much pain. Luckily the Doctor said she would check again in an hour and if I was at 2 by then they would admit me. My sister-in-law, Jessica, popped in for a visit since she was working just upstairs in the NICU, but I barely remember this because I was trying not to cry. An hour later I was just barely a 2 so I was admitted at 6am on November 8th. Yes, 6 hours in triage.
Once I was admitted I begged for the epidural but they made me wait a little longer. Ryan called my family to let them know that I was admitted but that they still had a while. Around 7am I was given the epidural and OH MAN what a difference. I was in the best mood ever after that! My parents arrived around 8am, which was right around the time my contractions STOPPED. Yep, they just stopped. Like, I wasn't in the middle of labor or anything. Apparently the epidural can do that sometimes. Since I was already given the epidural and admitted we decided to move forth, and induce to get my contractions going again. They came back slowly and the nurse was sure that this was going to take a while. The epidural was wearing off (they stopped it so that my contractions would come back) and the pain was starting again. I was not so sure it would take long, but the nurse said my family should go home and come back around 4pm. FOUR!?
Once the epidural wore off, my contractions were back with a vengeance and I was in unbearable pain again. They gave me another epidural (or opened the flow of meds again, not really sure how all that works). This was at about 10am. The nurse checked me again and I was dilated 7cm. SEVEN! in one hour I went from 2 to 7! The nurse was pretty shocked, but I knew it was going to happen soon. I told Ryan to call my parents and tell them to come back. I was clenching Ryan's hand through every contraction, as he coached me through it and reminded me to breathe slowly (I really did need to be reminded as I would have sort of frantic, and panicky breathing every time a contraction would come). The Nurse wanted me to practice 'pushing through the pain' during contractions, which meant I was to push like I was delivering. At one point while I was doing this I was so sure that the baby was about to come out that I made Ryan call the nurse back in. The baby was not about to come out, but man it felt like she was RIGHT THERE. So weird. At 11am I was dilated to 10cm, which is go time, but I had to wait to push because my mom was not there yet and she was supposed to be in the room with me while I delivered. Ryan has a weak stomach and we weren't sure if he was going to be able to stay with me so it was very important that my mom was there too so that I wouldn't be alone. They starting bringing in all the tools and tables and getting me ready which was really scary. It was finally time and I felt like it was too soon. All the waiting and then it was all happening so fast.
Finally, at 11:30am my parents arrived and my mom and Ryan were both by my side. They made me lay flat with my legs in the air which I thought was weird (that's not how its done in the movies, after all) and I immediately felt like I was going to hurl. Luckily I did not. I was given the go ahead to start pushing and through every contraction I gave three long, strong, mighty pushes. The epidural had kicked back in at this point and my legs were Jell-O. I had absolutely NO control over them. Ryan had to hold one, and my mom had to hold the other. After every session of pushing (I would push every few minutes or so), i was sure that when the Doctor came in she would tell me that I was so close and that this was it, but she didn't. I just kept pushing. And pushing. And pushing. I also had to be given oxygen in between pushes because the baby was in distress, so i had this mask strapped to my face which was driving me CRAZY! I just wanted to take deep breaths and that thing was all up in my face. They wouldn't let me have any water either, even though I was thirstier than I had ever been in my life. I kept having to remind myself this was all for Juniper, and power through. My mom had this little sponge on a stick that she would dip in water and swab my dry mouth with in between pushing and it felt like heaven. It was seriously the best thing ever. Sometimes she would say if I didn't push real hard for the next contractions she wouldn't give it to me and I swear I almost punched her in the neck. Don't mess with a woman giving birth! Finally at 1:30pm the Doctor said that she was almost there and that I had to give it everything I had. Meanwhile, I think every employee in the freaking hospital came in to watch me give birth to my child. Strangers huddled around me yelling my name and cheering me on. If I hadn't been in the middle of pushing a human out of my body I would have told them to get the F out. The Doctor said they were concerned that the umbilical cord might be around her neck so I had to get her head out so that they could better assess. With the thought of my baby in danger I gave it everything I had. A few pushes later and her head was out. Let me just stop right here and say, that moment when the baby is part way out and you still have more pushing to do is probably THE WORST pain I have ever felt in my entire life. That next push I pushed so hard I screamed (I was pretty quiet up until now), I just wanted that pain to STOP. That did it, and I heard Juniper's cry for the first time. They cleaned her up and I started crying. Not just because I heard my baby but because IT WAS FINALLY OVER. I was just so overcome with relief that I cried and cried. They plopped her down on my chest, and that moment that I saw her face, her eyes, her hair! so much hair! That moment was the best moment of my life. She was perfect and I was a mother. I kept looking up at Ryan in disbelief.
I thought it was over, but it wasn't. The Doctor had to manually remove my placenta because it wouldn't detach. WTF. I thought it was over! Also VERY painful, but I had an adorable daughter to stare at during that so that helped. After I was stitched and cleaned up, Ryan and I enjoyed our new family. I have to say he was amazing through the entire thing. Not only did he not have to leave, but he stood by my side and cheered me on the whole time. I can honestly say I would not have been able to do it without him. Juniper latched right on to my breast and began breast feeding with ease which was a huge relief. Little did I know the second night there she would be latched the ENTIRE night with brief breaks. Man alive! My nipples were not prepared! We went home two days later and began our life as a family of three. Juniper is 6-months-old now and words can't express how in love with her we are. She makes me smile everyday, even when she keeps me up all night and cries for what seems like no reason. I am a mother, and she is my daughter and my life will forever be about her story.