From the time I felt Juni’s first tiny movements in my belly when I was just 12 weeks pregnant, I knew she was going to be a strong baby with her own big ideas. Around my due date, which was Sept. 10th, I started experiencing several bouts of contractions. One night, I even had Darrell pack the car for the hospital, but my contractions stopped after a few hours. On Sept. 16th, my mom and I took a long afternoon walk to the Pawpaw Shelter at Hills & Dales Metropark. It was hot and hilly, and I was shocked that the walk didn’t cause contractions to start immediately, as I was almost 41 weeks pregnant. I went to bed that night, planning to go to my midwife appointment the next morning and have my membranes stripped to encourage baby girl to get moving. Our baby girl had her own plans of perfect timing, though.
Around midnight on Sept. 17th, I started to notice some mild contractions, similar to what I’d been experiencing on and off for the past week. Around 3:00am, I got out of bed to use the bathroom and noticed a curious “pop.” I laid back in bed to try to sleep more, and my water definitively broke soon after. After getting cleaned up, I told Darrell it was time to get out of bed! I texted our doula, April, at 4:25am letting her know that my water broke and contractions were 6-11 minutes apart. By 4:55am, they were consistently 5-6 minutes apart and getting stronger. This was the real deal, and it was time to quickly make our way to the hospital! The short drive to the hospital and my time spent in the wheel chair while getting checked in were difficult. I did not feel in control of my body during contractions in the seated position. Thankfully, it didn’t take long.
We checked into the hospital by 5:35am and were sent to Triage because all of the rooms at Family Beginnings Birthing Center were full. I delivered our first baby in Family Beginnings 3 years prior and was very excited to do so again, but in the moments of intense labor, it didn’t really matter. The Triage nurse asked if I wanted to be checked, to which I said no thanks and that this baby girl was coming fast.
Contractions were now coming every couple minutes, and I coped with them by leaning over onto the bed while Darrell applied significant pressure to my lower back. Every time I felt another contraction coming, I called him back for immediate relief. The staff at Family Beginnings was working quickly to clear a room for me, but the triage nurse decided it would not be fast enough. So at 5:45am, the team began to fill the inflatable tub in a Labor & Delivery room to accommodate my desire for a water birth. With assistance, I survived the short walk from Triage to my L&D room.
April arrived by 5:55am, and my midwife, Lauren, arrived not long after her. I was glad that my whole birthing team made it in time for our baby girl’s delivery! I continued coping with contractions by leaning over the bed and holding April’s hands quite securely, with Darrell applying pressure to my lower back. At one point, the water hose escaped the inflatable tub and was spraying all over the room. I barely noticed the commotion! Lauren asked to check me, so I climbed into a side-lying position on the bed. Within moments of checking my dilation, Lauren said, “I feel her head right here. Girl, get in that tub!” Surprisingly, the side-lying position was also fairly comfortable for coping with my contractions, and I was a little nervous to change positions again because the contractions were coming so quickly and powerfully. Thankfully, I experienced no contractions while climbing into the tub and felt immediate relief when I lowered my body into the warm water.
Despite some disappointment about not delivering in Family Beginnings, the inflatable tub was actually much more giving than the tubs at the birthing center. As I pushed all of my weight into the side of the tub during contractions, I was thankful for this. Positioned on my knees, I leaned over the side of the tub and continued to grasp April’s hands. I don’t think I let go of her for the remainder of my labor and birth. Nor did I let Darrell let go of his important role of applying pressure to my lower back. As soon as I got into the water, my body went on autopilot and started to push during contractions. Amazingly, I do not believe I ever needed to make a conscious effort to push. At one point, I remember April encouraged me to lower the tone of my voice. I guess the strength and discomfort of the contractions had caused my vocalizations to get a little bit high. One of my most incredible memories from Juni’s birth is how I physically felt her working to be born - it felt like my baby girl was literally trying to swim her way out. With Juni’s help and my body knowing exactly what to do, I didn’t have to do much work. It was definitely intense and powerful, but I was able to really let go of control.
After about 4 big contractions and only 15 minutes in the tub, I felt a little anxious about the pending ring of fire that I had experienced during my first birth. Much to my surprise, after the next contraction, I heard someone say, “Her head is out!” I could not believe it - she just popped right out! I felt so calm and confident after her head was delivered - I remember asking if she had any hair and what color it was. Darrell said it was amazing to view the birth from his perspective standing behind me in the tub. As I birthed on my knees, Juniper faced up towards her Daddy as she was born. He said Juni’s face looked so serene under the water - I wish I could have seen it. With one more push, her body was out, too. It was 7:02am. After she was born, I brought Juni to my chest, and Darrell and I kissed her perfect head and looked at her in sweet amazement. She was beautiful and strong, just like I had imagined when she was growing inside of me. Minutes after she was born, I remember exclaiming, “Wow, that was awesome!” Juni’s birth was truly a thing of beauty, and I will never forget it.