Juniper’s first Thanksgiving at three weeks old! Next year she will wear the turkey costume. Everyone was very excited to see her and even more excited to see the quick “Cicadas and Gulls” video I put together with Shira’s surprise Happy Caterpillar photo shoot. The pics almost had me in tears (just wait until we post them) Currently, Cyrus has us laughing when we tell him he is cute. His response is that Juniper is cute and he is smart. Many of our friends have growing families and we are blessed to be in the midst of this mix. This photo was taken by Aunt Angela! We finally solved the Case of the Missing Remote. What a great year it’s been…Juniper’s incredible year, more babies and a book on the way!
Juniper was born at home with big brother Cyrus and Daddy Allie by her side.
And seven Emergency Medical Technicians.
Here is our story…
Earlier that afternoon my mucous plug broke but I was not in labor. This is normal, even for women who aren’t yet full term. And I felt no different than I did beforehand. Fast forward to a little after 7pm that evening when I did begin to feel slight surges (contractions) in my uterus. But they were fairly light and I was still able to go about business as usual. I decided to begin keeping track of the surges. Here’s what it looked like:
Throughout keeping track, I was able to write, walk around, type, and check my email. But nothing that stopped me in my tracks. These surges were similar to the ones I felt with Cyrus, to whom I gave birth upwards of 15 hours or more after feeling those first contractions.
The midwives told me to call them if the surges are 5 minutes apart for about an hour. So I did. I described them to her. She said continue drinking plenty of fluids, make sure the baby is moving around, and if they begin feeling more intense, give her another call.
Allie had been taking a nap, but just before I called the midwife, I decided to wake him up and let him know what I was doing. I think at that point he called his parents to let them know the situation since they were our planned baby sitters for Cyrus.
After this I stopped looking at the clock, and just waited. I was expecting some middle ground before any intensity, though.
But the middle ground never came. Before I knew it, I was on the bed on my hands and knees in the bedroom. I don’t know when or where my labor turned, but it did. And then my water broke. Just like in the movies. With a big dramatic splash to the ground (but mostly on the bed), it felt like Niagra Falls exiting my body. And then- INTENSITY. At this point, I knew birth was imminent and I wasn’t going anywhere. I could feel the baby come down and enter my vagina. I couldn’t even close my legs. The baby was ready to be born.
There was no time for HypnoBirthing, like I did with Cyrus. When you don’t have that middle ground to get into it, everything you learned, no mater how many HypnoBirthing or Lamaze or birth classes you take, no matter how much you practice your breathing techniques or your meditation, everything you ever learned about laboring and birth goes out the window. And instinct takes over. The only thing you have is your body’s instinct to birth and your confidence in knowing that you can do it. And that is all you need.
Throughout all this, Allie kept trying to convince me that we could still get in the car and drive to the hospital. But there was no way I could get up and walk let alone reach the car. All I wanted to do was let the baby come out.
I said (yelled?) to Allie, “Look at my vagina! Do you see the baby???” but Allie simply couldn’t see what I could feel. Allie really wanted to call 911, and asked me if he should do so. While I didn’t feel the need for that – all I wanted to do was give birth – I realized that Allie was the one that needed 911. So I said ok, call them.
At some point Allie asked me, “What can I do for you? Can I get you anything?” I wanted water. So he ran to get me a cup of water. Then soon afterwards the EMT guys arrived. There were seven of them. This was definitely the most men I’ve ever had in my bedroom at once.
The EMT team entered the bedroom to an interesting scene: I was still on my hands and knees on the bed, clutching a cup of water in my hand, and making really loud noises with each surge. I think at one point I yelled out, “I need a straw!”
Cyrus had been up for a while by now. Allie had awaken him to take him to the hospital with us, assuming that’s what we were going to do since Allie’s parents had not yet arrived. So Cyrus heard me yell with each surge, and he was upset, thinking that I was crying. I heard him say, “I wanna make you feel better, Mommy!” with a sound of despair in his voice. I felt bad for him. I think I might have told him that it was ok, and that I was just trying to push the baby out. Which probably did not convince him of anything.
Then Allie’s parents arrived, and they took Cyrus downstairs where I learned later he calmed down while watching an episode of Dino Dan.
I knew the EMT guys knew what they were doing when they came in and one of them took one look at me and said, “She’s nine centimeters dilated”. Whew. I felt validated. Still clutching the water in my hand, I was having some intense labor surges and yelled, “Take the water!”. It’s hard to focus on giving birth when you’re holding a cup of water in your hand. I was still on my hands and knees on the bed when they came in. They wanted me to flip over, and I really didn’t, but I finally gave in and somehow got on my back with their help. It was then that I had about two more labor surges before I birthed the baby out.
I wish that I could describe the feeling of this birth. It was so gratifying to have the baby be right there, ready to come out and then – voila! A couple of assists (the word “pushing” seems too forced) and then the baby exited my body backed by my energy and will. Throughout these nine months, I worked really hard up to this moment and finally, the fruits of my labor – very literally – had arrived.
The mother of a friend of mine once told me, “It’s the first nine months that are the hardest. The birth is the easy part.”
No drugs. No hospital gown. No baby heart rate monitor. No doctors. No nurses. Just me and the will of my baby to come out. And the rookie fireman who caught the baby. I bet he didn’t think his day would end like this when he woke up this morning.
Allie now affectionately refers to the EMT team as my seven mid-husbands.
They immediately handed me my baby. I lifted my shirt so she could be on my chest, skin to skin. She was beautiful. I have a daughter!
We were later magically whisked away to the hospital where the baby and I were taken care of postpartum. But just before we left the bedroom, I heard one guy say, “Where’s the bag of placenta?” And another guy responded, “I thought you had the placenta.” It would have been funny to find it just out in the open on the floor with the cats wondering whether they should eat it or bury it. Allie found the placenta the next day. Luckily it was in a bag.
Just like in Cyrus’ birth, I will never forget Juniper’s either. Their births were so different from one another. I bet their personalities will be, too. I named Juniper after the beautiful and fragrant Juniper tree, and we gave her the middle name of Hope after the street where she was born!
Welcome to the world, Juniper Hope!
A week ago at this time we were preparing to meet up with the midwives in Norwalk, but Shira’s labor instantly quickened and before we knew there was little time before the baby was here! There was a brief moment while holding Cyrus and waiting for my parents where I couldn’t figure out how the situation just blazed by…in a moment of clarity I called for an ambulance. Shira, my biggest hero, knew the baby was coming while I was hoping the ambulance was coming. When the seven person crew arrived I finally calmed down a bit, but time was all a blur. The banter between the EMS crew was calming for me because I knew Shira and the baby were not in danger. In about 90 seconds they knew the baby would be born in our home and the firefighter receiving the baby would be catching his first newborn. The crew was very experienced at one point one of them turned to me and said, “You’ve got a great crew here.” Finally my parents arrived and I passed off Cyrus to them (he had watched most of Shira’s labor and in the days that followed did an impersonation). Shira had about a dozen serious surges as we tried to turn the room into a delivery room. She finally rolled over to her back and gave birth to a baby girl. One of the first things she asked for was to get Cyrus, so I ran downstairs and told my parents we had a girl and grabbed Cyrus. He didn’t want to stay too long, but we would be on the move to the hospital soon. Shira and the baby were stabilized and she was brought safely downstairs. I was pretty dizzy as I never thought we’d have a girl (let alone in our own home). I handed Juniper to my mom as I quickly collected our bags which I had moved from the car to the basement. Our arrival at the ER was like a scene out of a movie and one I’ll never forget. There had to be about 50 people just staring at us as we walked in with a …newborn! After we settled into delivery room I began to call a few people, my mom mentioned Cyrus was talking about the moon and mentioned a Hope Street baby. I now knew what Juniper’s middle name would be! Some people go their whole life without a good story to tell. Juniper is only one week old, but she’s already got a great one.