I’ve been trying for days (weeks?) to carve out time to write Juna’s birth story, but it seems like every time I end up with five minutes I could spend writing, there’s a toddler to contend with, dishes to clean up or laundry to fold. Such is my reality right now. I’m going to continue to chip away at writing this story, even if I only have two minutes a day to give. If this doesn’t get posted for a year, you’ll understand why.
May 28th was a typically beautiful SoCal day—the sun was shining brightly and blossoms from the Jacaranda trees lining our neighborhood’s streets were gently scattering in the 70 degree breeze. I woke up feeling a bit, hm, fuzzy, I guess, that morning, and I had an undeniable inkling that something was about to happen.
Sure enough, over the course of the day (TMI alert) my mucous plug started to make its escape, and by the time early evening rolled around I was enjoying some steadily increasing contractions. They started showing some signs of organization around 9pm, and I put Orion to bed that night with tears in my eyes, knowing it was our last evening of him being my only child. I sat in his darkened room timing my contractions—about seven minutes apart—as he drifted off to sleep.
Here’s the part where I admit I did absolutely nothing to prepare for this birth. I half-packed a hospital bag, but I hadn’t written out a birth plan, and I never got around to reviewing the Hypnobabies techniques that I used (or attempted to use, rather) with Orion’s birth. But I was at peace with that. I trusted that my body knew how to handle the work that lay ahead, and if it was going to be like many of my past major life experiences, the less I prepare and stress out, the better I do. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this approach for everyone, but since I had already been through the experience once, and read all the books the first time around, it worked for me.
So after I got Orion off to dreamland, I pounded out a super succinct half-page birth plan (and had a good chuckle thinking about the winded two-pager I had written for Orion’s birth). I finished packing my bag, showered, and headed off to bed to try to catch some zzzs before showtime.
Sleep proved to be difficult, and by 3am my contractions were about five minutes apart. I called the hospital to let them know to expect me soon. The nurse told me most women don’t come in until their contractions are 2-3 minutes apart, which sounded dangerously last minute to me, but I assumed she knew what she was talking about.
While the rest of the people in my house slept, I tried to watch a movie and relax. My contractions weren’t exactly comfortable, but at five minutes apart, were totally manageable. I was more nervous than anything.
Halfway through the movie I decided to give sleep one more go, and I managed to snooze—albeit fitfully—for a couple of hours. In the morning I sent Erik and Orion off to the farmers’ market while my mom stayed home to keep an eye on my situation. Like a cat that sneaks off alone into a secluded corner to give birth to her kittens, I hung out in my room alone, shades drawn, either curled up on my bed or pacing the floor. It was just the way I wanted it to be—with no one in my face telling me to breathe or poking at my lady parts every five minutes.
By the time Erik came back from the market, my contractions were officially 2-3 minutes apart. It was finally time to book it to the hospital! The 10 minute car ride was intensely painful, as was the walk into the hospital’s second floor birthing center. But once we got settled in and I was told I was already at 7cm, I knew that my body was taking care of business.
My OB arrived after what seemed like forever, but was probably only ten minutes. She trotted in wearing heels and white skinny jeans, thinking she was just going to pop in to check on me and then head back out to her son’s basketball game. But baby Juna had other plans.
My contractions were now back-to-back, my body was wracked with pain, I had intense pressure down under, and amniotic fluid was trickling down my legs although the sac hadn’t officially broken. Doc changed into some scrubs (although she kept her heels on—covered by hospital booties—which I thought was quite impressive) and, with my permission, broke the amniotic sac.
With that, everything intensified tenfold and within minutes I was ready to push. I beared down on all fours, pushed a handful of times, and Ms. Juna Katrien made her entrance into the world—promptly on her due date of May 29, 2011—after about 14 hours of (mostly) easy early labor at home, and about one hour of intense active labor in the hospital. It happened so fast I didn’t even have time to break out my birth plan.
Juna’s easy, unmedicated mostly-at-home labor was in stark contrast to Orion’s emergency induction and long, painful labor. It was absolutely perfect and allayed any fears I had about my body not knowing what to do.
A few hours later Orion got to meet his baby sister for the first time, and I had never seen such joy on his beautiful little face.
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