It’s been a long time coming, but I’d like to officially introduce you all to the most amazing little babe to grace our lives since Woodrow was born. World, meet Juniper Jett!
Many have asked about her name’s origin. I’ve always loved the name June but Mark thought something a bit more unique would be nice and we love names that come from nature. Once I heard Juniper I was in love. Her middle name is borrowed from Joan Jett – a super strong, bad ass woman who is also a long time vegetarian and whose first solo album was Mark’s first LP purchase. It just seemed like the perfect fit.
Juniper arrived 3 days prior to her due date, in the early hours of September 21st after a fast and intense labour. Two days before I had been to see one of my midwives and given that I had been experiencing some mild menstrual like cramping she wanted to check my cervix. As it turned out I was already 3-4cm dilated! She reminded me that I could walk around that way for well over a week so I didn’t really think too much of it. Most of the next day though my cramping became a bit stronger, though still sporadic and fairly spaced out. Just to be safe, my friend offered to pick up Woodrow from school and keep him overnight.
I took it pretty easy in the afternoon after wrapping things up at the bakery, stopping in to get a few groceries, watching a bit of election coverage on CNN and then had a long hot shower. We realized that we had yet to inflate our birthing pool to check for leaks, so Mark set to tackling that job. I wasn’t in a rush to get dressed so was hanging out in my robe and as I stood up I felt a little gush and thought my water had broken – but when I looked down I saw that it had been blood. It happened again in the next hour so my midwife suggested we meet at the hospital for her to assess me and have a non-stress test. At 8pm Mark and I grabbed my hospital bag and hopped in the car. I got hooked up right away and stayed on the monitors for a good hour and a half. In that time my cramping became strong surges that were about 5 minutes apart. My midwife assessed me and I was 5cm. By 10pm we had a make a call – go home to continue labouring or stay put. We looked to our midwife for guidance and her recommendation was to stay where we were given that the baby’s heart rate in the first 20 minutes of the NST was just a bit irregular. In the moment we decided that we should do just that and so I got myself admitted and moved in to one of the birthing rooms while Mark ran home to get my pillow, bath robe and some fresh juices we had forgotten. While he was gone active labour kicked in and I had to focus and go inward to breath through each surge. I also continued to lose blood, which unfortunately meant that I had to go back on the monitors and get an IV to replenish fluids, meaning that labouring in the tub and shower were out of the question. I found this pretty upsetting at the time because that was my only real plan for pain management – and things were getting really intense.
The next 2 1/2 hours, as intense as they were, flew by. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning into Mark through the surges and telling him that I wasn’t having fun and was not enjoying the labour. This may sound like a funny thing to say but I actually had enjoyed Woodrow’s gentle labour so I had hoped for the same thing again. I half jokingly asked my midwife if it was too late to pop a few tylenol to help with the pain. I asked in all seriousness about other pain management and we briefly discussed trying laughing gas, but I hate feeling stoned so opted against it. Plus things just seemed to be moving so quickly I couldn’t fathom there being time for any of that.
I’m not clear on times, but at a certain point the on call OB who happened to be the one I had been consulting with through my pregnancy came in to assess me and the blood loss. At this point I was almost 9cm and she ruptured my waters to further speed things along. Within what seemed like minutes I was feeling major bottom pressure to push. I couldn’t wait, my body was just doing it on its own, and after a speedy 5 minutes (and what I think were some pretty loud guttural screams), with Mark holding my right hand and my midwife holding my left, my midwife told me to reach down and feel her emerge. At 1:15am, with one final push, our wee girl was born.
The next hour and a half we nursed and cuddled and gazed at this beautiful being, and within minutes our love grew. I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink in many hours so I sipped on lots of water and a big jar of beet juice our neighbour had made me that afternoon.
After delivering my placenta I needed one small stitch. My bleeding didn’t really subside though, so I got a good dose of oxytocin via IV. In the meantime I had lost a lot of blood – it’s hard to know exactly, but apparently between labour and beyond it came to about 2L and was feeling really weak and faint. I couldn’t sit up on the edge of the bed long enough to transfer into the wheelchair to head to the recovery room, so I napped on and off for a few hours before finally managing to get myself onto a gurney around 5am. During this time Mark got some great skin to skin time snoozing with Juniper. The next 10 hours or so were spent napping on and off interspersed by staring in awe at our little bean. Oh and eating snacks… almonds, big juicy seedless grapes, a homemade pumpkin muffin, more beet juice and some salty, seedy crackers. (Thank goodness for bringing our own food as our hospital does not have vegan meal options, and even the vegetarian ones looked pretty terrible.) My bloodwork showed that my iron levels had dropped to 82 (normal is above 110), but with time and some supplementation my midwives were happy that it would gradually return to normal. By dinner that same day, we were discharged and home.
The next few days were pretty low key, spent resting, getting breastfeeding established and getting lots of cuddles in. My parents were up and staying with us and it was great to have the extra hands on deck for helping with Woodrow, cooking meals and washing up. Aside from the normal fatigue of having just given birth, the low hemoglobin, and adjusting to the interrupted sleep, I was feeling pretty amazing. On day 4 post partum I actually found myself at home alone with the baby for the first time was kind of enjoying the quiet house for a moment. Mid afternoon though I went to the bathroom and got a bit of a scare when I found I was in the midst of passing a rather large clot. It seemed much larger than what was normal post partum business and I immediately felt uneasy. I phoned my midwife who tried to talk me through passing it but I just didn’t feel right about bearing while alone and asked her to come over. I went to lie down and wait for her. Once she arrived and over the next half hour I passed several clots and began to haemorrhage again. It became obvious I needed to go to the hospital and she decided an ambulance was the safest bet, so I took my first ambulance ride and Mark and Juniper met me there. Fast forward to some time in the ER, an ultrasound and more bloodwork. It was clear that I still had tissue remaining in my uterus and required a D & C. Cue talks with the OB on call, the anesthetist, both of their respective medical students, discussion of blood transfusions, and plenty of tears on my part. Oh and my milk came in right then too so I was engorged and super uncomfortable too. Thankfully I was able to nurse Juniper before being whisked away to the OR and before I knew it I was waking up in recovery and eating the best popsicle of my life. (I’ve been under a general about 3 times now in the past 2 years and those popsicles they give you when they take out your breathing tube are seriously the best.) I was soon transferred up to my room on the labour and delivery floor where Mark and my dad and the baby were waiting for me. Juniper and I spent the next 2 days in the hospital as I needed to receive both an iron transfusion and a blood transfusion, but with family visits, Tucos deliveries and my best friend delivering me green smoothies and soy lattes, it passed quickly. I had the most amazing nurses during that time as well, which I was so thankful for. I felt SO much better by the time I was discharged.
It was a scary little blip in our journey but all ended well and I was very thankful for the skilled hands of many, from my midwife to the ambulance attendants to the doctors and nurses. It was a far different birth than that which we had with Woodrow at home and that we had hoped to repeat, but sometimes the hospital is just where you need to be, and I have a new appreciation for that. Since then things have been on the up and up. My hemoglobin, which had dropped to 52 at its lowest post haemorrhage, was up to 93 at my 2 week pp midwife appointment and we’ll reassess again at my 6 week pp appointment. Based on how good I’m feeling and how high my energy levels are I think I’m back within a normal range.
It seems like that was enough of a story for now – I’ll fill you in on all the other fun baby and non-baby related things again as soon as I can.
And just like that, our sweet baby girl is already a month old! She needs to stop growing so quickly – it’s all happening so fast!