juniper rae: birth story
Birth story of Juniper Rae Tastad:
I cannot believe I am here, writing the birth story of my second daughter. I am in disbelief that this is my life! My pregnancy with Juniper truly seems like it lasted forever. There were the few people who commented on how quickly it flew or how much faster it goes when you already have a kid…but man, there is something about counting weeks (till 40 no less!) that makes time tick by in slow motion for me. This pregnancy was tough- thankfully, this time I expected it and planned for it In terms of ending my nannying and photography before I knew I would not be mobile. What I didn’t expect was how early the pain would come on. Around 9 weeks, I started feeling the start of my pelvic pain and it just gradually got worse as my belly grew. By around 34 weeks with both of my pregnancies, I hit a mental shift where I feel so done being in such very intense pain. The last month of Everly’s pregnancy I did a TON of mall walking. This time, with COVID and icy winter, I felt a lot more trapped and stir crazy, not to mention parenting a toddler. In those final couple of weeks, when the baby is dropped into my pelvis, I’m able to regain a little mobility and be in a little less pain! Thankfully I was blessed with some warm temps to melt the ice so I could go on walks and play out in the snow with Everly! Such a blessing to me in those final days to be able to spend such fun time with Ev and Jake.
On the morning of February 3, I told Jake I wanted to have a special morning as a family of three as I had a deep feeling this would be our last one. It was a beautiful, sunny and 35 degree day! Jake had taken PTO this day as we were trying to minimize any chances of COVID exposure leading up to having a baby, and praise God we had planned for him to be home this day! We bundled up and went on a walk at Wood Lake Nature Center. It was so much fun exploring with Ev as she dragged her “baby brother” doll in the sled, climbed on fallen trees, and looked for deer! We went back home for lunch, I rocked Ev before nap and gave her some extra kisses having a feeling I wouldn’t see her for a few days.
At 1:10pm I had 38 week prenatal appointment. I had asked her to strip my membranes that day and was hopeful that would help push me towards REAL labor. This pregnancy was filled with endless weeks of prodromal labor. I had days with painful contractions, days where I had mild contractions 5 min apart for hours and hours on end, and a night where they woke me up 9 min apart just like Everly’s labor. Mentally, this was so exhausting for me. I did my best to ignore them, to not invest too much, but I was sooooooo over it. So at that 38 week appointment I desperately told her “Do your best work…” and my doctor laughed saying that she can’t guarantee anything. She listened to the baby’s heart after the membrane sweep only to find her heart rate was pretty low so she sent me over to another room for a non-stress test (NST). Her heartrate was staying at or right below what they were considering “normal” but giving us some peaks when she moved (but she wasn’t moving much which was weird for this little one). The nurse assured me that the variation was good and I would probably be sent home soon. Then I started contracting, and with each contraction her heart rate dipped pretty low. We waited through a few and then the nurse went to discuss with my doctor. A few minutes later she came back in and said “Well, it looks like you are having a baby today! Thankfully, it seems like you are probably already in labor but we will need to have you induced and make sure she is born soon. So, you need to go to the hospital now.”.
WHAT!! It’s “funny”. My biggest prayer had been that it would be extremely obvious when I need to go to the hospital. With all the false labor, I was worried I would wait too long when it was really the real deal. God answered my prayer… although very differently than I would have imagined. Driving home, I called Jake to pack up and called my mom to head over to watch Ev. It was such a weird experience just walking into Labor and Delivery, checking in like it was a hotel and being walked to our room. We waited there in disbelief. At this point, I am still contracting regularly but nothing painful. The nurse came in, I got my gown on, was COVID tested, and we awaited my doctors arrival.
I asked quite a few questions regarding this induction process. My hope had been to avoid Pitocin in this delivery but now, being induced, wasn’t sure how that would work. I shared my hesitations and she shared her expertise. Ultimately, I trust my doctors direction and her wanting to be sure that the baby was born soon and not in distress with her low heartrate. We agreed to staying at the smallest amount possible, just enough to get my body into a rhythm. Thankfully, this plan went well. She broke my water probably around 4pm and started a small Pitocin drip. My labor started slowly ramping up, I moved around the room, labored on a ball for a while and then started having extreme back pain through each contraction.
One of the biggest blessings of my whole labor was the doctor on call for my OB group that day. She came in to meet me and asked about the pain in my contractions. She had just been trained this year in Spinning Babies and shared her successes with using their tactics to reduce labor pains and how many less C-sections they are seeing using these tools. She gave me a position against the wall to labor in that really helped to pull off some of that pressure and shift the baby into a better position. I was so, so grateful for her support.
I labored against the wall as long as I was able but after 10 or so contractions became extremely fatigued. I tried laboring on the ball again for a while but found I was quickly tiring. The nurses told me it was up to me if or when I wanted to be checked and when I wanted to get an epidural (my plan was to labor until I was ready for the epidural). Around 7:30pm, as the nurses were switching, I asked to be checked. I was worried about feeling discouraged if I hadn’t progressed much but at this point I was starting to feel extremely tired and finding it harder and harder to relax between contractions. I was 6cm dilated at this point and told the nurse “let me think about what I should do”. Each contraction seemed to get drastically harder and harder and I ended up needing to be in the bed as I was so shaky and nauseous. I asked for the epidural at this point and heard the nurse saying in the hall that I should be priority for anesthesia, which cracked me up…she was so awesome! Jake told her not to go far because I went from 6-10cm very quickly with our first baby. She checked me after those couple contractions and I was 7cm.
I’m not sure what time it was, but I did get my epidural. I had to lay on my back for the epidural to work properly which was pretty much impossible at this point. Through each contraction, I was on my side using Jake or the bed rail to help me through, but I was trying to lay on my back in between. Within a couple of minutes, I felt her head. I knew she was coming and told my nurse to get the doctor. My knees were lifting and I knew my body was ready to push. The nurse kept tapping my legs “can you feel this still?”…yup. “are you feeling pain or pressure”…both. At this point, the baby was coming and the epidural had given me a slightly tingly right leg so far. Very helpful for labor pain as you can imagine ;)
When the doctor arrived, she checked me and said, “wow what a full head of dark hair!” It was so surreal knowing she was literally RIGHT there! With Everly, things became very stressful at the end of my labor and her heartrate was dropping significantly which ended up with me needing to push her out extremely quickly (3 minutes…) which also left me extremely torn up from such a fast delivery. We had shared this with the OB earlier and she really coached me through Juniper’s delivery to help make this experience smoother. On the first contraction, she asked me to push twice. On the second contraction she talked me through pushing and waiting and helping my body to stretch slowly and avoid another rough tearing and healing process. Jake said he was able to see her head coming in and out during this time! On the third contraction, I pushed three times. The second contraction Jake was saying “oh my gosh that’s our baby!” and by the third push, she was here…wrapped up TIGHT in her umbilical cord THREE TIMES. So it’s no wonder her heart rate was dropping so low but, thank you Jesus, she was just fine and screaming her little lungs out!
Juniper Rae Tastad was here at 8:52pm! Our beautiful 6lbs and 12oz, 20 inches long and black haired baby girl I can’t believe that morning we hiked and explored, ate lunch together as a family and before 9pm we were a family of four! Juniper screamed for quite a while after being born and then quickly decided to nurse. Anytime I would lay her on my chest, she would whip her head down to one side. Back and forth, back and forth, she nursed constantly for her first 12 hours of life. Such a wild experience! Due to COVID, no guests would be allowed at the hospital so we facetimed our parents before it got too late and introduced them to their newest grandbaby!
We are two weeks into life as a family of four now! Juniper is the perfect addition to our world and its already hard to imagine life without her. We have cherished these weeks with Jake off work part of the time but also working from home due to COVID. We are thankful for our family and small pod of friends who have committed to being safe so that we can have them come into our home and meet our baby girl (and help out with meals, cleaning, and entertaining a wild almost-two-year-old!). Our life lack rhythm and routine right now which is hard on us all, but with time, we will find our new normal! It's been a big adjustment for us all as we find space to transition, rest and heal! So grateful that Everly is so affectionate and loving to her sister, despite many tough toddler emotions in the newness of this season!
Juniper Rae, you are so deeply loved. We are so grateful we get to be the ones to call you OURS!