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When I was pregnant with my children, I remember seeking out information about other women’s birth stories. It gave me a sense of control, knowing all the ways that things could go down, and acknowledging that my vision of how my labor and delivery would go may not be realized. So here I will share my own birth stories of both my deliveries with you!
If you’ve read my high-risk pregnancy success story, then you know that I was at risk of having very premature babies. By some stroke of luck, I actually made it to the 40-week mark with both kids!
Birth Stories: My first baby’s labor and delivery
On my daughter’s due date, there were no signs of baby that I was aware of. I did not have any Braxton Hicks contractions that I could feel, and I didn’t have a “bloody show”. I went to bed that night like any other and started drifting off to sleep.
About an hour after dozing off, I felt my baby moving and then felt what I can only describe as feeling a rubber band snap in a specific spot inside my stomach.
It occurred to me that the ping I felt could be my water breaking, so I gingerly got out of bed and headed to the bathroom. Upon sitting on the toilet, the Hollywood-style water-breaking gush happened, and I remember being so thankful it didn’t happen like that in my bed!
I shouted to my sleeping husband that I thought my water was breaking and he sprung out of bed. He was surprised and excited and nervous and anxious, and began running around the house — all I could see from the bathroom was him suddenly appearing and disappearing in the doorway. It was hilarious.
To give his energy purpose and get our butts in gear, I tasked him with calling the hospital to see when we should come in, getting the car set with a towel and a large plastic trash bag as a liner for under me (I really wanted to keep the car mess-free!), and getting me a giant postpartum pad for me to wear for the car ride.
The hospital told us to come right in and so off we went!
I began contracting as soon as my water broke, just mildly at first, but rhythmically, with what felt like period cramps. The contractions grew in intensity over the course of the labor, but were super manageable for a long time.
We arrived to the hospital and went through triage. They tested my leaking fluid and confirmed that my water had broken and that I was contracting! Baby was on her way!
I was in triage for a couple hours until I was far enough along that they were ready to move me to a delivery room. It was then that we called my parents who are local and my husband’s parents in the UK!
Once the contractions became more intense, I found it really helpful to circle my hips or bounce on the exercise ball. I would lean on my husband or my mom to help take some of my own weight off of me. Because my water had broken, there wasn’t any internal cushion between baby and me, meaning once the contractions became stronger, they were SUPER strong.
Some of my contractions double or triple peaked. I would feel it building and to help me get through it, I would anticipate it going down again. But with many of my active labor contractions, it would build, peak, decrease slightly, peak again, and then finally dissipate. Sometimes it would peak for a third time within one contraction! Those were not my favorite.
I remember feeling like maybe I couldn’t do it because I was so exhausted from laboring through the night and from taking on the multi-peaking contractions that lasted way longer than the birthing classes said they would.
Having heard of other moms resting once they got the epidural, I decided that’s what I needed in order to catch my breath, get some shut-eye, and then get ready to keep going.
Epidurals can sometimes slow progression down, so I was a little nervous for that, but also way more excited to rest. My epidural had the opposite effect! I got it, I felt maybe two contractions worth of reprieve, I laid down to nap, and then boom…baby moved into my birth canal and it was time to push!
I utilized a mirror provided by the hospital to help me gain a sense of what I was doing and what was actually happening. Not everyone is keen to use a mirror, but I found it helpful!
My hospital only allowed moms to push for a couple hours before needing to having a c-section, so I was eager to get my baby out! I ended up pushing for close to two hours.
I did it! (And you can too!)
I labored for 12.5 hours and just a day past her due date I got to meet my darling little girl!
It was so special to have my husband and mom in the delivery room with me, and I know my mom was honored to be there to see her first grandbaby born!
A week after my daughter’s birth I had delayed postpartum hemorrhaging at home. I passed enormous blood clots and then began gushing blood. We rushed me to the hospital with baby in tow and they were able to treat me quickly with a shot and oral medication.
I didn’t need a blood transfusion or further medical care, but I do think this event put my body into a survival mode that negatively impacted my ability to make enough milk to nurse my daughter. We had to supplement with formula from week three onward when we realized she was not getting enough milk. Unfortunately, no milk-increasing intervention worked for this nursing journey, but fortunately formula exists and I was able to help make sure my baby was fed. Fed is best!!
Birth Stories: My Second Baby’s Labor and Delivery
It’s common when you have a subsequent pregnancy, to wonder how your birth stories will be the same or different! I wondered if my water would break again to kick things off, how long my labor would be this time, and if I’d need an epidural again.
As you read above, my first labor lasted 12.5 hours, so I anticipated that my second labor would be quicker, though I wondered by how much. My mom’s labors were super fast — 5 hours, 3 hours, and 1 hour — so I was caught between hoping it’d be faster than 12.5, but long enough that I could get to the hospital in time (my younger brother was almost born in the car).
It seems my kids like to begin their delivery journey right when I’m ready to lay down for bed, because just like with my daughter, my labor with my son began about an hour after I fell asleep. But this time, my water didn’t break, I actually just started contracting! (Like my labor with my daughter, I did not have Braxton Hicks that I was aware of leading up to labor.)
I decided to test out if what I was feeling was false labor so I took myself to the guest bathroom to take a shower. I knew that if the contractions halted when I moved around and changed position, that it wouldn’t be the real deal.
So I showered and swayed and moved around. I was recording my contractions in an app to help me keep track of their duration and intervals, and I could see that they were in fact getting stronger and closer together.
My husband woke up to steam in the house and me singing a snippet of a Christmas song on repeat as I moved around in the shower. He jokes that it felt like something out of the twilight zone. I didn’t even know I was singing! It’s amazing how laboring can put you in a trance.
We called my mom to come stay with our daughter, and we got dressed to go to the hospital. My contractions were quickly becoming more and more intense, and I’d have to pause whatever I was doing getting ready to go until the contraction passed.
I remember trying to write my mom a note of instructions for who knows what in regards to babysitting our daughter for the following days while we were at the hospital, and not being able to think as I wrote. I couldn’t figure out what I was trying to say because my pain level was so high.
On the way to the hospital I asked my husband to speed because I felt like this baby was getting close. When we got to the hospital I was able to walk myself in, but I did have to stop for each contraction.
When I got to triage the nurse asked for a urine sample, and being the people-pleaser that I am, I tried even though I felt like being on the toilet might not be a good idea. I was unable to pee and when I came out of the bathroom explained to her that I thought the baby was coming.
Sure enough, when they checked me, I was at 10cm! From first contraction to 10 cm was only three hours.
They quickly laid me on a bed and whisked me up to the delivery room. At first I decided to go without an epidural because I was so close, but then I had what I had only read about before: the RING OF FIRE. I felt like my underside was about to explode like an over-cooked hotdog.
The anesthesiologist had just left the room when I screamed for him to come back and give me the drugs. He said he could do the epidural as long as I could stay still, and with the power deep within me I sat like a stone cold statue to get the epidural so I didn’t have to endure that ring of fire again.
Once I had the epidural, this time, I was able to rest for a little bit. I didn’t nap, but I took the time to mental prep for pushing and the whole hospital experience of having a newborn again.
When it was time to push, it didn’t take nearly as long, maybe only one hour (my son is only 2 years old and I’ve already forgotten! It’s amazing how your brain wipes out this stuff so that you’ll do it again someday ha!). Pushing was still hard, but I knew this time that I could do it.
So just 4.5 hours after beginning labor, I now was holding my little baby boy!
To prevent postpartum hemorrhage this time, I was given medication during and after labor to help with clotting and recovery. Either, it worked or my body did better on its own, or a combo of the two, and I did not suffer postpartum hemorrhaging the second time around! Phew!
Birth Stories: My Biggest Takeaways
- Your birth stories could be very similar, or they could be quite different from start to finish.
- Have your bags prepped ahead of when you think you’ll need them so that you don’t even have to think about it.
- Advocate for yourself: Don’t let the desire to be obliging keep you from speaking up. I had to demand to be checked with my son because they didn’t think I’d be as far along as I was since I hadn’t be laboring long.
- If you want to have freedom to move around during labor, even in a hospital setting, you can request to not have the belly monitor on the entire time, but instead be checked at intervals, and you can have a hep-lock IV (also called saline lock IV) which allows you to have an IV that can be detached from the machines. My doctor denied the intermittent monitoring because of my high-risk status, but did allow for the hep-lock IV. Even though I was hooked up to the machines, there was enough slack in the lines to let me be standing or sitting on the exercise ball by the side of my bed.
- You are in charge of your body. It’s convenient for the doctors and nurses for you to use the hospital bed on your back, but that may not be what feels right to you. For my son, much of my laboring and pushing was when I was on all fours on the bed.
- I wish I had had a doula for postpartum support.
- Most importantly, labor is intense, and hard, and tiring. It is also amazing, and invigorating, and empowering. Your body was made it to do it! You can do it!
What were your birth stories of your labor and deliveries like? Comment below!
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Christina is the writer behind the blog Real Life Mama. She is a mom two littles, a 4-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son. Christina and her family live in San Diego, where she is a full-time mama, part-time mental health therapist (LPCC), and round-the-clock blogger, writer, and author. If she ever gets a moment to herself, she can be found singing at the top of her lungs, cooking, and crafting. Thanks for reading!