Updated: Jul 15
I didn't really know that sharing your birth stories was a thing. Hearing them is enjoyable for me, but I never realized so many other people out there enjoyed them too. So, I figured I'd throw mine out into the world wide web also, just for fun. I'm not one to share any super personal intimate or graphic details, so don't worry if you're not in to that. These are just the basic stories leading up to each of my births. It's so amazing how different each one of them was!
My firstborn was five days late, which I know is pretty normal. To me, however, it felt like an abnormal eternity. I was working full-time from home (before I became a sleep consultant). On February 19, 2018, I was having some "stomach issues" while working at home. There was some mild cramping, but it wasn't anything like what I imagined a contraction to be like and it was so irregular. Everything I read on Dr. Google told me that contractions were consistent and timeable. So, I assumed I had just eaten something that didn't agree with me. This lasted the whole day.
In the afternoon, I had an ultrasound appointment. They wanted to check my amniotic fluid levels since I was overdue. On my way there, I was feeling more of these upset stomach cramps, but still didn't even consider the possibility of contractions. During the exam, the ultrasound tech asked me if I had been having any contractions. "Well, I've had an upset stomach all day, but I don't think so," I replied. She just said, "Oh ok, hmm."
A few minutes later, she asked again if I was feeling anything. I admitted that I was feeling some cramping at that moment. Her next comment is one I will never ever forget.
"Yeah...that's a contraction...second one I've seen on here so far. Hun, you're in labor."
What?!?! How could I be in labor? My "contractions" were so irregular and just felt like a bad burrito or menstrual cramps. This was not at all what I expected labor to be like. I left the appointment with directions to head straight to the hospital...this was actually happening. As it turns out, my fluid levels were getting a little low, so they would've sent me to the hospital anyway.
I called Evan, my husband, and he was already on his way home. He said he just had a feeling that it was happening today. We met at home, quickly grabbed our bags, and headed for the hospital. My emotions were raging...just about every emotion possible. Excitement. Fear. Joy. Peace. Pain. Nervousness (mostly about the possibility of accidentally pooping while pushing- which is apparently super duper common).
We arrived at the hospital around 5:00p.m. It was shortly after that my body showed me what a contraction really felt like as I moved into active labor. For the next 12ish hours, I labored naturally, because I was determined not to have an epidural. Sometime in the late morning of February 20th, my doctor came in to check my progress again. I had been 7cm dilated for HOURS (at least the past two checks she did), so I was really hoping for more.
"Well...still 7cm." My awesome super-mom response was, "Are you KIDDING ME?!" At this point, I was done. He had overstayed his welcome in there and he needed to come out NOW. This is when I decided to get an epidural afterall. Did I quit on my goals? Maybe...but it was very worth it. However, the epidural was not a smooth process.
It took them at least ten trys to get it in the right spot. A nurse anestetist or an anestesiologist-in-training (I can't rememeber which) was trying first. Whomever she was, she could not get it. So the actual anestesiologist came in and tried. It still took him a while too, but he finally got it in. I was having horrible contractions the whole time they worked on it. They explained something about me being short making it harder...I don't know...I didn't care at that point. It was finally in and within 30 minutes I had begun to feel the contractions less and less.
Fast forward another 5 or so hours (because the rest is either too boring or too graphic to share) and Gideon Thomas was born at 3:20p.m. Yes, that's right...almost 24 hours after arriving at the hospital the night before. Evan, my mom (Grammy), and Evan's mom (Gigi) were all there and were troopers in helping me get through that entire painful day of my life. It's true what they say...when they placed him on my chest, I didn't care about the pain anymore. I was just so overjoyed to finally have my baby in my arms.
Gideon Thomas - February 20 - 7 pounds, 10 ounces - 20 inches
Phoebe's story will be much quicker. Her due date was July 17, 2019. At about 3:00a.m. on July 13th, I was woken up with some contractions. This time I knew it was contractions. There was no confusion or thinking it was just cramps or a bad burrito. This time, my body skipped pre-labor and went straight to active labor. However, the contractions weren't yet 5-7 minutes apart, which is when they say to go to the hospital. So, I walked around a bit, had a snack, and tried to lay down and rest a bit more. All while the contractions kept getting stronger and more frequent.
By 5:00a.m. I had woken Evan up, called my doctor, and called my mom. She was on her way to come stay with Gideon. By the time my contractions got to 5-minutes a part, I was also vomitting after almost every one. They were extremely strong and closer to 4-minutes apart by the time we left home, vomit bucket in tow.
We got to the hospital around 5:30a.m. and things went QUICK. I got the epidural asap this time (Mama ain't no hero anymore) and they also gave me something for the nausea. It took a while to help, but finally my stomach calmed down. Skip ahead all of the boring and/or graphic details, and with just two pushes, our Phoebe Lorraine was born at 10:54a.m. Her labor was only about 8 hours from the start of the first contractions to the finish!
Phoebe Lorraine - July 13 - 7 pounds, 4 ounces - 19.5 inches
My third labor was the quickest, but also the weirdest. I was due two weeks after Christmas and I just had it in my head that he was going to come early and be a Christmas baby. Two days before Christmas, I woke up in a puddle and assumed my water had broken, but I really wasn't sure. My water never broke with Gideon or Phoebe, and Dr. Google was kind of confusing on the matter. I decided to call my doctor early that morning and they had me come in to the hospital to get checked out. Nope. Not my water. Basically, it was either "other fluids" or I peed myself in my sleep.
I also had multiple times in that next week when I started having contractions, but they were more than 5-7 minutes apart. Excitedly, I'd tell Evan that this might be it, and then wait for them to get stronger and closer. However, within an hour or so, the contractions would completely stop. This baby was playing tricks on me. When the year ended with no baby, I began to get impatient. The tail end of a pregnancy is pretty miserable regardless. I felt like he was late even though there was still a week until my due date (January 7th).
On January 1st, shortly after we put Gideon and Phoebe to bed (7:30p.m.), I started having contractions. I again told Evan that this could be it. This time, the contractions did get stronger and closer together! I called my doctor and mom around 8:00p.m. By the time my mom got there at 9:30, the contractions were 4-minutes apart. We had the car packed and drove off as soon as we saw her car pull up.
We arrived at the hospital around 10:00p.m. and I was already 6cm dilated and almost fully effaced. We were joking with the nurse about the possibility of having a New Years baby if he came before midnight. We all guessed no. I got the epidural. My doctor came in to check me and I was now 7cm. She told me to let her know if I felt any pressure and said she'd be back to check on me in a little while. About 30 minutes later, right around midnight, I told my nurse that I felt some pressure. She checked and her words are ones I will never forget either:
Yep...that's because his head is RIGHT THERE! Let me go get your doctor!
A bunch of people flooded into our room within minutes. There was meconium in my water when they broke it, so they had the NICU team there just for precaution. The same had actually happened with Gideon too. Ezra was born at 12:14a.m. with literally one push (I took two breaths to keep pushing, but it all happened during one big contraction). His labor was not even 5 hours from the start of the first contractions to his birth! There was a little concern at first with him breathing, but the NICU team got him cleared up pretty quickly and he was on my chest within minutes. A very scary couple of minutes, but I just knew he'd be okay. (When this happened with Gideon, he was perfectly fine- NICU didn't need to intervene at all.)
Ezra Michael - January 2 - 8 pounds, 4 ounces - 21.5 inches
Each birth was just as unique as each child is. I'm so blessed to be the Mommy of these three beautiful babies and can't wait to watch them grow big and strong! Did you have any similar experiences to mine? If you have a birth story to share, comment a summary or a link and I'd love to check it out!
~Ashley Bell, pediatric sleep consultant