Hey everybody, I’m so glad to be hanging out with you guys again! This time I’m here to tell you all about my birth stories. If you didn’t get to read my previous post on my pregnancy stories, here’s a little background on me:
My name is Michelle, and I am the author/founder over at The Artful Ambler blog (www.artfulambler.com), which is a lifestyle blog for modern mamas that aims to help ladies find and maintain their “mom-self balance,” as I like to call it. I have a background in business and fashion/retail, but I’ve spent most of the past eight years as a stay-at-home-mom. My three favorite things in the world besides my beautiful family are: good food (especially tacos), nature (especially the ocean), and music (especially rock/metal and blues/soul).
I’m originally from central California, and moved to San Diego when I was 20 years old. I met my hubby there when I was 21 and we got married when I was 22. We had our first child when I was 23 (surprise!) and his military service took us to Japan when our daughter was just 18 months old. While we were over there, we had our second daughter, and when she was just over a year, my husband finished his contract with the Marine Corps, and we moved back to his home state of Texas, where we currently reside. Shortly after my 29th birthday, we bought our very first home, and became pregnant (again, surprise!) with our third little one. Now that I’m 30, I’m definitely done having babies, but I still love reminiscing and sharing my experiences with other moms and moms-to-be. Although all of my births were a little different, there are a couple of things that they had in common: vaginal delivery, and Pitosin. Although I didn’t have any need for a C-section, my body always needed a bit of help getting into active labor. Gah. As I mentioned in my previous post about my pregnancy stories, I’ll try not to gross you out, but I always strive to be real and honest. I don’t think there’s a birth story out there that’s not a little bit TMI, so let this serve as your warning! 🙂
First Birth in San Diego, California USA
I’ll start with Zoe, my oldest. Being a first-time mama, I was so nervous leading up to my due date. I had had a few Braxton-Hicks contractions, but other than that, almost no signs of labor. I think I was only dilated about one centimetre the week that I went into labor.
About three days before Zoe was due, my water broke. Only, it wasn’t the huge gush that you see happen in movies all the time. I had a little tiny gush and then a bit of a slow leak. I thought “oh crap, it’s time!” But when I went to the hospital, they said they didn’t detect any amniotic fluid, and they sent me home since I wasn’t having any solid contractions yet. They had said that I probably just had a bit of incontinence, despite the fact that this hadn’t happened to me at all during my entire pregnancy. But whatevs.
So I went home and walked around and around and around, trying to get baby to come. During this time, my slow fluid leak continued. Finally, four days later, I woke up at three in the morning with what I knew for sure were contractions. I waited for about three hours until they started getting closer and more regular, and then we packed up and headed back to the hospital. This time, the nurses found amniotic fluid and told me that my water had definitely broken. I told them that it had actually happened a few days prior, so they got me started on Pitocin to move the process along to avoid any risks.
After about 6 hours into labor, I was so tired that I asked for an epidural just because I needed to get some rest to be able to push. They gave me Fentanyl to help reduce the pain while I waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive. This didn’t take away the pain of the contractions completely, but it helped dull it enough that I could relax a bit more.
The epidural was both a blessing and a curse. It allowed me to get the rest that I needed, which was SO important. I know if I hadn’t gotten the sleep that I did, delivery would have been longer and more arduous than it was. So I’m grateful for that. On the other hand, there were a lot of side effects to the epidural that I wasn’t too pleased with. For example, it made me shiver uncontrollably, even though I wasn’t cold. It was the weirdest experience, and pretty damn annoying, if I’m completely honest. Also, if you’re not familiar, a full epidural hinders your ability to walk because of the numbness you experience. So I had to wear a catheter, which was nice, because I didn’t have to get up and haul a bunch of equipment with me to go to the bathroom, but the removal was pretty uncomfortable. The other thing is that the epidural can increase your pushing time due to the fact that you can’t bear down as well with the medicine affecting your nerves. So many doctors will lower the medicine dosage, which means that you still feel pain while pushing.
Once it was time to start pushing, everything was hectic. I had a team of about six people in the room since I agreed to let a couple of their medical students observe the delivery. My parents were there, and my dad had gone to get lunch for him and my mom and my husband, so about fifteen minutes after I started pushing, he walks in like a deer caught in the headlights (a deer with its hands full of McDonald’s bags) because apparently no one had informed him that it was showtime. “CLOSE THE DOOR! I’ve already got enough people looking at my vaginaaaa!” was my retort. The team of nurses cracked up, and I couldn’t help but join them until my next contraction hit.
Over the next three hours, I tried pushing in just about every position imaginable. They offered me a mirror so I could see what was happening down there (nooo thank you!). I sat on a birthing ball. I tried kneeling on the bed. I tried pulling on the bar that they hook up to the bed. Nothing seemed to be working. Finally, the midwife decided that an episiotomy might be helpful. So she performed the procedure, and whoosh! Out comes baby. Like nothing. All that pushing and a little tiny cut made all the difference! I think if I hadn’t gotten the epidural, the pushing would’ve been easier, but you never know!
Of course, everything was worth it when they handed me that sweet little baby. After we had our mommy-baby time, they took her to weigh her, clean her, and all of the other post-birth things. Seeing my husband help bathe her for the first time is one of my fondest memories. There is something really special about watching a normal, everyday ritual being performed for the first time with a brand-new person. I remember having to adjust to my legs again after they removed the epidural. It was really hard to walk, so getting to the bathroom was a pain. I also remember being really excited to get my hospital dinner (weird).
Second Birth in Japan!
My second daughter, Abigail, was significantly quicker and easier. We were actually stationed in Japan when we had her, so we had to travel about 6 hours by train when I was 36 weeks so I could give birth at the Naval hospital. We had four weeks of time off, just exploring and hanging out as a family, so the lead up to birth was really nice. This was also probably my best birth experience due to our delivery doctor and team of nurses. They were beyond amazing!
Again, my body waited until the very last minute to initiate labor. After being dilated to 4cm at just 36 weeks, I thought she would be early, if anything. But nope. After walking literally everywhere for four weeks, I finally started feeling regular contractions the day after her due date. We went down to the hospital once they got to be about 10 minutes apart.
After monitoring my contractions and checking me out, they decided to give me a small dose of Pitocin to help things along, even though my water hadn’t yet broken. If I recall correctly, they ended up having to break my water manually. After a couple hours I finally got into active, heavy labor. At about six hours in, it started to get really strong, and I asked for an epidural, which I didn’t really want, but I was getting exhausted. However, it took the anesthesiologist about an hour to arrive, and by the time he got there, the baby was beginning to crown. So away we went, without pain meds!
Thankfully, my doctor was amazing, and without an epidural, I was able to deliver Abby with just 45 minutes of pushing, and without any tearing or an episiotomy. This process was a bag of mixed emotions. While I had my hubby at my side the entire time at Zoe’s birth, this time he had to watch Zoe while I was pushing Abby, since we didn’t have any family or friends there to help us out. Zoe was in the room with us, but she got upset when she heard me hollering during the delivery, poor kiddo. Once she realized that I was okay and hubby brought her out from behind the curtain and she saw her baby sister for the first time, she was elated. Recovery was pretty easy. Without an episiotomy or epidural, it was much easier to adjust to walking around again after birth. They kept us for three days overall because Abby was delivered at 9pm. Two days after they released us, we were on a train back to our regular base with a toddler and a newborn! This was a bit rough, but not as bad as I had feared. That being said, we were happy to be back home with our new bundle of joy.
Third Birth in Texas, USA
Elliot was our third and last baby. We had him here in Texas, where we currently reside, and it was a bit different this time because I had civilian health coverage, as opposed to military with our two daughters. My pregnancy with Elliot was pretty smooth, up until week 37, when I learned that I had cholestasis. Because of this, my doctor recommended that I induce as soon as possible to help reduce the risks associated with the condition.
We scheduled our induction for 7am, and because my doctor was going out of town, we worked to have baby out by 12pm. And we did! They took my vitals and made sure everything was hunky dory, and then got me started on Pitosin right away. Thankfully, we live in the same city as my in-laws, so they were able to watch our girls while hubby stayed with me at the hospital. I can’t imagine having done it without their help.
My contractions started gaining strength and frequency over the next couple hours, and I used the “peanut” birthing ball while switching from side to side to help the dilation progress. After about three and a half hours or so, baby started to crown. I was ready to get him out, but it took forever for the doctor to get from the cafeteria to the L&D ward (nice timing for lunch, amirite?). They actually made me hold the baby in while I waited for Doc to get there. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to strangle someone so badly in my life, haha.
Pushing was much quicker and easier this time since, A.) they made me wait so long, and B.) my body was used to it by now. I think I pushed three times and Elliot was out. It couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes. Super easy! After they towelled him off a bit, they handed my son to me, and I was able to cuddle him for a good thirty minutes before they took him back for all the post-birth routines. The nurse that gave him his bath was my favorite because she styled his hair in a faux hawk, so obviously she was the coolest person ever.
Later that evening, my in-laws brought the girls by to meet their brother, and they were so excited to see him. After they went back home, we caught up on some much-needed rest.
Recovery this time was quicker than my other two births. I was in a bit better shape this time around, and I think the quick labor helped reduce the amount of fatigue on my body. After just two days, we were back home, getting comfy with our new baby boy.
Overall, every birth experience was different, but the one thing that they held in common was that they were all completely worth any pain and stress that I experienced. There is nothing like holding your baby in your arms for the first time, whether it’s your first or your last. I’m hoping that sharing these stories with you has helped you in some way or another, whether you’re a first-time-mom, seasoned mama, or a mom-to-be! I’d be happy to chat more about my experiences if you are curious. Feel free to shoot me a DM on Instagram (www.instagram.com/artfulambler) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/artfulambler), or contact me through my blog (www.artfulambler.com)!
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