The Birth Stories of My 3 Babies
I shared a boba tea with this pretty lady last night, talked about anything and everything, including childbirth, the topic she and every woman who hasn’t gone through it feel uneasy about. She said she will definitely go for the epidural when the time comes. When I shared my opting for natural births all 3 times, she was shocked and asked why I was willing to go through that much pain.
I didn’t even think before I blurted out my heartfelt answer – “because the reward is worth so much more, and the pain was a price I was willing to pay.” She was quite touched hearing that.
Knowing how lost I felt before I had my babies, I want to share my 3 birthing stories, what I expected, how they actually went, and the surprises along the way. So here goes! If you’re an experienced mom, you can probably relate to at least some of my experiences. If you’re a mama getting ready to give birth, I hope my stories can shed some light on what real and honest childbirth experiences can look like. Yes they were painful, but the short-term pain was nothing compared to the amount of life-changing love and joy every baby has brought to our lives <3
Baby #1 – Elaine (Spring 2013)
I wrote a 6 page single spaced word document on the birth of my oldest, which you don’t have time nor care to read about. So here is concise version.
What I Expected – People told me contractions are kind of menstrual cramps, except worse, and if you don’t get menstrual cramps, you may luck out of contraction pain as well. Since I rarely ever got menstrual cramps, I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
What actually happened – Contractions are the WORST/STRONGEST/MOST GUT-WRENCHING pain I have ever experienced in my life. My contractions didn’t come far apart then down to 5 minutes like the TV shows and books portrayed. They came at 2 minutes apart from the get go, and stayed like that all the way until I delivered the baby. Contractions are the reason women get epidural, and men cry on those contraction simulators.
What I expected – I can go through childbirth with no epidural or any kind of drugs, because all of our ancestors have done it, and God created my body to endure this pain and give birth! I read many books on how to relax during labor and have a baby naturally. I can totally have a natural childbirth, where my body and precious baby won’t experience any possible side effects from man-made drugs.
What actually happened – I did everything I could. I breathed. I rocked on a rocker to relax, though it was nearly impossible not to tense up when your body was in that much pain. I endured the awful contractions coming at every 2 minutes with no drugs for 7 hours (I had not slept the night before, so this was after an all-nighter). I had dilated from 1 to 2 centimeters in those 7 hours…imagine my disappointment! My body was exhausted, I had no energy left to spare, and I wanted to give up except I couldn’t. It wasn’t a school or work project I could halt midway and finish later. I needed to get her out! So 8 hours after I was admitted, I got the epidural.
In less than 10 minutes after I got the epidural I felt an instant relief, it was unbelievable and I thanked God for the creation of this drug and the amazing feeling of nothing. My legs were completely numb, then my abdomen area. It was weird but wonderful.
What I expected – Once dilation reaches 10 cm, you push and the baby comes out, easy peasy. After all, some moms have pushed to deliver in cars before and caught their own babies, right?
What actually happened – It took 45 minutes to push her out, and that was considered average. The nurses were extremely encouraging and helpful. (I remember all of their names to this day and will forever be grateful to them! THANK A NURSE Y’ALL!!!) It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. Apparently the cord was around Elaine’s neck twice, and the doctor didn’t know until I pushed her head out. She quickly cut the cord (the room suddenly got quiet during that time which was scary. I kept asking Cody what was wrong and he wouldn’t say. Imagine how nervous I was!!). A quick episiotomy was performed and the doctor and I pulled/pushed Elaine out together, she came out a bit blue, with a low APGAR score. But fortunately she was back to normal soon after.
What I expected – Pure joy to hold my sweet newborn in my arms, finally getting to see what she looked like, giving her lots of kisses and love and bond with the baby instantly.
What actually happened – I was in so much pain for so long I didn’t even want to look at the baby, and almost hated her for putting me through all this pain. It was so weird to hear the cries of my own baby for the first time. It took me an hour to want to look at her and then hold her. I was in pain all over and was emotional shocked. I didn’t feel the attachment to her until later, but luckily that bond does grow stronger everyday, and she quickly became “my world”.
Baby #2 – Ava (Spring 2015)
What to expect – Pure horror of a birthing experience like the first, but coming in hot knowing what to expect and how to do it.
What actually happened – The night before her birth, I had a feeling she was coming. So I decided to sleep early to have enough energy for what might be coming. I was woken up by contractions around 4 am, not painful, but more like I needed to use the bathroom…I called the doctor to see if I should come in, and when the on-call doctor gave me the ok, I got everything ready, called my mom to come over and babysit, and woke Cody up at 5 am to go to the hospital.
I was 3 cm dilated when I arrived at the hospital. The contractions made me stop to catch my breath, but they felt bearable, probably because it was a more familiar feeling this time around, and well within my expectation. I opted for natural birth again, so I waited and rocked side to side sitting on a yoga ball this time, while listening to praise and worship songs and breathing in Serenity (a DoTerra essential oil that supposedly calms you and helps during childbirth) from the diffuser we brought. The nurses loved the smell in my room, so I had frequent visits to check on me, nice! I progressed from 3 to 6 cm within an hour! And 6 to 9 cm after another hour. I was really shocked and even more thankful how quickly this all happened. At this point the contractions were starting to hurt quite badly, but I was almost at the finish line! I was scared, not knowing what birthing a baby would be like without any drugs to numb the unthinkable pain.
Laboring after 9 cm quickly became too intense to handle. The contractions grew very close together and I was no longer able to relax into them the way I did earlier. I was 9 cm for a very very long time, it was so painful I started crying. I cried and cried but it was too late to get the epidural anyways and I knew I had to push through. Cody tried to massage my lower back which helped. I prayed and held on to God in those moments, not having anything else I could lean on. I prayed this would pass soon, that I could reach to 10 cm and Ava could come out.
Finally at 10 am I was told I was at 10 cm and allowed to push. Not having any drugs in my system at all, the pushing was excruciatingly painful, and I felt my body was falling apart, yet with a strong urge to push this baby out. Every contraction was an opportunity to push. It got too painful to push all the way through, because I felt this burning sensation called “the ring of fire”, and didn’t have enough courage to keep going. The kind nurse “threatened” that if I didn’t push the baby would be in danger. After hearing those words I let go of everything, including the need to be alive in that moment, and I just pushed…Ava came out, crying loudly. I was shaking in pain, and my amazing OB quickly sewed me my tear up. She then helped me push out the placenta, and I kept on shaking uncontrollably for a long time after, apparently that’s normal due to hormones. It was the most intense experience my body had ever gone through, even having gone through labor and delivery once already. Giving birth naturally was hard, but it made me appreciate the birthing experience and the baby so much. I did it! I gave birth completely naturally, no drugs! My friend Grace told me it would be the closest feeling a person can feel to the pain Jesus had on the cross, powerful huh.
I was also so proud of myself for having birthed a baby naturally. She was so beautiful and I loved her right away. Honestly after these 2 birthing experiences, I felt SO STRONG as a person. I gave birth to a baby naturally! I can do anything! I loved the natural birth experience with Ava, because it allowed me to be completely present, and made me appreicate this body God has given me, and cherish the sweet, precious baby Ava I get to call mine.
Baby #3 – Warren (Thanksgiving 2017)
What I expected – Well, if Elaine’s labor/delivery took 14 hours, and Ava’s took 4 hours, this should take like, an hour right? And I could do the natural birth thing again right?
What actually happened – Contractions started at 10 pm, so I had no sleep again going into the hospital. I was 4 cm dilated when I got admitted, and quickly progressed to 5. I was overjoyed, and ready to push this baby out! Then…it stopped, as in I was 5 cm for a very long time. Because I was exhausted not having had sleep, I knew I couldn’t keep fighting if I wasn’t progressing. I calmly asked for epidural after 5 hours of 5 cm. I was quite surprised it would take so long with baby #3, don’t labors and deliveries get faster each time?
Even with the epidural, it took until 10 am the next morning for me to be fully dilated. I was then asked to wait for the doctor to come in at 10:30 am to push. Well since I was numb I was able to wait. When my OB finally came in and said “all right Rachel, you can push now!” It took one push, literally, just ONE push for the baby to slide out of me. Thank God! I guess it really is better each time you have a baby. I had no tears or trauma of any kind, Hallelujah!
God has an interesting sense of humor, because he wanted all of my babies to be born at the exact same time – 10:45 am. Though I didn’t expect the labor to be long, the delivery was quick and easy, and my recovery was quick too since I had no injuries at all!
So there you go! My 3 babies and our 3 different birth stories. Finishing up with a quote from F.W. Boreham –
When God sees that in this poor old world a wrong needs righting or a truth needs preaching or a benefit needs inventing, He sends a baby into the world to do it.”