LABOR: Ryland & Mila Mercedes

I was weeks away from delivery with my first baby, Ryland, and my doctor told me, “You have a lot of amniotic fluid in there.” I asked her what that meant. She said that I might be embarrassed if my water broke in public. A week later, my water broke in public. My sister and I had just left a restaurant when it happened. She got a yoga mat out of her trunk and put it in the passenger seat for me. It was hilarious and terrifying all at once. I tried talking myself out of the fact that I was officially in labor. The great unknown, being a mother, was right around the corner. Well, 12 hours around the corner. I called my husband and he left his office right away. He got home so quickly; he must have hit every green light.

We got home and I stood in the shower for a few minutes. Once I regrouped, we made our way to the hospital. I wasn’t having any contractions so they had to give me a Pitocin drip. I knew I wanted an epidural, but a part of me wanted to feel some labor pains. I endured contractions for a few hours and then got an epidural. Ten hours in, I got the go ahead to start pushing. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I pushed as hard as I could when they told me to. His heart rate was dipping low, so I had to wear an oxygen mask. He was born about an hour later. They handed us a beautiful baby, with no instruction manual! Needless to say, we figured out the whole baby thing and got pregnant a few years later.

The birth story for our daughter, Mila, is a bit different. She was the same gestational age as our son. They both came exactly one week early. My water didn’t break. I started having real live contractions that were three minutes apart. We casually made our way to the hospital and checked in. I got the epidural sooner this time around. After a sleepless night, they broke my water. I had great nurses there to coach me through pushing. Mila was born about thirty minutes later. I was more relaxed this time around. I knew what to expect, and I was already a mom. Parenting is one giant free-for-all, and we were as ready as we could be. As I write this, Mila is a month old and Ryland is three years old. Disregard any spelling or grammatical errors, as I’m a bit sleep deprived. Loving every minute of it!

-Mama & Artist Emily Mercedes
@emilymercedesart

LABOR: Elliott

nothing was the same.. okay, that's one of my favorite drake albums but seriously, NOTHING WAS THE SAME after finding out elliott was breech, 5 days before I gave birth to him. but let's rewind to monday 12/14, the day everything changed. I met with an incredible breech birth specialist/ob in beverly hills -  dr. fischbein. I was terrified of going to this appointment since my birth plan was having elliott at the birth center I had been going to since the beginning of my pregnancy. Elliott had flipped on me at 38 weeks so plans had to be changed. it was either meeting with Dr. Fischbein for a possible breech home birth or scheduling a c section. for those of you who don't know, having a natural breech birth at home is extremely uncommon. finding someone who has had tons of experience and is capable of doing it is even more rare. this is where Dr. Fischbein came in.

Elliott was in perfect frank breech position, meaning he was folded in half, so we were perfect candidates.

Wednesday, 12/16 Dr. Fischbein and his team of two amazing midwives, Beth and Blyss, came to our home to check it out and see what we needed to prepare. Dr. F told me he'd see me soon as I had started cramping earlier that morning.

Thursday, 12/17 around 2:00am I lost my mucus plug. little did I know, I was in my early stages of labor. I kept waking up thinking I had peed myself multiple times before I checked to see that it was actually my fluid leaking. i reached out to my doula @rubystocking, who told me I was going to meet Elliott that day or the next. throughout the whole morning/day the contractions were consistent. it just felt like really bad period cramps, nothing I couldn't handle. I was home all day and Aj had gone to run errands knowing we were having the babe soon. he bought me @harmlessharvest coconut water and bone broth because 1. im a freak and 2. I knew I needed to stay hydrated for this. while he was out, I cleaned, bathed in lavender epsom salts to help me relax, ate lots of food, and watched movies waiting for the REAL contractions to kick in.

9pm comes around and DAMN shit got real, real quick. not gonna lie, I was embarrassingly watching KUWTK while eating pineapple to speed things up. my contractions were consistently 4-5 minutes apart and my hypnobabies training went out the window (mind you, the breathing really helped me stay "loose and limber"). I remember laying on the couch and thinking to myself, "breathe jeannette, stay focused. you got this. you gotta maintain your cool so that your body doesn't create stress for Elliott."

 

Around 10pm, I remember thinking the pain was still bearable but it was getting worse and worse as the contractions continued. I had moved from the couch.. to the bedroom.. to the tub.. back to the bed.. just trying to get comfortable as the pain increased. I had Aj being a BOSS of a husband helping me relax, massaging my back and ankles, telling me to breathe properly and talking to me about how our lives were about to change with this little guy that I was about to birth.


my doula Ruby Stocking got to our home at 11pm. she came in quietly while i was laying down with all the lights turned off. she came to the edge of the bed and asked me how I was feeling with her sweet, calming voice. she lit candles, brought in essential oils and started doing her thing. she massaged my lower back since I was having major back labor and put a small wet towel on my forehead to help me cool down. pain didn't seem to escape me. there came a point around 3:30am when I was shaking involuntary and Aj freaked and asked me if I really wanted to do this. my response was always YES. natural all the way. even though the pain had gotten the best of me, I never.. not once, thought I needed medicine or needed to go to the hospital. my mind was so strong and I thank my workouts and clean eating because I literally couldn't have done it without those two things.


4:00am rolls around and dr. f, beth and blyss show up. he checked to see how I was doing and saw I was 7cm dilated. he was so sweet and gentle and brought such a sense of peace and assurance with him. even though I felt safer knowing that he was in our home, between contractions I would close my eyes and rest but it kept getting worse. At one point I couldn't walk anymore because my back literally felt like it was breaking, so I laid down on the floor and cried. I prayed out loud asking God to keep my mind and body strong for Elliott. I wanted to make sure my babe didn't experience an ounce of stress so I tried to keep it together but these were the moments I just couldn't.

It's 7:30am and the sun is completely out.. which sort of made me feel hopeful, like we were almost there. I was laying on my side in bed when dr. f checked me once again. I was 9 cm dilatedand ready to start pushing. after that, it was all a blur but also slow and vivid at the same time. Aj was to my left, ruby was to my right and dr. f and the midwives were in front of me, guiding me through it all. I put my chin to my chest, closed my mouth and pushed as hard as I could during every contraction. my heart was racing, my mind was focused, I was hot as shit and I felt like my whole bottom was ripping open. little by little the pushing became more intense. Elliott's, his little butt would come out with every push and then slide back in, come out even further with another push then slide back in.. so we kept playing that game with him and it was NOT fun. once I got a few pushes I was able to get his whole butt out. shortly after, his back, legs, arms and last but surely not least.. his head. 

it was 9:20am on a beautifully gloomy, rainy Friday morning when mr. Elliott grey ogden was born. he was quickly put on my chest with all the vernix on his tiny warm body, umbilical cord still attached, making the most precious little noises. he opened his eyes and looked around.. probably to see who the hell had been yelling for the past 2 hours. Aj and I of course were in tears. I mean, this moment was incredible.. and insane.. and NUTS.. but soooooooo amazing. I kept smelling his little head and kissing him, telling him I was his mama and that I've been waiting for this moment to finally meet him. he was perfect. Aj kept telling me how proud he was and how beautiful our boy is. he had the honor of cutting the cord after we got some bonding time in and he loved that.

LABOR: Ace Wilder

Ace wilder was my second baby, my second pregnancy. And more than likely, my last. I still remember the day I found out I was pregnant with her, to the day we checked into the hospital to have my scheduled c-section delivery. I had the worse anxiety during this second pregnancy of mine. The ever familiar large florescent light in the OR room looming overhead, unavoidable--It's just there glowing brightly and painfully ...to the soft ticking and buzzing of the machines all around me. It always gave me a sense of panic and fear. I hear the doctor chuckling under his face mask, putting on his gloves all while he was having a casual conversation with the anesthesiologist --possibly about sports? Kids?Thanksgiving? ...Thanksgiving after all was tomorrow. And by that time tommorrow, I would have my baby in my arms. Recovering. My mind was in a whirlwind of thoughts and although I couldn't feel anything, I definitely felt my emotions coming through. No anesthesia can numb out the emotions of an expecting mother, especially one who is about to give birth right then and there. 

I still didn't know how I would react to Ace. I spent my entire life of motherhood loving Gunther so deeply I was afraid I wouldn't have enough love to give my new daughter. Silly thoughts swirled around my head as I got woozy. I remember looking up while blinking really slow and thinking "WHY AM I BLINKING SO SLOW?!" I look up and see my husband covered in all white. He blended in with the brightness of the florescent light and I had to look away. I felt his warm hand squeeze my limp grip. I so badly wanted to squeeze his hand right back but I couldn't. It was so hard to breath and I wanted to cry, but couldn't. The whirring of the machine got quieter and grew distant broken by by the shrill cries of my new baby. My new purple beautiful loud and strong baby girl. She was so loud! I instantly woke up from my day dream, I woke up from whatever it was that was keeping me from being alert, awake, aware. I wanted to see that baby more than anything. The love was there even before I was able to see her. It was there all along. I cried. Not because of the pain from feeling so breathless but because I felt as though I waited all my life for this girl. My husband clipped the umbilical cord and they swaddled her and took her over to me. There she was, angry and beautiful and loud and left me breathless. Words cannot fathom how I felt that very moment. 

She was finally here. My dream girl. 

Both father and daughter and nurses walked out of the OR to get the baby cleaned and ready. I so wanted to jump of off stainless steel table and follow them but I couldn't. I woke up in a room with warm colors. I couldn't remember being taken there or even falling asleep but I felt grateful for the rest I got. A knock thudded softly on the old wooden door and opened slowly, my husband walked in and a nurse close behind him pushing a clear baby crate (not sure what those things are called ) with Ace swaddled so snuggly as her beautiful tiny face peeked so perfectly from behind her muslin and hand knit hospital beanie. 

There she was, my dream girl. Born on Nov 25, 2015 in San Dimas California

LABOR: Ellie

image2 (2).JPG

I have never been good at being pregnant. I imagined a glow and loving the whole 9 months. That did not happen. I was so sick. The morning sickness was awful. And the preterm labor. Every pregnancy, which led to having to get progesterone shots. But I LOVE giving birth. This pregnancy however I was more nervous. Have had a miscarriage 2 heart before, I knew my heart could not take another lose.

I started having contractions when I was 13 weeks this go around. When I was 35 weeks I could tell that they were starting to get stronger and more intense though that week. Saturday night I was having a ton but I refused to go in just to sit for a few hours and go home. Sunday I woke up and had a ton of pressure. So I went in, only after my husband pressured me and told me I was going to end up having the baby at home, which after my last delivery was a real possibility. When I got there my contractions picked up and were every 3-5 minutes apart. I was only at 1.5 cm though but because of my history of preterm labor I had to stay. Well to my surprise, my contractions got stronger and stronger. Even the shot they gave me to stop them only worked for about 20 minutes until they picked up again. Back labor people is no joke! They finally gave my a shot for pain around 8 at night. Between 8 and midnight I progressed to a 4, which of course meant I got to stay over night. At that point I was just happy the pain was being managed because i miserable and being stuck in that bed didn’t make it any better. When I woke up at 8 in the morning I was still at 4 cm so thankfully I got to go home! I slept pretty much that whole Monday. Tuesday I had my weekly appointment and my midwife told me not to be surprised if she was not here by the end of the week.

Fast forward to Thursday. I had an appointment to go get checked that morning so I sent the boys to a sitter so we could go and then spend some last minute time together. We went shopping and got lunch. After that we hung out at families with the boys for a little bit. And bam, water breaks at like 4:30. Seriously the strangest feeling in the world. My water has always been broken in the hospital. Shaeson was laughing hysterically because I was so concerned about getting fluid everywhere and every time I laughed it gushed out. Basically stand in one spot and don’t move and you will not gush fluid every where.

We rushed to the hospital because my last labor I went from  5 cm to 10 cm in 20 MINUTES! The nurse checked me and I was 6 cm. At that point I decided I was going to get an epidural after Sunday’s back labor even though I was terrified after my last epidural, but my guy was amazing and made the process as easy and painless as possible. After I settled down and got cleaned up she checked me and I was only at 7 cm. Everyone was like "Okay let's get this moving". My contractions had not picked up yet so they were still only every 7-10 minutes apart at which point they started me on pitocin. 

Before we knew it, she was coming. People always joke that she must have slid right out, but really she did. Even through my epidural I could feel it. The pain in my back! Man. The nurse frantically called my midwife, who luckily was at the hospital. My husband and midwife got their gowns on. She was right there. I started to push and all I heard was "STOP PUSHING!". Out came this perfect 5 pound 7 ounce bundle of love, caught by my husband himself, and as quite as can be. I was definitely scared since she came so early but she was perfect. We are so thankful for our rainbow baby every day and she fills our life with so much joy!

-Mama Shaeson Bronson
Mama to 2 boys and 1 Bunny Babe
Follow her: @bahlbabies

LABOR: Dash

Dash was due on 10/1, but I had a feeling he would come early. Everyone always says that the first baby comes late, but I just knew my boy was coming early. I kept going to the date 9/28 - my wedding anniversary.

On 9/24, a Saturday, I started to get contractions. They lasted all day and at varying intensities. We kept texting my doula who gave us the annoying response of "this is your body's way of warming up." But I knew these contractions were real! We eventually started timing them and at times they were coming less than 5 minutes apart. Nothing happened that day, the contractions kept coming all day and night but there was no rhyme or reason. I had barely gotten any sleep that night.
Sunday came and the same thing - contractions coming and going, but no rhyme or reason. We went to brunch and I went to the bathroom and my mucus plug had dropped! I was so excited! Labor was near! But by Sunday night, there was no change. I barely slept that night.

Monday came and it was the same thing. I was going crazy. Contractions kept coming and going but not progressing anywhere. I barely slept Monday night.

On 9/27, a Tuesday, I lay down in the morning and had a talk with Dash. I discussed various dates that he could come, and I told him how badly we wanted him to come that week! I said, "September 28th is a great date. It's the day your dad and I were married. Now if you wanted to come on the 28th, I would be willing to give you that date. We can figure out a different day to celebrate our anniversary." I got out of bed and moved our dog's large food bag into the dining room and my water instantly broke!

The plan was to labor at home, but i tested positive for GBS so I had to go to the hospital fairly quickly. Once at the hospital more water came out. I think I got admitted at 2pm, and 13 hours and 59 minutes later Dash would be born.

Labor-- oh man, labor was a trip. The only thing I can equate it to is a bad drug trip. It was like being on acid but getting hurt at the same time. I was out of my body but also more in tune with my body than ever before. I was most successful when I was laboring in the bathroom. I was in a large tub and then also sitting on the toilet. It felt like someone was banging a hammer against my tailbone. At one point my feet and my hands fell asleep. The sensation of limbs falling asleep while also needing to move because of the contractions was terrible.

My intention was to not use any drugs. When I was between 8-9cm (12AM) I tapped out. I got an epidural and I got fentanyl. My body was so physically and mentally exhausted. I hadn't slept since 9/23 Friday night. I was done. The epidural kicked in almost immediately. Matt took a nap for two hours and I drifted in and out of a haze. Eventually, I felt something pressing up and down on my vagina. I realized it was Dash's head and that he was ready to come out. I was so tired that I decided not to tell anyone. I was hoping he would just slide out! Eventually they came to check me and discovered I was +3 dilated and it was time to push! Pushing was hard because I couldn't feel ANYTHING!

Dash arrived on our third wedding anniversary - September 28th at 3:59 AM.

-Mama Carolyn Coombs
Owner of Keep It Classical Pilates

LABOR: Bowie

Bowie came a week early at 39 weeks.  I had a feeling throughout my pregnancy that he would come early but everyone kept telling me that first time mom’s usually deliver late. But I had a feeling! I also think my trip to Ikea the day before I went in to labor didn’t hurt. I think I walked 5 miles!

I woke up early on Monday morning with slight cramps. They were light but I felt them all night. It was enough to wake me up but not enough to make me think I was in labor. Because I was restless, my husband also woke up to ask how I was feeling. I remember telling him, “it could be something but it could be nothing. ” I didn’t sleep much that night but when I did wake up, the cramps were still there. I honestly didn’t think I was in labor! We went on with our day-by chance, a rare day off together.

We spent our day off watching movies, something we never do! We are both busy bodies but for some reason we were both happy to relax at home. I was still cramping but not enough to make me want to call the doctor yet. We went to lunch and ran into a friend who was due before me. We joked we might see her at the hospital but I ended up going into labor a week before her so we missed each other. Funny how that happens!

Around 4pm, the cramps were slightly more intense and my husband suggested I call the doctor. When I finally called, my nurse was not very happy with me. I waited too long and now the doctor’s office was closed. She would have preferred that I come to the office to see if I was dilated and now she might have to send me to the hospital. I told her I was feeling good so no need to send me to the hospital yet. Also, I wasn’t sure I was in labor. She said very calmly, “Cristina, you are in early labor, dear. And those aren’t cramps, they’re contractions! Call me when they’re 5 minutes apart.”

I hung up the phone and looked at my husband. I had the nurse on speakerphone so he had heard the conversation. We both looked at one another in shock, and got really excited but remained calm. We went for a walk, I took a bath and then called my sister and brother in law to come over and pick up our pup. They stayed a while and we all inspected my belly because baby boy was moving like crazy. They left around 8pm and that’s when the contractions became more intense. Not painful but enough that we started timing them. At first they were 7 minutes apart, then 6, and when they reached 5, I called the doctor who told me I was definitely in labor and should go to the hospital. We packed the car, my husband packed his bag, and we took off.  My husband called my parents and sister and said, it’s time!

The drive to the hospital was awful. Every bump we hit hurt. I thought at one point I was going to have the baby in the car. We checked in around midnight and I was 5cm dilated.

The rest of the night, morning really, is a blur! My husband knew one of the nurses on call who wasn’t assigned to me but kept checking in. She offered a medicine ball when she saw how uncomfortable I was in bed and I ended up using that for most of my labor.

I told them I wanted an un-medicated birth and somewhere around 8cm, I was begging for drugs. The nurses, who I can’t say enough good things about, listened but also told me that I seemed very confident when I told her my un-medicated plan. It was what I needed to hear. When it came time to make the decision of drugs or no drugs, I knew I could do it without. I’ve been taking yoga for years and the breathing saved me. I would forgo Lamaze class and just take more yoga!

They checked me once more, after begging them and threatening that I was going to start pushing if they didn’t, and I was 9cm. My water broke a minute later, just like you see in the movies. Everywhere! My mom was in the room when it happened and went running after the doctor to tell her. A memory I will never forget!

I remember feeling so tired. I was exhausted and would fall asleep between contractions. Like, lights out. My husband, who was the most amazing coach, was also exhausted and skipping numbers as he counted my pushes. I remember hearing 9, 8, 7, 6, 4, 2…another funny memory.

Right before I pushed, my doctor of 5 years, who was not on call, came rushing in! I was so happy to see her. I pushed for nearly 2 hours and had Bowie at 7:31 am. It was the most amazing feeling to hold him and hear him cry. I was told I said, “holy shit, we have a son. What the fuck!” Ha!

I was on such a natural high and felt no pain. I tore during delivery so while I delivered the placenta and the doctor stitched me up, I watched my husband with the nurses and our baby. He helped weigh and measure Bowie and it was such a beautiful moment. We spent a few minutes with Bowie by ourselves before Michael went outside with the doctor to announce Bowie’s arrival. I love that he had that time with Bowie.

My blood pressure spiked when I was delivering and remained high so they had to put me on magnesium for 24 hours. It felt like fire in my veins and I was thirsty and hooked up to an IV machine making it even more unpleasant to use the bathroom and get around. We invited our family that was there, my parents had been there since 1:30am, to meet Bowie and after they left, it was just the three of us. I remember thinking, I’ve never been happier. That remains true.

-Mama Cristina Bocanegra
Wardrobe Stylist and Founder of Love Child Mag

LABOR: Indie Rey

A few weeks before I unexpectedly went into early labor, I became intrigued with asking my friends and family their labor stories and even going online to read about other labor experiences! I was terrified of the unknown. What would the contractions feel like? How will I handle the pain? Can I really successfully have a natural birth? Am I strong enough for this? 

And before I knew it, my baby girl had decided to come early (38 weeks). I was in the middle of shipping bundles for the month and I had expected ten days or so later - and sure enough, my mucus plug came out. I went to the bathroom and saw a little bit of blood and I immediately thought, "oh shit! is it really happening now?!" I wasn't even packed. I wasn't even prepared. It was 1 am and all I had planned for was to enjoy my Sunday working on the shipment. 

I immediately called my doctor and at the time, I wasn't feeling much of any contractions, so she told me to go to sleep for the night. About 30-45 minutes later, I felt the contractions occur much more frequently and I just couldn't sleep. I called the doctor again letting her know the contractions were about 3 to 5 minutes a part and she said, "Sounds about right. You should come in." And there we were, at around 2:30am, packing our bags and going to the hospital.

When we arrived, I was about 3cm-5cm dilated and my contractions were stronger and stronger over time. I survived 12 hours of natural labor and just couldn't get to 10cm. I was hanging out at 9cm for four hours before my doctor suggested c-section or an epidural. I had planned for a natural birth, but like they say, birthing never goes your way. I chose epidural. Another (yea, really) 12 hours on epidural, I was exhausted! I didn't sleep at all, and I've just been in excruciating pain. I pushed for 3 hours and Indie's head was slightly crooked. My midwife had to guide me with the pushing and eventually Indie Rey pooped inside me! YEAH! The doctor told me I had 30 minutes to push her out or I'd have to have a c-section. That's when I pushed with all my might and out came my Indie Rey Contino. (After 27 hours!)

Now that I am a mom - I understand now. It's a full circle. Love Your Mother. The women body is a temple of adaptation and creation. It's absolutely incredible what we can do. The strength and will power to give birth is one thing, but mothering and loving another human being forever is an incredible gift and journey that I am so lucky to experience.  We try our best every day, and to be a mom and try to accomplish everything else - well, I think all moms are super heros and unicorns. xx - Annie

Follow my motherhood journey on @alittlebundle + @annielinco