As a Christian, this time of year is a season of contemplation of my faith and the reliance I have on Jesus Christ. And now that I'm a mom, each year when I think about Jesus being born over 2,000 years ago, I often think about Mary, and all of the feelings she must have experienced becoming a new mom, carrying the Savior of the world, and birthing him in less than desirable circumstances (in a barn, no family around, and during a time when young boys were being slaughtered by King Herod). Regardless, of whether someone believes that Jesus was the Messiah, giving birth like Mary did is a victory alone. When I compare it to my my birth stories (they were hard just because it's frickin' child birth), I can't imagine how any person could get through that experience without a greater power to rely on. In this installment of The Real Mom Series, we are sharing our birth stories. My religious beliefs are my own and this topic just happened to fall during Christmas, so be sure to read everyone else's stories and experiences.

REAL MOMS: Thoughts by Natalie, The Effortless Chic, A Daily Something, Design for Mankind

Elle and Levi are opposites in every way - gender, interests, ages, personality and even their birth stories. 

Elle was my first. We took the classes and read the books. I went into the idea of birthing not wanting any pain medication and having a set birth plan (like many first time moms). Everything was as planned as I could make it be. And then my water broke three weeks early in the middle of the night just after celebrating Ryan's birthday, and, well, that wasn't in the plan at all. We went to the hospital, and once we were admitted we needed to make sure we had a baby within their set timeframe or it was straight to c-section. Looking back on it, it was definitely not an ideal birth situation. I didn't progress, so they hooked me up to pitocin (grrrr...I HATE that stuff). My contractions got super intense without dilating past a 3 cm for quite a while. I was in sooooo much pain and the contractions were coming so fast I couldn't catch my breath. I finally opted for an epidural, but since it was Labor Day weekend (ironic, right?) no one could get to me for an hour. I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I got stadol (worst drug ever). I don't remember much that happened when I got that, but I know I said some CRRRAAAZY things to the doctors and Ryan. I finally got an epidural after that, but then my body started shaking non-stop, and the epidural didn't take right. My legs were numb, but I could feel every contraction. So, several hours of labor, without being able to walk and shaking made for super fun times at the hospital. 17 hours of labor total, and two pushes and then she was in my arms. And then the world just melted away because I became a mom in that moment. 

For Levi, it was text book for the most part. I labored at home without really knowing I was laboring for the majority of it. It was about 5:30pm on a Saturday night when things started getting more intense, but I was still functioning through it and doing my usual tasks. I had a feeling it could be "the day," so I told Ryan to go take the dog and Elle over to his parents' house. During that short hour that he was gone things intensified quickly. When I realized that I was actually in labor I wobbled upstairs to take a shower (knowing it would be awhile before I could do that again), and then packed my bag. I was huffing, puffing and screaming through it all. Finally he came home, and when I couldn't even have a conversation I knew it was time to go the hospital. There were so many swear words that came out of my mouth while driving to the hospital. I seriously thought I was going to have a baby in the car. When we got to the hospital I was already at 8 cm. It was crazy! They rushed me back into a delivery room, and told me that I was going to have a baby in the next hour. By this time it was 8:30pm, and there was no one at the hospital. I had such great care and attention by the staff. I ended up being able to get an epidural, and I'm thankful that I did because the only snag in the perfect birth experience was that the cord was wrapped around his neck. It took two and a half hours of pushing to get that guy out. They had to put me on oxygen because his heart rate would drop with every push. I don't think I realized how scary it was for the doctors until afterwards. They were just trying to keep me focused, and I was. He finally arrived at 1:21 a.m. on a Sunday. It was perfect. He slept forever, and we just snuggled. (Read more of his birth story in a past post here).

My post-partum experiences with both of them were the hardest part of it all, but that's for another Real Moms installment! Merry Christmas everyone!