I+I birth stories: 5 moms on labor

We love reading birth stories because every experience is SO unique. Some labors are days-long, others are relatively "easy," but they're always filled with the most heightened emotions and new beginnings. Giving birth is when we, as women, are most alive. We learn the depth in which we can persevere and how amazing our bodies truly are.

If you're about to give birth for the first time, one of the best ways to prepare is to tap into the experiences of moms who've been there. Some of these stories have rocky starts, but spoiler: they're all 10/10 endings. Read on to hear the one-of-a-kind birth stories from the moms of Ingrid+Isabel.

the unmedicated birth

AUGUST 15, 2022

During my pregnancy, I was pretty obsessed with my birth plan. I was always researching and watching videos about all the different ways to birth a baby and was really set on having an unmedicated, natural hospital birth. I’m a very calm, generally quiet person so I had all these little things I wanted, like the lights dimmed in my room, intermittent monitoring, access to a birthing pool, lavender essential oils, basically as crunchy as you can get a hospital birth that would ensure I was left alone to do my thing quietly.

Things took an emotional turn for the worst for me when my due date came and went. It was August in North Carolina, scorching hot outside, and I was beyond over being pregnant. Before I knew it, I was 41 weeks pregnant and even more miserable, which led to my decision to change my plan and get induced. Some things did go as planned (like my dimmed room and lavender oils) but some things couldn’t (hospital protocol required consistent monitoring and no birthing pools for inductions). I remember being really concerned about “the cascade of interventions,” was told by my OB that FTM inductions can take up to 48 hours, and had heard an induction is often more painful than if your body were in labor on its own. So, by the time my induction began at 10 PM with a 1 cm dilation, I was equal parts terrified but also relieved for this loooong pregnancy to finally be over.

For those interested in the technicalities, we started with pitocin and a foley bulb. Within minutes, my contractions kicked in and we were off! They started as mildly uncomfortable cramps and by the completion of our first hour I was starting to really feel them. I spent my entire labor bouncing on a yoga ball and watching Gilmore Girls (my comfort show) with my husband applying counter pressure on my hips from behind. I threw up twice in the second hour and continued to throw up the rest of my labor any time I had even a sip of water or ginger ale (six times total by the end). By 4 AM, I was already dilated to 8 cm which was a huge (and exciting) shock. I was completely over the moon and my OB told me my baby should be born within an hour or two, which they hardly ever say. I was so happy that my induction was moving quickly and everything was going as planned. My contractions were still perfectly manageable and I thought, “I can totally do two more hours of this.” 

Unfortunately, this is when my body decided to slow things down. I ended up being stuck at 8 cm, while continuing to have super strong contractions every minute and a half, for the next 6 hours (!!!). These were definitely the most intense hours of my life and the only thing that got me through was thinking that each minute-long contraction was bringing me one minute closer to meeting my baby. After all the research I had done, I knew that the key to a positive labor was keeping a positive mindset and really being in control of your thoughts. If I thought about the pain too much or how frustrated I was, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep going. By 10 AM, things got SO intense and I felt that “transition” phase. My mother-in-law (mom of 9 🙌) told me this is the phase where you start yelling and screaming and want to give up. For me, it was pausing my yoga-ball bouncing, turning around to my husband, and whispering “a C section really doesn’t sound too bad right now.” As soon as I heard myself say that, I knew we were moving into the next phase of labor. Sure enough, during my next check, I was at 10 cm and definitely felt ready to push. Once I started, I was just so excited to finally be at the end of this long, long journey that the actual pushing, ring of fire and all those intense things you hear about didn’t bother me. I was just relieved that I had made progress and felt so close to the end. After 45 minutes of pushing, my son was born at 11:07 AM! I had third degree tearing but at that point couldn’t care one bit because I had the cutest little thing I’d ever seen curled up on my chest. Yay!


DUE DATE: August 8

BIRTH DATE: August 15

HOW LONG DID LABOR TAKE? 13 hours and 7 minutes

FUNNIEST MOMENT: Sometime around 8 AM my husband tried to turn on the jazz playlist that we had planned on playing during my labor. Immediately I was like, “this is way too slow, BACK TO GILMORE GIRLS!!”

FAV MOMENT: About 20 minutes after my son was born, my OB (who is a super intense Black woman with badass dreads) came over and said she wished I could teach a birthing class to all the women in the labor unit because of how calm and controlled I was. Hearing that from someone I respect so much is literally my biggest flex.

FIRST THING YOU ATE/DRANK: I ordered a ham & cheese sandwich, cheeseburger, mac n cheese, curly fries and a bowl of fruit from the hospital cafeteria. Then my parents brought over sushi for dinner!

BEST ADVICE: Have a partner, family member or doula in the delivery room who will help you and advocate for your choices! My husband was glued to my side my entire labor and continually reminded everyone in the room of my preferences so I wasn’t worrying about those smaller details.

the fast & furious birth

JUNE 12, 2020

While I had given birth once before, everything about this pregnancy was different (gestational diabetes, swollen everything, 12 lbs of baby, COVID!!). I had no idea what to expect with a twin birth at the height of the pandemic and was SO anxious leading up to it.

I had a C-section scheduled at 38 weeks but all the nurses told me to go for vaginal. Both babies were head down, baby "A" was bigger, and I had given birth vaginally before. My chances were good, but I was still terrified of the unknown (plus, there was the risk of healing from both ends if the second baby flipped after the first came out 😳)

The decision weighed on me for weeks, and I went back and forth, losing sleep, not even considering the fact that my body would be the one to decide.

On Friday, June 12, my water broke around 6 PM. I called our babysitter and told her to take her time. By the time she showed up 30 mins later, I felt like my babies were falling out. We sped to the hospital, abandoned our car out front, and waited in the ER for 15 MINUTES as the security officer kept asking my husband if we "had an appointment." I screamed in pain, considered that I was dying, and everyone stared at me helplessly until the nurses came down and rushed me up.

At 10 cm dilated, the doctor came in and asked me if I wanted to do a vaginal or cesarian delivery. Though my brain could not comprehend one thing at this point, I felt like the choice was clear. I got an epidural in case of a C-section, had a swab stuck down my nose to test for COVID, and into the OR I went.

I labored through a mask in 10/10 pain, which suddenly stopped once the epidural kicked in (I think the doctor turned it way up as I screamed over and over 'Can somebody please help me?!' 🫣).

It was a full service delivery. I couldn't feel a thing so one of the doctors physically pushed the baby out of me by pressing her forearm down on my abdomen. Another doctor was down there doing all sorts of interventions I was trying to ignore (I guess my son was sunny-side up which made it harder to get him out). In the end, the "pushing" only lasted about 15 minutes and then my son Bode got whisked away by a newborn care team.

To my surprise, I got some down time after that. They had to break baby B's water and get labor going again so I laid there and scanned the room of doctors, nurses, and my husband in the corner trying to stay out of the way. I noticed the doctor stitching me up from a 2nd degree episiotomy, which I didn't (and still don't) understand. I asked "aren't you just going to have to cut that open again?" The answer was yes.

After about 10 mins, I finally got a glimpse of my adorable son with so. much. hair. and then it was time to push again. My daughter Bailey came out 7 minutes later and was a tiny little peanut at 4lbs, 15oz. Both babies were healthy and required no NICU time. I was feeling pretty amazed at myself for growing and birthing these two perfect angels. I couldn't believe everything worked out the way it did, and I embraced my husband and our little family, feeling so incredibly grateful. Moments later, he was paged to go move our car 😂


DUE DATE: July 2

BIRTH DATE: June 12 (they were 3 weeks early)

HOW LONG DID LABOR TAKE? Just over 2 hours. I "came in real hot" according to one labor nurse.

FUNNIEST MOMENT: I was in so much pain that at one point, I thought my husband in his scrubs was a hot doctor!!!

FAV MOMENT: Seeing my babies nestle into one another, just like they did on the inside 💞

FIRST THING YOU ATE/DRANK: No idea. It wasn't very memorable, I guess!

BEST ADVICE: Surrender to the moment. You have way less control than you think.

The 45-hr birth

JULY 26, 2001

Days before, I went to the doctor and was told that my daughter was breech. They put me on a tilted table — feet up, head down — and manually flipped her right there in the office. That night, my water broke.

I fully expected to grab my hospital bag and rush to the ER in intense pain, but this wasn't like the movies. No contractions, no panic, no progress at all.

I stayed home for 24 hours, then labored at the hospital for another 24 hours — it had been 2.5 days of thinking I was about to give birth which meant I wasn't sleeping.

In the end, I was exhausted. After trying everything with no success, I made the decision to give birth via C-section. It had been too long and I was done, my body completely numb from the epidural.

I was so relieved when I finally met my daughter. She was perfect. Unaware of the 45-hour struggle to get her out, she entered the world wide eyed, with a 10/10 APGAR score. My body began its long journey to recovery, and it felt like I was dealing with problem after problem. My milk wasn't coming in and the doctors were losing their patience with me after 5 days in the hospital.

It wasn't until I got home that I started to process what had happened. While I was in awe of my beautiful baby and so grateful that she got here safely, I was left with the feeling that much of the birth had happened to me. Physically, it took me a while to recover and my mental health suffered.

Three years later, my second daughter was born via an uncomplicated, scheduled C-section. Everything about it felt right. The birth was perfect and so was she. This time I was ready to accept whatever the experience was going to be. It was everything that I had dreamed of.


DUE DATE: July 28



FUNNIEST MOMENT: I was sooo overdrugged and overtired. Self-coping and terrified, I needed a distraction so I groaned. The doctor got SO annoyed with me — she raised her voice at me and said to go to my happy place in front of everyone in the operating room, then rolled her eyes. So I sang "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd. It wasn’t until a year later that I finally got pissed off at her. Never followed up but here I am 22 years later and I am still pissed.

FAV MOMENT: When my daughter was finally born!


BEST ADVICE: Birth and motherhood are SO much about letting go. As a planner and organizer who likes to be in control, I learned that the perfect birth isn't something you can plan for. Relying on your mental strength can only get you so far. You need to accept what will be.

the easy-does-it birth

MARCH 31, 2016

I was sooo happy to be able to get pregnant at age 40, but it also came with a lot of worry. I felt that I couldn't really celebrate until my baby was safe in my arms. I was super cautious about everything, including what I ate which was no fun, but still ended up with gestational diabetes.

I also had low amniotic fluid which they monitored every other day later in pregnancy, then a week or so before my delivery, they discovered my daughter was breech. I went in for an external cephalic versioning where the doctor presses down on your belly to move the baby. The procedure was so intense but it worked. She stayed head down until it was time for her to come out.

As my due date, April 1, approached, I started talking to my doctor about inducing (I did not want an April Fool's baby 🤪) We scheduled the induction for March 31, then showed up at the hospital early that morning, bags packed and ready to go.

I went straight for the epidural (best decision ever). Then, contractions started shortly after, and I pushed for I think maybe an hour. They had to do an episiotomy to get her out, then she entered the world with a full set of hair, super long nails, and healthy as can be!

When my daughter was born, I felt that I could finally exhale. While the pregnancy had its ups and downs, my birth was perfectly uneventful — which meant I could really be in the moment and focused on meeting my baby.


DUE DATE: April Fool's Day

BIRTH DATE: March 31

HOW LONG DID LABOR TAKE? 14 hours. I went into the hospital at 6 AM and delivered at 8 PM. There was lots of waiting, but pushing didn't take long.


1) The second we arrived at the hospital, we were so excited. We'd been waiting for this moment for nine months. Then, right as we got into the waiting room, we saw another pregnant mom being wheeled in half dressed and screaming in pain — she was about to give birth any minute! My husband and I were scared shitless.

2) When my daughter was born and they handed her to me, she said hello by pooping on me 😂

FAV MOMENT: Holding my daughter in my arms. It was a whirlwind of emotions: fear, excitement, anticipation… but most of all, love.

FIRST THING YOU ATE/DRANK: Since I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant, I think I had all the carbs I could eat all at once.

BEST ADVICE: I'm sure you've heard this before, but the best thing you can do for yourself is not to overpack and embrace the unexpected. No amount of planning will prepare you for the most amazing and life-altering event — the birth of your little one!

Oh, and splurge on something nice for yourself. The best thing I ever got for myself was a cashmere robe for my hospital bag. I still wear it, too — it’s the one luxe item I bought myself that I still love.

the 2nd-times-a-charm birth

JUNE 10, 2019

My first daughter Giulia was born exactly on her due date. I didn’t go into labor naturally, I started leaking amniotic fluid and so the hospital had to induce me because of infection risk. My labor lasted 17 hours and so I cycled through many nurses including a male nurse who brought a different energy to the delivery room.  During the last hour of labor, the doctors recommended a C-section, but I told them I still had positive energy and asked for more time to vaginally deliver and I was able to have a vaginal birth at 5 AM. My daughter had the cord wrapped around her neck twice — the doctor swiftly unwrapped it, placed her on my chest, and my daughter promptly pooped all over me!

My second daughter Gemma was born 10 days before her due date. I was dreading giving birth the second time because of how difficult my first birth was. I started leaking amniotic fluid again, but this time the contractions started on their own and I gave birth shortly after arriving at the hospital. I was so glad I was able to go through the birth experience again because my second was so much easier and so much more positive in every way from my first delivery.  


DUE DATE: June 18


HOW LONG DID LABOR TAKE?  8 hours – very civilized!

FUNNIEST MOMENT: When I was in very active labor in the elevator up to the maternity ward and I told all the horrified men crammed in the elevator with me that THEY should have to give birth!

FAV MOMENT: Holding Gemma afterwards, looking at her little face and wondering who she was going to be!

FIRST THING YOU ATE/DRANK: More ice chips! I couldn’t get enough!

BEST ADVICE: My only advice is to know that once you walk into the hospital, everything is mostly out of your hands. Your birth is going to happen how it is going to happen and you are not in control. If you had a difficult experience the first time, remember that each birth is completely different — it guaranteed won’t be the same the second time! Try to stay as positive and open to change as possible with your eye on the prize of finally meeting your baby! Good luck, mamas!