**Galit's story was the third place winner of the Birth Story Contest held at our blog, Raising Kvell**

I remember when it was just the two of us. Late nights. Chinese food in bed. Sunday matinees. Our town-home still felt huge despite the fact that my belly was taking up more space by the day.

I was in my mid-twenties, blessed and blinded by a life relatively free of hurt. I didn’t know, yet, that you could love someone so much that it is literally painful. Physically aching and breaking you with tenderness. Frustration. Fear.

I sat through classes and appointments, books and articles, accounts from friends and even strangers. But for all intents and purposes, I was free. Sans the three bungee cords that now ground me. Beautifully. But unrelentingly.

I had hospital births three times. Pitocin three times. IV chords three times. My water broken three times.

What I only had once, though, was an epidural. I must have seemed so-very-terrified during my first induction that the doctor, in her slick olive green alligator pumps, exquisitely highlighted hair, and strong, confident demeanor took sweet mercy on me and had the nurses administer my epidural right then and there. As she broke my water. When I was barely two centimeters dilated.

That birth was long and painless. Kayli Adina (gentle) was vacuumed out of me nine hours after those slick heels click-clacked away over whispered plans of a c-section that all felt was inevitable, but never actually was.

Almost exactly two years later, my spitfire Chloe Liora (my light) zoomed out of me like she had somewhere to be. Our labor and delivery was quick and “textbook.” Contractions. Pushing. A little tearing. No time for an epidural. An actual pop! followed by sweet relief and the hustle bustle of ohmygodthere’sanewbabyintheroom. As I carried her in my arms from the birthing to the recovery room, listening to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” playing, we didn’t break eye contact once.

Chloe’s birth was my first lesson in my heart’s bandwidth. When I left for the hospital, my then-2-year-old Kayli was my baby. She fit into my lap, arms, and heart just right. But when she toddled into our hospital room asking, “Where baby Chloe is?” she was the one who was inexplicably huge. And my heart could have just burst trying to find the perfect nook and cranny for each of my girls who would forever share so-very-much, including a birthday week.

With Kayli, Jason and I couldn’t wait to “escape” the hospital. The never-ending flow of people. And the never-ending lack of privacy.

But Chloe’s and my hospital time? Pure bliss. Snuggling. Nursing. Eating. Watching TV. All at the same time. And while I missed Kayli to no end, I fully realized that those few days of quiet help were absolute gems. Gifts, even. Food? Showers? Naps? Nursing help? Baby weigh-ins? Done, done, done and done. Bliss.

Once we got home, Chloe nursed well, slept well, and played well. So what I was muddling through was the Mama juggle. How to streeeeetch the limits of my time, attention, and still sore lap. And the learning curve? It was just as huge as the first time around. As were my baby blues. The crying. The suffocating schedule. And ohmygod the diapers! But within a few months, we found our rhythm.

And as soon as things felt settled and whisper-worthy easy for us, we decided to get pregnant again. So two and a half short years later, we welcomed Brody Adar (joyful happiness) into the same hospital, in the same way. Induced. Quick progress. Sans epidural. The doctor that broke my water in the morning called at two o’clock to see if I had made any progress yet. It was two hours after Brody was born. And once again our days and home were filled to the brim with all things baby.

There are aspects of my birth stories that strike me like a whirlwind. A tornado of joys and tears.

I flopped down on the couch in the hopes of breaking my water with Kayli. I had no desire whatsoever to hurry things along with the other two.

During labor I yelled things like, “I can’t! NOOO! Help me!” I had an overwhelming urge to bite my husband’s shoulder. I smiled and nodded as my nurses went off to lunch and I dilated my way further and further away from an epidural. I did this twice.

I had nurses trip over my IV line and use the try-and-try-again methodology to find my veins. I also had nurses sit by my bedside as I nursed my babies in the middle of the night. They brough me water, cranberry juice and graham crackers, and would smile in delight with me at my baby’s sucking sounds.

I had a breast reduction when I was eighteen years old and every single time that nursing was challenging, I spiraled down the overwhelmingly gripping insecurities of not having enough milk. This was true with Kayli and supplementing her with formula saved us both. Nursing got easier each time around. I used to call lactation consultants “Nipple Nazis” when I was in the thick of things.

I miss feeling my babies’ movements inside of me. Tiny glimpses into their already strong personalities.

Contractions earthquaking through my body. Being dependent on strangers and trusting their expertise. Gingerly holding the little babies that had kicked and elbowed me from the inside out. Nursing. Adjusting. Blearily smiling at other Mamas. These bits and pieces are all woven and knitted together. One birth story a puzzle piece to the other. And all are genuinely a part of our family’s story.

We changed from a new couple to a new family. And from a growing family to a complete one. And with every fiber of my being I know that our story is just that, complete. I am so grateful to have these words written down. Thoroughly. Heart-wrenchingly. And completely.

Galit Breen

Galit Breen is a Minnesota author. On any given day she can be found juggling three kids, one husband, one puggle, and her laptop. Galit blogs atThese Little Waves and tweets at@GalitBreen.