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Jessa (Duggar) Seewald Opens Up About Difficult Home Birth and Why She Was Rushed to the Hospital: 'Everything Was Different Than I Expected'

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Jessa Duggar Seewald is opening up about her firstborn – and why she was rushed to the ER following a dramatic two-day labor. Subscribe now for this Duggar baby exclusive, only in PEOPLE!

Jessa (Duggar) Seewald is the first to admit that her labor was “very intense.”

Jessa, 23, and her husband Ben, 20, welcomed their first child – a 21.5-in. son weighing 9 lb., 11 oz. – last Thursday, but the nearly 48-hour delivery was far different than what she had imagined.

“Labor is hard,” Jessa says with a laugh in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “It was very intense, very long. Everything was different than I expected.”

Originally due to deliver on Nov. 1 (coincidentally her one-year anniversary with Ben), Jessa went through 10 hours of contractions that nearly forced her to change her plan of having an all-natural home birth.

“I said, ‘That’s it! I’m done! I am going to the hospital and I’m going to get an epidural,’ ” she says. “They asked me if I really wanted to do that and I said, ‘No, I don’t, but I do.’ I wanted to try natural if at all possible.”

This week’s PEOPLE cover
For much more on Jessa and Ben Seewald – including exclusive photos of their son, a glimpse into their lives as new parents and their plans for baby number two – pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

During the first stage of labor, Ben admits that seeing his wife in pain “was kind of emotionally difficult. “I was trying to keep it positive … there were a few times, she was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ ”

But after their son finally arrived at 6:54 on Nov. 5, their joy was soon interrupted by a surprisingly scary moment as Jessa began bleeding so much that her midwife became concerned.

Jessa says that “everyone stayed calm” while her mother Michelle Duggar, 49, called 911. “I tried to keep my head, I was awake and alert,” Jessa recalls.

The hardest part? Leaving her newborn: “I had dreamed about those first moments, getting to breastfeed right away, all that. And so when I had to go to the hospital, it was a shock.”

After nearly fainting, Jessa had to undergo a blood transfusion and stay overnight; at that point, her son was brought to her side.

Ben and Jessa Sewald with their son
Now back – and part of a healthy, happy family of three – at her home in Springdale, Arkansas, Jessa is settling into motherhood and cherishing every minute with her child.

“I can’t believe he’s really ours,” she says. “It is so amazing. He’s a miracle.”