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A Birth Story: Part I

This is Part I of a three part birth story. It’s taken me a long of time to come to terms with how our daughter, Holland, was brought into this world. Sadly, it was not the joyous occasion I desperately wanted. I know though, that we are incredibly blessed to both be healthy and safe and nothing I write is meant to dismiss that major blessing. Additionally, nothing is meant to discount the birth experience of other mothers. This is simply my account of Holland’s arrival.


On Monday, October 12th, I went to my doctor’s appointment and learned that finally — after being nearly TWO WEEKS  (41w,5d technically) overdue, there was some real progress. I was 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced. My doctor went ahead and stripped my membranes and I practically danced out of the office, convinced that labor would begin any moment. Adam and I had been fighting against an induction for weeks so I was over the moon with the news that things might get started on their own soon.

That night, around 9 p.m., things started with a bang. I felt what I knew to be a contraction. I always wondered what they felt like and had been frustrated with people who said, “Oh you’ll know it when you feel it.” But they were right — as soon as it happened I knew it was a contraction. My contractions started at 5 minutes or less apart and lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Adam and I sat up and timed them (and breathed through them) until around 11 p.m. I texted our doula, Tia, and informed her of the progress. Knowing that I was already 4 cm dilated, Tia said it was likely that things would ramp up during the night or in the early morning so she advised me to get some sleep if I could.

All pictures by the amazing Niki Zimmerman of Niki Zimmerman Images

Adam went to bed and I attempted to sleep. My contraction though were already pretty painful so sleeping soundly just wasn’t possible. I could fall asleep in between but pretty much woke up every 5 minutes throughout the night as labor progressed. By morning, when Adam’s alarm went off, I was exhausted. I called Tia and she listened as I worked my way through a few contractions. They were starting to come a little closer together and each was becoming stronger than the last. Tia decided she needed to head to our house and she asked me to try to eat before we went to the hospital — knowing they would likely cut me off food-wise.

I crammed back some food and worked my way through more contractions as we waited for Tia to arrive. Once she got to our house, it became apparent that we would be heading to the hospital pretty quickly. My contractions were becoming increasingly painful. Each would leave me doubled over in pain and struggling to catch my breath. I was convinced that I would have the baby before lunch so we decided to load up and drive to the hospital around 10 a.m. after laboring at home for a little over 12 hours.

Getting to the hospital was relatively easy since we live so close, but getting IN the hospital was a different story. It was a VERY long walk and at this point, my contractions were only 1-2 minutes apart and they were lasting 1-2 minutes. The whole walk I was in terrible pain and I kept having to stop and breathe through yet another contraction. Everyone we passed kept offering to get me a wheelchair but I was determined to stay on my feet as long as possible so I politely refused.

Once we FINALLY got to the labor and delivery ward, I was super excited to see how much I had progressed. After all, I was 4cm the day before and I had just undergone over 12 hours of very steady (and STRONG) contractions. I was certain that I would be at least 6-7cm dilated. After getting checked in and doing a mandatory monitoring session of the baby’s heartbeat, the nurse finally checked me. She delivered what she thought was happy news: “It looks like you are already 4 cm dilated and about 80% effaced!” I wanted to cry. Tia had to explain that I was 4 cm the day before at my doctor’s appointment because the nurse was clearly at a lost as to why I wasn’t jumping with joy at the news of my dilation. Everyone assured me that I would dilate more soon because of the consistent nature of my contractions.

So, I set out to do everything I could to help the process along… 

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