Have you told your story?
Giving birth can unleash us, it can light us up, and it can connect us with women and babies around the world. This is a virtual collection of birth stories—all kinds—to empower and inspire women to claim the power of this potent transformation.
Thanks for being part of The Birth Story Project. These are our stories.
“We’re going to go ahead and have Baby.”
The nurse finally entered my room with a game plan.
These words still resonate with me. I was filled with such emotion at this time.
I was exhausted from 9 challenging months of pregnancy. I was anxious for the next steps. I was excited to meet my baby girl. Weirdest of them all, I was sad that I would soon no longer have a round belly with my trusty little companion with me always. The one emotion that I highly anticipated, but did not experience was fear. I was not scared and I thank God for that.
A week prior to this long awaited good news that I was going to be induced and would soon deliver my baby, I was hospitalized with preeclampsia. I went to a routine doctor’s visit at 37 weeks. I was not dilated whatsoever, but my blood pressure was still high and higher than my last visit. My visit a week ago I was told to watch my blood pressure. Every day I would drive to Kroger to sit at the blood pressure machine and get my results. It was always high, but not at a dangerous level, according to my doctor. The concerning thing was that I had also been experiencing so much dizziness and seeing spots periodically throughout my days while I was teaching. I just chalked it up to weird pregnancy stuff. But at this appointment, my doctor told me to head to Labor and Delivery at the hospital for some tests just to be safe.
“You’ll be out in time to go home and have a relaxing dinner with your husband.”
He was wrong.
I was admitted for preeclampsia and sent to the women’s floor in the hospital.
The wing I was in was dedicated to women who were at risk of preterm labor. There were so many women with little bitty bumps that I would see walking the halls. I felt so lucky at that point. Lucky that I was almost 38 weeks along. My baby would most likely thrive if she were to be born any minute. My heart ached for the women I saw on that hospital floor trying everything in their power to save their sweet babies.
My doctor wanted to try to get me to 39 weeks before we induced, but I was going to be monitored for my preeclampsia symptoms for a few days and if anything got worse, I would be induced. My husband and I spent our days watching Friends, playing crossword puzzles, and trying to find items on the room service list that wouldn’t give me heartburn. After 3 days, my doctor told me that I was free to go home because things were staying pretty steady. I was to check in the next morning at his office.
We were so happy to leave the hospital, but so upset that we had to wait longer to meet Sadie. We were convinced that we were not leaving the hospital without our babe in tow.
We went home and slept in our bed one last night.
The next morning I was feeling so yucky. I was dizzy, nauseous, my head was killing me, all of the above. This was nothing new, but today it seemed like things were amplified. My mom picked me up early to take me to my doctor’s check in because Taylor had to go to work. He had already missed so many days from staying at the hospital with me.
My appointment lasted 5 minutes. My blood pressure was taken and the doctor came in immediately and told me to go straight to Labor and Delivery and they would come up with a plan. I was shocked.
My mom drove me to the hospital after stopping at Dunkin Donuts for a breakfast sandwich. I was so sick and so nervous I could not eat it. Man, if I could go back and eat that breakfast sandwich! I did not eat for 3 days after that.
We checked into L&D and were taken to a room where I was asked all the stupid questions that I had just been asked a few days ago. So.Many.Questions. At this point, I was getting super annoyed with the nurse and the trainee. I didn’t understand the purpose of answering questions they literally just asked me 5 days ago.
“No, I have not been out of the country.”
“I would rate my pain a 1, because I am currently having no contractions.”
“Yes, I feel safe in my home.”
It was a million degrees in the room. I was having hot flashes and wanting to throw up so badly. My mom put a wet cloth on my forehead and told me to calm down. I was throwing myself into a panic attack over these stupid questions and the fact that everything was moving so slowly. Somebody was waiting on approval from somebody else and nothing was clear.
I got an IV, and for once in my life it went in on the first try! I wanted to hug the nurse! I have tiny veins and I always struggle with giving blood or getting IVs. Just a few days earlier. I had 2 failed attempts in my arm only to lead to 2 failed attempts in my hand by a crisis nurse, one which resulted in blood gushing out of my hand and going all over the floor. So, needless to say, it was a huge relief to hit the IV on the first shot!
Taylor arrived around the time I was getting my cervix checked and we were graced with the news that I was not dilated at all, still. We finally got the okay to head to a delivery room to start my induction!
The 2 sweetest nurses ever got me all set up. Seriously, I loved them! They made it seem like it was just a normal Friday and we were hanging out having girl talk and talking about our outfits. Oh, and they were going to be starting the induction to birth my baby. This was all so exciting! I wasn’t focused on my dizziness or nausea or anything bad. I was going to have my baby girl! Yay!
They helped me pee multiple times and then told me they were going to start me on Cervidil, a medicine placed under my cervix that would make me dilate. This is because they do not like to start Pitocin if you are not dilated at all. Okay! I was all for it. It hurt a little as she adjusted it in but then I was fine. I sat and waited for my cervix to dilate and my contractions to start. Let’s do this!
A few hours later, contractions started. Not strong at all, at first, just uncomfortable. Then, they gradually starting getting more painful. I was still holding conversations, even if sometimes I was digging my nails into the bed. I wanted to be strong. I didn’t want to show that I was already in a little bit of pain.
“Are you having contractions?” my mom finally asked. I smiled and nodded.
It was all still so exciting. I spent that whole day with mild contractions, starving, watching my heart rate and the baby’s heart rate on the monitor. When I had a contraction, I would watch it go up and down on the screen. I was in labor! It was happening. The only (major) downfall was that when they checked my cervix, I still was not dilated at all.
I had the Cervidil in for the maximum time allowed: 12 hours. I was in labor for 12 hours with contractions that continued to get stronger. I was in labor for 12 hours for nothing! The Cervidil did not work. It caused me to have contractions, but did not make my Cervix open at all. I was so discouraged at this point. The nurse had to pull the Cervidil out and it hurt so badly. I was so sore from all the cervical checks and this coming out was awful. Especially since all the pain was not even worth it.
Against their good judgment, they started me on Pitocin, even though I still was not dilated at all. They felt certain that this would make me dilate since my contractions were already coming so steadily.
They were wrong.
I spent all day Saturday in labor with heightening contractions. As they got stronger, tears would roll out of my eyes. I hadn’t had physical pain related tears come out of my eyes since I was a little kid. I grabbed onto the side rails of the bed as tears streamed down my face. This happened every few minutes. Taylor could see that I was in pain. He said he could see it on my face. Yes, yes I was. But it was all going to be worth it! All the pain will stop once I push out this baby. Boy, was I wrong.
The Tennessee Volunteers game was on Saturday afternoon. They were playing Alabama. I had waited all season for this game. It played in the background as I cried through my contractions. I remember thinking how cool it would be if Sadie was born during the Vols game. I had my mom bring her newborn Tennessee orange hat to the hospital that day, just in case. It blows my mind how I was worried about minuscule things like that at the time: making sure I had my cute matching labor socks on, making sure Sadie’s outfits were all there and not wrinkled, planning my first meal after I popped this little one out. Looking back, it blows my mind.
Soon after that, all thoughts disappeared. I was suddenly experiencing the worst pain I had ever felt in my entire life. I knew contractions hurt, I was expecting that, but nothing could have prepared me for this pain. It felt as if someone was trying to dig out my insides, and they were succeeding. I went from laying, to sitting at the edge of my bed holding onto Taylor, to crawling on the floor begging my nurse for something to make the pain stop.
I remember screaming “Please help me!” at the top of my lungs while kneeling on the floor. I wanted to turn off the Pitocin. I wanted to die. That my sound drastic, but I am not exaggerating. Taylor tried to calm me. He made me look into his eyes and told me I was going to be ok. He hollered for nurses to help me. They came in and said they were going to check my cervix for the umpteenth time to see if I could get my epidural. I was not dilated at all! Something was wrong.
The nurses did not believe the amount of pain I was in simply because I was not dilated. Someone that isn’t even at a 1 yet would not be in this much pain. I’m here to tell you, it’s possible. Something was preventing my cervix from opening, but my contractions kept getting stronger as if I were dilating. It was terrible.
I sat there in excruciating pain for what seemed like forever. Finally, a little glimmer of hope. My water broke! Or so I thought…
A huge gush came out of me as I was sitting back in the bed. I called for the nurse. This nurse that I had throughout the worst time of my labor could not have been more horrible. All she cared about was cranking my Pitocin up, at an alarming level, I must say. She came in with a resident doctor and the room became a total shit show. She got special strips of paper and dipped them in the water mess that was on the bed. She studied it, the resident studied it. How was it even a question that my water broke or not?? They came to the conclusion (falsely, I believe) that it was not my water. What the hell was it, then? She claims that maybe I had peed myself. Negative, Ghost Rider. She had no other explanation. I could not believe that I never even got to experience that joy of my water breaking during labor. I was robbed of that.
Moving on, my contractions just kept getting worse. I was begging for a C-section. I wanted the pain to end NOW. I could not take it anymore. I begged to call my doctor. I begged for help. My doctor finally called me and talked to me. He was upset that I had called him. He knew what was going on from staying in touch with the nurses. No, he knew medically what was going on. He did not know the amount of pain I was in. He told me to try to tough it out for 3 more hours and then we would visit the thought of a C-section. 3 hours?! I feel as if I would have died from pain if I waited 3 more hours.
The nurse finally gave me a pain med through my IV. I had begged for it for hours.
It took the edge off and made me somewhat loopy, but did not help the pain.
My mom arrived at this point and helped to calm me down a little. I was holding onto the bedrails and biting them. I had checked out. I no longer felt present. I let the pain consume me.
At this point, I let Jesus take the wheel and hoped for the best but expected the worst.
A little while later, I calmly stated that I am opting for a C-section.
The nurse came in to check my cervix one last time. Miraculously, I was 1 centimeter dilated! The nurse left to call my doctor.
She came back a few minutes later with the best news: I could get an epidural and we were still going to try for a vaginal delivery. I wholeheartedly believe that I would have died if I had a C-section. So I thank God every day for giving me that tiny centimeter.
This was all happening during a shift change, so I had to wait for my new nurse and for the anesthesiologist. Thank goodness it was a shift change. My new nurse was a lifesaver. I do not think I would have made it through without her. God Bless that woman.
My epidural experience was heavenly. I honestly loved it. Going into this, the epidural was my biggest fear. I was not scared whatsoever and it went wonderfully. My nurse had me sit Indian style on the bed facing her. Easier said than done with a giant belly. She gave me a pillow to hold onto in front of me. The anesthesiologist asked me a few questions and got started. My angel of a nurse held my shoulders and kept me calm through my contractions. When he stuck the needle in, I swear I did not even feel a thing. Maybe a slight pinch? But my goodness it was so easy! I could feel a difference and things starting to go numb so quickly.
In the middle of this process, I felt another gush of fluid. Was this my water breaking? I could not move whatsoever during the epidural process. I told the nurse and she told me to just stay still and we’d figure it out when he left. It turns out, the baby had pooped inside me. The nurse hollered out to the hallway to the other nurse. She came in and my nurse told her to let NICU know that they need to be present at my birth. This made me a little scared for my sweet baby. But I had been through so many emotions, I just had to trust that she was going to be alright. My nurse cleaned me up and got me set up in bed to lay back down.
Epidural is amazing. I was actually able to sleep! My sweet nurse came in every half hour to flip me from one side to the other to be sure my epidural was evenly dispersed and I couldn’t feel a thing. I still could tell when my contractions were happening, it just didn’t hurt anymore. I’m so thankful I got to sleep for a bit.
It was 4am. My nurse decided that she wanted to check my cervix to see how I was progressing. This time, I was all for it. The dozens of times in the past 48 hours hurt so bad. But now, I couldn’t feel a thing down there. She checked me and a surprised look came over her face. “Wow! You’re there!”
Oh my god, I was finally dilated all the way and I was finally going to be able to push.
The next few moments were surreal. My mom was asleep on the couch. She woke up and came over to my bed. Taylor was sleeping next to me in the chair.
“Taylor! Wake up! It’s time to push!”
His face was seriously priceless. He was half asleep, excited, and scared.
The nurse moved my bed so I was in a sitting position to help the baby move down. I sat there and drank my water for 30 minutes without a thought in my mind. I was blank. The past 48 hours had been the most intense emotions I had ever experienced, and now that the time had finally come-I had no thoughts and no emotion. I was simply going through the motions. I was doing whatever my nurse told me to. The nurse called my doctor and that’s when I knew that shit was about to get real.
It was time to lean back and do a couple practice pushes so the nurse could ensure I could do it correctly. She pushed some buttons on the machine controlling my epidural. I was shocked when pain started to rush in again. What did she do?! I was feeling my contractions and they were horrible!
“You need to feel your contractions so you know when to push.”
Whatever. Like I said, I was just going with the flow at this point. At least it would all be over soon. Pain is so much easier to tolerate when it has an expiration date.
I felt my contraction come on and I was ordered to practice push. The nurse counted through it and my contraction faded away as I stopped pushing and took a breath. The contraction felt so much better when I could push through it!
The next contraction I pushed again.
“Wait, stop pushing!” Things were progressing faster than my nurse expected.
I begged to be able to push through my painful contractions. I was able to push every other contraction while we waited for my doctor. It had already been almost an hour since the nurse called him. If he was here, my baby would be in my arms and I would not be in pain anymore. I was suddenly so mad at my doctor for making me wait.
“Where the fuck is my doctor?” I kept trying to get the nurse to call him again.
“He is usually here really quickly.” Great. Story of my life. Of course for my birth, he is running late or taking his sweet time. My mom put a cold cloth on my forehead and we waited.
I held my baby in my pelvis for 30 more minutes until the doctor arrived. I breathed through my contractions and prayed that my doctor would show up soon because I couldn’t take it much longer.
Finally, my doctor strolled in! Tons of other people followed. Everyone was looking at me, legs spread, baby’s head showing, and I did not give a damn. All that mattered was that the doctor showed up. Thank God he came when he did. I later learned that while I was holding her head in my pelvis, her heart rate was through the roof. My heart rate was also incredible high and climbing. The nurse knew it, my mom knew it, Taylor and my mother-in-law saw it. But they never told me. They did not want me to panic. I thank them all for that.
“Jordyn! You’re making this look easy!”
I suddenly felt a big burst of pride. I was proud of how easily I pushed my baby to this point.
“She’s got blonde hair!” My doctor touched my baby’s head. The resident doctor stood next to my doctor and I was finally able to push her into the world. I will never forget the feeling of her coming out. I did not feel her head, but when her shoulders and the rest of her came out, I felt the weirdest pressure and sensation. It was a magical feeling. It was the feeling of my baby leaving her home in my body to her home in this world. My doctor pulled her out and sat her on my stomach.
Sadie Lynn was here! I grabbed my little slimy baby and felt her skin. I couldn’t believe she was actually here! I did it!
Sadie was not crying. She pooped on me as soon as she came out. I remember freaking out asking why she was not crying.
“She’s not crying because she’s right next to you, sweetie.” One of the million people in my room told me. That was comforting. I looked at her little pouty face and up at Taylor. “We did it, babe.”
Taylor cut the cord.
The nurse put a diaper on my sweet baby girl just as she was peeing, and put a blanket around her. NICU was told they were not needed, as she was just fine.
I talked to my baby. I told her I was so happy to see her after this long journey. I loved her. She was perfect. I had a little family.
I was able to hold my baby for about 3 minutes. Then everything started quickly going downhill.
I started getting really dizzy and feeling out of it. It was then I realized that something was wrong. I started hemorrhaging. I was bleeding uncontrollably and it would not stop.
“Did you get my placenta out?” I asked the doctor. He said yes.
My doctor was urgently and vigorously massaging my uterus to try to stop the bleeding.
I had to lay my head down and I did not feel like I could hold Sadie anymore.
“Taylor, take her.”
Taylor took Sadie and sat by his mom on the couch while he watched blood pour out of me into puddles on the floor. It looked like the scene of a horror movie.
My mom stayed by my side. My nurse stayed by my side. She held an oxygen mask on my face and stuck a shot in my leg that was to try to help stop the bleeding.
A young male tech came in to bring handfuls of more towels to soak up the blood. The guy looked at me, looked at the blood all over the floor, the resident, and the doctor. Then he looked at me and his face dropped. There was so much shock and fear in his eyes. It was at that moment, I realized the severity of the situation.
I do not remember much of the next 30 minutes.
The one memory I have is looking at Taylor holding our baby and then I asked my doctor “Am I going to be ok?”
His answer is forever burned into my brain. It haunts me.
“Ummm….I think so” I had never heard a statement with so much uncertainty.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my doctor tell someone to “call them.”
I didn’t know who “them” was, but I assumed that him calling in backup was not good.
Minutes of bleeding that seemed like hours passed and I finally saw the best sight. My doctor held up a string of stitches. It was at that moment that I knew I was going to survive. He was going to stitch me up. Another of biggest fears before giving birth was tearing during delivery. But now, I thank God for my 2nd degree tear. Seeing those stitches in my doctor’s hands gave me hope. It made me hang on.
I had lost a third of the blood in my body. A normal hemoglobin level is 12. Mine dropped down to 6 in just 30 minutes.
My mom gave me a big cup of ice water and told me to drink. I will never forget how amazing those first sips of ice water were. It was pure heaven. It tasted like life re-entering my body. It was short lived, though. I immediately puked it all back up. My mom was trying to get some nutrients into my body quickly. She fed me fruit from the fruit cups sitting on table. I ate and immediately threw up in between.
A woman came in to prick my finger to ensure they had my correct blood type. She had bags of blood in the cooler she was holding.
My doctor initially ordered blood for an immediate transfusion, but because I was still somewhat with it and able to talk, he ordered them to hold off to see if I could build up my hemoglobin levels on my own without transfusions. Biggest mistake.
The rest of the time spent in the delivery room was a big dizzy, nauseous, blur. My family was there holding Sadie. My friend Sarah who worked at the hospital came to see me. My nurse got me a fresh gown and underwear. I didn’t know what was going on, really. Before I knew it, it was time to move to a mom and baby room. The nurse helped me into a wheelchair. I slumped down, unable to even hold my head up. I was so dizzy and lightheaded. Then the nurse handed me Sadie. I looked at my mom and told her there was no way I was going to be able to hold Sadie safely in this wheelchair. Only the mother could hold the baby during transport, so I was lifted back into my bed and was able to lay and hold Sadie while we moved to the new room.
I met 2 new wonderful nurses who helped me out a ton. They were constantly changing my sheets, gown, and underwear for me. They basically carried me to the bathroom because I could not walk on my own yet because of the epidural and the fact that I was insanely dizzy. I felt as if I could pass out at any moment. The nurse kept telling me to keep my eyes straight ahead so I didn’t look down and fall over. Everything hurt. I felt as if I was not in my own body. I just wanted to sleep through this. I wanted to be okay again. I thought that this is what every woman goes through after birth. I felt like I was being a baby. I have a daughter, I need to shape up and be happy. But I was far from happy. I was absolutely miserable. I didn’t hold Sadie much at all that day. I felt so yucky. I felt that if I closed my eyes, they would never open again.
Also, my uterine contractions-wow! I had already been through labor so I was so disheartened that these pains felt just like labor contractions. The nurses told me because of all the uterine manipulation from my doctor, that my uterus was basically going to hurt like hell and keep contracting for quite some time. They gave me heating bags and fed me chewable Motrin because my pregnancy created this awful fear of pills and I could not swallow them without throwing up. (side note: My doctor asked me about my pain meds the next night. I was confused. I was never offered pain meds, only Motrin. I was so mad that I went through most of my postpartum contractions on only Motrin. I wonder how higher potency pain meds would have helped…) I felt contractions for days after my birth. It became just common nature for me to have excruciating belly pain and be crazily dizzy and not be able to breathe. I assumed, once again, that this was what all mothers go through after birth.
The next day, at 4am, my hemoglobin levels were tested again. The number had dropped lower. I officially needed blood. I was so happy. Maybe this will help me feel better. It did! The transfusions were the best thing to happen to me since I got there. Well, other than my beautiful baby girl making it into this world. I started to feel alive again and I watched the bright red blood soar through my IV and into my body. It was wonderful. That day, I got to hold Sadie more. I even had some friends come to see Sadie. I felt so much better, but still not good. I always had this feeling that something was wrong. I did not want to leave the hospital after only 3 days. I felt as if I was being pushed out. My hemoglobin levels were up to an 8 after I got my blood, so they were shipping me out to build my blood back up on my own. I assumed that’s why I still felt like crap.
The next day, we were discharged. I was dizzy, so bloated from the blood and fluids that I couldn’t fit any shoes or slippers, and had this horrible pain in my right arm that I assumed was just from my IV and all the things that were pumped into me. Looking back, this was my first sign of my blood clot in my lung. Being pushed out in the wheelchair, my stomach hurt so badly that I was treated like I had had a C-section. I sat on a pillow, held one in front of me, and cringed at every single bump. My stomach was so sore! I remember telling Tay that I couldn’t breathe. We discussed different things we were going to get to help boost my hemoglobin levels with iron through red meat, spinach, and supplements. We thought that was the only issue and within a week I would be good as new! Boy, were we wrong.
My parents were waiting at home for us. It was dark. My mom helped me shuffle inside. Walking was still so hard. We introduced Sadie to her dogs and got to sleep in our own bed that night. It was nice, except for the fact that I could not breathe if I was laying flat on my back. The next day I got to take a shower and hold Sadie the majority of the day. I thought maybe things were starting to get better. I went to bed that night not being able to breathe easily. It felt as if someone was sitting on my chest.
I woke up feeling awful: dizzy, lightheaded, like I could pass out at any second. Breathing seemed difficult. We were getting ready for Sadie’s first doctor’s appointment that morning when I told Tay that we needed to go to the ER instead. Something was not right. My thought was that my hemoglobin levels had dropped lower and I may need more blood. I was wrong.
The next few weeks would be the scariest, craziest, and most empowering days of my life. I would realize my strength. I would realize just how much I loved my baby girl, despite the hell we had endured on her journey coming into this world. I thank God every day that we both survived.
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