A Perfect Birth Story

The following is written by LifeasMOM contributor, JessieLeigh:

photo source

I want to tell you my perfect birth story. It is my hope that you’ll find it compelling and amazing and inspiring. I hope it will encourage you. I hope it will open your eyes to incredible possibilities.

There are a few things you should probably know about my story… things that might make you scoff and deem it “imperfect” right from the start. But I would sure appreciate it if you’d bear with me for a few moments.

This story is about my second child.

It was not a natural birth. I had drugs. Plenty of them.

It was not a home birth. I wasn’t even within an hour of my home. There was no midwife or doula involved. Rather than being my steadfast coach throughout labor, my husband almost missed it.

There was no peaceful music, no gentle meditations. There was no careful breathing or clasped hands.

I had a c-section– didn’t even attempt a “regular” birth. I did not hold my daughter right away. She wasn’t placed on my chest. She didn’t latch on and nurse and bond. In fact, she would never truly breastfeed.

We didn’t room together. Aside from a brief glance in the recovery room and a gentle touch with one finger, I had no contact at all with my little girl for hours and hours. They stuck her endless times and probably gave her sugar water… I don’t even know. I wasn’t there.

photo source

By most standards, it’s an ugly tale full of poor choices. There’s not a “birth plan” you’ll find that reads the way that birth went down.

But it was perfect. And exactly as it needed to be.

You see, I gave birth to my second baby when I was less than twenty-four weeks pregnant. I had gained four pounds. I was not yet in maternity clothes. I was not ready to have that baby.

But she was coming, ready or not. And, with a team of devoted and dedicated doctors, we made a series of decisions to give her her very best shot.

Born at a mere 1 lb 5 oz, in the wee hours of Christmas Eve, she actually cried, something so unusual and stunning that a team of sixteen medical professionals went absolutely silent in awe.

She is five now. Whip-slim, but healthy as can be. She’s feisty and determined. She runs, plays, and laughs wild belly laughs that are incredibly contagious.

And so it’s hard, for me, when I hear disparaging remarks about “birth stories.” I’m not sure who decided that you can’t get the blue ribbon if you don’t achieve certain standards in labor and delivery. My happy, natural, “meets-people’s-approval” first birth was certainly no more or less triumphant than the messy, scary process that brought my precious preemie into the world.

It’s my story. And it’s her story.

And, no matter what anyone says, it is a perfect birth story.

It’s your turn. Please tell me–what’s YOUR perfect birth story?

– JessieLeigh is the mother of a former 24-week micropreemie and two full-term blessings as well. She is a determined advocate for the tiniest of babies, including the unborn, and a firm believer in faith and miracles. She shares about raising such a precious, tiny baby over at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles.

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Comments

  1. Bravo!!! Well said. I was born 40 years ago at 28 weeks and 2lbs 3oz. My picture hung in the hospital lobby for a while because I was the smallest baby ever to survive there. Both of my babies were full term, thankfully, but after having my son by c-section, I was made to take a VBAC class before ‘trying’ to have my 2nd child ‘the regular way’. The class was meant to be 4 weeks long, I didn’t make it through the first one. I didn’t fit the mold. I didn’t feel like a failure or like I had missed out on the reality of child birth, I didn’t feel like I cheated myself out of the experience because I had medication….so there was nothing to talk about. The perfect birth story? The one where the baby is born. Healthy. And in that story, the Mom lives to tell about it.

    • Oh, the story of your own birth gave me chills (the good kind!), Nadine. How neat that they had your picture up! And kudos to you for realizing what the “right” birth looked like for you– I totally agree that the end result of a healthy baby is enough for any of us to hope for. :)

  2. Wonderful piece – I loathe hearing those perfect birth stories not because I regret the way my children arrived but because I resent anyone turning childbirth into yet another reason to compete with other women.

    • This is what it comes down to for me too, Cherie. I despise the judgment and condemnation we mothers can show toward one another. It honestly never occurred to me that my story was a “failure” until other women implied that it was. :(

      • Healthy baby + healthy mother= perfect birth story!

        • I absolutely agree, Cherie. The perfect birth is the one that leads to the optimal outcomes for both mother and child.
          I try very hard to make sure, when I talk about birth choices, that my focus is clear: self-education for better outcomes. Unfortunately a lot of those things people judge on ARE negative – not in and of themselves, but because they lead to unhappy or unhealthy outcomes, either physically or psychologically.
          I try to be equally clear that so long as you know (really know) what the means are and agree (really agree) to them, then the ends are 100% justified.
          This is not a competition, it’s a life event. It is huge and powerful and we all need to feel like we’re part of that power, not that it’s being used somehow against us. Not by someone in a white coat, and not by our peers.

  3. I cannot thank you enough for sharing this. My son’s birth was not the beautiful, holistic birth experience we wanted, but it still brought his beautiful smile to the world. I appreciate your kind words because so often I feel like I failed and that’s just not the case.

    • Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you failed– you most assuredly did NOT. And, as your son shares that beautiful smile with the world throughout his life, no one is going to deny him college admission for a failed holistic birth experience. ;) It’s silly how much weight we sometimes place on the story…

  4. That was so beautiful and touching. It was perfect because it was a miracle.

    My 1st was born in a similar fashion at 29 weeks. His lungs were junk. Now that he is 11 and no one would guess his life started off with tubes and ventilators and wires and beeps, I have to restrain myself from telling his teachers, watch out. this kid is special. He is a miracle. I am so lucky.

    • Oh, I absolutely LOVE to hear stories about other preemies who are now thriving… particularly those who are older than my own. What a wonderful tale of triumph! :)

  5. While, I’ve been able to have four natural childbirths I know that my ideal may not always be the case. I’m so thankful that if I or my baby needed something different, it is available. The only thing that really matters is a healthy mom and baby.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    • That is absolutely fantastic that you’ve had four successful natural childbirths, Allyson– I am always so inspired by the tales when “everything goes right”, too. I love when women share their stories!

  6. Excellent post! What great perspective you have about the birth of your daughter. I am one of those women who has given birth 5 times with no pain medication. Your story was a great reminder that just because it worked for me to give birth naturally, it doesn’t mean that is the only way to give birth. The end result of a having a baby is what is important, not how it got here. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Love that story!! I love happy endings!

    My daughter had the corn wrapped around her neck a couple of times so her heart rate kept going down, the nurses kept telling me to turn over so she could breathe. I didn’t know how dangerous it was until AFTER the birth and a nurse came in and said something like, “So I hear it was touch and go for awhile, huh?” I didn’t realize it was THAT bad. She’s perfect now.

    Also, the doctor didn’t make it in time to deliver. The nurse said it was time to push and I said, “Thank God!”. Then she told me it could still take a long time of pushing. I thought it was like on TV when you push 2 or 3 times and it’s out. The doctor came in and checked me and said it would be another 1/2 hour of pushing. He left and I said, “NO WAY am I pushing for 1/2 hour”. I pushed and the nurse was screaming for the doctor and help. Haha, she delivered the baby.

    • Oh, Debbi, that is quite the story! The nurses and doctors remained shockingly calm with me for quite awhile there, too. I imagine they’ve found we (the moms) are sometimes better off not knowing just how scary things might be. So thankful that everything worked out for you– I smiled at how you took control of the pushing. Bet the nurse wasn’t quite expecting that! :)

  8. This made me so happy to read – not only because your daughter was born so early, facing so many difficulties, and turned out so well, but because I’m five days away from my due date with my second son (10/10). Every birth story I’ve read recently (and I can’t stop reading them, I’ve tried!) is either a horror story or a picture-perfect, never-gonna-happen-for-me scenario. I loved this: it was realistic and beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

    • I’ll be praying for you, Kristen. What an exciting time for you! (And I understand what you’re saying– there’s an irresistible draw to those stories, isn’t there? ;))

  9. Love the story… Really a good lesson. Why do Mom’s still think they have to have the perfect “birth story” these days. I think it’s silly. Your daughter is a miracle and that is a beautiful birth story…

    • Thank you so much, Heidi! I think too many women either strive to have that “perfect natural birth” story or the “horrible nightmare” story… but I’m really not sure what the motivation is. ;)

  10. Oh Praise God for that cry!! Thank you for this post! All 4 of our boys births were different (one was at 29 weeks, after 5 weeks of bed rest in the hospital) and none contained the words home, or natural, but they are here, they are thriving and they love God. What more could we ask for?

  11. After my disaster of a delivery I decided that any delivery that ended with a baby & mom was a good “right” birth story. When I had my daughter I was 2 weeks past due, had been induced 3 times and after the 14 hours of labor the last time I ended up with a c-section after my epidural wore off. I have never in my life been in so much pain. But at the end of the day I had a beautiful healthy baby girl so I would say that is a successful birth story.

  12. Great post! I appreciate this! I have had to have c-sections with both my children. I have felt intimidated by other women who insinuate it should have been natural like theirs was to be a “real” delivery. Though I did not like having a c-section- I am thankful for the lives of my two healthy children! Thank God for sparing your little girl!!

    • Before giving birth to my 2nd child, I would tell people that having a c-section was my “worst fear”… how incredibly naive and silly I was! It is most certainly not what I would have chosen, but I am totally at peace that it is part of my story.

  13. My son’s birth story sounds very similar. He was born at 32 weeks, weighing 4lbs. I didn’t see him for at least 12 hours after he was born and I don’t really remember a lot of it because I was in shock. I mostly just know what my husband told me about it afterwards.

    But my son just turned 4 last week, he’s happy and healthy. That is all I need for it to have been a perfect birth story.

  14. What a blessed birth story…God’s hand of protection and provision weaved through with the fruit of 5 lovely years. :-) I love reading birth stories…each one different…each one orchestrated according to the Lord’s perfect will.

    I have delivered in a birth center, twice in a hospital {once naturally and once was an emergency c-section} and five times at home. Every one was perfect in its own way, as the Father directed it to be. Each one a testimony of His work in my life and the life of each baby.

    My latest birth story can be read at: http://smithseasonsoflife.blogspot.com/2011/09/carolyne-joys-birth-storyshort-version.html
    If you want to read about the Lord’s faithfulness, then pour a cup of tea and read the long version within the post. ;-)

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story and the continued journey of your daughter’s special life…

    Blessings in Him,

    Jarnette @ Seasons of Life

    • What a beautiful, inspiring story, Jarnette! (And, I swear, those weights they give never seem to be right. ;) They told me my first would be itty bitty and he was 8#. My third– who “measured big”– was 5 1/2. He knows what He’s doing… that’s what matters!)

  15. I don’t have a birth story. I miscarried all 8 of my pregnancies. What I do have is 3 beautiful boys through the gift of foster/adopt. The perfect birth story? That my boys were birthed at all, and that they are loved:)

    • Amen.

    • Your beautiful boys have the best mother in the world–YOU.

      I myself am adopted, so I feel I can say with some authority that adopted children love and connect with their parents EXACTLY the same as biological children.

      My mother used to hold me close and tell me that she never got to feel me growing inside her, but she could feel me growing OUTSIDE her tummy!

    • Goosebumps!

    • All 3 of my children have a similar perfect story, Heather. They were conceived in my heart and “born” to me in a noisy, crowded airport. I don’t feel like we failed our sons because they came into the world in a sterile hospital, given all kinds of meds, and never tasted breastmilk. They were given life by other women, and like you said, they are very loved!

    • Thank you Heather! As we face the possibility of adoption being our only choice, I loved reading your words. While it’s hard to accept that I may not physically have children of our own, it’s so reassuring to know that I can still have kids – just in a different way. Thank you so much.

  16. That was beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes.

    I get sad when I’m with a group of moms (online or in real life), and the conversation turns to a competition. Whether it’s who had the best birth story or whose baby is sleeping best, whose toddler is the most advanced or whose preschooler has been admitted to Harvard, moms start tearing each other down. And it’s so sad. Motherhood is hard from conception on, and no one understands better than another mom. We need to support each other more.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story!

    • Thank you, Christy. I could not agree more– it saddens me immensely that, as mothers, we are each other’s greatest critics. Motherhood should not be one giant competition.

  17. At 37 weeks, I went into the hospital for a repeat ultrasound, as I had preeclampsia, hyperemesis, and my baby’s rate of growth had drastically slowed.

    In fact, the preeclampsia had gotten worse, my baby had not grown in 2 weeks, and there was protein in my urine. The doctor said that the placenta was obviously not functioning for nutrition; she worried that blood flow would stop.

    26 hours of labor and 3 1/2 of pushing later, he was born.

    But this is where it all really starts…

    Even though he was only 4 1/2 pounds, the hospital insisted on giving him a HepB vaccination (nobody in our house has ever been infected with HepB, so he was not at risk). He was only 4 hours old. He was then unconscious for 5 days. They told us it couldn’t be the vaccine.

    6 weeks later, he turned yellow. The pediatrician laughed at me for being worried, said that it was breast-milk jaundice, and then that it was his Asian heritage.

    But it turned out he had congestive heart failure, due to a heart defect. He was put on digoxin and furosemide.

    2 weeks later, when he was a whopping 6 pounds, he had 3 hours of seizures within an hour of being given 4 vaccines. We were told that it was a coincidence, and scolded for even worrying about vaccines, because “vaccines don’t do that.” We learned later that vaccines DO do that to some children, and that his reactions should have been reported to VAERS (they weren’t). He never had seizures before or since that time.

    He ended up having open-heart surgery at age 2.

    At age 3, he was diagnosed with autism.

    At age 10, we discovered he had celiac/gluten intolerance. We also discovered that vaccines can cause medical problems that can, in turn, exacerbate or even cause symptoms of autism (for example, seizures can have a profound effect on brain function, and some of the ingredients in vaccines can trigger autoimmune disorders–like celiac).

    We chose a path that diverged from the one advised by mainstream medicine (but we didn’t do homeopathic medicine, either). We did do vitamin supplements, and special diet (gluten-free, casein-free, preservative-free, artificial color-free), and substituted drama classes for speech therapy, martial arts for OT (he had balance/coordination problems), Suzuki violin for auditory processing therapy, and we never did ABA–it just seemed wrong to us.

    He officially lost the autism diagnosis at age 13. He earns straight As without an aide, has friends, is a 3rd degree black belt, plays violin in the school orchestra, and is currently one of the leads in the school musical.

    Maybe, the way I’m thinking of it, it’s the longest birth story in history! But, like yours, it’s perfect.

    I thank God every day for giving me my son back.

    • What a beautiful testimony! I love seeing how you stepped up and made choices based on your convictions and knowledge of your own child. While it sounds like quite a roller coaster, I am so glad to hear of the happy outcome!

  18. The “perfect” birth is so dependent on the circumstances surrounding it. A perfect birth for a preemie will look quite different than a perfect birth for a full term baby. And all moms are different – for some women, the best no-drugs birth would be anything but perfect for them.

    I was blessed to be induced and give birth with a CNM instead of in a hospital, thereby avoiding a C section. It wasn’t the perfect birth. If I could do it over again I would change things. But the final moments were perfect.

    I think women are allowed to regret that their births didn’t go well, whatever that means for each woman. Yes, a healthy baby is the ultimate thing. But having a healthy baby doesn’t mean we should be automatically happy with a horrible birth experience.

    • Oh, of course women should, not only be permitted to, but also encouraged to embrace, own, and share their honest feelings. It’s okay to be disappointed that things didn’t go “as planned” or, even, as desired. I most certainly would not have chosen my second birth story. What I wish we would see less of is not so much self-judgment, but the feelings of inferiority than can come when we feel judged and scrutinized by others. I completely agree with you that we should acknowledge (and be allowed) our disappointment as well.

  19. My husband and I ‘snuck away’ to the hospital just a few weeks ago to be induced with our last child. I know what it feels like to be judged because you choose to use meds or induce or whatever the choice. I feel like we made a good decision for us, but most of our friends and family will not know ‘the “horrible” truth! LOL We ended up with a beautiful, healthy little man with no complications even though I was induced. I agree with the other comments…healthy baby + healthy mom = perfect birth story!

  20. My second child was conceived after 3 miscarriages. Then at 15 weeks, I started bleeding. I was put on bedrest. I had several more episodes that landed me in the hospital for a day here and a day there. In the early morning hours of Easter Sunday, I got up to go to the bathroom. I was 25 weeks along and began to hemorrhage. My doctor wanted to perform a c-section right then, but he waited. I stopped bleeding and was transferred to a center with a NICU. I laid there for 5 weeks. I came home and my placenta previa had resolved. YAY! Well, wait, they now discovered that I had vasa previa, which if not detected before birth, has about a 100% mortality rate. I went in for a c-section at 35 weeks. Had my baby boy. He never breastfed either because he was in an oxygen tent and I was anemic and produced nothing. He is a happy, healthy 4 year old and I know how blessed I am!

  21. Christine says:

    Thank you. Both of my kids were c-section preemies; the first one by a horrific crash c-section. Afterwards I had enormous guilt and found myself apologizing for not having the “perfect birth”. I believe we do ourselves and other women great harm by perpetuating the myth of the “perfect birth”. We really need to stop being so hard on ourselves.

  22. THANK YOU!! 3 of my 5 children were induced and I also used pain meds for those 3. For me, a ‘perfect’ birth was being coherent and knowing what was going on around me, recalling my husbands face and the look in his eyes when our children were born. With our youngest, I insisted on being induced. When our baby girl was born they found her cord was tied in a knot – most often a fatal condition. Had we waited any longer we could have lost her. And can I please say the same thing about nursing??? I was not physically able to nurse my children, tho I tried and did want to. It’s a sore subject, as tho some mothers dont care enough to nurse. My children are happy, intelligent, healthy, well adjusted and nurtured. I love them immensely and am so blessed to have them!!

  23. Lea Stormhammer says:

    I’m a former 3lb 28 week preemie – born 36 years ago. I too was on the wall of the local hospital as the smallest baby too. Your story gives me goosebumps and I’m so glad your little one is healthy and well!

    Hugs,
    Lea

  24. Wow! I love the matter of fact way that was written. It is true that women have this expectation of themselves when it comes to giving birth – you know, the whole earth mother thing! but yes I agree your birth was perfect and I think all births are perfect in their own way. After all, we get a child! Who really cares how he/she arrives! Thanks for sharing! Love it!

  25. I have two…

    The first? I was in a hospital in Alabama, my mom by my side, my soldier on the phone. Two hours later, I held a boy and cried because my soldier couldn’t hold him yet.

    The second? I was in Germany in an airport, waiting for that soldier to return from Iraq for 18 days leave. The boy was still in pjs in the stroller, and I started cramping… We found our soldier and enjoyed one last day together as three. 21 hours after his plane had landed, the boy was at a friend’s house, and the soldier and I were at the hospital. I glanced over at the soldier- his eyes were closed, and he was holding our second boy. I cried.

    :)

  26. What a moving story. Thank you for sharing. My sister was born at 26 weeks, at 1 lb. 1 oz. My mom went from an emergency section right into a mastectomy. (She was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant with my sister and had to ‘deliver’ before they could treat her cancer.) Both my mother and sister are strong and healthy – 28 years later. My sister was valedictorian of her high school class and holds a PhD in education. She is tall, slim, and beautiful. My mother is nearing her 70th birthday in good health. A perfect birth story is any one that ends in a healthy child.

  27. What a beautiful story and one that needs to be told often.

    I had a homebirth with my second child and did all the natural things that I thought made a difference.

    Then with #3 (my first son) I had gestational diabetes so we planned a hospital birth with an all natural birth plan. He came at 37 weeks and 2 days when my water broke. I didn’t go into labor ended up on pit drip and got an epidural. He was born with severely immature lungs and no muscle tone. He was immediately taken to the NICU where he spent the next 11 days. It would be 3 days before I could hold him and week before I could nurse. All the hype about it being SO important to bond within the first hour, to breastfeed a few minutes after birth, blah blah blah. The bond between me and my 18 month old son is as strong as it with my other 3 children. While I am sure the “naturalist” have some good points I want to yell to those mamas who don’t have a choice to be with the baby right after birth that it makes NO difference in the bonding process! : )

    With baby #4 (who’s 14 days old now) my only request when I went to the hospital was to get her here safely. No birth plan needed. : ) It was a great blessing though that I got to pull her out, she was laid on my chest all gooey, my husband cut the cord, and I got to immediately breastfeed her but in the end it didn’t really make a difference.

  28. What a blessing it has been for me to read this post and then also to read these many, amazing comments. Each birth story is different. For me the only thing that matters is a healthy baby at the end. I had 6 hours of labor but ended up tearing really bad. I was always so thankful that I didn’t end up having a c section, but looking back now, I know that all I needed was a healthy baby. The main thing is that we show love to every mother and above all, stop with all the competition. Thanks for this amazing post, JessieLeigh!

  29. I had my oldest at 22. Granted, I wasn’t as young as some mothers, but I was terrified of a regular vaginal delivery… I would push for hours and tear then end up needing a c-section. So, I opted for a c-section right off the bat. We got to pick the day- so my husband was for sure in town, the time-so all our family knew when to be at the hospital. The nurse asked me “Are you sure you want to do this?” I told her there was no doubt in my mind that this was the right decision for me. She said ok and went on to tell me how great the guy was that was going to give me my epidural… “he never makes mistakes.” Well, 4 pokes and misses later I pipe up and say, “I thought you were really good at this!” Hahahaha… I get slightly sarcastic when I’m nervous. On his 6 try he got it. As they were taking my daughter out we were able to relax, crack jokes and laugh. We got pictures with just her head sticking out of my stomach, which we both love and think is creepy at the same time… My husband was able to clean her and hold her and cut the cord and really bond with her. I tend to take over situations (I’m working on that) so having me be stuck on my back he was able to take control. It was perfect and my daughter is the best 5 3/4 year old ever!

  30. 27 years ago our oldest son was born by C-section. The Lamaze teacher called and “asked” that we not attend the after birth party she had for all participants of our class (the class failure). The first time I stood up I was in such pain, I began to cry and the nurse told me, “You’re just sad because you didn’t have a natural delivery.” I explained that my purpose was to bring home a baby, I didn’t care how and she rolled her eyes. I teach Infant and Child Development at a college and try to impress on my students that it is very similar to a wedding. It isn’t about “that day”, it is about the rest of your life. I never regretted it! He was a ginormous healthy baby boy who is now an incredibly talented and bright adult thanks to the great thinking of a trained OB. God Bless Dr. Hagel!

  31. My daughter was only in her 29th week of pregnancy when she developed a sudden and severe case of Preeclampsia. Evidently my daughter’s BP was through the roof and the baby didn’t seem to be growing at the correct rate!

    She had gone for her regular OB check up, not realizing anything was amiss. Well, the Doc said she needed to be in the hospital, RIGHT NOW! She also mentioned the dreaded phrase Emergency C-Section!!

    My first thought when our S-I-L called was, “It’s too soon. Way too soon.” She still had at least 11 weeks more until her due date!!

    It appeared there was no alternative, so they spent 2-3 days giving medications to reduce BP to a low enough level to do the C-section and something else to help strengthen the baby’s respiratory system. Both baby and mom needed to have this C-Section as soon as possible, but they deeded to be in the best possible condition too!

    Only S-I-L was allowed in the delivery room, of course, so we tried to find a place to settle in to wait. Less than 15 minutes later, S-I-L came out of the Delivery Room. My stomach dropped and I was sure it was bad news.

    “It’s a Girl! She weighed 1 lb. 14 oz. and was 13 1/2 in. long!” “Mom” was fine! Doctor told him that baby came out crying, breathing on her own, with Apgar scores of 8 and 9, and seemed to be doing great!!

    So the newborn, after a very quick stop at mom’s side in the delivery room, was whisked off to the NICU where she was placed in a crib with open access. A very large number of sensors were attached to her, each one a monitoring device of some sort: She was being monitored constantly and if any of those levels should spike or drop or anything, loud emergency warnings would start up immediately. Let me tell you, that is one terrifying sound! Still, the NICU staff was closely in attendance and ready for anything.

    We were finally allowed in to see her . It was almost heartbreaking. She was sooo tiny, there of course, was no extra tissue to fill out her little body yet. She was literally skin and bones. You could hardly see her with all the lines and tubes and sensors stuck to her. She was breathing on her own, and sleeping, all worn out from being yanked into the world so soon! I fell in love instantly.

    Mom, who needed to be with her baby the most, didn’t get to meet her daughter until the next day, because of the C-Section! That was very hard on her. Of course, she was already in love with this tiny gift.

    We were told that preemies, especially at this stage, cannot tell the difference between pleasure and pain, so none of us could hold her, or pick her up, or even touch her over-much. Truth be told, I think we were all a little afraid of causing this child any more trauma. Nevertheless, nothing would have gotten me out of that NICU until they made us leave. It was enough that we could be with her for however long it was allowed.

    The most absolutely amazing thing to me both then and now, was that no one….no doctor, nurse, technician or caregiver….ever said anything to make us feel the baby was in danger. There was no “make or break” moment. We never heard anything resembling a warning that she was at a critical point of any kind. There was no backward step, no crisis. She was going along exactly as she should, doing exactly what she needed to do….eating, sleeping, and growing!

    She stayed in the NICU for the next NINE weeks (when she at last reached 5 lb. and my daughter could take HER daughter home.)

    “Baby” is now 10 years old, in 5th grade, tall for her age and has an IQ of 150!

    Perfect birth??? What do you think??!!

    Just call me a proud Grandmother!

  32. Each of my children adore hearing their “special story.” With my last guy I finally was able to get an epidural. The trade off? I developed an infection from the cath procedure. My right kidney hasn’t been the same since. My first child was remarkably prompt and made me puke during labor(BK Whopper). My second was a girl. She didn’t like the concept of sharing a body. I gained 5 pounds during the 1st 6 months(and I was already incredibly small). They finally put me on phenergan. She came into the world at 40+5. My third and last were the only ones who actually broke my water. My 4th was our only “planned” baby. I had pitocin to deliver him after I was 2 weeks past my due date. (They just kept getting later and later). The doctor was happy because once they induced I was quick enough that he had time to play some golf. He did say he should have worn hip waders though. I had my last in Virginia. My only southern baby(and boy does he have the drawl to prove it.) He was born after a cross country move and was actually later than those 2 extra weeks. He was my biggest baby at 8 pounds 14 oz and is now my “shrimp.” He’s small(my mom is only 5 feet so he may just have that gene or it could be he’ll sprout up during puberty.)

    Anyway it’s so amazing how each of my kids have their own special beginning.

  33. JessieLeigh, I don’t know you, but I love you! I began reading the post with a “here we go again, hearing how imperfect I am and how I do everything everything EVERYTHING wrong” attitude. THANK YOU!!!

    :)

  34. megan bergman hughes says:

    Thank you for sharing this perfect story. It is indeed, because it is your story, and a beautiful part of God’s story. Be encouraged- there are many out there that I know who share a very similar story of very early births and wonderfully, healthy kids.

    My first and second birth stories are also perfect, in their own ways. My first daughter was diagnosed with Turner’s Syndrome after our first 18 week ultrasound and we were told that she would not survive. In the 6 weeks following, we spent as much time with Hannah as we could on the ultrasound screen. I carried her as protectively and lovingly as I could, knowing that I would most likely never know this little girl, this side of Heaven. I was scared about how the story would be written and unsure as to how I would deliver her. My only hope was that I would be able to hold this fearfully and wonderfully made, perfect child of God. And, at 24 weeks, I did. All 1 lb. 11 oz. of her. While she was born still, I was able to deliver her into the arms of Jesus, just after I was able to hold her for a bit (and share her with my husband and family). Perfect. While she didn’t resemble the kind of babies I had seen, she did reflect the Glory of God in a way I had never known. She was perfect. And, how I delivered her was too. With all the fear, shaking and tears- it was a beautiful birth.

    My second was also perfect. While I had friends who were home-birthing and natural-birthing and baby-upon-baby-making, I was just hoping to God that I would be able to have a child that breathed in my arms. I was afraid to tell those who were doing the whole thing in much more thoughtful and intentional ways than me- I would fearfully and tearfully endure the pregnancy with my son, hoping for a different outcome than my first go- that all I wanted was to hold a baby, no matter how that came to pass. And so, with just under 2 weeks before my due date, I was induced- membranes stripped, pitocin, water broken- and drugged and had my little boy Brennan a half a day later, in the very wee small hours of the morning. It was exhausting. I tore. It hurt. I held my boy and sighed. There wasn’t much joy or laughter, like we thought there’d be, simply because we were all just plain old tuckered out. But evenso, he was here. Breathing. In my arms. And, we got to keep him. And go home with him. And for 7.5 years, we’ve got to be his Mom and Dad.

    He now has two little sisters here on earth, and another sister in Heaven keeping Hannah company. Those stories are also very tender, beautiful and perfect. All because each of them, in their very own way (even the miscarriage at 10 weeks after I had carried Brennan) held and shone the Glory of God in ways that have marked me, my husband and those around us indefinitely. We are so thankful. God is very, very good.

  35. Thank you for this, sometimes I feel like I did it all wrong because I was induced and ended up having to have a c-section because I never progressed which led to having another c-section with my second pregnancy because I was carrying twins. I have always felt like I made the wrong decision to be induced and that I would do it all differently if I had the chance but none the less, it happened and I love all my sweet children whether I got to hold them right away or not.

  36. Every birth story is important, no matter how it happens. One thing that is amazing, is it really almost never matters how many years it has been since you have had your baby and sometimes even women who have forgotten almost everything else, can still recall with perfect memories, giving birth.
    It is wonderful to rejoice at giving birth, and JessieLeigh reminds us that even when things are different than you thought, it can be perfect for you.

    It is also important to remember that sometimes in our effort to know that, we can sometimes make others feel bad that they did things differently than ours and that is not normally the case.

    You mothers have shown with these stories that you are conquerors, overcoming the odds. But some mothers do not have the perfect birth stories, and yet choose to do things differently than you. I think we need to make sure we remember to wrap our arms around a mother who does even have the perfect sounding birth story, as sometimes she is judged for having things go right as well.

  37. Melinda P says:

    I love hearing birth stories! And the story of your second daughter along with all the stories in the comments are absolutely gorgeous, I was tearing up at several of them!

    I’ve gotten the “Oh, you had to have c-sections” looks from other women before, like it’s a downright shame. Even my sister says that was her worst fear (she had 6 all vaginal), which is hard to wrap my head around. I’ve had 3 emergency c-sections for my 3 children, maybe c-sections can be a little scary while you’re going in, but they certainly aren’t the worst that could happen. While I would have LOVED to have a natural childbirth or ANY kind of vaginal birth, I love my birth stories.

    I love telling my 3rd child’s story especially, cuz it was so darn exciting, LOL! I went into labor, we rushed to the hospital and I was completely dilated by the time I got there, so there was a HUGE rush to the OR. Nurses and doctors running down the hall, yelling and everything. It was AWESOME!! People think I’m crazy to love my birth stories, cuz they were all c-sections. But they don’t seem to understand, there was no alternative. Not only were all three of my babies breech, they were in transverse positions (head under my ribs, butt at my left hip) and would not budge. So, c-sections are a miracle for me, because I have 3 beautiful, healthy LIVE children to show for it (plus the fact that I’m alive still, too!). God’s been so merciful, too, because He healed me up so quickly and completely after each section.

    I’ve gotten looks and rude questions about breastfeeding too. I tried hard all 3 times, and I wasn’t able to for various physical reasons, as well as uncooperative babies. Yet, I bonded with all 3 of my babies.

    We’re expecting #4 in March. I’m hoping for another unique and wonderful story (although I wouldn’t mind having a PLANNED c-section this time, LOL), the anticipation of hearing that first cry, the chubby little squinty face peering over the blue hanging divider. I’m expecting that I won’t be able to breastfeed again, even though I’ll try my hardest again. But all I really want, really really truly, is a healthy baby. And a healthy me, so I can be around for a long time for my children.

  38. Angela Lierman says:

    Thanks so much for posting this!! I needed to hear this several years ago!! I had nightmares for years from my first birth experience. Was so bad my husband and I did NOT want to go through anything like that again!! But the old adage is true, time heals all wounds and we did have 2 more – just with planned c-sections. Thank God your miracle is doing so well!! :)

  39. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It must still be amazing to see a five year old where once there was a teeny, weeny baby. I still feel that way with my seven year old.

    Going in to his birth I wanted it natural. I could think of nothing worse than an epidural and episiotomy. But I had GD and as a result was induced at 41 weeks. I had every intervention short of a c-section and have never regretted one single minute of it. The moment my son emerged was the best moment of my life and I have only ever felt incredibly grateful that I was somewhere where he and I were taken care of every step of the way.

    When my second son was born I still hoped to go natural but I understood that birth does not go according to a plan and at the end of the day I just wanted him safe in my arms. I laboured without meds through a pitocin augmented labour and my son was born safe and well. Unfortunately the placenta was stubborn and I ended up in OR with a spinal block. I was resentful of that for a while but I found that as my children experienced more and more of life, the details of their birth became just one of a million things that they embody.

    My third boy is due in a few weeks. At this stage I don’t care if it’s a natural birth or if I’m standing on my head in clown make up. All I’m thinking about is the amazing experience of seeing the life that is now growing inside me ready to start making his way in the world.

  40. What a fantastic story! The mode of delivery has absolutely no bearing on the kind of parent you are or the kind of person your child will be.

  41. Thank you so much for this. I have 2 daughters and neither of the births were what I had in mind. My first was born (with pain meds. :) ) a week late, and had meconium in her lungs and stomach and was put on a ventilator. I couldn’t see her for hours, and it was very scary for about a week. My second one was breech, but she turned when they induced me, so the doctors decided to let me go naturally. I had 2 epidurals that did not work, so after 30 hours of painful labor, I had an emergency C section. I had to be put under, so my husband couldn’t be in with me either. It seemed like such a let-down. In the end, though, I have 2 beautiful daughters whose giggles light up my life, and I can’t imagine life without either of them. It is refreshing to hear a story like this, in contrast to the moms who talk as though any other way but vaginally without meds is wrong! Thank you!

  42. When I was pregnant my biggest fear was not being able to breastfeed and I knew that I wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs. I probably would have done a homebirth if there were midwives where I live. I was low risk, 19 years old, perfect pregnancy.

    Things went wrong in the last few dregs of labor. My LO’s heart rate was dropping, they had the oxygen mask on me and told me to BREATHE because he wasn’t getting oxygen. It wasn’t until he was out that I realized how serious it was. He had the cord wrapped around his neck and he was blue. They popped him over to the side table a few feet from me (there goes #1 in my birth plan, to have him placed on my chest until the cord stopped pulsing), where they tried to get him to breathe. They bagged him for the full 3 minutes and popped him up to the NICU because he still hadn’t cried. There was meconium so they were worried that he may be aspirated on it.

    He got put on a CPAP and it was found that the bagging had put holes in his lungs. He was downgraded to oxygen prongs and we had one session of trying to breastfeed, where the nurse pushed his crying face onto my boob and I didn’t have any clue what to do because that went against everything I had read about breastfeeding.

    About 24 hours later he had a seizure and he got sent to the children’s hospital 6 hours away. We arrived there that afternoon to see him covered in tackle and basically comatose. An EEG showed “burst-suppression” patterns, which basically meant that he was constantly having seizures, even though we couldn’t see them.

    Two days later they told us he was brain dead and we decided to take him off his life support the next day. He didn’t deserve to live his life in a hospital.

    On Christmas Eve 2010 we took him off and prepared to say goodbye, but 3 days later he developed a suck reflex and we were able to take him home 2 days after that.

    It turned out that I had had placental abruption (the symptoms had mirrored labor symptoms and since I was a first time mom I had no clue), and that coupled with the cord wrapped around his neck led to lack of oxygen which caused severe brain damage. He was diagnosed with HIE III and in his follow-up MRI at 2 months old, he was found to have “water on the brain”.

    Now he is a happy 9 month old, albeit with developmental issues and possible cerebral palsy. He is doing amazing from the original prognosis he was given, however. They told us that he would never walk, talk, or eat. He feeds orally and hasn’t had any seizures since he came off all of his meds. I was never able to exclusively breastfeed like I wanted.

    It may not have been a perfect birth story, but it gave me my son. :)

    • I forgot to add….it wasn’t until I experienced the doctors telling me that he wasn’t going to live that I realized that the “HOW” doesn’t matter as much as the “WHAT”. As long as you have a healthy baby, it doesn’t matter how they came into the world!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Wow, Olivia. Praise God for your little boy and the wonderful way he is beating the odds.

  43. Emma Poole says:

    Amazing! Inspirational! I felt very judged because of the little amount of drugs that i got through out my 46hr labour. That is a REAL birth story because they never go to your perfect little plan.

  44. I have been so honored and touched by the wonderful response to this post… I desperately want to respond to each and every comment but know that I don’t have the time to do each justice. Please know that I have read (and re-read!) each and every one and have been so inspired and encouraged by all of your amazing stories. Thank you so much for sharing them in this space!

  45. It’s interesting that I just read this today, through a link on Raising Olives, because I attended a senior piano recital of an incredibly gifted young man just last night. During the intermission, his father shared the story of his son’s birth: 23-24 weeks pregnant, out of town, born weighing 1 lb. 9 oz. You’d never know it today! (And he is taller than either of his brothers!) After his father shared this story, the young man played “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Amen!

  46. Thank you so much for this, for someone to finally tell me it was ok.

    We wanted a homebirth, my in laws had told us how ‘dangerous’ the hospital was. We found a midwife, but we soon discovered she was a loony! Thankfully I had put in an application with the constantly-booked-women-chosen-by-lottery-birth center at the hospital as well and got in. I was so excited, it was like the best of both worlds! The in laws settled eventually.

    I didn’t have the perfect pregnancy like my MIL had. I developed hyperemesis, severe, life threatening morning sickness. So I started OUT feeling like a failure.

    I got it under control, against all my families wishes except my husbands, I took medication in pregnancy (to save my life!)

    Then I developed cholestasis, basically my body wasn’t coping with the extra hormones, and I was releasing bile salts throughout my body and through the placenta. While there was a small risk of poisoning the baby, there was a larger risk of the placental cord spasming, cutting bloodflow and killing my baby.

    I didn’t do as much research as I should have, I don’t know how large the percentage of babies lost to this is, I don’t know if this was a major risk or a doctor scare tactic, and at that moment I didn’t care. Yep, there’s risks with induction, but they are risks that doctors know how to cope with, risks that doctors put on patients every day. I was happier to accept those odds.

    Praise the Lord, he made my body so oversensitive to chemicals, which has been a problem all my life. However this time, it means my body, completely unready for labor at 37 weeks, dilated and started labor after only the application of gel, and I was able to refuse the drip!

    Yep, I had the gas. I even had VEs! (I did draw the line at an epidural, but I pleaded for morphine!) And my poor husband, who was only 22 mind you, managed to forget everything we talked about and left me lying on my back the entire labor! Not a birth stool in sight.

    But I delivered my baby, in record time, 6 hours between waters breaking and baby in arms (Labor didn’t truly begun until the waters broke, though I had tightenings within 10 minutes of the gel being inserted. Gotta love being so darn hypersensitive. No one expected a 37 week induction on gel alone, they were just trying to get me loosened up and ready for the drip)

    My baby is perfect, healthy, bright, ahead of her age on milestones, developing well. Maybe she’s at slightly higher risk of asthma because of the medication I took, but I grew up with asthma, she was at high risk anyway. Maybe my muscles were damaged from the induced labor, but the body is very good at self repair when you have a good diet. My hyperemesis, which these ‘perfect birth’ people told me to leave untreated, on the other hand, is probably what caused the cholestasis in the first place!

    This experience has taught me to pull risks into perspective. No, ideally I never want a C-section. Ideally I’d still like to move in labor, and ideally I would never be induced again. But there are a lot of ideals in life, they rarely turn out to be reality. Thousands of women have these procedures every day. Maybe they aren’t the healthiest way, but neither is eating a cheeseburger, and I still do that once in awhile! The gas had absolutely no effect on my baby, and it helped me, so why should these perfect birthers make me feel like a horrible mother for using it! Maybe I’ll even try using the gas during a non-induced labor next time!

    Homebirth is no longer an option, at least for the next couple pregnancies, until I can prove that I will not develop cholestasis again. And that is upsetting because I would like to do it, but it isn’t as heartbreaking as it would have been if I risked out before my first baby was born, because I have a perspective now.

    Less that ideal does not mean failure. Less that ideal means reality. This is something I still struggle with. Part of me wants to be able to tell my daughter about a beautiful sunny day at home with prayer and wonderful music, and her birth coming easily and naturally. But the fact is, she was born in the middle of major floods (I live in Australia), the same day another hospitals entire maternity ward was evacuated to our hospital due to flooding, and it was absolute chaos. I want to tell her about a quiet, relaxed enviroment, peace surrounding her entry into the world, but the fact is her labor began with a screaming match with a horrid nurse (I have a cronic pain condition, she didn’t care and wanted to agravate it further for no reason but ‘standard testing’), continued with screaming matches with more horrible nurses (when I attempted to refuse a VE and they said fine, you can give birth up here in the suite alone because we aren’t sending you down until we KNOW you’ve dilated ‘enough’, and you’re being selfish by laboring in this room) and ended with an argument with a doctor (who tried to tell me leaving a tear unstitched was like leaving cancer untreated, I didn’t want it stitched up because, even though it was a minor tear that wouldn’t have been stitched 30 years ago, because of my pain condition I would need to go into the OR with a spinal tap as local anesthetic wouldn’t work for me. He managed to scare my husband sufficiently enough to go through with it, but it was confirmed afterwards that it was only a minor tear.)

    But her story is perfect, because I have a beautiful baby, I survived, and even better, we were thanked by midwives for being one of the few patients active in their own labors, and we were shown Gods provision in many ‘minor miracles’ that happened in those couple of days.

  47. Thank you! “Birth stories” always really bother me–as if those of us whose deliveries have been less than “ideal” are poorer mothers for it or have accomplished something less. All three of mine have been very “unnatural,” if you will. The most recent (7 weeks ago tomorrow) was a c-section, and he immediately went into respiratory distress and was shipped to a NICU center. It was hard, but we were blessed through the experience in so many ways. He is now a thriving infant, and we’re so thankful for all three of our “bad” deliveries!

  48. Ah, birth stories. Nothing seems to raise the dander of fellow Moms quite like a birth story! I appreciate the acceptance being shown here in the comments, and thanks JessieLeigh for your good attitude.

    I’ve never been able to understand why there’s such a tendency towards fierce competition/criticism from the ones who should be the most supportive.

    I happen to be one of those who had the blessing of experiencing 3 ‘perfect’ home births (except one time I bled so bad, it made for a long, hard recovery!). I have friends who have had c-sections, and plenty of other scary sounding emergency or pre-existing problems.

    I’m deeply grateful that I haven’t had to go through those things. A peaceful and ‘perfect’ birth is a beautiful memory, and I treasure each of mine, but I know when I look into those tiny faces, I would do ANYTHING to get them here safely. And when I think of that, I’m all the more grateful that I haven’t needed to go through the trauma that so many have.

    I guess I feel that a natural birth is a beautiful thing to strive for. But for some it just isn’t possible, and for others it just isn’t a priority. I don’t have a problem with that!

    We need to give each other room for different opinions, and also be understanding that every situation is different.

  49. My son’s birth at 36 weeks was traumatic due to a placental abruption. He is almost 2 now and I still have nightmares about it. I honestly believe I have post traumatic stress from it.

    We just found out we are expecting #2 and I am scared to death it will happen again. Thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes I find myself jealous of other women who had perfect deliveries right at their due date. But then I remember how lucky I am to have him!!

  50. I was born at less than 24 weeks as well. 4 days later I had to have major heart surgery. My mom had a baby who passed away in birth years before I was born the baby was in the very same circumstance as I was, luckily I live to tell the tale. My mom was transferred to the hospital by helicopter and did not hold me for two whole days after I was born. My mother and I were a hair away from death. By the grace of God we managed to survive. I stayed in the hospital for three months after my birth and my mother had to return home 2 hours away from the hospital in San Francisco. I am now a grown woman, getting married next summer, and putting thought into my own birthing options. And while I do have health problems still (Arthritis, COPD, and an Arrhythmia) I have watched ‘The business of being born’ and would like to experience a natural birth. Aside from that want, I will never assume to ‘know’ or think that by doing that I would be superior. My mother is a warrior because she faced death to bring me into this world and she went through so much pain (physical and emotional) to love me and care for me. If my birth story is filled with medication, needles, surgery, and fear, but ends with a healthy baby in my arms I will be anything but ashamed. I would be proud to be a birth ‘Warrior’ along with my Momma.

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