Baby Z’s Birth Story 🤍

DISCLAIMER: There may be affiliate links in this post. if you click on one and buy something, I might get a small commission. If I do, I’ll buy a Little coffee + think of you!

Come for the photography, stay for the birth story, am I right?? Fact: I actually started out my journey as a teen blogger, taking photos and sharing thoughts on my self-made site. If you’ve been here since those days, congrats!! We’ve been through some awkward times together.

But on a serious note: sharing my heart is big for me. I appreciate when someone goes to the trouble of sharing their life, and I feel like writing these personal posts helps me do that for other people, people I wouldn’t reach otherwise.

So when I thought about sharing my birth story… here’s where it ended up. If you’re not a “birth person,” don’t worry: you can 100% scroll on by, but I promise this one won’t be endlessly graphic or horrifying. I personally was NEVER a reader of birth stories. Until I got pregnant, myself… and then I read them like crazy. Because when you’re about to undertake such an earth-shattering, momentous task, the best thing you can hear is… “You can do this. It’s super hard, and I’ve been there. Here’s my story.”

For privacy purposes, I won’t be sharing any extremely personal details, specific times/events, or very many images: though my Mom was there and took some that I will cherish for the rest of my life. So don’t worry about any images you don’t want your mother-in-law or husband to see.

My primary goal with this birth story is to be both vague and yet encouraging, especially for those future mamas. To share our experience in a realistic, yet positive way that honors the process and the Creator of birth. Birth is, by necessity, a messy, rough, human, HARD thing to endure. But here’s what I have to say to you… I’ve been there. It’s tough, and it’ll change you in ways you never knew. I can’t explain it, but I can help answer some questions. You are tough, too… and you can do this.

If you don’t want to read the entire story…
One of the last days of August, photo by my coffee date + college pal, Jill Mitchell.

The Day Before

There’s much backstory to the events leading up to these few days, but to cut straight to the day before Z made his entrance into the world…

We had just moved into our new home in north Idaho a few weeks prior. I was entrenched in the world of “nesting” like few women deal with. Nothing makes unpacking a priority like a brand-new home to get in order before you go into labor.

Four days before my due date, I spent all day working around the house. Organizing, cleaning, finding new homes for things, laundry, organizing some more. Mason was at work and the sun was starting to go down when I decided I needed to get out of the house and go for a run in that early-September golden hour. A jog, rather: at 39 weeks pregnant is anything a “run” anymore?

I had a really “easy” pregnancy (don’t hate me!!) and stayed extremely active the entire time, but I hadn’t *run* in weeks. Most of my workouts in those last days centered around lower body strength, stretching, and preparing for labor. (quick plug for some of my fave resources on staying fit and helping baby be in the best position: Miles Circuit, GlowBodyPT, BirthFit). I wasn’t doing anything particular to help myself go into labor. Honestly, I was a little busy with the house and didn’t WANT to go into labor early (and all the currently-pregnant women are rolling their eyes like whaaaaaat).

I went for a very slow 2-ish mile walk/jog and it felt amazing. Now that I think back on it, it was definitely that “rush of energy” that women talk about before they go into labor. A relaxing shower, a quiet evening, then we went to bed and slept peacefully for the last night in… awhile.

the last photo on my camera roll before I went into labor – the most beautiful sunset to accompany that last little pregnant jog!

The Day It All Started

I woke up around 6:30 AM the next day. Mason had just left for work and I had a midwife appointment at 8, otherwise I probably would have slept through the very early stages of labor. (as it was, I probably did sleep through some of it). I realized shortly after waking up that I was having very light contractions. I’d never had Braxton-Hicks contractions, so I didn’t know what was going on. If you want to know what it felt like, my best description is that at this stage, it was a warm, bracing feeling. Kind of like when you’re getting ready to do a slow sit-up. For fun, I timed the contractions, and despite how mild they were, they were pretty close together already (about 4-5 minutes).

At my midwife appointment, she confirmed that I was indeed having contractions. But since they were so mild, and a quick cervical check confirmed I was only about 1 cm dilated,* it was hard to tell if it was “the real thing.”

By the end of my 45-minute drive home, I was pretty sure it was “the real thing.” The best way to describe my contractions at that point is that I felt… squirmy. Not yet painful, just uncomfy in the way that makes you want to pull your knees to your chest and curl up (but you can’t, because you’re driving and you’re nearly 40 weeks pregnant).

*I know I said I wouldn’t get too graphic, BUT I want to dispel a myth, at least in my experience – cervical checks were not painful (to me). Literally like a 2/10, just uncomfortable. So if you are nervous for that part, breathe and take it in stride. Hopefully you will also find they’re not bad.

the very LAST BUMP PHOTO, approx. 6:30ish AM

At Home

I labored at home until Mason convinced me that he should come home from work (yes, he had to convince me that it was really happening). He arrived mid-morning and contractions were still steady, increasing slowly in intensity and getting close together. By around noon they were about 2-3 minutes apart (45ish seconds long) and we decided to head to the hospital about the time I started having to slow down and think about the way I was breathing with each one.

TIP: Things that helped while I was laboring at home:

  • The Bosu ball (amazzzzing invention)
  • Watching a show to take my mind off things (White Collar, anyone?)
  • Heating pad on my lower back
  • Hydrating (Mason kept bringing me water, sparkling water, Liquid IV, literally anything to prep for the long road ahead)

The drive to the hospital was beautiful. I’ll never forget how the sun was shining in a gorgeous blue sky, and all I could think was “Next time we come this way, we’ll be bringing our BABY HOME.” We had called my Mom and our doula when we headed in and they both started towards the hospital.

our last “just us” image before BB as we headed out the door to the hospital

At the Hospital

We parked, walked over, and checked in. I was definitely walking slower during contractions but it was all very manageable at this point. I didn’t realize that until you are officially “checked in” to the hospital, you spend your time in a tiny little triage room with very few amenities. Nurses took my vitals and the midwife came in to see how far along I was. I was delighted that the midwife on call was one of my favorites from the practice – they all rotate who’s in the hospital and I was thrilled to see her. However, I was disappointed to find out I was still “somewhere between 1-2.” Even after all that work!! I thought.

Once I laid down on my back in the triage room for all the checks… that was when the “back labor” started. And it continued for the rest of my laboring experience. I’ve got some structural issues with my back, so if that sounds like you (scoliosis, etc.), avoid lying flat on your back as long as possible. Like… forever.

I was told to “walk around for an hour or two.” Sooooo walk we did. In circles. All around that hospital floor. Through labor and delivery, mother-baby, and past the many nurses stations. It was quiet and sunlight streamed through the windows as the day wore on. During all that walking, I was starting to really feel those contractions. I tried to walk through them as long as I could, but eventually I had to stop with each one, generally standing with my arms around Mason’s neck, swaying gently from side to side.

Soon, my Mom showed up and I burst into tears at the relief of seeing her. There is truly *nothing* like having your own mama there when you give birth. Between her and Mason (plus all the professionals!!) I felt like I was in the best hands during that entire time.

TIP: A quick shout-out to something that prepared me for labor in ways I can’t begin to describe… a birthing class. The one we took was AMAZING. Informative in ways I didn’t know I needed. Mason was unable to be there for most of the classes due to his work schedule, and Jennifer was kind enough to send us the videos for him to watch and catch up on. I cannot recommend this class enough; there is an online option, too!

It Got Real

I finally was re-checked a few hours later, and YES. 5cm – in a little less than two hours. Talk about hard work! I was quickly admitted and we got settled into our room, with a gorgeous view of the late-summer sky over Spokane that I looked at exactly *once* and then never again (I got a little busy). Lots of questions, meeting the birth team, getting a COVID test (even in 2023, haha), meeting the anesthesiologist (even though I didn’t intend to use her!), and having an IV port placed in my hand.

TIP: I wanted the IV placed in case I needed fluids or meds quickly and didn’t want to have to “hold still” later in labor. They put it in my forearm – a spot I highly recommend because you can still move and have full access to your hand/wrist.

I had a few goals for labor + my delivery, and here were some of them:

  1. A healthy baby, above all else.
  2. A peaceful birthing environment.
  3. No medications unless completely necessary.
  4. Being in charge of my own decisions.
  5. The ability to move about freely and give birth in whatever position I wanted.

We had a doula, and the best thing about having her there was that she was able to set up the environment I wanted. She made sure the lights stayed low as the sun went down, she set up fake candles in the bathroom and drew a bath when I decided it was time. She was instrumental in that regard; and otherwise, Mom and Mason really covered the rest.

I labored throughout the evening. I don’t remember when I stopped eating, but I wasn’t hungry literally the entire time we were at the hospital until hours after he was born. Mason kept encouraging me to take sips of water or electrolytes.

At some point, I got into the tub and the relief was *instant*. My contractions – which had been 2-4 minutes apart – suddenly slowed to 7 minutes. I remember saying “I’ve got to get out of here, I don’t want to SLOW DOWN!!” But I knew I needed to rest for as long as possible, so in I stayed until the water got cold.

TIP: If you have the chance to get a room with a tub, TAKE IT. USE IT.

The midwife I loved was getting off shift at 7:00 PM and I was still nowhere near giving birth. I was sad to see her go but I knew that all the midwives at the practice were wonderfully skilled, and I would be in good hands. Unfortunately, the midwife that was on that night was my least favorite, but I shook it off and took it in stride; literally what else was there to do? She was a trained professional, and yes, she got my baby into the world safely.

TIP: Some of my fave laboring positions ended up being:

  • In the tub (yasss)
  • Sitting on the birthing ball
  • Standing
  • Literally nothing involving laying on my back in any way, shape, or form.

…Then It Got Really Real

The rest of the night is honestly an extreme blur. I don’t know when I went into transition, but I do recall saying at one point “it just won’t stop.” To describe contractions at that point is difficult; it felt like these massive waves of intense tightness.

Just before that point, we discussed having the midwife break my water, since it still hadn’t, on its own. I wasn’t excited about it; I had heard it can really accelerate the intensity of contractions once it’s artificially broken. But I was already to the “how much more can it hurt” stage (ha) and agreed to let her try. Thankfully the “instant acceleration” was not in the cards for me; it seemed to the midwife that my water had already broken. Probably in the tub or gradually throughout labor (laboring is not clean or dry, lol).

Then the most discouraging thing IN THE WORLD. The baby’s head was pressing against something – probably a small fragment of sac – and causing my cervix to swell, effectively “un-dilating” (I promised not to get too details, but this is important). The solution at that point was to administer Benadryl for the swelling and to tell me to “not push.” The problem with both of these things is…

  1. Benadryl makes one extremely sleepy, and
  2. Telling a laboring woman who’s approaching the pushing stage to “not push” is literally like telling her to walk backwards, barefoot, up an escalator that’s covered in broken glass. Nothing you can do stops the pain of that intense pressure, no matter what you do or how you move.

At first, they didn’t give me enough (someone misread my chart), and so time went by with little effect before they came in to give me more. THANKFULLY the Benadryl worked (praise Jesus!), but not after many hours of contractions that I had to literally fight, muscle, breathe, and yell against. My Mom said, afterwards, that it was literally the worst thing to watch. And I agree. I felt like I had to fight my body, to “hold the baby in” if that makes sense. Any woman who’s ever labored will tell you that’s INSANE and she is correct. It was. Insane. Don’t recommend that part.

TIP: I wasn’t interested in getting an epidural. By the time they offered it to me, I knew I was too deep into it to turn back; I could NOT have held still enough for them to place the needle. The nurse offered nitrous and I’m so thankful the hospital had it. Honestly, it did little to relieve the *pain* but it was a great measure to help me get my breathing under control and to stay centered.

EVENTUALLY, Mason and Mom both thought “It HAS to have been long enough, she HAS to be able to push now,” so Mom went to fetch a nurse and sure enough: I was dilated and they were going to “let me push.” In hindsight, I should have asked for them to check more often, and sooner. I was probably ready long before they came back in, and Mom and Mason shouldn’t have had to go looking for someone. But, again; it is what it is.

My main disappointment in labor was that I didn’t get the “relief” of arriving at the pushing stage. I felt like I spent hours in transition and I wasn’t graced with that exciting/athletic drive to push my baby out. I was DONE. I was sooooo done.

When Z Arrived

I remember when the pediatric team came into the room. I didn’t even see them. Mom came over and told me in the softest, most reassuring voice that Baby had to be close; that his medical team was there and ready to meet my him. The room was gently lit but still dark and warm, and just the way I needed it to be to let my body do the difficult work of labor in the most relaxed way possible. I’d had a worship playlist + then an instrumental worship playlist going until I needed to focus SO MUCH that I needed quiet.

50 minutes of active, difficult pushing later, Z was born in the wee hours of the morning; his little left hand up beside his huge head (…rude).

I remember just minutes before he emerged, the midwife asked if I wanted to feel his head. There’s nothing more motivating than feeling your baby SO CLOSE: he was born within a few pushes of that moment, because I knew he was THERE and ready to meet us. I spent the entire pushing time on my hands and knees and even gave birth that way because it felt natural to me… so what can I say, pregnant girls… work on your upper body strength.

They immediately placed him (squalling) onto my chest. My little baby, so much bigger than I envisioned (How was he that big? How did I just do that? Thank God he’s here.).

Mason was by my side the entire time, holding my hand, rubbing my shoulder; his presence was so comforting as we welcomed our son.

TIP: The instant he was born, I felt no more contractions. A huge relief to me, and I hope you have the same experience. At some point the afterbirth came and that didn’t hurt either. So YAY FOR HORMONES, praise the Lord!

ANOTHER TIP: Don’t tear. Getting stitches down there hurts more than any of the above, I’m telling you. They numb you up, but hello, that’s another needle; and if you’re bleeding good enough they’ll start stitching before it truly kicks in. The end, no more details.


It was very, very early morning. The team got us moved into a recovery room, where we all slept as hard as possible with a brand-new, hungry little dude. He was a champion at nursing, so sweet and tiny and perfect. Generally you are allowed to go home 24 hours later, but that would have meant we left the hospital just past midnight, so they kept us an additional night. We were released around noon the next day.

TIP: When they say “early” they don’t mean you’ll be going home by 8… all those checks and re-checks and people to see and people to sign things takes SO much time!!

My Mom and Dad were at our home to greet us and Dad got to meet little Z. My selfless, amazing Mom spent the next week-ish with our new family, and I can honestly say we could NOT have done it without her!! The first few days of having a brand-new little one, especially for the first time(!!), are just a blur. It was so helpful to have her steady, calm wisdom and to share those special moments.

early parenting: lots of cuddles, lots of naps, lots of coffee.

But Wait, There’s More…

But for me, the story wasn’t quite over. I had a really rough time recovering, which I chalked up to all those hormones, being a first-time mom, stitches, you name it. I was lethargic, tired, bleeding more than I should have been, and wayyyy more emotional than I anticipated. Long story short: eventually, I called the midwife (at Mason’s advice, what a wise man) and was able to get in for a quick check-up. It just didn’t feel right, but I was trying to tough it out. Recovery from birth is just hard, right?

Mason packed me and the 10-day-old baby into the car and we headed to the midwife’s office, where they discovered I had retained conception products. That meant heading back to the maternity floor, getting an ultrasound to confirm, and (many uncomfortable hours later), having a D + C to remove the remaining tissue, etc. Immediately after coming out of that surgery, I felt an insane relief – both physical + mental.

The healing journey after that point was SO MUCH BETTER. If you experience anything sketchy afterwards, make SURE you listen to your husband and get checked out (sooner than I did!).

The End

There it is, for better or worse… the story from the day our son came into the world. I’m so thankful for a birthing experience like I had – surrounded by the people + team I needed. Despite things that happened in ways I didn’t want, the Lord knew exactly how + when to bring Z to us. And honestly have you EVER heard a birth story that was like: “Yep, it was perfect, it was exactly what I expected, can’t wait to do it again?” NO. You haven’t.

How crazy that our bodies are designed to do that, right? That the Lord gives us strength to handle it, wisdom to choose providers who have skills to get our babies earthside safely, no matter what it looks like.

If you are prepping to give birth, I want to encourage you that the MOST IMPORTANT THING is that you + your babe get cared for and looked after. Whether that looks exactly like you are envisioning right now or not. C-section or not, epidural or not, breastfeeding or not, fast labor or slow labor, whether you’re in a hospital or at home, no.matter.what:
YOU ARE BRAVE and you are tough. You can do this.


If you didn’t want to read the entire thing, here’s the Cliffnotes version of Z’s birth story:

  • went into labor in the morning
  • labored at home before heading to the hospital after noon
  • gave birth the next morning after 18 hours of labor (50 min of pushing)
  • as “normal” a delivery as possible (vaginal + without medication)
  • used midwife vs. doctor (both pregnancy + delivery)
  • brought him home
  • noticed RPOC at 10 days PP: D + C to remove
  • and they all lived happily ever after
If you liked the short version…

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