Birth Stories, Uncategorized

Margaret’s Birth Story

Dana has been featured before in the Bright Birth Story Collection. You can read all about her first birth experience here. Dana and her husband, who live in Texas, reached out to me during their second pregnancy for some Distance Doula support and I was so excited to support them from Cleveland. Distance Doula services sound odd at first, but having a doula in your pocket has proven to be such an asset to many of my clients. I hope you enjoy Dana’s story of sweet Margo’s entrance into the world!



After several long months of a very physically difficult pregnancy, I was more than ready to give birth. I’d had Braxton Hicks contractions since about 20 weeks, and they had intensified to prodromal or “false” labor on three occasions in the three weeks leading up to my due date. The last time was in the wee hours of Saturday, November 2, when I called a friend to come stay with Frankie because my contractions—while not extremely intense— had gone on for hours and came every 5-8 minutes. When I checked into triage and said as much to the nurse walking me back, she replied, “Oh, well if they’re not super painful you don’t need to come in.” Thanks, lady. When they checked my progress, I was 1.5cm dilated—the same as I’d been since my 36-week appointment. The feeling of defeat, exhaustion, and embarrassment washed over me and I spent the rest of the time before being discharged ugly-crying. I so badly wanted to be in labor. I very much was not.


Through all this, I was so glad to have a doula. I never had false labor with my first; I had contractions that started and never stopped, slowly intensifying over 40-some hours until I gave birth. This pregnancy had been so different, and I felt betrayed and let down by my body again and again. Mary Susan kept reminding me: Every contraction was preparing my body for labor. It might not be dilating my cervix, but it is all preparation to bring my baby into the world. Her support to trust and work with a body that I felt had failed me over and over throughout my pregnancy—when I felt weak; when I felt scared—was invaluable.



With her encouragement, I had my membranes stripped at my 40-week appointment on the morning of November 5th. Mary Susan described it as the least-invasive form of induction, reassuring me that it would not work if my body wasn’t ready. An hour before my appointment, I began to lose what I was pretty sure was my mucous plug—so I thought it might be. The NP who took my appointment that day said she had probably a 90% success rate of inducing labor with membrane strips, so we were hopeful, but we scheduled an induction for the following Monday, November 11 (my husband’s birthday, by his request) just in case. Later that afternoon, I started feeling pretty crampy, but I wasn’t willing to believe it was labor quite yet.


My first big contractions started around 12:45am (my babies really like to get things going in the middle of the night) and were coming every 5 minutes when I was up and moving around—but they’d slow to every 8-10… sometimes 12 or even 15 minutes if I was sitting or lying down. All the advice from my birthing class saying to sit down, have a glass of water, and see if contractions continue kept echoing in my brain. I still wasn’t willing to believe my baby was coming. But a little after 5am, without having been able to sleep at all, I woke my husband. We went through our morning, taking breaks for contractions… I went ahead and asked my on-call friend to pick up Frankie from preschool. Contractions were painful, but still: Close together while up and moving; pretty spaced out while resting. Terrified of returning to the hospital only to be sent home again, I wasn’t willing to go. Finally around 10:30am I decided to try to take a nap. If I wasn’t in labor, I might as well get some rest.


I woke around 11:40 and immediately began to cry in frustration. If I were in labor, surely I wouldn’t have been able to sleep! I got up and went into the living room where my husband was.


“I slept a little.”


“I’m in so much pain when I’m standing, but it slows to nothing when I’m sitting.”

“Well, sit down.”

“No!” I shouted at him (poor guy), “I don’t WANT the pain to go away. I WANT to be in labor!”


“Will you take a walk with me?”


We went outside; it was a beautiful day. We got halfway down our block and I had stopped every three minutes to hold on to Michael and breathe through a contraction. I could not move or talk through them. “Let’s turn around,” he said.


“We can keep walking without getting so far away from the car.” By the time we made it back to our driveway, my contractions were two minutes apart. “Okay, let’s go to the hospital,” Michael said, a little panicky.


On the 17- minute drive, I was grateful my contractions had such an odd pattern—I only had one in the car. But the walk up to triage was a different story. When I finally made it to triage waiting, two women were ahead of me. The nurse came in to get one of them, and as soon as she saw my face, she said “I’ll be right back for you.” I breathed through two contractions on the short walk from the waiting room to the triage room.


Michael met me in the triage room, where I was answering the questionnaire. When they finally checked my dilation: “Whoo, you’re at six and a half… seven!” I’ve never loved pain more. It was about 2:45pm when I was admitted.


My wonderful labor and delivery nurse, Rhonda, came in shortly later to bring me to the delivery room. She’d been told I wanted to labor naturally, when my actual plan was to eventually get an epidural, but to exhaust other methods of pain relief before doing so. I was so far along already, though, that Rhonda said I needed to ask for the epidural right away if I wanted one, or it may be too late. I had planned on an epidural and by that point needed relief, and the thought of pushing through my exhaustion was scary. So I didn’t have a chance to try nitrous oxide as I’d hoped, but when my contractions continued to intensify, I was grateful relief was coming. The epidural was in place by about 3:30, and I was administered the first dose of penicillin (I was Group B strep positive) shortly thereafter.

Michael with a towel wrapped around him—he room temp was set at 60 but I was perfectly comfortable. 🤣

My main desire in laboring so long without an epidural was to prevent labor from slowing, which happened with my first. My contractions did not slow, and as with my first, I was grateful to be able to feel each one (though they weren’t painful) and to move my legs. But at the next check, I was still at seven centimeters. I was able to rest for a little bit, updating friends and family. When the OB came in to check on me, she felt the catheter bulb was in a funny place, kind of buoying my uterus. She pushed it out of the way. The nurse with her advised me that if I felt pressure, like an urge to have a bowel movement that wouldn’t go away, to call. I was so glad she’d said that, because not long after I felt that urge—Rhonda couldn’t believe it; I’d JUST been at a seven, but when she checked: “Yep, no cervix.”


The urge to push was nearly unbearable, but they wanted me to wait because it had only been three hours since my first dose of penicillin, and you’re supposed to have four hours before you deliver. The OB was also extremely busy that night—my nurse had paged her, but with each contraction I felt I’d burst if I didn’t push this baby out. I’d never felt that sensation with my first, but it was just as that nurse had described: Like I was trying to hold back a giant poo (sorry)– not exactly painful, but extremely uncomfortable. Finally Rhonda called the room the OB was in and told her to come to me right away. And when that didn’t work, she went into the hallway to flag someone down to go get her and bring her to me bodily.


3145E15A-9D2F-4865-934D-32A5B59EB8B3When the OB FINALLY showed up a little after 7pm and got set up, I got in position and was given the all clear to push. After the first push, Michael confirmed what we’d known all along: “She has lots of dark hair!” The OB said she’d been face up, but she could feel her turning as she came down the canal—as babies should. An affirmation my doula sent earlier came back to me: “Your baby knows how to be born.” With those words in mind, I pushed again. Margo turned as she moved down—what a good girl. One more push and a primal yell, and I was looking at my baby girl, and immediately crying. Margaret Jean was born at 7:15pm; I got to hold her for the first hour after she was born, and I felt euphoric.


All my false labors had prepared me to have the labor I’d wanted—one where I could get my baby and my body most of the way there. The pain was scary, but I also relished it because I had waited for it so long. After a pregnancy where my body felt alien to me, making it difficult to function and hard to feel connected to my baby, I now recognize what a gift my labor and delivery were.  I’m so grateful for the immediate connection I felt with Margo as soon as she was born, and (though I still wouldn’t wish false labor on anyone) for the time I had to lean into the process of giving birth.


Congratulations, again to Dana, Michael, and big sister Frankie! You are such a strong, special family and so, so loved!

Birth Stories, Uncategorized

“I Led the Whole Way” – Brittney’s Second Birth Story

About You – Brittney Melton. Mom of 2. This will be about my second child. A much different birthing experience. This time I wanted a VBAC.

How did you find out you were pregnant? It was a surprise. I planned. We went on a vacation and I suspected we were. Took a test along and everything. Negative… came back from trip still thinking I may be. Waited and knew my cycle should’ve surely started. Took a test. Positive. I didn’t know if was quite ready for another. My first was only 19-20 months old. God had other plans. And I’m so glad.

What was your birth philosophy before you gave birth? How were you expecting it to be? I knew I wanted different this go around. Having had an emergency csection – completely unaware about csection and thought I’d never have one – I was determined for a VBAC.

How did you approach planning your birth? Did you take classes, read books, meditate, or seek out guidance from someone in particular? We actually took a class! We hadn’t the first time because my doctor told me we’d prob not need it because she’s be there telling me what to do. Well, she wasn’t there and baby wasn’t doing well so c-section it was. This time I asked to try for a VBAC and it was denied by my doctor who said her practice wouldn’t perform one. So, I sought out a new doctor. Bye old doctor. Changing doctors was scary but in the end such the right choice! He listened to what I wanted. Gave me the risks, looked over previous medical history from my first birth and said I’d be a great candidate. I trusted him fully with the plan. I wouldn’t have changed a thing and loved my second doctor.

How did you plan to deliver? VBAC with my OB. For precaution we would have an epidural in case things went south quickly. Otherwise they’d have to be me out to perform [a c-section] and I did not want that.

What were the most important goals or areas of focus for you in respect to your birth? I just wanted the vaginal birth I’d dreamed of. I wanted to actually experience and “do it” myself. I felt that was taken away from me. And I am in no way saying it’s not real birth… c-section IS birth – with scars to prove. I just wanted a chance at what my heart desired. This doctor gave me that chance.

And now for the good stuff…Here’s Brittney’s second birth story! Just like my firstborn… my secondborn was late. Her due date was 2/12. I had one false labor on 2/8. Doctor even though it was go time and admited me overnight. Being a VBAC patient he wanted to insure that we were super cautious. So any intense contractions for longer than a few hours he wanted me in to be checked in case of an emergency.


They were strong alright. Strong enough to not talk, shhh, close my eyes strong. And I couldn’t walk. Sometime from being admitted at 5, eating dinner with friends and watching the super bowl… the high intensity wore off around 3 in the morning. I was no longer struggling through them, and by morning they weren’t there. I was so sad. I thought this was it. My doctor did too. But I also hadn’t progressed any.


My doctor gave me three options. 1. Stay, hope they came back (highly unlikely), 2. Have a c-section (not ready for that yet) 3. Go home ( and I was slightly scared to because I was afraid something bad may happen. We chose 3. And the following day had a check up. My doctor said to go ahead and schedule the c-section. He wouldn’t let me go a week past being a VBAC patient. I respected that protocol. So we scheduled for 2/18. He joked that sometimes when you give the baby an eviction date – they’ll choose to come on their own.


2/14, false labor #2. Intense contractions but something I now realize I could’ve probably labored at home with. I mean geez, I’d labored for like a week already. But I was anxious and DID not want 2/18 to come. I think I was mentally trying to will it – again – just like my firstborn. We were admitted for safety reasons and … sent home again.


12/15 evening it changed. There was some strong ones but this was something else. I was hunched over the couch and my mom was like uhhhh yea it’s time – go. Such a painful car ride to the hospital. We get there and I’m at a 4! Praise Jesus. They gave me a medication to wear off the top end of the contractions to which I was so grateful for. Anesthesiologist came in to administer epidural and MISSED 3x…. urregggh. 4th time finally. And I felt relief. I’m thankful to my doctor that he asked to have a certain dosage administered so I could still feel low end of contractions. I could still feel and labor along with them.


We went into the next day. 2/16. When I was at an 8 they broke my water. Talk about a weird relief. I got to a 9 and stalled. Checking baby with both hand and u/s they determined her head was turned into my hip. Stubborn thing. The nurse went in and flipped baby’s head – owwwwwwwww. She said you’ll immediately start to feel pressure on this next contraction. Ummmm yes ma’am you are correct. She said, well, it’s time, I’ll call the doctor back in. And I’m like REALLY!?!!! The VBAC is gonna work!? And she said yea, baby is already passed the scar line. She’s coming. BEST news ever.


Doctor came in. Told me push when I felt contraction… I led the whole way. I felt all the stretching. I don’t know what I was thinking but I honestly thought – isn’t the epidural supposed to help me feel ummm nothing? So yea, I felt it all. They said it was too late for the epidural to do anything… so didn’t feel full contraction but felt everything else. Which now, looking back, I’m glad to have had that experience. Feeling it all felt so miraculous. And that my body was working. An hour of pushing and she was finally here!!! Such an amazing feeling that I will never ever forget.




What was the advice that you found to be most helpful in preparing to give birth? Keep asking questions. Always get a second opinion.

What was the most surprising thing about birth for you? That it worked! I thought it wouldn’t have! I was proud to have a VBAC.

What was the most challenging part of birth for you? Waiting and the unknown. Would the VBAC work or was I head for another c-section?

What was your favorite part of your birth? Feeling it all. Strangely enough if I ever have another that’s what I’d desire. Pain – yes. But an amazing experience. Feeling her head and shoulders and hips all coming. My baby placed on me. Miracle.





What do you wish someone had told you before you gave birth? Honestly I felt more prepared this time around than ever. And it was a whole new experience. And also – someone to tell me my babies just like to be stubborn and late. (This one 4 days late)

How did your perception of birth change after you experienced this birth? I desire more kiddos. I hope that happens someday. A prayer of mine. But also not to fear the pain. The pain helps you know what to do.




Birth photography by Janeane Marie Photography.

Birth Stories, Uncategorized

C-Section – Brittney’s First Birth Story

About You – Brittney Melton. I have 2 kiddos, but this is the birth story of my firstborn. Logan, who is now 4.



How did you find out you were pregnant? Felt suuppper tired and was wanting to take a test but waited til my husband and I were together as I was out of town. Took a test. Positive. Took another because let’s face it – we all do. Also positive. And then I bawled.

What was your birth philosophy before you gave birth? How were you expecting it to be? I thought it’d be easy to know when I was in labor (for me – false). I knew I’d have a hospital birth and would probably get an epidural. That was it.



How did you approach planning your birth? I took no classes and only asked my OB various questions. I did ask a few friends but really went in mostly naive and not wanting to know a lot.

How did you plan to deliver? Hospital with OB and I knew I wanted an epidural

What were the most important goals or areas of focus for you in respect to your birth? We were away from all family so I really just wanted my doctor (didn’t happen) and my husband. I didn’t know honestly when to go in except timing contractions and calling the doctor. I had no other knowledge or didn’t really see myself laboring long at home. I was super nervous.

And now for the good stuff…Here’s Brittney’s birth story! I was due 9/28 and here it was October. I bawled thinking OH MY GOSH!! A whole other month!!! It was definitely a mind trick. We had one false alarm on 10/1 where I thought my water broke. Using the bathroom and liquid just kept slowly trickling… but it was not pee. Went in and did a test – at this point ink Braxton Hicks the week prior and no real contractions. It wasn’t amniotic fluid so they sent us home. I think I was SO anxious about KNOWing when and how and what that I just felt on alert. My OB saw me a few days later. We went ahead and scheduled an induction for 10/7… a whole 9 days past my due date and it felt like forever. She wouldn’t deliver on weekends because she didn’t work then (not my favorite). Low and behold, I go into labor the day before. Sunday, 10/6. Labored all night with contractions getting closer and more intense.


Up until this point I was measuring like 1… 1.5 because my doctor wanted to be generous. The week before I wasn’t measuring at all. I was so tired and just wanted this baby here! So we headed into hospital per staff instructions after calling in and I was at a 3. Whomp. Really? A whole night of pain and a 3!? They hook me up and tell me I’m staying since I’m inducing the following day anyways, baby could come tonight.


So, I labor. And I move to like a 4/5. I’m so tired an anxious I just say yes to the epidural, not having enough knowledge to know it could slow things down. I’m stuck at a 5/6 and for an hour baby’s heart rate plummets over and over with each contraction. I’m beside myself. What’s wrong with him!? Is he ok? They’re having me turn side to side with each contraction. The on call doctor comes in and tells us, “We are prepping you for a c-section. We do not think this baby will last or be strong enough for delivery if his heart rate drop continues. You still have 6+ hours before we’d maybe even get to pushing.”


With tears for my baby, and fear for me.. we go ahead with it. I was so fearful. Anesthesiologist changes the epidural for csection and I’m shaking terrified on that table. I felt the pressure of the cut – not the pain… felt all organs move and baby removed. Again, just pressure – no pain. And I finally hear the cry.



He was ok.




I threw up on the table, and they wiped my face and handed him to me, only to take him a few minutes later and I was left alone with doctors while I was stitched up. Husband and baby gone.


I was relieved he was ok, but felt something was taken from me. I knew I wanted it done differently the next time around.




What was the advice that you found to be most helpful in preparing to give birth?Learn! Take a class (even if is your second and you want more info). Ask questions. Get what you want if you can.

What was the most surprising thing about birth for you? It was completely outside my control. I wanted to weirdly WILL it into action. Baby comes when baby comes (and I hate that saying by the way)

What was the most challenging part of birth for you? Being overdue!!!! It felt like forever. And also being helpless thinking something was happening to my baby and he wasn’t ok.

What was your favorite part of your birth? Well. I didn’t love it to be honest. But the moment he cried I felt SUCH relief. And seeing his little face look at mine under that curtain. I’ll never forget it.

What do you wish someone had told you before you gave birth? C-section is still birth. For me it was scary. But it is birth, a hard birth at that. Birth is not just physical pain or stamina. It’s mental and very much spiritual too.

How did your perception of birth change after you experienced this birth? I knew the next go around I’d fight for something different. I’d be aware of what I wanted and seek out the answers.




Birth photography by Captured Simplicity Family Photography.