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Share Your Story - Birth Stories: Remembering to Breathe

Aug 11, 2014

Welcome to the Share Your Story event: Childbirth – Your Stories

This post was written as part of the Share Your Story event hosted by Kids in the House. Our contributors have shared their stories, struggles, and wisdom about the unforgettable yet unpredictable event that is childbirth.

My baby was crowning, my obstetrician was knitting, and my husband was holding my left leg up in the air.

This wasn’t how I’d pictured it. None of my Lamaze classes had covered what to do when your doctor was more concerned with the sweater she was making her cousin for Christmas than the infant barreling down your birth canal.  I hadn’t had my heart set on any specific birth plan– a labor and delivery nurse I know once told me that by walking into the hospital with a rigid birth plan, you were pretty much guaranteed disappointment – but I certainly hadn’t intended on my husband being so close to the action. I’d wanted him by my head, stroking my hair and murmuring supportive phrases into my ear.  Not catching the afterbirth.

Lucky for my doctor, the prospect of meeting my baby had wiped all animosity from my heart. It was too full already. I didn’t know if it was a side effect of the epidural, a result of many hours of no sleep or food, or hormones, but I was feeling really weird. I mean, duh; giving birth can make you feel a little off, but there was a surreal element to what I was experiencing that extended beyond the obvious. So I focused on the music, a cheerful Trey Anastasio song that was part of the playlist I’d created to accompany my son’s entrance into the world. It was just so strange; for nine months, I’d been listening to these songs on my iPod as I walked my dog, imagining the moment my offspring and I would lock eyes in a moment of perfect understanding and love. I’d wanted to time it so that Snow Patrol’s Open Your Eyes was starting just as I began my final pushes – the lyrics, about pulling someone out of a dark place, seemed eerily appropriate.

It was cheesy, yes. Having two miscarriages will do that to you. I’d pictured my future child in a war, fighting to break through and become an actual living, breathing baby. He was stuck in this dark place and I would finally get to pull him into the light. And in doing so, pull myself back into the light, too.

I won’t lie. I hated pregnancy. Not for the typical reasons – yes, the cankles and heartburn and weight gain were less than joyous, but I was grateful for all of it. It had been taken away from me not once, but twice, and even at this very moment of impending delivery, I had trouble believing that pregnancy=healthy baby. My losses had left me with a mistrust of my body and a deep, inescapable fear that something would go wrong, which was not a pleasant state in which to spend nine months. Just to make things a little more complicated, we’d agreed to be the subjects of a major online documentary on pregnancy; I was constantly trying to be the perfect model of prenatal bliss that the cameras wanted me to be. I’d spent so long holding my breath, that I’d forgotten how to breathe.

Speaking of breathing, my ineffectual OB was saying something about that very act. She’d finally put her knitting needles down and ambled over to my bed. “Okay, take a deep breath and hold it…now push…Did you do prenatal yoga?” she asked.

It took me a minute to answer her as I was, per her instructions, mid-push. “Yeah,” I panted.


“Oh, I can always tell,” she laughed. She still hadn’t relieved Steve of his leg-holding duties. Apparently my exercise habits were more important. “You’re a good pusher. People who do yoga always are. I can see the head already.”

“Really?” I cried. This was the moment. The one I’d been waiting for. Cue the Snow Patrol. But I couldn’t ask my husband to change the track, obviously. Trey kept on singing…

Inside I see a tiny piece of me

Spread out on the pages I once knew

Lawlessness abounds, just listen to the sounds

As the night speaks to a woman I once knew

“Yep, there it is. He has a lot of hair! Let’s see if I can braid it,” she murmured, finally paying attention to what was happening between my legs.

Steve and I laughed nervously. We weren’t sure she was kidding.

The labor and delivery nurse was staring at my doctor incredulously. She shook it off, turned to me, and suggested that I might want to give another good push. “I think you just need one more!” she said encouragingly, with a pointed look towards Dr. Distracted.

I mustered up the energy for one big push, and held my breath. And then I exhaled.

And with little fanfare, and the completely wrong music, my son Leo was born. 



Please be sure to read the submissions by the other Share Your Story contributors, and visit Kids in the House to find out how you can participate in our next Share Your Story Blogger Event!
  • Two Peas in a Pod: A Double Miracle - Rachael at Three Boys and Mom shares how the blessing of an unexpected twin pregnancy saved a woman's life.
  • Childbirth: the Ache of Love - Sasha at MomLife Now describes how one mom discovered a miraculous beauty she new not existed.
  • Tax Day 2007 - Cheryl at The Pump Station & Nursery looks back on how an easy pregnancy turned out to be a taxing birth experience.
  • Going with the Flow - Bridget at Bridget Bertrand shares how her OB helped to put her on the right course in regards to birth plans, the playlist, and even the recipe to make the day her daughter came into the world.
  • My Not-So Natural Birth Story - Rachel at Mommy Greenest shares a lot of questions with questions with pregnant and new parents through her work, but this time describes what it was like for her, giving birth for the first time - but definitely not the last - time.
  • The (Not So) Natural Birth Story - Britt at My Life and Kids reflects on how a mom's life-threatening delivery helped mold her into the mother she was meant to be.
  • Giving Birth: When the Unexpected Happens - Elle at This is Mommyhood shares advice for when your baby has an unexpected stay in the NICU.
  • A New Look at the "Perfect" Birth Story - Melissa at Fill My Cup shares how a crazy delivery gave one mom a new perspective on the 'perfect birth.'
  • Induction Induced Feelings of Loss - The Orange Rhino shares how a planned induction brought unplanned feelings of jealousy, sadness, disappointment and loss.
  • Our Beautiful Birth Story - Lindsay at The Fully Caffeinated Mama reflects on how it wasn't the feeling of intense pain caused by the epidural wearing off that she remembers, but rather the beautiful baby on her chest for the first time.
  • Jack's Arrival - Samantha at The Peanuts Gang thought she would have a scheduled c-section, but it turned out that having Jack was QUICK and sooner than expected!
  • Remembering to Breathe - Suzy at Kids in the House explains how with little fanfare, the completely wrong music, and a very distracted doctor, her son Leo was born.



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Suzanne Barston, CLC
Blogger & Author of Bottled Up

About Suzanne Barston, CLC

Suzanne Barston, CLC is the former Editor-in-Chief of Los Angeles Family Magazine, a Certified Lactation Counselor, and a freelance writer specializing in parenting, women’s interest, and science/health topics. She is the author of Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t and blogs as her alter ego, the "Fearless Formula Feeder". "FFF", as it’s known to an international fan base representing over 40 countries, supports parents dealing with issues of guilt, fear, conflict and uncertainty regarding infant feeding difficulties and choices through critical assessments of research, pithy commentary, practical advice, and a weekly series allowing parents to share stories in a cathartic way. She is also the co-creator of the #ISupportYou movement. 

Barston was raised outside of Boston and earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University in 2000. After living and working in Chicago and London, she now resides in Los Angeles with her husband, the photographer Steven Barston, and their two obnoxiously cute children. She and her husband were featured on two award-winning online reality series for, A Parent is Born and Welcome to Parenthood, about their pregnancy and first years as parents. Suzanne's writing and her work with FFF and Bottled Up have been featured in the New York Times, the Huffington Post,,, Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Parenting, Babytalk, OhBaby!, Fit Pregnancy, The Observer, Yahoo Shine!, Australia's Good Weekend magazine, and on a variety of radio programs including KPCC's "Take Two", numerous NPR affiliates, "Parenting Unplugged", "Positive Parenting", "Mom Enough", "For Crying Out Loud", "Voice of Russia", and more. Suzanne was honored to be one of the keynote Voices of the Year in 2012 for the annual BlogHer conference.

She currently works both as a writer and as an Infant Feeding Counselor. 


I am about to have my own first birth story of my own and I'm really excited/nervous to see how it will turn out!

I can't believe your OB was knitting while she was with you in the delivery room! That would have made me really nervous too!

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