I’ll be honest — I never thought I was a birth story kind of lady. Probably because I’m a pretty private person and sharing the story of your child’s birth seems like a lot of information to push into the depths of the internet. But after experiencing labor and delivery, it’s actually one of the first things I couldn’t wait to share here. I am so proud of my body and myself. I don’t know if I felt like superwoman after, but I was definitely getting some Gal Gadot / Wonder Woman vibes. Since I’m not too keen on TMI, I have left out the gory details so feel free to read on without fear of passing out. I’ll save that story for later, when I really need to get your attention.

I was 5 days late. Five whole days, 120 hours late, 7200 minutes late. And I felt every one of those minutes. By week 36, I had convinced myself that she would be early because that would have been a) very convenient for us all and b) I was done with being pregnant weeks ago. By week 39, the pain was starting to set in, the stretch marks that started to appear softly and kindly a few weeks before turned into something quite angry, I stopped sleeping through the night and my dependance on peanut M&Ms was worsening by the day. I was buying the resealable bags and they weren’t getting resealed if you catch my drift. I can’t explain it but every day past your due date feels like the longest day of your life. Now that I look back on it, I feel quite dramatic but those almost 6 days felt like 6 months. I felt so tired and so big I didn’t really want to go do anything or leave the house. One day I saw a skunk run into a neighbors garage and no lie, I watched it for an hour to see if it would run back out. It was one of my most exciting days.

By Sunday, I’d basically given up on the idea of giving birth. “She’s just a part of me now.” I thought to myself. I was days away from 41 weeks and I knew that at that point we’d have to induce so I was trying to wrap my head around that process. (This is how I prepare myself mentally. I research, think about it before it happens so I’m not panicked.) But that morning I started to show signs of progress — which I will not go into detail here or ever — and I thought “is today the day?” I tried not to get my hopes up, but I told B. We both played it cool as I continued having a few Braxton Hicks contractions which I’d been having pretty regularly for a week or so. I ended up napping that day and by the afternoon I could tell the contractions were getting closer together. I started timing them, while still trying to convince myself they were false contractions. At this point, I knew I was in the beginning stages of labor but knew it wasn’t going to progress like it does in the movies. Which, by the way, there is a lot less screaming and a lot less water breaking with real life labor than Hollywood shows; I feel like everyone should know this so it’s not a let down when your baby doesn’t pop out 5 minutes after labor starts. I kept timing my contractions while convincing myself this wasn’t really happening. We ate dinner and I told B I think this is the real thing but wasn’t sure. Strange because I had been ready to meet her for weeks, so ready to start labor but now that it was happening I kind of wanted to back out. We kept timing the contractions throughout the evening and by 11 pm they were getting to be about 3 minutes apart. Oddly enough I had this strange calmness set upon me, which is weird because while I am strange I am not that calm of a person. B strongly suggested we go to the hospital since it was averaging 3 minutes apart and our doctor told us to go at 5 minutes apart but I don’t listen very well and again there was this stage of denial I was in so I took a quick shower and changed. I laid back down, timing the contractions that were getting closer and closer together. At this point it was well beyond midnight and I was basically in denial this was going to happen. Ya’ll — WHILE IT WAS HAPPENING. Well it was 1 part denial, 2 parts procrastination because let’s be honest — I was terrified of child birth and everything that was about to happen. I’ve never been admitted to the hospital before and I am scared of everything ranging from needles to the blood pressure cuff. It’s too tight, you guys. It’s not right. Luckily, B knew it was time and he loaded the car with my bag that had been packed for weeks, convinced me it would be okay and we drove to the hospital in the dark of night.

I think it was the fastest and slowest trip we’ve ever taken down the highway we travel everyday. I don’t even remember feeling the contractions at that point because I was so nervous for the events of what was to come. We got into the triage room and the nurse started to check me and the contractions. Baby’s heart rate was good, contractions coming ever 3 minutes, and I was dilated to a 3. It was 1 am and they called the doctor. He admitted me and told them to let me progress on my own. My sweet nurse told me that whenever I wanted an epidural I could get one. This sounded great to me, but I wanted to hold off for a few hours. AND THEN THE PAIN HIT. I just thought my contractions were painful but these were a new level. I couldn’t say ‘epidural’ fast enough. Every contraction was the equivalent of every nerve in my body screaming at the same time. I pulled myself together and asked the nurse for the epidural. She gave me this look and I thought ‘oh no I’ve waited too long to ask.’ But I was relieved when she told me it would be another hour before the anesthesiologist would be here. It was the middle of the night and the on-call doctor had just been called but there was a patient in front of me in line for the epidural. We waited for almost 2 hours and finally I was able to get an epidural at 6 am. Time seemed to be flying by but also felt like it was hanging in the air. Once I had the epidural, I couldn’t feel a thing. I also basically went delirious for the next 13 hours. I am weak when it comes to any type of drug, so the epidural hit me hard so the next few hours were a bit of a blur. We thought for sure I’d have her before noon, so we started calling family.

Turns out that was positive thinking. I had a good 12 more hours of labor ahead of me.

My doctor checked me that morning, broke my water and we waited. And waited. And waited. By early afternoon, he woke me from my weird epidural nap where I was dreaming about food (seriously I was so hungry ), and asked if I was ready to have a baby. I sleepily said ‘sure’ and then asked B what that meant. He said it was time to push, we were ready to go. I’ll spare you the other details of labor transition because I think for those of you who haven’t had children yet should have a chance to not know everything until it happens to you. Ignorance is bliss in my opinion. As someone who has never had a baby before, I have to be honest — the pushing does not come naturally to everyone. And by everyone, I mean me. Especially those who have little natural control over their bodies, like yours truly. For athletes? Sure. For this girl? No. My nurse told me to use my abs and I laughed. She said you don’t work out? I said ‘no – – but I admire those who do.’ I ended up pushing for about an hour before they told me to stop because her head wasn’t turned the right way. She was progressing but she needed to turn. They ended up positioning me so that her head would turn the right way — and miraculously it did. Or maybe not miraculously, this is probably standard but I don’t know because I definitely did not ask questions. We started to push again. They asked if I wanted a mirror at one point to which I very loudly replied ‘NO THANK YOU’. I liked my current view and did not need much more detail than that. The less I know, the better.

After another hour and half of pushing, I finally got the hang of it and with each push, I knew we were getting closer. After 26 hours of labor, we finally met our sweet daughter; at 6:38 pm on August 14th, 2017 Gemma Rose arrived into the world. She weighed 8 lbs 11 oz, 21.5 inches long. It was an amazing feeling, the moment she was born. My epidural had waned and I was so glad it had — I knew instantly when I pushed that last time that she was here. It took her a few seconds but she took a giant breath and they laid her on my chest. I looked at B wide eyed and his eyes were just as big as mine. There she was on my chest, our daughter. Dark hair covering her perfectly round head, eyes just barely opening to meet mine. I try to replay that moment over in my head as much as I can because I never want to lose it. It’s true what they say — you start to forget the process over the next few days. There are holes in my memory from those 24 hours. But meeting her made time stop; I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live.

About a week before I had Gemma, our days began to stand still and my emotions started to get the best of me. The smallest thing could make me cry. One afternoon in particular, I was sitting in the living room and I remember looking at B with tears in my eyes and I said to him that I couldn’t envision her. I couldn’t envision child birth. I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t see our life with her here and it scared me terribly. With everything else in our life, I could envision our future plans even though they never turned out the way I saw them in my mind. It’s just helpful to have those hopeful thoughts of your future. But B took my shaking hand, looked me in the eye and said “you can’t envision her because she’s better than you can ever imagine.” As I write this on my phone, I’ve got a sleeping baby in my arms. She’s freshly fed and happily sleeping, her little heart-shaped nostrils flaring with each breath taken. And I realize B was exactly right; she’s better than I could have ever imagined. In fact, my imagination couldn’t have dreamed her up; it’s far too small for how great she is.

Welcome to the world, Gemma Rose. You’re better than I could have every imagined.


PS: these photos were taken the next day. Lord knows my hair did not look like that after labor.

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62 Responses

  1. First time mom here due January 2018 and your story brought me to tears. I can’t imagine our lives with our babe either, and I definitely feel like I’ll never know how to “do” labor. I was leaning towards some “ignorance is bliss” and I’m glad you agree. Gemma is precious!

  2. The last part made me tear up (25 wks pregnant over here!) Congratulations on your beautiful little girl!

  3. “She’s just a part of me now.” I laughed out loud! This is definitely the funniest, but REALEST birth story I’ve ever read. Thanks for sharing, Kendi. 🙂 So happy for your family!

  4. Thanks for sharing – I’m a sucker for birth stories. I’ve had two girls and each birth was different. It’s amazing what our bodies can accomplish!

  5. “By Sunday, I’d basically given up on the idea of giving birth. “She’s just a part of me now.” I thought to myself.” Made me LOL. Congrats to you and your tiny family. 🙂

  6. I always love reading birth stories. As someone who isn’t planning on having kids I don’t think that it’s something I’ll ever experience. Whenever people talk about the first moment they held their babies it always brings tears to my eyes and your story was no exception. What B said to you about how “you can’t envision her because she’s better than you can ever imagine” is such a perfect response. So sweet! Congratulations again to you both!

  7. Kendi!! This is too sweet. I lol’d at the workout comment and then was fully in tears at the end. So happy for you and Bryan! She is gorgeous.

  8. So sweet! You make me laugh and cry! I love that she is more than you could’ve ever imagined- so true!

  9. You had me laughing at the mirror part. People kept asking me if I wanted to see my baby’s head when he started coming out and I was like “NOPE!”. I was 5 days overdue and my doc decided to induce me. So I know what it feels like! Congrats girl!
    Jeans and a Teacup

  10. KENDIE! I’m on my couch with my sleeping cat pressed against me s o b b i n g!!! This is the most precious story, and I literally LOLd for a good thirty seconds about that little skunk story. It was incredible.

    I’m so happy for you and B and your little bundle of absolute joy. So happy you’re both happy and healthy.


  11. This was so lovely to read. The labor bit was interesting and the baby is gorgeous but the best bit was obviously, “I am strange I am not that calm of a person. ” Same, girl. Also, when is Gemma becoming Angelina on Snapchat!?

  12. Love this story!!! So moving!! Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl!!!! I was thinking to myself i sure didn’t look so put together after delivering my kids– then i saw the p.s. and i felt normal 😂

  13. Oh! How sweet she is!

    And, is it weird that I feel better not being the only one to whom pushing was not the most natural thing ever (lol, my doctor told me so eloquently told me it was like pooping! Thanks for that imagery, Dr. Williams.)

  14. OMG! She is THE cutest whittle Bub! Heaps of Congrats to Momma and your SO CUTE whittle baby! I am SO glad that both Mom and Baby are healthy and ok! 🙂

  15. Thank you for sharing your story. As a first time mama-to-be who is 20 weeks pregnant, I am so eager to read about other women’s experiences. I know what you mean when you say you couldn’t imagine your life with Gemma before she arrived. Being pregnant is such a brain warp. It’s just…bizarre (amazing! …but bizarre!). I am resting in the hope that our lives are about to crack open in the best kind of ways we can’t even fully understand yet.

    You’re a beautiful family — thanks again for sharing!

  16. Thank you for being open and sharing your birth story. I am a new mom with a girl as well (born 6-25-17) we are still in awe that we have a girl as we kept the sex a surprise until birth. Her birth did not turn out as I had envisioned and I was a little let down by that. I applaud you going with the flow and following what felt right to you. I was more focused on being let down than just going with the change of plans and relishing in the fact that we had a healthy baby. Sharing this will be more helpful to other new moms than you realize. Enjoy your sweet girl!!!

  17. This was fantastic. So many birth stories go from “I started having contractions” to “we got to the hospital” and I’m always like – BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PART WHERE YOU FREAK OUT? And being offered a mirror? Lord no.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story! I’m 37 weeks with my first and this makes me feel happy and ready to be brave. You and Gemma are stunning!

  19. Congrats sweet Kendi! She looks just like you! Welcome to Motherhood – the greatest role of your life! <3

  20. Ugh. Girl so so beautiful. What a lovely birth story. You’ve got me sobbing and remembering my own 26 hour labor (it’s no joke!) 2+ years ago when my daughter was born. I think it’s these girls. They give us a run for our money in labor and take their sweet time to get here (my babe 9 days overdue) but then they arrive and they just turn our whole worlds upside down in the very best most wonderful way. Your daughter is beautiful! Enjoy mamahood.

  21. So happy for you and your sweet family. Being a mother is soooo wonderful and that deep love and joy never goes away. Thanks for sharing Gemma’s birth story.

  22. I’ll be due in January with our first child too and your story was so amazing. I am also terrified of labor and child birth but I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one. Thanks so much for sharing and as always being so hilariously candid. Congrats on your beautiful baby girl!

  23. LOL at post-labor hairstyle! I know exactly what you mean.

    They asked me if I wanted to feel the baby’s head. I think my response was pretty much unrepeatable.

    Congrats – she is just gorgeous, and you look so proud.

  24. Hi Kendi!
    Congratulations on making it through your first birth experience. Now that I have an almost 2 year old boy, I enjoy and am curious at the same time to read how other moms have experienced this incredible and scary moment. I had a midwife for my birth since I absolutely dislike hospitals 😧. I do agree that women should only choose to be kept in the dark about every little detail if it helps them get through it. I was 10 days late with my boy and boy I understand you when you say that the end feels eternally long!!!!
    I do think that we are true superwomens having to go through this life changing and emotional moment.
    I laughed when you said that the pictures were taken the second day since I thought you looked pretty good hair and all following an intense birth!! God knows I did not look pretty after it all. Congrats on your baby girl….know the fun part begins hehe!.

  25. Congratulations! She is beautiful! Everyone says you will forget the pain (so that you will have more kids because if you remembered, you wouldn’t!) but I don’t think I could! My little boy will be one in two weeks and Gemma’s story brought me right back to his birth story. Enjoy her, so cliche but it has been the fastest year of my life.

  26. Long time reader 😉 this is the best post ever, brought me to tears. Also- my birthday is august 14! Your daughter is gorgeous. Congrats to you both ❤️

  27. So beautiful Kendi. We just had our 2nd little boy in June and all those feelings from the birth still feel somewhat raw to me as I read your story. Now I’m a teary mess lol! Congratulations!

  28. Beautiful story and photos, she is just a doll. I can only imagine how special those first moments are!

  29. Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m 31 weeks pregnant and I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading all the birth stories! Congratulations on your beautiful daughter!

  30. I remember taking a walk around the mall a few months after my first baby was born, when I spied another pregnant lady. She looked to be about 6-7 months along (skin glowing, hair commercial, belly but not BELLY, you know). I remember feeling a physical longing for her ignorant bliss at that moment. Because birth and that newborn stage is really such a roller coaster ride, physically and emotionally. I have an 11 year old and a 7 year old now and the roller coaster hasn’t stopped, but eventually you get to sleep longer than 3 hour time periods so it’s easier to hold on! Congratulations!

  31. Beautiful birth story. Thank you for sharing. I love reading these. I was so surprised and delighted that you decided to share yours! Two time mom, pregnant with twins now! Becoming a mom is one of the most special times of life. Enjoy the newborn phase! Congrats again!

  32. This is so beautiful! It had me laughing and crying all the way through. Thank you for sharing your story. And welcome to the world, little Gemma 🙂

  33. Congrats! I have read your blog since ya’ll were in Austin, so happy for you!

    Thanks for saying that about your hair, cause I was totally thinking, “gosh her hair looks amazing, why was mine so sweaty after birth?!”

  34. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Kendi. I’m a first time mom, due in January 2018 and your words brought me to tears. I can only imagine the experience – and right now it seems totally abstract and a bit terrifying. Your story brings me a feeling of peace. ❤️

  35. Congratulations to both of you! Gemma is beautiful.. When reading your story I remembered mine.. aaah why the time flies so fast, hopefully we’ll have second baby soon, can’t wait! 🙂

  36. Oh thank God you added that P.S. (just kidding…- not). Best wishes for your little human! May she really be a rose for this world!

  37. Congrats!! I think those nurses/doctors should cool it with the mirror. I wish I could have marked off a box beforehand that said “Don’t bother asking about the mirror”. I was apparently such a bad pusher that they wanted to set up the mirror to help me learn how to push. I refused and refused and refused.

  38. CONGRATULATIONS! What a well-told story. I was right there with you at the end of my last pregnancy – I had convinced myself my daughter was never going to be born, either. Weird how that happens! Anyway, so excited for you, and thanks for sharing your story. I literally laughed AND cried.

  39. Such a wonderful story Kendy, the perfect mix of funny and endearing. That line about her being “better than you can ever imagine” just about slayed me. She looks perfect and you look absolutely smitten. And thanks for leaving out the gory details 🙂

    1. Kendi, with an “i”. Sorry, I’m really not an imbecil, my fingers just go haywire when typing.

      1. Girlfriend — don’t even worry! I go by all spellings and pronunciations 😉 Also sometimes I accidentally spell my name as Kendo in emails. HA.

  40. I’ve been out of the loop for 8 weeks because of moving/work/all the craziness that entails, so I am just now excitedly catching up on your blog. You crack me up SO much! I literally got up from my desk to get coffee LOL’ing when I read the skunk part…I’m sure my coworkers were like “uh okay weirdo” lol

    All that to say…thank you for brightening my day by sharing this lovely story! 🙂 Congratulations on your beautiful girl and entering this new phase of life! SO SO happy for you, girl…your happiness is contagious!

  41. Kendi, thank you so much for posting this. I’m due to have my first baby in February 2018 and I am super nervous about childbirth, so my method for dealing with that is that I want to hear as many birth stories as possible. Thank you for laying it all out in such a funny, relatable and honest way. I’m 27 weeks and already having trouble sleeping so I can only imagine that by my due date I’ll be up all night eating M&M’s too.

  42. She’s adorable, and I love her name. My first child was born on 8-14-1996, I just wanted to share. Congrats’

    1. Amazing! So they are a Leo too! It’s a good birthday, I feel. Right at the end of summer, just perfect.

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