I didn’t think that I would make it to 41 weeks pregnant. I actually thought I was going to give birth early since I had been experiencing a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions starting a month before my due date. But here we were at 41 weeks, and no sign of a baby.

I had tried almost everything possible to induce labor at home: I walked for hours, climbed stairs, ate spicy foods, bounced on my exercise ball, drank many teas and even tried acupuncture. But nothing worked, and I was beginning to get discouraged.

My labor finally started—but it wasn’t what I expected

As I was organizing the baby’s clothing one evening, I suddenly felt a trickle of fluid running down my leg that wouldn’t stop. My first thought was, “Am I peeing myself?” But when the gush of water got stronger, I knew exactly what that meant. It was showtime!

I called my midwife right away. She told me to monitor my contractions and to call back if they got to 4 to 5 minutes apart. At around midnight, things started to pick up. I was having contractions every 6 to 7 minutes. Sleeping was out of the question—with each contraction I would wake up trying to catch my breath. I knew this was going to be a long night, but I wanted to labor at home for as long as I could.

In the morning, I went to the hospital. They hooked me up to monitors to check on the baby and my contractions. My midwife soon confirmed that I was 4 centimeters dilated and that the baby seemed healthy—but there was a problem: The hospital was full and on diversion, meaning that I might have to leave and find a different hospital. I prayed for a miracle. My midwife told me she would try to figure out what to do, but in the meantime, I could continue laboring in the triage room and hallways.

After many rounds of walking up and down stairs trying to progress my labor, I went back to triage and learned the good news: They were discharging some women and that they would soon have a room for me to deliver in. I was thrilled. Things were looking up and I was so excited to get things going and meet my baby soon.

My epidural birth story

When we finally made it into my room, I had only dilated to 5 centimeters—my labor was moving slowly, despite having contractions that were so intense that I wasn’t able to talk. My contractions just kept coming and coming and I noticed I wasn’t getting the breaks in between them. The nurse was concerned; I was exhausted because I didn’t have any rest periods.

I started to get discouraged. I had planned on having an unmedicated birth—I prepared a lot, and read books and birth stories about women who had unmedicated births, and I wanted that so badly. I always knew there were many possibilities of things not going that way you want during labor, but I never thought it would happen to me. My whole pregnancy was a healthy one; no complications, no bad news, no concerns at all, so I just thought everything should go as planned.

But I was battling by this point. I vividly remember saying to myself, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, over and over in my head while I tried to breathe through each contraction.

I tried everything to get through the contractions: bouncing on my exercise ball, having my mom and nurse do counter pressure on my back, and having my partner help me breathe as I squeezed his hand so hard. I decided to try the shower. But as I walked to the shower in complete tears, I knew in my heart that I had to get the epidural and try to relax and give my body the rest it needed.

The anesthesiologist came in right after I got out of the shower and started prepping everything for the epidural. I was scared; it wasn’t something I was prepared for. When the epidural was in, the team helped me lie on my back to try and rest.

But relief never came. The contractions kept coming and coming, just as long and just as strong. The epidural had failed, and they would need to try again. I couldn’t believe all that was happening, I just wanted it all to be over. Again I curved my back and fought through more contractions in hopes that this second time, the epidural would work.

Finally after 10 minutes, it worked and I started feeling much-needed relief in my body.

My unplanned C-section after epidural

My team was preparing to check my dilation again when the baby’s heart dropped—what happened after that was a blur and all I remember is being terrified. Out of nowhere, about seven different people entered the room: nurses, doctors and other medical staff. I had no idea what was happening. They shifted me around from one side to the next. The nurses tried to keep me calm, while I asked what was going on without getting an answer.

After what seemed like forever, my nurse told me that the baby was lying on the umbilical cord, decreasing his oxygen flow, and they needed to normalize his heart rate again by trying different positions. It worked, but I was feeling very defeated at this point. I was praying for our baby to be okay.

When my cervix was checked again, I was still only about 7 to 8 centimeters; I had been in labor for 24 hours and they were starting to get worried. The midwife explained to me the complications of continuing to wait and that she needed to bring an obstetrician in to evaluate and make a decision as to what would need to happen next. I knew what was coming and my heart sank.

The doctor explained that my cervix wasn’t thinning or dilating fast enough, and the baby was “sunny side up” (or posterior position) which can make vaginal births harder. Because his heart rate had been fluctuating so much, they recommended a C-section.

I signed all the consent forms and I just laid there and cried. My partner and my mom tried to find every possible way to give me the comfort I needed, but I felt really scared. I had never mentally prepared myself for this, but then again, you can’t prepare yourself fully for something you haven’t been through.

My baby was born via C-section

They prepped me for surgery and all I did was pray; pray that we would come out of this well and that this was the best decision for us. I needed to understand that this was out of my control and this was the best choice for our baby. God was with us. Off I went into the care of strangers, but I knew that I was in God’s hands and that we would be okay.

My beautiful baby boy was born at 7:25 p.m. I will never forget hearing his first cry—all I wanted was to hold him and kiss him. My partner held this little bundle of love in his arms and it was the best feeling in the world. He was perfect, he was here and he was healthy.

My son’s birth story had a huge impact on my life. My labor taught me that there are times when I won’t have full control over situations. It humbled me to my core and tested my faith. I learned that I needed to surrender and let God take control.

It’s hard not to be able to fully understand why things happen a certain way, but I truly believe that there is a purpose for everything that happens, even if we don’t understand it now.

[This story was originally published on June 25, 2021. It has been updated.]