Miriam's birth...My story...

After two months of typing this up while breastfeeding...or in stolen moments...alas here is the narrative of Miriam's birth.  What a tremendously healing and invigorating experience it was...
37 weeks pregnant....Don't I look miserably pregnant! 

I’d been having contractions all week, tons and tons of warm up ones.  In fact, on Wednesday I sat in a meeting for 1 hour and counted 9 contractions.  I pounded the water and got myself super hydrated. By Thursday I was walking around at work, drinking water and such but unlike other days people were pissing me off. I didn’t want to talk to anyone during a contraction. Something had shifted…

Thursday evening came and went.  I told Sean to move our birth blessing from my work bag to a hospital bag just in case, and we went to bed. I snuck into the guest room so I could sleep with more space and then starting around 2:00am I was awakened with some consistent waves of pressure in my back.  Around 2:30am or so I picked up the TIME magazine on the night stand and started reading between these contractions; I read an article about Barak Obama so from 2:30-3:30am each contraction had me thinking about Barak Obama- somewhere in my imagination I feel like he was there in my laboring.

So by 3:30am or so I decided that I either needed these contractions to stop so that I could confirm that they weren’t going to add up to a baby and get some sleep (though let’s be honest 39.6 week pregnancy sleep is crappy sleep), or to get up and let them become the labor they might be amounting to.  I got in a hot bath for 30 minutes or so and the waves kept on coming.  When I got out of the tub and in addition to the consistent waves and so did a stream of liquid between my legs.  My water had broken.  Sean heard me moving around and I told him I was in labor.  We called his mom to start the drive up to care for Junia. 

Then we started timing them and I started having to focus more on each one we times for 30 minutes or so and they were all  Three minutes apart and 1 minute long.  Very consistent! It was quite a shocker to have contractions so reliable and consistent after days and days of timing inconsistent contractions for my previous labor.  Well we stopped timing them and  Sean called our doula, and the hospital labor and delivery floor and we decided to head on in.  We weren’t at all panicked but things were moving quickly and we didn’t want to labor at home as much as we thought we might.  I demanded though that I would not have a contraction in the car without a tens unit on my back.

 By this time Junia was up and hollering for us so Sean got Junia out of bed and dressed.   I went downstairs and had a bowl of Cheerios to get something in my belly and we talked to Junia about what was happening.  Junia seemed excited and engaged albeit little unsure of what was going on. Sean was juggling a lot. Helping me with contractions and getting the last bits of things ready for our hospital stay and for Junia’s trip to a friends.  Alas, we all headed out, dropping Junia off (Andrea and Paul) on the way so that Nana (Sean’s mom) could pick Junia up there.  Any laboring woman knows that the car is in the top 10 worst places to have a contraction which means that the ride sucked but at 5:30am in the morning traffic didn’t matter and I was grateful for a tens unit.

We got there and made it into the labor and delivery floor while I had two contractions holding onto the front desk.  The triage room they looked at my pad and confirmed my water had broken and we got to our room.  We got “checked” at 5cm and I felt great about that.  I labored on a bouncy ball for awhile. I labored leaning over the bed for awhile. I labored looking out the window for awhile. I labored in the bathtub for a long while.

I loved that bathtub. It wasn’t even big enough I couldn’t hardly move around but man I wasn’t feeling picky I just wanted water all around.  That is until the hip pain got to me, and then the back labor picked up.  I had already been feeling every contraction in my back.  Like there was a button that would click in my back when a contraction would rise…it would crescendo into mind numbing noise in my back and then go back to being just painfully loud. The back labor was intense. There was no relief which meant that I couldn’t grabble with contractions when they came because there was no break.

Finally, I was encouraged to get out of the tub.  My contractions seemed not to be quite as effective. I labored on all fours in the tub for awhile then got out and labored on a bouncy ball.  Sean and the midwife (Diane) discussed fetal monitoring, which up to this point we had avoided.  She wanted to do a thing on the baby’s head, this would allow for me to move around a bit more than having the outside monitors on. They went in the hall to discuss, and came back and were up for it.  I didn’t mind it once the monitor got on but yikes! How the hell was I supposed to lay on my back to get the fetal monitor on? After several tries it got on.  That was undeniably the shittiest part of labor! 

So I moved back to the ball.  I was having a hard time getting on top of contractions as my back pain was out of control. The contractions were very strong so I kept bearing down at the peak of them. Diane encouraged me not to bear down as she was concerned my cervix would swell.  Let’s be honest though, the back pain, the contractions every 1 minute and all of it, I barely had time to get on  top of a contraction let alone resist bearing down.

I started dreaming of an epidural.  I started dreaming of a c-section. I started dreaming that the baby would not be doing so well so that they would have to perform a c-section so that then I would get some pain relief.  All of these thoughts lasted an hour.  I didn’t say any of them.  Finally, I asked Sean if I could have an epidural.  He was nervous about the idea.  I said tearfully, “I know that it increases the risk of a c-section but I can’t keep making it through like this.” Lauren suggested we check my dilation before we make this decision. I was at 7cm the same place I had been 2 hours before. But farther than I made it with Junia.

So I got an epidural.  It was wonderful. 
I was checked an hour later.  10cm and ready to go!
My uterus, my body which I felt had failed me 2 years earlier had done exactly what it should do and did it so efficiently.  Go me!

We waited another hour to see if things would progress without much work and then an hour or so later
We started with some “practice” pushing.  From the very start it was obvious that I was good at this sort of pushing.  Our midwife said, “wow you are strong.”  The labor and deliver nurse was shocked and said the same thing… we just went with it. 

We pushed every couple of minutes for just over two hours.  Thankfully my epidural was light so I was still feeling aching in my back during contractions.  The pain in my back was a major motivator.  I thought to myself, “I’m going to push this pain out and through my vagina.”  Each and every contraction I imagined taking the softball size pain and pushing it out.  It was working! I was strong. I am strong.    

The most powerful part of the pushing was watching Sean start to get excited, watching our midwife, doula and nurse, become more and more secure that this was not going to be a cesarean birth, and all of us realizing that together this was really working.  The arbitrary statistic told to me during one of our prenatal appointments, “You have a 70% chance of having another cesarean,” was not going to be me!

Probably around 4:30 I asked our midwife, “how much longer will I have to push.” I quickly rescinded, not wanting to know if it was short or long.  Though, her intial response seemed like we still had a ways to go.

Then with my next contraction and push Miriam crowned.  “Holy cow!” the midwife responded.  “wait, wait” everyone said.  Because there was miconium in the fluid they wanted the lung team there when she was born.  So I waited with her head crowning.  Don’t get me wrong, it was super painful, but  this moment of waiting was profound.    For Sean and I were waiting for a crux moment in our life to happen. We were able to acknowledge that in a moment we would welcome another child who would change our lives.  Both in tears we named this reality, honored our love for one another, celebrated the we were having a dignifying experience, and that we would welcome this person.

So at my next push she came out: all 22 inches of her and 9.5 pound of her!

I didn’t know if she was a she or he for a bit, we had asked the team to not name that (gender doesn’t matter at that point) Sean brought her over, I asked if she was a he or a she, and we said our blessing to her.  In tears we named our hopes and dreams and named our own commitment to her as parents.  Moments later she had a first name: Miriam. Born April 27, 2012 the feast of St. Zita.  The next day she was fully named: Miriam Zita Doll O’Mahoney.

For me, the experience of labor and deliver of Miriam was remarkably healing and beautiful.  People have been asking me, “how was the labor?”
“Wonderful” is my response and I mean that word in the deep sense of wonder and joy!


  1. You are wonderful! What a fantastic story. And I don't think I appreciated what a big baby you pushed out of your body until just now... Piper is 3 weeks old and now is 22" long and still a pound lighter than Miriam was at birth. You are amazing. Can't wait to introduce our girls.

  2. I completely teared up reading this. I have so much joy that you had such a wonderful and empowering birth experience, and so much joy you got to experience your own strength so powerfully!

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I love hearing honest birth stories.

  4. I am so happy for you that this was a better experience!!!!


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