Edit ModuleShow Tags

My birth story: 'For the first time, I had to surrender'


April 2, 2014

Dear Jack,

I am still healing, but I was happy to do it for you, my darling. Our first breathing event! Before, you hovered upside down in dark space, a jewel with cheeks hanging around your nose, now chin.

A week ago, I went into labor, a bank of deep waves of movement within. Perhaps for the first time, I had to surrender. The entire pregnancy doled out that knowledge, and a healthier appreciation for patience, but birthing compelled me to let go of any notion that I would control the process of your becoming, or my own.

I should not skim over so many hours laboring. I was overcome and overcame with a relentless response. I kept my head above it, relaxed into the surges. For many hours, I intoned vowels, mind benumbed to all but the most basic sounds. A – E – I – O – U. Again and again, I clung to breath and the letters of the languages I hold dear.

You were caught between my spine and a 12-centimeter fibroid tumor, a benign but pesky growth present in about one quarter of all women. There were five intramural fibroids in my uterus when you were conceived, fed by the same blood and hormones as you, even competing. I took extraordinary care of us. My doctor warned me that you could suffer from being growth-restricted due to the greed of the fibroids.

We were lucky your placenta attached away from the fibroids. So while they grew, you grew bigger — by the third trimester, she warned me you would be big enough to cause concern. As it turns out, fibroids may have been the culprits behind this laborious delay, not only for blocking your exit but also for dispersing the contractions’ force.

The journey began to stress you out. Throughout the day, the doctor had been watching your heartbeat decelerate in the wake of my contractions, a normal reaction but for the delays which grew longer as the afternoon wore on. After 24 hours of unmedicated back labor, spasms of contractions every two minutes, my doctor, doula and nurse/midwife agreed an epidural was the best way to allow my cervix to calm down and unswell.

The relief was immediate and astonishing. I was able to make eye contact. My modulated howls ceased. Your father and aunt laughed and joked and welcomed me back into the thinking world, as I had been beyond its reach.

If my description conjures a sense of hubbub and stress, I suppose that is true for everyone else. I was so focused on one thing — you! — that a complete calm enveloped me from start to finish, not only that day and night but from your conception to this echoing moment, as you breastfeed while I write in my journal.

As often happens in life, things moved quickly once we made the decision to proceed. Decelerations worsening, my cervix still clenched against your exit. Despite my birth plan, a Caesarean, a hard choice endorsed by my doctor, doula and midwife. Within 20 minutes, Brian and I were in the surgical room, soon laughing and crying because you were crying, and I repeating, “My son! My son!”

They weighed you — 9 pounds, 14.5 ounces — and placed you on my chest, skin to skin. To think that it was you all along fills me with joy and wonder and gratitude beyond my powers of description. I love you, you who are reading this, and you upon whom this journal is now resting, rising and falling with your breath.


Currently serving as the Prose Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House, Kristen Millares Young is the author of "Subduction," a novel forthcoming from Red Hen Press on April 14, 2020. More on her website.


Get Seattle's Child iOS App

Looking to switch up your weekend plans? Try our app and customize to fit your family. 
Apple logo


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Teachers' tips and online resources to keep kids learning while schools are closed

Teacher-approved, kid-tested online learning resources, plus non-screen tips from a 2nd-grade teacher.

To Pump or not to Pump?: Real Talk on Breast Pumping

The lowdown on breastmilk pumping.

Mask-making and more: How you can help other Seattle families during the coronavirus

We're all in this together. You can help by sharing your time or your resources -- and by supporting local artists and businesses.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Family Events Calendar

Subscribe to our weekly newsletters

* indicates required
Send Me:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags