My birth story

OK, this isn’t my WHOLE birth story.

But I can tell you this: My son’s birth included a dose of morphine and a possibly-botched epidural installment (because of curvature in my spine), which meant I felt powerful contractions to the end.

Why exactly did I receive a narcotic?

I believe, ultimately, it was because I was afraid — of pain, of tearing, for my baby’s health, for my health and maybe even motherhood!

I was crazy excited, too. I’m a high-energy person even on my most mellow days, so I guess you could say I wasn’t an ideal candidate to relax and enjoy the magic of the birth experience.

I came to my hospital birthing room with broken water and very closely spaced contractions, but I had dilated to only 2 centimeters. Argh! And, after more than 30 hours of crescendoing contractions, the pain was getting tiring and real.

Very early in my stay, the nurses shuttled me down the hall to a large bathtub, which did nothing to dull the pain or help me relax. Every fiber of my being was clenched up. 

“How are we going to get a baby out of this woman?” my nurses must have thought. 

They suggested drugs. We said yes without much hesitation, though we did worry about exposing our boy to an opioid.

Within four hours of the morphine dose, I was at 10 centimeters and pushing. 

I imagine the drug helped me let go a bit and rest.

Would other means of relaxation have helped me do that? Maybe.

Maybe morphine was something we really needed to get him out safely. We will never know for sure.

But after two and a half hours of pushing (which went by surprisingly fast, because it felt like we were getting it done), we had a healthy baby boy at 3:53 a.m.! Joy!

Looking back now, I wish I hadn’t been so scared. I’ve since learned that fear can really slow things down for a mama trying to bring a baby into the world. 

Anne Ferguson, a Minneapolis doula quoted in this month’s magazine — our annual Maternity Issue — said: “One of the main reasons women experience pain in childbirth is that they expect to. The fear-tension-pain cycle is very real.”

I wish I could have been more educated. (If I could do it all over again, I’d absolutely hire a doula — an option I eschewed at the time because of cost, which seems silly now.)

Fortunately, women today — backed by a huge social-media community of mamas, doulas, midwives and more — are coming to delivery with less fear.

They’re empowered. They trust themselves, and they trust birth. 

For me, just a little of that would have gone a long way.

Sarah Jackson is the Editor of Minnesota Parent magazine. She lives in Minnetonka with her 7-year-old son. Write her at