Birth is terrifying and wonderful. It’s beautiful and messy, scary and enlightening. Sometimes traumatic, sometimes ecstatic, often both. Birth can be the most magical moment in a woman’s life and it can also be her worst – for its sheer inevitability and total unpredictability. No two births are ever the same.
To capture how unique each story is, HuffPost UK launched Birth Diaries – a weekly series where we hear extraordinary accounts of this everyday miracle. There are the light-hearted ones (the woman who belly-danced through her labour) to the dramatic – the breast cancer patient who wept with relief that she and her newborn child had survived both pregnancy and chemotherapy.
We’ve pulled together the first nine instalments of Birth Diaries below – click through to read about these remarkable women and their babies. And if they strike a chord, we’d love to hear from you – share your own birth story with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The One When She Supervised Her Own C-Section
″‘Do not ask if I’m okay,’ I told the surgeon. ‘All I want is you to explain exactly – in technical terms – what you’re doing.’ And he did. He told me when he was making an incision and where he was retracting the muscles away, too. When you work in a medical job, professionalism kicks in and you can override your emotions. And that worked, up to a point...”
The One Where She Discovered A Lump At 14 Weeks
“At 16 weeks pregnant, when most parents are counting down the weeks to their second scan, I started chemo. We booked our own scan at a private clinic that same morning and, hours before I started treatment, found out we were having a boy. I was over the moon. I was going to have a son...”
The One Where She Belly-Danced to Sean Paul
“Picture me, belly dancing at home in my living room during contractions. It eased the pain and when my husband told me he was tired and going for a nap, I took it as an opportunity to put my “crap” music on (“Shake that thing Miss Kana Kana, shake that thing Miss Annabella”). Now this was the type of music to calm me down, not whale songs or white noise...”
The One Where She Missed Her Own Leaving Do
“My send-off party at work before I went on maternity leave was a blast, full of drinks, cake, and balloons – or at least that’s what I heard. Sadly, I couldn’t attend because while my colleagues sipped champers, I was dashing round Tesco and Mothercare in a panic, frantically acquiring such essentials as nappies and toiletries for my newly-born little girl...”
The One Where The Baby Just ‘Slithered’ Out
“My midwife’s name, quite fittingly, was Grace. She put some classical music on, dimmed the light and turned the room into what felt like a meditation zone. As soon as I relaxed, it was as if my body geared up to get Dominic out. I’d been through 20 hours of pain where I felt like my baby was destined to stay inside me forever. And now I was ready to push...”
The One Where She Didn’t Meet Her Baby For Two Days
“I had no idea what was happening to me. The only way I can describe it is that it felt as if my body was, quite literally, shutting down. Later I found out that I’d had a placental abruption, when the placenta detaches from the uterus. It had started to fail at 32 weeks, and here I was at 40 weeks and two days, terrified I was going to lose my baby...”
The One Where She Went Into Labour Watching ‘Die Hard 2’
“It was three days before my due date – and a very ordinary evening: my partner and I had put my son Elijah to bed, and then he’d made us dinner. We sat on the sofa watching ‘Die Hard 2’ (my favourite), eating our fajitas (also my favourite!) and I started getting a weird tummy ache; the kind that comes with an upset stomach...”
The One Where She Spent Her Whole Pregnancy In Fear
“From the moment we were asked to sit for the results of the tests, it was clear to me that things were not going to be straightforward. As we waited, I felt like my world was going to fall apart. And then a doctor gave us the news we’d been hoping not to hear: ‘I’m so sorry, your test results have shown a very high percentage that your baby might have an abnormality.’ I broke down...”
The One With The Water Birth
“By the time I was able to get into the birthing pool, I was nearly fully dilated. I was wearing a bikini and kept my briefs on until the last crucial moments. Being in the water didn’t take away the pain, but I had gas and air which eased it a little and chat gobbledegook to everyone. I lost my voice afterwards, I’d been screaming so hard...”
Want to share your birth story? Email email@example.com.