Since Heron’s birthday, I’ve thought a lot about my labor and birth experience, which you can read about here. Like many births, it didn’t go as hoped, planned, or desired. Despite this, his birth was beautiful, awe- inspiring, mind-blowing, and powerful—just like I had hoped, planned, and desired. Those things are inherent in new life coming into this world.

Before becoming pregnant, I didn’t know very much about labor and birth; I’d be going into it blindfolded. In generations past, this likely wouldn’t have been the case: I’d have helped friends and relatives at births before becoming pregnant myself. I’d know what I was getting into, at least a little bit.

In an effort to lift the blindfold before I went into labor, I started researching. At the start, I was confused by unexplained references made online to things like “Pitocin” and “preeclampsia.” I became the mad Googler, only to come up with references to even more terms that I was supposed to already know about.  So I googled these too, and the crazed cycle continued.

Don’t do that to yourself. Even if you can figure out everything online, you’ll feel like you’re always missing something. Get yourself a good book that will lay out all the technical stuff for you. Read it, and then turn on the computer for the good stuff online. The birth stories.  (Which you now understand, because you know all about continuous electronic fetal monitoring and pre-toxemia without resorting to mad Googling.)

Books might help you technically prepare, but other women’s accounts of their children’s births will help prepare you emotionally. These birth stories didn’t reveal to me how my labor was going to go, but they helped show me the power and possibilities of birth.

In an effort to share what is possible, I’ve collected 25 different birth stories from 25 different blogs down below. Since you can’t read them all in one sitting without birth story overload, I recommend that you bookmark this page and come back to it as your pregnancy progresses. I hope that you gain as much as I did from these courageous women who have shared their stories. There are a lot of stories out there, but here I’ve included only ones that touched me emotionally in some way, and that I learned from.

Without any further ado, here they are:

  1. 2 Plus 3 Makes 5 One baby is difficult enough for me—this woman has triplets, and two older children at home besides. No, I don’t know how she has time to blog. Check out her story for a sweet picture of one triplet sucking on another triplet’s fingers.
  2. Anne Riley So, imagine going to the hospital, but they won’t admit you. Not because you’re not in active labor, but because they can’t find your cervix. Anne Riley practically gives birth before being admitted, and she makes it all sound… well, hilarious. You know it wasn’t this funny when it was actually happening.
  3. A Belly for Me, a Baby for You  Tiffany Burke, surrogate mother, gives birth to twins at 34 weeks. That sounds amazing in itself, but it’s the details, humor, and pictures that makes this post what it is. Case In point, a picture of herself with a tupperware: What’s in it? Amniotic fluid. So Tiffany can prove that her water really broke, she didn’t just pee herself.  (“I pee my pants ALL the time, I know the difference!”)
  4. A Bump and a Lump  The best sound ever is a baby’s first cry, especially for this mom, who is fighting cancer at the same time as she is pregnant.
  5. Enjoying the Small Things Once you read this birth story, you’ll never forget it. This is the powerful story of Nella Cordelia, and one mother’s honest and beautiful reaction when she realized her newborn had Down Syndrome.
  6. The Excellent Adventure This is a feel-good birth story, about which the author writes “This was how it should be, for every woman, every where.” This is where I first came across the idea that “labor is so the woman’s spirit can journey across the sky to bring her baby’s soul to earth,” and after having experienced labor, I have to say that it feels true.
  7. The Fix-Its  This story could hardly be more different than mine—I never had occasion to say “The baby is about to fall out.” It’s important (and great!) to know that 20 minutes of pushing is a possibility too.
  8. The Healthy Ginger  When Natasha Bell and her husband Mark decided to have a home birth, they kept it a secret from friends and family. If you’re pregnant, you know why this is such a delicious start to the story: even complete strangers think they are entitled to give you pregnancy advice, and this couple just says… nope, thanks, I’m not going to deal with all that. Haha! Take that! Seriously, though, this is a beautiful story, and a great one for non-pregnancy experts as Natasha takes the time to explain any medical terms she uses.
  9. Hillsteading This is one of my favorite birth stories, and it is so real. I love how she believed in her body—this is something all women can do, going into labor. If you’re an expecting mama, I recommend reading this story, as she writes a lot about how she got through the experience.
  10. Hungry Hungry Hippie A NICU story with a happy ending.
  11. It’s Just Laine There’s such a feeling of excitement when you go into labor, like you’re a little kid (who can barely tell past, present,  and future apart) that has woken up to find that Santa has finally come. Forget Santa, it’s the stork that’s magic! The anticipation in Laine’s story is joyous!
  12. The Little Things We Do  Lauren’s story is bad-ass, and she comes right out and says so. After her natural birth, Lauren writes, “I picked Fern up out of the tub and looked her over and the first thing I said was: ‘Wow!  I did that!  That’s bad ass!’” Three hours of pushing and a brow presentation? Yeah, that’s bad-ass. One more thing: if you want your husband to say something like “You have never been sexier than you are right now – and I mean that.  You just gave birth to our baby,” at your birth, give him a hint and have him read this story too.
  13. Lovely Morning   I really want to tell you what makes this birth special, but I can’t, ‘cause that would ruin it. I know, you’re thinking “Birth story. Woman goes into labor. Baby is born. Where’s the plot twist, again?” But if you don’t think “Whoa, amazing!” after you read this, then I doubt your reading comprehension abilities are up to snuff.
  14. Marigold Road Reading positive stories like this is immensely helpful and calming before going into labor, as they are a source of strength to draw on. Maybe your labor will be like this; maybe not. You can’t know, but it’s helpful to envision, no matter what the outcome.
  15. Mighty Girl  Every time I go to write about a birth story on this list, I want to say, “I love this story. It’s one of my favorites!” So, yes, that’s true (again!), but the bonus for this story is that it’s also told with a lot of humor. So, if you’ve just had a C-section and laughing hurts, you might want to hold off for a couple of weeks.
  16. More Like Mary ~ More Like Me  Kaitlin’s story about her son Paul’s birth is a good reminder that things can be OK even when labor progresses very differently than planned. Kaitlin wanted a natural birth but ended up with Pitocin and an epidural. What I love is that she wasn’t pressured into these things in the moment, but chosen by her—and right for her. She says, “I am DONE. I am NOT a martyr. I have NOTHING to prove!” and does what she needs to do. This isn’t an “unnecessary intervention” runaway train story—it’s a story of one strong mama.
  17. Noah’s Dad  Uniquely from Dad’s perspective, this is a story of the birth of a child with Down Syndrome.
  18. Noelle Aloud  Birth can have complications. I haven’t included too many stories that showcase that, because I do believe that most birth is normal, and we should empower women to know that, but nevertheless, it’s impossible not to have some worry when you are pregnant. How can we handle that? Noelle shows us just how strong we can be in labor.
  19. Notes from a Ragamuffin  Jordan’s story about the birth of her daughter Penny is written from a very real place. I love how she is honest about labor denial, fear of not progressing, and what she is thinking as she gives birth. It’s not all puppies and rainbows, but at the end, she turns to her husband and says, “I could totally do this 4 or 5 more times.”
  20. NYC Running Mama This is a nice story of having family present during the birth.
  21. The Rebel Heart While reading this, I kept thinking, “Is this really happening?” You know in your strangest pregnancy dreams/nightmares you narrowly miss giving birth in a car and make it to the hospital only with the help of a police escort. In a foreign country. Since that’s not going to actually happen to you, go ahead and live vicariously through Charlotte.
  22. I Still Hate Pickles  Kirsten writes, “Even if you don’t plan to have a C-section, it might be nice to know some of this stuff, because birth generally goes different ways than what we expect or even hope.” Since I didn’t want a C-section, I didn’t read as many C-section stories, but I’m glad I did read some! I very much identify with Kirsten when she wraps up her blog post saying, “Birth stories can be great or awful, or somewhere in between. The baby is always worth it in the end, but that doesn’t mean you can toss out a horrible experience, and many women even experience post-traumatic stress. Know that birth matters, to you and your baby, beyond just having a healthy baby.” On a side note, I really wish that I had delivered at a hospital that allowed immediate skin-to-skin contact in the operating room, the way this one did. Definitely look into that, even if you think a C-section will never happen to you!
  23. The Spohrs are Multiplying  Another positive C-section story, this one from Dad’s perspective.
  24. They All Call Me Mom The home birth story of a big baby from a big family. These pictures don’t lie about what birth is like.
  25. Wood Turtle   Here’s an excerpt of this beautiful birth story:  “It is amazing to me to see what I am physically capable of, how well I know my body, and that I was blessed to have an informed and empowered birth experience.” Reading this story will put you on the path to having the same.

What about you? Do you have a story that this list really should include? Let me know.