James’ Birth Story


Daniel and I are so happy to welcome James Mitchell Woolson to our family. He was born on September 9, 2018 at 4:35pm, weighing in at 8 pounds 10 ounces and measuring 21.5 inches long. He is the sweetest little guy in the world, a complete clone of his dad, and he smells like heaven. Here is his birth story.


I was 41 weeks and six days and had an induction scheduled for Sunday at 41 +8. I wanted to see a movie to take my mind off of everything because I was getting so impatient. That Friday afternoon, we had planned to go see Blackkklansman but for some reason (I think it had a long runtime and I wasn’t sure my 10-month pregnant self would be comfortable in the theater) I told Daniel I wanted to see The Nun instead. Turns out, The Nun is one of the worst movies of all time. I like The Conjuring movies but The Nun had such a limited story and the scares were all silly jump scares. After, we went on a hunt to find the pumpkin pie blizzard. I saw a Dairy Queen commercial the day before and I had a craving. The first DQ we went to didn’t have it but we found it, a few towns away from where we live, and I’d say it was good but not as great as I’d hoped. All throughout that afternoon, I had been feeling contractions. I wasn’t timing them, but from 12 noon to 4pm, I was cramping and contracting. By 4:30 they were fairly painful. And then all of a sudden they stopped. I kept that crampy feeling for the rest of the night, eventually figuring he wasn’t coming anytime soon.


We went to sleep at 10pm and at 11:30 I woke up to my water breaking in the bed. Daniel was having trouble falling asleep so he took a Unisom at 11:00 and had just fallen asleep. So when I woke him up and told him my water broke he responded with a confused “OK.” and turned over and went back to sleep. I told him, “My water broke!” and he said, “it’s OK don’t worry about it” and then sat up and said, “wait what? OK!” and jumped out of bed. I showered and we packed last minute things in the bag, then drove to the hospital in Boston. The benefit of going late at night was absolutely no traffic. We got there a little before 1:30am.

Once we arrived and checked in, they hooked me and baby up to the monitors to check heart rates and blood pressure, both of which were normal. Since I wasn’t constantly leaking amniotic fluid (something I guess you usually do once your water breaks), they performed two tests (one with a swab and one with a speculum) to make sure it was indeed amniotic fluid I had released. One test came back inconclusive and the other one was positive so they decided to trust the declare my water “ruptured.”

Despite my water having broken and the mild contractions, my cervix was still closed and not effaced at all, so we decided to proceed with the original induction plan at that time. They began giving me oral doses of cytotec every two hours in an effort to ripen my cervix (soften it). I took the first dose at 4:15am and within 45 minutes I was feeling uncomfortable cramping and contractions radiating from my lower abdomen to my lower back. Unfortunately, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, which meant I’d have to spend the whole cytotec induction hooked up to monitors. It made it tough to move around, made going to the bathroom more of a chore than I would have hoped, and didn’t allow me to feel like I could switch positions all that often (without disturbing the heart rate monitor and contraction monitor and needing the nurse to reposition them).

From the hours of 4:30am to 6:30pm, I took 6 oral doses of cytotec. I experienced contractions all the while, though they did pick up in intensity toward the end. I wasn’t able to sleep much during this time because of the monitors and frequent interruptions to take the medicine. I was already quite exhausted and still had a long way to go.

By 7:30pm we were moved into a delivery room and by 9pm, I started an IV of pitocin. Daniel and I were talking about how the contractions weren’t too bad and maybe I’d be one of those women you hear about that barely feel contractions (how naive we were!). My contractions intensified ten-fold within 15 minutes. By the 90-minute mark, they were unspeakably painful. I waited four hours and then had to get an epidural. I really regret waiting so long. I wanted to wait as long as possible but I had no idea how quickly the intensity of the pain would ramp up. I assumed it would be gradual and somewhat linear but it just went from “difficult but manageable” to “excruciating.” By the time I got it, I was in the worst pain of my life, unable to speak at all, throwing up, and having diarrhea. It’s hard for me to even think about that pain nowit was terrifying. Luckily, the epidural went in smoothly and within minutes the pain was dulled. It allowed me to drift in and out of sleep for a couple of hours.

At 7:30 that morning, I had a cervical check and was 5 or 6 centimeters and 80% effaced. They estimated I’d be fully dilated and effaced by noon. I was ready to start pushing at 1:00.

The next three and a half hours were incredibly difficult. With each contraction, I pushed with every single ounce of energy I had. The first hour wasn’t too bad. I was getting the hang of pushing and felt like I was making progress. Two hours in, I was vomiting, feeling unbelievably intense waves of spasms throughout my back, and nearly passing out between pushes. The doctor told me that my baby’s head was “right there,” just behind/under my pubic bone, and all I had to do was get his head to dip under it with some more pushing to get him out. I had to push through the pain and felt like the finish line was near. I tried and tried. And tried and tried and tried, pushing so hard all the capillaries in my face broke. I was in intense pain, nauseous, and completely exhausted. When we reached the end of hour 3 of pushing, it was clear we needed to get the baby out. I wondered if my epidural was working at all (and had wondered that for the previous three hours, too) because I felt everything. Wanting to avoid a C-section, the doctor gave us the option of using a vacuum assist. It’s a suction cup they attach to the baby’s head to try to guide him out as I push. At this point there were two doctors, six or seven nurses, and Daniel in the room. I started to get worried when the suction cup popped off on the first two pushes. I was told we had three pushes to get him out. By the third push, he was out. There was blood everywhere, the doctor’s face masks were covered in blood, my wonderful nurse’s glasses were probably ruined and there was even blood dripping from the ceiling. Brian De Palma would have said it was overkill.


All the pain I had been feeling instantly vanished. I burst into tears when they placed him on my chest, I was so incredibly happy to meet him and to know that he was alive, safe, and sound. “I love you so much!!” I told him over and over. I turned to Daniel, who had tears in his eyes. “Look at our beautiful boy,” I said. I loved him more than anything. I couldn’t believe he was here. I remember he was crying but not hysterical, and within a few seconds calmed down as I held him. I held him for a few minutes and then the NICU team that had been present for my labor took him for about 15 minutes to check him out beside my bed while Daniel stood with them and cut the umbilical cord. Luckily, he was completely healthy other than a slight abrasion on his head.


What I found out after he came out was that he had been in the occiput posterior position, or “sunny-side-up,” meaning that the baby was head-down but facing my abdomen (instead of facing my back). This positioning of the baby can trigger what they call “back labor” in women which I had and which would explain why I felt such intense pain, like my epidural had stopped working for most of the pushing. It is really, really difficult to push the baby out when he or she is in that position and I think in most cases I would have been advised to have a C-section if the doctors had realized the situation sooner.

newborn James

The entire ordeal was painful, physically and emotionally. We had some wonderful labor and delivery nurses who I’m so grateful for, but overall, I found the four days we spent in the hospital to be really, really hard—and I’m sure some of that can be attributed to the fact that I only slept for 5 hours between Friday night and Tuesday night. By the time we were released, Daniel and I were so excited to finally go home with our little guy. Even after reading everything during pregnancy—books, forums, blogs—about labor and newborns, I realized that the experience is just truly impossible to understand until you go through it. It’s easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but when I see James, I’m so happy. He makes labor and every hard minute worth it. There is a reason women voluntarily go through this multiple times—the gift at the end makes everything else seem irrelevant.


Since we arrived home, things have gotten better every day. Daniel and I are so deeply in love with our son and so excited for the future!



65 thoughts on “James’ Birth Story

  1. Kelly Mardon

    Congratulations! He is such a little cutie

    I often think that considering it is the most natural thing in the world, for a lot of us it’s so hard. The prize at the end though, as you said makes it all worth it.

    Enjoy your little man xx

  2. Anita Humphries

    Thanks for sharing. It’s good to have these things written down while still fresh, because as time passes, the memories do fade. (I’m pretty sure this is Mother Nature’s way of making sure the first borns have siblings!) What a beautiful baby boy you have. Also loved seeing your mom with him. Being a grandmother is the most special feeling in the world! God bless you all!

  3. Katie Foster

    That sounds incredibly long and so painful! You are truly a champ for enduring all of that. James is absolutely perfect–he’s lucky to have such loving parents! Enjoy this time–it goes by so quickly. xo

  4. Anne F.

    Oh my!!!! Congratulations on the arrival of James! I’m so happy for both of you. Lucky James that has two parents that love each other and love him so very much! Enjoy! He will be in first grade before you know it!

  5. Megan Riley

    Thank you for sharing! I am a mom to 3 kids and love hearing birth stories. It is truly a very special experience. ❤️

  6. Jillian

    CONGRATULATIONS!! It sounds like we had really similar labors from the length to the back labor and sunny side up babes … so, so hard and so so worth it!

  7. Denise Vermillion

    Congratulations on your precious boy! He is so handsome! Reading your story brought back memories of giving birth to my own boy 28 years ago. Pitocin, back labor, vomiting . . . you certainly don’t forget, but you will look back at it fondly and laugh. And you just received the BEST present for all your hard work. Much love.



  9. Amber

    Andie!!! You are honestly SUPERWOMAN <3 I am so happy for you and Daniel. James is honestly one of the cutest newborns I have ever seen. Please do a blog post about your pregnancy/new born experience with your Momma!

  10. Barb

    Congrats! If this is any consolation, they do get easier, the more you have. On my first, I thought my body was going to split in two. Took eighteen hours to get her out, two of pushing. The second (I had five) took 2 pushes and he was out. My third and subsequent, also took two pushes, and she was posterior. I always say the first paves the way for any others.

  11. Ilana Thomas

    Congrats! He is so beautiful and photogenic! Now you have to get to work on that book about motherhood and raising this little pumpkin! I want you to know that I have read your book at least 4 times. Since I have been a little girl I have read constantly, usually having two or three books going at once. I read every Judy Blume book at least ten times. My favorite books are like favorite songs to me. Reading them again is like revisiting an old friend. “It Was Me All Along” is like reading a book about my own young life. It was so beautifully written and so easy to relate to. The company your book keeps in my “revisit” club is among some of the greats…”A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and of course, anything by Judy Blume. Thank goodness she started to write for adults! Enjoy being a mommy. It is the greatest gift we are given.

  12. Kristal

    Oh Andie, I feel like I wrote this! I had an almost identical experience 3 1/2 years ago with my son. It was so incredibly difficult, and I was so tired from the whole ordeal, that I sometimes feel like I missed out on the joy I was supposed to feel when he finally arrived. I cried reading this, because it took away some of the guilt I’m still carrying around for not looking fondly at my birth experience. It took me a couple of months to recover, but MAN is it the best thing that ever happened to me. I am so very happy for you guys, and I can’t wait to see him grow. My little guy will be 4 in January, and it’s SO true what they say, “The days are long, but the years are short!” Enjoy every minute of your precious miracle!

  13. Pat

    Congratulations! My 2nd born son was also facing posterior and I had incredible back pains. He was
    Over due also
    So the doctors scheduled a pitocin on a Saturday night. Within hours I was in labor and went to hospital. Then they gave me a spinal and I couldn’t move at
    All! Finally they used forceps and pulled
    My Daniel our! As you say, one look at him and I fell in love and realized all the pain was worth it!
    Congratulations againENJOY Him☘️

  14. Rebecca Sims

    My second baby, my daughter, was also delivered sunny side up. Fortunately, my labor was only 10-12 hours. Back labor terrible but she has always been my treasure. Well worth it having a son (easier) and a daughter.

  15. lisa

    He is PRECIOUS and healthy and beautiful!!!… God Bless James & your family Andie. You brought back a few horrendous memories of delivering my children! You are now officially a mama and a true warrior! Wishing you, Daniel & your beautiful James many many days and moments of love & happiness.

  16. Diane

    What a beautiful birth story. Thank you for sharing it with all your readers. Congratulations to all of you! It is so worth all the pain and discomfort you might go through for the reward of a brand new baby!

  17. Sandy Miller

    Many blessings and congratulations! He’s such a cutie patootie! At first I thought he had a broken arm and I was ‘oh no’. Nothing like that baby smell! At least for now. :-)

  18. Jami

    Oh, Andie – I have so loved following you over the years. I found you at the beginning of your blog journey and have stuck with you through your moves, your books (which I absolutely love), your relationship ups and downs, failed cake mailings, your wedding and now the birth of your child. I’ve loved every minute of it. You are one of my most favorite people and we’ve never even met. I love your writing style and your story – thank you for sharing it with the world!

    Congratulations on your new family addition – he looks like he’s the sweetest little bundle! I hope things keep looking up and happiness is a regular at your table. :)

  19. Jane

    Congrats to all-he is adorable!! Sounds very much like my firstborns birth 30 years ago-except he weighed 10 6 and they used forceps!! Good job mom!! Take it easy and recover!!

  20. Deb

    Congratulations – each birth is different and equally rewarding. I had 3 in 3 years and none where the same and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Wishing you all the love, health and happiness in the world.

  21. Joanne Ozug

    Andie, congratulations!!! James is absolutely precious, and I am SO, SO excited for the journey that you and Daniel have begun. Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share your birth story. You are a warrior. XO

  22. Julie

    As I was reading this it sounded a lot like my first birth story with my son, almost 27 years ago to the day! I’m sorry you had to go through that and I’ve literally felt your pain. “Sunny side up” sounds a lot better than it feels but I couldn’t agree more that the end result is more than worth it! As a postscript, I had the most beautiful baby girl 22 months and only three pushes later!!!

  23. Jess

    You are AMAZING! You should feel like a freaking superhero. I had almost the exact same labor with Leila. My epidural only took for about an hour and then completely stopped working. She was sunny-side-up and I never got her out by pushing. She ended up a c-section and by that point I was like “DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO” haha. They are worth it though, and now we can always remind them what we did for them ;) congrats!!! Xoxoxo

  24. LN

    Congratulations again for the birth of your sweet son. I can’t help but think of your mother and how happy she must be. God bless little James and his parents.

  25. Jenny M

    Congrats on your little love. How are you doing? Feeling? Someone once told me that the first year of your little ones life is the shorter AND longest time all at once. Shortest because they grow so fast, longest because lack of sleep can get real old real quick. Have grace for yourselves in this new journey.

  26. Danielle

    Congratulations!! I am due in early January and this (even with the pain and struggle of it) made me even more excited to meet my sweet baby girl :) PS – am I the only one who thinks he looks so much like you?? I do see Daniel, don’t get me wrong…but I definitely see lots of YOU in his beautiful little face :)

  27. Susan

    Congrats! However, I wouldn’t recommend anyone operating a vehicle under the influence of sleep medication. I’m sure pure adrenaline woke Daniel up, but…it could have been dangerous for you and others.

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