February 15, 2024 - 6 min read
February 15, 2024

Room 301: My Birth Story as an L&D Nurse

Room 301: Birth Story

November 2017.

I had been a labor and delivery (L&D) nurse for 4 years at that time, and had endured almost everything the textbooks talk about.

My husband and I were ready to start our own family and had no fear of doing so. We got pregnant right away and found out we would be expecting a baby girl in August 2018.

Although I had witnessed beautiful births, emergencies, losses, and everything in between as a Labor and Delivery nurse, I tried to not let any of that affect my experience now as a pregnant woman. 

I was able to compartmentalize what happened at work from the growing baby in my belly. Every few weeks, usually at 3 or 4am, I would scan myself with the ultrasound machine to remind myself of the perfect little baby girl growing inside of me. We called her Jojo from early on. 

My pregnancy was uncomplicated. 

Nothing to worry about. My doctor took me off of work around 32 weeks, to be cautious of not going into preterm labor, given the physical demand and stress of my job. It was a magical time, nesting, prepping, and getting everything ready for our daughter. 3 baby showers later and the hottest summer in years, August finally came. I continued to work out 5-6 days a week, and was feeling GOOD. Large, but good. 

My doctor and I both thought I would have a swift, spontaneous labor, given my mom’s delivery history and my active lifestyle. My daughter’s due date came and went, without one contraction being felt. But everything looked good. I tried to keep wearing my “mom” hat, and not go into labor nurse mode. We started twice weekly non-stress tests (NSTs) to ensure everything continued to look ok, since I was past my due date. Still, no contractions. No signs of my body getting ready to deliver my daughter.

At my 41 week appointment, my doctor and I agreed that we should schedule an induction, since it could take a few days. 

I knew this. I taught this to all of my patients. Yet I was starting to feel defeated. I would go in on Sunday night, at 41 weeks 2 days, if nothing happened before then. I was determined to get things going on my own. I even ran the bleachers at the high school the next day in hopes it would throw me into labor. NOPE!

So Sunday came, and we headed to the hospital around 6pm. I was frustrated that I was having to be induced, but knew things could still happen quickly once they got going. I had faith in my body that it would know what to do, and all of my prep would help.

I had a few things on my side, walking into the very L&D department where I worked-

I knew what to expect. I knew all the possible outcomes and plans. I knew all the nurses and had an established rapport with them, because I spent so many hours working alongside them.

This all eased the fear. Still, I tried to continue to only wear my “mom” hat and keep my nurse hat hung up.

Two days went by with multiple different medications and interventions, and still nothing. 

I could feel the contractions but my body wasn’t responding, in terms of dilation.

On day 2.5 of my induction, I finally broke down. Frustrated and disappointed things weren’t progressing. Mad at my body for not knowing what to do. This was such an easy pregnancy. I did everything right. I ate the dates, drank the raspberry leaf tea, kept active, and ate nutritiously. WHY? And WHY ME?

I was thankful that my nurse that day was one of my closest friends. She reassured me we still had time, and baby Jojo was still looking great. She supported me, hugged me, and told me not to give up.

By 6am the next morning, on day 3.5 of my induction, Jojo was finally showing signs she wasn’t tolerating labor. 

It was at this point that I started looking at myself through the eyes of a nurse. I was watching the monitor for the first time in those days of my induction. I needed to know everything that was happening so that I felt confident in what the next steps were.

Nothing was appearing as an emergency, but I saw that we were getting close to having to make a decision. I asked for another few hours on Pitocin, and if she still wasn’t tolerating the contractions, I was fine with proceeding with a c-section. 

Around 10am, my doctor and I decided it would be best to stop the induction, and proceed with a c-section.

A C-SECTION??! Me? I was “supposed” to be delivered days ago, but now was having to go get major abdominal surgery to meet my daughter. I felt defeated. I was exhausted. I knew it was what needed to be done, but was still feeling all those same feelings every mom I ever supported felt. Even though I had all the knowledge, I was not immune from feeling all the negative emotions. Being a labor and delivery nurse did not mean I was immune from feeling the same raw feelings so many of my patients had felt.

When we got back into the OR, my epidural wasn’t working quite right. 

The anesthesiologist dosed me up, but I started to have a sharp pain down my neck, then felt it down my chest. I thought I was having a pulmonary embolism (a true emergency). I thought to myself “well, he is going to have to intubate me now”. I was not, thankfully, but was having referred pain and a wave of anxiety. A dose of the anesthetic Propofol later, the surgery began, and my daughter was born, crying right away. But I could barely keep my eyes open. Her birth was somewhat of a blur, from all of the medications I was given. I knew she was okay, and that I was okay, thankfully.

Room 301 Mom and Baby

Fast forward through a normal, healthy recovery for both of us. I still held frustration that I ended up in a c-section. 

I held that grief of a “normal” birth for months. I was mad at my body for not doing what I knew it could do. I was mad that I didn’t get to experience pushing, and pulling my baby out. I was mad that I now had this scar I needed to baby and recover from. I was mad that I had fuzzy memories of my baby’s birth.

At 4 months postpartum, I returned to work. The same hospital I had just gone through the biggest transformation of my life. I was excited to be back with my coworkers and show off my daughter’s photos.

I still loved my job but didn’t realize that the grief I carried with me around my own delivery would start showing up during my work shifts.

Anytime I had a patient in 301, the room I labored in for 3.5 days before going for a c-section, I would feel a wave of angst. If my patient delivered vaginally in that room, I was jealous. I never showed these feelings, but I carried them with me. I started to feel shameful that I was feeling this way. 

How could I be so stuck on not having a “normal” birth, when I had a perfectly healthy baby at home? 

I know the outcome could’ve been worse, but I was still having trouble shaking these feelings. It took me supporting many women through their labors and deliveries- both vaginal and c-sections, for me to “get over” my grief. 

I started to see my own experience as a boost and way for me to show up as a better labor and delivery nurse. 

I could now connect with my patients on a deeper level, and truly understand the emotions they were feeling as they were going through their own labors. 

It taught me to not judge other women for their perceptions of their experience. 

I was always able to empathize with my patients, but this felt more raw and relatable. 

I realized I needed to separate my identity as a nurse from my identity as a mother in order to heal. I gave myself the permission to process my birth trauma, just as that- trauma. My experience was ingrained in my memories and soul, and I knew the best way to move forward was to seek help and support.

Room 301: Labor and Delivery Nurse with her Fam

I share this to not create expectations of yourself ahead of your pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum journey.

It doesn’t matter how much prep you do, what your prior education or experience with babies is, your pain tolerance, your emotional state. If you are struggling at any point, please know that there is help out there.

You may feel like you are alone, but you never are.

For another unexpected birth story, read, “Twins Birth Story“.


Written by

Image of Jamie Jenkins

Jamie Jenkins

Jamie is from the San Francisco Bay Area but lives in San Luis Obispo, CA. She has been a L&D nurse for 10.5 years. She is a mom of 2 girls and loves to workout, go camping and spend time with friends in her spare time.



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