"I love birth stories. But when I hear them, I'm waiting for a detail I'm ashamed to admit."

I know this may sound strange, but I grieve for my labours. Sometimes I lie there awake at night and think about them. I dream about them. I long for things to have gone differently. But they didn’t, they just didn’t…

Even though I felt like I was absolutely KILLING it, even when I was told that I was doing so well that I wouldn’t have to be checked again, 7cms was as far as I was ever allowed to get in my labours. There were too many risks and I just wouldn’t dilate any more.

I was stuck. I was closed. I failed. I am a failure.

Of course I know that’s not quite right… I had rather long labours, my babies were both exhausted, and were both showing signs of distress. There was meconium in my waters for both and I had a fever for both.

I failed both.

With my first-born son, it was disappointing when they told me that I had to have an emergency c-section, but I was totally cool with it at the same time because I knew that I would do whatever it took for my babies to arrive safely.

With my daughter, I got to that elusive 7cms (and stayed there for ages) before the doctors told me that I needed to be rushed in for an emergency c-section right away. They also chose that very moment to tell me that I would not be able to try for a natural birth for any subsequent children either. It was never going to happen for me.

So naturally I cried, I vomited, and I apologised to everyone in the room over and over again. I felt so bitterly disappointed and like I had wasted everyone’s time.


I had longed for it so much, I still do, but I will never know what birthing a baby naturally is like.

I still find myself desperately wishing for it. To change what was. To be able to scream with the challenge of labour and push my baby out of my own body, and to have control of it all. I want to be able to cry with the achievement of knowing my baby was in my arms because of ME, not a team of surgeons. I wanted to know that I DID THAT, my BODY did that.

But I just couldn’t do it.

Although I would never put my babies safety in jeopardy, I still find myself lost in certain moments within my life, longing for that all elusive natural birth. Wondering what was so wrong with my body that it couldn’t do what it was put on this earth to do. Why it couldn’t traditionally birth a child the way that it was “intended” to.

Was it a physical block? Was I too tense? Did I need to relax more during pregnancy to be able to birth my baby the “right way”? Or was it a mental block that I didn’t even know I had? Had years of negative self talk stopped my body subconsciously from doing what it was supposed to do? What What WHAT did I do wrong?

I am so conflicted about it all.

My brain tells me that it’s OK, that it doesn’t matter how my babies were born as long as they are safe and healthy and I truly know that. But my heart tells me a different story. It constantly aches for an experience that I will never know and can never have.

The hardest part about this feeling of longing, is the bitter jealousy that comes with it.

I love birth stories. You might even say that I am slightly obsessed with them, pouring over every detail. But there is always a little something that happens inside when I read about other people’s labours which I am ashamed to admit.

I secretly harbour a desperation to hear that they had c-sections too, and maybe that they struggled the way that I did. And each time I hear about another beautiful birthing experience, I feel just a little more broken inside. Because I used to cry in the shower, thinking about mine.

I try not to let them see what I am feeling as I watch their faces glow with pride and joy whilst they talk about their own inner power. Birthing in this way has changed them – there is something so satisfied and confident in the way they move now. It’s beautiful to watch, and I am so damn proud of them. But it hurts my heart because I will never know what that feels like.

These two little loves. ❤️ . So, yesterday was one of the hardest days I have had as a mum of two (and probably when I think about it, it was one of the hardest even as a previous mum of just one). . They have both been sick and although it’s not really the worst sicknesses that they have had recently, it hit them both really hard at exactly the same time. ???????? . I guess they didn’t want to go through it alone, huh? #AProblemSharedIsBloodyWellNotAProblemHalvedInThisCase . There was one point in the day where neither had slept well, they both were grizzly and miserable and both really needing me at the same time. ???? . For a minute I stared at them both as they looked at me with their tear filled eyes and I just had no idea who to “help” first. #SoTorn . All I wanted to do was run into the bathroom and cry… But I couldn’t because they both needed me so much… ???? . So, I took a deep breath, scooped up the baby, & told the toddler to come & cuddle into us – just like how we are in this picture, though with a heck of a lot more tears, temperatures & red sweaty faces added in… It was all I could do, to try to cuddle them both, try & keep calm & count down the minutes until their daddy got home from work… I’m not even kidding, I was LITERALLY counting the minutes on the clock. I even made a song out of it to get myself through. “45 minutes to go! Woo! 45 minutes to go! 45 minutes till daddy gets home, 45 minutes to go! Woo!” ???????? . And when he walked in the door I have never been happier to see my hairy husband more. ❤️ Just having him home & in the house was such a relief. With him there I felt like I could do anything. ????????‍♀️ . And even though the kids were still upset, just knowing that he was there, making his silly jokes to make us smile, made us all feel that little bit better. ❤️ . But today was a new day. The kids were still sick, but somehow it felt easier. In fact, I kinda “mummed” the shit out of it today. So my point is, no matter how shit a day feels, you got this. The day ends. And tomorrow will always be better ❤️ . Have you had a day like this? How did you cope? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know xx

A post shared by Ellyn Shepherd ❤️ (@mummalifelovebaby) on


I am even jealous of the ones that cry from the trauma of their child’s birth, the ones who tore from front to back and can’t sit down, who have nerve damage and are in never-ending pain from the natural birthing experience they had. And I don’t know how to stop this feeling of longing, of jealousy.

I haven’t experienced what they are talking about, and I never will. I only felt it – my own incredible power – for the briefest of minutes, before it was taken away from me and I guess I am actually kind of traumatised by that… as ridiculous as it may sound.

And in a way I feel like I have been left out of a club to motherhood. Barred at the door for having a broken vagina sigh.

People tell me not to worry about it, that I didn’t fail. They repeat every kind thing that I try telling myself every day. Like, how it doesn’t matter. And how I still birthed a child so who cares how they actually were born. I mean, what about the women that haven’t been able to conceive at all, or have lost babies? I think about them too and I know that my feelings are a bit silly in comparison.

It shouldn’t matter because my babies are safe, and they are here. And I am safe. And, um…my vagina is still intact.

And like I said before, I get that. I get it all. But it still feels shit.

And hopefully I will be able to get over that.

Ellyn Shepherd is a Melbourne mother of a toddler tyrant and a small baby human. She is a blogger from MUMMALIFELOVEBABY who shares only the real stuff about motherhood. The good bits, the bad bits, and the ugly poo covered bits. For more, you can follow her on Instagram or Facebook.