Hope Amidst Adversity: My Daughter’s Incredibly Harrowing Birth Story

When the nurse finally put Victoria into my arms, all my worries fell away.

Mother looking over daughter in the NICU andresr | Canva

My water broke while I was getting my car’s oil changed. I was with my two young sons, and we were coloring while we waited. Once I felt it happen, I hurried into the bathroom, hoping it was nothing but knowing it wasn’t.

A lady knocked on the door. She said that she and her husband had been keeping an eye on the boys and asked if everything was okay.

"I’m 24 weeks pregnant," I said helplessly.


Her face registered her shock. She told me to come out and sit in a chair back in the lobby while she called an ambulance.

"Everything’s okay," I lied to the boys as I sat down. I called their grandmother who came to pick them up. She was my ex-husband’s mother, but she tried to comfort me as best she could. Before I could properly thank the couple who helped me, the ambulance was there. They told me to lie down on the stretcher and not move at all.

When I got to the hospital, a nurse put a purple strip of paper underneath me and confirmed my worst fears. My water had broken, and labor had started although I didn’t feel any pain. They gave me some medication to stop it and continued to monitor me to see if the drug worked. Fortunately, it did. Still, I couldn’t stop crying.


"How long do I have to stay here?" I asked the nurse.

She looked at me strangely. "Until the baby is born," she explained.

Oh my God! I couldn’t stay in the hospital that long. What about my sons? I couldn’t leave them with the baby’s father. He would either totally ignore them or give them a hard time. What about work? If I couldn’t work, I couldn’t pay for my mortgage or anything else. It was unbelievable that I’d be stuck in a hospital bed unable to move.

I guess I was lucky because I had my own room. "Everyone on this floor is a woman going through the same thing as you are," the nurse told me. I wasn’t sure if it made me feel better or worse.


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I couldn’t stop thinking about my boys. I found out that their grandmother and grandfather were going to keep them at their house, which was a huge relief. By this time, I didn’t want to be in the same room as the baby’s father, and I was horrified that the kids would have to spend even a minute with him without me there to protect them.

He was abusive, mostly to me, although the boys witnessed him yelling at me. He was rude to them, telling them to get out of his way or else ignoring them. I desperately wanted this man to leave my townhouse, but I was scared of him. What about the new baby? Would he treat her badly, too?

As the days passed, I fell into a depression severe enough that the nurses called for mental health services. A doctor talked to me about my situation and history of mental illness. For some reason (likely the depression), I didn’t share anything with him at all. I spent day after day in bed, not moving an inch. I felt sorry for myself because I couldn’t take a shower and couldn’t even stand up for one single minute.


I thought about the baby inside me. Whatever I was going through couldn’t compare with what she was experiencing. I talked to her every day, telling her to hold on a little longer. Even though my stress level was through the roof, I loved her already and prayed she’d wait a little longer to be born.

About two weeks into my hospital stay, I started to feel cramping in my stomach that went away after a few minutes, then came back. I buzzed the nurses' station.

"Um … I think I’m in labor," I told her.

The nurse checked me out and told me I actually wasn’t in labor. My cramps were getting longer with less time in between, but I guessed it was just a stomach thing since the nurse said I wasn’t in labor. I tried to watch TV to take my mind off things. Suddenly, I felt something move. I pulled back the covers to find a tiny foot sticking out.


I screamed for the nurse, and I was instantly surrounded by doctors and nurses. They whisked me away to labor and delivery and put me under anesthesia for a C-section. When I woke up, the baby’s father was standing over me.

"Glenna," he was saying. "Wake up. The baby’s alive, but it’s touch and go."

I closed my eyes for what felt like a minute, and he was gone. When I woke up next, I was in a regular hospital room. They told me I could go home in four days, and I gave them a weak smile. When I couldn’t stand up without falling, they gave me a blood transfusion.

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The baby’s father visited me, and I told him I wanted to name our daughter.

"Are you sure," he asked, "because … you know."

"She’s here," I told him. "She’s alive, and she deserves a name."

We settled on Victoria Catherine, the middle name after my grandmother. We didn’t say much to each other despite the fact our whole lives were changing with the new baby whether she lived or not. He was not a good person, though, and I looked forward to throwing him out of my house at the first opportunity.

After I was released, I visited Victoria at the hospital every day.

I’d gone back to work but asked my boss for a few hours off every day to spend with my daughter, and she graciously agreed.


Despite the fact that her father passed right by the hospital on his way home from work, he didn’t visit her once unless I counted the mandatory class on how to take care of a premature baby. He showed up drunk. He also stole the pain pills I got for my C-section.

Victoria got stronger every day, and before I knew it, she was in an open incubator. One day when I was visiting, the nurse asked me if I wanted to hold her.

"I can hold her?" Tears flowed from my eyes.

When the nurse put Victoria into my arms, all my worries fell away. It was a moment between us where I knew she was going to be okay and would do anything to protect her. I never wanted to let her go.


On the day Victoria came home, I set her on the bed and got next to her. I stared at her beautiful little eyes for what could have been an hour. After all she’d been through, she looked perfect to me. Not only perfect but strong as hell, a warrior, a miracle.

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The next day, I withdrew a thousand dollars from my bank account and attempted to give it to Victoria’s father to move out. As expected, he was no help with the baby at all. He seemed to think our daughter was annoying. I was determined to get rid of him once and for all.

"You can’t kick me out," he protested. "I live here. I get mail here so you can’t legally do this."


He was confusing me. Was he right about the mail? Would I be trapped with him forever after inviting him to stay with me? I felt like a horrible mother because I couldn’t get free of him. The boys would be coming home soon after their stay with their grandparents. I didn’t want them to come home and witness more abuse.

It turned out I was the one who had to leave the first piece of property that was ever just mine. Victoria’s father refused to leave all the way up until the day I left. My kids mattered the most, not the property. I asked the boys’ father to keep them for a little longer, and Victoria and I packed up and left when her father was at work.

It took until Victoria turned eight years old that her father would finally leave us alone.

He harassed both of us relentlessly and kept worming his way back into my life by threatening to kill himself. He manipulated me to let him back into our lives, and I’d have to move out weeks later from wherever I lived with Victoria. His behavior got worse every time. I finally divorced him and made no contact, but he always popped up like a bad penny.


We were divorced for about a year when he really did die by suicide by jumping in front of a train. Sadly, I think Victoria was more relieved than anything else. Her father had been yelling at her on the phone to see him and got mad when she didn’t want to go. My little girl was nothing if not smart.

I’m thrilled to tell you that Victoria is 16 years old now. She’s a tough cookie and turned out to be the warrior I believed her to be on her first day home. She’s nice to everyone, and she stands up when she sees injustice whether it’s in high school or the world at large.

The pride I feel when I look at her is bittersweet. She shouldn’t have had to deal with all the things that happened in her little life, but I will always admire her strength and pure kindness that lights up every room wherever she goes.

For the baby that barely had a chance, she has already fully made her mark on this world.


If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, you’re not alone.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that approximately 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the U.S. More than 12 million women and men over the course of the year suffer from instances of domestic violence and abuse.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse or violence, there are resources to get help.

There are ways to go about asking for help as safely as possible. For more information, resources, legal advice, and relevant links visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For anyone struggling with domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474 or log onto thehotline.org.


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Glenna Gill is a writer and blogger from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her articles have been featured in Scary Mommy and P.S. I Love You. When I Was Lost is her first full-length book, a memoir of love, loss, and hope.