Birth Story: I Couldn’t Even Smile

This birth story series is sponsored by HCA Midwest Health

I was ready. The nursery was decorated, the car seat was installed, and my research was complete. But then I got Bell’s Palsy during my 38th week of pregnancy and things turned upside down.

While watching TV one night, I realized that I couldn’t feel the right side of my bottom lip. I didn’t think much of it at first, but the numbness started getting worse. I really started worrying when I would take a drink of water and it would spill all over me. My husband and I decided to call the nurse just to check in and let them know about this odd symptom. That didn’t go so well, and they ultimately told me that I was probably having a stroke and to immediately go to the emergency department. Panic ensued for the next 20 minutes and after several phone calls to our own parents, we decided to avoid the emergency department and to visit our family doctor instead.

I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy on the right side of my face. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, it is essentially a temporary (and sometimes permanent) sudden onset of muscle weakness on one side of the face. During the next few days, I would lose feeling completely on the right side of my face.

It was a scary time. We didn’t know why this was happening or if it was a sign of some worse problem in my pregnancy. Because of this, my OBGYN decided that I should be induced at 39 weeks. This was a big curveball and was not part of my perfect birthing plan.

On the day of my induction, I tried my best to be upbeat. Because of the Bell’s Palsy, I could barely smile, and I looked angry and upset (think of a “resting you know what face” all the time). I became extremely self-conscious of this and tried to make my husband only take pictures of my “good side” because I didn’t want my future daughter to look at the pictures and think I was miserable.

No smile
Trying to prop my face up for a smile.

The induction didn’t go very smoothly. The baby was stuck, and I pushed all day long. This apparently took a toll on my husband as well, who famously took off my oxygen mask during a contraction to administer oxygen to himself.

(The nurses thought this was hilarious, I did not.)

My labor culminated with me asking for some encouragement from my now fully oxygenated husband who simply said to me, “Are you a wuss?” “No?” I replied. “Then don’t let our daughter be a wuss and PUSH.” That did it and just like that my beautiful daughter was born! (What is a wuss anyway?)

She was perfect in every way. Even though I couldn’t smile, you didn’t need to see that to know how thrilled we were that day and every day since!

HCA Midwest Health logoFor labor and delivery expertise, more moms in Kansas City choose an HCA Midwest Health hospital. Our OB/GYN teams at our delivering hospitals – Centerpoint Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park Regional Medical Center and Research Medical Center – ensure every woman has access to top-quality maternity care, including specialized services for women with high-risk pregnancies. By delivering more babies than anyone else in the region, our maternity hospitals deliver experience and safety. Learn more at

Hi! My name is Lindsey. I grew up in Lawrence and graduated from the University of Kansas. I live in Eudora with my son Colby (11), daughter Payton (13), and my husband Jason (who is just old). I'm an editor for a scientific journal by day. In my free time, I contemplate what it means to be 42 years old and wonder if it means I need to stop wearing rubber flip-flops. I also love taking long baths, watching trashy Netflix shows, and I am passionate about working to improve my community.