Obed's Birth Story
by Jessiqua Wittman

I was anxious.

It had taken us much longer to conceive this baby than it had taken to conceive the other two. I had been diagnosed with hormone balance and had struggled with migraines and depression and other problems. Thankfully, finally getting pregnant helped heal most of my health issues, but my mind was still reeling from the last couple years of stress and pain. Fear lurked behind every corner. I loved being pregnant, and I loved the idea of having another baby, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong.

Then the due date came and went, and my mom got sick. Her throat was so sore I could hardly hear her voice on the phone as she called and said, "You better not have that baby this week."

My heart sank. I wanted the baby to come, but I wanted my mom to be able to be there. She had been such an integral part of my first birth, and very supportive for my second, too.

Of course, about two days later, at four-o-clock in the afternoon, I woke up from a nap to the familiar waterfall effect of my water breaking. My husband stripped the bed and started getting it ready while I called my parents. My mom was disappointed to report that she was still very sick, and wouldn't be able to come, for fear of endangering the baby. I felt sad as I got off the phone, and thought that maybe I could call her back and let her stay on the line on speakerphone the whole time, but ended up not doing it. (I wish I had.)

My dad and grandmother and siblings arrived very quickly. My maternal grandma had recently moved in with my parents, and she had expressed that she wanted to watch the birth, so she was very excited. My younger sister was planning to watch, too, although she, understandably, looked more nervous than enthusiastic. The contractions were starting to come on pretty strong as I paced up and down the hallway, waiting for the midwife to show up. My dad anxiously watched me, then looked at his watch and started timing.

"Tell me when you start one," he said.

I told him, he counted the minutes.

After about ten contractions, I had an especially strong one come a mere four minutes behind the others.

"One's starting again," I panted, pausing and holding my belly.

My dad looked at me with a sharp, extremely worried look. "It better not be!"

I couldn't help but smile a little. I recognized that tone and facial expression. Many years before, my parents' midwife had gotten pulled over for speeding on her way to mom's last labor, so my dad had ended up having to catch my baby sister, with my paternal grandma and me assisting.

He didn't want a replay.

Soon I couldn't walk anymore. I went to my room and knelt in front of the rocking chair. If I leaned forward and supported myself on it, I could rock my upper body to help cope during contractions.

The midwife finally arrived. I was more than happy to crawl up on the bed and let her check me. We made a throne out of bed pillows and my nursing pillow so that I could lean back in a semi-lying position. It promised to be comfy, but so much pain was wracking my body by then I could hardly move or think about anything besides how miserable I was. My mind was so anxious it was making my body tense. I tried to find that divine peace that had helped me with my daughter's birth, but that required relaxing. Instead I just grew more and more upset and frantic. Several contractions passed that way, each hazing into the next. Then my grandma's voice suddenly broke through the noise. She petted my knee with her gnarled hand, grinning ear to ear as she encouraged, "I'm so proud of you! Look how strong you are! Isn't she beautiful when she's in labor?"

The midwife smiled and agreed, "I always think so. There's nothing as beautiful as a woman in labor."

I couldn't agree with them. I felt anything but admirable, but their quiet happiness helped calm me. I hoped my sister wasn't feeling too scared as she watched. I tried to settle myself down.

Then my legs started to shake.

"Oh! I hate this part!" I growled as I grabbed my knees and vainly tried to stop trembling.

"What happening?!" my grandma demanded.

"The baby is crossing a nerve. It's normal. She's getting ready to push," the midwife said as she glanced behind her at my sister. "Can you see?"

My sister fervently nodded, her eyes so big they seemed to take up half of her face. A wail sounded at my closed bedroom door. My little girl wanted to know what was going on. My dad carried her back into the living room and tried to comfort her.

The pushing urge came. I was so ready to be done with this, I tried to force it too quickly. Nausea swept over me in a gory wave. My daughter's crying blared from the other room as I threw up.

After emptying my stomach, the midwife kindly wiped my mouth as I rasped, "Let her in."

"Are you sure?" my husband asked.

"Yes."

He reached over and opened the door. My daughter scrambled up onto the bed as my dad peeked in the room, surprised.

"Are you-"

"She'll be okay. Thanks," I told him before bearing down and whisper-screeching with another push.

My daughter watched my crinkled, red face, then she cuddled up to me and patted my chest in a comforting way. Her tenderness made something release in my soul. The tension and pain became a couple steps closer to bearable.

"You're making good progress!" my midwife announced a couple pushes later.

She was right. I could feel the baby moving downward fast. I wriggled and writhed around, trying to get comfortable. My daughter was getting wiggly, too. She moved to sit on her daddy's lap, but he was supporting me and having to move because I was moving, so my sister ended up coming to take her so they could both watch from the back of the room.

It was a good thing she did that. The baby was crowning.

"Oo! Look at all that hair!" my grandma squeaked. "You're doing it, Jess! My great grandbaby's almost here!"

I growled and pushed so hard the midwife suddenly cautioned, "Whoa! Whoa there! Slow down-"

I wasn't paying attention. She was concerned about me possibly ripping, I just wanted to get this over with.

"Relax your bottom, relax your bottom," she said, determinedly pressing her hand against the baby's head to slow it down and trying to keep my legs from clenching at the same time. "Help me out, guys."

My husband grabbed one of my legs and my grandma wrangled the other. Another heavy contraction surged and I rode it all the way, pushing as hard as I could, as long as I could, screeching at the top of my lungs.

The baby plip-plopped all the way out into the midwife's hands. My daughter squealed in excitement. I lay there, limp, rolling my eyes to the ceiling. "Thank God!"

"You did it, Jessi! You did it!" my grandma exuberated, shaking all over with glee.

The midwife set the baby on my chest. "He's perfect. Look at that stocky baby!"

I looked down at my new, ornery son. He was already snuffling his tiny nose on my chest, wanting to nurse. Happiness replaced my all my feelings of pain. I giggled and happily petted his head. "What are you doing, little guy?! Your cord isn't even cut yet!"

He was perfect. There wasn't anything wrong with him. My pregnancy-long anxiety had been for nothing. All it did was complicate my labor, although in the end I overcame even that.

My labor with Obed lasted for six hours.

In the years since then, every fear I had has been repaid with sweetness.

It was all worth it.