I roll over and look at the time, it is barely 2:00 am. My stomach tightens and pulls inward again as I try to fight it and fall back asleep.
My previous labors were fast, surprisingly fast, and I feel anxiety pulsing in my blood. There is no chance I will fall back asleep now.
I am already three days past due; I know the baby will be here today.
I call my midwife, Robin, a strong woman with gentle mothering ways. We chat for a while when she arrives.
I munch on some light snacks to pass the time and gulp down a tall glass of water. Both my mom and husband are awake and with me now. We turn on some tunes to distract us all.
Time is dragging by slowly as I watch the minute hand with each contraction. It’s a painful sight to watch the hand move like a sinister crook creeping across the face of the clock trying not to be caught. Each of these minutes matter. My muscles are heaving in and out with an important work to do every four or five minutes.
My contractions are slowly progressing, coming on stronger at each wave, so I slip into the bath. I’ve had two babies at home already, both born in the tub. It felt natural to ease the pain while relaxing in warm, soothing water. With my previous labors, the tub made it easier to relax at the mounting pain.
However, this labor was different. This time my little boy wasn’t in a hurry, for he still had to turn.
My audience grows as my grandmother arrives. Her feeble hands greet me and her grin is nearly contagious. At 78 years old she has never witnessed a baby being born and is anxiously buzzing around with her excitement and nerves.
My older three boys awake. Their curious little faces peek through the doorway wondering what’s going on.
The tub has turned into a place to wonder what is happening around me and wish away the inevitable changes happening within me. It is as if my body has changed its mind. Maybe my body and I will try for a baby another day. Any progress has stalled and I’m stewing, frustrated in a now lukewarm tub. I need to get moving again.
Robin guides me outside into a warm, beautiful morning. The birds are singing hello as if it is just another ordinary day.
My neighbors are outside heading in different directions at the start of their day. A group of young kids pass us by each with a backpack slung over a shoulder.
I start the trek past the closely spaced houses and around the block. We pass a couple out working on their truck. He studies me during my frequent pauses as I brace myself through an internal mountain to climb. As we pass, he questions, “Baby coming soon?”
How is it that the world can turn and revolve without so much as a blink while my whole world is in turmoil and tossing upside down?
As we finish the first loop, I’m ready to head back home. The pain has me gripping at my lower back. Surely, this time the tub must work. Isn’t the baby ready to come yet?
It is déjà vu as I slide back into the tub and hope its magic will do the trick. I feel no relief from the warm water. Instead, I am trapped. Walled in between three marble walls in a tiny bathroom. I can’t escape my body and the pain won’t stop.
I climb out of the tub again.
I pull my husband over and lean all my weight against him as I lean into a sort of slow dance with each painful clenching movement inside. While I’m rocking in pain there is a sense of beauty here. A moment, I realize, I wouldn’t be able to capture in any other time or place.
Robin checks my progress. The report feels disappointing but I try to think positively. It isn’t time yet. How can I go on any longer? I’m ready to quit.
I have read about this moment. They call it transition. The moment where you are so close to the top of the marvelous hike and about to witness the most beautiful view but you still have a treacherous peak to summit.
Robin senses my emotions—that I don’t want to go on.
We head into the bedroom and she guides me to lay on my side to help me recoup some energy while moving through these last painful hurdles. The contractions are pounding pressure against my lower back and I shout out “I can’t do this! It hurts!!”
It’s merely minutes away now, but I can’t see that yet. I pull up on my leg, grasping at my knee, finally leaning into the pain.
My water breaks gushing a warm fluid about me soaking into the pad beneath me. Another contraction, another push, my onlookers gasp. My grandma exclaims, “I can see his head!”
I push again and his head emerges. I reach down and can feel my baby warm, wet, and here. The wave hits and I push again and he is born.
Robin lifts this new little life up onto my chest as I sink back into my pillows and heave a sigh of relief and gaze into his eyes for the first time.
The tears start to flow and there is no stopping them. He is amazing, perfect, and beautiful in every way.
The time! Oh that fateful minute hand now holds such a different meaning. It’s 10:10 am, 8 hours of labor, 8 pounds, 8 ounces.
None of that matters, I am alone in my little world with warm flesh pressed against my skin and tiny fingers clenched in a tight fist. In his eyes I think they hold a hint of blue and I see my husband in him.
Our lives are filled with these moments that are not always beautiful or pleasant. We all experience hard and trying times. Sometimes, we may even cry out to let us escape and run away from the moment.
However, there is a beauty in life. Something real and invigorating as we look out at the expanse before us witnessing something we have never seen before – a joy that is beyond words and comprehension.
These are the moments that made our uphill climb worth every step as we gaze out and consider the feat now behind us.
We could have taken a nice leisurely ride in the car to the top of a viewpoint, but without the trial, the struggle, and the pain from living every part of the experience first hand we would miss the full reward.