Surprised by Joy: Part 1

By Ellen Stumbo

     The urgency to use the toilet woke me up once more in the middle of the night. The frequent visits to the bathroom were too common being 38 weeks pregnant. However, this time I felt uncomfortable, actually, it was more like pain. My stomach was tight and my back was hurting. I smiled. I was having contractions. I was two weeks early and I was going to have a baby--- hopefully--- in less than 24 hours.

     I read the Bradley Method of childbirth as suggested by my midwife. I studied it and was determined to have a natural birth with no drugs and no epidural. However, I was willing to change my mind and go for some relief if I had to.

     With my previous pregnancy we rushed to the hospital, only to be there for thirteen hours before I was dilated enough to push. Not this time around. I would stay home for as long as I could and go to the hospital once I was having hard contractions that were 5 minutes apart. With any luck, I would be able to sleep through some of those first contractions.

     A wave of pain came as I lay in bed and it tightened my mid section. I relaxed my body just like the Bradley method suggested. I became a flower and willed myself to open up and let the baby slide down. Not too bad, it was actually kind of fun being a flower. Another contraction came and I relaxed, picturing my petals opening up. Soon there was one more. I should time my contractions.

     My contractions were coming at constant intervals of 5 minutes, so I woke Andy up and announced that we were having a baby and we had to get going. I was thankful that just the night before I had made a list of all the things we needed to take with us to the hospital. Those things that you cannot pack ahead of time and that can be easily forgotten, like your journal or toothbrush.

     While Andy showered, I gathered the items on the list and made the bed. As contractions assaulted me I squatted, just like the Bradley method suggested. My body relaxing, my flower opening up, and my baby coming down and moving out. Oh I could picture it in my head! A tight pink flower-bud slowly relaxing, opening up, and revealing a beautiful baby girl coming out to greet the world! Oh how thankful I was to have been blessed with great imagination.

     I showered too. And even in the shower I squatted and became a flower.

     “Honey, are you okay?” Andy asked, “Almost every time I look you are squatting, we got to go!”

     “I’m okay, this just really helps with the pain.” Then I added with some humor and a sing-song voice, “I am a beautiful flower opening up to the world!”

     “Yeah” Andy responded, “I think we still got time”

     I dried and curled my hair. Births require pictures, and I was determined not to be “ugly mom.” Squatting and curling hair requires talent when you are 38 weeks pregnant, and I got to say, I was pretty good at it. However, even though I was talking and joking, my husband was not liking the amount of time I was spending sitting on my heels. He decided we needed to go, and no, doing my makeup first was not an option!

Next: Surprised by Joy: Part 2

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