It was Wednesday, March 26, 2013, one day before the expected due date of my first child. My last day of work was supposed to be Tuesday but there was still quite a bit to be done so I went in for a little over half the day to wrap things up before starting my maternity leave. That evening, my husband, Nathan, and I went to our church small group. I had been feeling some ‘cramping’ for the past several weeks, mostly just light stuff, but there were a few real strong ones too, so I knew my body was getting ready for the baby to come. I was doubtful it would be soon as the women in my family tend to go past the due date, but starting maternity leave now felt like a good idea so I could get some rest before the baby came.


At the end of small group I had a contraction that took my concentration from the discussion and then I thought back and counted 4 other contractions over the 2 hours we were there and wondered if baby would be coming sooner than I originally thought. I kept this all to myself and we went home and went to bed.


I slept well through the night, despite waking up from contractions about once an hour. I had forgotten to turn off my alarm clock so I woke up at7amthen laid in bed until about8amwhen my husband, Nathan, woke up and I told him I had been having contractions through the night.

‘Why didn’t you wake me up?”

“It may be a long day and I thought you might need your rest”

“Oh, yeah, you’re probably right….. Thank you”


I got up, went to the bathroom and had some bloody show so we started calling family members and getting things ready. By10am, I lost the mucus plug during some perennial massage and Nathan started packing up the car while I moseyed around the house, taking a shower, cleaning things up, calling family and friends… As I was sitting at the kitchen table Nathan came in the back door and said “the car is ready to go!” I looked at him and said, “Ok, but I’m going to sit here and enjoy my avocado because it’s at the perfect ripeness and I don’t know when we will get back. I don’t want to waste it.” By the look on his face I think that surprised him a bit, but he said ok and took off his coat and sat down.


At noon we were finally in the car and headed to my brother’s house, a little over one hour away, where we planned to do most of the laboring.  His house is about a 20 minute drive from the birthing center where we planned to give birth. My mother was following in her car which started having transmission problems. Nathan and I stopped at Rally’s for lunch and we all made it to our destination without complications.


When we arrived at my brother’s house we were greeted by my brother and sister in law and their 4 children as well as my parents, all of whom had been very excited to meet this little person growing inside of me! The saying goes, “A watched pot never boils” so Nathan and I set out for a walk with the children to find a large duck pond in the neighboring community. After walking about 45 minutes, stopping for contractions along the way, I realized that nobody knew where this duck pond was and decided to turn around and head back. It was a chilly day but there were a few people out in their yards and we got some funny looks.


Back at the house, I tried to rest and there was a lot of talk of when to go to the Birthing Center. At about 5pmNathan’s parents arrived from their home 3 hours away. When contractions had been coming at about 5 minutes apart for an hour, consensus was that it was time to go. I had my doubts but we all loaded up and caravanned over to the Birthing Center.


After checking in and donning our new bracelets it was determined that I was only 1.5cm dilated. The plan was, if I went to the birthing center at less than 3cm I would go home, so the nurse suggested I stay for one hour and see if I progress, which sounded like a good idea to me.


After some research early on, we decided that we would not use any electronic devices on the baby unless there was an anomaly requiring it. This was discussed and agreed upon by the birthing center but now the fetoscope (like a stethoscope that allows the baby’s heart beat to be heard) couldn’t be found! Thankfully we had brought our own and it was retrieved from the car. The nurse then took some time to teach the evening nurse (shift change) how to use a fetoscope, as she had never seen one before.


An hour passed, I was checked again and sent back to my brother’s house with instructions to return when contractions were 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long consistently for one hour. (My contractions had been 5 minutes apart for over an hour but they were not lasting 1 minute long yet.) I didn’t know it at the time, but my brother asked the veteran nurse when she thought the baby would come and she replied “probably tomorrow night”.


Back at my brother’s house I was becoming more and more uncomfortable and contractions became noticeably stronger. I continued using the “Love Your Labor” birthing oil from eLeMeNO-Pee and remedies from Ellen Fowler Bench’s “Homeopathic Birthing Kit”, two products I think every naturally-birthing woman should have!


After trying several different places/positions I finally found some comfort in the big reclining chair and began to really focus on relaxing through and between contractions. With the relaxing sounds of a thunderstorm (recorded) and one person on my left offering me water and holding another’s hand on my right to help keep track of contractions I drifted off to sleep between contractions, but frequently got up to use the restroom too. The contractions were not painful. They felt like a wave, like we learned about in Bradley Class, but for me the ‘wave’ started on both of my sides, progressing to the middle of my belly then downward.


At about midnight, Nathan checked my dilation, which he learned to do from the description in our Bradley Childbirth Class, and thought it to be about 5 cm. I had another contraction then got up to use the restroom saying, “I’m done with this! This kid can stay in and I’ll just be pregnant forever!” On the toilet I had a contraction which was much different from any of the previous contractions. Even though I was trying very hard to relax, my whole belly tightened up on its own and pushed. This surprised me and I yelled loudly waking the whole house and kicking everything into hyper action, because at that point it was decided it was really time to go to the birthing center. Some feared we may have waited too long. This kind of contraction was very intense and I would describe it as a short Charlie horse deep in my lower belly.


From the bathroom I walked about 10 steps to the van and climbed in, kneeling on the seat and hugging the headrest I tried to wrap my head around sitting in this hard, upright chair. With help, I was able to get turned around and buckled in. Nathan climbed in beside me and my brother got behind the wheel with my eldest niece in the front seat.


There was a lot of commotion and discussion of which rout to take as my brother backed the van out of the garage. At that moment someone asked my brother where he put the keys to Nathan’s car. He yelled back that they were on the bookshelf but for some reason, which I still don’t know, he threw the van in park, jumped out and ran into the house. I wondered if we were ever going to make it but he returned after about 30 seconds saying to someone “you can follow me if you’d like but I might be hard to keep up with” and off we went! I won’t mention much about the drive, but I will say he got us there in about half the time it usually takes! What a ride! During this time Nathan was in contact with the birthing center and found they were very busy. There was another woman delivering at the same time and it was unsure if we would be able to get a room in the birthing center or have to go to the adjoining hospital. They told us we would definitely have to go to triage on the hospital side for sure.


We arrived safely and pulled up to the door. When the security guard saw me he grabbed a wheelchair and once I was able to sit in it, I was off for another ride again! As we sped past the check in desk the security guard yelled “no time for this one, it will have to wait!”


Nathan told the triage nurses he thought I was at about 5 centimeters dilated. They checked me and agreed he was correct and were very impressed asking if Nathan was a doctor. Then we pulled out the fetoscope and they were impressed again asking if my brother was a doctor as he taught them how to use it! After the present discussions going on around me and a few more contractions I was told I could go to the birthing center (about 30 yards away) and would I like to sit in a wheelchair, push it or just walk? I decided to walk to help labor progress. As we walked out of triage, I heard the nurse tell Nathan that the birthing tub was ready for me. At the thought of that I picked up the pace! The nurses commented on how fast I was walking but I just wanted to get in the tub!


About half way there, I had another contraction and as I leaned on Nathan to help me relax, water began running down both of my legs and the nurses were saying “Don’t move. Stay there so we can get it cleaned up. We don’t want it tracked all the way down the hall.” (And I thought they were worried about me slipping!) As they cleaned me up, it continued to leak and I was allowed to go on. I walked past my family in the waiting room (who were surprised I was walking) and directly into the room assigned to me and began ripping off my clothes. I had one more contraction before I was able to get into the tub.


Oh! What an indescribable feeling! The warmth and weightlessness of the water was like a big giant hug! I desperately tried to relax for a few more contractions as my brother was, again, trying to instruct the nurse how to use the fetoscope. When she was unsuccessful and had given up she tried to convince us to let her use the Doppler. Nathan and I had appointed my brother as our spokes person in case anything like this were to happen and he did a lovely job at kindly supporting our birth plan. The nurse then said she needed to call her supervisor because she is required to hear the baby’s heart beat every 5 minutes during labor. As she went to the phone, another nurse asked to check me again and said I was probably at about 9 centimeters. At this point the contractions were much more uncomfortable and I remembered in our Bradley Birthing classes the instructor said when its time to push it will feel more comfy pushing than relaxing so I thought I would see how it felt to push. At the next contraction I gently pushed, just a little to see how it would feel and it did feel better! I could hear the head nurse on the phone with her supervisor in the adjoining bedroom and one of her helper nurses looked and said, loudly, “She’s ready!” I could feel the atmosphere change as the nurses started to move more quickly and the head nurse’s voice became more emergent on the phone, then she said, “Can you tell her to just breath through the contractions?!? We are calling the resident doctor to come since he is aloud to birth the babies!”  I instructed Nathan to stand between my legs in the tub, since he wanted to assist in catching the baby and the nurses didn’t seem to be paying much attention to me anyways.


‘Lady, you do what you need to do and I will do what I need to do.’ Is the thought that went through my mind and I felt another contraction come… ‘How did my instructor say to do this again? Oh yes, big breath, chin on chest, elbows out and push. The head crowned and I reached down and felt the top of the little head. Contraction ended and I breathed and relaxed. I felt again to see where the head was and could not feel it so at the next contraction I pushed harder and the head crowned and came out. I noticed there was blood in the water and figured I must have tore. The nurse knelt beside the tub and put a gloved hand on each side of the baby’s head. It felt very uncomfortable – like she was trying to push it back in or something…

“Don’t push”

“I’m not”

“Don’t pull the head” as I gently swatted at her hand

“Honey, I’m not” and she let go with both hands. At that moment, the baby turned its head all the way to the left (as if looking over its shoulder), then all the way to the right then back to the left again. At this moment our doctor walked in and switched places with the nurse. Another contraction, I pushed as Nathan joyfully repeated “Thank you Jesus!” with tears streaming down his face. Nathan and the doctor placed the baby on my stomach as Nathan said “It’s a boy!”


The next few minutes became a blur to me as I heard comments from family and nurses behind me and Nathan cut the cord. The baby was wrapped in towels and passed to Nathan, then to Jimmy as Nathan got out of the tub and others helped me stand and walk to the bed in the adjoining room. As I walked, I began to shake uncontrollably but didn’t notice feeling cold. I laid down and heard my brother say “Where’s the warm blankets?” They never came, but just as he said that, I felt my mother embrace me in a warm hug, and prayed for peace in my body, and my brother lay over my legs, using the few blankets and towels they had, they warmed me with their body heat as well. It seemed like just a few minutes and the shaking subsided. I was able to sit up against the pillows and attempt to nurse the baby. Soon the placenta was dispelled and the doctor sewed up the second degree tear with 8 stitches.


After about 30 minutes of the baby nursing off and on I realized that the baby didn’t have anything on except for the towels draped over us, so I thought I would look to see about it needing a diaper or something. As I took my peek the family stood around anxiously awaiting for us to announce the baby’s name but I would not until my father was able to come, so they waited.


I took my peek and said “Umm, Nathan.” I looked up (still a bit disoriented and didn’t see him) “Nathan!” The attention in the room turned toward me and I heard my mom say, “Nathan, Joy needs you!” as she put her hands on his shoulders and turned him toward me. “Nathan come here, look.” I pulled back the towel so only he could see and he exclaimed, “Oh! We have a girl!” Everyone laughed as the nurse came to look for herself and explain that she would need to make all new bracelets for everyone.


A few minutes later my dad walked into the room and Nathan and I announced the baby’s name is Adelia Eileen, named after both of her grandmas. Later my mom told me that my dad looked at her and said, “Am I missing something? Adelia Eileen for a boy?” She then had to explain what had just happened.


Soon, everyone left. Jimmy stayed the rest of the night holding the baby and working on his computer as Nathan and I rested. Later in the day, the family returned with a cake and we all sang Happy Birthday.


The whole process of labor and delivery truly was a wonderful experience and I look forward to birthing more children – The Bradley Way! Nathan and I give all our thanks and credit first and foremost to our Lord and Creator who made our bodies perfectly for this natural miracle! We also want to thank Dr. Bradley, our Bradley instructor, Rachel O’Connor and all those who continue to teach the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, our families for all your support, prayers and help through this wonderful time of change and unsurity. Especially Jimmy and Kristi for laying the groundwork with Bradley birthing your 4 children and sharing all your research on childbirth with us and especially for opening your home and giving of your time and support during our first birth.