Caleb likes to joke that Aidan was our Jamaican souvenir. Yes, he was a
special surprise from our honeymoon, a Caribbean cruise with stops in
Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica.
Although we were not necessarily planning on having a child so early on in
our life together, we entered marriage with willing hearts and open arms, ready to receive children whenever the Lord decided to give them to us.
When we moved into our apartment after our honeymoon, I knew I was pregnant. I could just feel it.
Caleb laughed and asked, “How do you know what it feels like to be
“I just know!”
Caleb had his doubts, but when six weeks had elapsed since my last period,
we took a test: positive! We were very excited, and a little scared,
especially given that we both had to finish our last year of college and
complete our undergraduate theses.
I really wanted to have an unmedicated natural childbirth. We have several
friends who work as doulas, and I was inspired by their approach to birth as
a natural process of the woman’s body. Almost immediately, I decided to
have the baby at home (provided the pregnancy was healthy). At the time, I
did not realize how unusual it is to have a home birth. Because our
apartment lease in Waco was ending in June and the baby was due in May, I
decided to have the baby at my parents’-in-law home. Their house is
situated on a twenty acre farm near Brenham. I thought it would be
beautiful for our child to come to his birth-place whenever he went to visit
his grandparents. We hired Toni, who has over twenty-years of experience
and is a strong woman of God. I cannot imagine a more perfect person to
help us bring our child into the world. In order to prepare for the birth,
we did the Bradley Method birthing classes, which advocate the husband
working as the wife’s coach during labor. We spent weeks in private
lessons, learning proper techniques for breathing, relaxation, and
nutrition. Juggling birthing classes, midwife visits, and doctor’s
appointments with school was challenging, but with the support of my
incredible husband, lots of sleep, and loads of grace, I was able to
complete my schoolwork and write my thesis while pregnant.
In fact, the very hour after I finished editing my thesis on the morning of
Monday, April 18th, I started to feel a strange cramping sensation in my
lower abdomen. Ah, I thought to myself, these must be Braxton Hicks
contractions! I had never felt these “practice” contractions during
pregnancy, and I thought that two weeks out from my due date, I was finally
experiencing them. So, I didn’t think much of them until I noticed that
they kept coming and going. I timed them: 11:31.11:39, 11:48, 12:05, 12:12,
12:21. They were almost exactly ten minutes apart. I called Toni, who said
it was probably nothing, but that we should come to Brenham just in case.
Caleb cancelled the rest of his classes for the day, and we drove to her
home for a checkup. As she was measuring my uterus, my whole belly
“That’s definitely a contraction!” Toni said.
She checked me, and I was already dilated to a four.
“It could still be a week away,” she explained. I nodded, remembering from
class that a woman can labor lightly for days or even weeks. “But stay here
in Brenham overnight, just in case.” We went home to Caleb’s parents’ house
and went to bed. I couldn’t sleep from excitement and nerves. At four a.
m., the contractions intensified. I woke up my husband and texted Rachelle,
our doula, and Toni. I wasn’t thinking that it was really labor, but better
safe than sorry. By seven, they both were there, along with a back-up
midwife and assistant. As we had learned in birthing class, I breathed
through each contraction, with the doula and my husband at my side. I
preferred to stand and squat during contractions rather than lie down. I
tried the birthing stool and ball, but found them very uncomfortable.
Time lacked meaning. I focused on the task at hand, and had few thoughts
except for breathing and working through the labor. Even as I advanced, I
still could not believe it was happening. Caleb was incredible. He
massaged my shoulders, rubbed my back, and held me as he reminded me to
focus on breathing. At one point, Aidan turned to the side, so I had to
labor on my hands and knees to encourage him to rotate. He did, and when
Toni checked me, I was dilated to a ten.
“It’s time to push!” I was in shock.
This is it. This is really it. I could not believe that I was about to
birth our son.
Up until this point, labor was a lot easier than I expected it to be. Don’t
get me wrong; it was tough. But in contrast to what I envisioned, it wasn’t
Then it got painful. I wanted to stay pregnant forever. I was afraid to
push. We learned in birthing class that you don’t actually have to ever
push. Your body, without trying, will eventually deliver the baby. But who
wants to wait that long when you’re experiencing this much pain?
“You’re gonna have to push,” Toni and the doula said.
I tried, a little. It hurt, worse.
“No, I can’t!” I exclaimed.
“Bear down and push!”
So I did. And pushing as hard as I possibly could felt better than anything
else. I didn’t want to stop pushing. I stopped breathing to concentrate on
pushing. It was too difficult to breathe and push at the same time. Toni
put an oxygen mask on me, because Aidan’s heartbeat was decreasing during
“I can see his hair!” Caleb said excitedly. His head retracted after the
Another contraction came, and I didn’t feel like I could go through another
one. So I pushed as hard as I possibly could.
Surreal. Suddenly, a strange white body, with wrinkles and outstretched
hands was before me. So tiny, so real.
My first thought: The pain is over! Then love, so much love.
Aidan and I both had oxygen on. He laid on my breast, Caleb by my side. I
can’t remember much after that point, I was so flooded with relief and
gratitude and joy and pride and exhaustion and euphoria. It was the best
moment of my life, and it is completely indescribable, an inexplicable
fulfillment. I can’t imagine a more idyllic birth. Toni did a wonderful
job delivering Aidan, who is the biggest blessing I have ever received.