By Jen Leonard

Friday, November 4th (almost 41 weeks), I woke up around 3:30 AM with contractions every ten minutes. I had already had this kind of “false” or “early labor” a few days earlier, so I didn’t get too excited. I tried to lay there, relax, and doze between them. By 6:00 AM, they were slightly more painful, and varying between 8-10 minutes apart. I still wasn’t letting myself get too excited. I haven’t had spontaneous labor since Emma, our oldest. All the others were either Pitocin-induced (water broke, but labor didn’t start), or castor oil induced.

I went downstairs, opened our back door, and breathed in the cool morning air. It was especially crisp that morning. My parents were up; they came to stay with us to help watch our other 9 kiddos when we went to have the baby, but I didn’t tell them I was having contractions yet. I think I finally mentioned it just before going to wake hubby up around 7:00, but I said it in a “no big deal” kind of way. I was sure it was false labor, and it would fizzle out momentarily.

Hubby and I sat and had a cup of coffee, chatting and enjoying the quiet of the house.

Once I started to bring kids downstairs, my contractions started picking up. I had to stop while I had them, breathe through them, and even change positions. It was then that I knew, these weren’t stopping, I was in labor! Around 8:00, I paged the on-call midwife, and quickly got a call back. I let her know that I felt I was in real labor, and we agreed that I should head in. My parents took charge of the kiddos, and my four oldest (15, 12, 10, and 10) all pitched in to help hold down the fort.

We got to the birth center around 9:20, but we didn’t rush in. We drove slowly, and enjoyed the fall colors that seemed to pop overnight. Once at the birth center, the midwife checked me out, and we discovered I was already a good 5 cm, with bulging waters, and a baby deep in my pelvis. “Wow! This is happening fast!” I said a quick prayer of thanks, and we all discussed my laboring goals. I told them that I would love to walk around outside the center, and they were very encouraging. I just needed to pop in often to listen to baby and get checked out. No problem!

Hubby and I strolled outside, and God blessed us with *THE* most amazing fall morning to labor. Words just don’t do it justice. The wind blew loose leaves from the trees, and they rained down on us. The birds and squirrels scurried around collecting food as I breathed through each contraction. Friendly people came and went and smiled at us, as they witnessed us laboring outside. I saw a midwife friend and nurse, who wished me luck and said they were so happy that I was laboring that day.

Contractions started picking up around 11:00. I stopped my waddle, grabbed my belly, bent my knees, and started my momma-cow lowing. My hubby clung to me, rubbing my back, kissing my cheek, and reminded me how much he loved me. The support from that man always leaves me speechless. The way he is always the perfect balance of “there for me”, but never doing the “wrong thing” during labor…. it’s as though he can read my mind. Which, after 13 (almost 14) years of marriage, and 10 kids, I’ll bet he can! He prays for me, he whispers in my ear that I’m amazing, he rubs my aching back, wraps his arms around me to support me when my knees get weak. He’s amazing. I could not do this without him. His voice is my soothing “labor music”, and his touch is my “pain relief”.

We headed back to our room, as I was starting to feel the urge to push. The nurse quickly

filled the tub, and I collapsed into the warm water. My hubby stroked my head, and we were pushing in no time. That warm water, though. Oh my, how it relaxes me and takes so much of the pain away! When pushing began, I can honestly say that was the FIRST real pain I had. I had labored all that time with little to no pain. It was amazing.   I think I pushed maybe 6-8 times and he was born, in the CAUL, just like our eighth child (and second son). This was supposed to be a rare thing, but it’s happened to us now, twice! Crazy! Everette “Wes” was born, and gurgled a bit, so we were all anxiously trying to get him cleared, and then the most beautiful sound…his cry. My eyes welled with tears, and I soaked up my biggest, beautiful 10th baby. He was 8 lbs., 13.5 oz, 22 inches long! He nursed right away, and is my most peaceful baby yet!

I can’t describe how full and happy my heart is, having this beautiful labor, and birth… and this beautiful little boy to add to our “little” family! We are all so thankful for him! He’s our *5th* WBWC baby, and I’m so glad that we’ve had these 5 amazing birth experiences! Women’s Birth and Wellness Center is just *the* best group of midwives I’ve ever been blessed to know!