Leotta's Birth Story
by Jessiqua Wittman

We thought the baby was a boy. We prepared for a boy, we were happy for a boy.

But, in the middle of one hot afternoon, I sat alone, rubbing my pregnant belly and crying. Without warning, my desires had changed. I wanted a girl. I wanted a girl so badly it made my heart beat hard and fast with longing.

Quickly, I put that yearning behind me. This baby was a boy. I didn't want him to feel rejected by my mental processes. I would be happy with a boy, just like I was happy with my first son.

The desire still lingered under the surface though. When I went to the store to pick up the last couple baby things we needed, I saw a little pink and yellow Piglet shirt for sale. It was so dainty and feminine it made all my stifled feelings bubble to the surface again. I put it down at first, but then picked it up again and decided to buy it, just in case.

After coming home from the store that day, I lay on the couch with some pretty intense contractions. I was thirty-six weeks along, so I really didn't want to have the baby yet. It wouldn't be mature enough to safely have it at home, and I really wanted it to be safe and to be born at home.

The contractions irregularly continued into the night. They were still there the next day, too.

Sometimes they would be sharp, sometimes they would be hardly noticeable. Sometimes they'd come close enough together to make me breathlessly watch the clock, sometimes they would die off entirely.

Until I stood up, that is. Anytime I got out of bed, the cramps intensified so fast and hard that I would have to lay down again.

Two weeks passed with me on bedrest. I lay in bed with my toddler. It was boring and worrisome and painful. I didn't know it, but I was having "prodromal labor". My midwife came and checked on me a time or two, but she could only encourage me to wait it out, at least until I hit full term.

When thirty-eight weeks came along, I began to get out of bed, hoping to start labor.

The contractions still intensified, but they refused to stay regular. I cried every day, hoping it would be the last day. Hoping my baby would hurry up and come.

Finally, right around the due date, I started having some hard, regular contractions around midnight.

My husband went to get the timer, and snuggled up behind me and silently waited while I started the timing process. The contractions were five minutes apart and quite painful. I told myself that I would wait for five contractions, and if they were all like that, then I would call the midwife.

Exactly on the fifth contraction, my water broke with a loud, deep popping noise. The motion was so powerful it reverberated through my hips. My husband immediately sat up, amazed.

"What was that?!"

"My water broke!" I replied, crying in thankfulness as fluid gushed out of me.

He hopped up to grab some towels and call the midwife and my parents.

My family and the midwife came fast. My body had been so well prepared by the prodromal labor, active labor was much, much easier than it had been with my first child. I was so thankful to finally be having my baby, I lay on my side and relaxed, melting into each contraction instead of fighting it. In between waves of power, I actually had a smile on my face. I prayed quietly, and felt almost like I was surreally floating. Transition was peaceful. I didn't throw up or crap myself. My legs shook for a little while, but warm towels helped that.

Labor moved so quickly, a mere two and a half hours after my water broke, I was ready to start pushing. My inward focus remained. I felt as if God Himself was helping me. All I did was focus on that gentle feeling of euphoria and push as hard as I could, trusting that it would all fall into place.

The room seemed especially quiet, since I was grunting and groaning instead of squealing and screaming. It was an intense silence though. I was working very hard and the baby was moving downward very fast. My husband sat behind me, holding my hand and bracing my shoulders. The midwife rubbed my shaky legs and helped press the insides of my feet.

"We're crowning," she announced after a bit. "Do you want to catch this baby, Daddy?"

My husband hesitated. We had talked numerous times during prenatal visits about whether he would catch the baby this time or not. Part of him wanted to, part of him was scared.

"You better hurry if you're going to!" I panted as a burning, stretching sensation spread out down there on the baby's end. "Hurry!"

He quickly wriggled away from me and hurried to join the midwife. She guided his hands and told him what to do. Within two quick pushes, the whole slender baby slid right out, bright pink and lively.

"Oh, Jessi!" my husband exuberated. "He's-"

His words garbled into intelligibility. The wet, slippery cord glided on my skin as he brought the baby into my vision and set it in my arms.

"It's a girl!" he told me, glowing with happiness. "A girl!"

Emotions overflowed in me. I cried all over that wrinkly, soft little baby.

"Just what I wanted! Just what I wanted! Thank you, God! Thank you!"

My prodromal labor with Leotta lasted for nearly four weeks. My active labor lasted for hardly three hours. In the years since then, every tear I shed while waiting for my baby girl has been repaid with laughter. It was all worth it.

(Her first outfit was that pink and yellow Piglet outfit I had tucked away, just in case.)