{This is extraordinarily long, but I can’t make myself cut any of it.  You’ll just have to skim if you get bored, but I want all these little details for our boy-man to read one day.  And a little name explanation if you’re confused.  His name is Jeremiah Paul Maddox, named after his Daddy (Jeremiah) and his grand-daddy (James Paul–but people call him Jay Paul).  Why “Jay” and not “J.” you may be wondering… Well, according to my research the name “Jay” can be short for any name beginning with the letter “J.”  And I like how it looks to write “Jay” more than “J.”  Y’all confused enough? :)}

It all started for me when I read this post that my dear friend Melissa wrote about her experience with natural childbirth.  I suddenly felt like I would be missing a major life experience…a passage into womanhood…a sacred rite if I never had a child without an epidural.  My husband–the doctor who thinks medicine is a wonderful and useful invention–did not understand at all.  I tried telling him that I needed to know I could have survived childbirth if I’d lived a hundred years ago…he told me I’d read too many old books :).  I tried letting him have in-depth conversations with our friends Azurae and Danny in Seattle, who had survived an unmedicated HOME birth…he was still a little leery.  The closest he came to grasping my desire is when I compared natural childbirth to running a marathon–“there’s some things in life you just need to prove to yourself that you can do.”  He is competitive, and this explanation finally stuck enough that he succumbed to me reading selected excerpts from Bradley’s Husband Coached Childbirth.

I borrowed the book from my friend Jill, who had recently given birth using this method and gave it a glowing recommendation.  I thought the book was good, though I did roll my eyes (and did not read to Jeremiah) the parts where it made giving birth with an epidural sound like a hippy drug trip that ruins the birth experience and may harm your child for life.  I had two wonderful experiences giving birth with an epidural, and I don’t buy that natural is THE way…it’s just A way.

Enough preamble:  On December 29th, I was three days away from my January 1 due date and so miserable that I was willing to try any number of things to put myself in labor.  I didn’t even care that there was still a hefty chapter that I needed my “birth coach”/husband to read before labor, I just wanted Jay Paul to come.  So, after a Christmas present massage in which I asked the masseuse to please push any and all labor inducing pressure points she knew of and a dinner of spicy Mexican food, I went to bed telling myself not to get my hopes up.  I woke up around 4 am with, what felt like, a payment to be made for that spicy Mexican dinner.  Over the course of the next two hours, however, my stomachache had turned into painful contractions that I was pretty positive meant…a baby!!  I woke Jeremiah up around six by saying, “I think we’re going to have a baby today.”


The next 7 hours were very characteristic for me in labor.  With Pace, I cooked a HUGE southern-style dinner (even fried cornbread!) and cleaned the kitchen up and down with Clorox.  With Mary Aplin I did a weeks’ worth of laundry and scrubbed my baseboards before Jeremiah drug me to the hospital.  With this birth, it was my Christmas decorations…and some laundry.  I called my two sisters who were still in town, almost in tears, because the contractions were already really bad and I was utterly frantic over the fact that my Christmas decorations were not yet put away in the attic.  Bless their hearts, they didn’t question me.  They acted like it was totally normal that a woman in active labor would want to see Mary, Joseph, and all the wise men safely wrapped in bubble wrap before she could give birth.


Kendall packed bags for Pace and Mary Aplin while Caroline put a away the last of the laundry.  Jeremiah’s Mom came over with lunch and to take the girls back to her house.  Where, you might wonder, was my partner, my husband, my BIRTH COACH during all of this???  We were in a fight because he decided he had a bunch of nesting he needed to do before we could leave for the hospital.  I am not kidding, the man bought diesel fuel and put Mr. Smoker on a tractor to finish planting rye grass in our yard, hung some pictures, and CLEANED OUT our closet?!  It was bizarre.  Some husbands sympathy eat, my husband sympathy nests.  I guess God knew it would be for the best.  The reason I was mad at him for his nesting is that I thought this baby was going to make a debut shortly after lunch.  In his book, Bradley describes the beginnings stages of labor as this sweet time where the husband and wife watch movies together while taking short breaks to “relax through” contractions.  I felt like I was being robbed of my “sweet time” before the real pain began.  However, all that nesting gave me a clean house–and therefore a relaxing place 🙂 to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Yep, that’s right.  After lunch…labor slowed down, so much so that I started to doubt whether or not it was the real thing.  We watched Robin Hood on television, took a bumpy ride around the land on the Gator, I took a long sunset walk, and we sat on the porch for the last gilded moments of the day, bundled up in jackets, wondering if we were going to have to call everybody back and tell them it was a false alarm.

At around 5:45 pm, 13 some hours after labor had begun, big Momma decided she needed a steak from Conestoga (our local hole-in-the-wall but insanely delicious steak house).  Now, I haven’t talked much about my contractions but they were real and painful all day long, they just weren’t regular.  They would be 15 minutes apart, then 8 min, then 3 min, then 10 minutes…just craziness.  And I would close my eyes and do my total body relaxation during each one–sometimes standing, or laying on my side, or swaying my hips, or sitting on the toilet (LOVELY! but probably the best place to be having natural labor in my humble opinion–for reasons that I’m just not willing to dive into on the blog).  Anywho, back to that steak dinner.  I was loving my husband again after our wonderful afternoon, until he started refusing to let me go into the restaurant to eat my steak.  The conversation went something like this:

A: I’m starving and you know they won’t let me eat once we get to that hospital.  I can close my eyes and breath through a contraction just as well in a booth in Conestoga as I can on our couch at home.

J: What if your water breaks in there? Why can’t we just take it home and eat it?!

A: My water never breaks until the end, you know that, and our food will be stone cold by the time we drive all the way back out to the farm.  There’s nothing more wasteful than a cold steak.

J (talking out loud, but to himself): Why don’t you ever learn from your mistakes, Maddox?  She convinced you to take her to Subway last time [when I was in labor with Dapples] and it was a mistake.  Don’t let her do this to you again!  [Now to me, who is laughing]  No, Abby.  I’m not doing it.  I’m not risking you plopping a baby on the floor of Conestoga.  We’re getting it to go!

On the drive to pick up our “to go” dinner, I responded to my friend Azurae’s text (remember my sweet friend from Seattle who had had the home birth) and asked her to please pray for my labor to progress and get more regular.  I’m not sure what it was that she and Danny prayed exactly, but by the time we pulled out of the Conestoga parking lot my contractions started hitting me (literally) every five or six minutes, and they stayed that way throughout my salad, steak, and baked potato.  “Can we please go the hospital now?” my poor husband who feels like the only responsible and sane one at this point, asks.  And I finally agree that it is indeed time to go.


At around 8 pm, I’m hooked up with those miserable contraction/fetal heart bands around my belly and the blood pressure cuff on my arm.  I have that strep B thing that requires I take a couple hours of IV antibiotics before giving birth, so I also have a (painful, distracting, and large) IV in my wrist.  I soon learned why people want to labor/give birth at home.  Every little outside distraction, most especially the ones imposed on my already-possessed body, seemed magnified to new levels of annoyance.  I like to think I’m a pretty docile person, at least a polite one, in normal life.  So much so that I almost decided not to do natural childbirth at the thought that I might make grunting noises in front of the nurses and embarrass myself.  However, in labor, it was everything I could do not to throw that pressure cuff directly into my nurse’s face.  I was undergoing PLENTY of squeezing without that dang cuff checking my status every few minutes.  My contractions were about 4 minutes apart and getting more and more painful.  My nurse checks me and breaks the devastating news that after 16 hours of labor I am ONLY TWO!!! CENTIMETERS dilated, and her attitude has made it clear that she wants to roll her eyes at me and the fact that I say I plan to do this thing naturally.  I could just see the word “wimp” floating behind her smile and my two centimeters of dilation.  I wanted to cry and give up.


Sometime during the next two hours, Jeremiah says we “switched jerseys.”  My husband, who was so NOT a fan of the non-medicated birth, became my biggest fan.  He was encouraging; he was withstanding a lot of pain from my tightly gripped hand in his throughout each contraction; he even had the Bradley book spread out on the bed doing some last minute cramming and using little phrases I couldn’t help but recognize from the book…bless his heart.  During the third time I ripped my monitors from the machine and stalked to the bathroom to labor on the toilet alone, Jeremiah called out, “Are you ok in there??”

And my lovely response:  “This is THE DUMBEST thing I’ve ever done.  I am CHOOSING this pain, and I’ve decided I want an epidural right. now.”

He said a lot of “right” things, none of which I appreciated very much.  I got back in the bed, and asked him to re-hook all my wires (a distraction!) so that I could push the nurse call button.  I said, quite clearly, over the nurse station intercom, “I am ready for an epidural.”  Jeremiah, dropped all his little wires and pushed the button himself, “No she’s not!”

The nurse came in, laughing, and said, “We all heard the patient say she was ready for an epidural and the husband say she was not.  Which is it?”  The jersey switch was complete.  I’m not sure if it was my husband’s great power of manipulating coaching me or the smug “I knew you couldn’t actually do this” look on my nurse’s face, but I somehow managed to grit my teeth and pull through our epidural crisis.  I am now a little over 6 centimeters dilated and it’s about 10 pm.


The next two hours were bad.  They just were.  I remember saying to Jeremiah, “I refuse to believe it’s this hard for everybody else.”  Haha, right?  I also experienced that which I’d read about in other natural childbirth experiences, and gawked in disbelief–SLEEPING in the brief minutes between contractions.  I know it’s unbelievable, but I guess my body was so utterly exhausted from almost 20 hours of labor that I would fall out of consciousness between trying to live breath through the pain.

Around midnight, I felt some major pressure on my bottom and told Jeremiah he needed to call the nurse to check me.  I was 9 and a half centimeters and she went to get the doctor…somebody sing a hallelujah chorus.  I knew that meant we were tipping the edge of GO time.  The doctor came in and asked if I’d felt an urge to push…you know that unmistakable urge that all the natural childbirth moms say you feel.  I’d felt pressure, but I was pretty certain it wasn’t THE urge.  However, when the doctor offered to break my water and let me start pushing, the excitement of finally getting to the end of it all was greater than my intuition–telling me it was too early.  I succumbed and the doctor broke my water and hell began.

I UNdilated–who knew that was even possible?–to 8.5 or 9 centimeters after my water was broken.  I tried to push and it felt totally WRONG.  And then Jay Paul’s heart-rate fell off the monitor.  They put the oxygen mask on me, and I felt like it was suffocating me.  They talked about forceps and the doctor said the baby wasn’t low enough…then they started talking emergency C-section.  I looked at Jeremiah and he was ashen.  Everybody starts telling me I have to relax and stay calm so that the baby can stay calm…and I’m:

1) TERRIFIED that my baby is dying inside of me.  2)Panicked at the thought that I’ve got to find the strength to push him out and FAST  3) Scared not knowing how bad it’s going to hurt to actually have a baby come OUT without medication 4) Sad that I might be about to have to have a C-section after all this work.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a person successfully do natural child-birth and not rave about it, but it was these moments of utter panic, not necessarily the pain before or after, that makes me say that I won’t go natural again.

So, they take away the stirrups, transform my bed back into a plain bed and tell me to lay on my side and try and relax and breathe through a couple of contractions.  I did, and Jay Paul’s heart rate crept back into almost normal range when I suddenly PUSHED.  Y’all it was the strangest thing.  It wasn’t an urge to push, my body just pushed, hard, all of a sudden.  And I yelled, “The baby is coming out!”

“No, no,” the doctor tried to reassure me as I rolled from my side–like I had been laying–back into the attractive push pose :).  “I’m sure he just moved down some.”  A split second later she caught Jay Paul in a blue towel, without gloves, because she didn’t even have time to get them on.  Two more pushes, a few yells of “Y’all this HURTS!” (as though I was totally shocked by the fact that it was painful), and the thought that “ring of fire” was a very accurate description of the way it felt to birth a baby, and the music of his hearty yell was filling my ears as relief and joy flooded my heart.  Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus….was all I could think.  Oh, he was safe!  We had actually done it?!



12:50 am on December 31st, Jeremiah and I welcomed our son. 9 pounds, 5 oz. 21 1/2 inches long.




Jeremiah’s Dad–Jay Paul’s namesake, my Dad, and Konie were waiting for the great arrival (Jeremiah’s Mom was at home keeping Pace and Mary Aplin).






After his welcome kisses and first nursing, they wheeled him away to the nursery to check all the little things they check and I took the most glorious shower of my life.  It’s hard to describe how good that hot water felt on my aching back.  Then, I WALKED by Jeremiah’s side down the hall to our room.  If the Rocky theme song had been playing in the background, I wouldn’t have minded 🙂

Jeremiah put on his pajama pants and started to make his nest on the couch as I perched in my bed feeling clarity, excitement, love, and relief.  “Would you do it again?” I asked.  “Knowing how scary it would be and how hard it would be, would you encourage me to have Jay Paul naturally if we could do it all over?”

“You know, for your sake, probably not,” Jeremiah said thoughtfully.  “But I could never have imagined how special it would be for me.  I felt a part of this delivery, in a way I couldn’t feel a part of the others.  Those deliveries were your deal, and I was a spectator.  But this time, I felt like we did it.”

And for that response, and this precious little life, it was more than worth it.

30 Responses to “Jay Paul’s First Story”

  1. Emily says:

    Beautiful boy, beautiful story, beautiful family. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. molly says:

    Abby, this is so beautiful and AMAZING! What a great first story for your son. I especially love the picture of your Dad and the three generations of Maddox men. What a heritage for your Jay Paul.

  3. Eeeeeek!!!!!! I’ve just been waiting for this and waiting for this and I’m SO happy to finally know the full story!!!! I”m SO proud of you, Abby and you, Jeremiah. I love the story and I can’t believe you were in labor for that long, and I cannot believe he was that big. The fact you pushed him out in about 2 pushes is incredible.

    I can’t wait to see that little man in person. I know I’ll reread this story many times before my wee one shows up…I think reading birth stories is the best way to prepare for labor. Maybe if I try to feel your contractions as I read about them, I’ll start having my own. 🙂

    Love you friend. Good work!!


  4. Natalie Roe says:

    Um let the hero worship commence. You are mad woman. In the most amazing way 🙂 go YOU! I am not jealous or envious, just down right proud of you. He is perfect! God bless 🙂

  5. abbie says:

    My husband and I read that same book to prep for our first baby. I wish the photos in the book weren’t so alarming. Ha! Other than that, the content was good–and I did love how it encouraged the husband to minister to his wife, encourage her, coach her, etc. That book emphasized his important role more than any other books we read.

    Congratulations on your sweet little one. I’m happy for you & your family. Enjoy your precious gift!

  6. Liz McNeil says:

    WOWWOW! What a wonderful story and glorious ending! Thank you for sharing. Congratulations to you and your family!

  7. layne allen says:

    after your descriptive writing, i feel a little bit like i helped you give birth too LOL

    and I definitely heard Rocky playing in the background after you labored all day (and night) and pushed a 9+ pound baby out (without drugs)!!!!

    what a precious baby boy y’all have! congratulations!!!!

  8. Susannah says:

    Awesome and beautiful story! And yes, GO YOU! Natural childbirth? Not me! 🙂 He’s beautiful and boys definitely have their mommas hearts!!

  9. Kellie says:

    YOU are THE WOMAN!!!!! I am so impressed! I cannot relate at all, as I had 3 c-sections! What a great story! 🙂 I know Jay Paul will grow up to be a wonderful man of God just like all the generations before! Congratulations!!!!!

  10. Emily says:

    What a special, special, special first story & legacy for Jay Paul! He has quite the mommy (& daddy)!

  11. elizabeth says:

    You are my hero! Wow…..that’s so amazing!!!! Your story with all the pics made me teary. Congratulations. He is perfect!!!

  12. Leah says:

    Congratulations! I had a natural labor with my 2nd and had to have my water broken to move things along– I also “undilated”! no one tells you these things before hand! Your description of your body just pushing on its own is so similar to how I remember feeling. Congrats again.

  13. Ellie says:

    Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful boy! I had two natural births after having a c-section, and I’m certain most women don’t hurt as bad and as long as I do! There’s nothing sweeter than the relief of labor being over and looking into your newborn’s eyes after learning that all is well. May your recovery be short! Blessings to your family!

  14. Nancy says:

    Girl! You guys did so good!
    There is nothing on earth like that burning ring of fire.
    I don’t even know you, and I am so proud of you & your husband!
    Such an inspiring birth story!

  15. Darby says:

    Jay Paul’s First Story is perfect in every single way! I loved reading every word of it and I am SO proud of you! I believe you need Rocky music to play on your blog 24-7 ’til at least his first birthday! He’s so precious and perfect in every way and I loved having a chance to hold him yesterday and see his sweet face {and yours too!}. Those wee little ones grow so very fast {as you know}, treasure every moment of every day with him! Thanks for taking time to write the whole story! I loved it and loved how encouraging and supportive {even if overly} Jeremiah was for you!! Congratulations to you both and to Pace & Dapples the wonderful & helpful big sisters!!
    xoxo D

  16. ashley says:

    This is an amazing story! And inspires me even more to go natural the next go round! Jay paul is precious

  17. Kristee says:

    How Sweet and Special! You also look amazing afterwards! Love the precious pictures too! Congratulations to your family!

  18. Holly says:

    Abby, I love your story, congratulations!

  19. Azurae says:

    Abby that’s a big healthy chicken you roasted!! I need to hoooold him!!!

    You guys look amazing!! So happy and peaceful. I’m so proud of you both and I LOVE what Jeremiah said at the end – it’s the truth! What a team. 🙂 We were honored to pray and love you guys so much!!! I knew (by God’s sweet grace!) you could do it. Thank you Jesus for the gift of this life!

  20. lindsey says:

    that was the most wonderful, extraordinarily long birth story ever! so glad you didn’t cut out any of it:). we are so happy for you guys, thankful for the Lord’s blessing and encouraged by your team work in getting that “big” little man out! the Lord is gracious!

  21. lori says:

    Whew!! What a great story!! So glad for your family that God helped you and Jay Paul have a wonderful birth.!!! Congratulations!!!

  22. Emily says:

    Amazingly beautiful birth story!! Congratulations on your precious new little one, and on showing yourself that you could do it naturally! 🙂

  23. Amie Ezelle says:

    Abby, thank you for sharing. And, just want you to know that you are absolutely beautiful! I can only imagine how hard that must have been in so many ways, but you guys did it!

  24. Congratulations to you! He is beautiful, Abby. And just… wow. I thought I was impressed already until I read 9 pounds. You’re a freaking superhuman!

  25. Gina says:

    Oh, how I loved this story! Such a precious sweet memory! I love what your husband said about it. I kept thinking, “I could never have a natural birth.” Then duh, I remembered I DID! My second birth~our son came so fast I didn’t have time for an epidural so two pushes later he was born. I know…don’t hate. =P Thanks for sharing your story. Your son is beautiful! 🙂

  26. Maria says:

    You are my HERO! Not only for going through what you did but for having the courage and honesty to share your story so beautifully with the rest of us. I must admit I’ve always felt the tiniest bit “cheated” out of the natural birth experience as I’ve had to have two c-sections…of course once you’re holding those sweet bundles..the “way” they arrived has held less meaning for me. I thank you for sharing your story so that those of us not able to experience it first hand can share and rejoice with you and your sweet family. I know you all are enjoying this time with your new family of 5! Congratulations!

  27. Angela says:

    Way to go Abby and Praise God for His blessing!!! Jay Paul is a beautiful baby! I had an unmedicated childbirth with my 3rd and am now expecting my 4th. I am undecided about if we will go natural this go around. Honestly, my husband and I are kind of scared to do it again. My labor went so well and the pain was manageable at first that the only reason we went to the hospital when we did was because my water broke. 45 minutes later my daughter was born. The last 30 minutes was very traumatic though. To put it mildly, I am not calm, collected, and quiet after the “transition stage.” I kept screaming, “This baby is coming out” and they just looked at me like I was crazy. I also read the Bradley book and found it extremely helpful and agree that my husband and I felt like we did it together.

  28. mary beth says:

    Congratulations girl!!! You did it! 🙂 I’ve been waiting for days to have a moment to spare and sit down to read your story. Just awesome! I did the same exact thing. Decided after 2 epidurals with my 2 girls that our boy was going to be done the “natural way”. Hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m with you. I wouldn’t exactly RAVE about it, but it was beautiful in a totally different way than I had experienced when the pain was numbed. You’ve inspired me to write out my birth story with Keller now! Oh, and Jay Paul is absolutely precious!

  29. Stephanie says:

    i loved reading every word of this story and cried my eyes out at god’s goodness and your strength as a mother… all of it was so beautiful, honest, and special. babies are little miracles and i am so happy for your family’s new addition. thank you for sharing all the details, your written words are a gift. a balm to my soul, really. your perspective is so gentle, you give praise to the father, and you are honest. i look forward to reading your blog in 2012… and seeing what life after fellowship looks like, too 🙂

  30. Candace says:

    I really, really love reading your blog. Your honesty is so refreshing. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story! You make me want to have a fourth (but I’m cool with the drugs!)!!!

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