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As her youngest becomes a teenager, Hillary Ibarra reminisces about her husband coaching her through the births of their four children.

My youngest turns 13 this March. His birth and his three older siblings’ births feel both near in time and far in the past.

For the births of my four children, God blessed me with an amazing labor coach: my husband. My husband’s grandmother asked me once if I really needed my husband in the delivery room; wasn’t I a big girl? I had been raised in the country where we occasionally did without running water or electricity, but, yes, I needed my husband’s support during labor.

He once sacrificed his hand for me. I gnawed it on the way to the delivery room—not out of spite but to abate my pain. The nurse noticed and, shocked, asked, “Is your wife biting your hand?”


“Don’t let her do that!”

When our firstborn was on the way, I slapped my husband’s palm in rhythm with my contractions through that long night, like a perpetual—and painful—high-five. “Hooray, we’re having a baby! It hurts!”

Exhausted, we nodded off between contractions until I squeezed his hand with the next wave. When my labor stalled at seven in the morning, the doctor recommended an epidural. My husband and I gratefully slept for more than an hour. My OB/GYN woke me up and told me it was time to push.

All through that day and night, exhausted as I was, I couldn’t sleep, admiring my baby son, a gift from God.

When our first daughter was due less than two years later, I woke up at 6 am with strong contractions after a week of terrible sciatica. I started laundry and dishes, sure that we had time. My husband rubbed my back when I doubled over every few minutes. Labor quickly intensified. By the time my mother-in-law arrived—her being there to watch our son was God’s answer to my prayers—I was barely able to slide onto the garbage bags and towels carefully arranged on the passenger seat of my husband’s beloved Acura. During a huge contraction as we sped to the hospital, I wrenched the car visor down and sank my teeth into it.

My husband, wide-eyed and pleading, said, “Are you chewing on my visor? Honey, please … noooo.”

I gave him a look only a laboring mother can deliver, and he sacrificed the visor. My superhuman strength bent the metal rod out of the upholstery. I still feel bad about that.




At the hospital, my husband bore no grudges. Thank goodness—because there was no time for an epidural. I screamed as I pushed. Sheepishly, I apologized after each yell. When the nurse scolded me for not pushing properly, my husband bent his face over mine, clasping my hand, his eyes shining. “Just keep your eyes on me,” he said. “You’re doing great. You can do this.”

Soon our baby girl was in my arms, and my body flooded with endorphins and with gratitude for my husband’s help as I said in awe, “We have a daughter.”

When our second daughter was on the way, I tackled last-minute chores before leaving for the hospital. When I got down on all fours while brushing my teeth, foaming at the mouth with toothbrush dangling, I knew it was time to go. After biting my husband’s hand on the way to the labor and delivery room, he offered up his baseball cap to save his skin. I chewed on its brim as my water broke. Again, my husband’s eyes were my focal point as I birthed our baby girl, though I also experienced the care of an angelic L&D nurse.


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For the births of my four children, God blessed me with an amazing labor coach: my husband. #CatholicMom

A few years later my husband urged me to go to the hospital with the first faint contractions when our youngest was on the way. I convinced him to walk around the mall first, and then we watched TV in the hospital as we waited, bored. The nursing staff would have sent us home, but it was our fourth child. Finally admitted to the delivery room, my body shook uncontrollably as contractions strengthened. I returned to the old method of slapping my husband’s hand rhythmically through the pain, my eyes focused once more on his face.

The no-nonsense doctor told me it was time to push.

“Are you sure?”

Exasperated, the doctor responded, “Yes.”

Once more my husband’s eyes met mine as he grabbed my hand.

“You’ve got this.”

A little after midnight, our son arrived, and though I look like someone hit me with a shovel in the delivery pictures, I was full of love and gratitude for my baby boy, for my husband, and for our Heavenly Father who gave us the gift of family and gave me a kind and supportive husband.



Copyright 2023 Hillary Ibarra
Images: (top, center) Canva; (bottom) copyright 2023 Hillary Ibarra, all rights reserved.