Friday, June 9, 2017

Ezekiel Joseph, a Love (Birth) Story

I consider all of my children's birth stories to be love stories, and I want to treasure them all forever, which is why I write them down. Birth is a love story between Mama, Baby, and Daddy, but especially Mama and Baby. There is a magical, time suspending reality in labour of unity between mom and baby where everything else disappears and nothing else matters. Just the two of us, working together so that we can hold onto each other for the first time.

Ezekiel's birth in particular is a love story because there was so much fear and sadness leading up to it. I didn't have the naive confidence of a first time mama, or the bold confidence of a second time mama, I just felt alot of fear. My pregnancy was full of emotional heaviness, between dying and death, funerals and weddings, growth fears for little babe, prodromal labour discomfort for me. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, fearful that he would not be OK or that somehow I had harmed him through all the stress. I made up my mind in a particular way to love him and birth him with as much serenity and joy as I could. His birth was so wonderful, surreal really. Here he is almost 6 weeks old and I still shake my head at the beauty of it all.

For the first time ever I went past my due date, and so for the first time ever I was checked by a midwife prior to being in labour. Imagine this after 5 weeks of false labour during the night and 5 weeks of wondering whether our baby was coming. I was exhausted from the constant state of "ready to go," pristine house,  and packed bags!  On Friday the 28th I was 2 cm dilated and was given a membrane sweep to possibly get things going. We had a truly happy day, I felt surrendered and ready (as opposed to the agitation I'd been feeling for so long), Joe and I watched a comedy that night and laughed so hard! I had half a glass of wine so as to try and sleep, I felt too tired to go into labour in the wee hours of the night!

I woke between 4 and 4:30 with contractions. I was conditioned to the false stuff so I nonchalantly tried to go back to sleep, but when it seemed there might be a pattern to these ones I started timing them. 7 minutes apart 45 seconds long. I lay there for about an hour and when it seemed they were getting stronger and closer together I got up. 5 minutes apart and 45 seconds long and what seemed like a possible amniotic fluid leak! My water has never broken prior to the pushing phase so I was not so sure. Still in denial that "this could be it!" I plodded into the kitchen, had a cup of coffee, and felt very content. At 6:00 Judah came out for a snuggle and I carried him into Joe. This was my first indication that it could be real, because I did not feel like I could hold Judah through the contractions.

At 6:30 they were more like 3 minutes apart and 1 minute long but still super manageable. However I decided I did not want an unassisted birth so I woke Joe. He sprung alive and into action, he is an absolute machine when it comes to our baby's birth days! He also commanded me to call my mom and the midwives right away. So I called our midwives and someone was coming over to check things out very soon. I cautioned them that I had no idea whether this was real. Regardless,  Joe knowing we run out of hot water very quickly brought up the birth pool and got all of the pots going on the stove. We felt excited and ready, the early morning sun was shining in through the open windows and Ezekiel's playlist was playing.

The first midwife showed up just as the children were waking, 7:15ish. Joe tended to them while she tended to me. It was determined that I was 5-6 cm dilated and my water had indeed broken! Shortly after my mom arrived, her presence during my births is always such a gift. For the next hour everything was so wonderful! I was labouring on the ball, and also getting children ready for soccer, helping them eat breakfast, etc and just dropping wherever a contraction hit me to breath through it. They would come to ask me a question and my eyes would be closed. Liliana would tell Judah that they just had to wait until Mommy's eyes opened. They were totally unconcerned. Judah was running around yelling that it was a HUGE day! The first day of soccer AND the baby was coming. It was so wonderful, so real, and how I imagine it may have been in the olden days when birth and death happened in the middle of the family home. 

My dad arrived around 8:30 with coffee for the midwives and to pick the children up for breakfast and soccer. He gave me a big kiss. Joe said he could tell things were getting real because I was starting to laugh (I laugh when in pain), no one else knew. The midwives were totally unaware of just how far along I was!

As soon as the children left I got in the water. It felt so so amazing! I asked if anyone thought we would have a baby by lunchtime! Because my water had broken I was not feeling the intense pressure Id felt in previous births, but the pain in my cervix was a bit more intense. Still, I laboured silently and no one knew that I was fully dilated. With each child I've had a special visualization, a place I take my mind so that my body can do it's work without my control freak brain getting in the way. With Ezekiel he and I were laying on a warm and beautiful beach in Maui Joe and I discovered one day. It was so private, with trees for shade and softly lapping waves. In my mind I lay there with my baby and it made the contractions so much more manageable. 

I had the now familiar pushing sensation and announced that I was feeling pushy. However, because I was not making any noise and was outwardly very calm everyone just continued with their business - paperwork, chatting, etc. I remember feeling slightly annoyed that people weren't realizing how serious this was but not having the emotional energy to voice it politely so I just stayed quiet :) I was pushing, though, and I put my hand down to see if I could feel baby's head. I felt his head as I was pushing and so I kept pushing and delivered his head into the water. One of the midwives asked if I had pushed through that contraction and I announced, " I think his heads out!"

"His heads out! OK! Let's have a baby!" one of the midwives announced. I felt way too uncomfortable to wait for the next contraction so I pushed his little body out and into the warm water. They passed  him up through my legs and into my arms! "Hi Baby! Hi Baby, I love you, oh you are so Tiny!" I exclaimed as I held him to my chest in relief and disbelief. It was my fastest labour by 5.5 hours, and happened so very much in the middle of life that it seemed unbelievable he could come so easily and so peacefully. It was 9:17 am. 

We sat there in no rush, waiting for his cord to turn white and stop pulsing. We just marvelled at his sweet face, his long toes, his tiny body with a good thick layer of vernix still on it. He was so perfect, he is so perfect, we are so grateful....so tired and so grateful. His older siblings finished their soccer and came home mid-morning to Mama tucked into bed and a sweet tiny brother to love and hold. It could not have happened more ideally!








  

 





Ezekiel Joseph, my heart, my darling, your peaceful disposition, adoring smiles, sleepy, cuddly, patient ways have blessed our family more than you know. You were born quietly and you have blessed us with your serene presence, the gift we dreamt of but could not have imagined the immensity of. You are so treasured, so LOVED!

Ezekiel Joseph Packard
"God is my Strength"
7 lbs 6 ounces, 20 inches
9:17 AM April 29, 2017



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Loving Lately

Lately we are relishing a slow but steady return to normal after sickness, death, weddings, funerals, hospitalizations, and bad bugs!

There are a few things about these days that I want to hold close to my heart forever...

Is it tomorrow? Almost daily Judah asks me if it is tomorrow. I always respond with the same, "no my darling, it is today." "Oh GOOD," he always says. I'm not sure what it is about tomorrow that he is not so sure about, but I love that he is always so thrilled that it is today. Talk about being grateful for the moment!

Working out with Daddy, one of his current favorite activities

Bedtime and our big boy. Judah had the nightly habit of a trip to our bedroom for some snuggles with mama around 2 am. Unfortunately because my belly is getting so big and thinking ahead to cosleeping we knew it had to end. We set up a mattress next to Joe's side of the bed so that if he felt the need he still was welcome. However he has decided he prefers to stay in his own bed all night rather than be relegated to the floor. I can't help but feel a little heartbroken that our nightly snuggles ended, just like that, but I more in awe of his determination. Every night his little lips quiver as he expresses that it is hard to stay in his own bed. Every night I reassure him that he can call me if he needs me. Every morning he wakes up feeling so incredibly victorious. We cover him in kisses and hugs and tell him he is so brave and strong. He feels like a million bucks!

Such a sweet view....matching bedhead! Maybe that's why I feel so sad that this time has come to an end :(
Our animal and fact lover. Liliana has always had a heart for animals, and lately she has become even more interested in facts about them. She would pick Planet Earth or the Wild Kratts over any other show, and then thrills us with her facts and dreams. She had to give a presentation about what she wanted to be when she grew up  and she told the whole school she would be a dog walker, or maybe someone who studies rare birds. So funny! When I am not sleeping well she tells me I am like a nocturnal animal, and is quite fascinated with the circle of life and the food chain. It is awesome to see her little brain working and growing and making connections!

She is so colorful! 


Sacrifice and Acts of Love Jar. For Lent we put a jar in the middle of the table and when the children choose to make a sacrifice (like eating a vegetable they don't love without complaining), or extraordinary act of love (like offering to do a task that isn't usually theirs), they put a dried bean in the jar. The Easter Bunny will turn those beans into jelly beans and then they can eat a jelly bean over the Easter season whenever they do a sacrifice or act of love. It has been beautiful to witness them trying to find ways to add beans to the jar. Just this week I was treated to both a salon experience and a foot massage. I didn't anticipate this would benefit me so hugely ;)

Two little foot rubbers, 100% their idea!
Lent. Every lent leaves me grateful for the Divine Psychiatrist and this season of simplicity, sacrifice, and honesty with self. Being very pregnant my lenten commitments are simple, but involve digging into the recesses of our pantry and fridge, cooking simply and with what we have as opposed to spending more, and healthy basic meals for our family. I can see that everyone is thriving, and as we live Lent well we eagerly anticipate the celebration of Easter and our Tiny Darling's birthday!

Lenten work, changing things around and making room for Tiny Baby

A lenten lunch for my man, egg salad sandwich in a jar :) Yum!!
Spring. As I write I hear our sweeties outside the OPEN window! It is only just above 10 degrees but they are in shorts and rubber boots, looking like little wild things, dirty and so happy. It has been a long, cold, wet winter and the signs of Spring absolutely gladden the heart and lift the soul. There will be some pretty significant spring clean up to do in our yard as it seems most of our solar lanterns and much of our grass did not survive the winter. That is happy work though.

I will leave it at that so I can go watch Liliana and Judah playing through the window. Does anyone else absolutely love watching their children play? Their imaginations are amazing!

Maybe it is because Daddy has such a huge imagination....dress up tea party, of course his idea!

Lots of love,



Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Heroic Hour

These days, especially 6 months pregnant, it is quite astonishing at just how deep I have to dig to end the day well for our children. They say that the heroic hour is when the alarm goes off. I experience that it takes very little heroism on my part to roll out of bed towards the first sip of coffee and some quiet prayer time before the day. On the other hand, it takes some serious guts to tuck my darlings in having accomplished clean teeth and bodies, sincere prayer, quality reading, and loving caresses with whispered affirmations of their beauty, value, and worth in the eyes of God their Father and me their mama.

Judah also finds bedtime the heroic hour, ergo his arsenal carefully tucked into his pullup :)


I firmly desire that, no matter how difficult little or big moments of the day are, my children drift to sleep having just heard that they are precious, worthy, and so treasured by myself and their Daddy.

A few days ago I sat beside their bed holding little hands in one hand and my head in the other. We had battled to get through the day, and I felt like I had nothing left to give. I could tell, by looking over at Joe, that he also had given almost everything he had to give to his intense day of work and tired demanding children at the end of it.

I could not help it as tears of weariness ran down my cheeks and onto my lap. Oh how I love them, oh how full of needs they are, oh how lacking I am. 

As I sat there quietly sniffling and not trying to alert my sensitive darlings to the fact that Mommy was crying (which to them is like the world ending!), I realized yet again the gift of parenthood. It is deeply humbling and reminds me so frequently that on my own I am not sufficient. Grace, grace, grace....but for the grace of God. 

Perhaps we all have a heroic hour? That one part of our day where we have to dig deepest and cry out most fervently for grace and strength. For me it is most certainly the bed time hour. Yet, just one short hour later as I sneak in  to kiss little cheeks one more time and tuck blankets around little bodies my heart cannot help but break with love and thanksgiving.

Sometimes sister is the best solution for a pillow and a rest. I can't wait to see one more little person in that snuggle! 

May you find the grace and strength you need for your own heroic hour!