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