Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ezra James' Birth Story

Photography by Megan Uncapher

       Friday, June 30th was no more special than any other Friday, except for the fact that it was my last day of work before maternity leave - a day I had been looking forward to for a long time. Ezra wasn't due for another five days, and as I was eating lunch that day, I was getting pretty antsy and silently worrying about going overdue. I hadn't felt ANY different than I had for the earlier part of the third trimester, and it felt as though my body had missed the memo that this baby needed to come out at some point. I traveled my usual commute downtown to the office, worked my usual 8-hour shift, came home, and assumed my usual position on the couch.
      Having a strong "nesting" urge was one of the major "signs" that I was looking for that might indicate whether or not Ezra was coming soon, but I actually felt the complete opposite. I had zero desire or motivation to get up and do ANYTHING, including make dinner (which is odd for me), so Jack and I decided to go out to eat. We joked about how this could be my "last meal before baby", as we had during many dinners in the days and even weeks prior. We came home, went to bed, and I fell asleep mentally gearing up for another week of baby preparation without the hassle of getting up and going to work every day.

Around 11:45pm I was awakened from my sleep with terrible cramps that radiated down my legs and through my lower back. I had been having painless Braxton Hicks for the better part of the last 20 weeks, and I knew this wasn't one of those. I noticed the pain wasn't constant, that it seemed to come in waves, and I found myself dozing off in between thinking, "this is weird, I guess." After about an hour of deliriously wondering what was going on, I figured I should start keeping track of the time between these intense "cramps". I was honestly in complete denial that I could be in labor. Even the app I was using to time the contractions had alerted me multiple times to "get to the hospital or call 911", but I just dismissed the warning, thinking "that can't be right..." I laid awake for another hour timing contractions that were coming 5-7 minutes apart, before waking Jack up saying, "I think I'm in labor..."



Once we were checked in to triage, things started to feel a little more real. I was hooked up to the monitors, answering the same health-history questions over and over, anxiously awaiting to hear whether or not we would be admitted or headed home for the night. Even though my contractions were continuing, I was still somehow in denial that we would be leaving that hospital with a baby. I had even hesitated to call my family and let them know we were at the hospital, thats how sure I was that this was a false alarm. The doctor came in, checked the baby's position with a (really cool) mini-ultrasound device that looked like an iPhone, checked my cervix and happily announced that I was 4 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced, and that we definitely were NOT going home for the night. Uhhh what? This was really happening.

The rest of the day moved much quicker than I expected. From the time I was woken up by that first contraction, to the time I asked for the epidural was about 6 hours. My water broke on its own conveniently once we got checked in to our labor and delivery room. The contractions seemed to be on top of each other, and I was feeling truly overcome by the pain. My entire pregnancy I had wanted a med-free labor, but in the moment I was overwhelmed by the pain and had a hard time focusing on anything else except how much discomfort I was in. Women who give birth without pain meds are seriously amazing - I was about 5 centimeters dilated when I asked for the epidural, and I couldn't have made a better decision for myself. The entire process of labor was so much different than I had envisioned beforehand, I felt like I was in a whirlwind - inexplicably calm, yet on the edge of my seat the entire time. I think I had less anxiety during labor than I did for my entire pregnancy.


I had spend so many days and nights worrying over every labor and delivery complication known to man, but when the time came to push, none of those things crossed my mind. The only thing I knew was that I was about to finally meet my son. And I just hoped I would be good enough for him. Jack told me later that I pushed for a little less than an hour before Ezra made his grand arrival. Jack stood at the bedside hesitantly cheering me on. I could tell he was nervous, but he is naturally so strong, level-headed, and full of joy and confidence, if he was stressed, he didn't project ANY of it onto me in that moment. He was the best cheerleader, and with him by my side I just knew everything was going to be completely fine.


On July 1, 2017, Ezra was born at 3:02pm, a tiny little peanut, and I felt like I was in a dream. Ezra came out and took those first few breaths, crying a little stronger with each one. I looked up at Jack as tears streamed down both of our faces. This was real. Ezra was given to me and placed on my chest right away, and suddenly I couldn't remember a single thing about my life before him. I might even say I was underwhelmed - I wasn't meeting someone for the first time, I already knew him. I knew he was ours. Our son.


Huge thanks Bethany Ballantyne for these precious photos of our little family. Check out her blog to see more!
     






I'd love to hear your birth stories too! Feel free to share them in the comments!



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