Monday, February 25, 2013

The Story of Ezra

I am fiercely competitive- a character trait I attribute to my father who, at the age of 30, knocked over a 4 year old in order to win a game of musical chairs. Anything to be the best.

So, when I heard that women still delivered babies unmedicated, and they were perceived as tough for doing so, I took note.

But years later, when I actually got pregnant, the idea of an epidural sounded divine.

And normal.

After all, child birth is painful, so why wouldn't you numb yourself?

I quickly resolved an epidural was a must.

Now, I just needed an OB. My husband, Steven, had an insurance plan that allowed us to birth at his place of work, a hospital close to our house, for next to nothing; thus, we needed to find a doctor who delivered there. I found two but ruled out the first in a matter of minutes- cold, unfriendly front desk personnel.

Steven, & I booked an appointment with the second OB for the 8 week mark of the pregnancy.

The day of the appointment I took off work early & met Steven at home so we could carpool. Uncontrollable, unpredictable hormone surges & an inability to grasp the coming change a baby would bring, sent us into the worst fight of our marriage.

We arrived at the OB stressed & angry at each other- frightened out of our minds.

How would we raise a child if we couldn't even handle each other?

My husband kept his sunglasses on the entire visit. It didn't take a genius to see we were fighting.

The nurse practitioner that day did what few medical professionals care to do these days- she took her time with us, soothing our fears with her kind presence, introducing us to the fluttering peanut on the monitor- our sweet baby. We were in awe.

I went back to that OB practice faithfully for five months but never met that nurse practitioner again; in fact, the practice was so large that I only met one of the five doctors I was told could deliver our baby.

He spent two minutes with me... once.

No one even knew my name at that place. I was just another pregnant patient they paraded into an exam room each time.

I began to have reservations.

In my heart was a deep seeded fear that I would have to birth in a cold, sterile room with an anonymous white coat waltzing in last minute to tell me to push.

Five months into my pregnancy, I dreaded every doctor's visit & knew I needed to transfer care. But every practice I called had four or five doctors that could potentially deliver my child.

Then, I was introduced to the idea of a doula (woman who accompanies and helps through the birth process. Doulas are known to reduce the chance of c-section and help a woman advocate for her birth plan during labor) by my friend, who had just had a natural birth at home & felt so inspired that she had become a doula herself.

We interviewed & hired one within a week's time- she happened to be my husband's college professor's wife.

Small world.

She asked us to look into the idea of a birth center. I told her I had actually just booked a tour with one but it was out of our network & would cost thousands of dollars.

With her encouragement, Steven & I decided to keep our tour date with Babymoon Inn, a "sanctuary tended by midwives." How nice.

And it was nice. A minute into the tour, my husband was thrilled with the birthing rooms & the custom tub.

"This is awesome, Krisann!"

I still kept my reserves- natural birth was too painful.

But the staff were so passionate & friendly- they took hours with us that first day, answering questions, settling my fears with this idea of "natural birth."

Besides, the hospital was only 3 minutes away & midwives are always careful to transfer care, if the need arises.

For the first time in my life, the idea of birthing, dare I say it, became... exciting.

By request of my doula, I even educated myself by reading numerous, well-researched books on birth, listening to lectures & attending classes at Babymoon Inn.

The more I read, the more I felt confident Steven & I were brought to The Inn by God himself.

My body was meant to do this- I would let no drug or person take this experience from my baby or me.

Impatient by nature, I hoped I wouldn't be like most first time moms & deliver at 41 weeks. When the 36 week mark came, which is when you can safely deliver at a birth center, I began taking primrose oil, eating 6 dates a day, and continued my yoga practice- all hoping it would make Ezra come on time.

At 36 weeks and 5 days, I started having contractions.

Apparently, Ezra inherited some of his momma's impatience because I was experiencing heavy, active labor by noon the next day.

laboring at home

I labored around my house all afternoon & into the early evening, my husband & doula by my side.

It was tough but I never once thought of opting out- I wanted this experience.

Around 5:30 pm, unexpectedly, my labor sped way up. I had urges to push.

Steven & the doula rushed me to the front door of our house but I stopped them.

"I will have this baby right here."

" You can't. Come on Krisann, we'll get you there."

"I feel him coming!" I screamed.

"Put your hand down there. Can you feel his head?" my doula asked.

What I thought was his head was my water bag in tact, with Ezra right behind.

They shuffled me into the car.

As I sat in the back on all fours, it felt
like a scene from a cheesy movie, or dramatic sitcom.

"Brace yourself, speed bump!"

My husband talked me through that whole drive.

When we arrived ten minutes later, I was rushed into the birth room.

I was finally free to push.

I pushed & pushed.

"Can you make sure I don't tear? Is there olive oil?"

"Of course, it's right here."

The smell of the clean sheets & the warmth of the midwives & nurse there made me glad we had made that drive.

Suddenly, the tone of the room changed. I heard the midwives talking quietly & it worried me.

"What's wrong? What is it?"

" We just need you to keep pushing."

His heart rate was lowering from what I could sense.

I pushed for what seemed an eternity, but was actually ten minutes, before they announced his head was there.

Ezra's first moments
"Want to catch him dad?"

"I'm ok"

"Catch him!" I yelled.

Steven didn't argue- he caught Ezra as he slipped out effortlessly.

What should've been the most beautiful moment turned into anxiety.

Purple & lethargic, Ezra was making no effort to announce his arrival.

I sat there with adrenaline running through me. Begging my child to scream.

The midwife calmly reacted- lovingly coaxing Ezra to cry. But he wouldn't.

Instead, he just lay there with shallow breath, opening his eyes just a little.

Putting him on oxygen, the ambulance was called.

I remember Steven kneeling & crying out to God with his entire being- it was oddly holy in that moment.

Later he told me he asked God if he were going to take his son & if he did, make him ok with it.

But God answered no, he was ours to keep.

The EMT's arrived- a group of six or seven firefighters- there to whisk my baby away before we'd ever bonded. I remember answering questions as I sat there still uncovered, shaking physically, but feeling strong.

They moved so slowly that I felt assured Ezra was ok.

By the time he was placed in the ambulance, he was crying loudly.

"Do we still have to go?" Steven asked.

"It's procedure" was the response.

They drove an extra five miles to take him to Phoenix Children's for better newborn care.

Steven with baby before I got there

I arrived two hours later, having rested & showered at The Inn, not yet feeling like a mother.

Still, natural birth has this way of giving you a good surge of endorphins- I felt like running a marathon that night.

I could do ANYTHING.

We didn't get to hold Ezra- he was on monitors & IV's but were told to try later that night.

Tests all came back negative- we were given a room to rest.

We fell asleep, missing our opportunity to hold him.

I didn't get to breastfeed him until noon the next day.

 He latched fine right away but the NICU had him on sugar water so he wasn't hungry.

And this began a long ordeal. They call 36 week old babies the "great pretenders" because they seem ready for life outside the womb but they have trouble breathing and eating on their own sometimes.

And Ezra was quite the pretender when it came to eating.

So much so that a feeding tube was decided upon to give him the nutrients he didn't take by mouth.

I started pumping & bottle feeding him so the hospital could track what he ate & we could get out of this place.

Our expected one day stay turned into night after night and feeding after feeding, crying over a six pound baby uninterested in substances other than the sugar water they still had flowing in his veins.

Day three Ezra's billy ribon levels came back moderately high so he was placed under a heat lamp & blanket. 

We were instructed only to hold him for 30 minute feeding increments. The rest of the time he was to be under the lights.
When Ezra was in the womb I always sang that Lauryn Hill song with the lyrics "You'd be like heaven to touch/ I want to hold you so much."

How ironic that was now.

Every morning they pricked his bruised heels, only to have the results come back higher.

one of the precious feeding times I had with him.

Halloween passed. My husband's birthday was spent in the hospital.

By day six I had the baby blues so we took a night off from the hospital & went home to rest.

At this point, we just wanted them to "set Ezra free!!!"

On day seven, I spoke with one of the nurses. Ezra was eating & his levels were down- I politely let her know it was in our family's best interest to go home. For the past two days the nurses had felt he should be discharged & had freely told us so. His levels weren't that high & he now breastfed & bottle fed fine.

day five in the NICU

She advocated with the over pre cautious doctors to discharge us.

It worked. Happy and relieved, we took him home that day.

We appreciated it all so much more now.

In the end, this was not how any of us envisioned Ezra's first days of lives.

Reflecting on it, I feel that it was not a coincidence that Ezra spent his first seven days in the NICU. In our faith, seven is a holy number- God's favorite number.

Seven days Ezra's life was covered in prayer & thoughts from people from all over the place. God must have a purpose for such a life.

I envisioned Ezra's birth story as quiet, peaceful, & calm- it was none of those.

But I'm glad I didn't get the birth story I thought up because Ezra's was so much more powerful.

It tested our faith, it drew us closer together.

And I don't regret giving birth to Ezra at the Babymoon Inn- if I'd given birth to him at a hospital he would've been whisked away before I ever saw him. I would've felt robbed & Steven wouldn't have held him in the first moment of his life.

They had the equipment and experience necessary to keep him alive & they kept me calm & confident that it was ok. Where else will you get care like that?

And where else will my entire care team know my name?

I love that they know my name.

I'm not a patient with a procedure- I am a woman & this is my birth experience.


  1. Oh what a remarkable story for a remarkable family! So glad to read it in your own words. Love to you all!!

    1. Thank you Laura! And for your part in this story too!

  2. What an amazing story! How scary to have him rushed to the hospital right after birth. So glad everything turned out alright. What a beautiful baby! And what a fighter!

  3. Great story. (I'm a friend of Laura C's.)

    I really LOVE how God takes what we would never have chosen for ourselves -- or our children -- and turns it into something that, instead of destroying us, allows us to see His grace, leads us to trust Him more, draws us closer together... He redeems like that. I love it.

    And congratulations on your glorious, dear baby.

    1. Thank you ladies! Karen, I couldn't have said it better myself!! :)