Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Birth of Ezra by Kayla McIntosh

My contractions started at 7:00 in the morning on May 26th, and for the twentieth time, I thought: could this be it? I had been having contractions for what seemed like years— okay, it was literally just the last couple weeks, but man, they were a tease! So as usual I got up and expected the contractions to slow and then lull, finally ending for the day ... But that didn't happen this time! I was stunned that, finally, they were growing stronger, and it just affirmed that these were the real deal. I texted my mom, mother-in-law, and doula ... then I turned on some music and got into the bathtub. As I sat in the tub, watching my contractions, I praised God for giving me this tremendous and so long-awaited blessing.

See, this was the first time that I had gone into labor on my own. With my oldest son I was induced, went through 19 hours of labor, didn't get past 9 cm, and ended up with my first cesarean. Then when I was pregnant with my second son, I was surrounded with all the unsupportive words that come with the "previous cesarean territory." I was constantly being told that it was unlikely that I could deliver vaginally, that if I hadn't gone into labor by 39 weeks I would have to schedule a repeat cesarean: there was just no support. In the end, my second son came into this world via a repeat cesarean.

From the day I found out we were expecting our third child, I was determined to do whatever was necessary so I would not have to endure another cesarean. I found a wonderful doctor who was very supportive of my decision, a doula who was just as determined to help me achieve my goal, a wonderful group of Christian sisters who prayed over my pregnancy, and most importantly, a God who put everything in place to make a vaginal delivery possible. God had done His part, and now it was time for me to do mine.

My mother-in-law came by and so wonderfully offered to take my two older boys to church. As we got them ready, I was really able to feel the intensity of the contractions build. I practiced my breathing and labored on. After another hour or so, my doula Jane came, and by then, I was consumed with labor pains. Jane asked me to get out of the tub so she could try and turn my little one because I was laboring very intensely in my lower back, so I got on my hands and knees and she worked to turn my little miracle using her rebozo. Oh man, did that do me in! Once baby had moved, the contractions came one right after the other. I tried a little longer to lay on my side in bed to find some comfort, but after the tenth contraction or so, I screamed it was time to go! My wonderful husband quickly ran around to gather things, and I just stood rocking back and forth, praying for my God to give me His comfort and strength.

We got into the car, I put in my headphones and then I entered "the zone." I closed my eyes, focused on breathing, and allowed my body to float away with the music in my ears. It's a long drive to the hospital, but it seemed like no time at all. I vaguely remember hearing my husband speak to my mom and my mother-in-law as we traveled, but for the most part, I was in a daze. Before I knew it, we were in the hospital room, and one of the first statements made by my nurse was, "Oh, you've had two cesareans, so you're in for a repeat." I simply responded with, "No, I am not." I was determined to see these contractions through to the end and prove to all those doctors that I was capable of achieving the birth I wanted, especially when God was with me.

We got to the hospital at about 10:30 or 11 AM, I was 6 cm, and my contractions were coming every minute, lasting about 40 seconds, so I decided I needed an epidural. Admittedly, I felt like I was failing myself because I wasn't able to handle the pain all the way through, but when I look back on it now, I'm so glad I did it. It gave me an opportunity to truly see my birth, to be clear headed and appreciate every second of it. (Plus, I think it might have actually helped me to do slow, controlled pushing.) Once the epidural was in, they checked me again. I was now 9 cm, and I had only been at the hospital an hour.

I was 10 cm shortly after, but we had all decided it would be better to let baby slowly work his way out (“laboring down”) instead of starting to push right away. So I was able to, for the most part, relax and enjoy this next stage without fretting that I wouldn't get to the pushing stage. By 4:30 PM, our little guy was at +2 station, and it was time to start pushing. The nurse thought he was having some heart decelerations during contractions, and since the contractions were coming so hard and so frequently, I was told only to try pushing every other contraction. Then I was told to stop pushing until they could decide whether or not I should continue pushing. It just so happened that the doctors were changing shifts at this point.

Once again I was blessed by the woman God had led me to be my doula because Jane was constantly reassuring me that baby was actually just fine, and I would certainly be able to continue pushing soon, and she was absolutely right.  Once we finally got the go ahead, I pushed, and within a half hour, my little Ezra Connor McIntosh was born into my husband's hands. He weighed 9 lbs, was 21’ long, and born at 5:48 PM.

I praised God as tears streamed down my face. I was holding my handsome baby boy within seconds of delivering him! This was a first and one of the most blessed moments of my life. As I stared at his little face, touched his tiny hands, I knew that I couldn't truly take credit for this special moment. God had given this moment to me. He set everything in place from day one so that this moment would come.  He gave me His strength when I felt weak, and He gave me His comfort when I felt as though my body could no longer handle the pain ... He gave me this miracle, my Ezra.

I know that there are so many women out there who have been in my shoes, feeling broken and unsupported in a world filled with doctors who just want to get you in and out in the most "efficient" way possible. I am proof that no matter what you are told, you are not broken, but rather you are capable of doing everything you desire when you have God by your side.

"For I can do everything through Christ, 
who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:13