Ezra Louis was born May 18 at 1:09 in the morning after a week of agonizing about being induced, a week of yelling at God, pouting because Ezra's birth was not supposed to be this way. It was supposed to be normal. No tough decisions, go in to labor on my own, rock it like a crunchy mom with no meds, put him right on my tummy not on a warmer, wait to cut the cord kind of normal birth. David and I had talked a long time about how we needed this birth to be different than Gideon's. We needed some healing, healing that comes from an experience not saturated in hurt and loss. We'd made all the plans to make it so, different hospital, different doctor.
For the most part, Ezra had a wonderful birth. Despite being induced, I was able to labor and deliver pain medication free, I moved, I breathed, I even did some squatting. According to my husband I was amazing.
I'm pretty proud that I didn't drop the "F" bomb. Not once. I did however, during several contractions in a row, beg the nurse not to hand my baby to me wearing a hat.
The first time I saw Gideon, he was wearing a hat. I held him and admired his sweet little face in blissful ignorance. Family filtered out, NICU doctors filtered in. Then they took off his hat. No one had told me about the severity of Gideon's brain malformation. No one warned me that a very large portion of brain and spinal chord was puffed out from the back of his head. It is a moment branded in me, sitting there marveling, somewhat dissociated at the blatant visibility of my son's brain.
No hats. "Please don't give him to me with a hat on" I begged. She smiled and said "no hat".
24 hours of cervidil, 13 hours of labor, two times in the labor tub, ten minutes of pushing and he was there. 7 lbs 11.5 oz and 20 and 3/4 inches of perfect.
Ezra was wonderful, healthy and beautiful and I should have fallen madly in love. I was supposed to fall madly in love, that's the normal response, but what has washed over me in the past week has more often been sadness, fear and even some disappointment. Some pain, and a lot of worry. Worry because Ezra would not nurse, from his biliruben to his blood sugar he has struggled to latch. Angry because Ezra was supposed to be my "normal" baby. My "everything is perfect because God 'owes' me that in this baby". I have cried many, many tears over this past week.
I missed the memo that normal newborns are hard, that normal newborns sometimes struggle to nurse, and that normal new mom's often feel some sadness and postpartum anxiety.
And, like a little child sometimes I need things repeated. God will give me what I need, when I need it. He will use everything for his good if I will allow him too and Ezra is my perfect baby because he was given to me by my Father, just like his brother Gideon. And I do love him, but it has taken some time. More time than I expected, just like nursing has taken more time and many more detours than I expected.
It has been a journey of the unexpected this past few weeks, including how giving my little Ezra a bath, brought me back to my last morning with Gideon. One of the very last things we did with Gideon was give him a bath, in my big farm sink that I knew from the first day we looked at this house would be the perfect placed to bathe my babies.
As I reflect on washing Ezra's little hands and feet and all the parts in between, I have been reminded that as people of faith we've been washed in something much more potent than water. We have been washed in the blood of our savior. So I must come to terms with the notion that these new experiences with Ezra, may be saturated in some pain. But our healing isn't born out of the lack of pain and grief in our new experiences, it comes from recognizing that the the blood we have been washed in also saturates our lives with the power to birth joy from the grief.
Ezra reminds me that no experience, no perfect nursing baby, no perfect birth "heals" me. Only God heals me. And I still need him to. My help comes from the Lord.