ezra jude olson arrived just over 3 weeks ago on a golden, sunny monday afternoon, march 18th at 5:00 PM. he weighed 8 pounds 5 ounces and measured 22 inches long. he's a tall, hairy, beautiful baby with heart-shaped nostrils. (heart-shaped nostrils!) oh, he's so perfect. we keep joking it's like he fell out of a rainbow or something.
in other words, we like him so, so much.
i will try to tell you a little of his birth story. or not. so many big feelings! i know i will not do them justice. maybe i will just share a few highlights.
ezra was born at home. you guys, home birth is really, really awesome. i know it's not for everybody. and, to be honest, i really didn't know if it was for me this time around. my last birth was a home birth, and it was an amazing experience. i really hoped to do it again. but this had been a difficult pregnancy. i was sick for such a long time. it took a heavy emotional toll, and i wasn't sure if emotionally i was equipped to face natural childbirth again.
enter my midwife cheryl.
you guys. everybody should have a cheryl. equal parts midwife, therapist, and friend--she got me through some pretty dark times. i'm so grateful for her support and encouragement throughout my pregnancy, as well as during the birth experience. i remember telling her right after baby was born, "thank you so much--i couldn't have done it without you." and she was all, "yes, you could have." and she was right. i could have done it without her. but i'm glad i didn't have to.
one other thing about cheryl: girlfriend is funny. which you wouldn't necessarily think of as a requirement in a midwife, but it totally is. pregnancy and birth are these really intense, emotional life events, during which some well-timed comic relief is not only desirable but necessary. and, okay, maybe this is just me, but it only makes sense: you are going to see my lady bits up close and personal? well then, you must have a sense of humor, yep.
so cheryl is funny, compassionate, knowledgable. AND she shaves her armpits. (full disclosure: i have not verified this last point.) friends, if you live in or near kansas city and are considering a home birth, hire cheryl gates. she's the best.
ezra was born underwater. i can't say enough good things about water birth. i can only speak from my own experience and maybe it's not the same for everybody, but for me personally, laboring in the water versus laboring out of the water--it's like night and day. in the water, i'm--how do i describe it?--comfortable. i mean, yes, it's still work. no, i don't feel like i'm at the spa getting a pedicure. but contractions are totally doable--enough that, during both of my water births, i've been totally caught off guard when all of a sudden, whoa! baby! coming! now! at which point, things are anything BUT comfortable, ha, but more on that later.
outside of the water? i feel like i'm being hit by a truck. so, yeah, i like birthing in the water better.
this is the birth pool i've used for both of my water births. the engineer is in charge of all things pool-related during the birth: filling it, keeping the water warm, etc. it may seem silly to mention, but he loves this aspect of a home birth. in his own words: "i get to be a part of things. i have something to do." which is not to say he's just the pool guy. ha. he's on board with the pool and birthing at home is what i'm saying.
i caught ezra in my own hands. those last few minutes of a birth--the part where a fully-formed PERSON is coming out of you--they're, um…intense. (duh.) cheryl and i had discussed some strategies ahead of time to help me stay focused and present in that moment, the goal being to stay calm and work with my body as opposed to fighting against it.
so, when the time came (and like i said, it happened suddenly--one minute i was lying back in the pool, the next i was all, "this is the part i don't like!!!"), cheryl quietly instructed me to reach down and feel the baby. which i did. well, actually, what i felt first was a balloon of water about the size of a baseball. (my bag of water was still intact.) and then a few seconds after that, the baby's head emerged. oh my goodness, we were so close! just another few seconds and then, miracle, the rest of his body wriggled out and baby was born into my hands.
i can't describe it. thankfully, with three older children, i've been lucky to have had some pretty fantastic birth experiences, but this is the first time i've ever guided a baby into my own hands. it was, wow, one of the most physically (mentally, spiritually) challenging things i've ever done. words like intense, raw, vulnerable come to mind. my sister suggested another word: sacred. and that is probably the best way to describe it. it really was one of the most sacred, spiritual, awesome experiences of my life.
and happy! so, so happy.
i cut the cord. this was another first for me. i don't know what it's like in other parts of the world but in american culture at least, cutting the cord is usually a dad thing, and now that i think about it, i'm not sure why? i've never done it before--had never thought about it before--but once the idea occurred to me i couldn't imagine anyone else doing it but me.
i had envisioned the cutting of the cord as this sort of heart-wrenching, emotional experience, and that's exactly what it was. i'm a boob, yes. cried my sentimental hippie eyes out, i did.
it took us two weeks to name the baby. zoiks! crazy, i know. but the engineer and i are notoriously slow movers. in the meantime, the kids had started calling the baby "dragon" in the womb, so we stuck with that until we had something official.
we chose ezra because it's a bible name like his brother's. it's also the name of a religious leader, ezra taft benson, who meant a lot to me as a kid. i wrote a letter to him once when i was eight years old, and he wrote me back. ha. twenty-five years later, it's still one of the coolest things that ever happened to me.
we like family names as middle names. ezra's middle name is jude, after my mom and grandma who are/were both named judith. my mom and i both cried when we told her.
there are so many more details i could share. like how i'm so grateful to the engineer for doing this family thing with me. like how his presence and gentle encouragement during the birth gave me so much strength and courage. like how the first people to know we had a baby were the total strangers who rang the doorbell just minutes after ezra was born. (a father and son, letting us know they'd hit and totaled k's car (!) while it was parked on the street, thus providing the perfect wacky twist to the end of this story.)
i have about a bazillion photos to go through.
meanwhile. he's here! he's healthy. we are over the moon.
[bottom photo by asher / and you can now view instagram photos online]