On November 4, 2011, Stephen, Miles, and I welcomed Ezekiel James to our family. We are so incredibly blessed to have him in our lives and excited to get to know who he is and who he will become. This is the story of how Zeke entered the world:
This pregnancy has been an emotional roller coaster for me in many ways, but the one emotion that remained constant from the very first day was the love I felt for this tiny person growing inside me. After 8 long months of worrying, smiling, crying, anticipating, dreaming, and hoping it was time to finally meet our son. I had been experiencing somewhat frequent Braxton Hicks contractions for several weeks, espcially in the evenings after being on my feet all day, but I was completely caught off gaurd when I woke up on November 4, almost 5 weeks before my original due date, with strong, painful contractions only 4 minutes apart.
We got Miles ready, threw a few things in a bag for me, and headed off to the hospital. I was concerned that Zeke was coming so early, and that we hadn’t had our final follow up ultrasound- the one that was needed to check the fluid in the vetricles of his brain had not increased so we could safely attempt a vaginal birth. When we arrived at the hospital, we learned that I was already dialated to 2.5 cm, and I was hooked up to an electronic fetal monitor. We soon realized that each contraction was causing Zeke’s heart rate to drop dangerously low. There was a lot of talk from the night shift nurses and on-call doctor about a c-section, but fortunately when my doctor was called, he was not so quick to rush into a surgical birth. He wanted to see an ultrasound first, and suspected that the drop in the baby’s heart rate was cord compression, and that we might be able find a position that would decrease pressure on the cord. I was given a shot to stop or at least slow down my contractions long enough for the ultrasound and biophysical profile (which both looked great!) but it started to wear off quickly after that. We were able to find a position with me lying on my right side where Zeke’s heart rate remained strong through the contractions, and believe me, I was NOT going to move if it meant I might need a c-section! My doctor suggested starting a low level of pitocin since the earlier injection had caused my conractions to become irregular, which I (rather reluctantly) agreed to. Within just a few minutes they started to increase in intensity again, although I ‘m not convinced that the pitocin was necessary since they were already getting stronger on their own. What the pitocin did seem to do was make it so that the pain level never really went down completely between contractions and I didn’t get a break from them! In that regard, the labor felt completely different than it did with Miles, where I at least had a minute or two between contractions to psyche myself up for the next one. Fortunately, it didn’t last nearly as long though. I don’t know if I could have done 29 hours of that without pain meds like I did with Miles! Within just a couple of hours from the time my contractions became regular again, I had dialated to nine and a half centimeters, and could tell that it was almost time to push. My water still hadn’t broken yet so the doctor went ahead and broke it.
I pushed through just three contractions, and Zeke entered the world, pink and crying and absolutely beautiful! You have no idea how relieved I was to hear such a strong healthy cry after all the worrying these past 8 months! His APGARS were 8 and 9, which is pretty impresive for such a little guy. He’s was just 4 lb. 13 oz! I got to hold him for just a minute or two, which didn’t feel like nearly enough, but because of the concerns with his ACC diagnosis, they wanted to look him over thoroughly right away. They had a little bed ready for him over in the corner of our room so I could watch, and when I looked up, It occured to me that there were nine people in the room besides Stephen, Zeke and I. Nine. My doctor, two L&D nurses, a Pediatrician and a couple of nurses for Zeke, and three med students. Hmmm… Awkward?!? Aparently we were the most interesting thing on the L&D floor that day!
I really missed having the alone time with my husband and baby after his birth but all in all, I am so happy and grateful that Zeke is doing as well as he is. With all of the things we were told might go wrong, it is really amazing to see him impress the doctors a little more every day. He is still in the NICU nursery for now, but I really don’t think it will be much longer before he comes home. He has been off the oxygen for two days now, off the IV fluids for one, And has been drinking breastmilk from a bottle at every feeding for several days now. His pediatrician initially said he had “significant concerns” about how Zeke would do with feedings, not just because he is a preemie, but because coordinating sucking, breathing, and swallowing effectively is often one of the first challenges faced by babies with ACC, but he is exceeding everyone’s expectations. (Well, except mine. I already knew he was pretty special!) The Pediatrician said he might have to alternate the bottle/feeding tube for a while, but he did so well that he skipped right to the bottle at every feeding! And after waiting 6 days, I finally got to nurse him for the first time today. He took to it like he had been doing it from the start! We are going to try nursing for two of his feedings per day at first, then increase from there until he is nursing every
I’m not going to lie, the past few days has been really tough on me for a lot of reasons. I miss being home and focusing on my whole family. I hate that Stephen is having to juggle taking care of me, and Miles, and work right now. And it breaks my heart that Miles is having such a crazy week. He misses me, I know, even though I have been trying to spend as much time with him as I can considering the circumstances. He had a major meltdown on Tuesday (which, of course, made me have one too) so I decided we all needed to spend the night at home together and I think that was good for both of us. Miles understands that he has a baby brother now, but he doesn’t understand why he can only see him through a window and why he can’t be home with us yet. I’m really ready to bring my baby home!
As tough as this past week has been, (has it really been almost a week???) we are so blessed to have this little guy in our lives. I can’t wait to get to know him and see how he fits into this little family of ours. We love you, baby Zeke!
And now, for the part you have all been waiting for: pictures! We haven’t taken a lot (very uncharacteristic of me, I know) because they try to keep the lights in the NICU dimmed as much as possible so the lighting isn’t great for pictures. Not to mention that all the tubes and wires, and the bili lamp Zeke has been hanging out under are not exactly flattering, and of course the fact that I have been a tad preoccupied lately. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll make up for my slow picture-taking start once we get our little guy home!