ezekiel cruz valdez [birth story]

so much of this story begins the days leading up to it. i feel as if this birth was covered with so much goodness from the Lord, from start to finish. Of course all births are, but this one had a sweetness to it.

much of the last phase of my pregnancy was very comfortable. even as i hit 40 weeks i was full of energy, and incredibly peaceful. it was almost a peaceful oblivion. Though we didn't know the gender, somewhere in my 39th week the Lord woke me up in the night and spoke very clearly that I would have a son and to name him Ezekiel Cruz. Ricky had already been very passionate about this name, and also was very confident it was a boy. I needed God to speak it to me - and He did with such clarity.

throughout the days before i was having contractions (is it fair to call them that? maybe slightly cramps), though incredibly mild and only slightly uncomfortable. we walked every day - usually morning and night, and they would come and go with no consistency. sometimes i would have to stop to catch my breath, but for the most part i carried on as usual.

on saturday, i had hit 41 weeks. i had a couple signs of oncoming labor, but, as with everything in this birth, was holding it all very loosely. perhaps it would be tonight, perhaps not. we had spent the morning at Amos' baseball practice. My mother had flown in the night before, and decided to go to ikea in the evening to do some more walking. we walked around and the cramping picked up - but was incredibly mild.

by the time we got home i knew that if i continued to move around labor would pick up, but decided to try and rest and let my mom and Ricky rest too. i wanted the kids to go to bed and i wanted to see if i could get any sleep in. by this point i was pretty sure labor would come as soon as i woke up.

i went to sleep around 11 - having mild, mild contractions (cramping?) maybe every 15 minutes. maybe more outstretched. i didn't time them. i was in and out of sleep, awaking here and there for a contraction - and i would just imagine (as silly as this sounds) lucia stepping on my belly and me asking her to please move, it was uncomfortable for mommy and being patient as she took her time to move. I have no idea where this visualization came from - but it helped with the patience aspect and for me to view the discomfort as any normal daily discomfort.

around 3, i woke up and knew i was too restless to go back to sleep but not very comfortable taking on the contractions lying down. i got up to take a bath, which was a quick ordeal because i still felt too restless to sit there for any amount of time. everyone was still sleeping, and ricky had moved to the couch sometime throughout the night because he couldn't sleep well. he was too much on alert to go into any deep sleep.

around 3:30, or 3:45 i finally decided to walk down the hall to where ricky was and let him know they were picking up - i think i began vocalizing a little through the contractions and i timed them to see they were about 10 minutes apart. i asked him to call his parents to just be on guard (they were going to stay with the kids) but they were still too far apart to come, and i also called my midwife to let her know labor had started. i was talking in between, and at some point started hanging around ricky's neck swaying back and forth through each.

over the next 30 minutes i did some last minute stuff - threw some extra items into the bag, brushed my teeth, etc. i asked ricky to load the car for when we were ready to go. i basically followed him around so i would have him for the contraction. by 4:15, my contractions picked up pretty intensely and i told him he better call his parents to come and tell the midwife we needed to head over. they were 6 minutes apart, maybe, and painful - though seemed incredibly mild to me (and short) - though they were about a minute and a half long. my gauge is pitocin contractions, and these were so mild and manageable i was pretty unaware that i was probably in the most intense part of labor.

by 4:40 his parents pulled up and i ran down the steps, went through a contraction in the front yard, and leapt into the car. the ride is only around 12 minutes or so, and i cried a little in the beginning saying, "oh i really don't want to do this in the car" and felt a little weepy - i had 3 on top of each other, and started shaking - so i am pretty sure i transitioned during the commute.

as we turned our last corner i said pretty loudly, "i think i need to push!" and ricky parked right in front of the center. thankfully, my midwife was waiting out front and said, "i started filling the birth tub upstairs." i literally (NO JOKE) ran up the stairs, stood and had one contraction in the bathroom, ricky came up, i sat on the birth ball in between (thinking that would help), but as soon as I had another one, i stood up at the side of the birth tub and said, "i need to push." the bath was filling up, so i was waiting for permission to get in. i pushed a little during that contraction and then climbed in, sat down and had 3 more contractions. the first one the head came out, and 2 more and he was under the water.

i am so thankful my mom caught this moment. it was in between my only two contractions outside of the birthing tub.

they pulled the baby up and i cried asking what it was. i saw he was a boy, and it was a very matter of fact reaction in my head, "yes, of course it is." and i pulled him to my chest and started crying saying, "THAT WAS SO EASY!!!!"

a blurry moment. so grateful she caught this too. holding little ezekiel for the first time!

i laugh now, looking back. natural births are suppose to make us feel so strong and empowered. to be honest, my other births proved so much more strength to me. they were much more painful and took way more endurance - both physically and emotionally.

this one came and went with such grace. i had, what seemed to be, only 15 or so painful contractions. and even then the pain was about a 7 or so compared to the 10 of pitocin induced contractions. my body just did something - and i had little say in it. it was 2 hours from real start to finish. 2 minutes later, i would have pushed him out in the car. 2 days earlier my mom would have missed the entire event.

i truly believe this birth was God's testament to me of His grace. there is nothing i did in particular that earned me a quick birth. i strived less within this pregnancy and birth and it resulted in the most favorable outcome. it was a pure gift. i held the birth so loosely, set super low expectations, and was given a better birth than i could ever imagine. it was truly, truly a Father pouring out kindness. i believe it was ushered in by a community that prayed so fervently for me and stood by me asking for the birth i had always wanted. i didn't even have enough in me to fight for it, but there were those that encouraged me a long the way. my other two births i was fighting my body to do something it wasn't ready to do (labor) and this one it came and did it before i could even process it!

i have no wisdom about any of it - only that God is the God of childbirth. He, ultimately, brings forth life. i have had a baby brought into this world in an high stress hospitable environment, a peaceful hospital environment, and now a natural/birth center environment. God has been in each one. He has taught me something about who He was in each one. In the pain and confusion of the first, the frustration and His kindness in the second, and His pure, undeserved grace in the last.

the moments following were sweet. my dear friend kelly came and processed with me. i felt so loved and so calm. lucia and amos met him and i have never seen such joy on their faces at a new baby brother. i went home a couple hours later and we've been resting/bonding ever since.

ezekiel valdez cruz. 7 lbs 2 oz. 20.5 inches long. born at 5:04 AM on march 22, 2015

read about my first birth here: amos part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and lucia