Ezra's Birth Story

Birth Story of Ezra

I was four months pregnant when we moved to Leon, Nicaragua. After selling most of our stuff and packing the essentials, my husband, our two year old daughter and I – second-trimester-pregnant – transplanted ourselves into a foreign land. Here we were, experiencing a new culture, language barrier and incredibly hot weather. Everything was new and the adjustment was hard on all of us.

Prior to moving, I had made contact with international midwife Gail Johnson via my director at Childbirth International, where I am studying to be a birth doula. We had had a home water-birth with our daughter in Canada, and it had been such a great experience for us both. If it was possible, we wanted to have another home water-birth with our second baby.

After asking around and doing some general research on birthing in Nicaragua, we quickly discovered that we wouldn't be able to access a trained midwife in country. When I got in touch with Gail and discovered that she was going to be in Nicaragua the same month I was due I was thrilled! However, we bulked a bit at the financial costs of bringing Gail for the birth. Being Canadians it was hard for us to consider the financial costs in hiring Gail; we didn't think about the costs involved.

Yet, while we were considering Gail as an option and I was hosting an evening in selling artwork to cover some of our general travel costs, I prayed what I felt to be a silly prayer: “God, if we raise $500 to cover the down-payment Gail needs, then I will take it as a confirmation to hire her.” When a friend of my dad's handed me a check for exactly $500 that night, not knowing anything about our decision, I said “thank you” not only to my friend's dad, but for God's provision.

Gail was scheduled to come the first of August. A week before she came I started having Braxton Hicks. Not only that, but I also felt so ready. We were experiencing record high temperatures and I was miserable. I was taking at least five showers a day (when we had water) and going to bed with wet washcloths. Once Gail arrived I thought “Alright, I can have the baby now!”

My due date wasn't until August 14 but I didn't think I could or would last another two weeks. Besides, my first baby had been born on her due date so I expected to have our baby early. When another week rolled by and my mother arrived, I was surprised I had lasted so long but grateful that my mom could be there for the birth. Every night I went to bed thinking “I could have a baby tonight”, yet every morning I woke up discouraged that I hadn't been woken up by contractions and that I was still indeed very pregnant. It was hard not to feel like I was going to be pregnant forever.

Since Gail is a traveling midwife, her time with us was limited. She was needed for two other births in country. As the due dates of the other women approached, we all felt a little tense, hoping that I would have the baby soon so that Gail could be with the other two women before their due dates. I felt like I was “hogging” Gail, and it didn't feel fair that I had so much time with her and the other women hadn't even met her. Gail decided that regardless of me going into labour or not, she would leave at the end of the week so that she could meet and get to know the other women before their babies came.

A few days before Gail's departure, we decided to try every natural way to induce labour. Yet, after a day of castor oil, breast pumping and yet another stretch and sweep, I felt exhausted. Nothing had induced labour and I was discouraged and disheartened. We called it a day and I began to mentally prepare to say goodbye to Gail. She was going to leave to attend the other women and I was going to stay in Leon, still pregnant. When the time came, we hoped that Gail would be able to make the two and a half hour trip in time to catch the baby, otherwise we would have no choice but to go to the local hospital.

However, in God's perfect timing our baby was born the night before Gail's scheduled departure. This is how the day of his birth went: my mom, daughter, Gail and I went out in the morning to shop for fabric. We stopped on the way home to get our nails done. Once we got home we had lunch and took naps. We enjoyed a quiet afternoon and then went out for dinner. After dinner we went out for ice-cream, walked home and then had a baby that same night. All in a day!

It was on the walk to supper that I had begun to have contractions. My ever-so-attentive husband asked how I was feeling and when I told him that I was having contractions ,I told him that I wasn't expecting to go into labour; I didn't feel hopeful. I had had contractions off and on for a week already and just wanted to forget about it and enjoy supper. Once my daughter was in bed for the night, my contractions took off. Gail canceled her travel plans for that next morning and we started to prepare for the birth by filling up the birthing pool on the outside patio. As I moaned in the hall, my mom and Gail shared a happy hug in the kitchen as this was the moment we had all been waiting for!

Once the pool was filled I readily climbed in and since we don't have hot water my mom began her job of boiling water in the kitchen to keep the birthing tub water warm for comfort. Things progress smoothly and by 11:09pm I am fully dilated and getting ready to push. Within eleven minutes, Ezra was “ejected out into the world”, as Gail wrote in her records. How grateful we were to have Gail's calm presence at the time of Ezra's birth, as he was born with the cord wrapped around his neck twice and not breathing on his own. As she resuscitated him, she calmly reassured us that he had a heart beat and that we need not worry. She efficiently got Ezra to breath and then placed him in my arms. Oh how wonderful to hold my son for the first time! He was absolutely beautiful.

As we reflect on this experience, we are grateful that we were able to hire Gail and have Ezra in such a calm and loving atmosphere. The birth was gentle and peaceful. Gail gave my husband and I our space, interrupting only to check Ezra's heartbeat and once to see how far I was dilated. What a unique experience it was to have a skilled midwife come stay in our home and be part of our family for a short time. After I discovered that she was 73 years old and we laughed over the fact that she could indeed be my grandmother, I felt a lot of respect and admiration for Gail. I trusted her abilities, knowing that she had delivered some 1,600 babies and has never lost a mother or baby. Being in a foreign country and not being able to access great maternal healthcare nor a local midwife like I would at home in Canada, I feel blessed that everything worked out so well and that Gail was the one standing in the pool, pant legs rolled up, bent over and hands outstretched to welcome our sweet baby Ezra.

August, 2014, Leon, Nicaragua

If you you would like to discuss your wants and needs and how my services might satisfy them, call or, preferably, e-mail me at midwife.international@gmail.com.

Gail Johnson, CPM, LM
Four Mile Lagoon - NW Highway, 89.2 Mile Marker
P. O. Box 251
Corozal Town
Central America

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