Eyes Wide Open


IMG_2248The birth of my newbie, Ezra Abram Nicolai, was an adventure, and after a month of getting to know him, I feel even more blessed than I did when I found out we were expecting! When you know what you’re getting yourself into, the anticipation of a new baby can either be a source of joy or worry.

I know for myself, being a generally relaxed person, I have probably changed in both respects. On the one hand, I worry more than I did with my first or second born, because with time I have learned of all the things that can go wrong with pregnancy, birth, and babies. But, as he is our eighth, I have also gained some better perspective on what to expect, like for instance: a baby is a baby until they are three or four. This is a source of joy:  The children grow up so quickly that knowing they really need me- for that long, and even after that, is a good feeling. The older children need me too, just in different ways. The nine year old wants me to watch, the twelve year old wants me to listen, the teenager needs me to approve of her and challenge her ideas, I’m not sure what the adult child needs: if you have some insight into that, please comment below :). There really isn’t a time of life that the child can “do without” a mother’s attention and love. This is a good realization. It may not be something the world recognizes, but I know it for myself, for sure, and that empowers me to want to improve myself in order to raise strong, healthy, and holy kids.

IMG_2634I was ‘in labor’ on and off for the entire week….I would have jabbing crazy contractions and then slow melty ones that seemed to pull my back muscles down to my ankles. I could always count on one thing throughout these episodes: the contractions would stop, just in time for me to get all worked up that today was THE DAY! After several days of this I even went to the hospital only to get sent home after my intense, painful, breathe-through-them contractions came to an abrupt halt once they hooked me up to the monitors. How frustrating. The kids cried. They thought we were playing a prank on them, and when they got home from Auntie Elsa and Uncle Jaime’s, they were like- where’s the baby?! You would think that after having SO MANY CHILDREN I would know when I was in labor. Right? Wrong!…… Always count on motherhood being an opportunity for a good lesson in humility!


That was Thursday, when we took a “spa day” at the hospital, joining our wonderful Doula, Janet Holtz, for lunch, and Mass, and a nice long nap! Two days later was Saturday, and I was very uncomfortable the whole day. I had strong but inconsistent contractions throughout…. I remember debating about wearing my ugly slip on crocks or bending over to pull on my boots…and going for the crocks! By evening I couldn’t sit because if I did I felt like I was going to lose my mind with pain. The poor kid had dropped into my pelvis! I tried to just WALK WALK WALK and did dishes and laundry because I couldn’t stand how lazy and useless I felt. I kept praying for the handicapped, realizing that being restricted by ones own body is such a vulnerable place to be. I bow to my wheel chair bound friends!

After putting children to bed and taking a bath, thinking the contractions would stop with the warm water, as had been the pattern, I realized the contractions were only getting stronger! I laid down to sleep anyway, at this point strongly doubting my own ability to distinguish real from false labor! As I lay there feeling the traveling electric sensations of the uterus gathering itself into a work force of power, I realized this could no longer be ignored. The words of my mother stuck in my head: “don’t wait too long!” SO, reluctantly, I woke Abel at one o’clock to say: “this is it!”


He was so sweet, so excited, I really thank God for him, because I felt like I wanted to call in for this one, I was suddenly in so much pain with wild ripping pressure rising up in my lower back and moving to the legs in a kind of pulsating stretch…..I was pacing and unable to sit. When we got to the hospital I was 7 centimeters dilated, and shaking….They offered an epidural, and for the first time, I accepted! I have never even considered using pain meds in childbirth before, it just wasn’t something that even occurred to me.

I think because I was so exhausted, the pain wasn’t as manageable this go-around, and I am very grateful for modern medicine! The labor progressed very quickly, the body was numb, I could feel pressure and the intensity of emotions rising as Ezra moved towards the light. The look in my husbands eyes, the glow of the snow falling outside my window, and the wondering: what will he look like, who will he be? It was a shining moment of pure joy, when he finally came out and announced his presence with a loud cry! We were in heaven looking over his tiny body, so perfect, so new. We touched his wild unruly hair, and counted his fingers and toes! We laughed and cried, and kissed him, and each other…We did it. God blessed us…again!


As time passes, we are matching each others rhythm and I am surprised at the familiarity I feel when I look at my little baby. It’s as if he were always here, always a part of our family. He somehow fits, feels normal, feels like home. The poetry of a new baby is kind of like trying to describe a dear schizophrenic friend…One moment you’re all singing sweet songs, and letting the other children love on him, and then the next minute your breasts hurt, you’re hungry- so hungry you could cry, and you yell at the kid who clearly hasn’t washed his hands since last Christmas. It’s a rush of hormones, full blown sleep deprivation, and turning your body into food for another person, all while managing a couple of months of bleeding. Not an ideal time for most new moms- there are moments of joy and outright bliss…and then there is the reality. I think you should know, just in case this is your first time, this reality does change. If you can make it through the first three months, you have it in the bag- you will survive! Babies are only babies for a short time, so try to enjoy it….right?

IMG_2441 The night Ezra was born will be forever referred to as “The Snowstorm of 2015,” when we went to the hospital it was just starting to snow. As the night went on we accumulated over twelve inches! This meant that little Ezra and I got to spend an extra night at the hospital because our family vehicle ended up in a ditch! And my husband and kids got to spend the night at their cousins house! They will never forget that! It also meant that the hospital staff was stuck in knee deep snow, and it was quite a sport to get all those cars out of the parking lot…So, while I was getting the pleasure of staring at my baby, there were people getting stuck and towed all over Michigan. It was a funny little addition to an already amazing day, and it still makes me laugh- you can’t plan this stuff! Thank you, Lord for all the good things you give us, for keeping us safe, and for growing our hearts with these experiences.

My heart is so full, it could burst.

3 Comments on “Eyes Wide Open

  1. I LOVE YOU!!!!! how wonderful to see and feel and read!!! you rock mama!!!

  2. Great post, Jen!
    I’m sure my personal experience varies drastically from Adam’s, and of course, I am a girl, but my answer to your question about adult children, is that they need to know that the things going on in their lives are truly important to you, which can be easily achieved via phone/email. And later, be a doting and helpful grandparent 🙂

  3. THAT WAS GREAT MAMA!! By the way I think I need you a ton more than just you to approve my childish ideas ![?]

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