Merritt Matthias is here! He was born at 4:13am on Thursday, August 2, 2012. He weighed 8 lbs 8.5oz.
Active labor was less than three hours. Which is insane to me. I was in the tub soaking for a couple of hours Wednesday evening. I got out of the tub and pretty sure I laid down at 10:38pm. I was having contractions, but wasn't thinking it was anything major. In the back of my mind I wondered if it might be labor. I had Jere time some contractions before we went to sleep and they were pretty consistent but not long and not anything major. So I slept until 1:28am at which point I was feeling more uncomfortable and woke up because of it. I started the bath water and got in for a few minutes and afterwards yelled to Jere to wake up and help me time them. It took several times of yelling for him before he even woke up and I realized that I was pretty grumpy. I remember thinking that might be a sign that this was labor and that it was actually further along than I was anticipating. (I had already shook him awake before heading to the bathroom) At that point I think contractions were about 50 seconds long and 2-3 minutes apart. The general rule is to have contractions be longer than a minute less than five minutes apart for an hour but I knew I didn't want to time them for another hour before figuring out if we should head to the birth center. I told Jere we needed to call the midwife because we hadn't done that yet. We also needed to call Jana to let her know that I was in labor so that she could come stay with Brighton and Ensley.
I remember being really annoyed with Jere because I told him we need to call the midwife and told him that the paper with numbers was in my purse. He looked in my purse like three different times saying he couldn't find it but I was watching him shuffle the paper around while searching through my purse! (it was the ONLY paper in there) I couldn't really talk through my contractions so the little time I had to direct him, I was very short and super annoyed. I remember thinking that was probably a sign that I was progressing well but didn't want to assume it because Ensley's labor was so long.
It felt like I was only in the tub for about 10 minutes before feeling too hot and wanting to get out. I had dried off and was shaking and figured it was about time to throw up, which is pretty standard when I'm in labor. I was a little surprised that I was shaking because it seemed like that should happen during transition but I figured it was because I was hot and probably going to throw up. I sat on the toilet and emptied my bowels. Then threw up. Jere was on the phone with the midwife at that point. The midwife wanted to talk to me but Jere told her she'd have to wait. I had set the trashcan on the ground and was trying to aim correctly but it was splattering every where. Jere cleaned it all up for me while I was on the phone, sitting on the toilet still. I had several contractions on the toilet, while on the phone with the midwife and I think it gave her a good idea of what was going on. At that point I think it was about 2am because she said it sounded like things were moving pretty quickly and that we should probably head to the birth center. I remember him telling her that we couldn't be there for another hour because our friend had to drive 30 minutes to come stay with the kids and we had a 20 minute drive to the birth center after she got to our house. Jere called Jana to come on over. I put a dress and underwear on and went to lay on the bed. Jere woke up Rachel and told her we were going to be leaving soon. She sat on the bed putting pressure on my back and I tried to stay loose during contractions and not tense up. The whole time I really tried to keep my mouth open and breath intentionally because a couple times I caught myself with my mouth closed, breathing through my nose. At those moments I knew I was tense. The wonderful birth class I had at the Birth and Women's Center in Topeka prepared me SO well for all the births I've had.
Jana arrived and we got up from the bed to move downstairs. I think I might have used the downstairs bathroom before sitting down on the couch to work through contractions. I could tell Jana was bringing her stuff in but everyone was being very quiet and I didn't want to open my eyes. It was time to walk to the Jeep. It felt like I wouldn't make it there without having a contraction so I hurried as quickly as I could and leaned over the front seat as soon as I got there. After it was done, I climbed in and found parts of the door and floor to push against, bracing for contractions on the drive to the birth center. I kept thinking it was going to be difficult driving for such a long way without pressure being put on my back. We got down the road and pulled up to the stop light at East Lake Sammamish Rd. where Jere was getting in the left hand turn lane to take the lake road instead of Sahalee Rd. I remember thinking "E. Lake Sammamish instead of Sahalee?! Are you sure that's not slower?" Of course I didn't say anything because I couldn't, and I didn't want to try to debate it. I just decided to lay the seat back as far as I could with Rachel behind me and turn around so I could lean on the seat. I never wore my seat belt while driving there and while I knew it wasn't safe, I felt completely safe because Jere is such a good driver. I remember thinking that he was driving fast (while still abiding the law, I'm sure) but so smoothly. I was very thankful for that because I had been dreading a jarring drive while in labor. It takes some talent to drive the way he did because there are so many hills and curves and turns around here. It's a good thing the drive was at night with no traffic!
We arrived at the birth center a little after 3am. Although the midwife had said to go through the front entrance and not use the side door, we pulled up and went in the side door to the first birth suite. Initially the midwife had said she was already there with another mom who was in the first birth suite but I think they moved that laboring mom to the second birth suite and put me in there instead. The difference between the suites is that the first birth suite has a regular large corner tub which is easier to fill with water. The second birth suite has a home birth tub that is enormous and takes a long time to fill with water. I don't think the other laboring mom was using the corner tub so they moved her over for ease of filling it for me.
As I walked in through the side entrance, I headed straight for the bed, leaned over and had a contraction. Then I climbed on the bed and laid there having a couple more. They asked if I wanted to get in the tub and I did so I walked over and climbed in. They set towels for me to lean on in front of me on the side of the tub and under my arms. Then they prepped me for antibiotics because I was Group B Strep positive. I wasn't positive with my first two births so it was a new unknown and I had been pretty nervous prior to labor about how it was all going to happen. They put the needle in my left arm first but for some reason that wasn't working. So they tried a second time in the back of my wrist. It worked for a few minutes but all the sudden it was burning and stinging really bad and I was yelling to tell them so. I guess that second time, the seal on my vein wasn't good so it was bubbling up under my skin. They waited a minute and then tried a third time to finish up the antibiotics and it was then that I felt like the contractions were further apart. I remember looking up feeling like I had a break and saying "are my contractions slowing down?!". The midwife told me it was probably because they were messing with me but that they were almost done.
On a side note, Jere was putting pressure on my back that whole time and he was such a trooper. I didn't realize it at the time but he was having a really difficult time keeping it together. He told me later as he was recovering from the experience that his whole right side was numb from pushing on my back so hard. Anytime he let up, I yelled at him to keep pushing. He said he was grossed out because his hand was in the tub water and he was RIGHT next to the midwives who were putting needles in my arm over and over. Anyone who knows him, knows how much he can't handle blood and needles. After I was on the bed, I noticed he was sitting in a chair with his eyes closed and his head leaned back. I asked him what was wrong and it was then that he said he had been trying not to pass out!
Up until that point, it felt like the contractions had been pretty long with very little time in between so any break was noticeable. After they were done with the IV, I got back to the business of focusing on laboring and all the sudden I felt my water break. It was two bursts into the water and I knew right away what had happened. I was pretty excited by that because I felt like it meant I was progressing a lot faster than I had hoped. Shortly after my water broke, I was wondering if I was feeling pushy even though my body wasn't pushing yet. I remember thinking through several contractions that I might be able to push but wanted to wait for my body to do it first. I felt disconnected and in my own little world. It seemed obvious that pushing was going to happen soon, but the first time I started grunting and pushing was several contractions after I 'sensed' it would start and I hadn't said anything about feeling pushy. The midwives were all the sudden rushing to get arm length gloves and making comments about having a baby really soon. Which made me happy. The whole time I was in labor, I felt prepared to have it be a long time. I had been on my knees leaning on the side of the tub but when I started pushing I scooted back to the middle of the tub staying on my left knee while my right leg was in a crouch position braced on the side of the tub. I was pushing on the side of the tub with my right hand and squeezing Rachel's hand with my left. At that point I was pushing with every contraction and it seemed to be happening quicker than I remembered it going before. I didn't have much time to prepare myself mentally before each push. He was staying right where he needed to be and not going back in at all. While this was a good thing, it burned like crazy the whole time I was pushing. The first major push I had intense pressure in my booty which was uncomfortable but not too bad. I remember reaching down and feeling his head after the second major push and feeling the whole top of his head. His hair waving in the water. Pretty sure I said "he has hair!". It burned worse than I had experienced before and I was yelling at whoever to get me a washcloth so could put counter pressure on his head. That really helped. I think I pushed two more times and all the sudden his head was out and I wasn't in pain anymore. Amazing. I sat there waiting for the next contraction thinking about how I was almost done. It was an odd feeling knowing his body was still there but that I didn't feel a thing. The midwives had been doing some stuff - maybe loosening up the cord so I hadn't been holding his head but on the next contraction I reached down and held his head as he came out. Both midwives were supporting his body while I grabbed him. It all happened so fast but I think I pulled him up and they helped me sit back in the tub so he could rest on my chest. I was a little worried that he wasn't breathing because he didn't make any noise but a couple seconds later he made a little choking sound and was breathing. He never cried.
For me, it's always been the best feeling in the world to be done and relieved, holding my baby. I sat back and exclaimed how happy I was! I've always said that it's hard work and IT IS! This time there was a lot more burning while pushing which was painful but it also went so fast and I think that's why. I understand the give and take there. The total time between arriving and having him was 1 hour and 1 minute, according to the midwife. My midwife said she thought active labor was from when I woke up at 1:28am until 4:13am. Three hours. Talk about quick!