Mathias Lee Dutton was born in the hospital on October 14, 2020 at 4:53 in the afternoon. He weighed 7 lbs 6 oz and measured in at 20.5 inches long.
And the following is the rest of the story…
If you’ve been around for very long, then you know that our last baby was born at home and the entire time I was pregnant we thought she was actually a he.
Our ultrasound said, “It’s a boy!” when in fact, that simply wasn’t the case. You can read Cary’s home birth story here.
I wrote a little bit on Instagram about how that abrupt change affected me. The entire time I was pregnant with Cary, I thought I was carrying Mathias. We had his name all picked out, his clothes bought, washed, and put away. His bed was set up, and we even had a matching Superman shirt to go with his two older brothers’ obsession with Superman. We were all ready for this little boy.
But then the midwives said, “This is not a boy!” and our whole world turned on a dime. I was overjoyed with the news of actually being gifted a little girl to love and raise while simultaneously grieving the loss of the little boy I thought I was giving birth to. It seems weird writing of loss in this way when no actual death occurred. I know the loss of a baby, and even though there was never a boy there, it still felt real to me.
Fast forward a few years, and we felt the door to more babies had closed. Even though I carried the dream of four children in my heart, and didn’t yet hold my Mathias, I believed God had more for us, but for now the door was closed. So, we rested in the joy of our three children and treasured the one we lost in our hearts.
But then 2020 came around. What a year this has been! Am I right? I felt the Lord stirring in my heart toward the end of 2019 to “make room for what [He’s] about to do.” I had no idea what that word meant, but I felt it so strongly and after sharing with my husband, I began to simplify and re-prioritize the way I spent my time.
I made some pretty hard decisions to let some projects for this site drop, released my team to move on to other endeavors, and slowly worked to create space in our day-to-day lives for the work God was whispering into my heart. I felt a bit like Noah building an ark in the desert.
Once I did these things in faith, the Lord began to speak more clearly and without getting into the details (time does not permit for the whole story to be told, though I would love to share more fully sometime), I knew that I knew that I knew it was His will for us to try once more for another child. So we did, and here we are 9 months later holding the baby of our hearts in our arms.
As for his birthday, it was one for the books.
Again, if you’ve been around a while then you know that I’ve never had a hospital birth. My first son was born in a birth center, my second son was born at home, and my daughter was also born at home. But this time, I wanted to do a hospital birth.
I’m a big believer in following your instincts as a mom, and you’re going to birth best where you’re most comfortable. For a lot of people, the security of knowing if anything goes wrong, you’re in the hospital is just what they need to relax into the process of growing and delivering a baby. For most of my childbearing days, it was at home for me. However, this time I simply wanted to be in a hospital. So that’s what we did.
Maybe sometime in the future I can do a compare and contrast of the three different types of birthing options (home, birth center, hospital), but for now, let’s get on with Mathias’ birth story.
My other labors were relatively short. Okay, really short. My oldest was four hours of active labor, and the other two were a mere two hours of active labor. To be honest, we expected this one to be just as fast, if not faster, and we spent most of the 9 months worrying if we’d even be able to make it to the hospital (45 minutes away) before giving birth to this baby.
Alas, I shouldn’t have worried for this fourth babe had plans all of his own making.
With my other three, I experienced prodromal labor for weeks before they decided to come. This one, I had nary a contraction when I hit full term. It was like all activity ceased, and I was left wondering, “How on earth will I know when it’s time to go to the hospital? My usual pattern is not the pattern to follow this time.”
But around 37.5 weeks, I had a huge nesting urge, and then for the next week, all I wanted to do was sleep. I would cat nap throughout the day, and fall into a deep, deep sleep at night.
Then, on Tuesday, October 13th, something shifted mentally. My husband called me at 3pm to ask me where I was. I was out on a walk with our younger two, but I was supposed to be taking the older two to piano. I completely forgot about piano lessons, and he says this is when he knew I was close to going into labor. Me? In true fashion, I was oblivious. I wasn’t having contractions, so why should I have been on the alert?
I stayed up late that night feeling restless, but eventually around 11pm we made our way to bed. I couldn’t go to sleep though. I just laid there wide awake, and then the contractions started. They were 7-8 minutes apart, getting stronger, and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I felt “the contraction.” This, THIS is what I was used to!
In the past, taking a hot shower was about all I needed to get the labor going full tilt. So, I woke my husband around 1am and said, “I’ve been having contractions for a couple of hours. I haven’t had ‘THE’ contraction, but I’m going to get a shower to see if this continues. They are 7 minutes apart.”
Standing in the shower, the contractions stopped. I think I had two BIG contractions, but that was it. I did some hip rolling and various other things that had helped me in the past, but nothing happened. I simply had a hot shower in peace. When my husband came in to check on me, I said, “They stopped. I guess we can just go to sleep.”
So we laid back down. He slept. I didn’t. As soon as my head hit the pillow and I relaxed, the contractions started again. What in the world?
For the next two hours, I endured contraction after contraction. I prayed for wisdom to know if this was it, if we needed to go to the hospital. Though the contractions were strong, they still weren’t THE contraction. I tried hard to go to sleep, but I couldn’t.
By 3 am, I felt a peace in knowing that it was time to go. One of my specific prayers was that we would leave for the hospital before I was in active labor so that I could keep my “head in the game” and not “lose it” due to the pain of enduring labor in a car. I vividly remember the drive to the birth center with my oldest, and I darn near gave up on natural labor in that short commute (and that was only five minutes from my house!). We had at least 45 minutes, if not an hour, before we’d even pull into the hospital parking lot. Looking back, this was the Lord answering my prayers.
I woke my husband, and we got our things together. I fretted a bit about not being sure, but also knowing we had to go, and he reminded me that he would rather have ten false alarms than to not make it to the hospital in time for our baby’s arrival.
When Grammy arrived at our house to watch the other three, we hit the road for the 45 minute drive to the hospital. I was shivery and nervous, so we talked about everything other than the birth of our child. I even remembered that I had my Amazon order waiting to review with him before checking out. It was Amazon Prime Deals after all. If I was in labor, we’d miss these awesome deals for some Christmas gifts. So, we talked about Christmas gifts, and I placed my final order for my Amazon Prime deals on the way to hospital.
I find this sort of funny in hindsight. But doing this normal thing calmed my nerves and helped pass the time driving to the hospital. It’s also worth noting that I had maybe two contractions the entire trip to the hospital.
When we arrived, I was bustled into triage after answering COVID questions. Something in that myriad of questions made me laugh, and I remember saying, “Oh no. Do not make me laugh again.” It hurt to laugh, and it was at this point I realized how far down my baby had dropped.
In triage I was checked and found to be at 4 cm dilated, which is exactly what I expected. Since this was my fourth baby, they took me on my gut that this was it and admitted me.
I also had tested positive for Group B strep (as well as gestational diabetes this time), so I needed to get my IV going ASAP, so all of this was done in triage.
By the way, if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy, I highly recommend this book: Real Food for Gestational Diabetes, by Lily Nichols. I was able to follow this diet and stick to my exercise plan to manage my sugar levels without any further interventions.
While in triage, I had a few contractions, but nothing to write home about. However, we were moved to a labor and delivery room where we were able to settle in and wait until THE CONTRACTION hit.
During the next few hours, I waffled between feeling like I was letting people down, worried that I was wrong about coming in, and really just feeling like a fool because I didn’t know what was going on. My body just wasn’t following its normal pattern. But when I prayed, I knew I was there at the right time, so I chose to trust that it was all going to get going soon enough.
Eventually, I decided to lay back down on my side and get comfortable with some pillows. If nothing else, I would rest until things picked up. Turns out, it was in the laying down to rest on my side that things picked up again. The contractions started up again 5-7 minutes apart.
Even though I was having contractions, I managed to sleep on and off for the next few hours and into shift change at 7am, which brought a wonderful surprise. Our nurse friend came on duty, and we were thrilled to have someone who knows us and our desires for a natural birth but also someone who is so utterly professional that we knew we were in the best possible care.
After shift change, things picked up in labor and delivery. I asked to be checked, but I ended up waiting a while before someone showed up. Turns out all the mamas started delivering babies at the same time! Except me of course. I’m still over in my bed sleeping through contractions. Even if I had gone into labor, it would have been a bit of a shuffle of the staff to figure out who would be available to catch our boy.
While I waited, I decided to get up and move around a bit. See if I couldn’t kick these contractions into gear. I walked. I bounced on a labor ball. I kicked the labor ball back and forth with Mark. I took a shower. I walked some more. But nothing happened. The contractions stopped again.
By this point I was mentally done. I had been fit starting since 1am, and it’s now getting close to 11am. I was tired, hungry, and frustrated. When the midwife and nurse showed up to check me (I was 6 cm dilated and 100% effaced), I told them all I wanted to do was eat. I just needed something to eat. The midwife granted permission for me to order some lunch and the nurse brought me several packets of peanut butter to give me a little boost while I waited. I downed several of those packets, drank some more water, and…laid back down. For real. I.laid.back.down.
Then, what do you know but the contractions began again. I decided by this point that I needed to embrace this as the way this boy wanted to come, and just rest my way through contractions.
Honestly, if you’ve read The Husband-Coached Childbirth, then you know this is how he recommends laboring anyway. Good thing I re-read the book several weeks before labor was to begin!
So there I lay on my side, appearing to be asleep to all who entered the room. The contractions were powerful, and I had to admit stronger than they were. The peanut butter energized my body, and it was within the next hour that I said, “There it was. That was it. THE contraction. I’m not moving though.”
As the contractions got stronger, I stayed put in my side position. I could feel my boy moving along the birthing canal, and I knew we were finally, FINALLY, close to being done. The midwife came in to check on my progress and found that I was 8cm and 100% effaced. Any minute now, we’d be rolling.
I did get up at this point. I was too restless to lay still, and the nurse recommended getting on the ball again. I did until that wasn’t comfortable, then I endured contractions draped over Mark’s shoulders and just letting his breathing calm my breathing.
Then, it happened. I needed to find the bed because I was at the point where I didn’t think I could do this anymore. If you’re a natural birther, you know THIS is when you’re so darn close. I was mentally prepared for that moment, and knew I was entering transition.
The nurse at this point was sticking close to my side, and she helped me get the bed positioned like a chair. It was as close to squatting as I could get, and at this point, she called the midwife back in, I was 9-9.5 cm. I remember the midwife saying that if I felt the urge to push I was free to do so because I would likely finish dilating during the pushing.
Then, her beeper went off. They called down to the desk to communicate that she was tied up in delivery and the doctor on call needed to take her page. She jokingly said, “If I leave now, I won’t make it back in time.”
No sooner did those words leave her mouth than my water broke, and I felt the overwhelming urge to push. After the contraction passed, I opened my eyes and said, “Thanks for not leaving me.” We all laughed, and then it was back to the business at hand.
With the next few contractions, I felt the baby drop into the birthing chamber and the overwhelming urge to take a poop arrived. I forgot how much that moment hurts and takes you by surprise. You have to remind yourself that you aren’t pooping, but you need to try to take the biggest poop of your life because that’s actually your baby trying to come out! If you’re trying for a natural delivery, educate yourself on this moment. Be ready to talk yourself through it. It makes all the difference!
Once the urge to push came, it was only a few pushes until I was able to watch our boy emerge with the rest of my water breaking as he came out. Then, all pain ceased, and the primal mom was replaced by the purring mama whose totally smitten and completely in love at first sight of her baby.
The nurse exclaimed that our boy was in fact a boy (she knew that’d be our first question since she knew Cary’s story), and then we all marveled at his peach fuzz hair.
My first words were: ‘You look just like your brothers.”
The rest of the time was spent getting the first latch for breastfeeding, cleaning him up, checking both of our vitals, delivering the placenta, and all the other things.
After a bit, they took our boy to weigh and measure him. I got cleaned up and we all got moved to our recovery room.
As I look back on the active labor time, it’s true that we would not have made it to the hospital in time. It could not have been more than 20-30 minutes from the first real true, grunting pain (when we usually call the midwives) to holding my baby in my arms. Again, what an answer to prayer!
Also, since I was asked so often in the hospital by the staff (who were super curious about a 4th time mama choosing hospital for her last birth), how did the hospital birth compare to a home birth?
Honestly? It wasn’t much different to me than birthing at a birth center. It was nearly the same feel, if not even better because the room was a bit smaller than the birth center which gave it a more private feel to me. We had one midwife and nurse attending us, and it wasn’t until we had cut the cord and breastfed that any other staff entered the room. I never even saw a doctor the entire time I was there.
Like I said, I’d love to do another post on this, but the short of it is that I’d do a hospital birth again in a minute without any hesitation. I learned a lot in the process, and I definitely think you have to be willing to educate yourself a little more than you do when you’re in a home birth setting (midwives are way more involved the entire pregnancy overseeing your diet, exercise, position of baby, etc. than the hospital route). But overall, you’re going to be most comfortable where YOU are most comfortable. And the mesh panties the hospital gives you is totally worth it.
With that, we’re settling into life as a family of six, which still sounds crazy coming out of my mouth, and enjoying this little boy to the hilt. He’s a really good baby and for that we are so grateful!
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