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Inked: Part 3

Rowan Matthew made his arrival on November 15th at 9:34pm. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces and measured at 20.5 inches long.

He was perfect. His soft round cheeks, his inquisitive grey eyes, his tiny button nose, his dad's skin and dimples... it's like I knew his face forever, but I couldn't stop looking at it like it was the first time I'd ever seen it. Rowan is tragically cute and good looking. Just like his dad.

Contractions started at about 8:15 in the morning. Erik and I were in bed (sleeping in on a lazy Sunday), and I felt like I was getting pretty bad cramps & a searing backache. I wasn't sure what it was at first because the pain wasn't overwhelming or constant. But when the pain started to increase and arrive in steady intervals, I had a feeling I was in labor.

We got up, drank our cups of coffee, watched Meet the Press... all the while the contractions were increasing in intensity and starting to come at 5 minutes... 4 minutes... 3 minutes apart. I called the hospital as instructed and talked to the triage nurse, explaining my symptoms. She said it's probably time to come in, and the worse thing that can happen is it's not labor and I'll go home and enjoy my Sunday.

We packed the remainder of our stuff, double checked the car seat and headed to St. Vincent. We got checked into triage, I got hooked up to the monitors, got a cervical exam, and it was confirmed - I was definitely in labor. At that point, they got me a room (with a view of the life-flight helicopter landing pad) and we called our families and told them that the new addition to the family would be arriving sometime very soon. My parents were thrilled... November 15th is their wedding anniversary.

Soon after I got moved to my room, the contractions were too much to bear, so I asked for my epidural. Let me tell you something... I totally admire the women who want to deliver naturally. I am just not one of those women. I've never had a desire to deliver a baby naturally and I never will. My epidural was like a gift from God. After the catheter was placed in my back and the medicine started flowing, the pain was gone and I could enjoy my Sunday football games. I actually surfed Facebook, sent Tweets about the process and text-messaged a bunch of friends during the whole thing. I was comfortable and happy and my legs were numb. It was lovely. Soon after the epidural kicked in, the doctor broke my water to get things moving quickly.

My body did great through the whole process. A lot of first-time deliveries with epidurals can go pretty long, and contractions can level off - calling for doses of pitocin to kick-start labor again. I didn't need any of it. As soon as I crossed the threshold of 4cm dilation, things stayed at a steady pace all the way up until delivery. In so many ways, I felt like the Lord cut me some slack that day. After the surgery and the gallstones, I was pretty down and out about my body & it's condition. My labor and delivery was seamless and perfect.

At around 8:30pm, I was talking to my nurse about what I was feeling. I told her that the urge to push was incredibly strong with each contraction, and it was starting to remain in between. She checked me again and said "Oh wow, the baby's head is RIGHT THERE. You definitely need to start pushing." So, push I did...

The epidural situation is a weird one. It takes away the pain of contractions, but doesn't take away the pain of pressure. So, pushing was actually quite painful. Certainly not as painful as it would have been without the drugs, but it was still exhausting and cause for a lot of yelling. I spent about 30 minutes pushing with each contraction... so I got a break every 3 minutes or so. After those first 30 minutes, the doctor came in to deliver Rowan.

Rowan had a hard time coming around my pubic bone. His head just didn't want to make it. When the doctor broke my water, it was filled with meconium... in other words, Rowan had his first bowel movement in-utero. Not uncommon for babies that deliver after their due date, but enough cause for concern during my delivery because he seemed to be stuck, and we needed to get him out soon, otherwise we were risking infection. Since we were running against the clock, the doctor asked if he could give me an episiotomy to get him out. Both him and the nurse said that it looked like I would have a really bad tear, and this would not only speed the process of delivery, but it would be a controlled cut that would heal a little faster than a larger, unpredictable tear. So, I let him do it.

After he made the cut, I had to push. I pushed hard... I screamed, I cried and could feel Rowans head come out. Another huge breath and an excruciating push later, his shoulders and body came out. I screamed again. Feeling him being pulled from my body and into the world was the most incredible, spiritual and amazing thing I've ever felt. Painful, to be sure. But it was unbelievable. It was the most in-touch I had ever been with my body. So much of it was second-nature and effortless. It's like I just knew what to do.

When the doctor pulled him out and put him on my tummy, the only thing I could do was cry. I sobbed, actually. It was over. The pregnancy from hell, the anticipation, the fear... it was all over. And there he was, laying on my belly crying his lungs out, too. We cried hard, Rowan and me. We had come through so much together over the past nine months.

Erik, full of tears and smiles leaned over to meet him. He grabbed me, put his face against mine and told me how much he loved me, how proud he was. He asked me what we should name him. We looked at his face... I said "Rowan" and Erik said "I think so too."

Erik cut the umbilical cord, the nurses weighed him and gave him his first bath. The pediatrician came in to give him a look-over, and the nurses helped me get cleaned up in the bathroom. After all was said and done, it was Erik, Rowan and me. We sat together. We snuggled together. We adored each other. Our family was finally together and my heart exploded with overwhelming joy and gratefulness.

Two days later, we brought him home to a house full of family and friends... people who had prayed for him for so many months, and loved him... even before they met him.

It was the best "welcome" a kid could ever ask for.


  1. I just love reading birth stories and yours is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for more.

  2. Hi! I'm so happy to read this... and hear that you are doing well. Congrats on the sweet baby. -Megan

  3. This made me cry! Thank you for posting this!