The Story of Mathis Lee
The last few hours of my momcation were ticking away. My parents had snatched our three older boys for five days so I could rest up for the arrival of new baby. But my tribe was due back within hours. I decided to take advantage of that time by cozying up at a local coffee shop to write, meet up with a friend, and then grab some last-minute groceries.
Everything was incredibly normal and peaceful. I felt great…until I got to Aldi.
As I crossed things off my list, I felt a sudden, immense pressure accompanied by strange pain. I’ve had enough contractions to know what those felt like, and these weren’t it. So I quickly chocked it up to fifth baby problems and kept shopping.
But the pain didn’t go away.
In fact, as I piled baby carrots and bacon in the cart, the pains worsened. I had to stop occasionally just to catch my breath. People began to stare. I’d smile back but kept moving. “Nothing to see here!”
However, the more I shopped, the more it became apparent that something was up.
So like any mother who’s had a few kids already, I decided to go ahead and pay for my groceries and then head home to see whether the pains turned into anything legit. I walked up to checkout, my cart full of who knows what, and I waited my turn. I texted Ben: “Something is happening. Stand by.”
I looked up from my phone to see the cashier waving me down; an older woman stood next to her holding only a few items in her arms. “Ma’am, this woman only has a few groceries. Do you mind if she gets in front of you?”
I considered it for two seconds and responded with all the calm I could muster, “Well, actually I do. I’m sorry, but I think I’m in labor.”
Chaos ensued. The cashier’s jaw just dropped. A woman who had been checking out in front of me just starting throwing things from my cart to the counter. Everyone else just stared at the insane woman, clearly in discomfort but determined to get her groceries.
I paid promptly, got a “good luck!” sendoff from my new friends at Aldi, and then dialed my doctor’s office as I tossed groceries into the van. Eggs, milk, apples all in a heap. I finally got through to my nurse. After explaining my discomfort, she urged me to go ahead to the hospital.
The only problem: My van was full of groceries, many of which needed frozen or refrigerated. We lived only five minutes from the hospital so I decided to go home and at least protect the perishables. Ben was en route at that time (a 45 minute drive), so I decided that since I wasn’t having contractions I could wait for him to get home.
I managed to get the groceries inside and put away…and that’s when the contractions started. The first one felt no more than run-of-the-mill Braxton-Hicks. No big deal. But, two minutes later, the second one hit with more vengeance. I proceeded to have contractions every two to three minutes, each one worse than the last.
The doctor’s voice was ringing in my head, “You should head to the hospital when your contractions are around five minutes apart.” Perhaps waiting around for Ben wasn’t such a good idea. Being my fifth baby, I had no idea how fast this kid would come, and things had already elevated suddenly and quickly. I wasn’t about to give birth at home alone.
So without a second thought, I grabbed my hospital bag and my purse and marched right back out to the van. I would get myself to the hospital.
I called Ben on the way: “Change of plans. I’m on my way to the hospital.”
“Wait a minute…what?!?” he said in a near panic.
“Yeah. I started having contractions. Real ones. Two minutes apart. So I’m not waiting for you.”
“Okay… [I could sense his nervousness from 30 minutes away.] Well, keep me on the line. Don’t hang up until I get there.”
I got to the hospital no problem, yelling at only a few drivers en route. I was able to get checked in at labor and delivery, donned in my hospital gown, and hooked up to the monitors before a disheveled Ben walked through the door. “So we are doing this today?”
While labor had started quickly, the next several hours progressed at a mild pace. I had decided to go natural after having epidurals for all my other births. I figured he’d just walk out, right?!? But really…I had never had an epidural that I loved, and part of me always wanted to have the full childbirth experience.
Experience it I did.
For those who have not yet had kids or for those who gross out easily, I will spare you the details. However, I will say two things about medicine-free childbirth:
- I will never listen to Johnny Cash the same way. The phrase “ring of fire” takes on a whole new meaning. Mr. Cash knew NOT of which he sang.
- I deserve an award. I will not be a woman who flips her hair and describes in breathy tones how beautiful childbirth was. Am I glad I did it? Yes. Was recovery easier? Yes. But never, NEVER will I pretend that it wasn’t the hardest, most painful and…well…undignified thing I’ve ever done in front of ten adult strangers. So if you’re looking for a worthy soul to send to Fiji, I’ll gladly accept those accolades.
But even just a week removed, all that has faded and become a bit blurry. Instead, I have all eyes and all heart for the newest little man to join our boy tribe:
Mathis Lee Westfall
Everything about him has been unexpected and not to plan, but never has such a surprise brought so much joy, contentment, and a sense of finality to our little Life in Blue.
Way to complete our family and keep things interesting, Little M. Well played.
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